An adult novel with a political and an Indy 500 backgrond, with terrorism as the main theme. It shows how the four hundred thousand fans attending the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," could be incinerated, and how they are saved by the hero.
The green-gowned surgeon nervously fiddled with the three dimensional magnifying device encasing his head in a helmet-like maze of plastic, wires and glass. He knew he resembled an optometric patient who walked out with a phoropter attached to his face. In fact, there was a medical resemblance between an optometrist's measuring device and the uncomfortable equipment he was wearing.
He wasn't wearing a surgical mask since none would be needed...as if he could, with all the other paraphernalia. Overhead lights flooded the stainless steel operating table in the cool room deep inside the modern medical facility of Dresden Industries in the northwest section of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Irritated by the double Cyclops complexity of the micro-surgical contraption that made him look more like an astronaut with eyesight problems than a physician, he impatiently fumbled with the stereofocus knobs that projected Frankenstein-like from each of his
"Dammit Bill," he grumbled to his assistant, "they ought to be able to make these things with at least a semblance of comfort." As he spoke, he knew that what he was wearing on his head was only a small part of the total equipment needed to accomplish the upcoming procedure. The rest of it was around them in the room and attached on shelves projecting from the stainless table.
The associate, also without a surgical mask, grinned. "Jake, you should be used to that stuff by now. You've done this procedure on animals dozens of times before...and by the way, it's going to work on a human, too."
The third man in the room, a stern-faced onlooker in a business suit, shuffled uncomfortably, attracting the attention of the two doctors. Near the door, he could watch but probably not overhear their quiet conversation.
The first surgeon took advantage of the fact. He spoke softly. "I know...I know...but I'll never get used to this gear, or, for that matter..." his voice trailed off. He looked down at the beautiful, near naked body on the table before him, resting on a partially unwrapped thermal blanket. He lifted the folded blanket. Even in death...and the ugly, gray-edged puncture wound of a .32 caliber bullet was evident on the whiteness of her skin between her smallish breasts...she was beautiful. She appeared asleep. Her pale skin had probably been just as pale in life. She would not have been a sun bather with the proof of what the sun was doing to human skin so well accepted.
On that final table, where secrets are exposed, she looked intelligent, sophisticated, lovely. Her stomach was flat, her legs long and lean. The pubic hair at their juncture was precisely trimmed and carefully shaved, as though she might very recently have enjoyed being naked, and physically admired.
From vents around the room, the white noise murmur of an air conditioning system was ignored as both men looked at the dead woman.
"What...?" the associate prompted, speaking just as softly.
"What?" the surgeon repeated, then, "Oh..." he remembered, "I don't know...this damned procedure always makes me feel like a peeping Tom, even with animals, and with a human...well, I don't know..." he trailed off. The associate surgeon grinned again, sighing softly. "Jake, you kill me, you know that? You perfected this operation. You had a hand in the development of the equipment, including this cryogenically cooled brain wave detector that's a thousand times more powerful than the old electro-encephalograph," he went on, waving at the wall of computers with handy probes and connectors and a small junction box control panel near the head of the table, near the head of the dead woman. "Hell, there aren't that many people who've even heard of the procedure. How many animals have we worked on...?" he finished.
"I don't know...dozens, I guess," the surgeon answered. "I know we're under the gun on this one. This is the first human, and we drew a pip. She isn't an animal and she isn't like most other humans, either."
The man at the door strained to listen, at the same time checking through the small window to be certain the attendants with the hospital gurney were waiting outside. Meanwhile, the assistant surgeon readied the first of the instruments he knew would be needed for the procedure. In his hand were two needle-like probes. Thin tubing ran from the probes to the nearest bank of equipment alongside the table. Near the head of the dead woman were two more similar probes with tubing. As he worked, he talked quietly. "But, Jake, what the hell is the idea of the goon by the door? And why the rush? My God, they've got attendants outside to rush her away the instant we're finished. What's going on...?"
"I don't know," the first doctor sighed. "Dresden procedures, I guess...or maybe it's just who we're dealing with here. I know the word came down in no uncertain terms. Get the procedure accomplished, successfully, of course, but one way or the other, quickly turn her over to them. That's all I know."
"Well, something is sure as hell up. I feel like we're really under the gun on this, Jake," the assistant complained.
"I know what you mean, my friend, so let's get on with it. The sooner we get started, the sooner we finish."
The assistant continued to arrange equipment. "You know how much this could mean to police if it works...and even relatives, for that matter?"
The surgeon sighed again. "Relatives...? Yeah. Take her, for instance." He paused, examining the woman on the table not so much as a doctor, but from the point of view of a man. "Lovely, isn't she? And she's no transient. She's no cadaver hauled in here for testing the procedure, as we might have hoped for. She's...I mean, she was the wife of Buck Landson, for God's sake."
"I know," the assistant nodded. "He's been one of the movers and shakers back in D.C. ever since he was elected. He is one important man, Jake...he's power! Hell, he's going for president one of these days, they say."
The assistant surgeon paused, looking down at the body of the beautiful woman on the trough-equipped steel autopsy table. Then he continued quietly but intently. "So you know what bugs me, Jake? I'll tell you. With all that power, how the hell did Dresden wind up with his wife...and dead at that?" The assistant shook his head in disbelief as he stared down at the corpse. "I mean, I know what happened, but that was only three or four hours ago...and in New Orleans, for Christ's sake! How'd she wind up here and not in Washington, or back in Ohio?"
The primary surgeon paused, glancing at the short, stocky man near the door. Then he turned back to the body on the table. He read the report in the car they sent for him with orders to report to the company surgical facility as quickly as possible. After the incident at the airport, Congressman Landson had been called. He was in New Orleans with his wife to attend a seminar being conducted by Dresden, a company pioneering in optics among many other things. She, the wife, the woman on the table, had left the conference early to return to Washington, but her life had ended at the airport.
Of course Buck Landson rushed to the scene of the tragedy. With pressure from both Landson and Jim Phillips, the son of Dresden's president and the surgeon's own immediate supervisor, local regulations were plowed under and the body loaded on a Dresden jet and rushed to Indianapolis. The head...and it was obvious to the surgeon as he noted the ringlets of hair still plastered to the neck and temples...had been packed in ice to preserve the eyes and optic nerves, and the brain. Even the body, he knew, had been kept very cold...almost, but not quite, freezing.
Well, it didn't matter, except that the colder a cadaver could be kept, the longer they had to successfully complete the very complex and still carefully classified procedure. "This is gonna be a real shake-up, you can bet your buns on that," said the surgeon. "Jim Phillips personally accompanied her here. He's waiting up in his office for the results. Yeah, a real shake-up..."
"That's for sure," the assistant agreed. "Then they take her out of here in a hurry...to where, Jake?"
"Hell, I don't know. I just work here. If young Jim is involved, though, I'd suggest we do our part of the job then go home, grab a beer, and watch some TV. It ain't our business, buddy."
The assistant nodded. "Yeah, I guess you're right. You ready?"
"You know what they want from us?"
