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When he went inside the next morning after putting in the last of the vegetables, an array of electronic gear cluttered the table, along with breakfast. He dug in, and looked over the pieces as he ate. “Looks like a wireless video camera setup. These three have to be the smallest cameras I’ve ever seen. And this one you can aim and zoom. And two monitors! What do you want to surveil? Fort Knox?”
“The driveway and the area north of the house, this room, the upstairs lounge, and my bedroom.” She looked at him. “I think you should have the password so you can be confident that no one can spy on you in the public areas, and I want you to be my accomplice, if you’re willing, about monitoring my room.” She reflected a moment, then looked up. “I did a sort of background check on you and you appear to be pretty trustworthy. At any rate, the government seems to think so, what with the top secret SCI poly clearance, whatever that is. I see you didn’t do much in classical studies after you got out.”
“Well, I’m flattered that you trust me. Yeah, not much demand for classicists these days,” he added wryly. “Setting this up should be a piece of cake; you could probably do it yourself. But why on earth do you want a camera in your room, if I may ask?”
“I have my reasons. It won’t be on all the time, but I will want you to turn it on sometimes. And record what it gets, too. The other cameras are for security, especially the driveway one, which I want on all the time. You know enough about security, so make a schedule or something for the other two inside ones.”
He spent the rest of the morning hooking up the system. When he got to her bedroom, he was surprised at how ornate it was. “Your room is pretty classy! Do you need a compass to find your way out of that bed?” He quipped. “What angle would you like?”
“I want a good view of the bed. I think from about there,” she pointed out a corner, “you can cover the bed and see into the bathroom pretty well.”
With all the frou-frou on the walls, the camera was unnoticeable unless you knew it was there, knew what it looked like, and actually looked for it. For good measure he put a spot of duct tape over the activity light.
He set up a stand-alone dumb monitor in the kitchen for the driveway cam, and set it to record half an hour of video at one frame per second, set so it kept a running record of the past seven hours at the more normal 14 fps. She helped carry the other monitor and recording equipment into his room. He would have the ability to monitor and record all the cameras at will, and he showed her how to turn on the recording if she wanted to when he wasn’t there.
After the recording lesson she added, “If I ask you to record my room, do it at normal speed so it looks realistic, okay? Say—is your bed okay? It looks crooked.”
Asch blushed a little. “Um, yeah it’s okay. I kind of bumped it yesterday.”
“Well, let me know if it needs fixing. Though I suppose you can probably fix it yourself if it comes to that.” She looked skeptically at the bed before leaving him to the rest of the setup.
At lunch he said he thought he’d bike into town and do some sightseeing, find the library, stuff like that. Lydia offered, “You can take the truck if you like.”
“Nah, but thanks. I want the exercise.” He took a quick look at the garden, hopped on the bike, and headed down. The prospect of seeing Octavia appealed to him, and he did want to learn his way around. On impulse he headed for the bike shop.
When he got there, the door was standing open, but the place was empty, so he headed back toward the office. He heard Octavia’s voice, sounding argumentative. He hadn’t been trying to be quiet, but it was apparent that he hadn’t been heard, so he stopped so he wouldn’t interrupt what appeared to be a family argument.
Bill was saying, “This could be really important to us. It could get us back on our feet again.”
“Bill, we already talked about this. I wish I had never mentioned that he seemed to be well off. He’s a really nice guy. I have no idea how he would feel about this, and I’m not going to ruin a budding relationship by asking for money. Especially under false pretenses, claiming to need it myself. Stop trying to be devious. Be a man—ask him yourself.”
“I don’t know him well enough. Besides you’ve got boobs. I bet he’d do anything for you if you took him to bed. I know that much about guys.”
“Oo, you are a big fat, jerk, you know that? I never should have introduced you to him. And if I ever did ask him for money, I’d take and spend it on a bike at Mario’s. And park it in front of here so you’d have to look at it.” Asch couldn’t see her, but he grinned as he imagined her stamping her foot and looking ferocious.
He smiled to himself, and backed away. When he got to the door, he called out “Anybody home?”
Bill came rushing out, looking apologetic. “Oh hi! How’s the bike? No problems, I hope. As it happens I was chatting with Octavia. She’s pendik escort here.”
