Authors: Cynthia Cross
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Humor & Satire, #General Humor
I looked again at the nondescript man. “You know full
well I had an entirely different kind of passion in mind. If I wanted to
argue with Doug, I could have driven back to Chicago at any time over the past
two decades. You haven’t given me anything I couldn’t have gotten for
myself, free of charge.”
“Objection sustained!” said Doug, but closed his mouth when
I looked at him.
The nondescript man looked at the ceiling for a moment as if
weighing options. I could tell he was plotting further mischief. “I
don’t trust you,” I told him.
He looked hurt. “I’m trying to see what I can do to
make you a satisfied customer. All sales are final, but I have a
reputation to preserve.”
“You do?” Doug asked skeptically.
I do guarantee
satisfaction. I can offer you a replacement night. Both of you need
to sign here.”
“Uh-uh,” Doug was shaking his head. “I’m a married man
and a Catholic. Not interested.”
“You never were,” I couldn’t resist saying resentfully.
“This won’t impact your present,” the Devil said
smoothly. “This will merely cause a moment-by-moment replay of a night of
passion in your head only. It will be like a dream, only with more
“Well…” Doug seemed to be thinking it through. “I sign
this and then I can go home?”
Mr. Lucifer was holding out a fountain pen and another
contract. “Then you can go home,” he agreed.
“It’ll still be 4 AM?”
“No time has elapsed.”
“I can still get two more hours of sleep, then.” Doug
took the pen and signed.
“I don’t know…” I said, as the Devil turned to me, offering me
the same pen and paper. “Satisfaction guaranteed,” he reminded me.
So I signed.
The nondescript man started to look a whole lot less
nondescript and a whole lot more evil. “Two souls for the price of one,”
Doug and I looked at each other, appalled.
“What?” Doug said. “
? What did I just sign? I need a lawyer!”
With urbanity, Mr. Lucifer read, “A night of passion with
Douglas Robert Morris for Danielle Joy Webster, to be delivered by Prince of
Darkness Enterprises, in exchange for the souls of Ms. Webster and Mr. Morris,
payment date to be determined later.”
I was furious. “That’s not fair! You’ve just
gotten an additional soul!
“What’s in it for me?” demanded Doug. “You can’t make
me pay when I get nothing from this.”
“You have the satisfaction of helping out your friend,” the
Devil advised him.
“She’s no friend of mine!”
I began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” Doug said, turning on me.
“I’m sorry!” I gasped. “But if you knew how many times
I used to say, ‘Go to hell, Doug Morris—‘
started laughing again.
Doug never did have a sense of humor. But, to my
surprise, the Devil wasn’t laughing either. “Business is business,” he
said, almost apologetically.
“So what am I supposed to do?” Doug asked. “Wait for
the bill to arrive?”
“You could do that,” said the Devil. “But don’t
forget, you’ll be able to enjoy the moment-by-moment replay of a night of
passion with Danielle.”
“Are we talking a whole night?” I asked skeptically.
“Of course,” said the Devil, looking affronted. “I
keep to the terms of the contract.”
“I want you to write in that it’s a WHOLE night,
then.” I spoke in the crispest legal-secretary tone I could manage.
Lucifer sighed. “I can guarantee you 12 midnight to 6
“Do it,” I said instantly. An idea was forming in my
Obligingly, the Devil showed me the change in the contract,
which now read, “A night of passion with Douglas Robert Morris for Danielle Joy
Webster, guaranteed 12 midnight to 6 AM.”
“Last chance, Romeo,” the Devil told Doug. “You’re
paying for it; don’t you want to experience it?”
“No offense, Danielle,” Doug said, “but I think I’ll
pass. I don’t want to have to tell Father Fritz next time I go to
“You’re already going to have to tell him that you signed
your soul to the Devil,” I reminded him, and heaven help me, I said it a bit
“Damn. You’re right,” Doug said. He looked at
our salesman. “This is all off the clock, right?”
“But of course!” the Devil said, with a hurt expression.
“You can stop looking offended,” I advised him. “We
don’t trust you.”
“Do I have to be here?” asked Doug. “If we’re reliving
this, can’t I just relive it from my own bed?”
