"Excuse me," said the man, "don't I know you?"

He stood beside the blond woman's table, looking down into her olive eyes.

"I don't think so," she said, looking away.

"No, really," he insisted, "I recognize you from somewhere."

"Like I haven't heard that before," she said, not looking up.

A long moment passed. The woman stared resolutely at the table. Finally, the man sighed. "Okay, I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to offend. I just... Never mind."

As he started to turn away, she glanced up. "No," she said, quietly. "You did nothing wrong. It's just a tired line."

"Ma'am, it wasn't a line, I know you. Though perhaps it's just that I've seen you here before."

"Oh, now it's 'Do you come here often?'," she said, but her slight smile countered the sarcasm.

The man grinned and shrugged.

"I do," she continued. "I come here with Richard. My husband." She laid her hands flat on the table, drawing the man's eyes to her rings. "So perhaps that's why you know me, Mr... ?"

The man smiled again at the invitation. "I'm Raphael," he offered.

"Margaret. Sit."

"What about your husband?" asked Raphael, indicating the only other chair at her table.

Margaret looked away, with a pained expression. "He won't need the chair. He isn't here tonight."

Raphael lowered himself into the chair. "Business trip?"

Margaret's laugh was bitter, almost a bark. "You might say that. He's with one of his women."

He raised his eyebrows. "One of?"

"I think the current count is five. One's definitely on the way out, and one he seems to be currently recruiting."

"Affairs?" Raphael's tone was incredulous. "I'm sorry, that was insensitive."

"It's okay," she said. "It isn't as though he hides them. Not any more. Not since I discovered the second one."

"Margaret, I'm so sorry. You deserve better."

"This from someone who thinks he recognizes me in a bar? Please."

"No, Margaret, I can tell. The anger in your voice is not comfortable to you, is it? You still love him."

She stared intently at him now, as if seeing him for the first time. "Why would you think that?"

"Because you have not left him. Because your hurt is so great that it can only be caused by the betrayal of your love."

Margaret's eyes narrowed. "Listen, mister, I think you'd better..."

"A moment," he interrupted. "Again, I do not wish to offend, nor would I pry. But... you are a Cancer?"

"How the hell..." she began.

"Artistic and stubborn." Raphael shrugged. "I am not a wise man, but I can tell you two things. That your inner strength can overcome your sorrow. And that if you would relax for a time, you would give that strength a chance to support you, rather than you having to continue to fight it."

The corner of Margaret's mouth turned up slightly, as though at a private joke. "You're telling me to smile, everything will turn out fine?"

"That is the future," said Raphael, earnestly. He touched Margaret's forefinger. "I do not speak of the future, only of the present. Relax, be yourself, with your own loves and cares, not those you think you should feel. Then you can make your own choices, and the present will belong to you."

He flagged a waiter, and ordered two glasses of champagne.

"Oh, no, I can't," said Margaret.

"You can't because you don't want to, or you can't because you don't think you should?" asked Raphael. "Go ahead," he said to the waiter, who left.

"Because... I guess... I guess I can," said Margaret, uncertainly.

"You guess?" teased Raphael.

Suddenly Margaret let out a sigh. "I can." She smiled. "I would love some champagne."

"See? You are already beginning to feel better. To feel for yourself."

Margaret looked uncertain. "What about you?" she said. "Do you..." she grinned briefly, "Do you come here often?"

"When I am in town, I do."

"You don't live here?"

"I live in San Francisco, Margaret, but I fly here at least once a month. I stay at the Westin."

"That's why you're a regular here."

"Indeed," said Raphael.

The waiter arrived with the drinks. As he left, Margaret lifted her glass, but Raphael raised his hand. "A moment." She stopped the movement, frowning, as he continued. "Hold the glass close, so that you can smell the champagne."

Margaret complied, still looking puzzled.

"Now," he said, "close your eyes, and breathe in the scent of the wine. Slowly," as she did so, "deeply. Now, breathe out through your mouth. As you release your breath, release your anxieties. Completely, until there is nothing left in you. Then do it again."

As she repeated the exercise, Margaret's face began to relax. Then, breathing in, she giggled, and slopped some champagne onto the table. "A bubble found my nose," she said, her eyes bright.

"That's okay, you did fine," grinned Raphael. "Your health."

"Yours," she responded, smiling.

"What would you like to do, Margaret?" asked Raphael, setting his glass down.

"Like to do? With my life?"

"No, again, with the present. This evening."

"I'd like to... I don't know. What is there to do?"

"I may make a suggestion. Come with me back to the Westin."

Margaret's wariness returned instantly. "I'm not that kind of woman, Raphael."

He spread his hands wide. "Oh, I am sorry. No, I only meant this: there is a band playing there tonight. A jazz band. Would you like to see them?"

"Oh." She looked pensive for a moment. "Richard hates jazz. I haven't heard a jazz band in years." She smiled. "Yes, I would like that."

