Henry opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling.
Morning sunlight filtered into the room through the
sheer curtains on the double doors. He glanced at them
and blinked. The doors led to a balcony with stone
balustrades, which overlooked a yard that made him
think of a Roman villa.
The house — Henry wouldn’t call it a “mansion” — had
been built by some idiot movie star in the Seventies.
It was a cross between the Playboy mansion and Caesars
Palace, complete with cypress trees, a marble fountain,
and a “pool villa” that was bigger than the house Henry
grew up in.
Personally, he thought it was ostentatious. His wife
liked it–it was her idea of classical. It was also the
lifestyle she’d grown accustomed to. With a frown, he
rolled the phrase over in his mind and imagined a high-
priced divorce lawyer using exactly those words to
squeeze more money out of him. He sighed with a mixture
of disgust and resignation.
After a moment he glanced at his wife, asleep beside
him. Even after three children and twenty-plus years of
marriage, Leanne was a beautiful woman. He’d been
dreaming about her and he had an erection.
Unfortunately, he knew better than to wake her. They
hadn’t had sex in more than a year, and only then
because she’d been drunk after a party. She always had
some excuse to spurn him, and he wouldn’t force himself
The lack of sex was frustrating, but he smirked at one
of the few thoughts that gave him comfort: he still
looked like he had when he was twenty-five. He had more
gray in his hair and a bit more weight around his
middle, but Leanne had to work hard to keep her figure.
Her blonde hair came from an expensive salon, and only
her plastic surgeon knew about the nips and tucks.
Well, Henry thought, I know about the nips and tucks
too. He paid for everything, of course. Why wouldn’t
he? She was his wife, after all.
But aren’t wives supposed to have sex with their
husbands? he wondered sarcastically. At least once in a
while? Unfortunately, Leanne was like a Tiffany lamp:
too expensive and too beautiful to touch.
Unless you’re her personal trainer, Henry thought with
a teeth-grinding snarl. Or her decorator… Or her
travel agent… Or the father of another pageant
contestant… Or… The list went on.
None of the affairs had been for long, but Henry still
resented them. He’d even paid a private investigator to
follow her for several months. He had proof of several
of her affairs–pictures, videos, and even hotel
receipts–locked away in his safe.
Since then, he’d had a security system installed in the
house, including hidden “nanny cams.” Leanne didn’t
know about them, but the tiny video cameras sent their
feeds to a locked cabinet in Henry’s private wing of
the house. Digital tape recorded every infidelity.
Sometimes Henry watched the video. Leanne was still as
wild and uninhibited as she’d always been, just not
with him. At some point in their marriage, she’d lost
interest in him. He remained faithful to her, although
he couldn’t explain why, even to himself. He’d had
plenty of opportunities over the years, but he’d never
He didn’t know why he didn’t divorce her, either. She’d
try to take half his money–or worse, half his company-
-but with overwhelming proof of her infidelity, she’d
be lucky to walk away with the clothes on her back. She
probably wouldn’t contest the divorce in the first
place, though. She wouldn’t want the scandal.
Unfortunately, Henry had said “till death do us part,”
and he meant it. So he stayed. And he paid for her
exorbitant lifestyle. He even tolerated her affairs,
albeit with a silent, seething resentment.
He threw back the covers and swung his legs over the
side of the bed. His erection had long since
disappeared. He padded into the bathroom and shed his
monogrammed silk pajamas. They were a gift from Leanne,
of course. She wanted him to look the part of the
He snorted. “Wealthy industrialist,” indeed! He owned a
company which had survived the downsizing of
California’s Military-Industrial Complex, nothing more.
In addition to his company, he personally held patents
on a dozen processes used in the aerospace industry. If
anything, he was a successful businessman and inventor.
The US government wasn’t going to stop building
missiles or launching satellites anytime soon, so
Henry’s patents alone would earn millions of dollars a
year for years to come. Even Leanne couldn’t spend that
much money, and their children would be wealthy,
without ever working a day in their lives.
