My blood ran cold and I almost blacked out when I saw the return address on the lavender-tinted envelope on the hall table where the maid had left it. The simmering guilt shot right up to the boiling point. I had lived in fear for twenty years of seeing that name on an envelope addressed to my wife. With trembling hand, I reached for it, but it was too late. Joan was at my elbow.
'Anything interesting in the mail, Hon?'
'Mainly bills,' I responded in the calmest voice I could handle. 'But here, there seems to be a letter from Lena Gerson. God, it's been years. Is she even on our Christmas card list still?'
'Yes, silly, of course she is,' Joan replied, as she reached for the lavender-tinted envelope. 'If you spent any time reading the cards and letters at Christmas, you'd know we have maintained contact since the KL days. She's in Winston Salem now. Retired.'
'I thought she'd take on the family business in Kuala Lumpur,' I said weakly. I had to act naturally. I couldn't have managed to keep Joan from seeing the envelope. Was this it, then? Surely not, if she's been sending us Christmas cards for over twenty years. But Winston Salem. That's just down the road from Roanoke. God. I couldn't let Joan see me sweat, but I felt like melting into a pool right there in the foyer.
'Ah, well, what's Cook got on for lunch?' I asked, desperate to indicate that I wasn't ruffled.
'You've got a tennis and lunch date at the club,' Joan answered. 'Don't tell me you've forgotten that.' And then she gave me a peck on the cheek and turned and marched toward the back of the house, waving that lavender-tinted envelope and provocatively swinging her hips. She was still beautiful, trim, and auburn haired after all these years. Still something to look forward to going to bed for. But would whatever was in that envelope change all of that?
Tennis. That had been my nemesis to begin with. That and the fact that I went out to the embassy in Kuala Lumpur four months before Joan was able to join me.
The Hamiltons had been the toast of the KL English-speaking expatriate community when I got there. Lena - Lena Hamilton then - came from one of the wealthiest foreign business families, the major carpeting importers for the entire country. The Gersons were Americans and maintained their citizenship, but they'd been living in Southeast Asia and doing business there for two generations. Vance Hamilton had been the tennis pro at the English Club, at least until he landed Lena. After that he was just the handsome boy toy face in the company showroom and in the dining room (and bedroom, as necessary) for the company's big spenders.
They were probably the most handsome expat couple in the country when I got there to take up my economic attaché posting at the American embassy. Because of their resemblance in looks and attitude to two of the reigning American movie stars of the early 1980s, they were referred to in social circles as Kathleen (for Kathleen Turner) and Harrison (for Harrison Ford). In Lena's case, the resemblance was startling, down to the throaty voice, which, like Kathleen Turner, Lena put to good use in the local English-language theater company.
I found these nicknames amusing, not the less so when my wife finally arrived in KL and she and I were promptly dubbed Ken and Barbie.
Several things intersected to entangle me in those first few months of what was my first foreign service assignment at the attaché level. It was made clear to me that I was to foster friendships and service to the American business community, Lena was a spoiled and demanding heiress of the American business community, I had been trained to the theater and had the minor assignment of fostering American arts in Malaysia, Lena was a sultry-role actress in the English-language theater in the capital city, both Lena and I played pro-level tennis, Lena was sexy as hell and begged for servicing in every smile she flashed, and my wife was nowhere to be seen yet.
The day I got roped into playing mixed doubles with Lena and Vance at the English Club was the same day Lena dumped her husband for me as a doubles partner on the regional tournament circuit as well as the same day that I serviced her in my temporary digs in the embassy housing compound. She would have been irresistible even if I hadn't been told to please the local American business community in any way I had to and even if she hadn't told me in no uncertain terms what she, as the heiress of a leading American business in the country, would consider good service.
