Hide and Seek
Lucia found a beautifully hand-written invitation in her graduate-student mailbox. She shared it with me when she returned to our tiny Binghamton, New York apartment:
You and Wyler are cordially invited to attend the fifth annual Summer Solstice Festival in our home on the night of the twentieth, beginning at 9:00 PM. Bring your appetite, a favorite wine, and an open mind. We hope to see you here!
An email address was provided to RSVP.
“Wonder what he means by open mind?” I asked.
“Sharma was impressed,” she said. “He’s heard that it’s an exclusive gathering.”
It wasn’t surprising that our Indian friend, Sharma, knew of the event. He enjoyed keeping up with all the latest gossip at the university.
“Why do you think you got one? Thomas isn’t your Ph.D. adviser.”
“Haven’t the faintest,” Lucia answered.
Of course, I had a theory. Lucia is a full-figured, exotic-looking Mexican. Her dark, short-cropped hair, almond brown eyes, and soft, full lips scream with potential. You won’t find her on the cover of a checkout stand magazine, but she has a special aura that attracts men. Marriage does nothing to deter men who recognize it. I postulated that Dr. Benjamin Thomas was smitten.
Lust-worthy wives offer certain advantages. After watching other men devour Lucia with their eyes, I’m the one she goes home with, and then the fireworks start. I often use fantasies to ignite fleshy conflagrations. Lucia has only to conjure a recent admirer, and we’re off to a blazing start.
The night of the party, Lucia allowed herself plenty of time to prepare. When she was ready, I was astonished. An East Indian skirt showcased the outline of her strong, thick thighs and the generous curvature of her behind. A red stone necklace dripped down into the V of an orange blouse that she’d purchased in Oaxaca, Mexico. Earrings matched the necklace and she wore a tinkling ankle bracelet that she’d recently purchased at a yard sale. Lucia’s face needed very little attention—a little moisturizer, red lipstick, and voila.
I wore the New York look, black on black—always fashionable. Lucia stepped close to adjust my collar. Then she buckled on a pair of metallic gold high heels. I had a strong urge to coax her into bed for a quickie.
“Lord almighty,” I drew her into me. “We still have a few—
“Wyler,” she cut me off, and grabbed a small black purse. “You’ll make us late.”
We arrived at 9:30—fashionably late in England, unconscionably late in Germany, and an hour or two early by Mexican standards. Although we were there to celebrate the summer solstice, unseasonable clouds had developed in the moonless sky. It was June twenty-first. The solstice was officially slated for 12:24 AM.
Ben Thomas greeted me with a firm handshake and kissed the tips of Lucia’s fingers. I presented him a gift bag of wine, and he ushered us into the living room, where a barista served drinks. There were half-a-dozen couples milling there, and other voices wafted in from adjacent rooms.
“We’re so glad you could come. You’re in for an interesting evening. Please, explore the house and meet the other guests. After-dinner amusements and activities will require a precise knowledge regarding the layout of the house.” He held his hands up defensively, “Can’t say any more than that.”
“It’s a lovely home,” Lucia said.
“Thank you,” said Dr. Thomas. “Winter heating bills are highway robbery, but Giselle and I enjoy it here.”
Many homes in Binghamton are two-story – Victorian – with large front porches, full basements, and attic space. The cost of upkeep had kept Lucia and me from considering one.
The doorbell rang and our host excused himself saying, “I’ll sound the gong when dinner is served.”
“A gong?” I whispered.
“Shhh,” she admonished. “Someone will hear you.”
Lucia and I wandered the house and judging from the others, it was a couple’s only affair. Each guest appraised us with their eyes and smiled.
“Know anybody here besides Thomas?” I asked.
“A few just in passing, but there’re no other mathematicians.”
We ascended the squeaky stairs to the second floor and poked our heads into some of the rooms. Bedrooms were richly appointed with canopy beds, Berber carpets, and lustrous antique wood furnishings. Fresh flowers topped each nightstand, and a collection of nude oil paintings graced the walls.
