THIS WEBPAGE CONTAINS ADULT MATERIAL. RESTRICTED TO 18 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER
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Lovers Middle-Aged or Older
"Lady, you can't - "
The woman getting out of the limo at the entrance to the United Earth building turned toward the security guard. Recognition dawned in the guard's eyes. His mouth snapped shut on the rebuke he'd been about to make.
Ignoring him, Rachel Herrington-Whyte pasted a serene smile on her face. Her celebrity smile. That's how she thought of it, anyway. She used that smile like a mask to hide the deep loneliness that never went away, the loneliness she'd felt her whole life, even when she was surrounded by people. The child of two famous parents, she could never remember a time when she'd appeared in public without attracting a crowd.
All around the plaza, tourists who were passing by began to point. Damn, they'd noticed her arrival. Rachel fought down a surge of panic when they started to press closer. Suddenly, she couldn't breathe, but she knew it wasn't because of her tight collar, or the encroaching crowd.
She'd just come from her doctor's office where she'd received the grimmest possible news: she was going to die.
Shaking, she drew in a breath. God, she hated this, hated the constant violation of her privacy, especially now when she needed privacy more than ever. Even with all her wealth, she couldn't buy the things she needed most.
Cameras appeared and lights flashed in her eyes as tourists snapped her picture. Turning her back on them, she kept her gaze focused straight ahead and marched across the plaza. Her high heels clicked on the concrete as she walked. Her friend Jen called them her "fuck me" heels: six-inch Starcosas in the wicked shade of smoldering crimson that was all the rage this season. They were sexy as hell and cost two thousand dollars a pair, provided you were one of the privileged few allowed into the designer's private store in uptown Manhattan. She'd bought them to take her mind off her divorce.
The rest of her attire came straight off a designer's runway. Her chiffon Jeanne Louise skirt swished a fashionable three inches above her knees. Her pale cream blouse featured a tight-fitting collar of scalloped lace.
A wolf whistle came from the crowd. How vulgar! Ignoring the tourists who yelled her name, Rachel started up the broad steps toward the entrance. The guard scrambled to follow. "S-Sorry," he stuttered, jabbing at the button to open the heavy safety-glass doors.
As she stepped into the quiet sanctuary of the lobby, she glanced at him over her shoulder. "Don't worry. You were just doing your job."
Inside, silence enveloped her like a comforting cloak. Rachel had always loved the United Earth building. Out of a childhood barren of love, she retained one golden memory: the day her mother had brought her to hear her father speak in the main chamber. Only years later, when she studied history at the private school where she grew up, did she realize she'd heard his inaugural speech as World President.
Today, as always, delegates from all over the globe filled the lobby space. Dressed in the colorful costumes of their native countries, they plotted diplomatic maneuvers in hushed whispers. On the far wall, above their heads, hung a map of the world surrounded by twin olive branches. The antique wall-hanging was the sole reminder of the days when this building had housed the United Nations headquarters. Nations were an obsolete concept in the twenty-third century.
As she crossed the lobby, various diplomats nudged each other and gave her sly glances. Irritated, she bit down on her lip. Why wouldn't people ever leave her alone? Why was that man pointing? Were her eyes puffy and red? She hoped not. A shudder ran through her as she imagined some holo-reporter gleefully telling the world that rich and famous heiress Rachel Herrington-Whyte had shown up in tears for the meeting to finalize her divorce from World Senator Jeremy Whyte.
If only she'd been crying because of that. Her divorce had paled to a minor inconvenience compared to her death sentence.
Squaring her shoulders, she marched up to the elevator. Some people looked away. Others stared with unabashed curiosity, even envy. Rachel hated the envy most of all. They imagined she lived some magical life of wealth and fame. Especially wealth. They never dreamed how ordinary she felt inside, or how empty her life had felt growing up with no parents.
She'd lost her famous father, the first World President, to terrorist assassins. Her mother, an actress of stunning beauty, had plunged into depression and then alcoholism after her husband's death. At the age of six, Rachel had stood beside both her parents' graves.