“Y’know, you should put an entry bell in your doorway so nobody could sneak in and swipe a bike. I might be able to rig up something for you next time I’m at the hardware store. In exchange for a couple more of those energy bars.” He smiled innocently.
Octavia came out of the office, smiling. She deliberately seductively adjusted her tank top shoulder strap while Bill was looking at Asch. “Hi, Asch. I was hoping to get to wait on you at supper tonight, but this is a treat! How’s the bike?”
“Bike is great. I’m working out a deal to get some more of those energy bars,” he said. “I think I’ll go do a little exploring in town before I eat, though.” He and Octavia rode together to her neighborhood. He promised to show at the restaurant and headed out.
The town was nice. It sported a sea port at each end; a spotless main drag connected them, loaded with tourist-oriented businesses. Each street farther back was a little more oriented toward the locals, and things didn’t get seedy until about five or six blocks in, where the hillside started to amount to a significant feature of the architecture. He didn’t see anything like a red light district, but he wasn’t sure he’d spot one if it existed. He found the bike shop that Octavia had mentioned—Mario’s—rather flashy, and closer to the south end of the tourist area than Bill’s shop. Higher prices, too. A salesman tried to get him to trade his in on one of their bikes.
The library and some other government buildings were at the opening of a valley that allowed it to be several blocks in and still be flat, and eventually opened into the effluvial plain where the airport was. Getting himself a library card was trivial after he joined the Friends of the Library—the librarian happily used his membership as proof of address. The generosity of his contribution probably helped; the librarian’s body language made it clear that she stopped thinking of him as a fly-by-night tourist.
The island had lots of roads that led into the hills, and apparently several small towns nestled along the far shore, called the east side by the locals. He didn’t go that way, saving it for a future adventure, but he saw several loaded buses headed across or back.
Asch figured that Bill had been talking with his sister about a loan for a boat, and he contemplated the idea, ruminating about Bill’s maturity and business sense. At one point he headed for the northern terminal area and looked over the used fishing and sailboats. He asked a lot of questions, learned a bit, and picked up some brochures and several business cards. He was favorably impressed with one guy, a Polynesian covered in tattoos and a shaved head, who reminded him of Queequeg. Another guy, kind of pushy and nosey, made him think of an unclean and unshaven Archie Bunker.
The cruise ships were impressively huge, and the pier was secured against casual visitors. He had been on a cruise once. After they got home, his wife had happily told everyone about how seasick he had gotten, and she wouldn’t walk in the sand when they had stopped at an island. So he didn’t feel very inclined to look into cruising. The shops at the end of the pier were spotless, though, staffed by attractive locals, and contained a wide variety of goods, particularly foreign luxury items and local craft goods. But no bike rental shop.
Heading back into town he discovered a hardware store next door to a place that sold electronics, and picked up some items for a door alert.
“Okay, here’s what I propose, if you’re interested.” He showed Bill how, whenever someone broke a beam across the doorway, his setup would trigger a doorbell in the store and a wireless device about the size of a TV remote. “The bell tells people that they’ve been announced, and you can keep this in your pocket if you have to run an errand, and whenever someone comes in, you’ll know. The cost is…” and he made a show of looking at his receipt and the price of the energy bars, “A dozen bars.”
Bill was delighted. “Looks like you’ll need a screwdriver and a drill. Want to do it now?”
Asch got to work, and in about three minutes had it hooked up. He mounted the detector back from the edge of the door, and put the mirror that reflected the beam on the wall about a foot from the door jamb. Entering the store, you could not tell that the door was alarmed. He handed Bill the remote. “I think it has a range of about a quarter mile, not that you’d ever be that far away from the store when it’s open.”
Bill let him pick a dozen bars. “Y’know, I suspect what you just did is worth a lot more than these measly bars, but I’m grateful. I think we need something like this.”
“So what time do you close? Do you have evening help? You’re the only male I know on this island, and I’d enjoy being shown where there’s a good watering hole. My treat.”