"We'll try," the surgeon said heavily, "but dammit, it still makes me feel like a peeping Tom."
"Jake, if the procedure works, they might learn who did this."
The surgeon snorted. "How in hell could they have allowed it to turn out like it did? How in hell could they have screwed it up like that? It really burns me. Look at that abrasion," he said, moving the body's shoulder upward to reveal the underside. "Know where that came from?" He dropped the shoulder on the stainless steel table and lifted the hip, rolling the still limp body to reveal one perfectly rounded buttock all the way to the cleft. "Same here, see? You know where that came from?"
The assistant nodded, but the head surgeon went on anyhow. "From landing on the ground under the airplane, that's where. After they shot her. Hell, she was still alive, from the looks of this. The fall probably killed her, if the bullet didn't."
"It doesn't matter now, Jake," was the quiet response.
The air conditioner hummed on, keeping the room at a healthy, cool temperature. The man by the door shuffled again, glancing at his watch furtively. The assistant went on. "Let's do it. I've got a date later."
"Damn, you smell that, Bill?" the surgeon asked absently.
"That aroma...that perfume. She still smells...I don't know...good. That stuff must have cost a fortune."
"Yeah, I smell it. Nice, huh?"
"It'll work, Bill," the principal surgeon said, responding to his assistant's earlier statement. "Her head and eyes, and almost certainly her brain, are perfect...undamaged. She fell on her shoulder and her rear. She's only been dead four hours. Hell, she's almost still warm. It'll work."
The two surgeons began the procedure. In deference to the family and any later arrangements, they lifted and taped the eyelids rather than slitting them, which would have given them more working room. They worked gently not so much because of who she had been or because the eyes had been beautiful, but rather because they could not succeed if the nerve connections to the eyeballs themselves were damaged during the procedure. They didn't speak. They had worked together before. With as much care as the situation warranted, they inserted the probes from the dye blenders into the carotids at each side of the slim neck, then the dye return probes into each jugular, bypassing the recently dead heart. The assistant then reached behind to turn on a small pump, and the clicking sound from the pump's piston intruded into the room.
The third man in the room jumped at the strange new sound, then again glanced at his watch. Smoothly the three primary colors moved from the blenders through the tubes and into the bloodstream of the head. In seconds the remaining blood moved from the jugular through the tubes to the blender. The diluted dyes would gather at the rods and cones in the rear of the eyes to offer a stereopticon view. There was no need for suction. The procedure was dry.
As he worked, the surgeon recalled previous experiments with animals. He had worked with this same assistant on many species, though they preferred dogs or monkeys. Few outside his own lab even suspected the scope of their work, or what they hoped to accomplish. The animals proved the theory, though results on video display tubes had been unintelligible. But, with this work, any result was proof that the whole procedure could work as he had planned. Not that any evidence obtained through his experimentation would be accepted in court. But the time would come when it would.
Finally they were permitted a cadaver...but only for working out the logistics of the procedure on a human. Only for roadmapping the locations of probes and inserts, and to determine pump force and color blends. The young man had been mutilated by a train. His head and eyes were about the only things not damaged, the surgeon remembered with clinical interest. If only Dresden had permitted him to go through the entire procedure. He was certain he could have proven that the youth had been administered a drug before the accident, and perhaps even by whom. But he had not been permitted to go on. The young man, and many of the animals, had laid alone on the very same table he now worked over, then they were cremated, legally he was certain, somewhere in the vast Dresden industrial and research facility.
Now, at that same table, he was working on the wife of well-known Ohio Congressman Buckley Landson, a politician growing ever more popular and thus ever more powerful in Washington. She was not an animal and certainly not an unknown cadaver, not by a long shot. Nor, he was absolutely certain, would she be rushed to a crematorium by the nervous men waiting inside and outside his pathology lab.
Buck Landson, confidante of the President. Landson, who quite obviously had his eyes on higher office. Landson, who had shaken the House of Representatives on several occasions with his powerful speeches on what he considered to be needed legislation. It was this man's wife he had there on the table. No, there would be no quick cremation for her. But what did they want with her? Why were they waiting, glancing at their watches, obviously less interested in what he was doing than in the job they had to do.
Yes, there would be hell to pay for this...especially in view of Congressman Landson's stand on terrorism. Where he may not have subscribed to the "hang 'em at the airport" theory, he had for some time been pushing legislation that would make terrorism, thus hijacking, a capital offense. His ideas were known, and popular. He appealed to the vast blue collar citizenry, folks who were sick and tired of mollycoddling criminals and terrorists. Landson was one of the bright young stars of his party, to the extent that several of the older guard were shaking in their patent-leather shoes.
Working around the woman's head almost by force of habit, the surgeon grinned inwardly. United States Senator Malcom Medwick was certainly on the list of patent-shoed shakers. And that was just fine with him, decided the surgeon. He'd never cared for the smooth-talking politician, though Ohio folks had elected Medwick several times to the US Senate. To him, though, fat little Medwick was too careful, too sure of himself, just a little too slippery even for a politician, ever on the side where the most votes could be counted. No, the surgeon didn't care for Senator Medwick. Not, as a Hoosier, that it mattered.
Oh, hell, he'd probably never meet either Landson or Medwick. Congressman Buck Landson, who's dead wife he had there on the table, was a real comer, nevertheless. And this, as terrible as it might be for Buck Landson, wouldn't stop him, the surgeon knew.
He pulled his thoughts back to the procedure. "Project Soul Search" they'd called it in the inner circle of Dresden during the experiments. Finally it had been shortened to Project SS, then finally just "SS," and that is what they called it as he worked, attaching the needle-like probes to the inner ear, near the eardrums.
He sighed. It wasn't as though he could save the life on the table. His was an after-the-fact job, little more than a fancy autopsy. His hands moved with practiced precision. "Watch for the movements on the gauges, Bill," he ordered softly. Carefully he moved the probes in the throat and then the ears as the assistant watched the control gauges on the panel. From the tableside control panel went cables to monitor-equipped computers.
"We'll soon know..." he mumbled to himself. "Soon now..." he repeated as he probed with infinite patience. "There!" he finally snapped. "That should do it! We have firm connections and readings on every probe and the dyes are flowing to the eyes. I think we're ready. If the trauma to the body didn't cause the ciliary muscles to pull the lenses out of whack, and if the cornea or the vitreous humor hasn't clouded, and if the retina is still healthy, and if the eye and ear memory center in the brain is still functioning, and if a hundred other things work as they should, I think we're ready to record."
Again the man at the door glanced at his watch. As he did so, he very softly cleared his throat. The surgeon jerked his shoulders in annoyance. Dammit, this procedure took time.
The associate nodded. "Then all that's left is to hook up the juice and let 'er rip." Moving back locks of the tumbled blonde hair, he dabbed some silicon grease on each temple, affixed a small metal cap to each, then plugged surgically white wires into each cap. "Ready...?" he finally asked.
The surgeon nodded. "Just a little at first. Let's not burn anything out."
The associate chuckled. "Jake, you say that every time."
