Love and Livestock
by John R. Plunkett

"Hey, Avlar!" Curtis shouted, leaning out the cab window. "Shake a leg!"

Avlar waved back. He had his arms around Rosalind, and she had hers around him. They nuzzled one another's cheeks and probably kissed. More than once, from the look of it.

"Oh, get a room," Curtis muttered under his breath, only a bit less than half seriously. He'd never admit publicly that he had a soft spot for Avlar and Rosalind but he did. Avlar was the best brakeman Curtis had ever worked with and Rosalind made the best coffee to be found anywhere on the King's Valley Line. Besides, Avlar and Rosalind were both in their early twenties and much taken with one another. Of course they carried on like a couple of teenagers. Still, time and tide waited for no man and neither did the Mazama Traction Company, or there'd be Hell to pay. Curtis switched on the locomotive's bell; at the first peal Avlar broke away and dashed down the platform. Curtis kept an eye on his watch; as soon as the second hand hit zero he moved the controller from off to series one and the train brake handle to full release. Steeplecab #L4021 eased into motion as smoothly as butter sliding on a hot griddle, though far from silently. The air compressor, which occupied the middle of the cab, roared to life; the traction motors thrummed, the gear boxes growled, and the cooling fans whirred. Just as Curtis notched up to series two Avlar leapt nimbly onto the rear catwalk and entered the cab through what was currently the rear door. "I hope you realize that's no way for a married man to act," Curtis pointed out. "I mean, you carry on like you were in love with her or something."

Avlar took his place on the opposite side of the cab. "Would you like to know how often we make love?" he inquired.

"That's hitting below the belt, you bastard," Curtis grumbled.

"You got that right," Avlar replied, flashing a grin.

Curtis was ten years Avlar's senior and a confirmed bachelor, a state of affairs he treasured because it saved him from ever having to deal with female nonsense. Then Avlar came along and pointed out that it also saved Curtis from getting laid on a regular basis. Curtis shook his head; the honeymoon would end sooner or later, as it always did. She ironed his overalls, for Heaven's sake, a pointless activity if ever Curtis had seen one. Working a freight locomotive wasn't the place for knife-edge creases. Nor would she permit him to shave his tail, never mind that such a voluminous appendage was a distinct liability in the profession of railroading, where it might get caught in machinery, smeared with filth, or even set on fire. As a precaution against such things Rosalind wrapped Avlar's in a net, which she always tied with a little green and gold ribbon. That Avlar would tolerate such treatment was, in Curtis' opinion, only more evidence of how far around the bend the poor fellow had gone. On the other hand Curtis did understand in a vague sort of way. Avlar was a nice looking fellow, by Morph or human standards. He wasn't exceptionally large but he was very well proportioned, and managed to maintain a firm, trim figure in spite of Rosalind's efforts to fatten him up. In light of all that, perhaps it wasn't a surprise that Rosalind wanted him to look as pretty as possible.

"Number three needs grease," Avlar commented.

Curtis frowned, cocking his head and listening intently. Being able to identify a slight shift in the growl of one out of four gearboxes in the face of the cacophony of noises filling the cab was an art that some operators even older than Curtis had failed to master. "It does," he eventually concurred. Skunks were not, as far as he could recall, known for their acute senses but Avlar at least seemed to know everything that happed with the locomotive on an almost instinctual level. He'd make a damn fine operator some day. If he got the chance, at any rate; the company didn't like promoting Morphs to such positions. Still, it had happened from time to time. "Hey, Avlar, wanna take it for a spell?" he asked.

"Hell yeah!" Avlar replied.

"Come on, then." Curtis waved Avlar over.

After switching places Curtis leaned back and put his feet up. There wasn't room to do that on the operator's side. He hung his elbow out the window, letting the warm, early summer air blow over him. He could trust Avlar to keep an eye on things even if he decided to daydream a bit, and Avlar would keep his mouth shut if an inspector came prowling around. All in all life was just great.

"Now this looks like a good one," Jaquetta said, plucking a particularly juicy looking blackberry from the bush. After a moment's thought she popped it in her mouth instead of the basket hanging from her arm. Heck, she'd already collected enough for two and a half pies and she hadn't covered more than half of the bushes growing along the creek. And there was a particularly heavy laden bush, spilling over the edge of a low embankment. She took up the pitchfork, using it to push runners out of the way so she could step close.

Unfortunately the hanging runners also concealed the fact that the face of the embankment was sand over a layer of clay. As Jaquetta's weight came on it the clay broke loose. Her foot shot out from under her and she pitched headlong into the water. She windmilled her arms in a futile attempt to regain her balance and the basket went spinning away into the underbrush. When she picked herself up the entire front and side of her dress was sodden and caked with mud. "Blast!" she snarled. Her hands were muddy too; she wouldn't be able to clean her dress until she'd washed them. The fur on her arm and side was all muddy too. There seemed to be a pool a bit further down; she hoisted her skirt and waded into it. The water turned out to be a bit more than knee deep and crystal clear; the bed was clean sand. Not the best for bathing, perhaps, but better than slogging all the way back to the house. She rinsed her hands in the water, then pulled off her dress. There wasn't anything under it except her; she didn't bother with a bra because it would have to be custom made and in any case she didn't need one; despite their prodigious size her breasts stood up just fine on their own. Panties were simply more trouble than they were worth. She squatted in the water and vigorously rubbed the dress until she'd removed the worst of the mud stains. A more thorough cleaning would have to wait until she returned to the house. That done she lay the dress across a tree branch, using the pitchfork to stretch it out. Then she lay back, rubbing herself and letting the water carry the mud and dirt out of her fur. Though a bit chilly she found reclining in the pool to be quite pleasant and relaxing.

Suddenly Jaquetta's reverie was shattered by a loud noise. She surged to her feet and turned toward it.

Despite its fearsome name, Dead Man's Curve wasn't particularly dangerous. The name actually derived from the fact that, some years ago, a fellow had hanged himself from an old oak right beside the tracks. Nevertheless Avlar moved the controller to off and the brake to lap; the roadbed descended on the approach to the curve and a train could easily pick up too much speed.

Curtis felt a prickle on the back of his neck. He looked around and realized that Avlar hadn't applied the brake. "Avlar," he said, but Avlar was staring out the window and didn't seem to notice. Curtis frowned and crossed the cab. "Slow it down, Avlar," he said, but even with Curtis standing right by him Avlar didn't respond. "What the heck are you-" Curtis began. The he saw what had polarized Avlar's attention.

The tracks crossed Fanno Creek on a culvert. The constriction created a wide, still pool on the upstream side. Standing in it was a female skunk Morph, naked as the day she'd been decanted. She wasn't exactly a delicate thing; a generous quantity of muscle etched her perfectly proportioned arms and shoulders, but Curtis barely noticed that. Her breasts were enormous; so much so, in fact, that from the front and with her arms at her sides they nearly covered her biceps. Despite which they stood proudly out from her chest, maintaining a firm, round shape in apparent defiance of gravity. And she had four of them; a second pair hung just below the first. Because of that nothing much could be seen of her belly except where it joined her hips but that part looked firm and mostly flat. Her pelvis flared out sharply, forming the start to a pair of very meaty but- like her breasts, very firm- thighs. They in turn were presumably the start of long, sinuous legs but Curtis couldn't have said right then; the pool cut off his view at her knees.

Curtis stared. He couldn't help it. The woman made no attempt to conceal herself; she merely stood there, watching the locomotive as it rumbled past. And her expression; spending the last year in the company of Avlar and Rosalind had taught Curtis how to read skunk body language. The look on this woman's face was the sort Rosalind gave Avlar when he came back after having been away for a while on a long assignment. Then, a few days later, Avlar would return to work looking a bit frazzled, as if he hadn't slept much, but he wouldn't stop grinning for days.

The spell only broke when the locomotive had moved far enough that trees blocked the view. Curtis blinked and shook his head. "Good God," he muttered.

The steeplecab lurched. Curtis just managed to catch himself before being thrown against the compressor. The deck rocked violently; steel screamed as wheels and rails clashed. They'd picked up too much speed on the down slope. Avlar slammed the brake to full on but Curtis jerked it back. Hard braking now would only increase the chance of derailing. He waited until the locomotive and several cars had cleared the curve, then applied gentle brake. Because of the time it took for the brake pipe to decompress the locomotive and the cars at the front of the train would brake first, then the middle, and finally the end. Once the whole train had cleared the curve Curtis applied full brake and brought the train to a stop. Looking back from the cab window everything seemed all right; he slumped back against the cab wall and exhaled hugely.

"I- I-" Avlar stammered.

"Aw, just forget it, okay?" Curtis interrupted gruffly. The ugly truth was that if a human woman even half as pretty had looked at him like that he'd have been out the window in a heartbeat and undressed before hitting the ground. And he was thirty-three years old, for God's sake. In light of that, and considering his age, it could be said that Avlar had exhibited admirable restraint. "Check the train," he added.

"Right!" Avlar dashed out onto the catwalk, jumped to the ground, and jogged along the tracks, inspecting the cars to make sure that they weren't damaged or derailed. Only once he was out of earshot did it occur to Curtis that he'd sent Avlar back toward her. He wondered, briefly, if he'd ever see him again.

People argue whether or not love and first sight really happens. On the other hand, no one disputes that lust at first sight really happens.

Jaquetta certainly didn't. As the locomotive hove into view her eyes met those of the young skunk man in the window. At that instant there seemed to be an almost audible click and suddenly she could not look away. She turned to watch him go by as if drawn by a string. She couldn't even see that much of him- only his head, chest, and one arm- but even that seemed to go right past her brain and directly to her crotch. He wore a loose white tee shirt and pin striped overalls but her mind easily extrapolated the rest. The arm she saw was muscular but not bulky, and at the same time smooth but not soft. His chest would be broad, with clearly defined pectorals. His belly... it ought to be flat and firm, with maybe a bit of softening. If there were any justice in the world his hips would be lean, with tight, hard buttocks and long, muscular legs. And his crotch-

In retrospect Jaquetta should have anticipated what came next. She'd lived with it all her adult life, after all. While she speculated about the size and shape of the young man's masculine hardware muscles tensed in her belly. Something hot and wet dripped down the insides of her thighs and splashed into the pool.

"Oh, drat!" Jaquetta snarled, squatting in the water and scrubbing the sticky mess out of her fur. For the most part she liked being what she was but there were parts she wasn't so thrilled about. Thank goodness she'd been undressed and standing in water when it happened; cleanup would be a snap. Anywhere else, though, it was a tremendous hassle. She never wore pants or overalls if she could help it.

A sound impinged upon Jaquetta's awareness. She looked up, turning her head back and forth. A faint, rhythmic crunching. Someone running. On gravel. From- from the direction the train had gone.

Terror froze Jaquetta in place. Truth be told she'd like nothing better than to meet that young man without any clothes on. But she could feel the nectar oozing into her vagina already; if she actually saw him she'd blow for sure. Wetting herself did not seem like the way to impress a cute guy. Not at a first encounter, at any rate. Of course she didn't know it was him... but who else could it be?

Better not to take the chance. Jaquetta snatched up her dress and fled upstream.

Avlar coasted to a stop. For a subjectively long time he stood there, staring down into the pool. She was gone, as if she'd never been. No, not quite. There as a pitchfork driven into the ground near a tree and the water was still cloudy from where her footsteps had stirred up the sediment. She must have left just as he arrived. His leg twitched and he almost started down the embankment, but a sudden recollection of Rosalind stopped him cold. You already have a girl, his conscience reminded him. And a damn fine one, too. He shifted from foot to foot, gnawing his lip. Rosalind wasn't anything like this woman. For one, she was... well, rotund. Fat, if one had to come right out and say it. But that was one of the things he liked about her. Burying himself in the soft, fleshy folds of her body was one of the greatest joys of living. And she gave as good as she got; she enjoyed him as much as he enjoyed her. On top of that Specs, the cook down at the railroad cafe, had given her a thorough education; she could prepare food that was surely second only to mana from Heaven. You've already got it better than you ever would have dared hope, his conscience added. What more could you possibly want?

But there was something, buried deep down in the bottom of Avlar's id. Sometimes- rarely- he found himself wishing- fleetingly- that Rosalind had larger breasts. The sight of the skunk woman, with her four enormous, perfectly formed mammaries, had dredged it up and brought it to the surface.

No. Avlar gritted his teeth, turned in a very deliberate fashion, and jogged back up the tracks. A smart gambler knew when to stop. A bird in the hand, and that. Or a skunk, in this case. He resolved to be especially attentive to Rosalind when he got home. Perhaps that would banish from his mind the image of those four beautiful breasts...

Three steps away Avlar stopped and looked back over his shoulder, frowning. The viewing angle from the locomotive's cab window down into the pool was rather steep, creating a very foreshortened perspective of anyone standing down there. Looking down from the edge of the roadbed lowered Avlar's point of view by nearly two meters, giving him a somewhat different view. When he tried picturing the skunk woman standing in the water, somehow it just... didn't quite add up. It didn't help at all that any thought of her quickly devolved into contemplation of considerably less intellectual pursuits.

"No, no, no," Avlar muttered, shaking his head and starting up the tracks once more. "I'm a happily married man." He resolved to fantasize only about Rosalind for the rest of the day. Rather to his surprise it actually worked... though Rosalind no doubt would have been surprised to learn that she'd acquired an extra pair of breasts.

Just as Jaquetta reached the top of the lower field and prepared to cross the road a tanker truck went by. A line of nozzles by the rear bumper sprayed a layer of oil onto the roadway.

