Wednesday, 1 April 2020


Chapter 2

Never twiddle nipples. Always caress with your fingers or thumb.
Nipples are not knobs. Clitorises are not knobs.
Do not tweak and strum frantically at a woman’s clitoris.
Both respond best to slow, almost-there-never-quite-arrive caresses.
Try to tease, tantalise. You may be firm, but never coarse.

—Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate

His cell rang. It sounded just like an old-fashioned telephone ring tone. “Jane, hello! Are you well? How goes it?”

“Fantastic, darling, and you?”

“Great! I have this new client actually, which is why I’m calling. I hear you’ve been to Guilty Pleasures.”

“You hear right! Jake and I are devotees! It’s amazing! Are you enrolling some lucky girl?”

“Um no, I mean to say . . . I need this to be for your ears only, Jane.”

“Lance, mum’s the word!”

“I’ve been hired to do an Awakening . . .”

Dead silence greeted his revelation, followed by a giggle. “For Millie? You are Awakening Millicent Deafly?”

“Now, Jane, you know I can’t reveal who or what I’ve been hired for.”

“It is Millie! Oh, Lance, my dear man, you have no idea! Millie is just so . . . it’s hard to imagine you can . . . well, one word of advice, dab soy sauce on your pulse points and garlic oil on your nipples! I can’t imagine she’ll notice you unless you’re edible!”

Lance laughed. “Jane, my dear, really! Soy sauce indeed! Where exactly is the restaurant?”

“It’s not a restaurant. I mean, it’s a sort of place you go to eat . . . I mean really eat. Millie doesn’t do that chic cuisine where you starve half the time. It’s real food, lots of calories, high cholesterol, loads of sugar, an absolute shot to the liver, which is why you’re only allowed in once a month . . .”


“Well, by Millie, of course. She’s really strict. Anyway, it’s on Glass Street, number 36, I think. I’ll check for you.”

“Thanks, Jane. Lunch on Tuesday as usual?”

“Of course, Lance dear! See you there! Kiss-kiss!”

Thoughtfully, Lance switched off his cell. Soy sauce, indeed! He knew how to get a woman’s attention and soy sauce was definitely not it.

Lance took a prolonged shower to remove the remnants of the dastardly pheromone spray. Refreshed and with his annoying rash carefully covered in pink calamine lotion, Lance went back to the drawing board. Casually meeting Millicent was out. As a client, he could only have access to her once a month, so what else?

He opened the Guilty Pleasures site once more. A Help Wanted button was flashing in the upper right-hand corner. He clicked on it and read the ad.

Wanted: Cook’s slave and general ASSISTANT. Only strong men (or really muscular Slavic women) need apply. Hearing-impaired welcome. Excellent salary, great health insurance, No experience required. Apply through this site.

Maybe . . . working for her could work. Unrestricted access, physical closeness . . . yes. That would be it. Lance positioned the pointer and hit enter with a masterful tap.

“In like Flynn!” he exclaimed. Lance read the ad through twice. It was witty, whimsical, quite charming . . .

He clacked away industriously, looking for, rectifying, and uploading a bogus resume and cover letter. He pondered several false names and settled on Wilfred. It was a good name. Wilfred Pecklise. Yes, that was it!Wilfreds are nonthreatening and reliable. He hit send and he was on his way.

Yes, this was perfect. A reluctant client was most accessible where she was most confident and relaxed. Often people who flinched from social interaction were more open in a work environment where their abilities were enhanced and their guard was down, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of in-office affairs.

Now to build Wilfred Pecklise into a creditable, likable, and hireable personage. Glasses? Maybe . . . no. No glasses; it was too nerdy. It seemed to him that a Wilfred would be preppy, shy, sensitive, and unaware of just how good-looking he was. Rather like a young man he had once been: a long since forgotten young Lance.

Lance softened his hairdo. He would go for a gangly and vulnerable look with an underlying hint at a hidden dark sensuality. He proceeded to his walk-in closet and started working on Wilfred’s image. Jeans? No.

Lance picked out pleated pants in a fifties cut, and a ton-sur-ton burgundy-striped bowling shirt, buttoned up to the neck but with very short sleeves that revealed his muscular arms to perfection. He added two-toned shoes in cream and ox-blood red. A retro chic and bookish, preppy image was absolutely perfect for his alter ego, Wilfred Pecklise.

Lance smiled sexily at the mirror. No. Too seductive. Wilfreds are not overtly sexy. They creep in under the radar, and hit you when you’re not looking.