"Sorry. Is the recorder ready? We don't want to blow this one."
"It's ready and rolling. Here we go," the associate surgeon responded, slowly turning a knob on the small control panel. A slight hum competed with the murmur from the air conditioner and the clicking from the die pump. Even the stocky man at the door leaned forward in interest.
The surgeon bent down over the face of the corpse, precisely aligning the lenses of his headpiece with the staring eyes of the dead woman. He began to fumble with the side knobs again, attempting to pinpoint the focus of his equipment on the retina at the rear of the eyeballs. At that moment a tiny wisp of smoke curled up from the left temple of the body on the table. "Too much! Too much!" he cautioned, but the associate had already turned a control knob down a notch. "That's better," the surgeon agreed.
Hazy at first, an image from the brain began to develop on the retina of the dead woman's eyes, colored by the dies flowing through the blood vessels and clarified by the lenses of the eyepieces of the surgeon's equipment. The associate stared as the image duplicated itself on the main monitor. "There!" the surgeon snapped. "By God!! It's coming in...it's coming in..."
On the television screen and in the eyepieces the image was clearing. It was a full figure, standing at some distance away. The hand jerked, then the figure stepped back.
"Magnify!" the surgeon snapped.
The associate, staring in total fascination, slowly adjusted another knob on the panel. The figure grew larger, but the haze persisted.
"We need clarity," the surgeon said quickly. "We are in the right section of the recent memory, but you must adjust, please."
"OK, Jake, OK...I'm trying. It could be the optic nerves themselves, you know. We could be too late."
"No!" the surgeon insisted softly. "The head and eyes looked perfect. It's the equipment. Try the inter-phase system. We've got to focus if this is to help at all."
The associate carefully moved a slide switch. Gradually the image improved. It was of a man. The background focused slowly. It was of the inside of an airplane by an open door. "Look at that son of a bitch," growled the surgeon. "Look at that weapon."
In the hand of the figure on the monitor screen was a gun. He fired the weapon then stepped quickly back again, but the sound from the speaker in the monitoring equipment was garbled. Both physicians knew why. It was backwards, as the image of the murder was backwards. The man had stepped forward to fire. The image was coming from the memory of the brain back to the eyes and ears, as it had gone from the eyes and ears to the memory section of the brain. The image blurred. "Run that back, please," the surgeon ordered. "Focus precisely. We need this on the recorder."
Again the figure, focusing into a smallish, swarthy-skinned man of the middle east, fired the gun and stepped backward. His features were clear, though the expression on his face seemed to cloud his thoughts with a mixture of hatred and fear. Again, the image began to blur. "Could you identify him, Bill?"
"Yeah! By God, yes I could! It's plenty clear enough, and it's solidly on the recorder. We have the son of a bitch, Jake, if they can find him. We can run it forward, backward or, hell, sideways if we want to, but we've got the bastard. Congratulations."
The surgeon, Jake, sighed. Forgotten, for the moment, was the uncomfortable micro surgery helmet he'd been wearing. No reason why it shouldn't work, he knew, but to see it work, to know that his years of study and experimentation had just at that moment come to fruition, was exhilarating. He'd believed in the procedure all along. If the optic nerves and eyes were undamaged, and with the proper infusion of dies of the three primary colors, there was no reason the brain couldn't be stimulated to reveal last impressions on the retinas of dead eyes. It was only 1995. The procedure could have been successful years ago, but for a lack of electronic equipment and an ability to precisely locate where the areas of memory for sight and sound were stored in the brain. First they'd had to struggle with the problem of when a person died, really died. Only later did they determine that one dies by degree, and that many organs remain operable and operating long after an agreed upon and very general clinical death.
They knew years ago that eyes would last several days. He'd just used those ideas to perfect his procedure, after using computers to locate the sight and sound memory centers in the brain. The techniques had been routine after that. Not that the world knew much about it, but the world knew little of what went on in Dresden's research laboratories.
The man at the door shuffled nervously, then spoke. "Ah...doctors? Are you about finished? Time, you know..."
Time for what. "Time for what?" the surgeon repeated his thought, but at the same time he was thinking of what he had done. He was proud. Tired, but very proud.
"I don't know, doctor. My orders are to get her to another department the moment you're finished, whether or not you succeed, but within one hour in any case. I'd like to do that now," he said authoritatively.
If Jake the surgeon knew Dresden, few would hear of this experiment until many more had succeeded, but that didn't really matter. Tired but pleased, he began to remove the uncomfortable helmet. Meanwhile, the man at the door gestured through the window and a gurney was hurried in.
"Ah...Jake?" the assistant said softly.
"Well...maybe we should go back a little further. You know...see what she was doing this morning...or even last night...?"
The surgeon sighed. He placed the helmet carefully on a cabinet top. "Just allow them to take her. They probably want the organs offered for donation. They probably have the list." He shook his head as he absently re-folded the blanket around the beautiful body. He wasn't interested in a potentially pornographic review of the lovely Mrs. Landson's recent past. But the elation of the success of the experiment was flowing through him like a fine brandy. He felt good as he removed the probes.
"I meant for the sake of perfecting the equipment, of course," the assistant quickly added in a wounded voice as both doctors watched the attendants lift the blanketed body onto the gurney. Spinning the cart around, they hurried it out of the room.
Turning from the table to the sink, the surgeon sighed again. He had succeeded. But in spite of the warm glow of success, was this really the work he wanted? He considered as he washed his hands. Some say happiness is turning lemons into lemonade. He didn't know. But he did know that Congressman Buck Landson would be almost as pleased as he was, himself. He, Doctor Jake Billings, could hand them a perfect picture of the killer of the Congressman's wife, though few even knew of the murder yet, or that she had been dumped from the main door of a parked airplane onto the tarmac of New Orleans International Airport twenty feet below. The hijack attempt had cost Shiela Landson her life.
And...damn!...the hijacker had slipped from the airplane and escaped as confused New Orleans police and FBI agents, under pressure from senior officers because of who was aboard, had botched the rescue.
Lima, in his own district in his own state, was a rough-edged little manufacturing community in northwest Ohio between Dayton and Toledo, but Buck Landson liked it. He looked across the public square that once appeared so vast to him. Lima, the County Seat of Allen County, was, in fact, a little soiled, with papers blowing about in the streets and with storefronts many years old, but the town, during his infrequent visits from Washington, always brought fond memories. Lima, pronouced like the bean and not like the city in Peru, had a town square with a traffic pattern that had been fought over through the years by various politicians. It had a single, nondescript, thirteen story skyscraper that was grandly called "Cook Tower," and a reputation for hard drinking, serious partying, honest prayer and sincere repentence. On the outskirts could be found several modern manufacturing plants providing parts or whole units, light and heavy, for other factories or for use around the world, and jobs for most of the townsfolk. Although not much had happened in recent years, residents were fond of pointing out that most of the great railroad locomotives of the steam era had been built right there in Lima, at the Lima Locomotive Works, where many of their grandfathers had labored. The fact that the great plant had eventually become Baldwin, Lima, Hamilton Corporation, another heavy equipment builder, and had finally shut down and overgrown with weeds, was beside the point.