Death. She'd lived her whole life in its shadow, and today it had swooped down to grab her in its terrible jaws.
As the elevator doors closed behind her, Rachel punched the button for the thirty-ninth floor. Thank heavens she was alone in the car. She slumped against the wall and listened to the pounding of her heart. A distorted reflection of her frightened face stared back at her in the polished metal of the wall, all huge blue eyes and wind-blown copper curls.
Only one hope remained. She must convince her soon-to-be ex-husband to help her, but that wouldn't be easy. What she intended to do to save her life would embarrass him politically. She imagined his face as she spoke the words: I'm going to have sex with one of the Evolved. A sexual healer.
No, he'd never support that.
All the way over to the United Earth building her mind had raced, rehearsing the plea she would make for her life. They'd been scheduled to meet today anyway, a cold formal meeting in his office with both their lawyers to sign the final divorce agreement. In her bitterness over his infidelities, she'd driven a hard bargain. She was glad of that now because it meant that today she could offer him a better settlement in return for his cooperation. Jeremy was nothing if not greedy. Surely if she named a figure high enough he'd come around. Money and power were all that mattered to him, and she was about to cut off the money. In response, he'd launched a bid for more power, beginning the groundwork for a campaign for World President.
Now, she feared he'd refuse to help her - he might even try to stop her. As a diehard traditionalist, Jeremy resented the Evolved. He wasn't alone, either. Many people on Earth had begun to hate that advanced race. They were a constant reminder that the humans of Earth were second-rate.
Ever the consummate politician, Jeremy had sensed a shift in public opinion against the Evolved. His opposition to their presence on Earth had become more vocal, culminating in this new Evict the Evolved campaign, which he'd spearheaded.
Meanwhile, Mastror si Lor Canto, the foremost sexual healer of Cor'almere, would land on Earth tomorrow. Somehow, she had to get in his bed.
If only half the rumors are true… Rachel shivered and pushed the troubling images of bizarre erotic practices out of her mind. The city hummed with gossip about the mysterious Evolved sexual priest, and as usual, minor government officials in the know had leaked all sorts of information. She'd heard he was only in his thirties in Earth years, yet already renowned on his home world, a darkly handsome man of immense sexual power. He was coming to Earth with an entourage of adepts from the healing temple on Cor'almere. The Evolved healing priests with him were his pupils, all men, strapping, handsome men at the peak of their sexual prowess. Her friends whispered and giggled about the visit over martinis at lunch, their minds abuzz with wild speculation. Some had started betting on who would get into bed with one of the visitors first. Others had protested that they wanted nothing to do with alien sexual practices.
Rachel fought down a tiny frisson of fear. She had to submit to those practices if she wanted a sexual healing. Besides, the Evolved were humans. Or had been human eons ago. How different could their sexual preferences be?
The elevator door opened with a soft whoosh. Straightening her back, she schooled her features into a look of regal indifference and marched across the thick carpet, past the heavy polished desk of Jeremy's office manager. As a senator from the North American continent, he had a large staff, of course, although most of them had their offices down the hall.
"Mrs. Herrington-Whyte!" Kay Richards looked up in surprise. "You're early."
"No need to announce me." As Rachel's hand touched the door handle, she paused to gather her composure. Confronting Jeremy always shook her up emotionally. Already she ached with the pain of rejection. Overwhelming loneliness pressed down on her as she stared at the door with unseeing eyes. She had a sudden, urgent need to tell Jeremy what had happened. Maybe this terrible news would rekindle the feelings they'd once had for each other. She ached for someone to stand by her, someone to hold her. Her stomach churned as if she might burst with the awful weight of the news.
Biting her lip, she reminded herself that Jeremy didn't love her. Once she told him her plan, he'd see her as a liability to his career. His ex-wife was planning to crawl into bed with an Evolved man to save her own skin. Had she really sunk so low? She pictured the outrage on Jeremy's face.