“Well, I have a mechanic in the back. He’s sefaköy escort not much of a people person, so he doesn’t come out much. I have a kid sister who’s away at college right now. She works here in the summer. Our busy time, though, is mornings, when all the cruise people come looking for rentals, and about three, when they all head back to the ship. I had a girl who worked half days. She was really good looking, and she flirted a lot; but she quit. Ran off with a faculty member at the college. So I’m kind of looking for someone reasonably good looking, and competent. It’s a fact of life, I’m afraid, looks make a big difference in the number of rentals. You know, smile at the old fat guys, and compliment their wives. And the competence keeps us from losing money. I’d hire Octavia, but she’d rather be a waitress.” He rubbed his chin. “Can’t blame her—there’s good money in it. And I’d probably end up working for her here; she’s a sharp chick. Good head on her shoulders.”
They paused while Bill waited on a customer. Asch pretended to look over merchandise and listened in. Bill did okay. Knew his stuff, shut his mouth after closing, and ended up with a rental and a nice sale of some accessories. That was how he had been handled that first day, but now Asch knew it wasn’t a fluke.
When the customer left, Bill and Asch were about to talk some more, but a cute, curly-haired, locally-dressed (read scantily dressed) young lady came in.
“Hey, Jenny! After my advertising the dirt and grease during your last visit, I thought I’d never see you again.”
She said, “Well, I thought about what you said, and decided I’d still like to work for you. I’ve decided oil and grease will wash off. And, ta da, I turn 18 tomorrow. I’ll be legal!” She twirled around, hands in the air. “Before you say no, I’ve researched bicycles online. I know all about brands, features, and accessories, including my own humble bike. I also found some stuff that I can put on my hands that makes the grease wash off easily, which I have already ordered a jar of. Maybe I’ll let you and Charlie try it. I also have some ideas for the store, but I won’t tell you those until after I’m hired. The info might be useful to some other bike shop if you don’t want me.” She batted her eyelashes and shut up, smiling.
Bill and Asch looked at each other, eyebrows raised. Jenny remained silent.
Bill was the first to speak, so he lost. “Ten an hour.”
“You drive a hard bargain. Deal. What time of day were you born?”
Jenny blinked. “Six AM.”
“Okay show up at seven and we’ll work out the details. Fair enough?”
“How did you know what time you were born?” Asch asked.
“Read it on my birth certificate,” she replied. “Pleased to meet you, Mr…” she trailed off, holding out her hand.
Asch sighed. “So far I’ve managed to avoid telling anyone my last name.” He sighed again. “It’s plain old Jones.”
Jenny didn’t crack a smile. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Jones. Are you a customer or a friend?”
“Well, both, perhaps. I like to think so, anyway. Now I’m impressed with your preparation for this job, so I have a question. May I ask?”
“What do you plan to wear to work tomorrow?”
She blinked. “My home ec teacher said to dress unsuggestively, but I pretty much blew her off.” She tugged a little on her shoulder strap. “People dress scantily around here most of the time.”
“Your home ec teacher offered good advice. If you want to attract voyeurs, and want to make them mad at you when you don’t respond to their advances, dress like that.” He nodded his head at her outfit. “If you want to sell stuff, cover your shoulders, cleavage, and upper legs. And tie your hair back in a ponytail or with a hair band. If you have glasses, wear them. People will still see that you’re attractive, but they’ll get the message that you’re in business and will respect that choice.”
She turned to Bill. “Are you okay with that?”
Bill didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
“I’ll see you gentlemen in the morning,” Jenny said, and turned to leave.
Asch chimed in, “probably won’t see me, but I’ll be interested to know how your first day turns out. Bye.” When she was gone, he turned to Bill. “I’m impressed. If her preparation is as good as she says, you got yourself a gem.”
“Yes, she was always a sharp cookie. I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes. Frankly, I’m excited.”
They walked to a place called Bob’s Beers and ordered a Caribbean craft brew. Asch saw that he could come here pretty regularly for quite a while without repeating a brand. They conversed about the bike business, Bill’s family, and sailing. Asch learned about their father again, and their mom’s retreat from life. Though Bill had high hopes for his bike business, his body language made it clear that his heart was on the water.
Mary was in her usual booth at Rita’s, alone. When Octavia came up, silivri escort Mary asked, “So, woman, did I pick a winner?”
“Girlfriend, you picked a winner in spades. Intelligent, moneyed, gentleman, fun, good shape, good in bed, lots of stamina, but kind of innocent. Which is actually good. It’s like he’s never been a jerk in his life. He’s coming here for dinner. It’ll be fun to watch when he sees you. But he’s never been the least bit mean, so I think we shouldn’t hang him out to dry. I think it’ll be more fun in the long run to clue him in than to yank a rug out from under him. He really is very likeable.”
