Looking Back Ch. 09

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In Chapter one our heroine, Kate, a successful businesswoman turning 60, has asked herself a troubling question. Is she a slut? Thus began a series of chapters in which she describes to her husband Henry (her fourth husband) her life beginning with her late teen years and her sexual activities at each stage. The portion in italics in each story is her recollection of some memorable sexual experience from her past. In this chapter Kate seduces a nun who has written a book advocating celibacy.

“So that’s how you met the infamous Jim Worthington, CEO and majority owner of A. H. Robards and dean of the publishing industry,” my husband Henry said.

“Oh yes indeedy,” I said in response. “Within half an hour after I met him I was in his San Francisco apartment with his wife Sandy, fucking the both of them until we were exhausted. A fast worker, our Jimmy boy. Too bad he turned out to be such a bastard when he sold out.”

“You’re sure the fast worker was Jimmy?” Henry asked.

I cocked my head, responding with my body language to his question with another question, implying I couldn’t begin to understand who else could be to blame for the evening’s debauchery and all that followed from it.

“I mean,” he said. “There were two other parties to the little menage à trois you just described. Are you sure you have been totally candid about who seduced whom?”

I laughed, “Okay, I have to admit there probably wasn’t a lot of seduction that went on that evening among the three of us. We all wanted exactly what we got.”

Henry and I were sitting naked on the back porch of my Pacific Heights home in San Francisco on a lovely fall evening enjoying the beginning of a second bottle of fine French Burgundy. We had just eaten one of Henry’s gourmet meals, washing it down with a first bottle of equally outstanding Burgundy. He was asking me about a tale I had told him of one my sexual exploits from midway through my publishing career, the seduction of the CEO of the publishing company I worked for and his wife. The question of who seduced whom was a fair one, although largely a moot point given the proclivities of the three parties involved. You can’t really seduce someone who wants you so badly he or she is practically drooling, and in all honesty, I think that is the condition all three of us were in that night.

Changing the subject as I refilled both our wine glasses, I said, “Henry dear, I’m so glad you came out here tonight instead of just heading back to dreary old London.”

“Hmmm, as am I my dear. As am I. Our little after dinner romp in bed was so much better than a redeye from Dulles to London.”

“God, I hope you think so,” I said. “If fucking me after dinner and a good bottle of wine isn’t better than an airplane ride from Dulles to Heathrow, I’m going to give up on sex, sell my erotic publishing company, and join a nunnery.”

“Somehow my dear, I can’t see you giving up on sex, and I certainly can’t imagine you lasting for more than a week in a nunnery. Within a week, I dare say, all of the nuns would have abandoned their pledges of chastity and, after an introductory seduction by you, be romping with each other in new-found ecstasy.”

My eyes gleamed as I took a sip of my wine. “I did that once you know.”

“Did what?”

“Seduced a nun.”

“Really. While you were attending that Catholic girls school, I assume?”

“Oh no, it was much later than that.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. Tell me about the time you seduced a nun, and I want all the ‘juicy’ details.”

I smiled as I set my wine glass down and lifted both my breasts toward Henry. It had been years since I had thought of my seduction of Sister Mary Margaret.

“It was about halfway through my second marriage. As I’ve told you, my second husband simply wasn’t very interested in sex and ignored virtually any effort I made to change him. As a result, I was horny for most of ten years and engaged in shameless and repeated extramarital sex with a variety of partners—male and female. At the same time, I was climbing rapidly up the ladder at Robards and not just because I was screwing Jim Worthington and his wife Sandy.”

“Oh, so you kept at them after your first meeting did you?” Henry interrupted.

“Oh yes. He and Sandy would come to the West Coast two or three times a year and each time the three of us would have dinner in his apartment and then we would do our best to replicate the debauchery of our first meeting. I dare say we more than replicated it a number of times.”

“All fucking and no business?”

“No, of course not. Do you think I’m stupid? Jim and I always found time to talk a bit of business, usually while he was recovering for another round. That was an essential part of it. He was grooming me to run the San Francisco office. After all, contrary to popular belief, you can’t sleep your way to the top, if all you do is fuck. You have to be useful to your mentor for things beyond merely relieving sexual tension.”