Tossing her head in defiance, she pushed the door open and strode into his office.
"What the - !" Jeremy twisted around in his chair to stare at her, evidently alerted by the click of the handle as the door opened. "Rachel? What are you doing here?"
Rachel stopped in front of his desk, struck by the mixture of surprise and guilt painted on his face. His short blond hair, usually slicked back, looked rumpled, and he'd pulled open the collar of his black silk suit. His brown eyes were a shade darker than usual, the pupils dilated. A vein pulsed in his temple.
Rachel heard a scrabbling sound on the other side of the desk.
"Got it!" Caroline Withers rose to her feet in front of Jeremy's chair, a pen grasped in her hand. Turning to face Rachel, she tugged on the skirt of her hip-hugging dress. "Hello! I just dropped this pen. So clumsy of me." An amused smile twitched at the corners of her lush, red-painted mouth. She brushed back the luxurious mass of her shining black hair and her hazel eyes narrowed. "Is something wrong? You look upset."
"I-I've had bad news," Rachel stuttered, thrown by the unexpected tableau in front of her. Caroline looked flushed, too, and her lipstick was smeared. What the hell was going on here?
Hell, she knew what was going on. Another affair. At least this one would be the last one. Their divorce would be final as soon as the lawyers arrived and they signed the papers. She would be glad to be free of him and his constant womanizing. Her only consolation was the fact that his inability to keep it in his pants had made him the guilty party in the eyes of the media and damaged his political career. Perhaps there was some justice in the universe after all.
His damaged career was the reason he'd latched on to this Evict the Evolved campaign and made it his own. Not that she'd ever cared about the Evolved one way or another. Until today.
Jeremy sat up straighter in his chair. "Bad news?" He glanced up at Caroline. "Perhaps we could continue our discussion another day?" He arched an eyebrow at Rachel. "Not that it's really any of your business anymore, darling, but I've hired Caroline to handle the PR for my Evict the Evolved campaign. We were just discussing our strategy."
Directing a taunting smile at Rachel, Caroline leaned over the desk top. Fully displayed by her low-cut dress, the skin of her ample breasts glowed with the rosy flush of sexual arousal. She reached for a folder, picked it up, and brushed her fingers across Jeremy's shoulder. "I'll run these preliminary ideas past our creative staff. We should have a presentation ready by next week."
"Great." Jeremy waved a hand in dismissal.
As the raven-haired beauty strode past the desk, Rachel caught a whiff of her perfume. She recognized the scent. Enchanted Seduction.
The instant the door closed behind Caroline, Rachel rounded on her husband. "God, Jeremy, do you have a rule that you have to fuck every member of your staff?"
He held up a hand and offered her a smug smile. "You're early. If you walked in on something you didn't expect, you only have yourself to blame. Besides, we're about to end this farce of a marriage, so why waste energy arguing about it?"
Why indeed? Scowling, Rachel tried to remember why she'd fallen in love with such pond scum. Once this handsome young man with the flashing brown eyes had swept her off her feet with promises of eternal love. She'd thought she'd said goodbye to loneliness forever. Then his promises had turned sour. Thank god, she'd found the courage to divorce him and start her life again.
Jeremy pursed his lips and shot her a curious glance. "You said you had bad news, and you look as if you've seen a ghost. What is it?"
The memory of her doctor's words returned, hitting her like a blow to the stomach. She sank into a chair in front of Jeremy's desk, the incident with Caroline momentarily forgotten. "I haven't been feeling well," she blurted, "so I went to see the doctor. Well, several doctors, actually. They ordered a ton of tests, and today my doctor told me the results. I have a brain tumor. A fatal brain tumor. He says I'm going to die."
Jeremy gaped at her in astonishment. "Die? You must be crazy. You look healthy to me."
"No, no." She shook her head. "The symptoms are still subtle, but there's no doubt. I've got a brain tumor."
He made a dismissive gesture. "So they'll operate."
