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Grub Hotel Stories

By J. Bennington

Copyright 2019

Cover design by Van_Maniac

See for more designs by this artist.

Story One

George Jones and Wild Bonnie

Story Two

Lacey Storm Cole

Story Three

Patrice Rachael Dustin

Story Four

Jackie Jasmin Westly

Story Five

Jacob and Donna Brazille


George Jones’ car began to worry him. First, the Check Engine light did not bother him since a hundred things could turn it on. However, fifty miles later, the transmission started malfunctioning, and it got progressively worse. Then George grew concerned because he drove an unfamiliar stretch of road in eastern Pennsylvania after dark, with no other traffic and no cities or houses around. The next city listed on road signs was Lancaster, thirty-five miles away, and there was not even a hint at a rest area or a housing area, nothing that would or could be of use to him.

“Damn my luck!” he swore, and the transmission added intermittently downshifting to the lowest gear to its repertoire of annoyance.

He pounded the steering wheel and cursed his reluctance to part with the vehicle and purchase a new one. It was still worthwhile to him, and a new car would only add a financial strain on his tight budget. The vehicle was new when Danny was born, and he bought it for all the up-to-date safety features. Now, both Danny and the car showed their age. Danny was a barrel of energy, exploration, and discovery. The vehicle had any problem a car could experience. However, he kept nursing it along, hoping each repair would last until his big opportunity happened.

“That’s a flipping joke and a half! By the time my big break gets around, I’ll be under six feet of dirt and unable to enjoy it! Thanks a lot, life! You’re so great to me and mine!


He eased off the road and opened his cell phone, yielding to his distress and willing to call for roadside assistance. The screen illuminated, checked the signal strength, and went into shock at zero network bars.

“You’ve got to be shitting me?” He turned the phone off and on several times while pointing it in different directions and getting the same results.

“Double dammit! This is not cool! Fate! Karma! Whichever one is messing with me right now, please stop! This is not funny, and I’m not laughing!”

He tried again, laying it on the seat beside him with a heavy sigh.

He prayed, took some deep breaths, neared the point of crying, and relaxed enough to learn where he had stopped. Around thirty feet before him, illuminated by the

headlights, was a small sign off the road's edge announcing “Grub Motel, four miles ahead.”

A few hundred feet apart, signs read:

“Reasonable rates.”

“Air-conditioned rooms.”

“Microwave Oven.”

“TV w/150 channels.”

“Free Pen and Paper for last notes, last wills, etc.”

“Always a vacancy for people with little life problems. Come on down.”

“Sun-of-a-gun! I don’t remember that hotel, but it works for me tonight.”

He pulled the gear shift from park to drive and requested, “Come on. Work with me, tranny, and we’ll both get rest for tonight.”

He let off the brake, and with plenty of grinding gears and whining, the car moved onto the empty road with what George called a final death throe. Fifteen minutes later, he parked in front of the Grub Hotel with a sign above the door with three lawn-destroying bugs in one corner.

“Just great. Wonder how many negative sign comments they receive? I guarantee they’ll receive some from me. Those noxious stunted worms made me nauseous, and I couldn’t eat dinner.”

He stopped the engine and went inside. He waved a hand in front of his face at the smell of stale cigarette smoke that filled the room and still drifted up from behind the counter.

The man stood, and George gave a mental head shake. He wore a once white but now a dingy yellow tee-shirt and black cotton shorts with no pockets. He had yellow-stained teeth, visible when he talked.

“Howdy, stranger. I'm glad you chose us for your place to rest tonight. What can I do for you?”

“I need a room for the night.”

“Can you pay in cash, in advance? My card reader is as temperamental, as my wife, and it won’t work tonight. She hasn’t worked in nearly twenty years. Should make a fresh start and get rid of both freeloaders at once. What do you think?”

“I think I need a room for cash. Good luck, I’ll let you worry about your wife and reader.”

The man laughed and scratched his belly. “Now, that sounds good to me. Still, I must ask, you know. Never know when some sucker won’t be paying attention and suddenly own the hotel and both freeloaders. That will be $65 for the night, buddy.”

George shook his head, dug the money from his wallet, and laid it on the counter.

The man moved it from sight under the counter and handed George a key. “Hope you don’t mind going way out west,” he drawled. “That’s where it is, the last room at this hotel, Room Eight. I labeled it Room Eight because there are no more rooms after that unless you want to take $10 back and sleep on the ground under the willow tree.”

George picked up the key. “I don’t think so. Is there nothing to fill out? No forms?”

“Nah, the pen ran out of ink five years ago, and there has been no need to go to town for anything recently. I know who I am; you know who you are, and I have your money for tonight. Problem solved, except for you to enjoy your stay, sir.”

George shrugged and turned hesitantly. “Okay. If you say so, but that’s strange.”

“I do say so because it’s my place and my rules. And if you truly want to see strange, I’ll send my wife to wake you in the morning. That will be strange enough to frighten you and keep you awake for the next three days.”

“Never mind. Do your phones work?”

“Yes, sir. Ever since I put them in. Just dial the number you want. I never invested in a switchboard. I’m too cheap to hire an operator.”

“How will you bill me for the calls I make?”

“I won’t bill you. Ohio Bell might if they can track you down, but I’m wealthy enough to pay the bills and then some. So, make the calls you need to help yourself out of your jam, and don’t worry. The more you question, the more I find you untrustworthy and want to reconsider renting the room. Need we go further? The next hotel is twenty-four miles farther west, and your car doesn’t sound like it’s got ten feet left before conking out.”

“Can I leave it where it is until I get a tow truck in the morning?”

“Suits me fine, so long as it’s potty trained and doesn’t pee on the pavement.”

“I hate it when that happens, and I finally sent her through obedience school a year ago. She’ll do fine now.”

“Grand, sir. Now, go and have the memorable night you deserve. Sleep well and dream magnificent dreams.


The room was small and bland, but George considered it worth the $65 cash and put his suitcase on the provided rack under a pole with some hangers available. He tossed his coat on the bed, washed his face and hands, and moved the coat to a chair as he sat on the bed and picked up the phone.

He gave a mental thumbs up to the dial tone and called home.

“Hey, Sibyl. Yes, it’s me. Sorry, I won’t make it home tonight. No, I’m in some fleabag hotel near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Had to pay cash; imagine that. No, the car broke down. Yes, dear. I heard every time you said I needed to get a new one. Maybe this is the time I’ll act on it. I don’t know. I’ll have to call and find the heart to trade up for a newer model. Yes, dear. Sleep well and dream wonderful dreams, and I’ll call you in the morning, beautiful.”

He kissed the phone, disconnected, pondered his sanity for spending $65 on a cheap hotel room, wondering if they had grubs instead of bedbugs, yawned, stretched out on the bed, and told the world goodnight.


Near 1:30, George awakened to a loud crash and grinding metal. He rolled over to see the door ripped from the hinges and felt a rush of cold outside air blowing across the bed. “What the hell?” he asked. As the door closed again, he propped himself on elbows, and a rough-looking character suddenly stood beside the bed. Afterward, George saw the gun barrel wavering in front of his face.

“Who are you?” asked the rough feminine voice.

“George Jones.”

“The singer?”

“No, the insurance salesman.”

“What are you doing here?”

“My car broke down, and I needed a room for the night.”

“And I’m supposed to care? Damn it all! Can’t these hayseed nitwits do anything right? You’re not supposed to be here. This is my room until I tell them I don’t need it anymore.”

“I can go somewhere else and let you have the room?”

“With a broken-down car? Dumb ass! Just shut up a moment until I decide what to do.” He took the hint and nodded.

