I wrote Interview with the Author after I told Parrot that I really wanted to write a story but couldn’t think of a good plot line. He threw a couple ideas at me and this one stuck like glue. Many of the details of this story, especially the lunch and the sex scene, are very much like the times we spend together.
I came running into the morning staff meeting six minutes late. After six years on staff, you’d think I’d know that the freeway turns into one giant parking lot between my house and the paper. I had to say that I earned that dirty look from my editor when I interrupted him with my belated entrance at the staff meeting that started promptly at nine.
I figured that I also deserved the “Come into my office, shut the door” command just as I was about to take a seat at my desk after the meeting adjourned.
“Listen, I didn’t want to give you this assignment in front of everyone else at the staff meeting … “he started to say.
Good. He wasn’t being his normally dickish self. I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. From time to time, there were stories that were so sensitive that my editor didn’t want anyone, even on the staff, to know we were working on them — like the time he pulled me in to investigate a suspected tryst between the mayor and his chief of staff. I blew it wide open. It was pretty much all I covered for a good couple of months.
“There’s a guy in town that’s coming out with a book, Encounter at Green’s Rock, that’s going to be getting a lot of press from what I’ve been told by a friend of mine who’s his editor,” he said. “The publishing company is priming it to hit the top of the bestsellers lists. We have first crack at doing a human interest profile on him before the book comes out next Tuesday. This is something that will put our circulation figures over the top. I had to pull some major strings to get it as an exclusive one-on-one with the author. I think you’re the person who can handle it best. This will be Page One top of the fold of the Arts section on Sunday.”
A human interest profile? That’s what I got called in for? Okay, sure. Whatever. I thanked him and went back to my desk to take a look at the PDF galley that he emailed to me.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” I thought as I was into the first chapter. This guy wrote a book about a grown woman, probably my age, who had a summertime affair with a guy who was barely of the age of consent? I knew people sex. Heck, even I did and pushed a few boundaries of propriety a couple of times, but nothing like this.
I went back into my editor’s office. To say that I lit into him was an understatement.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!,” I screamed. “You want me to do a fluff piece about a smut monger? Can’t you give this to the book reviewer?”
He told me to lower my voice and said, “I had to let her go last week. Budget cuts. I’m not asking for a review of the book. I really don’t care what you think about it. You do the best job of doing human interest profiles of anyone on the staff. You know how to get into people’s minds, and with the way you handled the mayor’s story, I know you can handle this with finesse. Our numbers depend on this story, not to mention the money we can get off reprints. You really don’t have a choice. I’m not giving you one unless you want to be the next person to be let go when I have to cut staff again.”
It wasn’t an idle threat. After six years on staff, I was now the lowest person on the newsroom totem pole.
I asked him how soon he needed it. He told me by the end of the week.
I called the author to arrange an interview. Surprisingly, he seemed like a very polite, intelligent and well-spoken man. Actually, I quickly got the sense that he’d a dream interviewee. He had already told me a bit about himself and the book before I had a chance to ask him any questions.
Jack Parrott had an American lit degree from an Ivy League university and had been working on this book for the past three years in his spare time. He said he finally pursued the project after several friends told him that he should be writing erotica for profit instead posting it for public access on the Internet instead of selling high-end real estate.
In no way did he say anything lecherous or untoward. He said he could clear the next morning for an interview at his office. A public place. That was good. At least I’d feel safe knowing there were other people in the building.
Once I got off the phone, I started looking over the story. I found myself amazed at the fluidity of his writing. It was lyrical, almost magical, even through passages I would have would have ordinarily taken as raunchy and distasteful. I had to admit that it took a true talent for me to be entranced with a 13-page description of how a grown woman hid behind trees to watch a 16-year-old boy masturbate buck naked on the shore of an island in Maine where the waves of the Atlantic finally made contact with land. I was surprised to admit that I could see myself as being that woman. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the copy to see where it would lead next.
When I got home, I did some digging online and found a trove of short erotic fiction written by him. His stories had Facebook and Twitter likes and shares that numbered in the tens of thousands and were all over Reddit and StumbleUpon. Many of his stories had gotten high praise from some well-respected fiction and erotica reviewers.