"They can't. It's located in a part of the brain where they don't dare perform surgery. There's nothing the doctors can do."
"Nothing?" She could see the wheels spinning behind his cool gaze. "You're kidding me, right? I thought modern medical science could do anything."
She chewed on her lip, fighting back a dizzying mixture of frustration and cold fear. "I thought the same thing. Dr. Peters said that normally brain surgery was a routine procedure, but this tumor is in the wrong place! Any attempt to remove it would leave me a drooling vegetable." She wanted to burst into tears, climb into Jeremy's lap, and cuddle in his arms. However, their cuddling days had ended months ago.
Jeremy folded his arms across his chest. His expression had turned to revulsion as she described her prognosis. "A vegetable? You'd require round-the-clock nurses."
She shuddered. "I don't want to live like that!" Tears threatened, but she fought them back. This was not the time to succumb to her emotional turmoil. She had to stay calm and convince Jeremy that her plan would work.
"How awful!" Jeremy frowned as his hands vanished under the desk, adjusting something. A jolt of cold anger ran through Rachel. The bastard was zipping his zipper. He and Carolyn had been -
She swallowed. He'd never change.
After a moment, he stood up and walked around to where she sat. With an effort, she lifted her face and forced a smile. Bastard or not, she needed his help. His agreement would make it all so much easier. As a powerful government figure, Jeremy could call in favors that would open doors, even bedroom doors. Nevertheless, she winced inwardly at the thought of groveling before her estranged husband.
He bent and kissed her cheek. "What can I do? I'll do anything."
Rachel drew in a shaky breath. He'd given her the perfect opening. "There is one person who might be able to save me, Jeremy. I'm sure you've heard that Mastror si Lor Canto is coming to Earth."
"The sexual healer!" Jeremy's eyes flashed. "The Evolved sexual healer," he added, his mouth twisting with disgust. "You can't possibly be thinking…"
She furrowed her brow. She'd expected this reaction, but it still dismayed her. Had she always meant so little to Jeremy? Her life was at stake, but she could see the political calculations going on behind his angry gaze.
"Why not? What am I supposed to do? Lie down and wait to die? I've heard remarkable stories about these Evolved sexual healers and the cures they achieve." Hope and fear made her voice tremble. "Maybe he can save me."
"Do you understand what a sexual healer does?" Jeremy's face hardened. He straightened and took a step away from her, making it plain that her suggestion had repulsed him. "The media would have a field day with this one. It would be a disaster. I can hear the commentators gloating: the ex-wife of Jeremy Whyte, the leader of the Evict the Evolved campaign, in bed with the enemy. I'd be a laughingstock."
Rachel dug her nails into the palms of her hands and strove for calm. "That's just it. If you help me make contact with this man through diplomatic channels, we can keep it a secret. No one need ever know."
A muscle in Jeremy's jaw twitched. "You'd have to have sex with him. With one of them. It wouldn't be normal sex. I've heard their practices are disgusting and obscene."
"What have you heard?" She held her breath as she waited for his answer, intrigued and frightened at the same time.
He shot her an angry glance. "The Evolved like to keep their secrets, but some of them enjoy boasting about their sexual abilities." His lips curled. "They imagine they're more advanced than us in every way, so of course they believe they're better in bed than humans, too. Anyway, this sexual healing ritual came up in a conversation I had with one of them. He gave me a detailed and revolting description of what goes on. You can't possibly consider submitting yourself to such degradation."
Rachel tugged on her tight collar, suddenly hot. "That's my choice. It's my life that's at stake."
Jeremy's face turned crimson with rage. "Don't you realize I'm the head of this Evict the Evolved campaign? It's the keystone of my plan to build support for my run for World President in two years."
Rachel nodded. She knew he needed the boost, and the Evolved had become an easy target. In the past year, the Evolved had twice turned their haughty backs on a helpless humanity. First, they'd refused to provide a cure for a mutated virus that had swept through the cat population, killing thousands of beloved pets, although their scientists could certainly have stopped it. Then, they'd watched impassively while a hurricane battered the northeast American coastline despite the fact that they knew how to control the weather on their home world.