Finally, and perhaps closest to his own heart, Lima had gone solidly for Buck Landson in the election.
Congressman Buckley J. "Buck" Landson eased his modest rental car to a stop at the corner of Market and Elizabeth streets just west of the public sqaure. The economy car was not just a part of his image, since he had the money to rent any degree of luxury. Buck Landson was shrewd with money. Not a tightwad by any means, he was a man who felt that four wheels and an engine was what he needed to get where he was going. He didn't need it, this time, in a fancy package. None of this, however, was on his mind as he waited for the light to change.
He had a date he was anxious to keep, so he fretted as the light remained red almost longer than he could tolerate. He hadn't seen Katy D'Angelo since they both left Washington three weeks before, and he missed her very much. Still, they had to be careful, even in Lima far from the careful politics of DC. Just a few blocks farther down Market, and around the corner on McDonald, was the apartment they had been sharing when time permitted.
The light turned green and time was at last permitting. He ached for Katy as he moved the car forward. Then...damn!...Buck Landson's thoughts turned to Sheila, as they often and so perversely did when he was meeting Katy. Sheila, who died so quickly and uselessly a year ago in New Orleans. He steered the car casually, noting with some mild pleasure the solidarity of the Ohio city, trying to push his dead wife from his mind. No frills, no nonsense, solid buildings constructed to last through the occasionally harsh and always unpleasant winters of the northen half of the state, that was Lima. He could remember bringing Sheila to Lima for dances from their nearby hometown of Van Wert. That was back in their high school days. Next was college at Ohio State University, she a psych major and he in political science. They'd married in college and it had been a warm and wonderful eight years before the murder in New Orleans.
True, they no children, but everything else had been just fine. He steered smoothly, with one hand on the wheel and the other resting on the gear shift. There was little traffic. The radio, which was apparently malfunctioning, played soft country music from a local station that was heard no matter which button he punched. He shrugged. So what? He'd be at the apartment and with Katy in a another few minutes.
Sheila always supported his political ambitions. She worked long and hard. She discussed various courses of action with him, decisions that had to be made, though very often no matter which way he went it would affect her adversely. He remembered her on tours, he going one way in a town and she another, both giving speeches to help him with his election bid. He remembered her during the day and he remembered her at night, in bed. They had wonderfully good times in hotels along the Ohio trail, when, though exhausted from visiting and speechmaking, she would giggle as she wiggled out of her clothes. Revealing her strikingly perfect, obscenely naked figure to him, she would generally whisper about the sinfulness of hotels, and how people only came to them to "screw." He chuckled to himself. Try as she would to be sinfully sexual, and she rarely failed, Sheila could never bring herself to use the word "fuck." He knew what she was thinking, and so did she, so it didn't matter. Meanwhile, she would occasionally go so far as to refer to the "F word." In the motels and hotels, she would pull him to the bathroom where they would shower together, he soaping and washing her and she washing him. He remembered the laughter coupled with the tender care she took as she lathered certain parts of him, and the intense, intimate love making after.
Landson eased the car to a stop at another traffic signal.
Sheila, his beautiful wife. He never stopped missing her...never, for that matter, stopped loving her. Her blonde, close-curled hair, her sparkling, happy eyes, her warm sense of humor, her willingness to try anything new if she was with him, he remembered it all in perfect detail. So why did Katy mean so much to him?
The voice didn't penetrate the thoughts of Buck Landson, so deeply was he involved with his wife Sheila. And with Katy, who was at the apartment at that moment, her own beauty waiting to be revealed, her own body anxious to offer him whatever he desired.
His thoughts flickered about as the light held red. The recent threats against him were routine. Every politician received them. They were untraceable, probably harmless. Still, his stand on terrorism was firm, and well known, as were some of the other planks in his platform.
Platform? That was a laugh. Malcom Medwick held his United States Senate seat with a grip of death. Athough the rumors flew, Buck Landson was the only one who knew what his own political future held. He hunched forward in the seat and stared up at the light. He didn't care if they speculated. That was part of the Washington game.
Landson sighed, turning to the sidewalk where a young boy stood looking at him. It was early on a balmy Fall evening in Lima. Ohio, he knew, was often too hot, or too cold, or too muggy, or too windy, or too somthing else, but this was a perfect Ohio evening. Dead leaves swirled across the street in the light breeze. A hint of rain, little more than an aroma, was in the air. The passenger side window was down. The boy looked to be about twelve.
"Yes...?" he finally answered across the front seat, still thinking of Sheila and Katy and Medwick and the campaign.
"Did you know you have one light on," the boy said, indicating the front of Landson's car, "and one light off?"
Interesting. Then, behind the country music, the radio began to tick in what seemed to Buck Landson to be a measured countdown of static clicks. The music faded at the same moment as though drawn of power and the engine stuttered and missed momentarily. Landson glanced at the light switch on the dash. It was in the "off" position. A warning sign blinked far back in his brain. Headlights are wired directly to the battery, through a fuseable link. The radio was in the electronic section of the dash wiring. The two were separate, and yet...
He had had threats, yes, but what politician hadn't? He had pressed hard, too hard many said, on the terrorist punishment legislation he favored, as well as on other bills that would cut short the careers of some major...and very powerful...politicians.
Then why the hell was he thinking of A.J. Foyt? Foyt, the champion Indy race car driver. What was it he had seen Foyt do? Landson thought hard. His career had not permitted attending many motor races, but he had always been a fan of the crochety driver considered by many to be the best in the history of the sport. And he had been a fan of the luxurious, but finally defunct, Ontario Motor Speedway in California. He had managed to be there for most of the famous California 500 races every year, as he did at the Indianapolis Speedway race every May in Indiana. But what the hell was the connection between all of that, and what was happening to his car?
They'd installed a computer scoring system at Ontario Motor Speedway that required every car to mount a small, winglike transponder device. Theoretically, as each car crossed the start-finish line on each lap, its position was recorded by the transponder and would then register automatically on scoring towers around the track. Fans could quickly see the positions of the top ten cars in the race due to this modern technology, when it worked.
Foyt, though, hadn't appreciated the technology, and finally, in a fit of frustration because the equipment seemed to be interfering with his computerized fuel injection system, had screamed into the pits, jumped from his car, and angrily smashed the device from the racer with a nearby pit crewman's hammer. Landson, visiting along pit row, remembered the incident well.
Later, Foyt assured him that the integrated circuit of the device was, in fact, interfering with the electronics of the injection system. It was possible, explained Foyt, that the smallest chip could control the most important functions. But in so doing, they could, insisted the champion, cause other systems to go awry.
"What are you staring at, mister?" The young boy on the curb looked worried.