"Oh, good grief!" Jaquetta exclaimed, only narrowly avoiding the temptation to say something really acerbic. At any other time she would have welcomed this; most of the roads around Brooks County weren't paved. As they dried under the summer sun dust became a serious problem. Along major routes it added khaki highlights to everything nearby. But at this precise moment Jaquetta would have to walk across the freshly oiled ground. Because they weren't made in her size she didn't wear shoes, meaning that the oil would get on her feet and they'd end up stinking of it for days. As if being dirty, slightly bruised, and soaked to the skin wasn't quite enough already. There was a way around, true, but it involved walking several kilometers and wading through the culvert under Otty Road. It didn't take much imagination to guess what walking barefoot through the silt would be like, not after her experiences in the creek. She wasn't entirely sure she'd fit in any case; having to crawl through on hands and knees would indeed be the perfect end to her day. She looked at the road, then at the barn just a short distance away at the top of a small rise. "Screw it," she decided, walking up to the gate. Jimmy used metal stakes for his fences; they were more expensive that wood but they also lasted longer and required less maintenance. Jaquetta gathered up her skirt and slammed it down on the head of a stake, starting a tear in the fabric. With her hands she continued it, eventually detaching the bulk of her skirt. What remained was so short it left the very bottom of her buttocks and crotch tantalizingly exposed. Another tear separated the skirt into two pieces, one of which she tied around each foot. That done she stepped up to the road and looked both ways. She'd lived in the city most of her life and old habits died hard. Then she dashed across, lengthening her stride as much as possible. Once in the grass on the other side she hastily kicked off the improvised foot coverings and continued on into the barnyard.

Frederick stood by the pump house with two buckets. Most farmers would have been satisfied with a hand or wind powered pump but Jimmy had installed an electric one. The original reason for that, Frederick had heard, was that Jimmy's ex-wife had wanted a flush toilet. Since then Jimmy had grown fond of them himself; the farm now had no less than three: one in the house, one in the former outhouse, and one in the barn. Frederick, for one, was glad of it; cleaning a toilet was considerably more pleasant than cleaning a midden hole. At the moment he was cleaning the hen house, which certainly wasn't a job for the fastidious, but he didn't mind. It amused him that he, a fox, should be responsible for the care of chickens. He set one bucket under the spigot and stepped on the pedal; the pump whirred to life and water gushed forth. Then he noticed someone coming up the drive and turned to look. "Hello, Jaquetta," he called, and that was a far as he got.

Jaquetta's dress had been made from white material with little yellow flowers printed on it. Her black skin and fur tended to show through even when the cloth was dry; wet, as it was now, the material clung to her like a second skin and concealed what lay beneath about as well as so much cellophane. In fact, the light colored cloth added artificial highlights to details of her form that normally didn't show up very well, being black on black. For example, every minute detail of the texture on her aureolae and nipples showed up in stark relief. On top of that she'd torn her skirt off, leaving her exceptionally well formed legs completely bare. "Hello, Frederick," she called, waving.

Eventually Frederick noticed that water was spilling out of the bucket and running over his foot. That the water was quite cold made no difference; right then he believed that if the whole bucket were poured down the front of his overalls it would vaporize in a cloud of steam. He released the pedal and water stopped flowing. He liked to consider himself a cosmopolitan fellow, having been raised in the big city and working for some years in a fancy hotel as a body servant to the wealthy and powerful. In spite of all that background and experience he'd never in his life seen anything quite like this. Not in real life and certainly not right out in public. "You know," he commented, "If Jimmy comes out and sees you like that he'll have a heart attack and die right on the spot."

"Oh, surely not," Jaquetta replied with a dismissive flick of the wrist. "Jilly gave him a tentacle job back in Mazama and he managed to live through that."

Frederick said nothing. Jilly could indeed to amazing things with her tentacles, but that most definitely wasn't something he needed to be thinking about at the moment. He tugged surreptitiously at the front of his overalls; he felt as if he moved too much something would break.

Not surreptitiously enough, as it turned out. Jaquetta noticed the movement and lowered her gaze. Though to converse with Frederick she would have had to look down in any case; from head to toe she measured 326 centimeters, which placed Frederick's face about even with her lower pair of breasts. At the moment she observed a pronounced swelling starting at his crotch and running down the inside of his right thigh to just short of his knee, as if he'd thrust a length of pipe down the front of his overalls. Which, in a manner of speaking, he had. His penis, when fully erect, measured as long as his forearm and as big around as his wrist.

Jaquetta studied the bulge for several long seconds. Quite frankly she didn't get to see Frederick's penis nearly as often as she'd like. Men with wedding tackle designed to serve a woman her size weren't exactly common. "Oh, that must be terribly uncomfortable," she exclaimed, crouching and running her hand along the inside of his thigh. A distraction from the frustrations of the morning would be most welcome... and thinking of that sexy skunk boy suggested a form that distraction might take.

"Um-" Frederick began. Jaquetta's fondling wasn't helping matters any. Quite the opposite, in fact. But a part of him- the one between his legs, primarily- was of the opinion that it wouldn't be appropriate to say so, since that might induce her to stop. She's a drop dead gorgeous nymphomaniac who happens to think that your hardware is best suited to scratching her itch, his genitals whispered. What could possibly be wrong with that?

"Don't worry, we'll get that straightened out directly," Jaquetta assured, unfastening Frederick's suspenders. That done, a quick downward tug at his waistband dropped the overalls in a pile around his ankles. And that was all it took; he didn't wear shirts except in the winter and underpants, given his masculine dimensions, were impractical. Jaquetta sighed, running her hands down his chest, belly, and hips. A diet consisting mostly of vegetables kept him lean; work on the farm gave him nicely defined muscles on his arms, shoulders, and chest. Exercise of a different sort kept his lower back, belly, and hips deliciously firm. Time to give those muscles a workout, pretty boy, she thought to herself, taking his penis in hand and guiding it into her mouth.

"Uhh," Frederick moaned, his eyelids fluttering. Jaquetta could suck pretty damn hard. On top of that, either through training or design she could take him all the way into the back of her throat without gagging. She'd slide him in, caressing the underside of his penis with her tongue, until her nose was jammed right up against his belly. Then she'd swallow, draw back, and repeat the cycle. Only a few times in his life had Frederick ever encountered a woman who could administer fellatio with such skill, and never- before Jaquetta and Alysa- one who could accommodate his new dimensions. He slumped against the pump house, his breath coming in ragged gasps and his fingers clawing at the wood.

After a minute or so Jaquetta paused, sitting back on her heels and caressing Frederick's shaft with her fingertips. He'd achieved full erection and it looked to last a while. She rose to her feet, scooping him up in her arms, and moved quickly around beside the main house. Jimmy's ex-wife had planted trees and shrubs out there, creating an enclosed, shady garden off the master bedroom. After Darla left Jimmy had mostly let it go to seed but the lawn remained in relatively good shape. Jaquetta lay Frederick face up on the soft grass and knelt, straddling his hips. With two fingers of one hand she parted her labia; with the other hand she steadied Frederick's penis while she lowered herself onto it. She pulled off what remained of her dress and planted her hands to either side of Frederick's torso. He was too small for her to comfortably rest her hands on his chest and in any case she'd injure him if she put her full weight on him.

Frederick grabbed Jaquetta's breasts, because they happened to be ready to hand and also because he'd smother in her cleavage if he didn't. He stroked them with his hands and arms; he squeezed them just to feel the voluminous flesh spilling over him. He licked one of her nipples, then sucked. It obligingly discharged a spurt of milk into his mouth, which he swallowed. Jaquetta's milk tasted like that of the cow that had been sweetened with sugar and something that gave it a wheat-like overtone. Frederick liked it best as he experienced it right then: blood warm, straight from the nipple. No doubt some of that was due to the method of delivery but nevertheless he felt that the milk tasted better warm than cold. He drank sparingly, though; there was a strong temptation to slurp up as much as he could but doing so would leave him aching and groaning well before he'd emptied all four breasts. Not to mention that the milk was a cash product, meant for sale in the market as opposed to consumption by field hands.

Jaquetta arched backward, her fingers tearing at the grass. The tempo of her thrusts had increased dramatically. Frederick grabbed her hips; through his hands and his penis he felt her muscles tensing. He gritted his teeth, turning his face away. Any minute now-

Jaquetta let out a shuddering gasp, her whole body quivering. She bore down, grinding her hips against Frederick's. Her belly gurgled distinctly and a spurt of hot, sticky fluid erupted from her vulva with such force that Frederick actually felt it flowing over his penis. Only after several long seconds did the contractions ease; she sighed happily and leaned backwards, casually shaking out her mane.

Frederick also sighed, but not as a result of post-coital bliss. Fluid discharged in the process of Jaquetta's orgasm had completely drenched him between chest and knee. He lay in a pool of it, as a matter of fact. He stroked her between the legs, around the base of his shaft, then licked his fingers. The nectar, as she called it, resembled honey in color but wasn't nearly so thick. It tasted something like honey but with a fruity, tangy overtone that reminded Frederick of quince jelly. Now it wasn't that he didn't like the nectar. As a sweetener for coffee, tea, or cereal it was, he felt, without equal. In the cooler it congealed somewhat and made an excellent spread for toast and muffins. Even by itself it was a tasty snack. Scooping it out of Jaquetta's vagina with his tongue, for instance, was a pleasure to be partaken of as often as possible. Unfortunately, sooner or later- rather sooner than later, he liked to think- she'd come. And then, as now, he'd end up soaked. Just because he liked eating the nectar didn't mean he enjoyed bathing in it. It didn't seem to be any less sticky than honey, for instance; cleaning it out of his fur was a tedious process. Even so a sweet, fruity odor would cling to him for a while. Too much of that and Alysa would start glaring at him. "Thank you, Jaquetta, that was wonderful," he said. "But I do have to get back to work. I'm not done with the chickens."

"But you haven't had your turn yet," Jaquetta purred, stroking Frederick's cheeks. She started rolling her hips, squeezing with her vaginal muscles.

Frederick's genitals were all for continuing but his brain couldn't help entertaining a few negative thoughts. He wasn't one of those who thought that letting a woman take the superior position made him less a man but there were practical considerations. That Jaquetta stood three quarters again his height meant that her skin enclosed five and a half times as much flesh. In absolute terms she weighed as much as a small cow; the only reason they could make love this way was because her knees carried most of her weight. If she passed out she'd probably crush him to death. It also meant they'd continue coupling exactly as long as she wanted. All she had to do was sit there; Frederick couldn't have put her off even if he'd wanted to. As for him forcing her... that was such a laughable notion that he smiled. Despite her fleshy, curvaceous appearance her frame carried a great deal of muscle; her size demanded it. She could take him by the legs and swing his whole body like a club. Any normal sized man deciding to ravish her had best have four stout fellows on horseback and carrying lassoes to back him up. That man would also do well to remember that skunks are carnivores; even an ordinary one could deliver a nasty bite. Jaquetta's scaled-up jaws could probably take a hand clean off. Far better to avoid the risk and keep the hand, Frederick felt; then at least one could jack off if worse came to worse. "Maybe, but I do need to wash up," he pointed out.

Jaquetta hesitated. She didn't care to give up her grip on Frederick's shaft but he was right: the nectar would glue their hips together by the fur long before they'd finished. Getting that undone would not be pleasant. "Okay," she said, perhaps a bit wistfully, and got to her feet, wincing slightly as nectar plucked at hairs on her crotch and thighs. Then she helped Frederick up and took him to the barn.

Obviously Jaquetta wouldn't fit in an ordinary shower or tub, so Jimmy had built a bathing area in his barn. The floor was made of cemented stone; a central drain carried waste water away. The wooden walls had been sanded down and sealed with caulk so the area would stay relatively warm in cold weather. A hose with a spray nozzle provided both hot and cold water. Jaquetta sat down with Frederick on her lap, holding the spray nozzle in one hand and a brush in the other.

After some thought Frederick decided that he could not object to this treatment. Here Jaquetta's size became a distinct advantage; her body cradled his like an overstuffed chair. If she focused a lot of attention on his nether regions that was only appropriate; they most needed to be cleaned. Then, just as he started thinking seriously about claiming his due, the stall door opened.

Alysa aligned the donkey with a new row, then poured herself a pan of water from the tank strapped to the seat. After drinking the panful she poured herself another but had to tip the tank to completely fill the pan. That panful she poured over her head. A peek into the tank confirmed that it was, in fact, nearly empty. With a sigh she retracted the weeding tines on the donkey's cultivator attachment, backed the donkey out of the row, and headed off toward the barn.

In truth Alysa didn't mind the work, she just wasn't designed for it. Her large size and lack of sweat glands meant that her body built up heat rapidly. If it built up too much she'd get sick, which had happened once already and was not an experience she cared to repeat. Therefore she had to keep cool, and doing so while working out under the hot sun meant periodically dousing herself with water. On top of that, maintaining her milk production required her to drink quite a bit as well. All of which amounted to a great many trips to a great many trips to the pump house during her work day. A further complication arose from the fact that, for her cooling system to function properly, she had to work in the nude. Clothing either kept the water away from her skin or trapped it in her fur, reducing it's effectiveness at carrying away heat. Because of this Jimmy wouldn't let her work any of the fields near the road, where she might be seen. Which only lengthened the time she spent commuting to the well. Since she couldn't ride the donkey she walked behind it, steering it with a pair of long handles Jimmy had bolted to the frame. That meant that dust and dirt kicked up by the cultivator inevitably clung to her wet fur. A loose apron helped somewhat but the formerly white fur on her belly had started turning more dun colored. She would be very glad when Jimbo returned and she no longer had to do his share of the work as well as her own.

Back in the barnyard Alysa sat down on the grass while the tank refilled. Her feet hurt; plodding along behind the cultivator was almost as bad as standing still. She dipped herself a panful of water, sipped half, and used the rest to rinse her face. It ran off muddy brown in color, with no indication that it had made any dent at all in the clinging dust. Alysa grimaced, shut off the water, and hurried into the barn. A quick shower wouldn't hurt anything. She paused halfway through the door; she could hear water running in the shower stall. She frowned; who could be washing at this time of day? She stepped up to the bathing stall and opened the door.

For several seconds no one moved or spoke. Alysa opened her mouth, then clamped it shut so she wouldn't say something stupid like what are you two doing here? Frederick sat on Jaquetta's lap, both of them were buck naked, and she had her hand on his genitals. Furthermore, the unmistakable scent of fresh nectar hung in the air. As if it weren't patently obvious what had been going on.

"Ahh, we're sorry," Frederick began, more than a little uneasily. "Did you want to use the shower? I need to go finish with the chickens anyway." He got to his feet.

Alysa's eyes narrowed and her ears lay back. Her grip tightened on the door frame; wood creaked under her fingers. Despite being wet and dirty, fur on her back and shoulders stood up.

Frederick froze mid-step, swallowed, and fought the urge to cower. He'd seem women far less physically imposing than Alysa commit acts of indescribable violence while grappling with affairs of the heart such as this. The thought of Alysa doing something similar nearly made him wet himself. In his mind's eye he saw Eddie Rimmer's skull, split like an over-ripe melon.