Our doubles tennis match had been hard fought and went on longer than I anticipated. I was running late for a cocktail party and my ride back to the embassy flat was long gone before the match was completed. Vance had a singles match and Lena said she was going to the same cocktail party I was and would drop me by my flat where we both could shower and change. She told me she'd wait for me while I showered, but I discovered that she was waiting for me in the shower. She sucked me to excitement and then I raised her hips up, back against slippery wall tiles, spread her legs, and, crouching my thighs under hers, lowered her puckered cunt onto my throbbing tool. Sliding her up and down on the wet tiles, I fucked her under the cascading water until her sexy, throaty moans brought me to ejaculation. Then, as the bed was between the bathroom and the door, neither of us made it to the cocktail party.
Within a couple of weeks, I found out what kind of leash she had Vance on, because he came upon Lena and me fucking on a chaise lounge in her company's cabana by the club pool one afternoon, and, rather than make a scene, he stripped off his swimming trunks and joined us. I was pretty squeamish at first, but they feel right into the threesome as if they did this all of the time, which I'm sure they did. At first, all of the concentration was on pleasuring Lena. Whatever position we took, I took care of her cunt and Vance took care of her ass. We met somewhere almost every day or night, though, and it wasn't long before I found Vance fondling me - and then kissing me - as often as he was servicing Lena. It was sort of a gradual thing. I had no idea, really, when we had progressed into that. But Vance was a very attractive and sexy and inventive man. And I found that I was excited when he kissed me and invaded my ass with his fingers while I was fucking Lena.
The day came within two months of my arrival that Vance sought me out without Lena and romanced me into fucking him.
I kept up the three-mode subterfuge - Lena and me, the three of us, and Vance and me - for a couple of months. I'd never done anything like this before, and it was an intoxicating experience. But, of course Lena eventually, inevitably found us, naked, with my cock pumping up into Vance's ass, and she screamed bloody murder and made all sorts of threats. Three days after that Joan arrived in Kuala Lumpur. And on that day my simmering guilt was born and sat there for years as a threat over my head - until years and several foreign assignments up to the ambassadorial level after that, it just faded away in the understanding that it was all in the past. Now, with the arrival of a lavender-tinted letter, more than twenty years later, it was all back on the front burner. And my wife was telling me that we never really had lost contact with Lena.
The foolish affair with Lena was just the start of my two-year Kuala Lumpur tour. I had a job to do. And I couldn't do that job and avoid Lena on multiple fronts. I obviously had to maintain connections with her family business. And she insisted that we team up for the regional tennis circuit, all the more important to her now, because she unceremoniously dumped Vance, who managed to find an British expat club in Manila that needed a tennis instructor. She also wanted juicy parts in the English-language theater's plays, which she could get on the strength of her own looks and acting ability, but which were assured when I took on directing duties for two plays a year at the club. But our affair had already stopped, dead in its tracks, three days before my wife arrived in KL.
The irony was that Lena and Joan became instant and almost inseparable friends. The even greater irony was that some months later, when Lena and I were winning our tennis matches and traveling all over Southeast Asia to defend our record and titles - and when Lena popped up in a starring role in every play I directed, the rumors started throughout the community. Lena and I were lovers. We had to be. It no longer was Kathleen and Harrison and Ken and Barbie. The whispers were all Kathleen and Ken - and poor Barbie.
My wife took it all like a queen. She never questioned me once. Her friendship with Lena never flagged. She never showed an ounce of jealously or any indication of having heard the rumors at all. And she never had a reason to suspect that anything happened after she arrived. I'd had my little, titillating, naive fling with the jet setters and the whole sexual liberation bit. Well, sure, over the years I fell off the wagon now and again - with both women and men - but these were always brief couplings of circumstance, immediate need, and momentary heat. But each time I fell off the wagon, the simmering guilt of those three months in KL jabbed at me.
I was in agony for the rest of the day after the envelope arrived. I even lost my tennis match, which I still almost never did. I dragged home, up the oak-lined drive, to that old plantation house south of Roanoke that we'd lovingly restored as we prepared for our retirement from the foreign service, fully expecting to find my suitcase on the portico when a sticky note attached telling me that Joan would use our family lawyer and I could jolly well find my own right after I'd found someplace else to live.