I went back to reading the book. I forgot about feeling like a kid reading something I knew I’d get in trouble for if I got caught.
… I kept watching this beautiful young man from behind my concealing shrub. Fascinated, I watched him repeatedly bring himself just to the point of orgasm, then stop, allowing his erection to subside again. He seemed to have all the time in the world. As he was lost in his own pleasure, I dared to move even closer, slipping quietly from bush to bush. At last I was close enough to him that I could have reached out to touch him; I could even hear his breathing if I held my own breath. His eyes were closed as he lay on the rock. His hand still encircled his cock, which was beginning to soften again. I crouched directly behind him, and I knew the only way he would be able to see me would be to raise himself up and turn around. That didn’t seem likely, given his total absorption in his pleasure. His legs were spread wide; I could see a light sheen of sweat around his pale tummy. I imagined what the cool breeze must feel like as it caressed his body, drying the sweat around his young balls, cooling the sensitive skin between his scrotum and his asshole.
I could see a tiny drop of liquid emerge from the tip of his cock. I imagined myself licking it, savoring the salty, musky taste. To my surprise, he looked at the droplet, then carried it to his own lips with a finger …
If anything, I never quite felt so good to allow myself to slip my fingers under my panties and let myself come like crazy — more than once. It was a good thing I was reading this stuff at home. There was no way I could have read this in the middle of the newsroom with other people around. No wonder why this guy’s friends encouraged him to write professionally.
Secretly, I was looking forward to meeting this guy. Any writer that could have that kind of effect on me certainly had my respect, not to mention my curiosity. But of course, I was going into this assignment as a professional, and I had to uncover everything that I could out of this guy, warts and all.
I rolled into his office promptly at 10 a.m. A rather polished and stylish receptionist let him know that I was here to see him. Actually, she was gorgeous – in her early 30’s, impeccably coiffed blonde hair, tiny waist, surgically enhanced breasts, and a dress that stretched tight across them that probably cost as much as much as I made in a week. It made me wonder how she qualified to get this job, but I was grateful to have a female employee nearby as backup. She asked me if I wanted a cappuccino or mineral water. I opted for the cappuccino. I really needed a heavy-duty dose of caffeine. I worked straight until three in the morning doing the background work and prepping for the interview. I’m sure that I looked as much of a wreck as I felt. It didn’t help that I ran out of time to put on my mascara before I ran out of my house to check in at my desk and then haul out here as fast as my car could push itself.
But today was not one of those days to put off my grooming and put my commuting heroics before everything else in the name of dedication to my work.
Jack didn’t look anything like a younger Hugh Hefner in a satin smoking jacket as I imagined. He wasn’t like any kind of lounge lizard that spent as just as much time trolling for chicks in the singles bars as he did rattling his gold chains when he jerked off in the men’s room every time he struck out. If anything, he had this very proper East Coast look and a confidence that was as attractive as his tall, solid and slender build. He had a sparkle in his eyes and his smile that went along with polite and cheerful persona.
I had to remind myself that all I had to do was act as a professional and that my looks didn’t and shouldn’t matter to him. Perhaps it was best that I didn’t look as if I needed to impress him. I had to ask some pretty tough questions, and, yes, juxtapose his personality and presence against his questionable prose.
I asked him how he got into real estate. He said it was something he could do well as he could write. Even with an Ivy League education, he said it was tough to transfer an American lit major into any other line of work that would let him lead him the kind of lifestyle to which he wanted to be accustomed. He said something vague about bringing in a six-figure income. I asked to back up his claim. He showed me a full year’s worth of MLS sales records that showed a list of sales that backed up his claim. The diploma on the wall I’d have to verify with the records department his school, but the way he spoke and wrote he clearly came from a very well-educated background and well-heeled cultural stock. He said his mother’s side of the family had deep roots in Boston by way of England back before the states were united.
However, he was tight-lipped about his wife who was only mentioned as, “Parrott is married,” in the bio of his press kit. After years of experience, I often knew the best story was in the detail that was practically ignored and swept under the rug. I couldn’t get him to say her name or what she thought of the book. There were no pictures of her on his desk like there were of him with Steven Tyler, Neil Young and Steve Jobs – all of whom had purchased houses from him.