Alysa's gaze shifted from Frederick to Jaquetta, then back again. Part of her wanted to fly shrieking at Frederick and tear his throat out. Part of her wanted to fly shrieking at Jaquetta and tear her throat out. Another part pointed out that none of this was any sort of surprise; Frederick had come to bed smelling of nectar ever since Jaquetta first arrived. Alysa had known all along that they were having sex and she'd never said anything about it. Furthermore, it had to be said that he was only doing his job. His prime responsibility as a member of Jimmy's crew was making sure that Alysa- and Jaquetta- maintained a suitable level of production. To do so he massaged their breasts, sucked on their nipples, and brought them to orgasm through whatever means proved expedient. Strictly speaking, Jaquetta had every bit as much right to Frederick's services as Alysa did. Intellectual arguments, unfortunately, had no effect on how Alysa felt. She'd been genetically programmed with two strong directives: to submit to her master, and to be sexually aggressive. The first no longer applied; Jimmy had manumitted her. That left only the second... and now a competing female had moved into what Alysa regarded as her exclusive territory.

That was the real problem. Alysa had let matters slide because her prerogative had never been challenged. Jaquetta and Frederick might tryst but only fleetingly, between other duties. When Alysa wanted to make love Frederick had always been there, awaiting her pleasure. Catching Jaquetta and Frederick in the act forcibly reminded her that Frederick wasn't hers, any more than Old Bastard- Jimmy's crotchety rooster- belonged to any one of the hens.

"I saw a boy today," Jaquetta began suddenly, Just as Alysa drew a breath to speak. Both Alysa and Frederick looked at Jaquetta in surprise; Alysa's eyes narrowed more and her lips drew back from her teeth. "I was down at the big pool, where the railroad crosses the creek," Jaquetta continued as if she didn't notice. "A train went by... and there he was, leaning out the window of the locomotive." Her eyes turned liquid. "He was so beautiful. I... can't stop thinking about him." Her hand strayed to her crotch.

Alysa's eyes narrowed slightly further, but in calculation rather than anger. Obviously Jaquetta wanted to avoid a fight. Alysa was not at all inclined to let her off the hook so easily... but she'd at least opened the door to a solution that would be more satisfactory in the long run. Furthermore, she'd owe Alysa a favor. "Why, that's wonderful," Alysa exclaimed, her tone and demeanor changing completely in an instant. "Frederick, why don't you run into town and see if you can find out who it is? If Jaquetta saw him on the line along here he had to come through the depot."

Frederick almost objected. Fortunately common sense gained control of his tongue in the very nick of time. "Sure," he agreed, though he faced a very long walk. Entering into a discussion with Alysa about his involvement with Jaquetta would not be he smartest thing he'd ever done. "What did he look like?" he asked, turning to Jaquetta.

"He's a skunk," Jaquetta replied. "In his early twenties, I'd say. Slender but very nicely muscled." She smiled fleetingly. ". His mane is white, short, and curly. His face and hands are black, except for a single white line on his forehead, and a patch on his chin and throat. When I saw him he was wearing a pair of black and white pinstriped overalls."

Frederick's expression remained stiffly blank while he contemplated the likelihood of finding this person given only a partial description based on a fleeting encounter. Nevertheless he nodded and withdrew; better that Alysa direct her wrath at Jaquetta than at him.

Alysa closed the shower room door behind Frederick and knelt in the middle of the floor. "Wash me," she commanded.

After only the briefest of hesitations Jaquetta picked up the spray nozzle. More than anything else, it was Alysa's tone of voice: she spoke like a master. Though she wasn't Jaquetta's owner, nor even human, she radiated such authority that Jaquetta's programmed instinct to obey kicked in. She rinsed Alysa down, lathered her up, then rinsed her again, working out burrs and tangles with her fingers and a curry comb.

While Jaquetta worked Alysa contemplated. Jaquetta's capitulation shocked her, too; she'd expected more argument, or at least evasion. The realization of what had happened shocked her even more: somehow she'd become Jaquetta's master.

At another time Alysa would have set things right at once; she didn't want to be anyone's master. Just then, though... she was still angry over Jaquetta and Frederick, and the sense of power she felt was intoxicating. It filled her with a tingling warmth as delicious as any orgasm. And she knew exactly what she wanted. Frederick had been her first lover, the first who ever shared pleasure with her instead of taking it. Now she had something even better: a person who existed only to serve her pleasure, as she had served so many others.

Once Jaquetta finished washing her Alysa stood up. She could do that here; Jimmy had knocked the ceiling out of the shower stall and raised the walls to the barn roof. Jaquetta remained seated, keeping her eyes appropriately downcast. "Get a milking bucket," Alysa directed.

"Yes, ma'am." Jaquetta left the shower stall, returning a moment later with a galvanized pail.

"Fill it," Alysa said. "I'm thirsty."

Jaquetta set the bucket on the floor and positioned herself over it on hands and knees. Without having to be told she set herself side-on to Alysa, offering the best view of the proceedings. Supporting herself on her left hand she used her right to squeeze and massage her upper right breast, stimulating it to discharge milk into the pail.

Alysa sank down, squatting on her heels. Without a breast pump or other aids milking oneself, as she well knew, wasn't easy. But that wasn't the point. Or perhaps it was the point. Because Alysa said so, Jaquetta had to do it. Somehow that, in itself, made the whole experience infinitely more exciting than merely watching a beautiful woman play with her boobs.

Eventually, by coaxing each one of her breasts in turn, Jaquetta managed to fill the bucket. In the process she sprayed milk on the floor and got it all over her hands. Her nipples and aureola glistened with it, and it stained the short, soft fur covering her breasts. Alysa took the pail and slurped up a mouthful; the pleasant, malty flavor was there but the milk had cooled in the air to merely lukewarm. Though her mouth really wasn't designed for it Alysa tipped her head back and took a drink; milk spilled past her muzzle and down the front of her body all the way to her crotch. "Good grief, what a mess," she muttered, looking down at herself and setting the bucket aside. Her head came up, her eyes locking on Jaquetta's. "Lick it up," she ordered.

Jaquetta approached, still on hands and knees. Resting her hands on Alysa's thighs for support she lifted her face and licked Alysa's chin, sucking the milk out of her fur. She lingered on Alysa's lips, stroking them with her tongue, then moved down onto Alysa's throat and chest. She lifted Alysa's breasts, nuzzling between and under them. Nor did she forget the tops and fronts, working delicately around the nipples.

Alysa shifted her stance, leaning backwards and opening her legs more. She took a sip from the bucket, then poured the rest onto her crotch. It soaked into the fur on her belly and thighs, running down between her legs. Jaquetta slid herself back, wrapped her arms around Alysa's thighs, and lowered herself down, applying her tongue to the milk dampened fur of Alysa's nether regions. In due course she arrived at Alysa's vulva, and there she remained, going over it again and again.

Alysa's breath came in short, sharp gasps. Her back arched, her fingers clawing at the floor. Jaquetta wielded her tongue with a skill equal to Frederick, and hers was considerably larger and more powerful. If his penis were as lithe as his tongue and as strong as his fingers the experience might have been something like this. "Eat it, God damn you!" Alysa shrieked.

Jaquetta obediently parted Alysa's labia and slid her tongue in, running it over the walls of Alysa's vagina as if trying to lick the last few drops of liquid out of a glass. In this particular case there was no danger of the glass running dry; Alysa produced so much lubricant that Jaquetta couldn't lick it all up. Fluid draining from Alysa's vagina drizzled down the cleft between her buttocks and pooled on the floor.

Alysa felt her orgasm building like a winter storm coming up over the horizon. She whined, softly at first, then with steadily increasing volume. When the storm broke it tore through her like a sheet of lightning; she screamed, spasming as if she had indeed been electrocuted. After the tension faded she slumped, gasping for breath. And still Jaquetta licked, cleaning fluid from the fur around Alysa's vulva and even sliding her tongue between Alysa's buttocks to catch every last drop. She seemed quite ready to go on for as long as Alysa could stand it. Alysa, for her own part, decided that she could stand quite a bit and allowed Jaquetta to continue.

After two more mind-shattering orgasms Alysa sat up. Her appetite hadn't been sated- not by a long shot- but she craved other pleasures as well. She rolled Jaquetta onto her back, then lay down between her legs. She slipped her arms under Jaquetta's thighs; reaching up she found Jaquetta's lower breasts ready to hand. She squeezed them, stroking and kneading them like lumps of bread dough, while ardently exploring Jaquetta's vagina with her tongue.

Jaquetta moaned, her thighs quivering against Alysa's cheeks. Jaquetta gripped Alysa's hands, pressing them harder against her breasts, then let go and shifted to the upper pair, leaving Alysa to the lower. Alysa smiled to herself, wondering if Jaquetta had ever experienced cunnilingus like this before. Alysa hadn't, and found that she enjoyed it immensely, both giving and receiving. In Jaquetta's case the giving had an added bonus: her vaginal fluid tasted faintly of nectar. In fact, as she approached her moment of bliss the concentration of nectar increased. Alysa eagerly consumed as much of it as she could; she found the blend of flavors intriguing and exciting. Though she supposed that licking it out of Jaquetta's vagina had a lot to do with it; the experience just wouldn't be the same if someone served it to her on a plate-

An idea popped into Alysa's mind with such force that she jerked her head back as if she'd been physically struck. For a moment she stared blankly at nothing, her mouth hanging open. Then she giggled and attacked Jaquetta's sex with renewed vigor. It took some time to recover the ground she'd lost during her pause but not much; she felt Jaquetta's thighs quivering against her cheeks. As orgasm surged through her Jaquetta's whole body quivered and a drawn-out moan burst from her lips. Alysa readied herself to receive a blast of nectar but the actual amount that came forth was less than she expected. Even so she couldn't catch it all; excess splashed out of her mouth, running down her chin and pooling on the floor. As the pulses died down she sucked on Jaquetta's vulva to extract every last drop. "My my," she commented, lifting her head and licking spattered fluid from her muzzle. "You really are a honey pot." She giggled again. Then she smiled, moving up beside Jaquetta and snuggling against her. "Thank you," she murmured. "That was wonderful." She nuzzled Jaquetta's cheek, the fur of which was all spiky from being soaked with Alysa's secretions, and gently stroked her head.

Jaquetta said nothing. She didn't resist but she did look down, refusing to meet Alysa's gaze.

"Jaquetta, what's wrong?" Alysa asked, lifting Jaquetta's chin. She hadn't forgotten how this whole episode had begun but pleasure derived from the period of lovemaking had driven it to a far corner of her mind.

"I-" Jaquetta stammered. She hadn't forgotten how the encounter began either; Alysa's change from master to gentle lover confused her as much as the initial change from co-worker to master, but this time she didn't have ingrained training to fall back upon. "I'm sorry about Frederick," she blurted, not knowing what else to say.

Alysa blinked. Jaquetta' reaction surprised her. Then she frowned; mention of Frederick brought her anger to the fore. She opened her mouth to say something scathing but a pang of conscience stopped her cold. It reminded her, rather pointedly, that not too long ago she'd been in the very position Jaquetta found herself in right now. The only difference between them was that Alysa- through a hefty helping of dumb luck far more than her own efforts- had won the object of her heart's desire. On top of all that, Alysa found herself thinking that Jaquetta herself made quite a desirable lover. So it was the Alysa's expression softened and she drew Jaquetta gently against her. "It's all right," she said. "I... couldn't help lusting after him myself when I first saw him."

"I don't think he likes me very much," Jaquetta mumbled.

"Why ever not?" Alysa asked.

"He... well... begging your pardon, there's plenty of times and places where we could meet," Jaquetta said. "But he's never there. We only meet if, if I go after him."

If there was anything Jaquetta could have said to make Alysa fall instantly in love with her, that particular statement came pretty close. "Don't worry about it," Alysa said, nuzzling Jaquetta's face and caressing her back. "Frederick's.... a little sensitive, that's all. When he comes back I'll take you into town and help you find your pretty skunk boy."

"Oh, will you?" Jaquetta looked up. She slid her hands up onto Alysa's cheeks... then pulled Alysa's face close and kissed her passionately.

Alysa rolled Jaquetta onto her back and positioned herself on top, her right thigh pressed against Jaquetta's crotch, her fingers laced through Jaquetta's. She returned the kisses as passionately as Jaquetta gave them, caressing Jaquetta with her body. Jaquetta arched her back, thrusting her chest against Alysa's, rubbing Alysa's crotch with her leg. After a time Alysa pulled back, sitting up and drawing Jaquetta up with her. She knelt, sitting back on her heels, gesturing for Jaquetta to kneel beside her. Jaquetta did so, facing the opposite direction; her thigh and Jaquetta's pressed together. Alysa put her left arm around Jaquetta's shoulders, drawing their torsos together. Jaquetta did the same to Alysa, which left the two of them leaning together, their torsos partially overlapped, their faces in close proximity. Again Jaquetta took the initiative, licking Alysa's lips and gently thrusting her tongue between them. Alysa slipped her right hand between Jaquetta's legs, caressing Jaquetta's vulva with her fingertips. Jaquetta's labia were already open and slick with fluid; Alysa pressed her index and middle finger into Jaquetta's vagina, pressing against Jaquetta's clitoris with the web of her thumb. Jaquetta returned the favor, pressing her own fingers deep into Alysa's sex. As such it was, perhaps, no great surprise that they both achieved climax at nearly the same time, Alysa coming less than a minute after Jaquetta.

"Mmm, you taste so good, Jaquetta," Alysa murmured, licking her fingers. "I could eat you out every day."

"So do you," Jaquetta replied, licking her own fingers. "So could I."

For a time Alysa and Jaquetta only sat there, heads on one another's shoulders, arms about one another's bodies, enjoying one another's presence.

"I have a dildo," Jaquetta said.

Alysa started. "Do you mean a dildo for a regular sized woman or one for you?" she asked.

"For me," Jaquetta replied.

"May I see it?" Alysa asked.

"Sure." Jaquetta gently disentangled herself and left the shower room. A moment later she returned, the dildo in her hand. It was an amazingly detailed replica of a human man's penis, formed of some shiny, jet black material, but on the same scale as Alysa and Jaquetta, measuring a hand's breadth longer and more than half again as thick as Frederick's peerless part. Additionally, it came with straps so it would be worn.