She lowered the gun to point at the floor. “Scoot over. I like this side of the bed.” She waited until the pillow was clear and made a big show of putting the gun underneath.

“So, here’s the deal. The bed’s big enough for both of us. We’ll sleep here tonight, and when we leave in the morning, you might be pregnant, but you’ll get over it.”

“Yeah, right. Men don’t get pregnant.”

“When you’re dealing with Wild Bonnie, I’d not make an ironclad statement like that. The last man learned the hidden truth that men can get pregnant. He damned near died during birth because the penis won’t stretch like the vagina does. It hurt a lot, but father and son both survived.”

“You’re strange.”

“No, the owner’s wife, Nellie, is strange. Have you seen her? No, you haven’t. You’re still here. People who see her can’t stay here long. They feel like 1000 cooties are crawling over them after the meeting.”

“Never mind. I’m married, and I shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Well, I’m not married, and I’m not so hot about being married, so there. And what do you think you’ll be doing that you shouldn’t?”

“Um, never mind, I think I’ll just go to sleep, and when I wake, this bad flipping nightmare might be over. So, good night.”

She removed her clothes until she reached her underwear and lay beside him. “Good night, grumpy one who wants to touch me but is afraid that his wife might find out when she’s not here and get all mad and cut him off for a year or maybe two.”

“I don’t want to touch you!”

“Yes, you do. If you care to, prove it by sleeping on your stomach. Hah! I love that look. Boners make it difficult to sleep that way. Looks like we’re building a new Denial River. What’s next?”

“Shut up and go to sleep!”

“Scared of your wife. Scared of touching me. Scared of getting pregnant. Pathetic excuse for a man. Get it wet. It’s okay. She’ll never know if you don’t hit your knees in confession when you first see her. And if by some remote chance, she questions you, tell her about Wild Bonnie and getting pregnant, and she’ll laugh so hard she’ll never believe the truth.”

“You’re nuts, woman. Just go to sleep.”

“If you wanted me to sleep, you needed to stop me before I undressed this far. The more clothes I take off, the more I get turned on by men wanting to get pregnant.”

“Gah! I don’t believe this is happening! It only happens in movies!”

“It also happens in Room Eight of the Grub Hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”

“No, it doesn’t!”

She caught a hand and put it below her breasts.

“I’m here. I’m real. I want it. I’m ready. I hope I don’t have to wait until morning for you to relax, forget the wife, and catch up with me.”

“I’m going to wake the owner, get $10 back, and sleep under the willow tree!”

“Oh, grimalkins! Why me? Why now?” She rolled to her side, grabbed his face, and kissed him passionately.

“Better now?”

“I didn’t know women could kiss like that so suddenly.”

“Want more? Got lips?”

“Okay. You win. I sure hope Sibyl gets over this.”

“Tell her the truth, and she’ll never believe you.”

“Shut up and kiss me while I go for the breasts.”

“Best offer anyone gave me for a long time.”


George woke at five o’clock with her soft, warm, nude body partially lying on him and not knowing if he was alive or dead or still having sex with her. He felt joy, peace, and contentment that astonished him.

“Wild is a mild term that you think of as a fleeting memory when you’re 100 and trying to recall a night like this,” he thought.

She woke and smiled as she gazed into his eyes.

“See? I told you what would happen if you got all my clothes off. Are you a believer now?”

“Yes. I’m another Bonnie fan now.”

“And what will you tell poor little Sibyl?”

“The truth about Wild Bonnie. That should keep her laughing a week since she thinks some of what we did is impossible.”

She kissed him, and the door crashed open. The small room suddenly had six men in sheriff uniforms and guns drawn.

She grabbed her gun from the pillow and faced them defiantly. “Get out of here! You butt holes need to learn how to knock first!”

“Cut the crap, Bonnie!” said the sheriff. “What did you do with it? Where is it?”

“Bite me!”

“Look. You’ll not get away with it this time. You’re done. Give it up, and the end will go easier for you.”

“Bite me twice!”

“After what you’ve done? I don’t think so. Where is it?”

“I gave it to charity. Those poor, hungry little tykes broke my heart, and I gave it all away.”


Bonnie cursed and shot him.

The rest opened fire, and after fourteen hits, her dead and bleeding body lay sprawled across the bed.

The deputies looked at George, and one grinned. “I’ll bet he’s going to puke.”

Another said, “No way. If he’s strong enough to live through Wild Bonnie, he can handle the blood.”

George made a dash for the bathroom but did not quite make it.

“Told you so,” said the deputy.

George made it up with the Sheriff’s help and sat in a chair as they put her body in a big bag and carried her out of the hotel.

“Did you see what she did with the money?” the Sheriff asked.

“I never saw anything but her. After she put the gun away, I didn’t want to see, feel, kiss, or taste anything but her. Women like that don’t need to die, ass wipe.”

The outburst did not affect the Sheriff. “Be that as it may, she stole $175,000 from a bank in Pittsburgh and had to do something with it.”

George shook his head. “She gave it to charity. I heard her tell you that.”

“Well, we need to buy her story on that, now won’t we, George. So, what are your plans for the day?”

“I need to arrange for my car to be towed and the transmission fixed. Then I’m out of here.”

“Can you give me a business card so I can contact you if I have any questions?”

He handed the Sheriff a card and shook his head at the bloody bed. “Damn, what a shame. I was ready to divorce my wife for her. Man, what a wild woman. What a damned shame that Karma tracked me down here and ruined it for me. You suck, but I’ll leave you alone.”


Without Bonnie, he prepared for his day and went to the office to check out after arranging a tow truck.

“Sorry about the noise, sir. I never planned on that happening.”

“Say what? What noise?”

“You didn’t hear the crashing door or the gunshots?”

“Oh, crap! Not again. Damn that woman! I wish she’d get gone to where she belongs, either place, and leave me alone.”

“What are you talking about? You mean Wild Bonnie, don’t you?”

“Yes! Lame ass woman! Robbed a bank in Pittsburgh twenty-six years back and made it to this hotel and Room Eight. Her boyfriend caught up with her here, and so did the Sheriff and his deputies. Riddled her body in the bed while she was naked. Had to shut down for a day and a half because of the violent death. What a freaking mess to clean up. And if that wasn’t enough, she comes back on occasion, and the male guests swear she rapes them, and when they leave in the morning, there’s a huge suitcase full of money stuffed under the trunk of their car. And she does leave when the deputies kill her and leave the mess for me to clean up. Wish that part was ghostly.”

“Are you kidding me? That woman was a ghost?”

“As ghostly as they come, buddy. However, from all the past men, I’ll bet she left you drip-dried.”

“She sure did. I was torn between going on or hanging with her for the rest of my life. Wait! A suitcase of money? No. No way!”

The owner followed him, and under the trunk of his car was a black physician-style satchel.

George dragged it out and opened it on the trunk of his car. Inside were bundles of bills in twenties, fifties, and hundreds. On top was a note from Wild Bonnie.

“Sorry, honey. Hope I didn’t frighten you too much while I waited for Clyde. He didn’t show, but you damned sure did. Tell Sibyl to take a long walk on a short pier and find yourself a real woman like me. And if she doesn’t want to walk alone, shove her.

“This money should take care of all your problems. It’s old money now, and banks no longer care for it. Keep it. Use it to get out of debt. And most of all, keep your mouth shut. And if you absolutely must tell someone, tell them the truth, and watch them walk away muttering something like, ‘Stupid bastard,’ or ‘Crazy fool,’ or ‘Should have known better than to ask the village idiot.’”

“Love ya bunches, Wild Bonnie.”