But, no, there was Joan, seated on the stone terrace back by the pool, my evening screwdriver chilled and all ready for me.
As I settled into the wrought-iron patio chair, I saw the slitted lavender-tinted envelope sitting on the table between us. Joan didn't keep me in agony for much longer.
'The letter from Lena suggests we take in the Spoleto music and theater festival in Charleston with her next month; she says she has a condo rented there for a week during the festival and she'd love to see us again and to take in the festival programs with someone she can discuss them with.'
'Well, I - ' I stuttered. I usually wasn't this slow in reaction. I had to find some out before this went any further. What sort of game was Lena playing with this? I had to . . .
'I posted back a yes, of course,' Joan said. 'You've always said we must go to the Spoleto Festival, and it would be great to see Lena again. We have so much to share.'
So much to share. I was panicked. Joan didn't know the half of how much we had to share if Lena decided to share after all these years. She'd indicated she wasn't real pleased when I just cutting the affair off. She'd pretty directly said that if I stopped fucking Vance, I could - and should - resume fucking her any time I wanted to - that she didn't care what Joan or anyone else said. In fact, for months, whenever we were alone she came on to me. But then, of course, she wasn't the one who had something to lose. Not just my marriage; at that point I could have lost my whole career.
A month now to worry myself to death about the situation. And worry, I did. I came very close to taking up smoking and drinking again. Not fucking. That's what had gotten me in trouble in the first place. In fact, I was so taken with guilt, no longer simmering, but slowly coming to a boil, that I found it almost impossible to perform with Joan. And that had never happened before. She was one sexy lady. We'd fucked like bunnies several times a week our entire married life.
If Joan noticed anything was wrong, she certainly didn't reveal it. While I got more nervous and worried with each day approaching our trip down to Winston Salem to pick up Lena Gerson and take her on to Charleston, Joan seemed to take on a higher luster glow and a happier demeanor with each passing day.
Lena was still stunning. She now lived in a deceptively designed 'cottage' on a lake near the Wake Forest University campus. It looked cozy and quaint from the outside, but the interior was expansive, and the furnishings revealed that the carpeting business in Southeast Asia had remained very lucrative. Everywhere I looked there were art photographs of the highest quality. Joan had told me that Lena had left Malaysia and become a photojournalist, but she hadn't told me just how successful Lena had become at it.
The same Kathleen Turner smile and throaty laugh, but Lena had done far better at keeping her figure and holding the wrinkles and sags at bay than Kathleen Turner had managed. And when I saw her, despite all those years that had gone by and despite the simmering guilt, my body still told me that it remembered exploring her body and still was interested.
Joan and Lena fell comfortably into their old friendship and gossip of mutual friends and instantly deep discussions of shared interests, which were many and varied. We sat for two hours over a simple, but delicious meal that Lena whipped up with Joan's help in short order. I watched, drinking too much wine, numb and with the feeling that an open carton of eggs lay right under my feet, threatening to smash and throw yolk and egg white all over the combined kitchen-breakfast room at any moment Lena decided to strike. While I was in suppressed agony over these thoughts, the two women danced around the kitchen in a coordinated movement that could not have been more efficient and artful if they had choreographed it. Joan seemed totally at home in the kitchen - in the whole house, actually. She didn't have to ask where anything was. She and Lena seemed to match each other perfectly in where they would keep anything and what they'd use for any cooking procedure.
After dinner, we retreated to a screened porch overlooking the lake, to listen to the sounds of the evening and to finish off the second bottle of wine. The two women continued their discussion in murmurs while I lost myself in the pages of a spy novel I'd brought to read on the trip. We were leaving the next morning for the drive to Charleston, so, almost simultaneously, Lena and Joan decided to turn in early. I said I'd be along in a half hour or so, that I wanted to reach a certain point in the book before I went to bed. They said that would be fine and waltzed off toward the stairs to the upper level, arm in arm, and whispering like two long-lost sisters.
