Nick Scipio

Betsy Gets Lucky

Cindy was the only woman who ever meant anything to Howard, but she was gone. He'd met others who reminded him of her, but things always ended the same way. Then he helps Betsy out of a tight spot and she goes home with him... but can their relationship survive? ***Warning*** This is a DARK story. It's not happy and light. It's gritty and full of not-so-nice things. Really. Trust me.

A knock on the door summoned Graham from a ruminative silence. He looked at his watch and realized it must be his two o’clock appointment. With a quick check to make sure his desk was in order, he stood and walked toward the door. “Dr. Moscowitz?” Graham asked the man at the door. The man nodded and Graham stepped aside, motioning for him to enter.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Dr. Turner.”

“Certainly, certainly. Come in. Have a seat,” Graham said, gesturing at one of the comfortable wing-back chairs in front of his desk. “And please, Dr. Moscowitz, call me Graham.”

“Graham. Of course. I am Saul.”

Graham seated himself behind his desk and looked at the man across from him. Dr. Saul Moscowitz was short and plumpish, with wire-rimmed glasses and a prominent nose. Male pattern baldness had actually improved his appearance, Graham decided, softening his face and giving it much-needed character.

“You know why I asked to see you,” Saul said. At Graham’s nod, he continued. “It’s about Howard Bloom.”

Graham felt his heart race. “Of course, you realize I can’t disclose…”

Saul nodded and withdrew a slim manila folder from his briefcase. “Here is all the necessary paperwork,” he said, passing the folder across the desk.

Graham scrutinized the papers–authorized releases allowing him to breach confidentiality and discuss Howard’s evaluations. Once satisfied that everything was in order, he sighed deeply and withdrew a significantly thicker folder from the file drawer in his desk.

“Where should I start?” he asked, more as a rhetorical question than a request for guidance.

“Why not start at the beginning,” Saul said.

Graham smiled tightly and flipped open the folder.

“Well, Howard David Bloom, Junior: six feet tall, 180 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes…”

“I expect I’ll learn all that when I meet him,” Saul said, interrupting Graham.

“Meet him?”

“Of course. I’ll have to evaluate him for myself.”

“Are you sure? I mean…”

Saul nodded firmly.

Graham shook his head and continued summarizing the document in front of him. “He graduated magna cum laude from Stanford, double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice, minors in Sociology and History.”

“Impressive,” Saul said.

“Indeed. Did you know he was recruited by the FBI?”

Saul’s eyebrows rose, then he shook his head.

“He was. He joined the Marine Corps instead and went off to OCS. Followed in his father’s footsteps, you see.”

Saul nodded.

The two men went through a substantial portion of the file before Saul held up his hand.

“Betsy Powell. You’ve mentioned her name several times. Who is she?” Saul asked.

Graham chuckled humorlessly and shook his head. “She’s the lucky one.”

Saul’s brow creased with impatience.

“Here. Read the transcript for yourself,” Graham said, handing a sheaf of papers across the desk to the other man. “It’s from a recording I made during an early conversation with Howard. I asked him about Betsy, and this is his account of how they met.”

I don’t sleep well. I haven’t for as long as I can remember. I guess I’ve always felt like sleep was a waste of time. I’ve got too many important things to do to take up much of my day with sleep.

Besides, nighttime is my favorite time. People generally leave me alone, and I can think without anyone fawning over me. Usually, I like to be the center of attention, but nights are for me, and me alone.

Maybe it was that need to be alone that led me to walk the streets. Maybe it was just that I didn’t want to deal with Kristi and her insufferable wailing. She loved me, she said. She needed me, she said. She’d do anything for me, she said.

Actually, there was nothing wrong with Kristi. I was just done with her. She had become tedious. For the past two months, she’d done everything I wanted–even gotten into hot water with her boss about too many missed days of work.

It sucks to be her.

I chuckled at the thought. Actually, it did suck to be her. I’d made her give me a long blowjob in the cab on the way home from one of the trendy dance clubs she liked so much. She was having fun with her friends, but they were more interested in each other than in me, so we left. Kristi was disappointed, but it wasn’t about her, now was it?

She didn’t want to blow me, especially with the cabby able to see everything. But again, it wasn’t about her. After we got to my apartment, I told her to gather up her shit and get out. It had only been a couple of months, so she didn’t have much stuff there.