Henry turned on the shower and shook his head in
frustration. Of his three children, only one of them
deserved the money. The irony was, she wanted it the
least. His son, Chad, was twenty- four, single, and an
entertainment lawyer. He was also a spoiled playboy,
who partied with the Hollywood glitterati. As far as
Henry was concerned, they were a bunch of shallow,
His oldest daughter was almost as bad. At twenty-two,
Kacy had two goals in life: to become Miss USA, and to
marry a good- looking, wealthy… somebody. She didn’t
really care what her future husband did for a living —
if anything– as long as he was handsome and rich. At
the moment, she was dating a semi-literate race car
driver. Henry snorted in disgust as he lathered
How had he gone wrong? How had he raised two children
who were such… jackals?
He hadn’t, that’s how.
Chad was a male version of his mother, narcissistic and
completely amoral. And Kacy had taken up her mother’s
crown in the beauty queen business.
Henry shook his head with disbelief. How had he gone
His one consolation was that he hadn’t gone wrong with
his youngest daughter. For whatever reason, Aly was an
actual human being. She had more goodness and decency
than Chad and Kacy combined, and she actually used the
brain God had given her. At nineteen, she’d just
finished her first year of college.
Henry had tried to convince her to attend one of his
alma maters, Rice or Caltech, but she’d had her sights
set on Virginia Tech. He thought she was going for the
wrong reasons–she liked the football team–but the
school did have a solid engineering program. It might
not be up to the standards of Caltech, but it was a far
cry from the local community college. So he’d
reluctantly agreed, and Aly had gone to school 2,500
The distance had been the hardest part. He and Aly were
close — too close, he sometimes thought–and they
traded e-mails almost every day. They talked on the
phone at least once a week, and she e-mailed pictures
as often as she could. In a week, she’d be home for the
summer, and he’d be able to spend as much time with her
as he wanted. She had a six-week internship with a
company in Thousand Oaks, but the rest of the summer
Thinking about her always made him smile, and he
finished his shower in a much better mood. Still
smiling, he rushed to get ready. He had a busy day at
the office, and he wanted to beat the traffic. He
dressed in a suit and tie, and barely spared a glance
for Leanne on the way out of the bedroom.
She was still asleep, of course. She wouldn’t rise
until well after ten o’clock. Her personal trainer was
due at eleven, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Henry clenched his jaw and swallowed a snarl.
Fortunately, his cell phone rang as soon as he turned
out of the driveway. As he talked to the East Coast
client, he forgot all about Leanne and her unfaithful,
self- absorbed, hedonistic, manipulative…
Henry finished his conversation as he pulled into his
parking space. He snapped the phone closed and strode
into the building. His office was a short walk from the
main atrium, and his assistant looked up when he walked
into the reception area.
“Good morning, Dr. Adair,” she said.
Henry grinned at her. She normally called him by his
first name, so she must’ve been in a playful mood. She
was the only person who called him “doctor.” Everyone
else in the company called him Mr. Adair, or simply
Hank, if they knew him well enough. But she’d been his
assistant for nearly ten years, and she’d earned the
right to tease him.
“Mornin’, Jayne,” he said. Then he smiled with inner
amusement — even after three decades on the coast, he
still reverted to his Texas drawl sometimes.
“I put your breakfast on your desk,” she said as she
followed him into his office suite.
Pomegranate juice and a bran muffin, he thought
bleakly. Great. He missed the days when he could have a
sausage biscuit, or even a breakfast burrito. But the
doctor had told him to watch his cholesterol, so Jayne
relentlessly fed him healthy food. He did sneak an
occasional cheeseburger for lunch, but only when she
wasn’t paying attention, which wasn’t often.