"Good grief!" Alysa exclaimed. "That's one mighty impressive tool you got there!"

"Ain't it?" Jaquetta giggled, securing the straps around her waist. "Betcha never realized I was so well hung."

"That's for sure," Alysa agreed. Even the straps were black; against Jaquetta's fur they hardly showed up at all. "Are your intentions honorable, sir?" Alysa added.

"Certainly not." Jaquetta approached, throwing an exaggerated roll into her hips. "I'm going to have my wicked way with you, my pretty, and there's not a thing you can do about it." She pushed Alysa over onto her back and settled on top of her. She gripped Alysa's hands, effectively pinning her arms at her sides. Jaquetta's hips forced Alysa's legs apart. The effect was spoiled somewhat by the fact that Jaquetta scored a hit only after four tries, and then because Alysa rotated her hips into a better angle. But as the massive member entered her body Alysa forgave the rough start; only Frederick's arm had ever filled her so completely. And while Frederick always did his best, fisting tired him quickly. Jaquetta's hips did not tire; they continued thrusting long after Frederick would have been forced to stop. Alysa clawed at Jaquetta's back, wrapping her legs around Jaquetta's hips and crushing their bodies together. Alysa's tongue urgently probed Jaquetta's mouth, and Jaquetta's tongue did the same in return.

"Ready to give up men now?" Jaquetta teasingly inquired as Alysa shuddered in the throes of yet another orgasm.

For a moment Alysa considered the question seriously. Jaquetta's demonstrated ability to give pleasure was certainly a compelling argument. But in the end Alysa discarded it. "Not until you can make this thing squirt cum," she said, reaching between their bodies to put her fingers around the base of the dildo. "And..." her expression turned serious. "Frederick isn't just... someone I sleep with. He's... my friend."

"I'm so sorry," Jaquetta said, dropping her gaze. "I... never even thought about it. I just... I wanted him so badly. I needed him."

Alysa sighed, stroking Jaquetta's cheeks. "I wanted him too. And... for the same reasons, at least at first."

A few moments passed. "Can... can we be friends?" Jaquetta asked timidly.

"Well..." Alysa pretended to consider. "I suppose. But only if you let me play with your toy."

"Only if you let me play with your toy," Jaquetta countered.

Alysa snorted. "I don't know. I can't help thinking you're getting the better end of the deal."

"Really?" Jaquetta undid the straps securing the dildo and rose, leaving it sheathed in Alysa's vagina. "Shouldn't you at least try it out first?" She lay down on her belly, looking coyly back over her shoulder, her legs spread and her hips and tail lifted invitingly.

"Oh, I suppose," Alysa replied, drawing the dildo out with some reluctance. It's shaft glistened with her fluid. She licked it- keeping her eyes on Jaquetta's- then slowly strapped it on. Instead of kneeling behind Jaquetta, she knelt beside her. "Just relax," Alysa said as Jaquetta rose up on one elbow. With one hand Alysa gently pressed Jaquetta back down; with the other she squeezed Jaquetta's rump. It felt deliciously soft and full on the surface but nicely firm underneath. "I have to make sure you're ready, don't I?" she added, sliding her hand between Jaquetta's thighs.

From the state of Jaquetta's labia it could have been argued that she was ready. Which Alysa had expected, but she intended to proceed in her own way. She inserted all four of her fingers into Jaquetta's vagina, leaving her thumb pressed against Jaquetta's anus. Jaquetta sighed, stretching her arms out ahead of her and spreading her legs a little more. Alysa thrust with her hand and stroked with her fingers, including her thumb- which gave her an idea. Releasing the dildo one handed proved tricky but she managed. By then the vaginal fluid had mostly dried; Alysa took the dildo in her mouth and sucked as if giving it a blow job. That left it coated with fresh saliva. Next Alysa shifted, putting her left arm across Jaquetta's lower back. In this position her right hand could continue its ministrations while her left inserted the dildo into Jaquetta's anus.

"Oh!" Jaquetta exclaimed, lifting her torso. Then she sighed and relaxed.

Jaquetta seemed to have a very large rectum, Alysa noted. The dildo penetrated until no more than a finger's width of the shaft remained visible. Alysa slid it in and out, watching in fascination as it disappeared, then reappeared. In the end she thrust it all the way in and left it, using the fingertips of her left hand to massage Jaquetta's clitoris. Jaquetta gasped, sighed, and finally came with a shuddering moan.

"Now you're ready," Alysa decided, drawing the dildo out. After washing it she strapped it on and knelt between Jaquetta's legs. She found that hitting the target wasn't nearly so easy as it looked, especially since she lacked any sensation in the dildo and it didn't anchor firmly to her hips. To save time she guided it in with her hand. Frederick never had to do that, but presumably he'd more experience in such matters.

Oddly enough, Alysa had never in her life used a dildo in this particular way. They'd been used on her quite frequently, but only in public performances by normal sized partners. The dildoes themselves had been normal sized as well. Except for one that had been about double standard length... but only normal diameter. Alysa found it unsatisfying; beyond a certain point, thickness mattered more than length. A penis that was too thin simply didn't provide enough stimulation, no matter how long it might be.

Judging by her reactions Jaquetta did not find the stimulation in any way inadequate. She gasped in time with Alysa's thrusts, her hands clutching at the floor and her feet waving in the air. Alysa increased her tempo, adding up-and-down motion to the in-and-out. Finally Jaquetta climaxed with a little cry.

Alysa pulled out and sat back on her heels. Looking down at herself she could perhaps understand why Frederick might find Jaquetta's embrace a bit less than ideal. Jaquetta had soaked Alysa's crotch and inner thighs with sticky nectar. On the other hand, there wasn't nearly so much as there'd been the first time. "Interesting," Alysa commented. No doubt the nectar recovered at a fixed rate; too many orgasms in a short time would deplete it. "Hmm," Alysa added, rubbing her chin. It too was covered with dried nectar.

"What?" Jaquetta asked, looking back over her shoulder.

"What does Jimmy do with your nectar?" Alysa asked.

"Nothing," Jaquetta replied. "He doesn't even collect it."

Alysa snorted. "I should have figured that. He'd probably have a heart attack and die."

"He didn't seem to mind when Jilly gave him a tentacle job," Jaquetta observed.

"Tentacle job?" Alysa frowned in perplexity.

"You know how Jilly's tentacles open up, when she's milking you?" Jaquetta asked, opening her hand by way of demonstration. "Well, they actually stretch quite a bit. She can suck on a guy's dick just like it was a great big nipple."

"My word," Alysa mused. "How big a dick can she do?"

"I once saw her do a guy almost as big as Frederick," Jaquetta replied. "He was a horse, though."

"Figures." Alysa nodded thoughtfully. No one ever said, for example, hung like a fox. She smiled; if word got around about Frederick that might just change. Just then a vision flashed into her mind, of Jilly doing Frederick, Jimbo, Carty, and Jimmy, all at once. She couldn't help smiling; that would be a sight, to be certain. But, alas, she doubted it would ever happen. Jimmy, she suspected, would rather die than take part in such a thing. Certainly not for the viewing pleasure of Alysa and Jaquetta. "I want to start collecting your nectar," Alysa announced.

Jaquetta blinked. "What for?"

"I have an idea." Alysa turned on the water, letting it play over her face and torso. "While I was eating you out I found myself thinking that your nectar tasted quite good. Then I thought that it was only because of how I was eating it, that I wouldn't like it if someone served it to me on a plate. Then I had a vision: a generous helping of nectar... poured over a dish of ice cream."

"Wow." Jaquetta's eyes widened. "I never thought of that."

"Oh?" Alysa arched an eyebrow.

"Well... Frederick uses it in his tea instead of sugar, and on his toast in place of jam," Jaquetta explained.

"Does he." Alysa's ears flicked back momentarily. "We'll have to go into town and get some ice cream at Mr. Hardesty's shop," she continued briskly. "After cleaning up, of course." She took off the dildo.

"Of course." Jaquetta came over and licked Alysa's thigh, looking up at her in a very meaningful way.

"If you clean me like that I'll just make a mess again," Alysa pointed out.

"Your point being?" Jaquetta replied.

For a moment Alysa wavered. Jaquetta teased Alysa's clitoris with the tip of her tongue. "Oh, what the Hell," Alysa decided, laying back.

Frederick whistled tunelessly as he strolled along the high road. It wasn't at all a bad day for a walk, he had to admit; the sky was clear and the air warm but not too hot. It reminded him of his drifter days. For a second or two he waxed nostalgic, then shook it off. As a drifter he might have had freedom, but as Jimmy's employee he got three squares a day plus a room and a bed every night. Being a drifter wasn't so much fun when you couldn't get enough to eat and had to sleep outside in the rain.

A plume of dust marked a vehicle coming from town. Frederick crossed the road to the upwind side and continued along in the grass. The vehicle- a stake bed truck loaded with cans and boxes- approached, then slowed abruptly and stopped just as Frederick came abreast of it. "Hey, Frederick," the driver called, leaning out the window and grinning broadly.

"Mrs. Franelli." Frederick nodded respectfully. The Widow Franelli had been one of his best customers.

"You haven't had a falling out with Jimmy now, have you?" Mrs. Franelli inquired.

"No, ma'am," Frederick replied. "Just on my way into town."

"Business or pleasure?"

Frederick considered how to respond. "A favor," he said with a shrug.

"Would you have time to do a little work for me?" Mrs. Franelli asked. "I'd be glad to see you into town and back to Jimmy's place."

Almost certainly any work Mrs. Franelli wanted him to do would be in the bedroom, Frederick knew. She wasn't exactly a looker; forty-five years, ten of them spent running a farm single-handedly, had taken their toll. Still, she had a dark complexion that Frederick thought made her look somewhat exotic, especially among the fair skinned people of Brooks. She wasn't anything like skinny either; her figure could only be described as conspicuously rounded. Her breasts were enormous; when she took off her bra they hung down to her belly button. Even her mouth was big, with large, prominent lips. She knew how to use them, though, and wouldn't hesitate to do so. Not to mention that she was a Hell of a cook. And... it would be a welcome change, Frederick decided. "I'd be much obliged, ma'am," he said, coming up to the truck's passenger side.

"Hop in, sweetie." Mrs. Franelli flashed a grin and opened the door. Frederick climbed in and settled himself. "Good gravy!" Mrs. Franelli exclaimed, her gaze dropping to his lap. "You don't have a summer sausage in your pants, do you?'

"In a manner of speaking," Frederick replied.

"My word." Mrs. Franelli stroked her chin thoughtfully as she put the truck in motion. "I'd heard rumors but I'd never imagined."

"For what it's worth, neither had I," Frederick muttered, shaking his head. "By the way, you wouldn't happen to know about any young male skunks working for the railroad, would you?"

"Do you mean Avlar Thistlewick?" Mrs. Franelli inquired. "He's the only one I can think of off the top of my head."

"Maybe," Frederick allowed. "What's he look like?"

"Young, in his early twenties, I'd say," Mrs. Franelli replied. "Black, with a white curly mane. White on his front." She indicated the front of her own torso.

"Good looking?" Frederick ventured.

"And how." Mrs. Franelli sighed. "Very easy on the eye. Rosalind must treat him very well at home to keep him from straying." She chuckled lasciviously.

Frederick blinked. "Rosalind?"

"Rosalind Periwistle, his wife." Mrs. Franelli gave Frederick a measuring look. "I must say, Frederick, I never had you figured for the type."

"What type?" Frederick asked absently. If this Avlar happened to be the fellow Jaquetta had seen, and he already had a mate, it would complicate matters greatly.

"To have his head turned by a pretty boy," Mrs. Franelli replied with a smirk.

"Oh, it's not for me," Frederick replied hastily. "I'm acting as agent for a friend."

"Of course." Mrs. Franelli's smirk broadened into a leer.

Frederick said nothing. Truth was, he had dallied with other males while working at the hotel. He'd done it mainly as a form of relief from his normal duties... but he couldn't honestly say he hadn't enjoyed himself. He'd not done anything like that since leaving the hotel but that was mainly to avoid drawing attention to himself. People seemed to accept his presence, even as a gigolo, far more readily that they would if he were known as a poofter.

The Franelli farm lay in a swale bordered by the high road on one side, Fanno creek on another, and woods on the remaining ones. The house, barn, and outbuildings stood on a low hillock, necessary since this part of the creek flooded regularly. Since the farm engaged mainly in livestock operations that wasn't a serious problem, and deposited silt kept the pastures lush and green, but Frederick noticed a rowboat sitting in a roofed enclosure by the barn. He could easily imagine the water rising enough to leave the hillock completely surrounded. Mrs. Franelli brought the truck to a halt in the barn yard and beeped the horn twice. Half a dozen people rushed out into the barn yard... and every one was a female border collie Morph. They all dressed differently but underneath they looked as alike as sextuplets, if not for the fact that the eldest was nearly Mrs. Franelli's age and the youngest two barely teenagers. The middle three ranged somewhere in between.

"Hello, everyone!" Mrs. Franelli called, climbing out of the truck and waving happily. The collie women lined up, apparently by age, as Mrs. Franelli hugged each one in turn. While they chatted amiably Frederick climbed out of the truck and came around. One of the young girls saw him and let out a shriek.

"Ah, yes." Mrs. Franelli turned. "I met Frederick on the road. Thought he might be able to fix that pump for us."

The two girls whispered excitedly to one another, all the while staring at Frederick's crotch, then broke down in a fit of giggles. The younger two of the medium-aged women frowned; the third smiled a little. The eldest stepped forward and offered her hand. "Hello Frederick," she said. "Nice to see you again."

"You too, Rowena," Frederick replied, taking the offered hand and using it to pull her into a hug. The two frowners frowned even more and the girls broke out in a new fit of giggles.

"Peigi, show Frederick the pump house, won't you?" Rowena asked. The others moved to start unloading the truck, though Rowena herself remained with Mrs. Franelli.

"This way," the second oldest- the one who'd smiled slightly- said, turning and beckoning.

"Maira and Ahlis don't seem all that glad to see me," Frederick commented once they were away from the yard.

Peigi shrugged. "You know how they are. Don't think it's proper for a dignified woman like our beloved mistress to be carrying on with a fellow as young as her son."

"I'm not that young," Frederick protested mildly.