Lacey Storm Cole drove alone from Denver, Colorado, to the Big Apple, New York City, and a promising career on Broadway. The competition neared an end, and after 27

shows, she was still #2 on the list and felt as high as Ben Franklin’s kite in a thunderstorm. She grew tired, shut off the radio, and slipped in a CD of Sousa Marches to get her blood flowing and her mind off her lazy snooze buttons.


The driver's alert noise scared her when she drifted from the road, and she jerked in her seat and shook her head sharply as she forced her eyelids wide open.

“Drifted off the road again, huh? Okay, Lacey. That’s it. Find a hotel, a campground, a rest area, anything, and stop for the rest of the night.”

She lowered the A/C, slowed her speed, and scanned the roadside for signs of civilization and hotels. Her heart leaped for joy two minutes later when she saw the sign,

“Grub Hotel. Reasonable rates. Always a Vacancy for the Weary and Downtrodden.

Come on Down!”

“Bless you, Karma, Fate, or whatever. I love you, and I’ll let you be my favorite fan if you will. Weird name, but just what I need right now.”

She shook her head again, yawned, took the hotel exit, and stopped in the empty parking lot.

“This is it?” She viewed the sign above the door labeled “OFFICE” and stretched.

“Don’t knock it until you’ve checked out tomorrow, today, or whenever.”

She tried the office door, and it creaked on moving, and a small bell dinged once somewhere in the rear of the building.

She glanced around the untidy, small office and considered sleeping in her car when the rear door opened, and the owner stepped inside. He appeared unkempt, wearing a stained, faded white tee shirt and black cotton shorts.

His pleasant voice did not match his appearance. “Howdy, Miss. How are you this beautiful starlit night?”

“Thoroughly exhausted. I need a room, bad. I hope there is a vacant one. Please?”

He shrugged slightly. “You need a room, bad? All we have left is one bad room. Do you want it?”

She frowned and concentrated on his emotionless face. “Did I hear you right? Did you say you had a bad room left?”

“That’s right. I whipped it, sent it to bed hungry, put it in time out for a week, threatened to burn it, and it’s still bad. However, it’s got a comfortable bed, and people enjoy it. It’s not all a room could be if it would behave and grow up. You know?”

Lacey frowned again. “I don’t know. I’m not familiar with room personalities, and I’m too tired to be picky tonight. I’ll take it. How much?”

“Your name and phone number on this index card and what it takes to get you so sexually excited you can’t say no.” He slid a card and a pen across the counter before her. Her frown deepened. “Beg pardon? Did I hear you right? You didn’t proposition me, did you?”

“No, I’ll do that later when I know what you like and when you’re not tired.”

“What? Don’t you like tired women?”

“Not particularly. I did that once about 20 years ago, and I can’t get rid of her, no matter how I try. So, I don’t need to repeat the error.”

She picked up the pen, hesitated, and laid it down. “No, I’m not buying that.”

He snapped his fingers and laughed. “Darn. Almost had you on that one. How about $65 cash, and we call it even?”

“You’re strange, and this is a weird hotel, but I’ll buy that.” She opened her wallet, counted the cash, and laid it before him on the card with the pen on top.

“What do I need to fill out?”

“You refused that, so here’s your key. It’s Room Eight on the west end of the building. Enjoy your stay with us, Miss Cole.”

“I certainly hope so. I need to be in Manhattan in two days, and then I’ll be able to enjoy life for a while.”

“What’s going on there?”

“I landed a major part in a Broadway play that’s starting up and running for three years. It’s called Standing Ovation, written by Robert McIntyre. That’s a wonderful thing for me. Ever since I was three and could barely walk, I’ve dreamed of being on Broadway.”

“Hey, congratulations, Miss Cole. That’s wonderful news that I can use for years to come. I’ll put a sign on the door, ‘Miss Cole slept here,’ and charge $85 a night versus $65. Thanks so much for stopping by. Could you sign your name only on the card for me with nothing else?”

She blushed and picked up the pen. “I guess I can do that. You’re a very enterprising gentleman. I’ll see you at checkout time in the morning.”

He picked up the card with her name and looked at the closed door with a mischievous grin.

“You never asked about the checkout time, Miss Cole. What if we don’t honor that nuisance? I guess we’ll see how you feel in the morning.”


Lacey disrobed and showered. She left the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her waist and worked a smaller one through her hair. She froze like a statue at the foot of the bed and felt goosebumps on her goosebumps. The clothing she removed was

stuffed with something and placed together to appear sitting in the only easy chair in the room by the window. The headless condition upset her.

“What the hell? “Her eyes went straight to the door, where she added her slide lock and alarm. It was still in place and gave no indication of entry.

“What the hell?” she repeated and gingerly approached the clothing and poked the blouse with a finger. It was soft and spongy and offered enough resistance to resemble human flesh. She picked up the blouse, removed the stuffing, and counted 65 tied shopping bags in just the blouse.

“Now, isn’t that a coincidence if there ever was one. $65 for the room and 65 bags in my blouse.”

She picked up her jeans and found 65 in each leg and in the top to fill them out. She deposited the bags in the trash and picked up the phone to complain, and there was not even a dial tone.

“Oh well.” She picked up a business card from the nightstand and opened her cell phone. “That’s why they make these, and I bought one.”

She stared in icy silence at no bars, tried three phone calls that ended in nothing but frustration and studied the door. “So, we take the complaint to the owner in person.”

She donned her clothing, removed her private security lock, twisted the deadbolt, and unlocked the knob. She turned the knob with a sigh of relief, and nothing happened.

The door would not budge even a hair’s width.

She sat on the bed again, looked at the overflowing garbage can, and did breathing exercises to calm down.

“Okay, Lacey Storm Cole. There is a reason for this; how you react to it will be good or bad. We choose good. Let’s face this as if it was a part of a play. You are in this hotel room with no way to communicate with the outside world. However, in some fashion or method, someone is watching to see how you react, and eventually, maids will show up to clean the room and then make your break. Or the owner will be knocking on the door looking for more cash. What you do between now and then will depend on whether you are found sane and relaxed or a super challenged mental case.”

She tested the windows and found them locked and not workable. The bathroom had no window, only a small vent in the wall for the exhaust fan that was far too tiny for her body, even if she could remove it.

“So, I’m well trapped and at the mercy and whim of whoever set me up, like the owner. Would he have done this if I gave him the information he wanted? No. That’s not a good way to think. I don’t need to compromise my morals when I am unaware of any situation like this arising. So, what do I do?”

“I’ll go to bed, use my self-hypnosis relaxation techniques, and wait to see what happens next. I look forward to restful sleep to stay alert and act when the chance arrives.”

The self-hypnosis techniques worked well, and she drifted to sleep with little effort.

She felt warm, warmer, and cozier than she could ever recall. The bed where she lay grew comfortable and luxurious. She could not remember when her shoes and socks were removed, but she did recall when the fingertips began to tickle the soles of her feet.

She jerked and kicked and twisted, trying and failing to free her lower legs from the solid yet soft hands that held them.

She resisted laughing until she could no longer control herself and indulged in a good belly laugh to the point of crying and pounding the mattress insanely. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped, and the hands and fingers disappeared with a soft ting sound. Again, she laughed and giggled until she regained self-control and breathed normally again.

Then, as if a switch was flipped inside her mind, she relaxed and slept soundly.


When she woke again, her clothes were gone, and though she could feel nothing on her wrists or ankles, she was spread eagle, and fingers teased and toyed with her armpits until she wriggled and tried a fruitless escape. She continued to avoid it but soon gave into more giggles and yelps of hilarity.

The invisible fingers moved as a coordinated unit, circled her breasts upward to her neck, and squeezed her earlobes before leaving her.

She lay breathless, wondering where they would find a place on her body to tickle her again when she felt a hot, moist tongue slide under the toes on her left foot. It dipped across her soles to her heel, back to her toes, and wet suction tugged her big toe upward.