“Is kartal escort bayan that so?” Henry said. “I never thought about it that way, but we’re digressing. I want to hear about how you seduced a nun.”

“Oh yes, Mary Margaret. Well, Jim had this idea that I needed exposure to the full range of works the company published, so he kept moving me to different editing and product development assignments. A few years into this training regime, he and Sandy got the idea one night, as we were lying naked in their big bed in the San Francisco apartment, that, since I seemed to have murder mysteries down pat (my last five properties in that genre had all been best sellers), I should try my hand with a religious publication. I think it was Sandy’s idea. She was sure I was screwing my mystery novel authors (which was true, even though I never admitted it to her or Jim) and I just think she wanted Jim to give me an assignment that couldn’t possibly be helped along with carnal relations.”

“Somehow, dear, I have difficulty seeing you as the editor of a religious work. I just can’t see you making a significant contribution.”

Well, you’re basically right about that. Surprisingly, the book sold reasonably well for a publication addressed to a narrow audience like that. I wasn’t sure it was going to work out well for Sister Mary Margaret. But now that I think about it, things seem to have also turned out well for everyone involved, although that took some time for Sister Mary Margaret. As for me, well, I learned a few things and moved on to the next project.”

“So what was the ‘unwell’ part. The firm made some money on it. No one got hurt. What else matters?”

Let me tell you what happened and you can decide for yourself:

I had dismissed my discussion with Jim and Sandy about being assigned a religious publication to edit as nonsense—just the two of them teasing me when we were all so worn out they had no energy left for more sex. But, a week or two later my boss wandered into my office and dropped a manuscript on my desk. “Good luck with this one, dearie,” he said. “The publication schedule calls for this to be out the door and on the street in four months, so get crack’n’.”

I opened the envelope and pulled out the manuscript. The title alone made me quietly gasp—”The Benefits of a Life of Chastity,” by Sister Mary Margret Wilson of the Holy Order of Dominican Nuns. Was this some kind of twisted joke on Jim Worthington’s part? What on earth would make him think I could edit a book on chastity without having a nervous breakdown?

But I was a trooper in those days, so I took it home with me that evening. My usual approach to a new editing project was to read the book straight through with no effort to note problems and issues to address. I just like to get the overall picture of what the author is trying to accomplish. Of course, if that is not readily apparent, I’m in trouble, but usually, I can figure out where she wants to go and then in my next pass I can get to work on how to help her get there.

By the time I got thirty pages into the book, which was mercifully short, I could see two things—first, Sister Mary Margaret could write tolerably well. Sentence structure was technically correct, all the usual commas, sometimes even a semi-colon or a colon, paragraph breaks in logical places, no spelling errors. The prose just had that nice readable flow to it that some people find elusive. Yes, someone had taught the lady to write.

Secondly, it was readily apparent that Sister Mary Margaret knew absolutely nothing about sex, and how someone can write a book about the advantages of celibacy without understanding the pluses and minuses of sex was, and remains to this day, totally beyond me.

As I read it, I became emotionally overwrought. How could anyone write such nonsense! Now I normally don’t let myself get emotionally involved in the books I’m editing. I’ve found over the years that the ability to maintain a cool emotional detachment from the material I’m editing helps immensely in the process of trying to tweak the words to enhance the effects the author is trying to create. This time I just couldn’t do it. The book was such drivel that I wanted to immediately phone Sister Mary Margaret and scream at her over the phone, “What the fuck are you trying to say? This is nonsense!”

After I got over my initial reaction I plowed on, finishing all 175 pages and two stiff shots of single malt Scotch by midnight. Instead of stressing further, I told myself I would deal with it in the morning and went to bed. During the night, I dreamed of a life without sex and awoke sweating in fear. It was a short night for sleep.

In the morning, I took the manuscript back to the office and gave it one more read-through. Then I went to my boss and tried to get him to take me off the project.

“Len, I’m not the right person for this project,” I said.

He looked at me and smiled. “So chastity’s not your thing, huh? Jim told escort maltepe me you might have trouble with this one.”