"You look it," Peigi replied, giving Frederick a once-over that stopped abruptly just below his waist. "Good gravy," she exclaimed, coasting to a stop. "I heard the gossip but I figured it was just back fence nonsense."

"Let's just say it's not all exaggeration," Frederick replied.

"It's true, then?" Peigi asked. "Jimmy keeps you on to stud for his skunk and vixen?"

Frederick hesitated, more because the question struck uncomfortably close to the truth than that it embarrassed him. "One does one's best," he said.

Peigi snorted. "I imagine you do, Frederick. Here we are."

The pump house on the Franelli farm looked identical to the one on Jimmy's. Even the pump itself, to Frederick's admittedly inexpert eyes, looked the same. The electrical system wasn't nearly as elaborate- and that, it seemed, was the problem. Electricity to run the pump came on a pair of cloth-wrapped wires strung from the barn, anchored at each end by ceramic insulators. A pair of drop wires ran to the switch controlling the pump itself. Everything looked okay, but when Frederick pressed the manual trip nothing happened. He looked at the wires more closely... then grinned. He picked up a rusty screw driver and removed one of the power leads. In the not too distant past someone had clipped the wire, pulled back the insulation, and bent the end around the terminal. They hadn't thought to scrape away the varnish coating the wire, however. He did so, using his pocket knife, and reattached the lead. This time when he hit the manual trip the pump rumbled to life.

"I told Maira she didn't know what she was doing!" Peigi exclaimed, stamping her foot.

"Just remember that the wire's coated with varnish, under the cloth," Frederick explained. "You need to scrape it off or remove it with thinner." No need to mention that he hadn't known that until Jimmy told him.

"I will," Peigi assured. "The Miz'll be glad to hear you fixed it so quickly, too." She gave Frederick an enigmatic look.

"Do you know Avlar and Rosalind?" Frederick asked while Peigi led him to the house.

"I know of them," Peigi replied. "Ysenda and Ila are part of their radio club. They go into town every Saturday." She grimaced. "Might not be best to ask them, though. Probably take an hour just to make them stop giggling. Talk to June at the railroad cafe. Roz works there too. Avlar works for the railroad. They have a place in town. Why?"

"Jaquetta saw someone she thinks might be Avlar and asked about him," Frederick replied.

Peigi chuckled. "He ain't bad looking, I'll give you that." She opened the back door. "He fixed it, ma'am!" she shouted.

"I knew he would!" Mrs. Franelli called back. "Come in and have a bite, Frederick!"

Frederick entered. Peigi remained outside, closing the door behind him. Mrs. Franelli stood by the kitchen table, on which lay an impressive spread. More than she could possibly have laid on by herself in just a few minutes, Frederick guessed. "Why, I'd be delighted," he said, taking the offered chair. "May I have a bit of the chicken and potatoes, please?"

"Of course." Mrs. Franelli loaded up a plate and set it at Frederick's place.

Frederick had discovered that the size of the meal Mrs. Franelli put on for him generally corresponded to how hard she planned to work him later. That being so he figured he'd best be ready for a very energetic afternoon. He sampled a great many items but didn't take too much of any one thing; filling up now would impair his performance later. He might not work at the hotel any longer but he did have his professional pride. "Thank you, but I couldn't possibly eat another bite," he said when she offered him yet another slice of pie.

"But Frederick, you've hardly touched your food," Mrs. Franelli pointed out.

Frederick took a quick stock of what he hadn't eaten. He estimated that it would take him about three days to finish it off. "My dear lady, I would enjoy nothing more than to sample your delicacies all day and all night," he said, taking her hand and stroking it gently. "I only want to leave room so I can taste them all." He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it gently.

Mrs. Franelli smiled but tears welled up in her eyes. "You're such a liar, Frederick," she said softly, reaching out her other hand to stroke his cheek. "Why would you ever want to spend time with a dried out old prune like me when you could be with that beautiful young vixen?"

Frederick considered. It was a good question and he didn't have a ready answer. "A woman is like wine," he said, rising to his feet. "Some, when they are fresh, are sweet and strong. Heady and intoxicating." He moved around the table. "But then in time, they turn sour. They'll still make you drunk but you have to endure a lot of bitterness to get there and you wake up with a headache. Other women, though..." He brought a lock of Mrs. Franelli's hair up to his face and inhaled deeply. "A few years makes them smoother. More mellow." He nuzzled Mrs. Franelli's cheek. "They develop a rich, blended bouquet that is a delight to the discerning palette." He gently lifted Mrs. Franelli's face and licked her lips.

Mrs. Franelli wrapped her arms around Frederick and hugged him tightly, burying her face against his shoulder. "You say that like you really mean it," she whispered.

"I do mean it." Frederick caressed Mrs. Franelli's cheek with his hand while nuzzling the other one. "There's nothing I enjoy more than spending time with a beautiful woman." He lifted her face, looking deep into her eyes. "And that's exactly what I'm doing."

"Liar," Mrs. Franelli whispered, but nevertheless she turned Frederick and walked him to the bedroom. He took her hands in his and massaged them gently. When they arrived he closed the door with his foot. They moved to the bed as one, with neither one leading. They sat side by side, hands still clasped. He licked and nuzzled her face and throat; his lips weren't really designed for kissing. She opened her mouth so he slipped his tongue in, stroking her cheeks, teeth, and tongue with it. After a few moments of that she turned toward him, pulling their bodies together. Frederick smelled the sweat beading in her brow and throat, felt the flush in her cheeks. He disengaged his right hand and placed it on her left breast; she inhaled sharply. He squeezed and lifted, kneading her flesh with his fingers. He could feel her nipple through the material of her bra and blouse. Slowly, languidly, he shifted both hands, one by one opening the buttons of her blouse. She lifted her arms so he could remove it. He set his hands on her waist, kneading the rolls of flesh there, then moved up onto her back. A generous layer of fat made even her shoulders soft. His fingers found the clasps securing her bra and unhooked them, one by one.

Mrs. Franelli's hands weren't idle. They undid the shoulder straps of Frederick's overalls, then roamed through the fur on his chest, sides, and back. As her bra came loose she let go so Frederick could remove it. Freed of their confinement her breasts fell all the way to her waist. Frederick cupped one and lifted it; her nipples were large and prominent, set at the center of dark brown areolae larger than his palm. He applied his tongue, first to the nipple and its environs, then up the inside of her breast to her cleavage. He didn't mind hairless breasts; in fact he rather liked the slightly salty taste of bare skin. At the end of the cleavage he started down again, ending with the opposite nipple. Mrs. Franelli clawed at his back, then reached under the waistband of his overalls and squeezed his buttocks. While he attended to her breasts she pushed the overalls down off his hips and took ahold of his penis.

"Good God, Frederick," Mrs. Franelli exclaimed, glancing down. "Do you ever get tired, toting that log around?"

"Not so long as I've a chance to put it to good use," Frederick replied, unbuttoning Mrs. Franelli's skirt. She let him remove it, then put her arms around him and lay him down on his back. He waited while she kicked off her panties. She knelt next to the bed, parting his legs so she could lean right against his crotch. Her breasts lay in his lap, spilling across his thighs. She put her mouth over the head of his penis, licking and sucking as if it were a popsicle. Then she pressed her massive mammaries around his shaft, holding each one by the nipple and stroking him with them while she sucked. Frederick whimpered, clawing at the bedclothes. Alysa and Jaquetta both seemed to enjoy fellating him, a practice he wasn't about to discourage... but one thing was undeniably so: human lips were much better suited to sucking than muzzles, or at least those of the vulpine or musteline variety. When he thought of such things he surmised that a human female partnered with a Morph male enjoyed the best of both worlds: he his partner's teasing lips and she her partner's long, penetrating tongue.

Mrs. Franelli's lips continued doing their thing. Combined with her breasts they produced an effect Frederick would have described as mind-blowing, had he been capable of intellectual thought. When his moment came he let out a sharp squeak; it seemed as if he felt the semen flowing up through his penis. It erupted into Mrs. Franelli's mouth; the quantity he produced at ejaculation had increased dramatically along with the size of his organ. When the pulses stopped and his now flaccid member drew back he'd pumped so much it drizzled down Mrs. Franelli's chin and spattered her breasts. She grinned, licked her face, and then her breasts. "I must be doing something right if I can make a young buck like you come like that," she chuckled.

"I never doubted it." Frederick sat up. "My turn," he added, rising and patting the bed. He as Mrs. Franelli exchanged places; he put her legs over his shoulders, wrapped his arms around her thighs, and slipped his hands under her buttocks. He inhaled, taking in the combined odors of sweat and vaginal secretions. He licked the inside of her thigh, which gleamed with sweat. Only after he'd made careful work of both legs did he address himself to her crotch. He licked the black, bristly pubic hair; then, at long last, he parted the labia with his tongue and reached inside. In time he shifted his right hand, pausing a moment to lick his middle finger. His tongue resumed its ministrations and his finger teased her anus until it relaxed enough for him to press the digit into her rectum. While his tongue did its work he fingered her anus the same way he'd finger her vagina. She mewled and grabbed his ears. He found he could judge her state of arousal by how tightly her thighs squeezed his head. By and by he found himself glad that her legs were generously padded. Her anus had relaxed so he spit on his index finger and inserted it as well. When her orgasm arrived she bared her tightly clenched teeth, arched her back, and clamped her legs around his head as if trying to stay on a bucking bull. When the ecstasy passed she relaxed with a deep sigh.

At that point Frederick's penis was ready for another round. He rose, stroking it to insure that it attained full erection. He placed his hands behind Mrs. Franelli's knees and folded them up against her belly. After admiring her crotch for a moment he leaned forward, pressing the head of his penis against her anus. She yipped as he entered her, then grinned and squeezed.

Frederick grimaced. Alysa and Jaquetta could take the full length of his erection in their rectums. They both enjoyed anal sex and thus did so with some regularity. Mrs. Franelli couldn't... but what of him she did take she gripped with a tightness Alysa and Jaquetta couldn't match. He increased his tempo, grunting with every thrust. Mrs. Franelli squeezed her buttocks together with her hands. But as time passed Frederick found himself on a plateau; having attained a level of stimulation he couldn't push past it to orgasm.

"Frederick!" Mrs. Franelli exclaimed. "Not so hard!"

"What?" Frederick stopped suddenly.

"It's all right, dear." Mrs. Franelli smiled. "Just be careful how hard you press. I'm not so big inside."

Frederick backed out. The interruption had left him semi-flaccid. He imagined Alysa, on hands and knees, her tail lifted invitingly. His penis stiffened at once. But as he penetrated Mrs. Franelli's anus he couldn't help thinking also of how Alysa's buttocks would cradle his pelvis, his shaft embedded completely in her body. He knew then that he'd never achieve what he sought with Mrs. Franelli.

Mrs. Franelli must have sensed it as well. "It's all right, Frederick," she said, sitting up. "You've already done your share." Her expression sobered. "Anyway, I've kept you long enough. You should get back to Alysa."

"I'm sorry." Frederick stroked Mrs. Franelli's cheek.

"Don't be." Mrs. Franelli lay her hand over Frederick's. "You gave a dirty old woman a chance to get her rocks off. What more could I ask for?"

Frederick's expression hardened. "Aya, just because you're older than some doesn't mean you deserve pleasure any less," he declared. "If it offers, take it and be damned what anyone thinks."

"I have." Mrs. Franelli patted Frederick's cheek. "Now get on home. Tell Peigi to drive you. And take whatever of that food you'd like."

"Thanks, Aya." He nuzzled and licked Mrs. Franelli's cheek. "Only one thing, though. I want to hear that you've found someone. Someone as beautiful as you shouldn't be alone." He smiled. "Tell you what. You pick the guy and I'll train him."

"I'll take you up on that." Mrs. Franelli gave him a hug. "Now get on out of here before I decide to keep you after all."

"Okay. 'Bye." Frederick blew a kiss as he slipped out the door. Mrs. Franelli sighed and sank back down onto the bed.

"Thanks for the lift, Rowena," Frederick said, slipping out of the cab and waving.

"Anytime." Rowena blew Frederick a kiss, shifted the truck into reverse, and returned to the road.

Frederick sighed. A part of him wanted very much to pursue Rowena, to woo and bed her. Nevertheless he restrained himself; she'd never showed any interest in such matters... and what they had worked precisely because it avoided the tensions of sex. Besides, serving Alysa and Jaquetta was itself a full time job; whether or not he wanted another lover wasn't relevant. He didn't have the time or energy for it.

After a moment's consideration Frederick headed for the barn. The afternoon had slipped away while he was out; he judged that it was nearly milking time, which came just before dinner. Because of Mrs. Franelli's generosity he could afford to skip eating but if he skipped milking time there would be serious problems later.

"Hello, anybody-" Frederick began, stepping into the barn. He stopped because Alysa was there... and because Jaquetta was also there, a very unusual state of affairs. The agreement was that he milked Alysa first, then Jilly milked Jaquetta.

Other data became apparent. Alysa and Jaquetta had both bathed recently. Alysa wore her overalls and Jaquetta a cream yellow sun dress with a skirt that left her knees bare. Both wore one strap down off the shoulder. Both regarded Frederick the way a pair of starving coyotes might look at a fresh, juicy steak.

"Ah... good afternoon," Frederick said, forcing down the trepidation he felt. It didn't look like Alysa would grill him about what he'd been doing, but it did look like there'd be a stiff price for that escape. If things went as they appeared to be going he'd end up dead tired and bruised all over by morning.

"You'll be milking us both today," Alysa announced, slipping the remaining strap off her shoulder and baring her bosom. She settled herself on hands and knees by the milking stool.

"Okay," Frederick replied because there clearly wasn't anything else he could say. He sat down on the stool; Jaquetta handed him the bucket and an empty milk can, then lay down on the floor, chin propped on her wrists, so she could watch.

After a brief hesitation Frederick got to work, gently squeezing and tugging on Alysa's nipples. He finished sooner than he expected; either Alysa's production was off... or she'd already expressed some today. Given that her fur smelled of nectar, he strongly suspected that the missing milk would be found in Jaquetta's digestive tract. Alysa made no move to get up so he moved around her, taking the stool and bucket with him.

"My turn!" Jaquetta announced, sitting back on her heels and pulling her dress off over her head. Alysa yielded her place, stepping out of her overalls as she did so. Jaquetta, now completely naked, presented herself for milking. Alysa, also naked, lay down to watch. It did not escape Frederick's notice that Alysa idly fingered herself while he worked.