Lucia pointed, “That’s Giselle, Dr. Thomas’ wife.”
I stepped closer. Mrs. Thomas was recumbent on brightly colored throw pillows, one leg lifted to reveal her sculpted triangle.
“Hmm, where do we find pillows like that?” I joked. Lucia poked me in the side.
Bathroom fixtures were gold, and the Turkish-style bidets impressed Lucia, as did the walk-in showers with tiles representing coupled Hindus in various positions. The den was nearly wall-to-wall bookshelves. In addition to a great many science and mathematics books, a large collection of erotic literature and tabletop art volumes graced the shelves. Above the worn brown leather couch hung more nudes. “That’s one of the other guests,” I observed.
“The woman in the red kimono,” Lucia noted. “I think she’s married to the Chinese professor.”
“Excuse me.” A well-dressed man, hired for the occasion, walked to a picture window facing a large wooden desk. He closed a pair of wooden shudders and drew a heavy set of purple curtains that fastened with Velcro. Then he smiled and left.
“Strange,” I said.
“Maybe we’re in for some bad weather,” Lucia suggested.
The gong sounded. We descended the stairs hand-in-hand into the living area and were greeted with pleasant smiles all around. Doctor Thomas stood next to a gong, perched on a small secretaire. He was holding his wife’s hand. He waited for everyone to gather.
“Giselle and I wish to welcome you all to our humble abode. Dinner is served!” He announced.
Lucia and I were ushered to opposite ends of a long dinner table. Everyone introduced themselves by name and country, and I hopelessly tried to memorize each. The woman seated to my left wore a stunning black dress, V-cut in the back. Her name was Nonna. She held out her hand and I kissed it.
“You are the writer,” she said. “Wyler Costner.”
“Yes,” impressed that she knew me.
“I teach physics at the university,” she added.
“I was never good with sciences,” I confessed.
“Artists are right-brained.”
“Is Mexican—finishing her Ph.D. in Algebraic Topology. She’s talking with my husband, Donovan. No doubt you saw some of his paintings upstairs.”
“Yes, indeed…very impressive.”
Nonna lifted an eyebrow, and raised her glass. “To arts and sciences.”
I wondered how she knew so much about me? We clinked glasses, and I saw that Lucia was sandwiched between conversations—Donovan on one side, Ben Thomas on the other. There were other ladies there represented on canvas upstairs.
The man sitting to my immediate left was Alwin, a sociologist, who’d recently published a book about the effects of technology on pro-social behavior. We exchanged cards.
I told him, “You may not believe this, but I actually shot my television seventeen years ago.”
“Bravo, Wyler,” Alwin laughed. “I merely tossed mine into a dumpster.”
Giselle sat directly across from me. She smiled and batted her eyelashes. As dinner concluded, her husband stood and tinkled his glass with a fork.
“Esteemed colleagues, it’s an honor to have you in my home to celebrate this year’s summer solstice. A little background might be in order for our first-time guests, Lucia, and Wyler.” All eyes turned toward us. “The word solstice originates from the Latin and means that the sun stands still. It occurs in December and June when the earth’s axis tilts toward, or away, from the sun,” he looked directly at Lucia.
“Tonight, summer solstice campfire celebrations will burn in cold northern countries such as Iceland, Poland, Latvia, Denmark, and Sweden. The holiday is more common in northern communities, such as Reykjavik, where the sun barely sets on the solstice.” His eyes rested on me and then gazed around the table.
“The rock formations at Stonehenge are a solstice party hot-spot, with as many as 30,000 revelers awaiting sunrise on solstice morning, including hippies, ravers, and modern Druids. A similar sunrise watch occurs in Orkney, Scotland and continues with a weeklong music, literature and drama festival.”