I loved the look on her face when I told her we were through. I wasn’t upset about it, why was she? We’d had fun while it lasted. I’d had fun, at least.

I was tempted to fuck her before she left, just to shut her up, but I decided against it. After all, I was breaking up with her, I didn’t want her to think I loved her. Love was for before, not after.

She didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want to watch her go, so I locked my apartment door behind me and walked to the elevator without a backward glance. She’d be gone when I got back, I was sure of it.

It was a bit late to find someone new, but I’d manage somehow.

I always had.

A cute waitress worked the night shift at the all-night diner on the corner of 59th and Tenth. She’d given me the eye a few times when I’d gone in for coffee late at night. I decided to walk the few blocks to see if she was there.

I’d never given her any sign that I was interested in her, but I thought she’d fill the not-void left by Kristi. Oh yes, I thought to myself, imagining the waitress’ smooth curves and healthy farm-girl breasts, she’d fill the void nicely.

The diner was nearly deserted and she was wiping up the tables. The few times I’d been in before I didn’t talk much, and she got the message I wanted to be left alone. Once, however, she chattered on, telling me she was a student at one of the local colleges and worked nights because her classes were early. I didn’t remember the , but I remembered her name: Janey. Janey from Wisconsin, or Wyoming, or wherever.

I took a seat in one of the booths and she came over with a coffee cup and a pot of regular.

“Hiya,” she said, perky as always.

“Hi, Janey. How’re things tonight?”

She looked at me for a moment, surprised I’d actually talked to her.

“You doing okay?” I asked, turning on the understated charm.

“Yeah, I’m great.”

I decided she must be from Wisconsin. She had that upward lilt at the end of everything she said, kind of like she was asking a question with every statement. She set the coffee cup down and filled it efficiently, giving me a look that was equal parts suspicion and interest.

“Can I bring you anything else?” she asked, reverting to the safety of routine.

“I feel like pie,” I said. “What’s good here?”

She leaned down confidentially and whispered, “Anything but blueberry.”

“What do you recommend?” I asked, trying to draw her out.

“I like the apple.”

I laughed genially. “Really? That’s my favorite.” She was from Wisconsin, dairy country. Would she like it with ice cream, or cheddar cheese? I looked at her with counterfeit suspicion. “You eat it with ice cream?” I caught the briefest hint of her disapproving expression and continued. “Because that would be just plain wrong. You’ve got to eat it with cheddar cheese.”

“That’s my favorite way to eat it,” she said.

Of course it was, I thought smugly. Personally, I couldn’t care less about apple pie, with or without cheese or ice cream. I liked lemon meringue, but pie wasn’t the point of the exercise. I gave her my warmest tired smile and nodded. “Then I’d like a piece of that apple pie, with cheddar cheese.”

She practically beamed at me and turned to get it.

I smiled at her until she turned away, then took a sip of my coffee. It was hot, black, and strong, just the way I like it. That’s one thing I didn’t miss about the Corps–the coffee sucked.

When she returned with my pie, I pasted on my best charming smile and she actually blushed. I chuckled to myself. This was going to be easy.

“I warmed it up for you in the microwave,” she said. “And I gave you an extra big piece.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I don’t know if I ever introduced myself.” I held out my hand as she set the plate down. “I’m Howard.”

“Pleased to meet you, Howard.” She reached out and took my hand.

As our palms crossed, I gently caressed her wrist with my fingers, just enough to let her know it wasn’t accidental, but not enough to be truly overt. I gripped her hand firmly, but not tightly, and squeezed once, smiling my 50-megawatt smile and making eye contact. She blushed again, and I let her hand go. Oh yes, I thought to myself, this was going to be so easy.

She turned and headed back to the counter. I already had thoughts of her bent over the kitchen table. I decided I’d fuck her from behind first. Definitely.

I let her catch me looking at her, but averted my eyes each time she looked at me, as if I were interested, but maybe a little shy. And I ate my pie. It was actually pretty good.

“So, Howard,” she said, sidling up to the table to top off my coffee. “What do you do for a living? Like, I see you in here sometimes, but I never could figure out why you’re out late. You know?”

“I own a security company,” I said.