“Raytheon is having problems,” she said. She clicked
his mouse to bring up his e-mail. While he ate
breakfast, she summarized more than twenty e-mails. As
she did, she bent over his arm, and he had a difficult
time not glancing at her breasts. Worse, her perfume
made him think of very unprofessional things. He
ruthlessly pulled his mind back to the task at hand:
problems with one of their major clients.
“Thanks, Jayne,” he said when she fell silent and
straightened. He peered up at her for a moment,
studying her face. She wasn’t a classic beauty like
Leanne, but she was pretty. Her good looks were the
reason he’d hired her in the first place, although he
quickly discovered her preternatural ability to
remember things– from names and faces to facts and
figures. She was also loyal, which he valued nearly as
much as her other abilities.
He chuckled to himself. Even with her professional
skills, he still appreciated her good looks. She was
shorter than Leanne, but just as busty. He’d never
asked, but he was sure her breasts were real. And the
rest of her figure suited her perfectly. She was a bit
of a clothes horse — Henry paid her very well–but she
was always professional. Sexy as hell, perhaps, but
When the silence drew out, she arched an eyebrow,
teasing and serious at the same time.
Completely out of the blue, he asked, “When did you
know it was time to get a divorce?”
She blinked in surprise.
“Sorry,” he said hastily. “Forget I said anything.”
She looked at him for another moment, inscrutable.
She’d been divorced for at least eight years, and Henry
didn’t know why he’d even asked the question.
“Really,” he said. “Forget I asked.”
“I guess I knew from the beginning,” she said at last.
“I liked the idea of being married more than the
“And when Jeff started talking about kids…” She
shrugged. “Are you and Leanne…?”
He shook his head, a bit too quickly. He was suddenly
embarrassed. He and Jayne knew a lot about each other’s
personal lives — it was inevitable, especially since
they worked so closely–but there were some things he
didn’t share, like Leanne’s infidelity. Jayne probably
knew (or suspected, at any rate), but they didn’t speak
about it openly.
“Okay,” she said at last. Her smile held a touch of
melancholy. After a moment she turned to business.
“After the Raytheon crisis, top priorities are the
messages from Colonel Musgrave, Senator Tasker’s
office, and Dr. Mueller.”
“Right,” he said. His own smile held a bit of
melancholy as well.
Henry ignored the beep of another call. He didn’t even
take the cell phone from his ear to see who was
calling. His engineering manager was heading to
Raytheon’s facility in Arizona, and the call had
already taken longer than it should have. Henry was
growing annoyed with the man.
“Look, Bob,” he said at last, “you’re in charge of
engineering. I understand that Raytheon is working with
a new process, but when problems do come up, it’s your
job to fix ’em. Got it?”
The phone was silent for several seconds. “Got it,” Bob
said at last. “Sorry Hank.”
“I’m sorry about your fishing trip, but you know how
much money we’re talking about here.” The Raytheon
contract ran well into eight figures, with quite a bit
more if the new guidance technology increased accuracy,
which Henry knew it would.
“Yeah, I know,” Bob said. Then he seemed to brace
himself. “I’ll get to the bottom of it and make sure
the Raytheon guys know what they’re doing.”
“I know you will, Bob.” Henry’s phone beeped again, but
he ignored it. “That’s why I’m sending you instead of
trusting this to anyone else.”
The conversation turned to details, and they talked for
another five minutes. Henry sighed when he finally
snapped the phone closed. His desk phone rang. The
blinking light showed an internal call.
“What?” he snapped.
“Your daughter’s on line three,” Jayne said smoothly.
“Sorry, Jayne,” he said. “I didn’t mean to bite your
He smiled. “What would I do without you?”
“Go bankrupt and have your family disown you,” she said
“That might not be so bad,” he muttered, thinking of
Leanne and his oldest children.
Jayne must have heard him. “It’s Aly on line three,”
He perked up immediately. “Okay. Thanks.” He stabbed
the button for line three. “Hi, sweetheart.”
“Is it a good time?” Aly said. “I tried calling your
cell phone, but you didn’t answer.”