She gasped, and the fingers were on top of both ankles. They rotated half circles on each leg as they slowly inched upward, instigating twitches of chilling electricity, which were annoying but soon changed to pleasure and more giggles.

“What are you doing? Are you trying to kill me with laughter?”

“That might not be a bad idea. Then I could do this to you for eternity.”

“Then that’s a marvelous idea. This is very erotic.”

His fingers had passed her legs and centered on her navel, circling it and pressing it inside. Then, without warning, his hands moved to her sides, gripped her skin, and tugged until her navel felt it would split from the pressure. She caught her breath, grabbed the sheets in her hands, and braced herself against the sting.

Just as suddenly, the pressure left her sides, and she felt her navel sucked into the same hot mouth that her toe felt, and then it was gone. But, in its wake, it left a tingling she never imagined, and a hand smacked it, and instead of painful yips, it started her chuckling and then moaning.

She panicked when she could not feel the fingers or touch of the ghostly lover and strained her hearing.

“Hey, are you there? Where did you go? Yo! Please don’t leave me like this.”

“This shouldn’t make you laugh. Instead, it should add the final addition to the masterpiece of love and sexuality you are, dear woman.”

“Cool. How did you know to do all that when I didn’t know myself?”

“I’m paid to know, sweet thing.”

Lacey had a response prepared; however, she had no time to voice it before the hot mouth rested on her right breast and fingers on the left. Simultaneously, teeth bit into her right nipple, and the left felt crushed by the thumb and forefinger. Then, just when she thought she would scream from the pain, they ceased together, and she relaxed with a contented sigh.

“How can you do that when I can’t see you?”

“The same way I can do this.”

A hand rested on, squeezed, and pulled her pubic hair.

“You’re beautiful yet lonely, Lacey Storm Cole. Have I ignited your sexuality sufficiently to prevent you from saying no to finishing this love session?”

“Yes. Until now, I occasionally dreamed of it happening this way. The reality is a thousand times more exciting. What are you waiting for?”

Her hands and ankles were freed to allow participation in what happened next.


It was 5:45 a.m. when she woke the last time, and her eyes focused on the alarm clock by the bed. She groaned and licked her lips a few times to get some moisture flowing into her dry mouth.

“Dang, you outdid yourself last night, girlfriend.”

She smiled at the memories and added them for her benefit. “Who wouldn’t with such a perfect lover in your bed?”

Her body wrenched in a panic, and she pushed herself up to sit on the bed.

“NO! Please, no! Come on, Karma. Please don’t do that to me! Ghost! Please say or do something. Don’t be gone. Come on! Don’t leave me here like this!”

She felt around the bed, strained her hearing, but could feel or hear nothing except her in the room. After a few moments, she gave up the search in vain, grabbed her pillow, and cried herself to sleep on the floor at the foot of the bed, where most of the sheets and blanket lay and where he loved her body the second time.


Sunshine rudely hit her eyelids, and a rush of cold air sent impolite shivers down her body, unlike the pleasant ones at night. She opened her eyes, squinted, and saw two pairs of ankles inside the door.

A feminine voice spoke. “What happened, dear? You’re naked. Were you raped?”

“No way. I gave it up as freely as possible and enjoyed every moment. I’m crying now because he left me alone when I wanted more of him.”

“From the looks of the room, I imagine you enjoyed it. Do you need some time to wake up and leave? We need to get this room cleaned, and we can’t with you sleeping on the floor like this.”

She sat up and let the sheets fall away. Before she stood erect, she heard several gasps and other exclamations.


“Your face and body!” The older woman pointed crudely. “Go on to the bathroom and check it out. We’ll be back in fifteen minutes. Is that time enough to clear out?”

“Yes, rude one.”

With the lights turned on in the bathroom, she looked at her face, neck, and chest as far as she could see. Wherever his ghostly fingers touched her, they left solid brownish-red lines that resembled henna tattoos. They circled her breasts, making them look like spirals on a pinwheel. She blinked and stepped back to view her legs and saw the same lines there and down to her feet.

“That’s awesome! Wonder how he did that? No wonder it tickled so much. That was a perfect sexual experience.”

She viewed her sad face in the mirror. “Now he’s gone. Darn, my luck. Oh, well, let’s see if this washes off?”

She washed her face and looked at it in the mirror again. The lines were still there.

“Talk about a loving autograph that won’t disappear. I’m happy it doesn’t look horrid, so I can live with it. Wonder how many conversations will begin with ‘What happened to your face? Where did you get that done?’ Wonder how many will walk away thinking I’m possessed when I tell them the truth. Oh, shit! What about my part in the play on Broadway?”

She sighed and rested her hands on the sink. “Only time will tell, and I CAN’T turn it down. They might reject me or figure a way to cover it up, and life will proceed.”

She snapped her fingers. “And I don’t know his name. Dammit, Lacey!”

She dressed and checked out and refused to answer any questions from the owner.

Instead, she told him it would be long before she graced his hotel again and loaded her car.

She sat in the driver’s seat and sighed forlornly. “Man, I’m going to miss that ghost.”

She felt a hand rest on her right knee. “I didn’t know that. Are you certain?”

It made her so happy she glowed. “What? You didn’t leave me?”

“Why should I? I’ve waited eight years for you to get to Room Eight in the Grub Hotel. I have eternal patience, my sweet Lacey Storm Cole.”

“Awesome, my man. Would my dying help us?”

“Don’t think that or anticipate that. I’ll be at your side for many years before that happens. Right now, I’ll ride shotgun for you and handle all the light work that comes my way. Well, all the heavy work also. I won’t let anyone mess with my laughing woman, you know? So why are you not driving? There’s a career waiting for you in Manhattan.”


Patrice Rachael Dustin pulled into the parking lot with a short squeal of tires and shook her head at the small, drab hotel advertised on the highway as a Taj Mahal runner-up.

“Remember what your mother and father said, Patrice. You get what you pay for. So if you spend $1.98, you should not expect any greater return than that.”

She looked at the sign again through the windshield displaying “Grub Hotel. The best one, the only one in the next 30 miles.” She grimaced at the picture of 3 grubs in one corner.

“However, this will be greater than $1.98, and it’s perfect for the secrecy and privacy I need. No one knows this hotel is here or where I am, which spells pure paradise. So let the heartburn in others flare up and pass around the antacid tablets. Ta DA!”

She stood beside the car, stretched stiff muscles for a moment, and opened the office door. A bell chimed somewhere in the back of the building, and she eyed the man behind the counter.

She had second thoughts when he stood and saw his dingy and stained white tee and black shorts.

“Good afternoon, Missy. How can I help you today?”

“Well, I need a room, but not just one night. So, I figure a week would be fine for me.” “Your wish is my command.”

Patrice shuddered. “That’s an overused expression. Try something fresher and something that offers you little to no hope of any time with me. How much for a week if I pay cash?”

He grinned, grunted, and sniffed loudly. “Well, normally I’d charge you $455, but since you look distressed and even though you could afford it, and since I’m a sucker for crying women, I’ll let it go for $250. Can you swing that?”

“I can do that. Do I look that bad?”

“Like the torrential downpour will start any minute. Please sequester yourself in Room Eight at the west end of the building, and don’t hesitate to call if you need anything reasonable.”

He turned to a board behind the counter with many keys and handed her the key to Room Eight.

“No paperwork?”

“Are you going to leave while there’s money left in your hourglass?”


“How about when the room gets hungry and wants to eat you? Will you bolt then without a refund?”

“Huh?” She stepped back from the counter. “What? Are you drunk? Rooms don’t eat persons, I mean people. Or does this one?”