"Did you find out anything about Jaquetta's skunk boy?" Alysa asked, bringing her hand up and licking the fluid off her finger.

"I found a likely candidate, at least," Frederick replied. His penis was stiffening; not a problem so long as he remained sitting, but a major inconvenience when the time came to stand, unless he'd removed his overalls by then. Under the circumstances, that seemed likely. "There's a fellow named Avlar Thistlewick who lives in town. He works for the railroad and matches the description, according to the people I talked to. I didn't actually see him myself. You should know, though... he's married. He has a wife, Rosalind Periwistle."

Alysa blinked. "Rosalind? You mean that Rosalind?"

"If she's the one who works at the railroad cafe," Frederick replied.

"Yep, that's the one." Alysa shook her head. "She never mentioned being married. Though-" she looked a touch embarrassed- "we didn't get the chance to talk much."

Frederick struggled to keep his expression neutral. Alysa had told him about her escape from the Holidays' barn. Now it turned out that the woman Alysa had assaulted and left tied up was the wife of the fellow Jaquetta wanted to meet. He would have laughed if not for knowing that Alysa would make him pay dearly for it.

"I think you'd better talk to him yourself, Jaquetta," Alysa continued. "I don't think it would be a good idea for me to do it, under the circumstances."

"He is married, you know," Frederick felt obligated to point out.

"What's that to do with anything?" Alysa countered.

Frederick opened his mouth but closed it before speaking. His own background proved Alysa's point; from his time at the hotel he couldn't think of a single customer he'd served who hadn't been married. In Brooks he found more of the same; the exceptions were like Mrs. Franelli, widowed or separated. The only bona fide single woman he'd ever served was Helen Westlake, who as a teenager had fallen in front of a train and lost both her legs. He had to admit that the vow to forsake all others didn't appear to mean a whole lot. And he'd come late to the oldest profession; he'd been trained as a servant and became a gigolo more or less by accident. Alysa and Jaquetta were prostitutes born and raised; he could understand all too well how the concept of monogamy simply didn't exist for them. "Just be careful," he advised. "Some women don't like to share." He fixed Alysa with a stern look, and she at least had the decency to look abashed.

Jaquetta also played out sooner than Frederick would have expected. Here too he suspected that a peek into Alysa's intestines would turn up the lack. He emptied the last bucket into a can, put the can in the cooler, and rinsed out the bucket.

"Jaquetta has a marvelous toy," Alysa commented.

"Does she?" Frederick asked, glancing up. Alysa sat up on her heels, casually fingering herself.

"Yes, and we spent the afternoon playing with it," Alysa continued. "It was wonderful." She licked her fingers.

Under the circumstances it was perhaps understandable that Frederick didn't notice Jaquetta coming up behind him. She could move quietly when she wanted to... and he was distracted by Alysa. He yelped when Jaquetta grabbed him around the torso and hoisted him off the ground, but there wasn't much he could do about it. "Now we're gonna spend the evening playing with Alysa's toy," Jaquetta purred, unfastening the straps on his overalls. Alysa grabbed the cuffs and pulled, deftly separating Frederick from his clothing.

"Alysa, I just had a thought," Jaquetta commented, sitting down and placing Frederick in her lap.

"What's that?" Alysa folded Frederick's overalls and laid them aside.

"He milks us," Jaquetta continued. "I want some equal time."

"I don't have breasts," Frederick pointed out.

"So?" Jaquetta curled her fingers around Frederick's penis, squeezing and massaging until it stiffened. "It ain't your nips I was thinking of milking."

"I'll get a jar." Alysa hurried out.

"I don't suppose I get any say in this?" Frederick inquired.

"Quiet, you." Jaquetta bopped Frederick gently on the head. "Far as I'm concerned, if I hear a man talking it's 'cause he ain't been given something more productive to do with his mouth."

Alysa returned, a one liter jar in one hand... and the dildo strapped to her hips. Frederick let out a very un-manly shriek and tried to climb right over Jaquetta's shoulders.

"Oh, get a grip already," Alysa snapped. "I'm not going to violate your tender behind. Not yet, at any rate." She removed the dildo and sat down. Jaquetta, meanwhile, had managed to wrestle Frederick back into her lap but his peerless part had most emphatically lost its zing.

"Typical," Jaquetta sniffed. "Every time you turn around he's stiff as a board, but the minute you wanna have a little fun, it's wet noodle time."

"Oh, he just needs a little persuasion," Alysa assured, rising up onto her knees, then ever so slowly lowering herself onto the dildo. As it vanished into her body Frederick's eyes widened... and his penis stiffened.

"That's better." Jaquetta pumped vigorously, holding the jar in her other hand. Alysa slipped a hand between her legs, massaging her clitoris while easing up and down on the dildo. Only a short time later he let out a shuddering moan and his penis spat out a gob of semen.

Alysa leaned forward, watching avidly as Frederick's penis pumped its load into the jar. She'd been party to innumerable male orgasms in her life but only on very rare occasions had she ever been in a position to observe one. That this one had happened for her entertainment, instead of her being the vehicle for someone else's, had as much- or more- impact than the act itself.

Jaquetta brought the jar in close as Frederick's pulsing stream diminished to a drizzle. "Hmm, not bad," she commented, raising the jar and examining the fluid collected in its bottom. "How long do you think it'll take him to fill the jar?"

"Let's find out," Alysa replied. "We should be able to milk him three or four times a day if we keep him properly stimulated." She rose to her feet, leaving the dildo in place. "But first-" she picked up a milk can- "you aren't quite done with Jaquetta, Frederick."

"What exactly do you mean?" Frederick asked suspiciously. "Oh," he said when Jaquetta set him aside and got on her hands and knees, bottom toward Alysa.

"Kneel beside her and reach underneath," Alysa suggested, kneeling and holding the can in place with one hand. The other went between her legs, rubbing her clitoris and moving the dildo.

Frederick did as directed, putting his other arm around Jaquetta's rump to steady himself. Again, Alysa watched avidly while his fingers expertly stimulated Jaquetta's vulva. Things of this nature she had seen before, but only as a participant, not a member of the audience. She even found herself empathizing somewhat with the audiences who'd watched her; she'd never realized that watching could be so stimulating.

Jaquetta lowered herself onto her elbows so she could squeeze her breasts with her hands. By the time orgasm took her she'd let her shoulders all the way down to the floor. She lay with her face turned to one size, eyes closed and mouth open, tongue hanging out. Her hips quivered at the moment of release, forcing Alysa to hurriedly shift the can. The price of failure would not have been severe, though; Jaquetta produced only a modest amount of nectar.

Frederick craned his neck. He'd noticed the low output of nectar and also that the can hadn't been empty to start with. "You're saving the nectar now?" he inquired.

"Yep." Alysa wiped some excess fluid from Jaquetta's crotch with her finger, then transferred it to her mouth.

"What for?" With his left hand- the one he'd laid across Jaquetta's rump- Frederick scooped out a taste of his own.

"Ice cream," Alysa replied, capping the can and placing it in the store room.

Frederick froze in the act of sucking the fluid off his finger. "That is... a truly remarkable suggestion," he commented.

"Do you know how to make ice cream?" Alysa inquired.

"In theory," Frederick replied, scooping out another finger full of nectar. "You need an ice cream maker, plus a supply of ice and rock salt."

"What's the salt for?" Alysa asked.

"You mix it with the ice," Frederick replied. "It makes the ice melt faster, so it absorbs more heat. Without it the ice cream wouldn't freeze." He thought a moment. "You'll also need a boiler to reduce the nectar and some way to skim your milk."

"Hmm." Alysa withdrew the dildo and set it aside, then sat on the floor and crossed her legs. "Getting the ice will be a problem. Everything else we can buy or get."

"Could we buy an ice-making machine?" Jaquetta wanted to know.

"It would be costly," Frederick pointed out. "Both to buy the machine and operate it. Ice making takes a lot of energy."

"It has to be available somehow," Alysa responded. "Mr. Hardesty must get it somewhere."

"The railroad brings it," Frederick replied. "They have an ice factory at Harrisburg."

"Then all we have to do is arrange deliveries," Alysa pointed out.

"And crush it," Frederick added. "It comes in great big blocks."

Alysa flexed her biceps. "If I can drive fence posts, I don't think a block of ice will be a problem."

Frederick nodded. Cracking ice wasn't the same as driving fence posts, but the difference was merely a matter of tools and training. "Money," he said.

Alysa snorted. "I'm surprised at you, of all people, saying that, Frederick. There's a group of boys who come out ever day to watch me work in the fields. With only minor effort I bet I could squeeze quite a haul out of them."

"Yes." Frederick sat back on his heels, stroking his chin. "But this isn't the big city, Alysa. Turning tricks on the street corner isn't going to cut it."

"People are still people," Alysa replied. "Who is it everyone goes to when they want something and don't want their neighbors to know about it?"

Frederick thought a moment before responding. Not that he didn't know the answer; Dirty Face was the man to see for any type of goods and Tonya Ingalls, who ran a bed-and-breakfast down the Junction, the one for what Alysa had in mind. He still didn't think she properly understood the difficulties of doing such things in a small-town environment.

"What about me?" Jaquetta asked. "Alysa's free; she can do what she wants. But I still belong to Jimmy."

Alysa's expression hardened. "I have a plan to deal with that. But it'll wait 'till morning." She rose smoothly to her feet. "Right now I want to play with my toy." She fixed Frederick with a look that, he was certain, should have set his fur on fire.

Oh, well, Frederick thought as Jaquetta scooped him up. I always knew my dick would get me killed someday. I just never figured it would be like this.

As #L4021 rolled up to Ruby Junction Curtis saw the station master standing on the platform, hands on his hips. "Bloody Hell," he muttered. Across the cab, Avlar looked stricken. "You be quiet and let me do the talking, okay?" Curtis instructed. Avlar nodded.

Curtis brought the train to a stop. "You're late," the station master announced, coming up to the cab window and folding his arms.

"We were on the way out, just past Dead Man's Curve, when this damn cow ran across the racks," Curtis said. "Caught me by surprise; I big-holed it. Since we'd stopped on the curve I decided it wouldn't hurt to have Avlar give the train a once-over. Everything was okay but it delayed us reaching Enterprise and the dispatcher there made us wait for the timber train."

"Huh." The station master's expression and demeanor didn't change. "Something like that happens you call me right away, y'hear?"

"Absolutely," Curtis quickly agreed.

"You'll have to shunt this by yourselves," the station master continued. "Terco and Billy've gone home."

"Sure," No problem," Curtis replied.

"Good." The stationmaster nodded. "See you tomorrow, then."

"Whew." Curtis heaved a sigh. "Dodged that one. Well, you heard the man, Avlar. Sooner done, sooner we can both go home."

"Amen," Avlar agreed, nodding energetically.

Shunting didn't take long; both Curtis and Avlar knew their business. The string of cars they'd picked up were quickly sorted and added on to one of three groups, depending on their destination. In the morning a main line crew would whisk them away while Curtis and Avlar did what they'd done today: collecting and distributing freight cars to small customers along the line. It may not have been the most glamorous job in the company but it needed doing and the crew of #L4021 did it well.

"Made it to the end of another one," Curtis said as he backed #L4021 into the shed. He set the brakes, removed the controller key, and switched off the compressor. Avlar lowered the trolley pole. "Fancy a swallow down at the tavern?" Curtis inquired as he exited the cab.

"No thanks." Avlar jumped to the ground. "Gotta get home. Rosalind's waiting, y'know." He waved and set off at only just short of a run.

"Huh." Curtis frowned, scratching his head. Pretty clearly Avlar had something on his mind. Curtis would have bet his chance at salvation that it was female and skunk-like. That definition fit Rosalind, true, but she didn't have four enormous, perfectly formed breasts. Merely the thought of which was enough to make sweat prickle on Curtis' brow. He shook his head to dispel those thoughts; a piece that fine would probably cost his entire salary for several years. Far more realistic to visit Mrs. Ingalls' Hospitality House. Where the young ladies were very hospitable indeed. Curtis found himself grinning merely at the thought. He fished his watch out of his pocket; it was later than usual but not that late. It wasn't as if he had anyone waiting for him, after all. He secured the locomotive shed with a padlock and went on his way, whistling happily.

Avlar arrived panting at his and Rosalind's house. It was not the trip that had set his heart to pounding; it was the exertions of his mind. All he could see were colossal breasts, as firm and perfectly round as ripe melons, the silky black fur covering them gleaming wetly in the sunlight. He could feel them under his hands, the proudly erect nipples between his fingers, between his lips. He shook his head. It didn't do any good; his penis strained against the inseam of his overalls. He took a deep breath, then opened the front door and stepped inside.

The residence Rosalind and Avlar shared was a modest sized dwelling, having only a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, parlor, basement, and finished attic. Still and all it wasn't half bad for a young couple just starting out it. That both family members worked at reasonably well paying jobs helped greatly; the household lacked little for comforts. The only problem was saving money to repay their clans.

Rosalind sat in the parlor. A pleasant string instrumental played on the combination radio and phonograph, an elegantly decorated cherry wood unit occupying the middle of one wall. A small side cabinet meant for dishes and silverware instead contained a fairly extensive record library.

"Oh!" Rosalind jumped to her feet. In truth it wasn't unusual for Avlar to come home at odd times; her schedule stayed pretty constant but in any given day he might work a little or a lot; sometimes he wouldn't be home for days. "I'm sorry. I didn't hear you come up. I'll get some dinner." She turned toward the kitchen.

Avlar opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He swallowed convulsively and his hands twitched. All day thinking of that beautiful skunkette left him feeling ready to explode. Jacking off at every opportunity hadn't helped. He still felt as hot as iron straight from the furnace; only quenching himself in soft, female flesh would cool the fire. Like that belonging to a certain female skunkie, something at the back of his mind suggested. He crushed that thought mercilessly; Rosalind was his wife. He'd sworn an oath, to love, honor, and cherish her, forsaking all others, until death do they part. He caught her arm, pulled her to him, and locked his mouth over hers. His tongue forced its way between her lips; his left hand gripped her shoulder; his right squeezed her rump.