He smiled endearingly and rubbed at his nose. That was it! That’s the expression he was looking for, Wilfred’s trademark mannerism. For his scent, Lance hesitated. Pheromones were a no-no. He somehow doubted Millicent was into Carolina Herrera. He decided on going unscented.

A few hours later, his computer pinged. He accessed his e-mail’s in-box and scrolled down a long list of messages. Several were from grateful clients, and one was a long rant from his mother complaining that he never called.

Lance scrolled down further, skipping several ads, and read through three new referrals from a fellow therapist. There was also a message from George, his best—and only—male friend, asking him out for a booze-up. And finally the last message made him smile. “Yes!”Lance cried and opened an e-mail from Millicent Deafly.

Mr. Wilfred Pecklise, kindly present yourself at four in the morning tomorrow at number 36, Glass Street in Westminster City for an on-the-job interview/tryout for Guilty Pleasures.

Don’t be late.

Best regards, Millicent Deafly

Fantastic. The sooner the better. He’d have to forgo his morning run, reschedule a meeting with his ghostwriter—a harried single mother of three who was bravely helping him write his ground-breaking self-help/how-not-to book for men: Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate—and skip his afternoon visit with his gran. Lance decided to keep the day free in case his interview ran longer than expected.

Calm, confident and relaxed, Lance sat down to his raw all-bran and cabbage salad, took his multivitamin complex tabs and did his pre-bedtime exercise routine.

Arms pumped, abdominal muscles admirably defined, Lance smiled in the full-length mirror in his gym. Life was good and going according to plan.


“You headed home, Millie?” Serge asked.

“Yes, finally! You did an amazing job cooking alone today. But don’t worry, I’ve set up a new tryout for tomorrow morning—a Wilfred Pecklise. He’ll meet you here at four tomorrow morning. Please behave, Serge! We need someone to actually stay.” She leaned down to kiss him. “See you tomorrow, love.”

Shamefaced but unrepentant, Serge scowled. “Namby-pamby idjits! I’ll try, okay, Millie? G’night, sweet-pea!”

Millie rubbed at her tired shoulders, sighed, and shouldered her handbag. She walked down the steps and out into the chill London night.

From the Diary of Millicent Deafly:

Dinner went well tonight, though I must remember to reinforce the no-plate-licking rule. Otherwise tonight I hosted quite a reasonable group, though they swore like troopers and drank like fishes. The new Portuguese white wine from the Alentejo went down very well and really complemented the zuppa caprese.

For tomorrow’s dinner, Jackson Rivers confirmed for a French Baroque supper for twelve—Louis XV style—with a string quartet and bel-canto performer. I must get more candles and more Veuve Clicquot champagne—at least three cases.

His wife, Charlene, wants breakfast in bed at nine in the evening with hot chocolate and buttered croissants with blueberry compote and clotted cream served by a dwarf in livery and powdered wig! And where on earth can I get my hands on a Louis XV canopied bed at the last minute? I wonder if I can talk you-know-who into putting on a wig?

God! I must remember to reinforce the no-sex-on-the-premises rule, especially with a bed there. This whole sensual immersion/culinary experience we offer at Guilty Pleasures seems to stimulate the gonads as much as the taste buds.

In kitchen news, another one of Serge’s assistants quit. He’s the third one this month, but at least this one didn’t call the police. Serge stuck to verbal abuse this time, and no sharp objects were involved. God be thanked for small mercies.

Luckily, I got a new applicant today, and I’m starting him out tomorrow. I hope Serge behaves—as much as he can. We really must get a more permanent arrangement. This constant training of new helpers is very unsettling, and bad for business.

Also, Mother called wanting to schedule our monthly torture session. God only knows why I still agree to these little encounters with her. It does me absolutely no good. She will start criticising me the moment she sees me: my hair, my nails, my weight, not to mention my personality, my values, and who knows what else.

She will then proceed to tell me all about her friend’s daughters’ stellar achievements, how many children they have produced, and how happy other women are to have such successful children. Then she will really sharpen the knives and start on Father: his inadequacies, his weakness, and of course, how I inherited all those traits from him.

My lovely cannibal mother.

Still, I can’t say no to her. I agreed to see her for lunch tomorrow at one o’clock sharp.

Oh, Shakespeare, forgive me. “Come, you Spirits that dwell on human thought . . . fill me from crown to toe with heavenly patience . . .” Lady Macbeth would have sorted this out, no sweat.

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