“Not for a few years. The last ones were a couple from Detroit with two of his girlfriend’s sisters, planning to go to Nebraska, join the Mormons, get married, and procreate abundantly. They didn’t quite make it. I forgot the room doesn’t like Mormon wannabes, and it left a few bones to give to their parents.”

“You’re strange, sir. You say that without flinching or cracking a smile. You must have had a lot of practice.”

She removed her wallet and counted $250 for the week’s rent. “Anyway, I guess we both trust each other on this deal, huh?”

“We sure do. Welcome to Grub Hotel. Please enjoy your stay with us, Miss Dustin.”

“No paperwork to fill out? What about a receipt for the cash?”

He shook his head with a wink. “Is that necessary? If you leave early, there’s no refund. If you’re still here on day seven, I’ll be outside your door with a hand out for some more cash. If you try to leave with high-value items from the room, a sniper will take you out by the used car lot on the highway. You’ll get a free ride to the morgue, and the car will be confiscated and displayed on the car lot. When it sells, I’ll get 45%, and the contents of your purse, like credit cards, lipstick, tissues, and cash, will go to me, George Kelsey. All that helps honest people remain honest, don’t you think?”

“Whew! Works for me. Got all the angles covered and tidy like a mafia straitjacket.”

“Yep, that’s me.

She turned to the door, hesitated, and faced him again. “Wait a darned minute. Do strange and unexplainable things happen in Room Eight?”

“Yes, ma’am, however, don’t ask what. Everyone is a different case. Nevertheless, if you have a problem when you walk into the room, you won’t take it when you check out.

Please don’t ask because I can’t tell you how it works. I stopped trying to figure it out

and found a good cleaning company for when it gets bloody in a murder/suicide situation.”

He strained to keep his face deadpan, but her expression was too much to hold inside. So, finally, he let go of a huge belly laugh and waved her toward the door.

“Run along, Miss Patrice. That’s not happened there, but the problem-solving has, and they’ve all been non-violent.”

“Keep this job for a while, sir. You’ll never make it on Comedy Central.”


She stepped inside the small room and closed the door behind her. “Not bad for the money. It’s even big enough for pacing if it gets to that point.”

She dropped her purse on the small table in front of the window and patted it.

“Relax. I know you’re there. I’ll get to you soon enough. You’ll get to share your orgasm with me and put me in a little hole in the ground, and I’ll never know about it.”

She opened the door to the bathroom and nodded approval.

“Not a luxury like we have at home, but adequate. Wow! Aren’t I special? It even has a complimentary hair dryer with a night light function. Sweet.”

She unwrapped a tiny soap, washed her hands, and sniffed her fingers.

“Hmm. Smells good.”

She viewed the countertop and the tub shelf and shook her head. “No bubble bath crystals or any foam. Oh well, I brought my own to make myself smell good all over, and we damn sure will. Too bad that doesn’t work for eliminating the smell of ill-loving men.

Take a bubble bath and get their stink out of your life, wealth-loving bastards. Stop that, Patrice. Let it go. Like all other men and sad things and situations, we will overcome it all, flush it from our minds, and end up smelling like peaches and cream for a little while anyway. After the final orgasm, it won’t matter much to me if I stink.”

She shut the lights off and stopped at the cubbyhole that served as a wardrobe. She hung up her blazer and her skirt and kept her blouse. She unbuttoned it to let it hang open and folded the cuffs up. She kept on her red lace panties and kicked off her shoes.

She paused to see her figure in the dressing mirror.

“We look good. So, what is the problem with men? Do we look too good?”

She modeled for herself to scrutinize her image.

“I was born Patrice Rachael Dustin. I’m from a strong Catholic background. I’m more Protestant than Catholic now, but I believe in God, Jesus, and the Church. I do give in to premarital sexual sin on occasion. However, I love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.”

She twisted to view a different angle.

“I’m hardworking and far from lazy. I have a promising career. I have a good stock portfolio and an excellent retirement account established. So, what the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I have a good man to meet me head-on and love me as I love him?

I’m sure you know, Lord. Can you show me and then show me how to change that part of me? Time doesn’t stop or even slow down for people. Will I keep losing until I end my life in some nursing home, alone, where my death will launch a massive investigation against them because of abuse?

“What am I doing wrong? I’d sure love to change. I’m alright most of the time, but I get lonely too often to suit my nerves.”

She blew her image a kiss and moved to a chair by the window, where she tugged the curtains open by hand far enough to let some sunlight inside but remain from public view. She picked up her water bottle and drank, reminding herself to get some ice later.

“So, here we are, Patrice. Wonder what Robert is doing? Does he have his ‘man’

posse in his ‘man’ cave, drinking beer and pondering the mean, spiteful bitch that disappeared from the face of the earth and trying to discover why? Or is he by himself and doing it all on his own? It would be interesting to know; however, I’m not interested enough to call him and find out.”

She drew her feet up to her butt and let her legs flop open. She raised her bottle in a salute.

“Here’s to you, good buddy, good lover, good man, good riddance. Best beware of taking a leap of faith around me because all the safety nets to catch you have been packed away for the next real man who will enter my life when you’re nothing but a memory.”

“I’ll drink to that. Good for you.”

“What?” She paused the bottle before her lips, glanced to the ceiling, and then the radio and television. She frowned and repeated the eye travel.

“There are no speakers in the ceiling or anywhere else. Relax. You’re safe.”

“What the hell?” She put her feet on the floor as she felt panic starting to build.

“Drat! That is so bothersome. You spoiled the beautiful view. You were not and are not in any danger, my lady. You are quite safe here in Room Eight.”

“Beautiful view?” She looked down at her lap.

“Yes, that one. Pearly feet tucked against your hips, the knees fully separated, exposing the narrow red cloth covering the genitalia. Very superb view, My Lacy.”

“What the hell?”

“You need not repeat that phrase. I am not from hell or the Netherworld. I am from the earth.”

“Where are you? What are you? What are you doing here?”

“My name is Sir William Fontaine, and I sit in the chair opposite you, enjoying the view of your elegant and beautiful body. My Lady, you may resume that position or pose without alarm or fear or embarrassment.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, My Lady. As for what I am, I would be called a phantom or a wraith in your time.”

“And you’re Sir William Fontaine?”

“Yes, My Lady.”

“Why do you call me My Lady?”

“Because it is proper to address you that way since I do not know your name. And even if I do, it is still respectful to do so. Moreover, it’s the preferred nomenclature for women of aristocratic, finesse, and all cases of royalty.”

“This is weird, but my name is Patrice Rachael Dustin. You don’t need to use the full name for respect. Call me Patrice.”

“Patrice. Ah, that is a lovely name. Patrice. It’s been around since medieval times in England; in your gender case, it means noblewoman. It sounds delightful, rolling around the mouth and across the lips and twice as pleasing to the ears. Patrice, I love it.”

“This is weird, talking to a wraith.”

“No weirder than me talking to a Homo sapiens female.”

“I’ll buy that for now. Why are you here?”

“Other than enjoying the former view, did you not previously model before the mirror and ponder what was wrong with you?”

“Yes, I did that. But, unfortunately, I’m locked in a perpetual problem, and there seems to be no way out. Are you sure you cannot bother me?”

“I am extremely limited in what I can do when in the presence of humans. I cannot engage in sexual practices if that’s what you mean.”

“Well, okay then. Please enjoy.” She moved her feet back to her hips and let her legs open.

“Exquisite! It is the perfect touch to your overall projection of a desirable woman.

Thank you, Patrice.”

“You’re welcome. Hmm. This is going to take a bit to feel right for me. How did you die?”