Her eyes got wide and I knew I had her hooked. A well-to-do nice guy, maybe a little dangerous, exactly what a starry-eyed, slightly jaded farm-girl from Wisconsin would find interesting.

“We do security for several buildings in the area. I check on the teams assigned to them.”

“Wow,” she said, clearly impressed. “You must be pretty important.”

Time to downplay it a bit. I shrugged. “Somebody’s gotta do it. I take care of my guys, they take care of our clients, and our clients take care of us.”

She nodded, and I got the idea she wanted to say more, but one of the other two customers called out, asking for more coffee. I looked at the man and memorized his face. If I ever saw him again, maybe I’d…


No, not Cindy, but close enough to be her sister. My heart raced with anticipation. She was cute, maybe a little too plump, with the same blowjob lips that Cindy had. She had just turned to walk away from the diner, down 59th Street, when I spotted her through the far window. If I hadn’t been paying so much attention to Janey, I would have seen the girl sooner. Without saying a word, I got up, left ten bucks on the table, and headed toward the street.

Cindy certainly wasn’t my first, but she was the only one that meant anything to me. I actually enjoyed doing her.

I met her right after my unit returned to Pendleton from deployment. She was everything I wanted, and maybe then some.

She was from Lemon Grove City, just a few miles away. Her parents were Ivory Tower peaceniks, holdovers from the Sixties who despised the very people who provided the freedom they took for granted. The idea of their daughter dating a “government killer” made them crazy, and that drove Cindy crazy. I didn’t care what she was rebelling against, especially when she moved in with me. I had a small apartment a couple of miles from the camp’s main gate, and Cindy made that place a home.

I think Cindy was the closest I ever came to loving anyone. But then she betrayed me, and I couldn’t have that. She passed every test but the big one: loyalty. Always faithful–semper fidelis– means something to me. Evidently, it didn’t mean anything to her.

After that, I decided the Corps wasn’t the life for me anymore, so I got out. Civilian life offered so many more opportunities, and I decided to seize them.

Saul lowered the papers and looked across the desk. “He actually said that?”

“Said what?” Graham asked.

“‘After that, I decided the Corps wasn’t the life for me anymore, so I got out.’ He said that?”

Graham nodded firmly. “I have the tape if you’d like to listen to it.”

“He says ‘I got out, ‘ like it was a choice he made.”

“He’s like that.”

“He was court-martialed, right?” Saul asked.

“He was. Conduct Unbecoming. But because of who his father was, he was allowed to resign his commission.”

“But… I thought you said he was charged with…”

“I know,” Graham said heavily. “He was found not guilty on all the other charges.”


Graham nodded. “The evidence was only circumstantial. Besides, the accident happened when his unit was on a training mission, which can be dangerous, you see. At first, the Judge Advocate didn’t even look at him as a suspect. Even after he came under suspicion, he passed a lie-detector test with flying colors and completely snowed the NCIS investigator.”

“They had to know he was responsible for the doctor’s death. How dangerous can a training exercise possibly be?”

“With his former unit, pretty dangerous.”

“What was his unit again?” Saul asked distractedly.

“The First Force Reconnaissance Company,” Graham answered without looking at the file.

“A reconnaissance unit?! Then he shouldn’t be all that dangerous.”

Graham looked across his desk in incredulity. At first, he didn’t believe the other man was serious. Then the magnitude of Saul’s naivete struck him like a blow. “You really don’t know?”

Saul shook his head irritably. “No. Why should I?” he snapped.

“First,” Graham explained patiently, “there are few US Marines who aren’t dangerous. Second, the Force Recon units are, as Howard put it, ‘on the sharp end.’ They’re an elite group like the Army Rangers, or the SEALs, or Delta Force. Howard could explain it to you better than I can, and he will, if you ask him. But trust me when I tell you that he’s a very, very dangerous man.”

Saul looked dubious.

“Keep reading,” Graham said, indicating the papers Saul still clutched loosely. “You’ll see.”

I shadowed the girl for a few blocks, running over in my mind what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say. The more I watched her walk, the more she reminded me of Cindy. There had been others who reminded me of her, but this girl, this girl was young, like when I’d first met Cindy, when she was still fresh and new. And loyal.