Rosalind let out a muffled yelp. It wasn't like Avlar to be so aggressive. She tensed... but when his hand lifted her skirt and caressed her vulva her resistance melted. A corner of her mind pointed out that she'd fantasized about this very thing on more than one occasion. She'd imagined him ordering her to strip naked, then binding her hands and leading her around town with a rope, requiring her to fellate him whenever the notion took him, right in front of everyone. Of course she'd never told him; he was a gentle, considerate soul. Such things would shock him terribly. He might even decide that she wasn't the sort of woman he wanted for a wife, a prospect that terrified her unto death. Against that, if he wanted to play a little rough she wouldn't complain. Not that it would be any hardship; she lusted for him at least as much as he lusted for her. A beautiful, soft spoken boy like him could have had any woman he wanted, and he'd chosen her. That was an aphrodisiac more powerful than all his touches and caresses. Combined with them, she couldn't say no. She didn't want to.

Avlar released Rosalind's crotch long enough to remove her dress, bra, and panties, a process with required only a handful of seconds. The discarded clothing he let fall in a pile; it didn't matter any more. He gathered her in his arms, laying her on the couch and stimulating her ferociously, all four fingers of his right hand in her vagina, his left hand on her right breast, his tongue in her mouth. He squeezed, stroked, and licked until the fire in him abated somewhat, enough at least that he could contemplate what to do next. He stepped back from the couch, idly rubbing the fingers of his right hand. They were sopping wet. Rosalind lay on her back, legs apart, panting. Her vaginal orifice pouted at him, still partially dilated by the intrusion of his fingers. Her labia, bloody pink on the inside fading to silky black on the outside, glistened with fluid. His gaze shifted to her thighs, which were thick and fleshy. Her calves repeated the same fullness, to a lesser degree. Her feet were small and delicate, human style rather than paws, one planted on the couch and the other on the floor. Her bulging belly, framed by rolls of flesh over her hips, heaved with her short, gasping breaths. He grinned; Rosalind's plumpness was what had drawn him to her in the first place and remained, in his eyes at least, her most compelling feature. He loved to run his fingers through her fur, squeezing and rubbing her flesh as if kneading dough. During their courtship she'd spoken of loosing weight; he'd gently but firmly discouraged those thoughts. He fantasized about her with an enormous, bulging belly, one so large he couldn't see over it with his face between her legs. He even encouraged her to gain weight, though only very gently. He understood that getting too heavy would make her job at the cafe more difficult. His gaze rose once more... and he found himself looking at the only thing about Rosalind that could possibly be considered less than perfect. Her breasts weren't small, exactly; one could tuck a pencil under them. Avlar had done so once, just to see if he could. The pencils remained in place even when she stood up. But nothing larger would, and the pencils stayed more because of how her breasts sagged, not their size. Sometimes he imagined Rosalind with great big, floppy boobs like Mrs. Franelli; that would make her everything he could ever possibly want. It wouldn't be hard to arrange; any reasonably competent gene engineer could make her breasts whatever size and shape was desired. But asking her to do it was absolutely out of the question; in taking her as his wife he'd agreed to have all of her, not just bits and pieces. The contract also included an implied "as is" clause; nothing in the agreement allowed him to say he was only married if Rosalind enlarged her boobs. Besides which she was a caring person, a great cook, and shared interests with him. What more could he possibly want?

How 'bout four breasts, for a start?

Avlar's expression hardened. Rosalind was his wife. She and she alone commanded his sexual favor. He couldn't seem to stop himself from dreaming about others... but he could make sure that only Rosalind sated his desire. He slipped his arms out of the overall straps and slowly removed his shirt, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He kicked off his shoes, then undid the side buttons on is overalls and let them fall around his feet. He stepped out of them, hooking his thumbs under the waistband on his underpants and slowly lowering them.

Rosalind said nothing. The naked lust in Avlar's eyes held her captivated. In her heart of hearts she never had understood why he'd chosen her when Clan Periwistle had so many much prettier girls to offer him. Any one of whom would have gladly taken him, handsome as he was. And yet he acted as if he'd landed the very best of the lot. Rosalind had never once seen him give even the slightest indication that he'd considered any other choice, even for a second. Nor did it appear that he did so now, either; she saw pretty girls everywhere but to Avlar they didn't seem to exist.

When Avlar's hands moved to his waist Rosalind's eyes followed. His erection strained at the front of his underpants, lifting the material away from his thighs. As he pushed the garment down his tool caught under the band. He had to lift the material over it. He let the garment fall at his feet, revealing his proudly erect manhood in all its glory.

Rosalind sighed. Avlar was not an imposing individual; he stood only a couple finger widths taller than Rosalind herself. He'd always been slender and remained so in spite of the fact that she fed him generously. Working on the railroad kept him fit but did not, at least in his position, bulk him up. His penis, though, might not have looked out of place in combination with a larger, more imposing figure. Fully erect, Rosalind could not close her thumb and forefinger around it without squeezing, and she could place her hands side by side around the shaft, though one would cover the head. Large veins snaked over its surface like vines around a tree trunk. The head flared sharply, with a pronounced rim.

Avlar's penis hadn't always looked like that. One evening, not too long after their marriage, he'd come home with a collection of dildos in various shapes and sizes and asked Rosalind which one she liked the best. She'd demurred but in the end gave herself away: he found the one she used when he was away. He then left on what he claimed was a long assignment... and returned with his new penis.

If asked Rosalind would say that Avlar changing his tool made no difference. The measure of a man wasn't his cock. On the other hand, that this man who gave of himself so fully and without reservation should do so, and solely for her pleasure, mattered a great deal. And it was fun to play with. She rose to her feet, coming up to him and putting her hands on his hips. "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you too, Rosalind." Avlar hugged her tightly, stroking her back with one hand and her head with the other. His penis pressed against her belly and crotch. She sighed, reveling in the sensation of it, and him, pressed against her. Then she slipped an arm around his waist, settling her hand on his rump, and guided him toward the bathroom. She knew exactly what she was doing when she bent over to adjust the taps, one knee propped up on the rim of the tub. She even lifted her tail a bit to make sure there wouldn't be any mistake.

Avlar grinned. The sight of Rosalind's beautifully plump, heart-shaped buttocks, especially in this particular position, never failed to set his blood on fire. It didn't matter how tired or sore he was; she had only to invite and he'd discover the strength to serve her, no matter how long it took. He stepped forward, lightly caressing her rump with his hands but standing far enough back that the head of his penis didn't touch her. There'd be plenty of time for that later. After a moment he lay his right hand against her crotch, caressing her vulva. Her labia, already hot and wet, kissed his palm. He parted them with his fingers and thrust his hand in.

Avlar's book learning was basic; he had at best only dim idea what a vulva might be and talk of the Grafenberg Spot would leave him baffled, but he knew where to put his hands to make Rosalind squeal, and counted that quite good enough. While his right probed her vagina his left slid up her flank and onto her breast. He loved the way they dangled under her when she bent over; he took it in hand, squeezing it gently and pressing it against her chest. She hissed, bracing her hands and thrusting her hips against him. He increased the force and tempo of his own thrusts to match hers. By the time he felt her shiver with orgasm the tub was nearly full; he drew his hand out of her and casually licked it. She sighed, straightened up, gave him a peck on the cheek, and unwrapped the netting around his tail. That done she handed him into the tub, settling him on his back. He smiled; the water felt wonderful. As always she'd adjusted the temperature just right. Nor could he fault the view, as she bent over him. She returned his smile and picked up a cake of soap. She lathered up her hands and set to his arms, massaging and lathering them at the same time. He couldn't resist fondling her breasts and belly; when she bent close he licked her nose and nuzzled her cheek. She giggled, which made her breasts and belly bounce in a particularly delightful fashion.

"Hmm, I think this'll require some special treatment," Rosalind murmured once she'd reached Avlar's crotch, lightly fingering the shaft of his penis. "And I know just the thing." She stepped into the tub, kneeling over Avlar's hips, taking his shaft gently between two fingers, and holding it steady while she lowered herself onto it. With it completely inside her she wiggled her hips to settle herself, then leaned forward, running her hands through Avlar's chest fur. She caressed his pectorals the same way he'd caressed her breasts; she even bent down and sucked on his nipples. His arms remained at his side; this was her time, to enjoy his body however she wished. She sniggled against him, thrusting with her hips, running her tongue along his throat and chin, then across his lips. Her vagina squeezed and stroked his penis while her tongue penetrated his mouth; he closed his eyes and surrendered to her, letting her take him where she willed. After a time she sat up, bracing her hands on his chest, pumping her hips faster. "C'mon, darling, give it to me," she purred, lolling out her tongue. "Send those little spermies on their way to the promised land!"

For just an instant Avlar felt a pang. However warm and inviting Rosalind's vagina might be, her womb was a barren, rocky shore on which his seed would find no purchase. For that matter, his seed wouldn't sprout even were she as fertile as West Mazama itself. By law Morphs, even free ones, weren't permitted to self-reproduce. Fecundity was a right held only and exclusively by humans. Avlar would have given anything- even his own life- to see Rosalind's belly swell with new life he'd quickened within it... but that wouldn't ever happen. He might as well dream about being President. The only way he and Rosalind would ever have a child was if they purchased one from a germ plasm lab.

But it was an old pain, and pleasure in the moment quickly washed it away. "C'mon, I know it's in there," Rosalind gasped, pumping even harder. "Give it to me... give it to me..."

Avlar gritted his teeth, his whole body tensing. White-hot pleasure boiled up out of his crotch and erupted from the head of his penis. With each pulse he bucked, slamming his hips against Rosalind's. Finally he expended himself and settled back smiling dreamily.

"Mmm, thank you, baby," Rosalind murmured, cuddling against him and nuzzling his cheeks. He wrapped his arms around her, snuggling her against him. His penis slipped out of her.

Rosalind cuddled a bit but she wasn't finished, not by a long shot. His lust had awaked her own; she intended to wring every gram of pleasure to be had from his beautiful boy. She rose, swapping ends, and settled back down. His penis lay against his legs, glistening with their mingled fluids, soft and shrunken. She picked it up with her fingers and guided it to her mouth, sucking it in like a noodle. Some women she knew wouldn't fellate a man after having vaginal intercourse with him, but it didn't bother her in the least. If anything, the mixed male and female flavors only excited her more. She sucked and licked, teasing and stimulating him, coaxing him until she felt the first stirrings of returning erection. He, meanwhile, was only laying there, so she bumped her vulva against his chin to remind him of his duty.

Avlar gripped Rosalind's hips, steering them into optimal position, then started licking the mingled fluids out of the fur in her crotch. That in itself made him a one in a million find; he didn't mind cleaning up his own mess, as it were. Rosalind sucked harder; he teased her labia, then reached inside with his tongue, scooping he cum out her. Her own ministrations faltered as she felt heat building up inside her; she let his penis slip out of her mouth so she wouldn't bite it accidentally and clutched tightly at his thighs. His hands left her hips and found her breasts, squeezing them and flicking the nipples. She gasped. Waves of pleasure surged up and withdrew, not quite breaking. She whimpered. He crushed her breasts against her chest, his tongue finding her magic button and pressing it firmly. She mewleled, digging her nails into his legs and clenching her thighs tightly around his chest while surge after surge of pleasure burst inside her like Union Day fireworks. When they abated she attacked his penis with renewed vigor. Not much later she tasted the first drops of pre-ejaculate on her tongue, then his semen erupted into her mouth. She gulped it down as if nursing from him, swallowing every last drop. Some women she knew wouldn't do that, either; they complained about the flavor. Rosalind felt they were missing the point. One didn't swallow cum because it tasted good. She swallowed Avlar's because he swallowed hers, and without the slightest hesitation. She'd even say she enjoyed it... but the flavor had nothing to do with it.

Rosalind got up, drew the curtain, and turned on the shower head. Living in town as they did, running water was readily available. The Mazama Traction Company provided ample power for pumping and heating. Also, since both of them were company employees, they got their domestic electricity as a discount rate.

Avlar lay for a while, watching Rosalind rinse, then got up and helped her, rubbing her back and tail. She did the same for him. He got to the curry comb first, so she stood while he brushed her. As well as picking loose hairs from her pelt it removed the most of the water as well. That, followed by a brisk rub-down with a pair of terrycloth towels, and a once-over with a regular brush, left them both shiny clean and only mildly damp. Still naked they went arm and into the master bedroom and snuggled in together. There may or may not be any further play that particular evening but if so they'd be ready.

"You're the only girl for me," Avlar whispered, gently stroking Rosalind's cheek.

"I'll always be here for you," Rosalind replied, nuzzling his throat.

Nevertheless, as he drifted off Avlar couldn't help imagining Rosalind with four breasts. His penis stiffened, pressing against her side. She murmured something, wrapped her legs around his hips, and rolled onto her back, drawing him on top of her. He eased into position, caressing her with his body, thrusting slowly and gently.

"Do you ever think of other women?" Rosalind asked.

The question paralleled Avlar's thoughts so closely he couldn't help flinching. With their bodies coupled so Rosalind couldn't possibly miss it, either. For an terrifying instant Avlar wondered what he could do... but there was only one thing to do. "Yes," he admitted, caressing Rosalind's cheeks with his fingertips. "I do sometimes. And every time it happens I come home and make love to you." He kissed her tenderly on the nose.

"Hmm." Rosalind considered. "You always come home and make love to me. Does that mean you're always thinking of other women?"

The conversation seemed to be headed south at full speed... or Rosalind was playing with him. "Absolutely," Avlar declared. "My mind is a seething cauldron of unrequited lust."

"Then I'll just have to make sure you're too tired to run away," Rosalind said with a chuckle. "Giddyap." Her heels thumped Avlar's buttocks.

Avlar whinnied. Rosalind giggled. The lights stayed on for a while longer.