"Wh...what...? Oh, nothing..." Landson stammered, but he suddenly knew that he had to move very quickly. "Get out of here right now!" he yelled at the boy, then he glanced into the rear view mirror. The static ticking on the radio was becoming more rapid, much more rapid. A car was coming. It was only a quarter block away. Meanwhile, the boy hadn't moved. Quickly Landson dropped the car into gear, stamped on the accelerator, and let the clutch pop out. The rear tires dug into the pavement, chirped, and the car lurched forward. He steered it with one hand as he reached about for the door handle down by his left side. Gripping it, he guided the car toward the curb in an unoccupied location, then he shoved the door open. An instant before the car came to a stop, its front wheel against the high curb of Market Street, Landson rolled from the seat out the door and onto the pavement.
Scrambling to his feet, he dashed back up the street, waving at the oncoming car. At that moment he was slammed back to the pavement by an explosion from his own car. It was a dull thudding sound, but the shock wave hit him squarely in the back and as he hit the street and rolled, he saw the engine compartment of the car burst into flames. Stunned, he tried to collect himself. Deep in his heart he knew that ol' A.J. had saved his life.
Later, after a phone call delaying his meeting with a worried Katy D'Angelo, Landson and the local police inspected the car.
"It's odd, Congressman," said the seargeant in charge, "but that looks more like a giant firecracker than a serious, full-fledged bomb." The big man in the ill-fitting uniform leaned over the engine compartment that had been opened by the fire department, and sniffed. For what, Landson didn't know.
But he knew the sergeant was right. "I agree," he finally said. "I don't know why it was put there, or even who it was meant for, but somehow I don't think it was meant to kill."
"But Congressman," the police officer persisted, "why would anybody go to that trouble?"
"I don't know, sergeant. I wish I did." His thoughts were drifting to Katy, waiting at the apartment. Maybe he could hitch a ride. "Sergeant, do you suppose you could have one of your men drop me down at the corner of McDonald and Market...?"
"Why, sure, Congressman Landson. Hell, we can take you right to the front door of wherever you're going. I mean, it'd be a pleasure, sir."
Landson grinned. "Thanks. I appreciate that." His heart had slowed down and he was once more in relative control of his emotions. "But McDonald and Market will be just fine."
God, he wanted to be with Katy. The sergeant opened the door of the nearest of three police cruisers on the scene, and Landson crawled in. Somebody would take care of the rental car.
United States Senator Malcom Medwick cursed at his pudgy fingers as he removed yet another cigarette from the silver case presented to him by his constituents on his last birthday. The VIP lounge and luggage inspection area was busy at the Berne airport, but he loved Switzerland and didn't mind the short delay. As a matter of fact, he decided as he lit the cigarette, they were moving him as quickly through the customs routines as they usually did on his semi-annual visits. The visits were known as "fact finding trips," and he did make an effort to learn, but he knew why he came to Switzerland. He coughed lightly as he drew in a lung-full of smoke.
Medwick was a dignified man in spite of his weight, his short stature, his bald-with-a-fringe head and his hawklike stare, the latter generally seen through a cloud of cigarette smoke. A chain-smoker, he hid the fear that haunts those with the addiction in a guise of subliminal promises that he would quit the moment the pressure was off. He hated the habit that had so firmly hooked him. He would quit, he knew, but later. Meanwhile, as he drew in another great puff, he looked furtively around to see if his smoking was offending anyone nearby. Again he coughed lightly and this time smoke expelled from both nostrils and from his mouth in three separate dragon-like plumes.
"Ah...Senator Medwick...?" A security man was speaking.
Medwick turned to face the uniformed official. "Yes?" he answered in a voice gravely with smoke.
"You are free to continue your trip, Senator," the official said with deference. "Your bags have been cleared and delivered to a car which is waiting outside."
Being a United States Senator was wonderful, Medwick thought to himself and not for the first time. The power...the sheer power of it all...never failed to amaze him. It was true at home, and it was true almost anywhere else in the world. Oh, they may dislike him, but they never treated him with anything but respect. He'd been a fat little nobody in high school and college, a mediocre student with a bad complexion and a chronic breath problem who wanted little more than a few friends. Now he had friends galore, or at least acquantances. He had people who owed him money, or owed him favors, around the world...and he loved it. Hell, he didn't even care if they paid him the money, though the favors were a different matter. He emphatically ground his cigarette into a nearby, sand-filled ashtray.
He had female friends who would do anything for him, not that he wanted what they offered. He had male friends who felt the same, and had proven it. Privately, of course...and that reminded him of his mission. First, the payoff, then a few hours of pleasure before his return to Washington. He looked around, then glanced at his watch. Branberry, his Swiss aide, should have been there by then. Travelers bustled around him as he waddled toward the front entrance of the airport concourse. In a calm, self-assured female voice from somewhere overhead, the public address system blared its messages, first in Swiss, then in nearly identical German, and finally in English.
A younger man hurried through main doors which opened automatically at his approach. "Senator...I'm...I'm so sorry I'm tardy," he said, breathing heavily. "The traffic, you know..."
Medwick waved away the apology. "Never mind, Branberry, never mind." He meant it. Traffic in Berne had increased dramatically in the several years he had been visiting. "Have you made all the arrangments?"
"Yes, sir. Of course. Everything has been handled."
"Wonderful," Medwick rasped. Then he coughed. He withdrew his handkerchief and dabbed at his mouth. "Wonderful," he repeated, reaching for his cigarette case. He drew one for himself, arranged another for Branberry, and offered the case. "Smoke...?"
The younger, nervous-looking man accepted the cigarette. But instead of putting it between his lips, he furtively examined the filter end. He was yanked back to attention by Medwick's voice.
"Everything alright, Branberry?" The sardonic tone was evident.
"Oh, my yes, Senator. Yes, of course," Branberry answered quickly, apparently satisfied with the cigarette.
"Then will you have the rest of them?" Medwick asked softly, sarcastically. "That is, if you're certain the first was satisfactory." He offered the silver case to the Swiss aide. "Or would you perhaps like me to call that security policeman over there, and ask him to examine it?" "Senator, I didn't mean...that is...I'm sure you..." Branberry stumbled.
Medwick lowered his raspy voice. "Your payment is, as always, in the tip of the cigarette. Since I am giving you the rest of the pack, each with its own special tip, it would hardly pay me to neglect the particular one for you, now would it Branberry?"
Travelers swirled around the two men, the older, portly one obviously in command, and the younger, thin and nervous one, plainly the subservient. Branberry spoke softly. "Senator Medwick, I was only...I'm sorry, sir. I'd never suspect you of...that is...well, everything will be taken care of, as always, sir."
"Thank you, Branberry. I was certain of it. Now about tonight?" Medwick's rough, smoke-infected voice had taken on a lightness. The message was clear. His contraband would be turned into banknotes and deposited into one or more of his accounts. He took a fresh pack of cigarettes from his pocket, withdrew one, lit it, and blew a blast of smoke toward the ceiling. His business was concluded, and it was, in a sense, honest business at that. It was money that he didn't want publicized, but relatively honest money all the same. He could even have wired it, he supposed, but it was better this way. It was, how did they say in crime...laundered. Besides, he looked forward to his visits to Switzerland with far more than his pocketbook in mind. Far more, indeed.