“He wants to be in Schaumburg,” I explained to the
Devil. “He feels safer with Tina to protect him.”
. You’re SO funny, Danielle.”
“Besides, he has to get up in two hours.”
Doug glowered at me.
The Devil considered. “I don’t see why you can’t go
back home. Schaumburg, you say? I have seven or eight thousand
souls there. Okay, observe it from your own bed. It will be like a
dream, but very real. Call it virtual reality. Sure, I’ll send you
“I need clarification,” I announced. “Are Doug and I
going to show up for this and find our middle-aged selves? ‘Cause if
you can count me out right now.”
Doug would not be outdone. “That makes two of us,” he
“It will be a replay of your past,” explained the
Devil. “But you will be able to think about it in the present. Your
added ability to observe in the present while engaged in the past should
enhance your enjoyment.”
“A play-by-play,” I said dryly.
“A blow-by-blow,” Doug said, brightening. “Now that
should be fun.”
“No, no, and absolutely no.” I looked at the Devil as
imperiously as I could. “If you give me a replay of a night featuring
blow jobs, I’ll be furious. I will NOT be a satisfied customer. No
“Why, what was wrong with them?” Doug wanted to know.
“You’re clueless,” I said witheringly.
“You enjoyed them! You even told me so!”
“I was LYING. I was that desperate to keep you.
No woman enjoys gagging for ten minutes and then,
finally swallowing that nasty stuff. Any woman who says differently is
LYING for her own ulterior motives, such as keeping the guy. Go ahead,
laugh. I know it’s pathetic.”
“What?” Doug said. “I don’t believe you.”
“Think back,” I advised him. “After you and Tina got
married, how long did it take before the blow jobs stopped?”
The arrested expression on his face told me all. “They
didn’t STOP, exactly…” he said. “They just became a lot less frequent.”
“She didn’t feel up to it, right?”
“She developed TMJ. There was a valid reason.”
“Ha. She slipped her dentist a hundred bucks for that
diagnosis, mark my words.”
That effectively shut Doug up. I turned to the
Devil. “I want ‘no fellatio’ written into the contract.”
“I can’t do that,” the Devil said. “The records show
that every sexual encounter you two ever had included fellatio.”
“What a pathetic person I was,” I commented in
disgust. “All right then, but I am NOT going to swallow anything.
Put that in.”
The Devil sighed and showed me the change in the
contract. “No fellatio to orgasm.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” said Doug. “That’s not
fair. No oral sex either way.”
“You’re losing your mind,” I told him. “You never gave
“I most certainly did,” he said indignantly.
“What, all five seconds of it?
You were a master of ‘quick lick it and then stick it.’ I don’t
take it out of the contract if you want. It
never did a thing for me anyway.”
With a longsuffering look, the Devil showed us the contract
again. The words “no fellatio to orgasm” had been replaced by “no oral
sex to orgasm.”
“Not like that changes anything,” I commented
contemptuously. “So don’t we sign again?”
“I have your signatures,” the Devil reminded me.
“You’ve changed the contract,” I reminded him back.
“An unsigned contract revision won’t stand in a court of law.”
“Why did you tell him that?” Doug hissed. “That could
have nullified the whole thing!”
Where is Jill when I need her?”
“You’ve already signed the first one, if you want to just
use that.” The Devil had assumed his hurt puppy look again.
“No, I want those changes,” I said, wavering.
“Sign here, then,” the Devil said, once again handing me a
“I don’t know,” Doug said dubiously. “I guess it’s all
“Doug,” I said, trying to give him a meaningful look.
“I think this will work out.”
Mr. Lucifer cocked his head and looked at us both
knowingly. “Admit it. You two still have a great deal of passion
for each other.”
“Wrong,” I said. “Merely dislike.”
“Call it what you will,” said the nondescript man, rubbing
his hands together as we both signed. “What you still have together has
fueled many a marriage for decades. Go to bed, Danielle, my dear.
You will dream, vividly. Doug, I’ll send you back to your own bed, but
rest assured, you will partake fully in the re-experience from the past.”
“Wait,” I said. “I want a word with Doug, privately.”