Doctor Thomas paused, gazing at his guests. Some were nodding, yet others merely smiled. “Look around you. China, Sweden, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico, North America and Turkey are represented here tonight.”
“You forgot Ireland,” complained Donovan.
“Forgive me,” Thomas pursed his lips into a smile. “And Ireland.”
“Everybody always forgets poor ol’ Ireland,” Donovan finished.
“You’re no doubt wondering what’s in store for us on this summer night?” Ben Thomas continued. “You’ll find out after dessert.” He smiled knowingly and sat.
We were served hazelnut mousse, and I was drawn into several interesting conversations. A distinguished middle-aged Chinese professor named Jian swallowed a blue pill and said that he’d read my novel, The Journal of Desperate Living.
“Ah, you’re the one,” I said. It was a standard writers’ joke, but he laughed all the same.
“I enjoyed it very much,” Jian added.
My ego swelled along with my stomach. We were offered a choice of after-dinner drinks. Everyone imbibed slowly and no one appeared tipsy. Lucia had warned me to go easy because I get drowsy when I overindulge.
As plates were cleared, everyone spoke in hushed tones. An atmosphere of expectation suffused the room. Lucia blew me a kiss.
“Shall we retire to the living room?” Giselle suggested, taking her husband’s hand.
Furniture had been pulled back and replaced with leather beanbags placed in a circle at the center of the large living room. Again, Lucia and I were separated. She sat with ankles crossed and hands folded in her lap. When everyone was comfortable, the lights dimmed slightly. I observed that all the windows were shuttered and curtained. Then the lights were doused, and the darkness was Stygian.
A small overhead theater light slowly intensified, illuminating our circle. Giselle broke the silence. “Friends, for most of you this celebration will add new experiences to others you’ve enjoyed.” She paused while everyone smiled and nodded. “Tonight, we’re honored to have Wyler and Lucia with us.” Polite applause followed. “Before we embark on tonight’s amusements, I must advise our new guests of the golden rule. If you choose to participate in tonight’s activity, you must give a solemn oath never to share your experience with anyone outside of this circle.” She looked first at Lucia and then to me. We both nodded in agreement. “Very good.” She gestured to her husband, “Ben?”
“Thank you, darling,” he kissed her hand. “As always, it’s perfectly acceptable should you choose not to take part in tonight’s activities. No questions…you may take your leave with our blessings.” No one budged.
I cleared my throat and everyone watched me for an embarrassing moment before Ben continued. “Tonight’s game is hide-and-go-seek.” There were giggles from the other guests. “As you can imagine, our version is quite distinct from the game we played as children.” More sniggers. “All clothing must remain within the circle. You may wear jewelry, but timepieces are not permitted. Each of you will be blindfolded and escorted to a location within the house. Power will be off, so do be careful. Once everyone is placed, the gong will sound and you are free to seek. Are there any questions?” Dr. Thomas finished.
Lucia timidly raised her hand and everyone smiled at her. “What are we seeking?” Ben lifted an eyebrow. “Oh,” said Lucia.
What a mixed bag of feelings we carried. Of course, Lucia and I had indulged in sharing fantasies to stimulate our sexual appetite. Yet here we were, faced with an opportunity to act out our whimsies. The handsome Nigerian Economics professor with his exotic Turkish wife, a lovely Swedish architect with deep blue eyes, Donovan the artist, the Chinese couple, and the others swiveled their heads between the two of us. Lucia fidgeted with her necklace and looked at me.
“Wyler and Lucia,” Ben Thomas looked at us each in turn, “Will you be joining in tonight’s festivities?”
Neither was sure how to respond and yet the atmosphere was infused with spontaneity. I watched Lucia’s head begin nodding and I followed, not wanting to appear foolish.