The girl I was following turned into an alley and I pulled up short, to wait. There’s no rush, I told myself. A few moments later, I heard a scuffle and decided to see what was happening.

When I rounded the corner of the building backing the alley, my first reaction was surprise. That lasted for only a heartbeat. She was in the alleyway with three men. Two were holding her by the arms, being none too gentle, and the third was pawing under her short skirt.

How dare they?!

I checked the small of my back for the SIG I always keep there, but decided the situation didn’t call for a gun. One look at them told me they were street punks, barely worthy of consideration under normal circumstances.

I didn’t even try to hide myself as I walked down the alley toward them. The leader, the one with his hand under the girl’s skirt, saw me first.

“What’re you lookin’ at, dickwad?” he snarled.

There’s a time for fighting and a time for talking, and this guy didn’t realize that the time for talking was already long gone. I took another step in his direction and he obligingly moved toward me. A quick side-step and a forearm to the throat left him wheezing and gurgling on the ground.

His two buddies were more loyal than smart. They dropped the girl and came at me together. In the dull glow from a streetlight at the mouth of the alley, I saw the gleam of a knife in the hand of the guy on my right. Instead of doing the smart thing, coming at me from opposite sides, they simply rushed me head on.

I went for the guy with the knife first. A knife isn’t all that dangerous, the person wielding the knife is. Remove the wielder from the equation, and a knife is just so much useless cutlery. This idiot had probably never used his knife against someone who fought back, and he paid for it. In three quick seconds, the two of them were on the ground.

“What happened to those men?” Saul asked.

Graham shrugged. “I asked Howard about that. He calmly told me he’d left them lying in the alley. I pressed him on it, and he just shrugged. ‘What if they were dead?’ I asked him. You know what his answer was?”

Saul shook his head.

“‘Then they got what they deserved.’ He was as calm as if he’d just said he liked my tie.”

Saul blinked.

“I actually did a little digging on my own,” Graham said. “The NYPD told me there were no homicides matching that description anywhere near 59th Street.”

“So he was lying.”

“Not necessarily. A detective from another precinct called me up several weeks later. Seems that three ‘skells, ‘ his word, were found in an alley about twenty-five blocks from where Howard placed his account. One had his larynx crushed, one was stabbed, and the third had his neck snapped. The police were just glad to be rid of the three, and there was really no case against Howard, no evidence. Besides, any competent attorney could argue self- defense.”

“Do you think… ?”

“Yes. I’m sure he was responsible. The accounts match too closely to draw any other conclusion. He simply lied about the location.”

“So what happened to the girl?” Saul asked, visibly shaken.

Graham gestured to the papers. “Keep reading.”

The girl was terrified. In a manner of seconds, she’d seen me drop the three men who had attacked her, and I guess she figured I was simply going to pick up where they left off.

“Hey,” I said in my gentlest voice. “Are you okay?”

She swallowed hard and nodded automatically, trying to tug her skirt back down and straighten her top. It had been ripped when she struggled with the men, and now it lay open, displaying a healthy portion of her chest.

I put out my hand and walked slowly toward her, smiling as I did. “I’m not going to hurt you,” I said reassuringly. “I’m here to help.”

She smiled wanly and seemed to relax.

I took a step closer and reached out to her. “Why don’t we get out of here,” I said.

She swallowed again and took a step toward me.

Eventually, I coaxed her into taking my hand and gently pulled her from the alley. She had to step over the leader of the trio, but pointedly didn’t look down. I glanced at my watch and saw it was almost five in the morning. I knew a donut stand around the corner that would be setting up right about now, so I took her there.

In the growing morning light, I realized how young she looked and how much she reminded me of Cindy. She had the same long brown hair, big brown doe eyes, and the full lips that always made Cindy look like she was ready to go down on me. I’d already forgotten the waitress at the diner as we walked toward the donut stand.

The guy at the stand leered at her partially exposed chest, but after he looked into my eyes, he was all business. We got coffee and donuts, and then walked off.

“I’m Howard,” I said, trying to set her at ease.

“Betsy.” She paused for a moment and gripped her coffee fiercely, both hands shaking. After a long drink that seemed to settle her nerves, she asked, “Were those guys… ?”

“Unconscious,” I said firmly.

“But one of them was bleeding.”