“Aw,” said the Devil kindly. “You see? I’m
right. Just wait and see. I’ll just bet you two will want to
continue this affair in the present.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Doug said.
“I’ll give you two minutes, no more,” the Devil continued
smoothly, with an approving look my direction.
“Go away,” I told him, and to my surprise, he readily
“Trust me on this, Doug,” I said, and moved into his
arms. “Put your arms around me,” I breathed.
started, but I put my
mouth next to his ear and quickly whispered.
“He’s gone, but I don’t trust him. Put your arms
around me and listen.”
“Okay,” Doug said, and followed my instructions.
“Doug, I made sure he wrote ‘all night’ into the contract
for a reason. We never had any full nights together.”
“We did so!”
“Don’t yell in my ear. We did not. You were
still living with your parents. You NEVER spent the night with me, or you
would have gotten in trouble at home.”
“We did spend the night, a couple of times.”
“Well, they weren’t very many. I’m guessing they were
“Well, you guess wrong. I can think of a few good
“Remember, this is from MY perspective. It had to be a
night of passion for ME.”
“Kiss me now. He may be watching. He’s probably
plotting a special torment for us if we restart our affair after all these
“Rubbing his hands in glee,” Doug agreed.
Our kiss, a quick peck, was even briefer than planned as
Doug’s two minutes ran out. “See
,” I said as
he dissolved, presumably back to his night’s sleep in a ranch style home
somewhere in a modest Chicago suburb.
I stretched out on the motel bed. Once again, the
clock read 2 AM. At least I’d get some sleep out of this. After
all, you can’t dream without sleep.
But first, I
texted Jill again.
“please text or call” I suppose that was dumb, but I really needed to
feel connected to someone who was on my side. No reaching her,
Then I texted the same message to Patty. She had sleep
issues, too. Maybe I’d get a quicker response from her.
Sure enough, Patty was still awake. “
sucks to be awake”
I called her. She picked up on the first ring.
“Thank goodness! Patty, I know this sounds ridiculous,
but I’m afraid I just sold my soul to the Devil!”
“Danielle, get a hold of
What are you talking about? Are you calling from home?”
“No, I’m in Bullhead City—“
“It’s in the northwest corner of Arizona.”
“Why on earth—never mind. How did you sell your soul
to the Devil?”
“Remember Doug Morris?”
Don’t tell me he’s back in your life.”
“Well, he is, sort of.”
“Wait, you sold your soul to get
Morris back in your life?”
“No, I just wanted to relive one night from way back.
I mean, I’m stuck in Bullhead City!” I said appealingly.
“So let me guess. You said, ‘I wish I could be back
with Doug for one night’ and bingo, the Devil appeared and had a contract for
you to sign.”
“How did you know? Has this happened to you?”
“No, Dannie, but I’ve seen Dr.
SJCC players put it on last year. You know the one? Where Dr.
Faustus wants Helen of Troy?”
“He goes to hell at the end, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, I think so. But she’s so beautiful he seems to
think it’s worth it.”
“Well, Doug Morris isn’t so beautiful that it’s worth going
Patty giggled. “Maybe
will think you’re so beautiful that it’s worth going to hell.”
“He doesn’t in the least. But he’s signed the
contract, too. That darn Daemon Lucifer hoodwinked us both.”
“Came and went,” I said, then corrected
hastily. “Not that! We spent a whole
night arguing about how we broke up. Now he’s gone.”
“Geez, Dannie. This doesn’t sound good at all,” Patty
said. I could hear the alarm in her voice. “Get Jill to look over
the contract as soon as she can. She does wills, right? So she’d be
good with contract stuff, wouldn’t she?”
“I think so. I just texted her, but I think she’s
“As we all should be,” Patty said. “I have to be at
work in a few hours—“
“Oh, spare me. That’s what Doug keeps saying.”
“Dannie, if the Devil didn’t deliver what he promised, then
to me. No deal.”
“That’s what I said, too! But he said the contract
says ‘all sales final.’ The only concession he’ll make is letting us have
an additional night. So now I have to relive this night until I get what
he calls customer satisfaction, which is ‘a night of passion.’”