In any case, he was a lawyer. His firm was doing well. He made extra speeches and public appearances somewhat beyond the accepted number, and for fees slightly more than what might be considered pure. Lobbiests helped, albeit very carefully, with matters such as the recent airplane flight. He had various other ways to make money aside from his Senate pay which was, as things turned out, one of the smaller incomes of Malcom Medwick. Much of this money was passed through other hands, turned to gemstones, and then turned back to money at an excellent exchange rate. It was all legal, he knew, if one stretched a point or two.
Branberry preceeded Medwick through the automatic doors, then opened the rear door of the limousine parked at the curb. Medwick stooped slightly and, with a pant, lowered himself into the plush leather seat. He had to lose some weight, but hell, how could he concentrate on quitting cigarettes and losing weight at the same time? He'd probably gain even more weight if he quit, he rationalized, so in a sense his smoking habit was helping his heart by keeping his weight within some reason.
Branberry closed the door, then, to keep the Senator from having to slide across the seat, hurried around to the traffic side, opened the door, and slid in beside Medwick. The limo moved slowly and smoothly into the flow of airport traffic, heading for downtown Berne.
Medwick tried to keep the impatient sound from his voice. "Now then, Branberry..." he began as casually as possible under the circumstances. "You say you've made the...ah...arrangments for tonight...?"
Branberry smiled weakly, as though he didn't enjoy his job, or his boss. "Yes, sir, I have."
Medwick could barely wait. "And did you...that is, will I meet Dale at last...?"
Branberry nodded. "Yes, sir, I've arranged for you and Dale to...that is...to have a drink at the Hotel Imperial."
Medwick loved the Imperial Hotel. He was pleased, very pleased. "Good!" he rasped. "Good!" He could feel the familiar stirring already.
Branberry glanced at his watch. "In fact, sir, Dale is probably waiting for you there right now."
The limo was entering the business and shopping area of Berne. Medwick knew the location of the Imperial. They were near. It wouldn't be much longer. "Branberry, you've done a good job," he rasped with sincerity. "Perhaps I don't indicate my appreciation in ways other than financial, but I value you, Branberry. You are an excellent assistant. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Thank you, sir," Branberry replied softly.
Medwick had to know. "Branberry, you know...that is...you've heard of Dale, right?"
"Yes, sir, I have."
Medwick pressed the issue. "Is it true...I mean...do you know if Dale really enjoys...? God, Branberry, I don't even dare anticipate..."
The soft spoken assistant turned to face his boss directly. "Sir, I'm told that Dale enjoys...well...anything at all, sir. Dale is rather well known among the very wealthy here in Berne. Dale is very particular, as you have been told, and has indicated an anticipation of meeting you."
"But has...has my photo been made available...?" Medwick hated the question, but it was one he had asked many times before, from his high school days on. Why should he have to ask such a question? It was obvious to him. But what the hell, so he wasn't God's gift to women. He was a United States Senator. He had money and power, and didn't everybody say that these qualities attracted many more lovers than good looks?
Branberry waited for a moment before answering. "Sir, you have much more to offer than you give yourself credit for. Of course Dale has seen your picture, many times, in our papers as well as your's. You're a famous person, Senator, and that means so very much."
The limousine drew up before the Hotel Imperial and doormen rushed to assist. But before Medwick hauled himself out, he turned to his assistant with one last question. "Branberry, is it true that Dale enjoys...you know...nipple rings...?"
"I understand that is true, sir."
Nipple rings. Stainless steel slivers penetrating the nipples, to be turned and twisted...to be pulled upon until the pain was...my God, what was he thinking? He was a United States Senator. Gay, yes, but that was between him and his most trusted associates. And the Washington press, of course, who knew everything about everybody. And most of the Washinton gossips, too, if he were to be honest.
But the DC press, and for that matter the national and international press, lived by some obscure code of Washington that insisted that such personal confidences be kept unless the keeping of them cloaked "big" news. They would say nothing, print nothing, unless his lifestyle interfered with their news gathering jobs. Meanwhile, he would feed them more important stories as they were breaking, thus balancing the scales. It worked well. A high placed man could keep a mistress, or a lover, male or female, or a similarly placed women could keep the same, and nobody would seem to care unless the keeping became a part of a bigger story. Medwick had always been careful that his propensity for those of his own sex remained outside the duties of a United States Senator, even to his frequent visits to Switzerland.
And nobody really listened to Washington gossips other than for the entertainment value. Nobody really cared, for that matter.
Hell, if it weren't for Buck Landson, the life of Malcom Medwick would almost have been a bowl of cherries. Medwick paused in the door of the limo. The doorman could wait. He considered Buck Landson, the representative from the 35th district of Ohio, and long an acquantance of Medwick's. Landson was becoming a real thorn in the senator's side, a threat to his own seat in the senate. The young congressman was smart and sharp and he knew how to campaign, how to get votes. The loss of his wife a year or so ago had been sad...even Medwick honestly felt that...but it had also drawn an inordinate amount of media attention to a man who had until then, in Medwick's own opinion, been a rather obscure politician.
That was certainly no longer true. Landson was a friend of the president and influential in Washington. Oh, he didn't have the influence of a senior senator like Malcom Medwick, of course, but he was definitely becoming a problem. Meanwhile, Medwick was sixty two years old, graying and balding, fat and out of shape, while Landson was in his early forties. He was athletic, rather handsome in a rugged, square-jawed sort of way, the image of a modern young politician. And it was well known on the rumor mill of Washington that Landson was beginning to covet Malcom Medwick's seat in the Senate. It was a logical step up for the popular young member of the House.
During Medwick's ruminations, Branberry had opened his own door, walked around the limo and into the lobby of the fancy hotel. Returning, he offered a hand to Senator Medwick.
"Sir, your...ah...guest is waiting."
Medwick's thoughts snapped back to the present. Dale was waiting in the lobby for him to arrive, and Medwick was ready. He'd waited a long time to meet his famous guest. He took Branberry's hand and allowed himself to be pulled erect, though he hoped Dale wasn't watching from inside. Pulled erect. That was a good one, he thought as he chuckled inwardly. Dale would soon be doing the same for him. He lumbered across the sidewalk and into the grand lobby of the Imperial.
Senator Malcom Medwick's breath stopped in his throat the moment he caught sight of Dale. Dale was an intoxicating figure standing there in the lobby, waiting for him...a huge breasted figure with hard nipples jutting out of a soft silk blouse, marvelously made up with glistening lips and deep eyes, a sensual figure beyond his wildest hopes with long, smooth, reddish hair that tumbled carelessly yet perfectly down across bare, sloping, smooth shoulders.
Dale was one of the most beautiful men Malcom Medwick had ever seen.
Catherine D'Angelo was frightened. She held Buck Landson with a grip of fear, encircling him with her slim arms, attempting to reach up and shield him, protect him from the outside world. Katy never cared for Lima, and the bombing of Buck's car didn't help. Lima was his place with Sheila, not with her. When he arrived late, in a police car, somewhat disheveled, with both knees of his suit pants torn and the coat spotted with street grime, she disliked Lima even more. Still, she had to admit to herself, other than tears and spots, he seemed in good shape, even good humor.