“Painfully and for nothing of importance. The Sheriff of Nottingham and his men hunted the myth they called Robin Hood. I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and when I was captured and questioned, my answers were insufficient for the Sheriff. So he ran me through with his sword and pierced my right kidney and intestines. Then he withdrew it and ran it through my heart because I could not answer what I did not know. And that action taught me a life lesson. When the Sheriff asks a question, you must know the answer.”

“Ouch! I’m so sorry, William. That’s a horrible way to die.”

“I appreciate your sympathy, but I got over it. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to release myself from this eternal sentence of wandering the earth in dismal loneliness.”

“I wish I could help you, sir, but I sit here with my problems.”

“And the problem is with your betrothed, your promised partner in marriage?”

“Robert was that. I stopped the marriage by disappearing and being incommunicado for a spell.”

“Why? Can you explain it to me?”

“Yes, I think I can. Robert’s a nice, kind, and loving man. At least, I felt so until about a week ago when he visited me with a crucial matter. That’s when he turned into a horrid man, at least for me.

“At this present time, we have what is called pre-nuptial agreements. They are drawn up and signed before the marriage takes place. The agreements usually spell out what will happen to monetary assets, property, houses, and such after the marriage.

What is acquired after that time is up for a 50/50 split if a divorce happens. The prenuptials protect the party who owns any assets before the marriage and prevent the other party from touching or acquiring any part or portion of them.”

“Ah, what you’re saying is, if you own 1000 acres of land, the pre-nuptial in your benefit will prevent Robert from obtaining any of that land if he declares a divorce from you?”


“And if the two of you obtained an additional 2000 acres and maybe gold and silver, then it would be split betwixt the two of you?”

“Perfect understanding.”

“Is that wrong?”

“For me, it is. That agreement to protect all that he has right now is more important to his life than I am. It tells me that he sees an early end to the marriage instead of anticipating us remaining married until one of us dies. But he knows it’s going to end, so he must initiate action to protect himself from my supposed greed when it happens.”

“Ah, and he sees nothing wrong with that?”

“No. He says it’s nothing and no big deal, but I must sign it before we get married.”

“That is a foolish statement. Something trivial is not worth voicing or putting on paper with a quill and ink. Does he own that much property?”

“He did. He inherited two castles and several thousand acres of land in Scotland and Wales. He sold them and invested in banks, a marina in Italy, and a few business properties in America. He’s worth a lot of money, but I’m not concerned with it.”

“I know that one. I heard you worry about dying lonely in a nursing home, whatever that is. How about you? Do you have or own assets?”

“Yes. I own four business rental properties I inherited from my mother when she died, and I hold quite a sum of cash and stocks in the bank for when I retire. My career is as a financial advisor, and I make a fair salary and bonuses. I don’t need his money, but he’s pushed his worry so much that he’s made me question his love. I love unconditionally. He cannot imagine that.

“And when it comes to the wedding vows, he’s insisted that we change them. After the minister says, do you take this person to love, everything else is removed. There is no honor to cherish, in sickness and health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, until death does you part. We promise to love each other, and that’s it. All the commitment wording needs to be removed as rubbish and needless.”

She sighed and wiped a tear from her eye.

“And that has you here in this hotel, Room Eight, feeling down and unloved and not wishing to communicate with anyone?”

“Yes. For four years, I dated him and even had sex with him, and then last week, he hit me with all this, and he based it on his male friends getting married without prenuptials and losing everything to the ex-wives in a divorce.”


“A tiny question, Sir William, if you were Robert, what would you do?”

“Easy answer, My Lady. I’d get to know you, learn about your career and investments your retirement accounts, and ask for your hand in marriage. Then I’d give you whatever fortune I had, tell you to grow it, and amass a combined fortune. At the same time, we raise a family and educate them as you appear, retire early and do whatever we please, when we please, and give the world raspberries for being envious of us.”

She sighed and closed her eyes, and her blouse opened more when she shifted positions. “That’s the perfect solution. Too bad you died when you did and could be born at this time. We would make a great team, you and me.”

“No doubt about it, and you’d not be here in secrecy with a bottle of pills in your purse. So when you use the bathroom next, please flush them. Don’t do that to yourself.

It will affect Robert little, and it’s bad for you.”

“You’re too smart.”

“Would you like me if I were less than honest, like Robert?”

“No, you wouldn’t be here, or I’d have been long gone. Don’t change from what you are, Sir William.”

“And your purpose here other than to end it all?”

“To decide if I want to live with a man interested in protecting his money from me and who cannot see or ask about my assets. My problem is this: do I give in and let him win the battle, or do I walk away and seek another man who will accept me as is without demanding prior proof of leaving his former assets alone when we divorce. I do not anticipate divorce. I want a forever commitment with one man to love who loves me, bear a child or two, and keep loving unto death. I do not wish divorce to be a part of my vocabulary and thoughts until it happens.”

“I see, and I understand, lovely Patrice. Let me ponder a short time, and I will offer my humble advice. Is that sufficient, My Lady?”

“Do I seem a lady to you, Sir William?”

“Yes. You are beautiful, and you present this aura of being a very passionate and elegant woman who should be placed on a pedestal of honor and respect and not ripped asunder by fleeting temporal matters. Silence now, and let me ponder the situation.”

She stopped at the bed and took the bottle of painkiller from her purse. Then, she moved to the bathroom after a blown kiss toward William’s chair.


While she was absent, Sir William had a visitor.

“Who are you?” he immediately challenged when he felt the other presence.

“Relax, my friend. I’m Robert, not the man who’s screwed this poor woman’s life and dreams, but I’m Robert Long Acre, an American Indian who died in the Battle of Wounded Knee. And you?”

“Sir William Fontaine. I died around 700 years ago in an asinine hunt for Robin Hood. The Sheriff of Nottingham didn’t like my answers when he questioned me and killed me for something to do.”

“Bummer. Are you going to do her?”

“Pardon me? Do her? Whatever is that?”

“Sorry, old chap. I mean, have sex with her. You want to, don’t you?”

“I do, but I can’t. No wraith can do that with a human female or ghost female.”

“Yes, you can, and depending on how quick you died, you might even enjoy it some.

Do you remember how fast it was?”

“Quick. He used his sword and ran it through my right kidney and heart. Maybe two minutes at most to end my life.”

“Then you should do good.”

“Just moments ago, I convinced her I couldn’t do it. So how will I appear later if I do her, as you call it?”

“Doesn’t matter when it comes to sex. You make her feel good, loved, wanted, and safe, and she’ll tie you up if she can find a way and rape you. These modern women are like, wow, once they get started.”

“What about me?”

“You just need to desire to do it, and the stronger it is thought, the better it will work. Trust me.”

“Do you have a sex friend? I take it you do.”

“Yeah, man. Lacey Storm Cole. She’s a hot chick who landed in a Broadway Play in New York. Man, she turns me on!”

“Well, this woman is hot in a different way, and she’s elegant, and I’d love to do her, as you say.”

“Then go for it. Like I said, once you get her attention, she’ll forgive and forget everything, and her whole focus will be the sex in progress. I’d love to chat more, but I have got to go. Good luck, brother wraith.”


Patrice assumed the pose William liked when she returned to her chair. She practiced patience and studied the chair before her, where she imagined she could see a wavering pale white light.

Momentarily, he broke the silence. “My Lady Patrice, are you prepared for my summation and recommendation?”

“Yes, Sir William. Lay it on me.”

“I surmise you are correct that he is far more concerned with his assets than your love and your life with him. Do you love him?”

“I do. It’s just not as strong as before I learned what he was about.”

“So, as of now, you do or do not wish to marry him? Which one is it?”