"Then, when you are ready, we will go."


He offered her his arm as they left, and she tucked her hand inside it as they walked the half block to the hotel.

The Westin bar was quite full, but Raphael located a table for two close to the back, and they drank more champagne as they listened to the band.

"I've always liked traditional jazz," said Margaret. "I wish I could enjoy it more often."

There were several couples dancing before the stage. "Do you dance, Margaret?" asked Raphael.

"Sometimes," she said.

"Would you like to dance?"

"Perhaps later."

She seemed to relax further in his company, and after a couple more glasses of champagne, he asked again.

"Why not?" she replied, smiling.


At first, she was diffident, keeping her distance, but she warmed to the movements, softening in his hold. When the band played a slow ballad, he held her close, and Margaret rested her cheek against his chest.

Raphael stroked her hair as they moved. When the song finished, he kissed her forehead lightly. Her expression when she looked at him seemed slightly bewildered, her hair mussed by his touch.

"My room for coffee?" he asked, and she nodded.


Raphael laid his hand lightly on her upper arm as he led her to the elevator, and from there to his room.

Inside, he turned Margaret around to face him. Her eyes were troubled, but there was need in her look. He moved his face closer, and tentatively she narrowed the gap.

He felt her breath against his cheek, and he turned his face as her lips and his seemed magnetic, drawn irresistibly together. They touched lightly, her open mouth brushing against his, holding, not committing, until he pulled her gently closer.

Margaret's arms snaked around him, behind his neck, her body molding to his as their lips merged. His hands roamed her back, over the tight thin dress, down the line of the zipper, over the obstruction of her bra strap, to the thin edge of her panty line.

Though her kiss was intense, Margaret's hands remained lightly holding his shoulderblades, not exploring further. Raphael stepped back. Taking her hand, he led her to stand beside the bed.

He cradled her head against his chest, stroking her hair. She looked up, and he lowered his mouth to hers.

This time, Margaret's hands stroked his back as their kiss grew in power. As her fist closed around the bottom of his shirt, drawing it out of his pants as she tightened her grip, his fingers gripped the zipper of her dress, gently pulling it down.

Holding her neck between his hands, Raphael pressed Margaret's face more firmly against his. Then, as his tongue passed between her teeth to meet hers, he slid his hands out to her shoulders, hooking the thin fabric. He pulled it down, pressing her arms to her sides as he slid her dress over them. As his hands reached hers, he held them, letting the garment fall to the floor, using his hold to ease her back to be seated on the bed.

Sitting beside her, he took off his shirt. Putting his left arm behind her back, he circled her navel with his right forefinger as he kissed her. Margaret jumped as his fingernail tickled her belly.

As she stroked the hair of his chest, Raphael slipped his left hand down her back, inside her bra strap, then inwards, to the center. Effortlessly he released the catch. He felt her tremble as he ran his right hand up her stomach and under the loosened bra. He kneaded her firm breasts, feeling the change as her nipples swelled.

With both hands, he removed her bra, sucking on her upper lip. Then he gripped her waist, and lowered his mouth to her ripe breasts, kissing, suckling on the nipples. He pushed her back down to the bed as he massaged her waist.

Margaret ran her fingers through his hair as he sucked. He traced around her navel again with his fingernail, and as he tickled her, her hands grasped his head more tightly. He ran his fingers down her belly, over her panties, and back.

Then he eased his right hand inside her panties. Immediately she stopped moving her fingers. They remained against his head, but applied no pressure. Undeterred, he pushed his hand further between her legs, his fingers against her pussy.

Holding his middle finger against her, he pressed his hand firmly against her. He could feel her pulse through his finger. She didn't respond, but neither did she tell him to stop.

Releasing her nipple from his mouth, but keeping his hand against her sex, Raphael rolled slightly away, to be able to see her face. Margaret's eyes were big with anxiety, and still she showed no sign of responding to his touch.

After several minutes, he felt a slight tightening against his finger. Margaret immediately seemed to try to relax, but as he pushed against her, he felt the involuntary tightening again. She had gripped her lower lip between her teeth, and with each of her body's responses, it seemed to whiten with strain. Raphael could feel her shiver against him.

Then he felt her pelvis tilt, pressing her pussy harder against his hand. Her lips parted slightly, and her wide eyes held his. Raphael started stroking her pussy, with each movement pushing his finger further into her wetness.

He kissed her breasts lightly, then her neck and chin, lightly kissing the edge of her mouth, but avoiding meeting her lips directly as they sought his. She moaned, and took his head in her hands, lifting her face to his, pressing her tongue into his mouth.

Margaret's kiss was urgent with need, and she lifted her legs from the floor, gripping his hand between her thighs. She groaned and seemed to shiver slightly as, with his left hand, Raphael pried her hose and panties away from her ass, then down, over her raised knees, and off. Her shoes tangled in her underwear as everything fell to the ground.