"Some of my irate constituents, Kit," he'd joked, using the shorter form of the intimate name he used only when they were alone together. She continued to hold him where she caught him just inside the door of their rented apartment on McDonald Street on the higher quality, west side of the little Ohio manufacturing town. No, she didn't care for Lima, but she treasured the interludes they'd shared for the past eleven months, two weeks, and three days...and she could probably have calculated in her head the hours as well. Catherine D'Angelo, as unlikely as it might seem even to her, was deeply in love with Congressman Buckley Landson. She loved him beyond anything she ever felt before, with an emotional and physical passion that filled her heart and her mind. The mere thought of him sent warm pleasure through her. The thought of being with him prompted a more basic feeling, a tingling of her nipples. He was, in fact, never away from her, no matter their physical distance. She took him to bed with her every night, even when they were separated. She awakened with him in the middle of the night, touching herself, caressing herself as she thought of him, and she awoke with him every morning, even when they were far apart.
He filled her soul, and she welcomed him there. When they were together in their apartment in Lima, and she awakened in the middle of the night, she always experienced joy as she felt his body next to hers. She never had to reach out and touch, for they were always molded together, even in sleep.
On her job in Washington, at her desk, though she had acquired the reputation as a cold model of untouchable virtue, Buck Landson was with her. The fact that she worked on the inner staff of Senator Malcom Medwick was only a confusing, contradictory coincidence, and meant nothing to either of them. They had talked before they first became intimate, talked specifically about Senator Medwick and what the relationship of each to the Senator could mean to their own friendship. They had consciously decided to totally exclude Medwick, his job, her job, Buck's job, and any thought or decision about Washington, the House, the Senate, and any campaign, from any future discussion between them.
Since then they had remained true to their mutual promise. Occasionally something would happen that involved both of them...Medwick's speech to the Ada, Ohio, Rotary club, and his comments on Buck, was one example, and they chuckled over that...but generally they acted as though they only recognized their life there in Lima. It was all she really wanted to know anyhow, she had long since decided to herself.
Holding Buck closely just inside the door of their apartment, she felt her nipples tingle against his chest. It was that way every time. No matter how close they had been in the past, each time was new, each time was the first time, only better. He pushed his hips against her and she felt the hardening of him.
"Buck, don't make fun of what happened," she said, pulling away slightly though her body protested the move. "I'm frightened."
"Easy, Kit...easy. We're OK now. The police said they'd hang around outside for a while." He chuckled. In fact, they're probably wondering what the hell I'm doing here in the first place." He paused, thinking. "The press will land on me later, when word of the incident gets around, but I can handle that...and keep you out of it."
"I don't care, darling. I...I just want to be with you..." she responded, snuggling closer, molding her body to his. She really didn't care anymore, she knew. Lately she had even found herself wishing they would be discovered. With her head on his chest, she could just see the front door of the modest apartment. Behind them was the smaller dining room, a kitchenette and a bath. Off the dining room was the bedroom, an area that had been a factor in the selection of the place. They knew they would do little cooking and no inside entertaining, but that the bedroom would be important. The bedroom needed to be welcoming and comfortable, perhaps the most important room in the apartment. This one was.
Not that they had to hide their relationship completely. That would have been impossible. But they didn't ask for attention, didn't fraternize with neighbors, and didn't come and go together. Outside the bedroom, that is, she reconsidered with an inward smile. They generally arrived and departed in separate cabs, but cabs were normal in the neighborhood of upper class homes and condominiums. To most, Katy knew, they were just two people using an apartment who only occasionally occupied it at the same time. She also knew that sooner or later they would have to move to another place. She smiled to herself. The time Ohio Senator John Glenn knocked on the front door looking for Buck was warning enough.
But Glenn had been coolly aloof, in no way accusatory, acting ultimately like he didn't care one way or the other why she was at the address given him by Buck for delivery of a parcel. That Glenn had decided to bring it personally was a surprise, but Senator Glenn had never mentioned the incident again.
Buck leaned over to kiss her and she responded. As their lips joined, she moved her hand slowly down across his chest and across his stomach, until it rested between his legs. She gently kneaded him.
She felt his lips turn into a smile against her's. He pulled back slightly. "You are one hot number, Kit. You know that...?" he teased.
"I know, big boy, I know," she murmured against his lips. The walls had tumbled between them months ago, almost from the very first night. They had no inhibitions in the way of a happy and lusty physical relationship. She continued to caress him, feeling him harden. Still their lips remained together.
Slowly his hand moved, and she felt it at the buttons of her blouse. One by one he undid them, finally sliding his hand across her breast. The hardening nipple seemed to cry for him to capture it between his fingers and gently roll and squeeze it. She pressed forward into him.
"Where is your brassiere, my dear...?" he whispered.
"I knew you were coming," she whispered back, continuing the gentle humor, "and I didn't want it getting in the way and slowing you down."
"I appreciate that," he said softly, finally closing on the nipple. Ripples of pleasure began at her breasts and ran out through her body. She felt herself wet and ready. The routine they often followed continued.
"I'll bet your soaking..."
"May I see?"
"I want you to."
His hand moved down toward her stomach, momentarily tangling with her arm until she moved slightly. At the waistband of her slacks, he paused, levering his way under. She used her free hand to release a side button and unzip the slacks. His hand then moved under the waistband of the bikini panties she was wearing, and down further. Finally his finger touched her wetness and she felt more waves of pleasure.
"You are wet, Kit..." he murmured.
"For you, darling..." she whispered, "only for you..."
Pulling back, he grinned down at her. "Do you realize that we are still standing in the middle of the living room?"
She smiled back, her love for him shining from her eyes. "I have a suggestion how we can correct that Congressman." He seemed to have forgotten the bombing incident, and she tried to push it from her mind. It would become important again later, she knew, but for the moment they were together and she wanted it to last as long as possible. He seemed to sense her mood, and continued to caress her.
"I love you, Kit...you know that."
"I know, darling. I love you, too."
But then suddenly, inevitably, she could feel him momentarily drifting away. It had happened before, just prior to lovemaking. It was Sheila. She felt she knew Buck's dead wife almost as well as he did, though that was perhaps not really possible. Still, she knew she resented Sheila...and envied her. She wanted what Sheila had with Buck Landson. She would have it eventually, she hoped, but she wanted it every minute, from that moment on. Gently, she nudged him toward the bedroom, and he responded. Holding each other closely, they closed the door behind them.
If he knew why the image of Sheila appeared every time he and Katy were preparing, he would understand far more than he did about male psychology. Of that, Buck Landson was certain. It always happened, though. Occasionally the image was so clear that it had an effect on the love making that followed. It was a situation that was damned embarassing.
The problem, the riveting, overwhelming thoughts of Sheila, never occurred on the floor of the House, or at some dinner with constituents, or even at a meeting with the President. At those times he was himself, with a clear mind and a straightforward aim to the objective he sought. He was often in pressure situations during negotiations with other Congressmen, or during a vote on the floor where one or two "ayes" could make the difference. During those times, his mind was clear.