A jolt of fear sizzled through me as they left drifted into the house. Was this the moment Lena would take her revenge and end my comfortable life? This would be a perfect theatrical moment for that, and Lena wasn't anything if she wasn't theatrical. I stared hard out to where the light of the moon picked up the rippling of the lake waters and waited, heart heavy, the effect of the wine suddenly intruding and causing my head to throb.
I was straining to hear what they were whispering and giggling about as they mounted the stairs, but I couldn't pick it out.
And then silence. No ceiling caving in, no wail of disbelief and betrayal from the upstairs.
I returned to my book and finished the current chapter. I looked at my watch. It had been a good half hour and it was getting late. If I got into reading another chapter, I wouldn't be fit to drive two chattering women in our smallish BMW across the expanse of North and South Carolina the next morning.
I mounted the stairs, determined not to wake anyone. But half way up, I discovered that this wasn't necessary. I could hear them murmuring still. I turned to the left and looked into the guest room, but the bed was empty. The hall bath was on the right, and I turned to enter that.
They'd left the door to the master bedroom, farther down the hall, open. They'd wanted me to see all along. They even had candles around on tables and the dresser, and the king-sized bed was in full view of the hallway where I stood.
Both of the women were naked and were in close embrace on the bed. They were kissing deeply. Joan was running the fingers of one hand along Lena's hip and was rubbing the nipple of a pendulous breast with the fingers of the other hand. Their legs were entwined, but their pelvises were separated a bit. They were separated enough for me to see that Lena had a couple of her fingers buried deeply up Joan's slit. Joan's back was arched away from Lena, her long, auburn hair cascading on top of a pillow. They were both moaning. The soft soprano moaning of my wife that I knew so well and assumed that only I could ignite. And the deep alto, throaty moaning of Lena that I also remembered as if I'd heard it only yesterday.
I tore my eyes away from shock of what I saw in the bed and looked wildly around the room, just to be accosted by more shock. The room was filled of photos of my wife, Joan, in provocative nude positions, and of both Joan and Lena, making love. I stood there, numb and unable to move, as Lena made love in three dimension color to Joan with her embedded fingers and as Joan began to writhe and groan and, finally, give several little lurches and a whimper and bury her face between Lena's breasts.
'Well, are you going to join us?' It was the throaty alto voice.
'Come here, Ethan. Don't be afraid.' The soprano voice beckoned to me. It sounded calm and rich and satisfied.
I moved into the room and over to the bed like a zombie. The women came up on their knees and undressed me and pulled me down onto the bed between them.
Hands were roaming all over me, from either side of me. Joan was taking possession of my lip with hers and Lena was taking possession of my cock with her lips.
For time interminable, we moved together on the bed, sharing kisses and caresses, my cock being taken into the sweet channels of both women, the fingers of both women exploring the inside of me and of each other. The three of us writhing and moaning together. Soprano, alto, baritone. Murmuring, whimpering, crying out, kissing, moaning, groaning, twitching, sighing in harmony.
Much later, as the candles were sputtering out one by one, I finally found my voice.
'What - ?'
'Hush, sweet Ethan.' Smooth fingertips to lips and the throaty alto voice. 'Rest now. It will be dawn soon, and we have a lot of driving to do.'
'But . . . but - '
'Do you mean how long?' The soft soprano voice. A little chortle in matching harmony. 'Lena and I have been lovers since way back then, when I arrived in KL. When you two stopped, she and I took it up. The rumors about you two was the best cover for us.' Another laugh.
But of course. Joan knowing where everything was in the cottage just as if she'd been here often. All those weekend trips she took for women's auxiliary meetings in Richmond. I should be mad, or sad, or indignant. But . . . oh, god, how ironic.
The condo in Charleston only had one bedroom. We had no need for more.