Thomas stood, “Excellent,” he said. “Shall we?” He slipped out of his clothing and the others followed. Lucia and I were slowest to finish. Being surrounded by so much flesh was daunting. Each body was beautiful in its own way. Lucia drew the most ogles. She has a dark, untrimmed bush, and medium-sized breasts with extended brown nipples. The Nigerian had a thick, attenuated shaft of ebony, and his tiny Turkish wife sported a manicured snatch and childishly small breasts. Every exposure came in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Benjamin tore his eyes away from Lucia and produced a box of airline quality blindfolds. They were passed around, “You may remove your blindfolds once the gong has sounded. “Sweetheart,” he addressed his wife, “You’ll escort Lucia, and I’ll take Wyler.”
“A final reminder,” said Mrs. Thomas. “Talking would, of course, ruin the effect, so any sounds should relate only to…” She didn’t need to finish.
“Okay everyone, blindfolds in place.” Ben Thomas waited until all of us had complied. Then, he took me by the crook of the elbow and guided me away from the circle. He stopped for a moment and gave me a few disorienting twirls before continuing. A short while later, he whispered for me to sit and I was greeted by the comfort of a leather chair somewhere downstairs.
“Bon voyage,” he whispered, patted my shoulder and was gone.
Sitting alone, I seriously began having second thoughts. I imagined Lucia groping in the darkness, contacting flesh, finding a new pair of lips, tasting an unfamiliar tongue—a hardness pushing into her warm flower. Such thoughts dizzied me, and I resolved to find her before someone else did.
Some minutes passed before the gong sounded, and when I removed my blindfold it was pitch-dark. I stayed put for a while, listening for movement. Old houses are never quiet. They snap, crackle and pop like a bowl of Rice Krispies. It wasn’t long before someone touched my arm. I reached out and felt thick arm hair. His hand patted mine and retreated in search of softer flesh.
There were noises all around me, and I listened for Lucia’s ankle bracelet. To my left, I perceived a deep sigh, followed by moist kisses. A man’s soft moan intensified into a deeply satisfied groan and the woman responded in kind.
Lucia’s ardent voice is a fingerprint, and I’d know it anywhere. This woman wasn’t Lucia. I groped until I found the stairs. Lucia and I had been strategically separated all evening, so it was logical to assume that she was upstairs. On hands and knees, I ascended carefully. At the top, I sensed a presence, groped with my hands and contacted a supple skin. Feminine arms pulled me in so that we lay side-by-side on the wooden stair landing.
She pressed a nipple into my mouth. Her lips found mine, and she tasted like fresh mint. Her tongue was soft and playful. She lifted a leg and my penis was deliciously sheathed. As we worked, another woman’s hand located us. Keeping me inside, my lover rolled on top facing away, and the newcomer positioned herself so that she was able to lick by testicles. I spurted almost immediately.
“Oh, Jesus…awww, aw, aw, awww,” I tried to keep the volume of my pleasure to a minimum. My lover climaxed at the same time.
“Huh, uh, uh…mmm, ohhh.” She flexed and shivered.
The woman who’d been licking my balls now lapped up semen that was clinging to my lower shaft and dripping to my thighs.
After I slipped out, the women stayed together, kissing as I continued my journey to find Lucia. I felt the opening to one of the bedrooms. Inside, bedsprings squeaked and I discerned labored breathing—the rhythmic slap of flesh on flesh. The woman issued high, piercing seagull cries—not Lucia’s.
There was a myriad of sound all around—panting, groaning, sharp cries, laughter—none of them Lucia’s. I found another bedroom. At first, I thought it was empty, but then I heard a slurping sound. A man gasped, grunted and the sound stopped. There was movement on the floor and I heard the bathroom sink running—sounds of rinsing and spitting—not Lucia.
I crawled to the den and was immediately rewarded by the spicy odor of books. Soft moans were coming from the leather couch and I crept inside. I perceived a tinkle of jewelry. A portion of the curtain joined by Velcro was slightly agape, allowing a sliver of a streetlight to filter in. I distinguished silhouettes on the couch.