“Steven Tyler and Sharon Stone invited me to their housewarming parties,” Jack bragged. “I got to spend the day playing guitar and with electric trains with Neil Young after he moved into his last house, and Steve Jobs was an incredibly private man. He did everything he could to keep the purchase of his last house off public records.”
He reached for a folder on his desk and handed it to me.
“Oh, and speaking of Sharon Stone, here’s a story she asked me to write for her,” he continued. “Her publicist’s name and number is inside. She’ll put you in touch with her.”
He didn’t weave her into the conversation at all in the same way he did his two college-age daughters and his involvement in the music ministry at his church.
“Your church?” I asked. I didn’t expect to hear that.
“There are quite a few people there that know about my writing,” he said before going on to tell me a story about a retired gentleman in the choir. The man asked him if he could write a story that would entice his wife to spice things up not in the bedroom, but outdoors on a camping trip.
“They’re the ones who inspired me to write my book, well, at least a short story, which eventually turned out to be the first chapter,” he said. “The next time I saw them, they walked into church holding hands like two smitten teenagers.”
A Viagra generation church-going couple inspired him to write this book? This was good copy. I’d eventually get him to open up about his wife later in the interview. I just had to. He was just starting to open up. Eventually, he did.
“I was a late bloomer sexually,” he said. “I didn’t come to realize it until after my kids were born and my wife lost interest in having sex. I could only play guitar and mandolin, sail, ride my motorcycle, and go hang gliding to a point that it was no longer a distraction. I’d go for months, now years, without sex.”
I was expecting to hear “I could only have so many affairs around town.” Instead, he asked me, “How long has it been for you?”
“That’s a totally inappropriate question,” I said.
“But you have no problem prodding me about my marital relations,” he said.
“Of course I don’t,” I said. “It’s my job to get the answers that aren’t offered easily. You don’t talk about your wife like you do your kids, you clients, your church, your music, your German motorcycle, your grandfather’s boat that you restored and keep in the Bay, not to mention the time you’ve spent writing when you’re not selling multi-million-dollar homes. A man in love with his wife doesn’t have time to indulge in things like that by himself. What does she think of your book?”
“That’s very astute of you,” he said. “I see how that makes you such a good reporter. What did your boyfriend or husband think of all that time you spent reading erotica last night?”
I couldn’t think of how to justify that question, let alone if I should answer it.
“The bags under your eyes are a tell-tale giveaway,” he said, interjecting my pondering pause. “I know you just got the assignment yesterday, and you seem overly well-prepared for this interview.”
I blushed and I was embarrassed, not just because he made mention of my grey, droopy eyes I was trying to keep open with my third cup of cappuccino, but because deep down, he called me on my own lack of sex life. There was none. I broke up with my ex-boyfriend a year and a half ago and there hadn’t been anyone else since then. Did I have to admit that, or was it that obvious?
“Tell you what, let me make up for my rude inquisition by continuing this conversation over lunch,” he said. “My treat. I’m not trying to buy good press, but you look like you could use it and I’m hungry. Besides, we really haven’t even started talking about my book and my writing.”
I let him drive. He drove a brand-new Porsche 911 Carrera that he bought in large part with the advance he got from his book. He had too much fun tearing up on the road. Or maybe it was for the thrill of making me scream when he started pushing it to 110 miles per hour on the freeway. It was fair enough. His driving habits and his financing were going into the story.
“How many speeding tickets have you had?” I hoped he could hear my question above the wind that raced through our ears.”
“I’m one away from getting my license suspended,” he said. “I like living on the edge.”
I’ll say. That quote was a keeper.
He took me to a bistro in the next town that reminded me of a place one might find in a small village in France – dark green walls, antique-looking tables and chairs, lace curtains that trimmed the windows, and wrought iron chandeliers that hung from the twelve-foot ceiling. He said he wasn’t trying to buy good press? Ha! I had to cover this bill now. If the story was that important to my editor, he’d approve the expense.
“Tell me, what did you think of the book?” he asked over glasses of a very fresh tasting Chardonnay he insisted on ordering for us.
“I liked it,” I said. “I didn’t finish reading it, but I was quite taken with the way the words flowed off the pages and into my head. It wasn’t anything at all that I expected.”
