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Morton was spent from their lovemaking -- ready to doze until he could find a likely moment to sneak out of the motel -- but when she asked her question, he fixed his eyes on her. Her body, which had only moments ago given him pleasure, now seemed burdensome as she lay on top of him. Her face was only centimeters from his, and he could feel her breath on his perspiration-drenched skin. He had a sudden impulse to push her off -- to escape from her and everything she had proposed fifteen minutes ago, before they started making love....
When she first made the proposition, he had allowed his mind to believe it was all a joke: some sick new form of foreplay, perhaps. In a strange way, maybe the proposition had even turned him on while they were in the moment. She had whispered terrible things into his ears: the ease with which he could break the husband's "pencil neck;" the ease with which he could dump the body out in the middle of nowhere, so that it would never be found. In the midst of their sex, the words and scenarios had been a forbidden aphrodisiac; but now that the sex was over, all the terrible fantasies died away, and he saw only the horror of it.
They were lying in the darkness -- he looked at her face via the dim light filtering through the motel's curtained windows. Outside the motel, he heard trucks rumbling past on the interstate highway. They were about forty minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia at a motel where people came to fuck without pretenses. The rooms were rented by the hour; most of the couples arrived in separate cars; and as Morton listened in the silence, he heard them rattling beds in their furtive search for pleasure. The entire thing suddenly seemed sordid to him; and as he lay there, staring up at the wife, he realized he did not like the expression in her eyes. She was beautiful beyond words, but her eyes were like an abyss, ready to devour him. That same look had been in her eyes when she hired him a month ago to spy on her husband. For a while, Morton had allowed himself to believe that look was lust, but he saw now that she was only using him. He was a tool to her: a disposable means to an end. Even their sex was only a way of baiting him into the abyss. Suddenly repulsed, he pushed her off his body.
"...You're a cold bitch," he hissed; he went to get out of the bed, but she held his arm --
"My coldness didn't keep you from enjoying my body."
He turned and stared at her, dumbfounded; after a moment, he shook his head. "You think because you spread your legs for me a couple times I'll be willing to risk twenty-five years to life?" And then, brushing off her hand, "Your stuff wasn't that good." He grabbed his pants from off the floor and began to put them on. His thirty-five-year-old body still reflected the twelve years he had spent in the Marines. The wife, who was twelve years his junior, stared up at him from the bed, her smooth features seeming almost angelic in the darkness. Morton tried not to look at her -- as if her beauty would somehow tempt him back into the bed. He moved quickly, in order to be free of her. Once his pants were on, he realized he had not put on his underwear. They were probably entwined in the sheets, and he did not want to dally or turn on the light to search for them. He just wanted to get out of there --
"I can offer you money," the wife ventured from the bed. He had been buttoning up his shirt. He turned to face her again. His voice was low and dangerous:
"What didn't you understand about what I just said? I don't want anything to do with this."
"Are you afraid of my husband?" she taunted him. "You see how old and frail he is: you could easily -- "
"Stop it! ÉI told you we're not having this conversation!" He was breathing heavily, while she lay there calmly, and it annoyed him: seemed like a mark of weakness on his part. He sighed. "I don't care what you do to your husband," he said at last, " -- just leave me out of it." Then, as the entire scenario registered in his mind again: "Goddamn, how stupid can you really be? In all the mystery and detective stories you've seen, did you ever see the young, gold-digging wife get away with it?"
"That's where you come in."
He chuckled mordantly. "You mean while I'm rotting in jail, you'll be sunning yourself on your yacht?"
"No -- "
He cut her off before she could explain. "I told you before: I'm not talking about this with you." Looking down, he saw he had buttoned his shirt up wrong. He cursed and started unbuttoning. "ÉDo what the hell you want," he told her again, "but leave me out of it."
"...Okay," she said after a pause. "Will you at least finish your assignment?"
"You mean spying on your old man? I've followed him on three business trips already. He's not cheating on you. He doesn't even rent pornos in the hotel! You're wasting your time and money."