The leather squeaked and the jewelry tinkled again as the woman’s hips churned over her lover.
“Ayyy,” she moaned, “Huh…ohhh, ayyy.”
“Oyyy, sweet Jesus,” the Nigerian’s voice was deep and filled with passion.
My throat felt as if I’d swallowed a spoonful of gravel. Their shadows moved as one. Lucia took a deep staccato breath, followed by a guttural homage to ecstasy.
“Ay, ay, ay…huh…ayyy!” Her hands rested on his chest as she rocked him in and out, squeezing him with an orgasm as the ankle bracelet jingled.
The Nigerian sat up to suck her nipples and then lay back down. He grunted loudly, growled, and poured into my wife. “Aw, aw, aw, awww! Oy…awww!” I tried to remember the name of the professor spurting inside my wife.
“Yes, baby,” she urged, and then she climaxed again. I heard the sound of frothy semen forced out by escaping air.
Their lovemaking was followed by tender kisses.
“You’re an angel,” he whispered.
“You made a mess, Musa,” she replied.
“I can’t remember ever cumming that hard.”
Musa, I thought, the man who caused the mess. A man’s heart is a mysterious world. Instead of waiting for a turn with Lucia, I sneaked out. Finding the stairs, I backed down until I reached a couch. Pre-emergent oozed. I wasn’t alone for long. A hand touched my thigh and grasped me. She nuzzled and took me into her mouth.
Painted the underside with her tongue, she jacked me until I pulsated in her hand. Then she straddled me. I slipped in easily, clearly aided by other men’s spunk. I pictured Lucia with Musa, as this mysterious woman ground her hips over me. I twisted her tiny nipples as she toiled, and she climaxed repeatedly before I added fresh spurt. I guessed her to be Musa’s Turkish wife, Sabella.
We kissed farewell and she continued her wanderings. Done in, I resolved to return to Lucia. She wasn’t there. I’m not sure why, but I fixed the curtains so the light was again blocked out. Self-indulgently, I sulked on the couch. Then I got up to leave, yet sensed movement in the doorway. I moved off into a corner. Someone stood by the window next to the desk. A short time later the ankle bracelet announced that Lucia had returned.
“Psst!” she said.
“Here,” he replied.
She moved passed me and then I heard them kissing.
My Velcro work didn’t last, and a sliver of light entered the room. Lucia was seated on the desk. Musa lifted her legs by the knees and Lucia groaned deeply as he pushed inside. Then, he stroked slowly back and forth to the rhythm of her husky response.
“Uhn…uhn…uhn,” Lucia grunted each time Musa drove forward.
A lump grew in my throat. Occasionally, air escaped from Lucia’s snatch as the Nigerian pulled back and returned deeply. Lucia cried out as her inner walls jittered around his thick staff, one climax ushering in another.
“Ah, I’m gonna…ohhh Jesus…awww, baby…awww!” Musa answered.
“Yes, fill me…fill me…mmm, I feel it…warm.”
Never had Lucia talked like with me. My heart raced in my throat. My head span with trying to fit this scenario into my skull. Then, after catching their breath, he pulled out.
“I found tissues,” Musa said in a low voice.
“Thanks,” Lucia replied.
“How many others?” Musa wanted to know.
“That was no accident. How’d it go?”
“Quickly,” Lucia said.
They both giggled, having broken all the rules of the game in one fell swoop.
“I’d better be going,” Musa said.
“What’s your hurry?” she replied.
There was the sound of kissing again—moist and sweet.
“Need to find my wife. Perhaps next week we can have lunch.”
There were more kisses, and my erection mocked me—dared me to deny that this was the most exciting night of my life.
The Nigerian helped Lucia down from the desk. “Coming?”
“Think I’ll rest here on the couch for a while,” she said.
“Mmm, if I don’t find Sabella I’ll be back.”