I nodded. “He got a cut on his arm when I took the knife away from his buddy. He’ll be fine.”

I could tell she was still in a state of shock, and she’d seen too much blood for a simple cut on the arm, but she let it go. I wanted to take my jacket off and put it around her shoulders, but the SIG would be visible if I did. I couldn’t have that. Besides, there was blood on my right sleeve, and my jacket covered it.

“Is there somewhere I can take you? Somewhere you can get cleaned up?” I asked. She had that look about her–the look of a street- smart opportunist–that told me she’d answer yes to my next question. “My place is just a few blocks away. Would you like to go there?”

She nodded, and I steered us toward my apartment.

Saul looked up in shock and Graham knew exactly which point in the narrative he’d reached.

“She went back to his apartment?!” Saul blurted.

Graham nodded.

“Did she end up like the others?”

“What others?” Graham asked blandly.

“Don’t play coy, Dr. Turner,” Saul said, leaning forward. “Did he kill this Betsy Powell girl too?”

“I’m not being coy, Dr. Moscowitz,” Graham said evenly.

“You sound like you’re defending him.”

“Maybe, maybe not. But you sound like you’ve already judged him.”

“I’ve done no such thing!” Saul said, nearly apoplectic.

Graham inclined his head and let it drop.

“Don’t tell me you actually like him,” Saul accused.

Graham leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers before him. After a moment, he shook his head. “On the surface, he’s very urbane. Charming, actually. I certainly treat him with respect, and he’s always been courteous to me as well, although it’s impossible to tell for sure what his true feelings are.”

“You mean you respect him?”

“I don’t think you understand. I respect him like I’d respect a viper. Only… Howard is far more dangerous than a viper.”

“Well. That’s beside the point,” Saul said irritably. “You still haven’t told me what happened to the girl.”

“Howard tells you himself,” Graham said, pointing to the papers in the other man’s hand. “He actually goes into great detail. I think he was trying to shock me.”

Graham’s smirk was lost on Saul, who bent his head and eagerly continued reading.

We got to my apartment and I offered her the shower so she could get cleaned up. I told her where the fresh towels were and retreated to the living room. I think she expected me to join her. I thought about it, but decided not to.

When I heard the water running, I went back into my bedroom to put the SIG and the two extra clips in the lockbox I kept next to my bed. I then changed out of my bloody shirt and into a comfortable pair of sweats. As I passed the bathroom door, I hesitated and reached for the knob. Instead of turning it, I decided to wait for her back in the living room.

She appeared wearing a towel around her body and another wrapped around her hair. Her face glowed a shade of pink that only a nearly scalding shower can impart. She looked even more like Cindy than I’d previously thought, and I felt the urge to… Well, I felt the urge.

“I really appreciate what you did for me,” she said.

I blushed and looked away. Can’t show too much eagerness, I thought to myself.

“I don’t know how I’ll ever thank you.”

“No thanks needed,” I said.

She let the towel around her body fall to the floor. She wanted me to look, so I did. Her breasts were firm and round, a little pendulous, but with the springiness that only youth can endow. They were capped with pink nipples, which were already starting to harden.

My eyes trailed down her body–only slightly overweight, I decided. She’d obviously used my razor to trim her pubic hair. Her fleshy labia were pinkish and spreading, pushed apart by her protruding inner lips. She took the towel off her head and dropped it to the floor as well.

“I think I know how to thank you,” she said, seeing the lump forming in my sweatpants.

She sank to her knees and put her hands on my waistband, just as I’d expected.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” I said, putting my hands on hers.

“I want to.”

“I’m serious. I don’t expect anything from you,” I lied glibly.

“That’s why I want to do it. Because you didn’t ask for it. You could have, you know. After what you did for me.”

“I’d never do that,” I said, feigning sincerity.


Works every time. I smiled to myself and took my hands off hers. When she tugged, I lifted my hips to accommodate her and the soft grey pants were quickly around my ankles. Her lips locked around my rising shaft and she sucked me to full erection. As she took me into the back of her throat, I realized she was actually better than Cindy. I leaned against the back of the couch, relaxed, and put my hand on top of her head to direct her motions.

She bobbed up and down, sucking me with a finesse that belied her youth. Her wet hair quickly turned cold against my fingers and thighs, but I didn’t care. She took me to the edge of climax and held me there.