“I do, but I don’t under the present circumstances. If he drops the insistence on signing the pre-nuptials, then I might take the chance to marry him. Other than that, he is very compatible in my life.”

“Conditional outcomes are not to my liking, My Lady Patrice. A firm yes or a firm no would be much better. Anyway, I will give my advice now and let you choose.”


Patrice woke on her stomach with her face cradled in the crook of her arm, feeling the bliss beyond her wildest imagination. She shivered and moaned as an icy hand trailed from her shoulder down to her butt globes as he called them and back.

She spoke softly, wanting to maintain pleasant feelings. “I think I died. I thought you said you couldn’t do that? Or did I hear you wrong before? Or was I dreaming what I heard you say?”

“You heard me right, but when you went to the bathroom and rid yourself of the death pills, another wraith visited me and taught me how to overcome that obstacle. I’m sorry if I hurt you. You are so gracious and desirable I had to try it.”

“You didn’t hurt me, but you sure surprised me. Unlike any mortal male on earth, I never considered that a ghost could penetrate your body and stimulate you differently.

No man has ever spent so much time loving me before the sex. With my soon-to-be-ex, he gets it hard, pokes it inside, and worries about himself. You’re some thousand times better, Sir William. Since I can’t see you, can you kiss me? I’d love that right about now.”

He obliged her and enjoyed the smell of her breath across his face when he pulled away.

“Beautiful, My Lady, Patrice.”

“Yes, you are, and I know it’s the truth even if I can’t see you. And thank you for changing the game and adding another option. Now it’s time to go home and screw with, but not have, sex with Robert. Will you be here waiting for me when I come back?”

“You’re going with that unspoken option?”

“I’d be an idiot if I didn’t, Sir William. So keep me on the pedestal you erected, and love me. I’ll love you back as much as I can and hope you’ll become materialized someday. However, if you can’t, that’s okay, and you got my love until I die and join you forever.”

She turned on her cell phone and listened to it warm up. “Pinch my nipples hard, please. Or do something to make me cry. I want to be teary when I make this call or two.

It will work better.”

Patrice wiped at a thin film of sweat and smiled with pleasure when the air conditioning unit kicked in. A stray sunbeam from the waning sun shone through the curtains, highlighting the plum coloring she had recently added to her hair. It illuminated a few strands of purplish hair that shined. She blew a kiss to Sir William and spoke.

“Hello, Jen,” she sighed with a nasal voice, happy to hear the rings stop. “Glad you’re home right now.”

“Me too. What’s going on, girl? Everyone, his brother, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Interpol are looking for you.”

“Quite possible. I guess Robert is upset by my absence. Is that right?”

“Well, you two have been together for a few years, and now you’re suddenly gone.

What gives?”

“Robert gives.” Patrice sat on her bed and enjoyed a hand straying through her hair and across her arm.

Room Eight at the Grub Hotel had become her haven from the world for two days and then her ticket to freedom. And she did not feel like leaving yet and had paid cash for the next five days. So she grinned, thumbed up at the tangled sheets and towels, and sighed.

“After all this time and all the years, I have been looking for love. I thought I was in love; I thought it had finally showered on me, but I’ve come up empty-handed.”

“That’s not what others see. Want to keep talking?”

“To keep my brain from exploding, yes. Others see Robert as a remarkable man.

Handsome. Charming. Caring. Great personality. Wise in the business world. I must agree there, probably more than anyone, since I’ve lived close to him. But, unfortunately, I was blinded by all that perfection and didn’t see the honest Robert until a few days ago.

“We’ve been discussing marriage for nine months of the three-plus years we’ve been dating. Marriage was set. Invitations were sent. Then, four days ago, he came to my apartment with a pre-nuptial agreement, telling me what I would get and how a divorce would be handled financially. I couldn’t believe it. I loved and trusted him completely. I wanted and sought and thought I’d found a forever love and mate. However, I was wrong.”

“Prenuptial agreement? I heard that happens a lot these days. It’s become a standard part of the marriage ceremony.”

“Not for me.”

“And you won’t reconsider?”

“No. By doing this prenuptial thing, he tells me his view of our coming marriage has been shaky at best. He considers that there will be a divorce. He wishes to protect his finances from the bitch I’ll become when it happens. Sorry. I can’t cope with that. I

viewed what we were doing and committing ourselves as a forever thing. I never sat around and considered what I’d do if we divorced. That wasn’t a part of my psyche for marriage.”

“You know how many people he’s called? Do you know how worried he is about you? He loves you, Patrice.”

“He also loves the assets, as he calls them, that he’s earned on his own. So when I divorce him later, he wants to be sure he keeps them.”

“Is that so blatantly wrong? What am I missing here?”

“What’s wrong? I have a good job and career. I’m financially independent. I don’t need Robert to be in my life to survive. I own a townhouse, a car, and furniture. I have money in the bank, an IRA, stocks, and tax shelters. I had those before I met him. When we married, I would let the townhouse and the furniture go. I considered that the right thing to do. I was going to combine myself with him. Then slam! Up came the wall.”

“Will you at least call him? Why didn’t you get a lawyer and let him handle the agreement? Maybe compromise or at least negotiate.”

“You aren’t listening to me. I’m free. He’s free. You call him. What do I say to a man who foresees me being such a bitch in the future? I handled the situation very well. At least, I think so. I put all the assets he bought for me, including the dresses, jewelry, underwear, and everything except the engagement ring, and put them on his front porch. As for a lawyer, I don’t need one to tell me where greed and possessiveness rule the future. Screw him! Figuratively, not literally.”

“Okay. What about the rest of the marriage? Your relationship? Your life?”

“Oh, that? Well, Robert doesn’t believe in the normal wedding vows. He’s insisted that many of them be removed. Again, this is a trivial and insignificant matter. I think it’s crap, and his lawyer must have had some input there. Love, honor, and cherish till death do us part? Out. Too much commitment. Cling only to each other? He might need to cling to his lawyer during the imminent divorce.”

“Still, it might make you feel better after a confrontation and get this frustration off your chest. You sound like you’ve been through hell and then some.”

“You might be right. I don’t feel too bad right now. I feel like someone performed open-heart surgery, and there was no anesthesia. Then, out of nowhere, I had a few epiphanies, and I’m back to feeling like I’m the queen of the world.”

“Well, I hope you recover. It’s a shame to hear you this way. You two had a lot of greatness going for you.”

“Sure, Jen. Thanks for listening, even if you can’t understand me like I want to be understood.”

She laid the phone down and stretched out on the bed momentarily.

She crossed the room, pulled apart the curtains, and raised one window to breathe fresh air. The evening air felt good across her primarily bare skin. The sky was dim, and several lamp lights had been illuminated earlier.

“Man-made stars to light the darkness. Why don’t one of you fall or streak across the sky, and I’ll make a wish. A wish to be back in time, before this nightmare started.”

She got a fresh glass of water and returned to her spot on the bed. She hesitated three times before dialing the whole number and letting it ring.

“Here goes, my ghostly lover.”

“Hello, Patrice. You’ve had me worried sick. How are you? Where are you? Are you okay?”

“So many questions. How should I feel right now? Excited? Happy? Elated? Sorry, those descriptions fail me when it comes to you. Where am I? I’m lost out of your sight.

You can’t find me somewhere in the world for a time. Am I okay? I’m not sure. I hurt too much to know what’s okay or not now. That happens when your heart gets crushed.”

“I’m sorry, so sorry. I never expected that reaction. Can we at least talk? Face-to-face? I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“What did you expect? A usual blonde response? Sign and go on with life. It’s a legal matter. Trivial at best. No big deal.”

“It is, honey.”