"It's my time and money to waste," the wife responded.
He went to point out it was the husband's money she was wasting; the cruel irony that she was sleeping with the man she had hired to investigate her husband's infidelity was not lost on him. However, at her statement, he merely groaned noncommittally.
"Will you finish the assignment?" she asked again. " -- I'll double your fee."
Once again, he stopped and stared at her. The surreal glow from the fluorescent light outside the motel window was cutting across her face. He again saw she was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Her skin was like creamy chocolate -- so soft and fragrant he sometimes worried he would bruise her during their lovemaking: ruin her perfection. She was the kind of woman men had sacrificed themselves for over the centuries. Indeed, she was the kind of woman a man was happy to just be seen with; but once again seeing the ugly expression in her eyes, Morton shook his head.
He had almost allowed himself to be trapped by her; but he was free now, able to see things clearly after weeks of blindness. In fact, he suddenly felt sorry for her husband. In every way, her husband, Templeton Ferguson IV, had the type of life people were supposed to envy. The old white man had a fortune in the hundreds of millions: his home and possessions were extravagant; his wife was young and stunning. A side of Morton had liked making love to the wife solely because she was Ferguson's wife. The thought of taking something from such a powerful man had turned him on. Also, like most men, Morton had believed his penis had miraculous powers when it came to women. He had allowed himself to believe it was the good dick he had hanging between his legs that had made the wife choose him over a Harvard-educated multimillionaire. He had allowed himself to believe his good dick had compelled the wife to risk her life of wealth and comfortÉbut he knew now the wife's sex had only been bait for the trap. For a while, he had taken the bait, and swallowed it whole, but he was free now, immune to her spell.
The wife was still lying on the bed, looking up at him intently. Despite everything he had said to her, there was a calm, confident expression on her face; and as he watched her closely, he realized she still believed she could talk him into killing the husband. It was written plainly on her face. Just as he had believed his dick could make her do something impossibly stupid, she believed her pussy could make him throw his life away. He smiled. Now that he had seen her clearly, he felt calm and confident -- and vengeful. Both she and her husband had wronged him: the wife had used him; the husband's wealth and power mocked his manhood somehow, making him feel like a petty fool. Remembering the wife's proposal to double his fee, Morton realized that taking more of their money would prove his superiority over them; indeed, if he played his cards right, he knew he could continue screwing the wife indefinitely. All he had to do was string her along: bait her like she had baited him. Seeing how easy it would be, his smile widened. In fact, his smile was so peculiar that the wife looked at him confusedly; to cover himself, Morton blurted out:
"On second thought, I guess I can finish the assignment." He was still smiling.
The wife, too, began to smile, because she allowed herself to believe it would only be a matter of time before she wore down his defenses. "Good," she said at last. And then, throwing off the sheet seductively: "The night is still young. You may as well come back over here and keep me company."
Morton's eyes caressed every delicious curve of her body. He reminded himself to resist her spell, but his dick was stirring in his pants, so he smiled and walked back over to the bed.
One day after the wife's motel room proposal, Morton was in Orlando, Florida at the hotel where the husband would be staying. For Morton, this was already the most profitable assignment he had ever had. So far, he had collected over $7,000 from the wife. He worked freelance through an agency, which took in all the cases and then doled out assignments to their member detectives. He had seen their ad in the paper the day he got out of the Marines. After a six-week course, he had started his career as a private detective. Most of his clients had been jealous or distrustful spouses who wanted their mates followed. So, when he first met Mrs. Ferguson a month ago, everything had seemed routine. When she started coming on to him, he had thought he hit the jackpot. Even after last night's realizations, he felt as though he were one of the luckiest men on earth. He knew he could keep this going for at least another month, by which time he should have gotten another $15,000 from the wife. This was perfect.
He had caught a morning flight to Orlando, so he could be at the hotel when Mr. Ferguson arrived. He had already checked into the hotel and hired a rental car, which was waiting in the hotel parking lot....