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Chapter One

Lindsay Briggs took three steps forward on the stage, her movements almost imperceptible to the still applauding crowd. The lights dimmed and a spotlight suddenly made it seem that she was the only person on the stage.

This was the first song of the evening during which Lindsay transitioned from backup performer to soloist. It was not that she was at all invisible during the previous four songs, while her cousin, Lawrence Walters, his wife Natalie and Natalie’s brother Michael were front and center.

Lawrence may have been the lead singer and the man in charge of the band and singers known collectively as Evening Calm, but he knew that Lindsay always needed to be positioned on stage so that the audience, particularly the men, could see her clearly. He knew that in any venue, be it a night club, a convention or simply a large establishment providing entertainment while the audience enjoyed drinks, the occasional missed note or dropped octave would be forgiven as long as Lindsay was in her game and looking good.

As the opening notes floated across the stage from the piano, Lindsay closed her eyes and seemed to be oblivious to the beacon of light that made her the focus of the 400 people in the nightclub. Her voice flowed across the room in a near – whisper as the lyrics to Constant Craving settled over the audience like a soft blanket.

She loved singing that song. The first time she heard it on a cassette tape when she was living in Chicago and working at the commodities exchange on a part-time basis while attending graduate school. She knew it would become her favorite song to sing in the shower, but each time she did so, she found herself adapting the song to her own style, slowing it down a bit and making it a more sultry and soft love song. She loved KD Lang’s version, but knew that each was craving a different thing.

“Constant craving,

Has always been….”

As Lindsay sang, she was craving a certain type of sensation she had never allowed herself to pursue. She was also craving the courage to ask her husband Gerald to provide it to her. Nonetheless, all that the audience knew was that the enticing singer had the talent of singing from her heart, and other places, as if she was unaware of their presence in the large room.

Lindsay Briggs was not a singer who possessed a voice that was superior to her peers. She was a good singer, but was never likely to go beyond her status in show business as part of a regional act that traveled around four states in the Northeast in four vans that also transported children and grandchildren to soccer games and to and from school. Lindsay was all right with that, for singing with the group was something that she did primarily for enjoyment.

When she and Lawrence were children, they would sing for their aunts and uncles and grandparents. They attended the same high school in western New Jersey, and they would even enter talent contests together.

When Lindsay went off to college, she would enjoy visiting any bars that had a karaoke machine. She would receive encouraging comments regarding her talent, but she had no desire to pour a lot of time and effort into a field that she unquestionably enjoyed, but was not her first priority.

Her favorite uncle was a banker, and even in childhood Lindsay held a fascination for matters of money. It never diminished, and upon graduation from high school she decided to major in economics for her college degree. Her study of the field only intensified her interest, and after graduation with her bachelors degree, with her parents’ blessing and the support of their checkbook, Lindsay charge headlong into graduate school, emerging at age 26 with her doctorate.

Years later Lawrence formed Evening Calm, and he immediately asked Lindsay to join. But she was too busy establishing herself in her reputation, so she politely declined the opportunity, until when she was in her early 40s, and Lawrence lost his female backup singer.

Lindsay did earn some money from the gig, but she never gave up her day job as a consultant and expert in the field of economics. To her professional colleagues, she was Dr. Lindsay Briggs. For those in the audience, she was the sultry and sexy torch singer in the low- cut black dress. Those who followed business news would see Lindsay on television from time to time as a guest on a variety of news network programs. They would also see her quoted on occasion in newspaper articles and on internet sites.

Lindsay was comfortable with who she was at age 45. She did not mind that the dark brown hair that just brushed her shoulders was prematurely interspersed with strands of gray. When she had the audience captivated while seeming to make love through her songs, she would open her eyes and beam an expression that seemed to be saying to the males, “….and I know you would love to have me”.

Those males would be enraptured by the pretty face and the substantial chest and the shapely legs. Lindsay always wore a black dress, typically one with a hem that settled a few inches above her knees. Those legs were always on display through sheer but slightly darkened hose.