“Not! You see the end of our marriage, even before we say the vows, if you want to call them vows. Not much left to vow to or commit to after the butchery you did on them. Sounds like a hostile takeover versus a loving marriage environment.”

“Come on, Patrice! This isn’t necessary.”

“You got that right! Not when you have a woman who loves you from a strong Christian background. I want one marriage. Only one. I never considered the fact that you could see an end to it. That wasn’t in my mind at all. Forever was. Only forever with you. All of me, with all of you.”

“Look, I have seen my friends get divorced. They’re left with nothing. Not even enough money to date another woman. Their wives? Out on the world. Rich from my friends. Men all over the place are dating them. Wonderful life, huh?”

“I’m not other women! Don’t you understand that? I didn’t want your damned assets! All I wanted was you. All of you. I gave myself without any thought of separation.

Everything. You had all of me. So what went wrong? Who destroyed this romance with a horror story? They must have touched you deeply to kill me with your prenuptial agreement.”

He sighed heavily, realizing that the conversation was going nowhere. “Could we at least talk face-to-face? Where are you? I’ll come right over.”

“No! I don’t want to be found. If you think it’s worthwhile, I’ll meet you at my place in thirty minutes. Then you’ll have an hour of my time, and that’s all. You’re gone, and I’m gone again. Fair enough?”

“That’s too harsh and unreasonable.”

“Bullshit! Your idiotic fantasy of a presumed divorce and a prenuptial agreement is too harsh. See you in thirty minutes. Make the most of your time to think of the future.

See ya.”

“Well. That accomplished little, but it does feel better to fire back at him. Maybe it’ll do me good to go for it in a confrontation.”

She stood and loved Sir Williams’ arms, holding her tightly against his chest.

“Thanks for your love, my man. I appreciate it, and after I tear up his fairytale world, I’ll be back to Room Eight as fast as possible.”


The sky was darker when she finally pulled into an empty spot by the curb behind his car. She figured he must have flown through every stoplight to get there first. She said a quick prayer and made the Sign of the Cross over her chest before leaving her car.

Robert rushed forward hastily to embrace her. It surprised him when she twisted away to keep her distance.

“Don’t do that! You’ve lost that privilege for a while.”

“Come on, Patrice.”

“Stop whining. Just don’t touch me. If you ever do it again, you’ve got years to wait.

Remember, you’re the one who brought up the divorce and prenuptial, not me.”

“Sorry. I’ll keep my distance.” He followed her up the stairs to her townhouse, scratching his neck as he watched her go.

When they stood on her porch, he greeted her. “Good evening, Patrice. It’s nice to see you again. It eases an ache in my heart.”

She gathered all her mail before she unlocked the door. “Hi,” she returned flatly and shoved the door open. She turned the hall light on and dropped the mail on a table by the entrance to the living room.

He asked if she wanted a drink and tossed his overcoat over the back of the sofa.

“No, and neither do you. You know I detest alcohol-fueled arguments. Stay sober, or get gone now. You want a soda or juice?”

“Soda.” He looked around the room after she left. He could not find one reminder of their past in the room, no pictures of him or him and her together. The decorations and memorabilia she had returned were in a heap on his porch. The absence of pictures gave him a sinking feeling and tore his composure.

He took the glass of soda from her. “You wiped out the photos of us?”

She sat in the armchair and tossed her black curls over her right shoulder. “Yes, I did. I didn’t want to see you. Didn’t want to see your face everywhere. It was too much to bear.”

“Did you destroy them?” The question and the feared response scared him.

“Not yet, but that’s still an option. One match and poof. All gone, like bridges, burned.”

“I’m sorry, Patrice. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“Neither did I. You got something no one else has. You found me when I was tired of living alone. I was a virgin, and you know that because I bled when you first had me.

Someone who loved you. I come from a strong Catholic background and believe in firm commitments. I’m someone who doesn’t understand the male today. I wanted forever; you see the end before we start.”

She closed her eyes and turned her face to the ceiling.

“Look, can we go back a little? Let’s forget the prenuptial agreement. I’ll tear it up, and we’ll go forward with the marriage.”

“Without the commitment and bonding? It’s hardly a marriage. Having you as a live-in man would be better; however, I can’t lower myself to accept that. It’s all of you or nothing. That’s what you get from me. All of me. Nothing left over to keep from you.

All my past, all the present, and all the future.”

The room seemed to grow smaller in space and quiet except for a strange sound she could not believe or comprehend. When she opened her eyes, Robert was kneeling before her as when he proposed. The difference was misery and tears on his face instead of boyish exuberance. The look stunned her to silence.

He fished inside a pant pocket. “Where’s your engagement ring? Did you throw it away?”

“Not yet. It’s on my vanity, waiting for the pawn shop. I don’t want to keep a reminder. Represents too much commitment on your part anyway. I had committed all I had to join you, which would have been us.”

The pre-nuptial agreement appeared in his hands, and he tore it to pieces and dropped it on the floor between them. “I’m a fool. I can’t stand myself without you. So, if you forgive me, we’ll return to our plans. A normal wedding. Normal vows. No prenuptial agreement. Just you and me. All the commitment that is required and then some. I’m so sorry, Patrice. I didn’t want to hurt you.”

She moved from the chair to kneel before him. “Are you serious? Just like that, you can change?”

She had not planned it, but she touched him, and he grabbed her and cried on her shoulder.

“Yes. Life is too miserable without you in it. Never thought that I’d be the one to find a woman who could make me feel that way. I thought I was too old in life to experience marriage and all the ones my friends had ended in disaster. But, after three days without seeing you or hearing your voice, I’m ready for a coffin. The heartache level is too great for me to keep going and lose what I love, want, and need most before I ever have it. You know what I mean?”

“I do.” She stared at the wall behind him, rubbed his back, and listened to the heartfelt communication. It was not a rehearsed speech. It was the honest Robert, and it was pure grief.

She struggled to move him back, but she did and regarded his haggard face.

“Look, I think and feel that you’re sincere. However, I want a few more days by myself.”

She raised her hands to stop the protest. “No. We. Who am I kidding now, you or me? I found someone who loves me more than you and is unafraid of losing his assets.

He’s only worried about losing me.”

“Just like that?”

“Yes. He came to me in my darkest moment, resisted my sexual come-on, and talked me into dumping the pain pills I planned on using to end my life. I was that miserable, Robert, and all your concern lay in protecting your assets when we divorced. And in a frenzy, yes, I call it that, you never once asked about me and mine. I so don’t need what you have.”

“Does he? I can’t believe that.”

“He has nothing at all except for himself. He has no home, blankets, car, job, or bank account, but wow, he can make me feel loved. And the thing is, I never asked for it at all. I was near tears and longing to get the pills in my stomach so I could pass out in the hotel bathroom, and there he was, like magic. He saved my life and did it with love and affection that you can’t come close to, Robert. I can backtrack all our time together; all I see is you and your worldly possessions. Sir William calls them fleeting temporal things that are unnecessary for life.”

“So, you’re going with him?”

“Yes. You helped me decide that right now. I could see your face when you decided to back up, and I saw concern and heartbreak. And I can’t live with that. You’ll be okay.

You’ll find someone else, and when you do, never open your mouth about a prenuptial agreement. Just love her and never consider divorce or separation in the future. Instead, consider an increase in love and togetherness and family.”

“I figured a different outcome tonight since you agreed to see me.”

“I know, but I can’t give up taking a chance on him since he touched me so deeply without even trying. So, stay here, and I’ll get you the engagement ring. Then I’m hauling ass back to the hotel and the waiting paradise.”

“I never dreamed of being replaced by a homeless man.”

“He’s not a homeless man, my dear Robert. He’s a wraith, a ghost if you will. But, man, can he love me. Wahoo!”