“Sorry,” he said. “I was on another call. An important
one.” He frowned at the memory, but then took a deep
breath and forced a smile. “What can I do for you?”
“I need help, Dad,” she said frankly, and Henry sat
“Jayne,” Henry bellowed, ignoring the intercom.
“You don’t have to shout,” she said when she appeared
in the door. “I’m right here.”
“Book me on the next flight to Blacksburg, Virginia,”
he said. “And have a rental car waiting at the airport.
Also, call U-Haul, or Ryder, or whoever, and rent a
truck for a one-way trip.”
“Are you on a white knight errand?” she asked, smiling
“My little girl needs help.”
Jayne leaned against the doorframe. “What happened?”
“Her car died and she doesn’t have a way to get home
from school. The dealership told her it would be two
weeks before they’d have the parts. Damned Euro-trash
She rolled her eyes. It was one of his frequent rants.
“Anyway,” he continued, “it’s a good time for me to go.”
“To escape, you mean,” she interrupted.
“And I’m…” He turned sheepish. “Am I that obvious?”
She smiled fondly and shook her head.
“Yeah, I guess I’m taking an impromptu vacation. But I
won’t really be out of contact. I’ll have my laptop and
my cell phone. Bob can handle Raytheon, and you can
handle everything here.”
“So I’m going to rescue my little girl.”
“That’s what daddies are for,” she said. Aly was like a
kid sister to her. “I’ll make all the arrangements,”
she added. “Do you want me to drive you to the
He considered for a moment, but then shook his head. He
didn’t want to inconvenience her. Besides, he needed
her running things in the office. “I’ll take a limo,”
She nodded. “I’ll have the driver meet you at your
With a nod and a smile, he turned back to his computer.
He had a dozen e-mails to send before he left. He’d
also have to tell Leanne, but she wouldn’t care. She
and Kacy had a pageant in San Diego. He vaguely
recalled that it was part of the Miss California USA
competition, but he didn’t give it a second thought.
Virginia was hot. Hot and sticky. Henry had already
worked up a sweat just walking to his rental car. Five
minutes later, with the air conditioner on full blast,
he was headed toward Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech
campus. He called Aly once he was sure of his bearings.
She gave him directions to her dorm, but he remembered
the place from when he’d brought her to school.
She met him in the lobby and his eyes lit up when he
saw her. Unlike Leanne and Kacy — who were salon
blondes — Aly was dark- haired. And while Leanne and
Kacy were busty–courtesy of very expensive boob jobs –
– Aly was petite and natural. She was nothing like her
mother or sister, and Henry liked that just fine.
She hugged him tight. “Thanks for coming. I could’ve
driven home by myself, but…”
“Nonsense,” he said. “That’s what fathers are for.”
She looped her arm through his and leaned her head on
his shoulder. “Thanks, Dad. You’re the best.”
They picked up the rental truck and returned to the
dorm, where they loaded Aly’s things. Henry couldn’t
imagine how she’d fit so much stuff in her tiny dorm
room. It filled nearly half of the small truck.
After she checked out of the dorm, they had dinner and
spent the night in a hotel. Her car was still with the
dealer, but Henry arranged for them to send it cross-
country when the repairs were complete. The service
manager had balked at Henry’s “request,” but the
dealership’s general manager understood the unspoken
threat in Henry’s voice.
The next morning, Henry and Aly were on the road by
seven o’clock, with sausage biscuits and hot coffee.
Henry cringed at Jayne’s imagined reproach, but he
savored the buttery biscuit and willed her to silence.
“What’re you smirking at?” Aly asked.
He felt his cheeks heat. “Smirking?”
“Yeah. Just now. You were smirking.”
“I shouldn’t be eating this,” he admitted.
“Because of your cholesterol?”
In the blink of an eye, she snatched the biscuit and
began rolling down her window.
She tossed it out, wrapper and all.
“Aly, that was my breakfast!”