Lindsay Briggs was simply a woman that men loved to gaze at when she was on stage. She had been told that many times, and had heard several comments to the effect that her figure was the type that men found highly provocative. Lindsay always found this a bit perplexing, as she had struggled with her weight since she was a teen. She was always just a little heavier than she wanted to be. In spite of the compliments she would receive on her looks, she could not help but feel that when she went on stage, she was being compared to her cousin’s more slender wife.

In spite of minding her diet and indulging in faithful exercise, she was still usually 30 pounds heavier than what she wanted to carry on her 5’6” frame. Some of it had settled in her breasts, a little around her waist, some in her legs, and a goodly portion had found its way to her posterior. Husband Gerald may have found that to his liking, but Lindsay was frustrated by looking in the mirror and having the word “chubby” come to mind. It was one of the reasons that she always wore a black dress on stage, as she felt that it had a slimming effect on her appearance. In fact, her expressions of concern about her weight was the only ongoing difficulty in her marriage.

Gerald would become highly frustrated when she made the self- deprecating comments about her legs and bottom. In spite of her own doubts, Gerald found them quite attractive. One day, several months after their marriage, they spent most of the day walking around the house without speaking to each other after Lindsay commented that she could not understand why any man would find her so attractive. Lindsay was angry with herself, and Gerald was angry with Lindsay.

For that matter, most  men who looked at her had no such doubts about her mysterious attractiveness. Lindsay had joined the group three  years earlier, several months prior to her marriage to Gerald. After her first night on stage and her first solo during their arrangement of I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry, the most elder member of the group, the keyboard player who was 62 at the time, commented as they packed their equipment into one of the vans. “I tell you, Lindsay, I heard a recording of Dean Martin singing that, after BJ Thomas made it famous. I also saw Elvis Presley sing that in Las Vegas one night, and was in the audience one time when Conway Twitty did it. The difference was, I never wanted to crawl under the sheets with any of them after they sang it.”

The comment brought a round of laughter, and a bow and curtsy from the red-faced Lindsay. Still, there was no question that part of her value to the group was her sheer sexiness, her plus sized figure and all.

Lindsay finished her rendition of Constant Craving to a thunder of applause then stepped back to once again back up the primary singers. Several songs later, she stepped forward slowly and stood a couple of feet away from Lawrence as a bass guitar began to play as she joined them and readied for her solo: “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry….”

The next song in the repertoire was another solo by Lindsay, as the other singers went to the back of the stage to rest their voices and drink some water.

A slow melody floated from the piano, accompanied by the rhythm guitar. Lindsay seemed radiant in the spotlight as another quiet ballad poured from her lips in the form of Grapefruit Moon.

“Cause every time I hear that melody,

 Well, something breaks inside….”                

The songs rolled by, until it was time to finish the play list. Lawrence stepped to the microphone while the others singers moved backward  and Lindsay approached. Lawrence thanked all in attendance for being there that evening, and joked that it was now time to make everyone want to go home and “Get romantic, because once again, as we close out our program for this evening, it’s Lindsay’s turn to sing.”

As the audience applauded, Lawrence walked away and disappeared as the spotlight was once again trained on Lindsay, but this time the light was softer as she summoned up her most sensuous demeanor to sing Slow Hand.

Within a few notes of the beginning of the song, Lindsay had the audience mesmerized, at least the male members. She closed her eyes and swayed softly as she sang, making the lyrics sound as if she were pleading for her dream lover. “I want a man with a slow hand.  I want a lover with an easy touch….”

 

Lindsay began to doze in the dark van interior as she leaned against a guitar case in the rear seat of the extended base vehicle. She opened her eyes and glanced at her watch to see that it was nearly 2:00 AM, still 30 minutes away from the large garage at Lawrence’s home where all the gear was stored. Her own car was parked on the street at that residence, and she would have to drive 30 minutes to reach her own home in a historic neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey. In fact, all the group lived within an hour of Lawrence’s home, where they would assemble before leaving for performances in the New York City Metropolitan area, New Jersey, Connecticut and nearby areas of Pennsylvania.