“Len, I’ll do anything else. Give me a half a dozen books on wood working, auto mechanics, fly fishing, something, anything but this.”

Now he was chuckling, and ominously shaking his head. “No such luck Kate. This one’s for you. The boss said so, and he told me to be firm about it.”

“Fuck!” I said as I turned and started out of the room.

“Come on, Kate,” Len said, calling me back. “You know how to do this. Get on a plane and go see the author. Get her to tell you what she is trying to say and then help her say it the best way you can.”

“Where is she?”

“A convent in Quebec.”

“Quebec! It’ll be colder than shit up there this time of year.” My normal office demeanor was slipping seriously. “At least tell me it’s in Montreal,” I said, thinking that Montreal might be tolerable—good restaurants, and a pretty decadent nightlife, or so I had heard.

“No, the convent is in some little town up the St. Lawrence River from Montreal, a couple of hundred miles or so. Called . . .” he paused while he thought . . . “Port-Cartier.”

“Fuck! Sounds like it’s halfway to Greenland!”

“Kate,” he said, putting on his stern voice. “Just go up there and get the job done. This doesn’t have to win a Pulitzer Prize. It just has to be something we can publish without embarrassing ourselves and hopefully make a buck or two on.”

“Okay, okay,” I said resigning myself to my fate. “Just one thing,” I said with equal sternness. “I don’t want to see my name on this book with an editor credit.”

That did it for Len. He burst out laughing and said, “Get the fuck out of here and do your job.”

I walked away with my shoulders slumped.

Ten days later I was standing on the doorstep of an old stone pile of a building waiting for someone to answer the door of the St. Pauline convent. There was a freezing wind driving a nasty snowstorm from somewhere in the vicinity of the North Pole, I guessed. God it was cold! Why did I ever leave San Francisco? I knew why—because I’m stubborn, and I refuse to admit failure. I could have called Jim and gotten him to take me off the project, but then I would have owed him big time. I wasn’t about to let him think there was something I couldn’t handle.

Eventually the door opened, and an ancient nun in an all white habit opened the door. After I explained I was here to see Sister Mary Margaret Wilson, she let me in. It was a good thing I speak tolerable French, because this was a part of Quebec where English is rarely heard. She showed me to a waiting room, saying that Sister Mary Margaret would be along shortly. Shortly turned out to be half an hour, and while it was warmer than outside on the front doorstep, I felt no need to take my coat off. Gloves off, okay, but not my coat.

Eventually Sister Mary Margaret arrived and burst all my expectations about my author. I was expecting a dried up old crone who had been living in this convent for forty-plus years. What I got instead was an extraordinarily beautiful young woman (perhaps in her early to mid-twenties). She was of medium height, and, in spite of the cloaking effect of the habit, appeared to have an ample bosom. Her face was truly beautiful, and I could see just a wisp of blonde hair peaking from beneath her habit.

“You must be Kate,” she said in perfect English as she extended her hand. “I’m Sister Mary Margaret Wilson. Welcome to St. Pauline.

Yes, I’m Kate O’Riley, from Robards,” I said, as I grasped her hand. It was warm and soft. “I’m here to help you with your book.” I was really taken by her appearance, even though ninety-plus percent of her was hidden by her habit. Not in a sexual sense, mind you. That would come later. I was just struck by her beauty and dumbfounded by the question of how someone of her beauty could have wound up here, in a convent as near the end of the earth as I had ever been. Was there a tragedy in her life? How did she get here and why?

So we sat, and I gave her my basic description of the publication process, as I would with any new author. She listened politely, asked a few intelligent clarifying questions, and finally said, “Yes, yes, that all sounds great. So do you have some suggestions about my book? When can I see them?”

I started to reach for my briefcase to get out the manuscript, but I paused. I was so taken by her I didn’t want to start into the manuscript yet.

“Before we start, Mary Margaret, please tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? How did you come to be here? Your writing is technically quite good. I’m curious about where you learned to write—in college or someplace else? I just think I do a better job if I understand my author’s background.” What I really wanted to know is how she could write a book on celibacy with obviously no experience with sex, and now that I had met her, how someone as beautiful as her could pendik escort have lived to her age with no experience with sex. Outside the walls of this convent, there would have been droves of men following her around. But of course, I couldn’t come right out and ask those questions.