“We’ll stop for an early lunch,” she said, unperturbed.
He glared at her.
“You know Jayne’s going to ask me how you ate,” she
said. “And I won’t lie to her.”
“You could’ve lied this once,” he muttered, half
serious, half joking.
“No, I couldn’t ‘ve. If you won’t take care of
yourself, the women in your life will just have to do
it for you.”
The trip through Tennessee was uneventful. After more
than ten hours on the road, they stopped for the night
in Memphis. They asked the hotel clerk for adjoining
rooms, and opened the door between them.
Henry checked his e-mail while Aly took a shower. He’d
just finished replying to the urgent messages when she
walked through the adjoining door. She wore a towel
around her head and a baggy Hokies T-shirt. Out of the
corner of his eye, he saw her toss a bottle of lotion
onto the bed and flounce after it. He glanced at her,
but then immediately looked away. She wasn’t wearing
panties, and he’d caught a glimpse of her…
He felt an all-too-familiar stab of desire, but he
quickly suppressed it. He cleared his throat. “Um…
sweetheart,” he said tentatively. “This isn’t your
Even out of the corner of his eye, he could see her
“Shouldn’t you put on some shorts or something?”
She laughed. “Oh, Dad.”
What’s that supposed to mean? he wondered.
“It’s not like you’re going to attack me or anything,”
she added. But she didn’t cover herself, and Henry
resolutely stared at his laptop.
“No,” he said, “but you shouldn’t walk around half-
“I’m not ‘half-naked.'”
“Aly,” he said, his voice level, “I can see your… you
“My what, Dad?” she teased.
He cleared his throat again. “You know what I’m talking
And I’m not going to turn around till you put on some
“All right.” She hopped off the bed and returned to her
own room. “If I’d known you were going to be such a
prude,” she shouted back, “I’d ‘ve worn a hoodie and
sweats.” She returned a moment later, wearing a pair of
running shorts instead. “I was finished with my legs
She pulled off her T-shirt and Henry almost gave
himself whiplash as he turned to face his computer.
Later that night, Henry lay awake in bed. Every time he
closed his eyes, he saw Aly’s pussy. Her lips were
smooth and hairless, and he wondered if she shaved the
rest. As soon as the thought popped into his head, he
suppressed it in a wave of guilt.
Fathers do not think of their daughters that way, he
Leanne had her pubic hair waxed. She kept a little
strip above her slit, but the rest was bare. She didn’t
even bother to hide her body from him. It was just one
way she tormented him, and he hated her for it.
Personally, he liked more hair than just the strip, but
that was the style these days. Besides, he’d be happy
with any pussy he could get.
Except my daughter’s, he added hastily.
He tormented himself for another ten or fifteen
minutes. When he realized that he had an erection, he
felt even guiltier. He rolled over and tried to go to
sleep, but his hard-on wouldn’t go away. He kept seeing
Aly’s smooth pussy in his mind, or her breasts, so firm
and round and…
Stop it! he cried silently. Stop it, stop it, stop it!
He punched the pillow and tried to get settled.
Eventually, his erection subsided and he fell into a
fitful, dreamless sleep.
Aly left the suite door open in the morning. Worse, she
kept walking past it as she packed her small suitcase.
She was nude, of course, and Henry did his best to keep
his eyes focused on his laptop. He began pounding out
e-mails, venting his sexual frustration on his
Before he realized what was happening, he felt Aly
behind him. Fortunately, she was dressed. She rubbed
his shoulders and he began to relax.
“Do you want a sausage biscuit for breakfast?” she
He looked up and felt her shrug off his unspoken
“We’re on vacation,” she said. “I won’t tell.”
He smiled. The old Aly was back, the girl he loved,
rather than the sex kitten flashing her father. “Sure,
sweetheart,” he said.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on
the cheek. “I love you, Dad.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
“Now c’mon,” she said. “Let’s stop by McDonald’s on the
way out of town.”
He smiled and closed his laptop.