Through her fatigue, Lindsay strained to recall if she and Gerald had made any plans for the following day, a Sunday. She remembered that he had expressed his displeasure at having to go into the big city for a late afternoon Saturday meeting with his publisher. His literary agent and the publisher were squabbling over the promotion of his newest novel, and Gerald was asked to meet with them and provide his input.

Gerald had experienced significant success with his series of crime novels, using characters and settings centered around the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He had worked as a trainer and masseuse until his late 30s, when the books he was writing in his free time began to gain traction.

Both partners in the marriage found themselves traveling frequently, but it seemed to only make them enjoy their time together that much more. It made for a diverse lifestyle. On Monday, Gerald would be holding a book signing at a large fitness center in downtown Manhattan that catered to many wealthy and prominent denizens of that center of power and fame. At the same time, Lindsay would be speaking to an auditorium full of business students at Columbia University, addressing the impact of the federal deficit on the New York Stock Exchange.

They had met quite by accident. Gerald had been standing in line at a Trenton coffeehouse, when he could not help but overhear a conversation between two attractive women at the table next to where he was standing. Lindsay had encountered a stock analyst she had known for several years and they were discussing their state of being single, and their common desire to not have children.

When Gerald had finally been served his coffee he turned to see that the woman who was sitting with Lindsay had risen and was saying goodbye. Too intrigued by Lindsay’s attractiveness not to speak to her, he approached next to her table and paused: “I don’t mean to be forward, but as I was standing in line I could not help but overhear your conversation with your friend. I mean, I share the same opinion on parenthood, and I was wondering if you caught as much grief from your family about it as I do?”

Lindsay began to laugh then gestured at the empty chair. “Please sit down.”

Gerald nodded and took a seat. Lindsay laughed again. “When my mother heard me express that sentiment, her face turned pale. I have a younger sister who has five children, so my mother thinks there is absolutely something wrong with me. She doesn’t understand it, but I enjoy my freedom, and I don’t want to be giving birth in my 40s.”

Gerald nodded at the radiant woman who immediately had him at her mercy. “I suppose I can’t make the claim about a biological clock, but I face the same thing from my parents. Actually, it’s my father who gives me the hardest time about it. He just doesn’t understand how a man can feel like what he calls a real man without being a father. My mother seems to have a better understanding of my feelings about parenthood. Maybe Dad thinks it’s in some way a reflection on his own parenting. The reality is, he has always been a great father to me and my brother, who by the way has four children. He thinks I’m being selfish, but I just want to do my own thing, so that when I do get married, our decisions will not be driven by children.”

Lindsay was finding her own interest soaring. “My name is Lindsay Moore. I am an economist.”

Gerald put his hand out. “Gerald Briggs - fiction author.”

The conversation lasted through two more cups of coffee, and when Lindsay had to leave for a magazine interview, they exchanged phone numbers, and agreed to meet at the same coffeehouse for lunch the following day.

That second meeting went as well as the first, and soon they were seeing each other on a steady basis. At first, Lindsay felt a little uncomfortable in dating such a physical specimen, when she had a figure nothing like that of a fashion model. But when all was said and done, they simply liked each other too much to not be together.

Gerald had been married once in this mid-20s, but the relationship had only lasted for a few years. It took place during those years when he was still struggling as a training instructor and masseuse, facing much competition for the higher-paying positions in those fields. His wife simply became impatient with his long work hours and meager earnings, and lost interest in him.

Gerald continued in his field, still hoping to make his name as a trainer, and seek out the more lucrative personal training arrangements that many wealthy and prominent individuals preferred. However, he still found himself working in a fitness center when one morning he arrived at work to find the establishment cordoned off with yellow tape, and police swarming around the building. It turned out that when the manager had opened that morning, a woman was found dead in the dressing room. Although it turned out to be the result of a domestic crisis, the incident caused Gerald’s imagination to run wild.

That evening, Gerald sat down at his computer and for the first time, opened the word processing software that had come with the machine. He began writing a story about a murder in a health club, and the next time he looked at his watch, it was the middle the night, and he realized why he felt so hungry.