“If you and
hate each other
now, that could take a long time. Just how long have you been in Bullhead
“It’s confusing, huh? We had a night together, but I
guess we were in a time loop or time stopped or something. So now we have
to start the night all over again. Well, it was about two in the morning,
so we’re back to that.”
Is there an airport in Bullhead City?”
“Come on, Patty. If the Devil can turn himself into a
talking snake, and freeze time, he can certainly get an overweight guy in bad
need of a haircut and shave to Bullhead City in the blink of an eye.”
“Gross! Is that what he’s looking like these days?”
“Plus he showed up in a
Boxers with no buttons in front.”
I refrained from
describing my own appearance.
Patty started chuckling again. “I think the Devil has
a sense of humor. But I don’t like that he’s getting his laughs at your
“I knew you’d understand,” I said in relief.
“Danielle, do you need me there?”
“If you need me, I’ll bet you can get
Diablo to pick me up and drop me off with you.”
“What would you be able to do?”
, maybe I can position my
ass enticingly in the air while you and
I laughed in spite of myself. “Somehow I don’t think
it’s going to be that easy.”
“Well, keep my offer in mind. Are you supposed to be
“I think I’m supposed to be asleep so I can dream about
“You don’t want the Devil suing you for breach of
contract. You’d better get to bed. You’ll have to tell me all about
it in the morning.” She snickered some more. “Maybe you’d better
not enjoy this too much.”
“Oh, I can tell you now, I won’t. I’m not enjoying
having him around at all.”
“For god’s sake, get Jill in on this as soon as you can.”
“Trust me, I will.”
Once I put my cell down, I must have dropped off fast,
because I was awakened just as quickly. I opened my eyes. Despite
the darkness, I could tell immediately that I was not in the motel room.
The space felt different, more open, and noises were subtly altered, as
well. The mattress shook, again, and I detected a change in furniture, as
well. I seemed to be on a
, and the
figure I could just make out in the dark was—
“Oh, no,” I groaned, in the present. “I remember that
“Me too,” Doug said. “It wasn’t bad.”
“Oh, you’re here for the post-game analysis, too, huh?” I
said with resignation. “I thought we would be viewing it
separately. I should have known.”
“This is cool,” Doug said. “It’s like watching it
online. And talking to you is like a message board or something.”
in your bed at home?”
I asked, curious.
“I think so.
You’re asleep, too.”
“I must be,” I agreed, “and we’re both sharing the same
“Pay attention,” Doug said. “I remember this
“Shut up,” I said, but I didn’t expect him to.
“We went to see Joe and Sheila in Fort Wayne that weekend,
“I’ll just bet you never told your parents I was going,
too,” I said.
“Why should I have told them? Did you tell your
“I didn’t have to. I wasn’t a loser still living at
home halfway through my 20’s.” Doug ignored that, which was fine with me.
The Danielle in the bed was me, only much younger. I
remembered this night, and already had doubts that this would make me a
satisfied customer even under the best of circumstances, but whatever. I
could feel myself in a young, thin, pre-pregnancy body, and the feeling was
exquisite. I had taken this vitality for granted. If only I had
known how life changes.
The figure standing above the
kicked the metal frame again. So that was how he’d awakened me, that
“What a romantic,” I said. “You couldn’t have just
gotten into bed and awakened me with caresses and passionate kisses?”
“Get real, Danielle.”
“Where’s the popcorn? This is like watching a
A movie of a train wreck.”
“You liked it just fine at the time,” he informed me.
“God, what a typical man,” I informed him back. “Shut
up and watch.”
Young Danielle stretched and I could feel the litheness of
my own body, every part working in unison, no precursors of middle age, no
minor aches or pains. It was lovely. Young Danielle waited
hopefully. For once, they had the entire night and there was no
rush. Visions of leisurely lovemaking full of slow appreciation filled
her head. Mine, too, I noted with resignation. So I was going to
experience the highs all over
and also the
Young Doug removed his boxers and climbed into bed. Oh
dear. The nondescript man had been right. I could feel the
anticipation surging through me. Young Doug wasted no time. He got
right down to business, taking my panties down and pulling my legs apart.