Only when he was with Katy did Sheila intrude.
Intrude? Was that it? There was probably good reason. For example, he knew he still loved Sheila...but dammit, he'd admitted that even to Kit. She claimed she understood, insisting that the feelings would pass into a warm, tender place in his memory where it would remain for as long as he lived. Meanwhile, he had fallen deeper and deeper into love with the beautiful, dark-haired Catherine D'Angelo. He looked down at her as they moved arm in arm into the bedroom of the leased apartment they shared in Lima.
Damn! She was beautiful. Even with the tops of her slacks and underpanties down around her hips, bunching the sagging legs around her ankles and causing her to walk with a limp, she was tremendously appealing and sensual. He grinned down at her, reaching out to hitch up the pants. The gesture didn't work because the lowered waistband of the panties prevented the waistband of the slacks from rising, so she stopped, pulled off both, and dropped them casually over a bedroom chair. In nothing but a blouse she appeared even more sexual. She seemed to know that as he was sure she knew him, and what pleased him.
Outside, night had fallen and with it had come the cool, damp, pleasant Ohio evening breeze. Trees stirred, the sound of their branches and leaves a soft serenade. The police cruiser pulled away, heading back downtown where the action could sometimes be in the small community.
Buck Landson admired Katy's sleek, athletic body, pale as Sheila's had once been. Damn, there he went again. He concentrated. Her breasts, Kit's breasts that is, obvious beneath the silk blouse, were of average size but p erfectly formed, standing up and out on their own without the help of a supportive brassiere. Her nipples, normally soft, shoved the silk out as two points, hard and willing. Her waist was narrow, flaring to rounded hips. Her legs were long and lean and where they joined, her pubic hair was black as coal and well-trimmed so that not a hair would have been visible in the slightest bikini bathing suit. Otherwise, it was thick and tightly kinked. She stood poised as he admired her, waiting for him to finish.
"You like me looking at you, don't you Kit...?"
"I love it. You know that Buck."
"Did you ever think of letting your hair grow?
"My hair...? Oh, you mean down here," she said, grinning and indicating the place he had been admiring.
He reached out to touch her, gently twisting his fingers into her thick pubic hair. "Yeah...you know...stop trimming it for awhile."
"I'm of Italian ancestry, Buck. You know what they say about Italian women."
"What...?" he asked honestly.
She grinned. "Oh, you know...that we're very...well...hairy."
Buck Landson smiled back. Shiela had been sensitive about her very thin blonde pubic hair, almost invisible in the dark and transparent in the light. He pulled his mind back to Katy. "I'd like to see it...you know...gone wild"
"OK," she agreed easily.
"I mean, with winter coming, you won't be wearing one of those obscenely small bathing suits you're famous for. You won't have to trim, right?"
She grinned again. "I said OK, Buck. If it will please you, we'll let it go back to nature. But I warn you, it's going to be thick...maybe even itchy for a time. Don't laugh if you see me scratching, my love." Leaning back, she supported herself on arms outstretched to the rear. Her breasts stood out proudly, shoving against the silk of her blouse.
Buck Landson changed the subject slightly. "You are a beautiful woman, you know"
"I only want you to think so. If you think so, I'm happy."
Buck knew she meant it. He thought back to their first time together as he admired her. It had been hesitating, halting, a little insecure, but she was afraid and he was still totally caught up in what had happened to Sheila. Between them it could have been a disaster, and yet it had been warm and sensitive. They had understood each other's weaknesses, and strengths, and made no demands. They had allowed the fresh new feeling they had for each other to control the situation, asking for no more than that. Buck knew that the next few hours would be even more loving and sensitive. Each time since the first had, in fact, been better than the last, more giving and more loving, more sensual. This time would be better than last, but not equal to all that were coming in the future.
Sitting on the edge of the bed together, he enjoyed looking at her. His eyes twinkled when he whispered into her ear. "Are you going to do it this time?"
She seemed to know the game. She turned, a shine in her own eyes. "Do what...?"
"You know...move. I especially like it when you move..." he whispered.
She giggled. "Oh, Buck...you know I will. I can't help it."
Once again his mind drifted back to the first time. She hadn't moved then. She'd been too afraid. She laid very still, legs open wide to make entry easy for him, but unresponsive. She was willing. Her body, her wetness, indicated that. She even seemed to enjoy the first time. But she remained very still, offering him whatever he wanted but adding nothing.
Then, as time passed, their lovemaking slowly changed. He remembered when the near-perfection began. They checked into a hotel, a new experience for them. They used fictitious names. Nobody noticed them.They were alone, totally alone, and as they walked into the room she began almost spontaneously to undress. He remembered the sleek, trim way she looked in the long pantyhose as the slacks came off. Then she dropped the shirt she was wearing, then the underwear, and before he even removed his overcoat, she was naked. Grinning, she prompted him to hurry as she threw herself across the bed.That time, her hips spasmodically jerked as she neared orgasm. It was as though she had no control over them. They moved quicker and quicker as her breathing became shallower, more intense, and then she moaned loudly, gripping him with her arms, her open mouth glued to his, her tongue darting about wildly.
Since then, she moved, and they often teased each other about it.
"I'm not kidding you, Kit. I just love it when you move..."
Katy D'Angelo pulled away long enough to slide the blouse back off her shoulders. It slipped down her arms and fell onto the bed behind them.
"God, you are beautiful, Kit..." Buck Landson murmered, pulling her back into his arms. Slowly he lowered her onto the bed. She didn't resist. Instead, she smiled up at him.
"Aren't you going to undress, Congressman Landson...?" she whispered.
"I hate to let go of you long enough to undress," he whispered back. "You might get away from me if I don't hold on..."
Her smile warmed him. "I love you for saying so, my darling...but the truth is, I'm not going anywhere. I love it right here where I am."
"Even in good old Lima?"
She seemed to consider his question. "Yes...even in good old Lima."
He stood and undressed, noting that she watched him carefully. As he pulled off his shirt her eyes roamed over his broad but almost hairless chest, then they dropped as he pulled off his pants and shorts. She looked at him, frankly admiring him, then she reached out to grasp him. He felt himself stiffen as she pulled him toward her mouth. Gently, without haste or pressure, with what seemed to him to be pure, giving love, she sucked on him.
He sighed with pleasure. "Kit...I..."
She stopped and looked up at him. "I love you, Buck. I want to please you in any way I can." Quickly, gently, she bit him. "So just have fun, my love. We have all night."
Congressman Buckley Landson loved Catherine D'Angelo with almost all of his heart. The rest would come, he knew. Using every ounce of his will power, he kneeled, the action pulling him from her mouth. He tilted her face to his own, and kissed her gently, then he lowered himself beside her.
"I love you, Kit..." he murmered.
The amendments he was proposing, the bills he had sponsored, the car bomb...even Sheila...at last faded from his mind as he rolled over onto her, and pressed into her. She matched his own moan of pure, animal pleasure.