Gerald struggled to gain a foothold with an agent, and never  looked back. Each time he went to work at the fitness center from that day forth, he approached his work with a different point of view. As he conversed with the patrons, he realized that each of them was a potential story. He quickly learned to take reality, give it an interesting twist and add some drama. Within three years from the first time his fingers hit the keyboard, Gerald was supporting himself with his income from fiction.

 

Lindsay explained to Gerald how she had gone straight to graduate school, and  entered into an exhausting job with a large brokerage house, working long days and weekends doing investment analysis for the firm’s tens of thousands of clients. She earned a lot of money, and her reputation grew in the world of financial services. By the time she was in her mid-30s, she was writing books on investing, speaking at seminars and serving on panel discussions. She had left the twelve hour days behind.

She had dated on occasion, but had never developed  serious feelings for any of her suitors. She was enjoying her work, and decided to have some fun by singing with her cousin’s band. She was satisfied with that life until her encounter with Gerald in that coffee shop.

It did not take very long before they were spending much of their spare time together. Gerald fell hard and fast for the lovely and sensitive woman who possessed a wide range of talents, but whose self-esteem seemed to need bolstering. One thing that he came to realize early on in the relationship was Lindsay’s dissatisfaction with her figure, although that figure was extremely desirable to Gerald.

Lindsay spoke of her ongoing battle with what she referred to as her “extra 30”. She told of how her sister, one year older than she, was much more slender. There had never been an expressed rivalry between the two over such matters. In fact, they were very close. Lindsay just had this tendency to see more slender women as exhibiting an ideal she should try to emulate.

She had lots of friends in high school and college, and she was popular in both social settings. She could have had all the dates she wanted, and was asked out more often than many of her peers, although she often declined. She did not recognize in herself the warm and funny charm she possessed, and what effect her appearance had on men.

Gerald often told her how beautiful she was to him. She would smile sweetly and thank him for such comments, but deep inside she remained unconvinced. She never questioned his love or affection however, and knew that his feelings were genuine.

For her part, within a couple of months of their meeting Lindsay was head over heels in love with Gerald. His solid physique and handsome face were traits that she certainly appreciated. But most of all, she fell in love with his tender and sensitive demeanor, his wit and tendency to be very understanding and patient.

She would always look back to her favorite date with Gerald, when she went to his apartment to enjoy some of his exquisite cooking. During their meal, he began to talk about his former career as a trainer and masseuse. Although it crossed her mind often, and she had never brought herself to discuss it, she began to ask questions about the process of professional massage.

To her delight, Gerald asked if after dinner, she would like for him to give her a massage. He explained that he had everything there that he needed, except that he did not have an actual massage table. He tapped on the dining table and asked, “What do you think?”

Lindsay giggled and nodded. “Okay.”

After the meal and after all the dishes had been put away and the table was cleared, Gerald began rummaging in the closet and returned with an arm full of materials. Lindsay watched in amusement as Gerald placed a cushioning mat on the table then covered it with a sheet.

That being done, he turned to Lindsay and handed her a large towel. Then he went to the window, closed the blinds and turned the lights down. He pointed to the towel, and with a smile instructed her, “Just take off all your clothes and lay down and put this towel over your bottom. I’ll be waiting in the next room, so just yell out when you’re ready.”

Lindsay’s jaw dropped when he said that, but then smiled and nodded as he walked away. As she got undressed in her boyfriend’s apartment, she felt more self-conscious than she could recall in some time. Still she went ahead and placed her clothes on a chair, sat on the table and stretched out on the covered cushion, then placed the folded towel over her bottom.

She took a moment to imagine what she must look like at that time, then took a deep breath and called out in a sing song voice, “Oh…. Gerald…. I am ready.”

Gerald told her later that when he walked into the room, her cheeks turned as red as apples. Nonetheless, he set about massaging her neck and shoulders, making her feel more relaxed and at ease in spite of her state of undress.