“You thought you’d be reading raunchy hard-core porn?” he asked.
“Well, yes,” I said.
“I wanted to go for something that appealed to a refined and educated taste,” he said. “There’s a great market potential for literary erotica that’s simply not being met. For example, you’re bright, educated woman. Is it something you could imagine your lover reading to you?” he asked.
There he went again. I wasn’t going to give him the information he was looking for. I just said, “Yes,” and let him wonder if that lover was current or a possible. It was none of his business.
“That was my intent,” he said. “I wanted to write something that couples could read to each other.”
“But a teenager and a grown woman as your protagonists?” I asked.
“Technically, he’s of age, and almost every man has that MILF fantasy, and most women imagine being younger, sexier versions of themselves and having a young and buff bad boy with a romantic side,” he said.
“But it’s written so beautifully,” I said. “I’m the biggest prude I know and I was … well, let’s say I was quite taken by it.”
“Good,” he said. “You passed the litmus test of what I promised to the publisher. You’re the kind of person I want to be curious enough about the book to buy it. Everyone wants a little taboo in their fantasy. Look at all the women these days that talk openly about wanting be handcuffed and paddled. Now what do you think your lover think about the book?”
He was pressing me again, but this time, it wasn’t just the book and our discussion, but also the wine that finally lowered my guard.
“It’s been a while,” I said quietly.
He gazed into my eyes and reached for my hand across the table.
“How would you like for me to read some of it to you?”
He waited patiently for my answer. The longer he waited, the more time I had to contemplate my answer. It was all wrong and totally against my personal and professional ethics, but he was gorgeous, smart, charming, and was doing a hell of a job seducing me.
“There’s a luxurious B&B down the road,” he said. “It’s the kind of place I always imagined taking a smart and beautiful woman for an afternoon getaway. We could bring the rest of the wine, order dessert to go, and…”
“I’d like that,” I cut in.
He smiled, I giggled. He giggled harder. At that point, a business lunch had turned into a decadent afternoon tryst, something that had always been a fantasy of mine.
He paid the check and we ran out to the car hand-in-hand like a couple of teenagers sneaking away to get into trouble – only we were grown adults who were breaking a number of rules, or, as he put it earlier, living on the edge.
Luxurious wasn’t the word for this place we checked into. Our room was furnished in antiques and opulent bedding. The sheers that hung over the tall windows muted the mid-day sun and shadowed us from the sins we were about to create. I just stood and stared in awe that I didn’t even start thinking about how I would start off this forbidden rendezvous that I allowed myself to get into.
I didn’t have to think. He came up from behind me and kissed the side of my neck and down my shoulder. He wrapped one arm around me as his other hand took its time finding its way under my top and to caress my warm skin that was beginning to set itself ablaze. He was totally focused on every inch of me as he slowly began to peel away my inhibitions – the way his nose took in the scent of my hair, the way his fingers barely touched the thin under side of my arm, the way he whispered in my ear, “I want you.”
I turned around to face him and our lips met for a hungry kiss. Our hands clamored all over each other’s bodies desperate to feel each other. I couldn’t unbutton his shirt fast enough to feel the strength and skin of his chest against my bare hands. He pulled my top over me to unleash and feel the soft fullness of my breasts. I couldn’t wait to feel and free his strong constrained bulge he was pressing against me. When his manhood sprung straight out, he grabbed me by my ass cheeks and firmly nestled it against my belly that was flush like fire.
He carried me onto the bed to lay me there as he pulled off the rest of my clothes. Being completely nude, our hands weren’t just curious about how we felt skin-to-skin, but also in the way we could make sensations deep inside of us set off a jolt or a “Zap!” His deep kisses traveled to my breasts and he devoured my nipples. I hadn’t been aware that I propped one knee up to splay my wanting inner channel. He turned me onto my back and dragged his fingers up and down over my moistening folds and flicked against my hardening clitoris. The more he did it, the more my body shook and quivered.
“My god, you are amazing!” he gasped, gazing at the glow of my pussy.
Suddenly, he plowed two fingers into me.