"As for keeping your sexual encounter secret, don't make me laugh," Jeremy continued. "The media tracks every movement either one of us makes. I wouldn't be surprised if rumors aren't swirling around the city already."
Rachel's hands clenched into fists. She glared up at him, barely able to believe his reaction. "That's it? I'm dying, and I've got one shot at survival, and you're worried about how it will affect your chances in the election? I've never heard anything so selfish and self-centered."
"Self-centered?" Jeremy gave a bark of amused laughter. "Who are we kidding? You give new meaning to the term. You've never had to work a day in your life. The media has fawned over you since the moment you were born. Hell, the toughest decision you've ever made is what to wear. Meanwhile, I've had to work and claw my way up to where I am today."
"Yeah." Her lip curled in derision. "Really hard work, Jeremy. Find a wealthy, inexperienced heiress and seduce her into believing you're in love with her. I was eighteen when we met, young enough and naïve enough to believe you when you said you loved me. Then you used my connections and money to fuel your political career."
Why hadn't she seen Jeremy's true motives long ago? She'd been willfully blind for too many years, unwilling to admit her marriage was a huge mistake. She choked back the sob that rose in her throat. She had too much pride to let him see her distress. If only she'd done something worthwhile with her life, something she could hurl at him. However, she hadn't. She'd let him tell her what to do.
Those days were over. She was going to survive this and live to find out who Rachel Herrington really was. If she had to submit to some bizarre sexual procedure to survive - well, she'd suffered years of emotional degradation from Jeremy's constant criticisms and snide remarks. How much worse could one night of physical debasement be?
Jeremy's mouth had twisted into a familiar sneer. "I could have made it without you. I should have made it without you."
"What does that mean?"
He folded his arms across his chest. "It means I share your assessment that this marriage was a huge mistake. Your father was a great man, and the world gave its love to his orphaned daughter, but if you take this step, people will turn against you. The Evolved were welcomed to this planet initially, but the backlash against them grows stronger every day."
"With the help of your campaign and its lies."
"Don't pretend you understand anything about world problems, you spoiled brat. All you care about is saving that pampered skin of yours. You're a liability to me. I'm glad we're signing the final papers today."
His heartless words slashed through her, sharp as a Samurai blade. Rachel forced a haughty smile to her face to cover her anguish. "Is it spoiled to want to live? Is it spoiled to want a husband who's more interested in me than in his ambitions?"
Jeremy's nostrils flared as he puffed out an angry breath. "I don't believe the doctors of Earth can't help you. You just don't want to face the inconvenience of entering a hospital for some protracted, painful treatment. You'd rather find an easy answer, and spreading your legs in some other man's bed sounds like a damned easy answer. If you were still my wife, I'd forbid it."
"Then thank god the divorce is almost done. This isn't the Middle Ages. I won't be ordered around by you." Rachel stood to her feet and looked him in the eye. "I didn't want to do this, but I must. I hoped that somehow you could find it in your heart to support me and use your connections to arrange a quiet meeting with this Mastror si Lor Canto for me. I will do it, though, even without your help."
"You're determined to have perverted sex with one of the Evolved?"
"If he'll have me."
A look of pure rage appeared on Jeremy's face. Rachel stiffened and backed off a step. If anything had remained of their marriage, it had just burned to ashes. Fine. So be it. For the past year, it'd been little more than a sham. She was choosing life.
She made her voice cold. "I'm leaving now. I'll be back in an hour with my lawyer to sign the papers. I expect you to behave in a civilized manner. After that, it will be over between us."
A muscle jumped in Jeremy's jaw. "Not if you sleep with that sexual healer, it won't. I warn you, Rachel, I'm serious about this Evict the Evolved campaign. I won't have my ex-wife whoring around with one of them."
Rachel lifted an eyebrow and summoned an indifferent look. "But darling, I don't see how you can stop me."