“You falling in love, girl?”
“As he pointed out in a recent conversation, there’s lots of oxytocin flowing, but I’m willing to see how it goes. It hasn’t been that long. Haven’t seen him angry yet. I’ll keep an eye open and be the one to bring him over. See if we can all get together tonight.” She twinkled her eyes.
Presently Asch came in, clueless about what was in store for him, looking forward to a pleasant evening flirting with Octavia.
Octavia rushed up to meet him, grinning to beat the band. “Have I got a surprise for you!”
“What, you get off early?” he smiled.
“Better than that!” She turned and led him to the back of the dining room.
From his angle of approach, he couldn’t see Mary until he was almost on top of her. He did a serious double-take. “Wha—? Mary! is it really you? I—I” He stammered. He gulped. “I’m surprised. I gave up…” He looked from one to the other. “You guys are in cahoots! Did you know Mary was coming? And here I like you both! Now what am I gonna do?”
Both women were grinning. Octavia spoke. “We go a long way back. BFF’s and all that. I didn’t know for sure when she’d show up, but I’m glad it’s tonight. We’ve been looking forward to getting together. Now you two sit down and eat. Asch, you can tell her everything.”
Asch was still shaking his head, but he sat down and looked at Mary. Octavia headed for the kitchen. “I have to say I’m delighted to lay eyes on you again. I thought you were gone for good, when you didn’t leave any way I could reach you.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. It was our plan to get verification from each other that you were an okay guy. Tell me how it went. I assume you had her for your waitress here the next night…” She looked at him expectantly.
“Well, actually, I saw her at Anchovie’s the next morning. Does that girl ever rest?” He continued with the walk to the bike shop, his room arrangement with Lydia, their playing with the hose, the collapse of the bed—which made her laugh—the shower, which made her go ‘mmm’, the picnic. He described the sex without being pornographic and noticed that Mary seemed particularly attentive during those parts, as if she were fantasizing being a participant. He wound up, “…so Octavia is a real gem. Do I have permission to like you both?”
“Yes! And that’s kind of what we were hoping for. We have this fantasy of sharing a guy, but it had to be someone we both liked, and who was okay with liking both of us. Three stooges.—No, three musketeers.”
They finished their meal and Octavia sent them off with instructions to have a good time.
“My room has a king-size bed. Let’s see how much of it we can take up,” Mary said softly as they walked hand in hand to the hotel. “That ‘searching for hidden treasure’ game sounds like fun.
They got to the room, and Mary instructed him to sit on the edge of the bed. “I want to lead again. Kind of like last time.”
“Well, I have this passive streak, so lead on, McBeauty.”
“Okay. First, undo your zipper and let yourself hang out. I want to watch your erection.” He did so, and she fiddled with her tablet, and pretty soon Lambada came up. She stood in front of him, just out of reach, and started to dance, sweeping her hand across his face and unfastening her clothes as she did. She had her full uniform on, so the sun dress part came off first, leaving her in a nearly transparent shirt and tights. Her eyes kept alternating between his crotch and his eyes. The tights came off, leaving the shirt to be slowly unbuttoned and finally pulled off as she straddled his legs. By now he had a pretty good erection, and she smiled. “I always thought I’d like to try my hand at pole dancing, and you’ve got a pretty good pole there—” Just then they heard a tapping at the door.
Mary looked through the peephole, then opened the door a couple inches, to talk. Asch heard some girlish giggling. She stepped back to allow Octavia to come in, grinning. “Change in plans. She got off early. The dance is about to be extended!”
It was Octavia’s turn to do the strip tease, and she was every bit as good as Mary, sensuous motions, touching and almost touching, clothes coming off bit by bit. Finally she was sitting on Asch’s lap, naked, looking at Mary. “How was that?” She wiggled her butt. “His erection didn’t go away…” They all laughed, and Asch acknowledged that either of them had more than enough of what it took to get him erect.
“Tonight’s kind of my night,” Mary said. “So I have an idea.” She whispered to Octavia, laying plans for the upcoming activity. “Okay, Asch, lie down on the bed, in the middle, on your back. We’ll take care of your clothes.”
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