He got up to kneel as he continued his forceful invasion inside of me in a rhythm that matched my breathing – loud, deep and labored. It got even more amplified when I saw him stroking his dick with the same intensity. It looked as if it was going to burst in his hands. He made me feel as if I were the woman in his story watching the boy standing next to the edge of the sea, both of us lost in the ecstasy of our minds. I hoisted my feet onto his shoulders, reached out for his cock, and pulled it between my legs to let him know where I wanted it.
Unlike the older woman guiding an inexperienced boy, there was none of that awkwardness in figuring out how to put our parts together or how to calibrate them to sync at the right times. The acts of discovering new places to go, at least for me, were a thrill. We rolled around and tumbled with each other all over every square inch of the bed. We both enjoyed a ride that at times was slow, long and luxurious and at other times wild, exciting and dangerous.
There was no specific timetable, and there was no hurry to get to a destination. I hadn’t really paid attention to the physical effort I put into matching him thrust for thrust or responding to the different lengths and intensities of arousals he put me through, but the thrill of seeing the excitement in his eyes and the forcefulness he put into letting go of and releasing the passion he had kept to himself for so long was incredible. In the end, I felt wobbly, weak, and barely able to breathe.
After a while, I woke up with the dimmer sunlight filtering indirectly through the window sheers. He handed me a glass of wine and a slice of fruit tart that I forgot we brought with us.
“I’d like to make good on that promise to read part of that book to you,” he said.
He climbed behind and cradled me sitting upright and still naked on the bed. He turned on his eReader and the words that came out of his mouth sounded sweeter than the ones I read in Times Roman the day before.
… I thought of Eddie on our rocky island and knew I could not wait to see him again. I dressed hurriedly in shorts and loose chambray shirt, and then ran down to the float to untie the dinghy. Pushing off and hoisting the sail, I ghosted out the mouth of the Cove and turned south towards Ledbetter Cove.
I had been there just once, years before, but I was sure I’d be able to find it from the water. Each landmark was comfortingly familiar, and in less than an hour I had found my way to Ledbetter’s. There were only two houses and one float there, so I tied up between two white rowboats and walked up to the house. I knocked on the door, which was opened by an elegantly dressed middle-aged woman.
“I’m looking for Eddie,” I said, suddenly conscious of my somewhat shabby appearance. The woman looked at me icily.
“May I ask what it is concerning, please?” I hadn’t thought this far and stammered for a moment as I groped for a plausible story.
“My name’s Ann; I’m staying over at Long Cove. There’s a dinghy race next week, and I heard Eddie might be available to crew for me.” I smiled inwardly, proud of my ability to construct such a good lie on such short notice. The woman looked at me.
“Edward is not available at this time,” she said formally. She started to close the door.
“Wait,” I said. “Uh, is he here? I mean, could I talk to him for a minute?” I felt as though I was shrinking under her haughty gaze. Suddenly I was fourteen, begging for baby-sitting jobs.
“Edward has returned to Connecticut,” she said. “He took the first ferry to Rockland this morning …”
Tears leaked out of my eyes. Jack pulled a tissue out of the box on the nightstand and dabbed them.
“Don’t cry, my sweet,” he said, softly. “This is only page ninety-eight. There are two hundred fifty-three more to go.”
“Of course,” I said, holding back the tears that hadn’t yet come out and hanging onto the shreds of my dignity. “Every good story has conflict and obstacles. They’re necessary to make things interesting. I’m sure this story can’t have a sad ending.”
“I don’t want to give too much away, but you’re right,” he said. “You’ll see when you finish the book, but I have a reason that’s not the only reason why you’re crying.”
It wasn’t, but I couldn’t tell him that.
“I just hope that when I see you next that you won’t work so hard at keeping so much close to the vest,” he said.
I looked at my bare body and his bare legs that kept me locked in his embrace. I laughed, and said, “As you see, I’m not wearing a vest.”
I finished the book the next evening and put the finishing touches on my writing and fact-checking early Friday morning before sending my copy to the “To Edit” file.
Later that afternoon, my editor came up to my desk, and said, “Excellent job. I was right about you getting into this guy’s mind. If I shift you over to the Arts desk, can you work this kind of magic on every front page story?”
“I don’t know about that,” I said, with my mind figuring out how I was going to sneak out early next Friday afternoon.
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