He left. Lucia sat on the sofa, and then lay down on it. I stood frozen until I heard a deepening in her breathing, and knew she’d fallen asleep.
I waited another five minutes before kneeling and taking her into my arms, “Hi, Dollface.”
She lovingly stroked my hair, “Hi there? How are you?”
“What about you?” I asked.
“Need a bathroom.”
I kissed her softly, smelling sex—the intoxicating combination of body chemicals, colognes, and perfumes. I brushed my fingers over her body and felt a wad of tissue between her legs.
“Let’s find one.” I took her hand and we found an empty bedroom. Commandeering a shower, I lathered her body and desperately wanted to take her, yet my manhood was out of ammunition.
Afterward, we climbed into the empty bed and Lucia soon drifted off. My brain prevented me from joining right away. I replayed her reaction to having the Nigerian’s manhood deep inside her. How would I compare after an experience like that?
When we awoke, our clothes were neatly stacked on a chair, and the smell of coffee wafted from downstairs. Early morning light filtered in through the open bedroom curtains.
“Good morning,” I said.
“Good morning, my love.” Lucia stretched luxuriously and pecked my mouth.
“How do you feel?”
“Three,” she said, “You?”
“Two…it’s different for men, you know. We only have so much ammo.”
“It was like a dream.”
“Surreal. I tried to find you.”
“You finally did.”
Lucia and I dressed and went into the kitchen. Most guests had returned home. Dr. Thomas was in the kitchen wearing a robe and concocting a large omelet.
“Top of the morning!” he enthused. “I’ll wager you’re both starving. Such a night makes for mighty appetites.”
Before we could answer, his wife, Giselle, breezed in. “Buenas dias,” she greeted, kissing her husband and giving us pecks on the cheek. “I’ll make green juice.”
“Let me help,” said Lucia, and they began chopping vegetables.
Benjamin motioned me over to a strange looking contraption. “Ever had coffee made with a French press?”
“No, how does it work?”
He showed me, and in no-time we were sipping the best coffee I’d ever tasted.
“Quite a night, eh?” Benjamin lifted his eyebrows.
“Unforgettable,” I answered.
“I have an idea for next year,” Giselle said.
“She’s the creative one,” Benjamin gestured with his head.
The Nigerian professor entered with his petite Turkish wife. Lucia’s lips curled into an enigmatic smile.
“Good morning everyone,” Musa blew a kiss to the whole room with both hands. When he kissed Lucia’s cheek I saw him whisper something. Lucia smiled and blushed.
“Wyler’s making more coffee, Sabella,” Giselle informed her.
Musa’s wife pressed in behind me to peer over my shoulder as I practiced my French press skills, “Mmm, smells heavenly,” she moaned.
“It’s nearly ready, Sabella,” I said, happy to say her first name.
Donovan the artist trudged in without a greeting and helped himself to Ben’s coffee mug.
“Barbarian,” remarked Giselle. “Where’s your wife?”
“Comatose,” he grumped. He shuffled over to kiss Giselle’s cheek and waved a feeble greeting to the rest of us.
“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love,” Ben sang to Donovan.
Donovan murmured something as he sat on a barstool, then whirled to face Lucia. “I’d like to paint you.”
“Had a feeling you might,” Lucia replied.
I imagined Lucia joining others on the time-honored walls. Giselle looked at me wistfully, and her husband eyed Lucia furtively.
“This coffee is from Kenya,” Giselle told Musa.
“Ah yes, the best coffee is found in Ethiopia and Kenya,” Musa said.
After breakfast, Dr. Thomas walked us to our car. The morning air was fresh—the birds were out in force, and a light breeze stirred through the pine trees that forested the neighborhood.
“We have bi-monthly get-togethers. Now that you’re in the circle, there’re marvelous opportunities to be had. By the way Wyler, I was wondering, do you play golf?”
I barely heard him because I was busy wondering what Musa had whispered to Lucia in the kitchen.