Finally, I thrust my hips up, forcing more of my cock into her mouth, and held her head down. She flinched as the first streamers of my come hit the back of her throat, but quickly adjusted and kept swallowing. When I was done, she pulled off me, panting and grinning, her lips shiny with saliva.

Later that morning, we were in my bed relaxing.

“So, how old are you?” I asked.

She tensed up, but I stroked my hand down her back and she began to relax. “Eighteen.”

“Sounds like there’s a story there.”

I felt her nod, but she didn’t speak.

“You know I’m not going to judge you,” I said softly, still stroking her. “If you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay.” I started to slide away from her, and that did the trick. The way she’d clung to me when we had sex, I knew she needed the human contact. Threaten her with losing it, and she did what I wanted.

“My stepfather,” she said tentatively.

I let the silence draw out.

“He started in on me when I was fourteen. It was only blowjobs at first. My mom worked nights, she was a nurse, and he’d come home from work just as she was leaving. He’d get half a six-pack in him, and then force me to suck him off. I hated it at first and kept promising myself I’d bite his dick off the next time he stuck it in my mouth.”

She was quiet for a moment, and I pulled her close.

“I never did, though. I guess I got used to it. And when I started to like it, I really hated myself, but he was always so sweet to me afterward. He called me his little angel.” She snorted derisively. “On my fifteenth birthday, he popped my cherry. God, it hurt. He was so big, and he didn’t give a shit about me.

“But after, he got me this real nice silver locket. He started drinking more, though, and he was rougher and rougher with me. To this day, I don’t know what my mom saw in that asshole. Sometimes, he’d fuck her before she left for work, and then he’d make me suck him. I could taste my mom’s pussy on his dick. Talk about a head trip.”

“No kidding,” I said.

“He kept drinking more and more, and when he started passing me around to his poker buddies, I took off. I’ve been on my own ever since,” she said. We were silent for a moment, then she propped herself on one elbow and looked at me. “So, what’s your story?”

“I’m 34 and self-employed. I own a security company,” I said. I had the feeling she’d be a sucker for a sob story, but I didn’t want to play things up too much. “I joined the Marine Corps because that’s what my father wanted.”

“Wow, cool. So you were, like, one of the few, the proud?”

“Semper Fi,” I said. I don’t know why, I thought to myself, but I still like the Corps. Crazy? Maybe. “But the Corps didn’t recognize my abilities quick enough, so I got out after six years.”


“Yeah, my dad was pretty angry. The Corps was everything to him. He was a real prick to live with growing up, but he taught me discipline. Sometimes, the hard way.” I put a slight catch in my voice to hint at the abuse I’d suffered at the hands of that maniac. “He was always the very model of the modern Major General,” I said, with enough sarcasm to evoke the sympathetic response I was looking for.

“Wow, you had it pretty bad, huh?”

I was quiet for a calculated moment, and swallowed hard. She rubbed her hand over my chest and I heard her sniffle softly. Women are such suckers when a grown man shows emotion. They eat that shit up. “Yeah,” I said, my voice tight with emotion I didn’t feel. “But that’s all in the past. My parents are dead now.”

“Oh, man. I’m so sorry. How’d it happen?”

“Drunk driver.” I clammed up for a moment, and she hugged herself against me.

“How did it really happen?” Saul asked.

“How did what happen?”

“How did Bloom’s parents die? I bet it wasn’t a drunk driver.”

Graham shook his head. “His father died when the handgun he was cleaning accidentally went off. Took off the top of his head.”

Saul shook his head sadly.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Graham asked.

Saul looked at him in irritation and gestured for him to continue.

“Howard’s father, Howard Bloom, Senior, was a 28-year veteran of the Marines. Howard wasn’t lying when he told the girl that his father was… um… how did he put it?”

“‘The very model of the modern Major General, ‘” Saul said, reading.

“That’s right,” Graham said. “I remember now. Gilbert and Sullivan. His father was a Major General in the Marine Corps.”


“Do you really think a man with his experience is going to clean a gun without checking, and then double-checking, to make sure it’s unloaded?”

“No,” Saul said heavily. “So what happened?”

“Who knows?”

“Do you think Bloom did it? Junior, I mean?”