She paused for a moment, thinking. “Well, I was born and raised in a little town in northern Ontario, Timmins. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it.”

She was right about that. I nodded my head.

“Timmins is a pretty rough town. It’s a mining town, and they are that way. My father was killed in a mine accident when I was very small. My mother was very religious. She was determined to protect me from the Timmins environment, so I was home schooled. Mother and I lived with my grandmother until she passed when I was about ten. After that it was just my mother and me.”

“Where did you go to college?” I asked.

“I didn’t,” she said. I came here as a novitiate when I was seventeen, right after my mother died. That was five years ago.

Wow, I thought!

“So you’ve never lived anywhere except at home with your mother who home schooled you and here in the convent?”

“Yes.”

“And do you ever get away from here for vacation or the like?”

“Well, the more senior sisters do go to Quebec City and even Montreal occasionally for convocations, but I haven’t been able to do that yet. I suppose I could take some leave time, but I really have no family or friends outside the convent to visit. This is my world.”

Unbelievable, I thought. I was almost at a loss for words. I sat just staring at her, overcome by her beauty and her naiveté. She is a virgin’s virgin, was the odd thought running through my head. My task looked even more daunting than I had expected.

I pulled out the manuscript and we spent the next two hours going through my questions, comments and suggestions. I was so surprised by her innocence that I sidestepped completely any issue of a need to compare chastity with the alternative of a healthy, happy, normal sex life. She took careful notes on her copy of the manuscript.

When we finished, she volunteered to do a rewrite and to send it to me in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. Normally, I am happy to do that mark-up for my author, but she seemed to feel strongly that she needed to do this work herself.

Two weeks later I received the revised manuscript. All the grammatical and style issues I had pointed out had been meticulously corrected and aside from the glaring problem of no comparison to the real world, it was damn near ready to print. But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t, let myself pull the trigger on the book, without one more try to get Mary Margaret to put some acknowledgement of the real world in it. But how, that was the question? I couldn’t even imagine how I would I do this if I were the one writing the book, and I was even farther from having an idea as to how I would go about raising the issue with Mary Margaret, much less tell her how to do it.

I took the manuscript to Len and explained my problem. He took it home and read it. When he came back the next morning, in typical managing editor form, he said, “I see your problem, but fuck it. I told you this wasn’t going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but my gut tells me it will sell, not a lot, but enough to cover the printing and distribution costs and put a few bucks in the bank. Let’s run with it. Besides, I’ve got another project for you to work on that you will like, and this one will make us some serious money.”

“Let me think about it,” I said, as I walked away holding the manuscript. “I think I may need to make one more trip to Quebec.”

If I had been anyone else, Len would have just told me no and sent the manuscript to the Production Department, but as Jim Worthington’s pet rising star, I could get away with some liberties that other editors could not, so I called Mary Margaret and told her we needed to go over some more issues. I just couldn’t face trekking up to the convent again, so I asked her if would be possible for her to get a few days leave and come down to Montreal to meet with me. She vacillated a little but eventually agreed to ask the Mother Superior, and a day later she called me back and said she could meet me. Mother Superior, it seemed, was very supportive of Mary Margaret’s book. Yeah, I’ll bet, I thought.

I arranged hotel rooms in Montreal and made travel arrangements for each of us. A week later I was ensconced in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal waiting for Mary Margaret. I was determined to raise the question of how you can talk about celibacy without addressing the alternative of sex, but I didn’t have the faintest clue how I was going to go about it.

Eventually there was a timid knock at the door. When I opened it there stood Mary Margaret, bag in hand. I almost did a double take because she wasn’t dressed in her habit. Instead she wore a pair of jeans, a white blouse, and a pair of very practical shoes. Her long blonde hair, which was thick and lustrous, was tied in a ponytail. I knew she was a beauty when I had met her in the convent, but she was way more spectacular than I had expected after our first meeting, a softer, less-chiseled Grace Kelly with an ear-to-ear grin.

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