Raphael drew his mouth away from hers, kissing her over her neck, under her chin, her ears and eyes, using the play of his lips over her to mask his movements as he unfastened his pants with his left hand, working pants and underwear down to free his hard cock.

When he kissed her mouth again, she started to moan, grasping his wrist between her thighs. He eased back from the movement of his fingers, circling her clit lightly with his fingers.

Then he stopped moving, but pressed her clit firmly. After a few seconds, Margaret gasped, then started shaking herself against his hand, her kiss desperate.

Breaking the kiss, he resumed lightly stroking her clit as he slid off the bed and let his pants and underwear fall. He parted her knees with his left hand and right elbow, still touching her swollen pleasure center, and stood between her legs.

Finally drawing his hand away, he pressed the head of his cock firmly against her clit, holding his shaft in his hand to move it against her. Then he pushed her knees down a little, giving him easier entry as he pressed his cock inside her.

Holding her ass, he pulled her against him, his cock snaking deep within her. Margaret made a sobbing moan as he began to thrust against her, and after a moment, her legs wrapped around his hips, pressing him firmly against her.

Her back arched as she shook herself against his shaft. Eyes closed, lips parted, the flush in her face reaching down to her rippling breasts, she gripped the blankets in white-knuckled fists as her cries grew louder.

The sounds she made moved from urgent need to a panicked groan, and Raphael felt her tense, her arched back thrusting her pointed breasts high, and as her body stiffened, her sex spasmed deliciously around his cock.

Pushing firmly against her, Raphael tried hard not to let the stimulus of Margaret's erotic contractions or sensuous cries of pleasure drive him into his own release... it would be so easy just to let go, and his cock twitched as it tensed. But the moment passed, and as Margaret's legs relaxed their grip, and her back sank down to the bed, he withdrew his hard, sensitized member.

Using his grip on Margaret's butt, he eased her all the way onto the bed, then lay down beside her, kissing her glowing face, meeting her excited tongue with his. Lying on his back, he rolled her onto him, her breasts suspended over his chest as he lifted his mouth to her raised face.

As she relaxed onto him, he maneuvered his cock back inside, and Margaret made soft, contented sounds as he slid deep within her. He squeezed her breasts, pulling and pinching her nipples as they moved, feeling her tighten around his shaft at his touch.

When she was ready to come again, he sucked hard on her left breast, and she gasped as she crested, pulsing around him. Again, he held back, with extreme difficulty.

Perhaps she sensed his delay as he tried to extend her pleasure, because when she next began to breath heavily, she flattened her breasts against him, biting his ear as she rammed her pelvis against him. She tightened further around his cock as her lips fastened to his, sighing into his mouth as he felt the tension build, and Raphael felt control of his arousal evaporate as the sensation overcame him.

Their bodies slapped together as they drove each other into climax, mouths still locked together as his groans joined hers, and Raphael came, spurting within her, as her body shuddered in its own release.

As completely given over to passion as Margaret now was, she came repeatedly before Raphael had to withdraw, after which he explored other ways to keep her high until he could again be inside her.

Much later, with no blankets or sheets left on the bed, Margaret's eyes drifted closed. Beyond exhaustion, Raphael recovered a single sheet, drew it over her naked body, then kissed her forehead as he settled in to sleep beside her.


In the morning, as Raphael played with Margaret's breasts, he found them responding, nipples swelling. He saw that she had opened one eye, and was watching him, smiling.

She rolled off the bed to head to the bathroom. When she returned, he lifted the sheet, and she slid under, the length of her body against his, and propped her head on her hand.


He shrugged. "It's a good name."

"After the painter?"

"Erm... no. After the turtle."

She grinned. "Oh."

She stroked his ass, then trailed a fingernail over his hip, over his stomach, and touched his expanding cock.

"And champagne and the Westin," she added. "'Rafael' has expensive tastes. Next time we should do beer and the Motel Six."

"Next time it's your turn," he said. "Don't you think this was worth every penny?"

Margaret sighed, her answer a dreamy smile.

She brushed his cock against her pussy as she kissed him. His hands caressed her breasts.

Then he drew back. "Five women?"

She smirked. "Did you like that? Maybe for my turn I'll recruit some help. We can find out just how much you would like that."

"You're the only woman for me, Margaret."

Rolling him onto his back, she mounted him. "I'd better be," she said, lying down on top of him. "Or I will go find me a 'Raphael' somewhere."

She moved against him in well-practiced passion, her kiss at once familiar and as arousing as any of last night's. He sensed, as always, when she was ready, and timed his own release to match hers, as they came together, her cries smothered by his lips.

With a contented sigh, she broke their kiss. Snuggling her head against his shoulder, her body still joined to his, she whispered, "I love you, Richard."