“Probably, but the authorities ruled it an accident. After her husband died, Howard’s mother had little reason to live, so she committed suicide about six months later–an overdose of sleeping pills.”

“Do you think Bloom had anything to do with that?” Saul asked.

Graham shrugged. “Who knows?”

“You still haven’t told me what happened with this Powell girl.”

“Keep reading.”

I was silent for a long time after I told her my parents were dead. When she thought she would “comfort” me, I grinned to myself. Sometimes, it was too easy.

She slithered down my body and started sucking me. I put my hands behind my head and let her take her time. Her lips felt so good that I didn’t want to let her off too easily. After a while, I decided to get hard for her, and she straddled my hips. I think she was surprised when I reached down and played with her clit. She got off pretty quickly, and then rode me until she had another orgasm. Finally, I rolled her over and fucked her hard and fast.

After I came, I buried my face in her shoulder and sort of half- sobbed. She put her arms around me and shushed me. It was all I could do not to laugh at how easily I manipulated her. I let her comfort me some more, but stayed hard inside her. If she had half a brain, she would’ve wondered how I could supposedly be so broken up about my parents and still maintain an erection.

When she had me “calmed down,” I fucked her again, taking my time and really enjoying it. For an 18-year-old, she knew all the tricks.

Betsy ended up moving in with me for a while. After that first day, she picked up her stuff from the bus station, or wherever she stashed it. It took up only a small corner of my bedroom.

I still had plans for her, but somehow never got around to them. She was always willing to fuck me, but she was more messed up than I first thought. She told me about a lot of the other things her stepfather had done to her, and then how she’d been kicked around since leaving home. Sometimes, I thought to myself, the universe just fucks with people.

I don’t know why she stayed with me, but unlike Cindy, that duplicitous cunt, Betsy was always faithful.

I decided the world was a better place with Betsy in it.

“So, he let the girl live?” Saul asked bluntly.

“Which girl?” Graham asked, although he knew very well who the other man was asking about. He had taken a dislike to the balding psychiatrist who sat across from him. It bothered him, albeit slightly, that he was enjoying piquing the other man.

Saul frowned.

“You seem like you have a certain level of animosity toward Howard, Dr. Moscowitz.”

“And why shouldn’t I?” Saul asked defensively. “The man is obviously a serial murderer who’s gotten away with it so far. After what he did to this Cindy Claremont and then to the Navy doctor she was involved with, why shouldn’t I have some animosity toward him?”

“The court-martial found Captain Bloom not guilty of the doctor’s murder, Dr. Moscowitz.”

“That’s beside the point,” Saul said crossly. “What do you have to say about these other women, the ones who resembled the Claremont girl, the ones he killed?”

“That’s only my personal supposition,” Graham said coolly.

“The girls are dead, aren’t they?”

Graham nodded.

“You sound like you’re defending him again,” Saul accused.

“I’m not defending him, I’m stating facts.”

“I can’t believe you’ve compromised your objectivity in this manner,” Saul said testily. “I’m going to use my position on the Parole Board to do everything I can to make sure this man spends the rest of his life in an institution.”

“Are you finished?” Graham asked calmly. When he received no reply, he continued. “Dr. Moscowitz, Howard Bloom was convicted of assault in the second degree for the attack on Betsy Powell’s stepfather. The prosecutor said he was happy to get second degree, especially after Howard took the stand during his defense. Nothing you or I can do will change the fact that Howard’s going to get out of prison in another 18 months. Unless he’s convicted of a crime for which we can incarcerate him for the rest of his life, he will walk the streets again!”

Saul rocked back in his chair, clearly stunned by the other man’s vehemence.

“As a matter of fact,” Graham continued remorselessly, “I agree with you. Howard Bloom is a violent sociopath. But the fact remains that he has never been convicted of a crime more heinous than second degree assault! He’ll get caught, eventually. But in the meantime, I’m not going to make myself a target by gratuitously antagonizing him.”

“Well,” Saul said hotly, “you may be gutless, but I’m going to do everything in my power to see him institutionalized.”

Graham shook his head sadly. “He’s going to get out, Doctor. When he does, I pray he doesn’t come looking for me. And if you poke a caged animal, don’t be surprised at what happens when there are no longer bars protecting you.”

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