With total certainty of his welcome, he slid right in. Danielle of the
past gasped in pleasure and so did I. I’d forgotten how firm he was, how
smooth his strokes, how completely he filled me—
“Don’t tell me you didn’t like that,” the current Doug told
me in satisfaction, and grunted a few times as renewed pleasure presumably
washed over him.
“Careful,” I said, as I tried to observe the thrusts Young
Doug was engaged in delivering to a moaning Young Danielle and maintain my objectivity.
I was not going to succumb to grunting and panting in the company of someone I
detested. “God,” I said. “Can’t we be a little quieter? We’ll
wake up Tina.”
“She can’t hear this,” Doug said, between pants.
“Whoa, look at that. I’m impressive.” Young Doug completed a dozen
pushups, sheets rising with him rhythmically. Then his movements slowed
and he stifled a drawn-out choking groan. Present-day Doug joined him,
That was good.” His voice suddenly changed, and I could hear the anxiety
in it. “Oh, sorry, honey! I must have been having a bad dream.”
“You mean a wet dream,” I said snidely.
“Shut up, Danielle,” Doug said,
quickly followed up with, “No, honey, I think I was talking in my sleep.
I’m sorry! I’ll be quiet now!”
I indulged in some audible snickering.
“Shut up, Danielle,” Doug said irritably.
I did, but not due to any request of Doug’s. As I
participated in this night from two decades back, once again, I could feel
Young Danielle’s urgent need for release, as the pleasure faded away and Young
Doug rolled over and fell asleep almost instantly. Young Danielle
wide-awake, keyed up and waiting. “Waiting for
nothing,” I said aloud.
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, you’re still here? Your alter ego there has
crashed for the night,” I said bitterly. “I wish you could feel how I’ve
been left by you, with every nerve jangling.”
“What are you talking about?” Doug asked again.
“Wasn’t it good for you?”
“Well, geez, Doug. You got me warmed up, then left me
hanging. And then there’s the whole impersonality of the act. You
didn’t spend one second hugging me. You never once kissed me. You
could have stroked any part of my body, my arm, my
it didn’t have to be sexual. And I would have purred like a cat.
Women need that sort of thing. It was like you were going out of your way
to be cruel.”
“Well, I probably was,” Doug said. “I wasn’t that into
you, I guess.”
, Doug,” I said,
then blushed as I remembered what had happened next. Young Danielle
whimpered a bit, and I could feel my own throat close on a huge lump. She
was grieving for the absence of tenderness in the lovemaking. She was now
wide-awake and unsatisfied. What she did under cover of darkness had
largely escaped Young Doug’s notice at the time; he’d been asleep. Doug
of the present was another matter.
Danielle’s motions were surreptitious but it was clear what
she was doing as Doug snored next to her. Pleasure flooded me again as I
witnessed what had happened decades ago. As she climaxed, she attempted
to hold her body still. Despite her efforts, her back arched and the
mattress moved enough for Young Doug to awaken. He turned over to face
her. “Was it good?” he asked thickly.
“I remember that,” Doug said.
“I wish you didn’t,” I returned.
Young Danielle returned a stifled sob in reply to the
question, and Young Doug immediately roused himself and rolled on top of her.
“You were such a bastard,” I told him.
“I remember that,” Doug said again. “Just that little
bit of crying turned me on like you wouldn’t believe.”
“I’d believe it, ‘cause you are a sadistic, mean little
Young Doug was making no effort to take things slowly.
He entered her and banged her briskly.
“You liked it nice and hard,” he said, sounding smug.
“Yeah, too bad you couldn’t maintain it for more than a
minute,” I responded with vindictive satisfaction. Sure enough, Young
Doug’s encore was now at an end. Once again, he rolled off and fell
asleep facing away from her. There I was, too naïve to realize I deserved
better. Young Danielle sniffled,
herself softly to sleep.
“You bastard,” I said again with contempt.
“I guess I was cold-hearted back then,” Doug offered.
It was as close to an apology as he’d ever come.
We continued to watch the darkened room, to hear the
sleeping couple breathe. I could feel the blood of Young Danielle course
through her. Despite the cold uncaring sex, it was weirdly marvelous to
re-experience the youthful life force I’d had no reason to treasure at the
“George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the
young. He was right. How can you appreciate what you take for
granted?” I mused.