When his fingers would reach down to her side, she would feel her heart beat faster at the prospect of his touching just the edges of her breasts. When he worked his way down her back, to the lower back near where the crack of her bottom was just peeking out from under the edges of the towel, she began to feel an enjoyable level of arousal.

He began massaging her lower legs, then worked his way up her thighs, but took care to restrict his fingers to the backs of her legs and the outer thighs. Once she had given much attention to her lower limbs, he began working on her back, shoulders and arms the rest of the time. When finished, he playfully patted her on her covered bottom, then told her to simply call for him again that she was dressed.

That simple quiet evening had a monumental effect on the relationship. Lindsay certainly found how much she enjoyed being massaged and how skillful Gerald was in doing so. Most important, the scenario reinforced to her just how much this man could be trusted. There was no questioning Gerald’s desire for her, nor hers for him. Yet, with the woman he loved and desired stretched out on a table covered by nothing more than one towel, he asked to do nothing more than provide the promised sample of his rarely used skills from the past.

They spent the rest of that evening sharing some wine and a chocolate dessert Gerald had concocted. Most of all, they spent hours speaking of aspirations and attitudes to a depth that had never been explored before. Lindsay would always look back on that night as a time when she knew that Gerald had no chance: she would never allow him out of her grasp.

After dating for six months Gerald proposed, and on that night Lindsay slept with a man for the first time. The next week they were married in a civil ceremony by a judge, and Lindsay moved into Gerald’s condo.

After a year of marriage, they found their stately home in the historic area of Trenton, surrounded by other stately homes. They were lucky to spend three nights per week in it together, but they were indeed a good match.

One area of concern that a happy career and happy marriage could not resolve for Lindsay was her troubled relationship with her mother. It was not that there was any lack of mutual love between the women, but Lindsay’s mother had managed to fill her daughter’s mind with a long list of admonitions in addition to the matter of motherhood.

The mother had provided Lindsay’s psyche with a significant list of issues that were simply proper. Even when Lindsay was an adult, engaged with her mother and other adult women in conversation, the mother would abide no references to sexual enjoyment. For Lindsay, she was haunted by one particular reference. At a family gathering, her female cousin made a joking reference to having her husband spank her. Immediately, Lindsay’s mother made a curt reference to “such types of awful behavior”.

The comment rattled the 30 year old Lindsay, as she had never revealed to anyone her own suppressed yearning to experience having a man spank her. Lindsay was left to ponder the fact that the one person in her life who had fulfilled the role of her moral guide had just ruled that her secret yearning was inappropriate and wrong.

When Lindsay’s relationship with Gerald was becoming serious, the desire to divulge to him her long buried yearning would at times make her feel almost delirious. The audience may never have known what it was that made her so believable when singing Constant Craving, but Lindsay did.

Her frustration was further heightened when her masseuse –turned- author husband would prepare the massive dining room table for her to receive a rub down. She loved that Gerald spoiled her in that way. He would close the blinds in the large dining room, place a cushioned mat on the table then place a sheet over that. Lindsay would then slowly drop her robe and climb onto the table and lie nude on her stomach.

Gerald would have already turned off their phones and dimmed the lights. He would then set about a slow and sensuous massage to the body of the woman he loved. The luxurious treat would last for half an hour, as he relaxed and kneaded her muscles and teased her with hints as to what was soon to follow. However, each time as he worked his way down her body, she could not help but fantasize of his open palm landing on her bare bottom with a stinging smack, then followed by another, and another, and many more until her arousal was maddening in its intensity.

Lindsay loved the massages, and loved what usually followed. Still, she could never bring herself to express the added feature she would like to have seen as part of every session on that table.

The van pulled into Trenton, so Lindsay reached for a small cooler and retrieved a can of cola to help her stay awake during her short drive home from her cousin’s house. Her phone gave off the buzz indicating that she had just received a text message. It was from Gerald: “just getting to bed, just typed The End. Can’t wait to see you, Sunday evening would seem like a good time to give you the works.”

Lindsay smiled as she thought of everything that “the works” included. The audience may not have known who she was singing about when she spoke of a lover with a slow hand. Gerald had two hands that were not only slow, but quite skilled.


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