Jimmy sat in his office, staring at his desk. Papers- bills, mostly- covered it. Sales receipt for Alysa. A scribbled note of the amount he'd paid for her certificate of manumission. Materials for repairing the barn and field worker's shack after Henry and his cronies shot them up. Alysa's medical care. Repairs for damage she'd inflicted, court costs, and fines. Shipping charges to get Jilly and Jaquetta from Mazama to Brooks. Food for Jilly, which consisted of heating oil, kerosene, naptha, paraffin, and acid washed pulp from the paper plant over in Albany. An estimation of how much Jaquetta's feed cost, made worse by the knowledge that a certain percentage of that food money went- literally- down the drain in the form of nectar he couldn't for the life of him imagine how to market. Plus meat he'd have to start buying because he didn't have enough chickens to meet their minimum protein requirements. Regeneratives he'd guilted himself into buying for Jimbo. Who would be returning today, along with a bill for his care. He picked up Jaquetta's deed, running his finger along the ornately embossed edge. Her milk alone didn't generate quite enough revenue to offset her maintenance costs, and because of her black fur she could only work in the fields at dawn, dusk, or night. Otherwise she overheated even more quickly than Alysa. Who was herself only a middling field hand; though strong and well trained in basic physical tasks she knew nothing about farming and had to be taught every little thing. On top of which she was much too easily distracted, abandoning her work in favor of sexual interludes that seemed to be getting longer and longer. Last night she'd left the cultivator outside!

With a sigh Jimmy dropped the deed and leaned back in his char, rubbing his temples. What he really wanted was for everything to go back like it had been before.

"Jimmy?" someone rapped on the window.

Jimmy started, spinning his chair around. Alysa crouched there, in what remained of the garden Darla had insisted he plant. "Yes, what?" he demanded crossly.

Alysa made a lifting gesture. Jimmy sighed and opened the window. "Yes?"

"May I have Jaquetta for a while?"

For a moment Jimmy said nothing. Then he turned, looking at the papers on his desk. Jaquetta's deed lay on top, where he'd dropped it. "Sure," he said suddenly, taking up his pen and signing on the line indicating that he released legal interest. Just because he couldn't sell her didn't mean he couldn't give her away. "Just sign here and she's all yours." He thrust the deed out the window.

Alysa took the paper, turned it over, and studied it for a moment. "Thanks," she said brightly, tucking the deed into her back pocket and blowing Jimmy a kiss.

For a time Jimmy stared. That wasn't the reaction he expected. At the moment, though, he really didn't care. Not owning Jaquetta meant he wasn't responsible for her. He felt a great a great weight coming off his shoulders.

"Doctor Holiday is here, my lord," Jilly announced.

"Huh?" Jimmy looked up. Once he got a good look Jilly's half-heard comment vanished completely from his mind.

Jilly wore a chartreuse colored, sleeveless sun dress whose low-cut bodice framed her bosom with a pleated fringe. On her belly and hips the material conformed closely to Jilly's curves, and the pleated skirt left her knees bare. That in itself would have been startling enough had not Jilly's soft, feline fur been a bright, florescent green in color. Her arms and legs were not, and in fact lacked fur at all, being apparently made of brightly polished silver, except that the material flexed as easily as flesh at the joints.

"W- what?" Jimmy managed, eyes bulging.

"Ilsa and Jimbo have arrived," Jilly said.

"Oh." Jimmy rubbed his face, mainly to avoid looking at Jilly for a moment. "Go along and meet them; I'll be out in a bit."

"Yes, my lord." Jilly withdrew.

Jimmy sat a moment longer- just enough to make sure Jilly would be out of the house- then rose and followed. Much to his surprise he met her in the parlor, where Ilsa and Jimbo already waited. "Oh," he exclaimed.

"Hello, Jimmy." Ilsa Holiday rose, taking Jimmy's hand and shaking it. "And as I promised here he is, good as new." She half-turned, indicating Jimbo with her free hand.

Jimbo really was good as new, Jimmy had to admit. If Ilsa hadn't told him- if he hadn't seen the blood stains in the field worker's shack- Jimmy never would have believed that a shotgun blast had reduced Jimbo's face and chest to gory ruin. Skillful reconstruction and carefully applied regeneratives had repaired every trace of damage. Even the scars and blemishes from old wounds had been erased. The work was so good it wiped about a decade from Jimbo's apparent age; now he looked more like Carty's older brother rather than his father. His muscle mass looked excellent in spite of his hospitalization and he even had new overalls. Though the fact that he stared in open amazement at Jilly did spoil the effect just a little.

"That's Jilly," Jimmy explained. "She's a Bioroid. She.. handles the milking and tidies up around the place." Jimmy glanced around the parlor; it looked better than it had since Darla left. Better than it ever had when was here, for that matter. A week ago the curtains had been torn and stained; today they looked fresh from the store. He knew for fact Jilly hadn't bought new ones, so she must have cleaned and stitched the old ones, but she'd done it so expertly he couldn't tell just by looking. "I- got her as a result of my business in Mazama," he added hastily, seeing the question in Jimbo's face. "And-" he couldn't help wincing- "another, ah, milk producer to go with Alysa. Though Jaquetta's actually a skunk and doesn't lay eggs-" Jimmy cut himself off, realizing that he'd begun to babble. "Oh, God, Jimbo, I can't tell you how glad I am to have you back!" Jimmy threw his arms around Jimbo and hugged him tightly.

Jimbo was clearly startled by the unexpected intimacy but after a moment his expression softened. "It's good to be back, boss," he said, patting Jimmy on the shoulder. "When I saw that shotgun coming up I figured I was a goner for sure."

Jimmy appeared to decide suddenly that he was being overly emotional and broke the clench somewhat awkwardly. "Jimbo, those girls are sure pretty to look at and strong as horses to boot, but I swear, making them into proper field hands is gonna be the death of me."

Jimbo grinned. "Good thing I'm here to whip 'em into shape, eh?"

"You got that right." Jimmy grinned, thumping Jimbo on the shoulder. "Where's Carty?" he asked, looking around.

"Outside," Jilly replied. "He won't come in unless you ask him."

"Carty!" Jimmy bellowed. "Get your butt in here!"

Carty dashed inside. "Yeah, boss?" he asked breathlessly.

"Look who's back," Jilly replied, indicating Jimbo with a gesture.

Carty opened his mouth, then shut it. Then, as with Jimmy, emotion overcame him and he hugged Jimbo even more fiercely that Jimmy had.

Ilsa watched Jimbo and Carty but also Jimmy, out the corner of her eye. Thus she noticed the tears in his eyes, even though he turned away to wipe them and covered the motion with a quiet cough. She allowed herself a little smile, and had to dab at her own eyes.

"Come have a look at the shack," Jimmy said. "Jilly's really fixed it up. Frederick- oh, there you are."

Frederick came out of the kitchen, carrying a tray loaded with mugs. After passing out the drinks he tucked the tray under his arm.

Jimmy took a mug without really thinking about it. It wasn't until he had it up to his face, about to take a drink, that he became consciously aware of what he was doing. The contents of the mug had been chilled, which altered the character of it somewhat, but not so much that Jimmy failed to recognize the odor wafting up to his nostrils. He jerked the mug away as if he'd been about to take a drink of battery acid.

Jimbo also hesitated when he noticed the smell but took a drink anyway. Jimmy opened his mouth to shout a warning but it was too late. He looked around, and to his horror everyone was drinking, even Carty who should have known better.

"Mmm, this is delicious," Ilsa said, swirling the contents of her mug. "What is it?"

"Iced tea flavored with nectar," Frederick replied.

"Nectar? What kind?"

Jimmy's mouth worked. He knew exactly what kind of nectar; he'd smelled it often enough, mostly on Frederick. Now even Ilsa was drinking it, as if it were nothing at all.

"Jimmy?" Ilsa frowned. "Are you all right?" His face had lost all color, his eyes staring emptily, his mouth hanging slightly open.

"I- it-" Jimmy stammered.

"Here, sit down." Ilsa guided Jimmy to a seat. "What's wrong? Did you inhale your drink?"

Jimmy had almost regained control of himself when he saw Frederick refreshing drinks from a pitcher. He let out a strangled sound, his limbs twitching uselessly.

"Jimmy?" Ilsa sounded worried now. "Jimbo, get my bag."

"Right away, Doc." Jimbo left, returning a moment later with Ilsa's kit. She took Jimmy's pulse, then opened his shirt and listened to his chest with a stethoscope.

Jimmy took several deep breaths. "I'm all right!" he shouted, pushing Ilsa aside and struggling upright. "Frederick! Just what the Hell do you think you're doing?"

"Serving drinks," Frederick replied, as if it were nothing at all.

"He's just being hospitable, isn't he?" Ilsa asked, frowning.

"Do you know-" Jimmy began, then stopped dead, realizing that he'd have to tell Ilsa wherefrom the fruity-flavored sweetener in her tea had come. He swallowed, his face changing from flushed to ashen in the blink of an eye.

Ilsa's eyes narrowed, in perplexity and then in calculation. "Frederick," she said, "What did you sweeten this tea with? I don't recognize the flavor."

"Nectar," Frederick replied.

"What kind of nectar?" Ilsa continued.

"Skunk," Frederick replied.

Ilsa blinked. "I'm sorry, did you say skunk?" Jimmy moaned.

"Yes, ma'am." Frederick nodded. "Jaquetta produces it, instead of eggs."

"My word." Ilsa looked thoughtfully at her mug, then took another drink. "What will they think of next," she added with a chuckle. "Fill me up, Frederick." She offered her mug. Frederick topped it.

"But- but-" Jimmy goggled. "Ilsa, don't you see?" exclaimed, unable to restrain himself any longer. "That stuff is skunk cum!"

Even as the words left his mouth Jimmy realized what he'd done. And there was no going back. His mouth worked, then he keeled over in a dead faint.

"Morning, boss," Jimbo said. "Felling better?"

Jimmy pulled the towel off his face with a muttered curse. He wanted so much to believe that last night had been nothing but a horrific nightmare, but Jimbo's presence showed otherwise. Not to mention the horrible ache in Jimmy's forehead, the result of him cracking his head on a table after fainting.

"The store room's full of milk and eggs," Jimbo added. "Time to head into town."

"Right." Gingerly, Jimmy rolled out of bed. He hissed as movement caused his forehead to throb.

Jimbo cleared his throat.

"Do you have a problem. Jimbo?" Jimmy demanded icily.

"Oh no," Jimbo replied breezily. "If you're okay I'll see you outside?"

"Yes," Jimmy replied flatly.

Jimbo withdrew. On his way out he cleared his throat again, then coughed. Then he muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "skunk cum" and giggled.

"Bloody Hell," Jimmy growled, dabbing tentatively at his forehead. It ached but he wasn't dizzy, so it shouldn't be anything worse than a bruise. He showered, dressed, and went outside. By them Jimbo had moved on to other chores, thankfully, so Jimmy didn't encounter him again. He went around to the storage room and found Alysa loading milk cans onto the truck. Which was an unusual sight; she hadn't ever before showed any interest in what happened to the milk after she expressed it. But she was saving him work, so the whys didn't concern him unduly. Not until he popped the lid off a can and found it full of nectar instead of milk. "Alysa!" he shouted, planting his hands on his hips. "What in the world are you doing?"

"Loading the truck," Alysa replied, setting another can on the bed.

"This can is full of- of nectar!" Jimmy exclaimed.

"Yep." Alysa loaded the last two cans. "It's going to Mr. Hardesty."

For a moment the world seemed to dim, flickering in and out of focus. When lucidity returned Jimmy found himself clutching the roll bar while Alysa waited with hands outstretched to catch him if he fell. "Alysa," he said tensely, "Exactly what do you think Mr. Hardesty is going to do with all this nectar?"

"Make ice cream," Alysa replied.

The thought of everyone in Brooks County eating nectar flavored ice cream very nearly did Jimmy in. He wavered, eyelids fluttering, but this time it wasn't too late. He'd caught the delivery before it left. "Alysa, that's absurd," he said. "No one will buy it!"

"Everyone who's tasted the nectar so far loves it," Alysa pointed out.

"I don't care!" Jimmy shrilled in a voice tinged with hysteria. "You are not selling this nectar!"

"Why not?" Alysa wanted to know.

"I forbid it!"

"On what grounds?"

Jimmy blinked. The whole scene had taken on an atmosphere of nightmarish unreality. He was arguing with his milk vixen about selling skunk cum as food. "On the grounds that it's mine!" he shouted, that being the first meaningful thought that popped into his head. "I own Jaquetta, so what she produces is mine too!"

"I beg to differ." Alysa produced the deed, indicating with her finger where Jimmy had signed and where she'd signed below it. "This document indicates that Jaquetta belongs to me, and therefore so does her nectar." She put the deed away. "Aside from that, why not sell it? Would you rather go broke feeding her? At least this way she's earning money. Frederick thinks we can sell nectar to the railroad cafe, just like we do with my eggs. Ilsa thinks the nectar-sweetened ice tea could be a big hit."

"What do you propose to do if someone asks where it comes from?" Jimmy wanted to know.

"We just say Jaquetta produces it."

"What if they want to know how she produces it?"

Alysa grinned. "No one's asked yet. If they do we'll say she lays soft fruit. When we squeeze the fruit, this is what comes out."

Jimmy opened his mouth to savage that ridiculous notion but closed it without speaking. The thought struck him that he was about to tell an egg-laying vixen that the notion of a fruit-laying skunk was absurd. From that perspective, the grounds for his objection didn't seem nearly as solid. Besides, if Alysa's cover story let him sell the nectar, surely it couldn't be all that bad. "Well... okay then," he allowed, rubbing his chin. "But what makes you so sure Mr. Hardesty will have any interest in making this new flavor?"

"Ilsa helped us make up a test batch yesterday," Alysa replied. "She took a sample into town for Mr. Hardesty and dropped off the first load of nectar at the same time. If everything went smoothly he could be selling the first production batch right now."

"Really?" Jimmy's eyes widened. "Well. Ain't that... remarkable." He checked the lashings, making sure all the cans were secure. "I'll see you after I've dropped these off."

"'Bye." Alysa waved. Jimmy waved back as he drove out of the yard. She watched him out of sight, then drew Jaquetta's deed from her pocket. "Now we take care of this," she pronounced. "All I need now is the eight Tar transaction fee." She turned, gazing off toward the trees lining the near edge of the upper field. "And I know just where to get it."

Alysa paused, testing the air. Yes indeed; her quarry lay exactly where she'd expected to find them. She left the trail and moved through the bushes, stepping carefully so as not to make noise. She peered around a tree... and there they were, laying on their bellies behind a thin screen of brush, eagerly watching the field Alysa had been tilling two days ago.

"I don't think she's coming back," Benny Hagar commented.

"Ah, keep your shirt on," Alex McClusky interjected. "With Jimbo in hack she's doing most of the farm work. She'll be back."

"I sure hope so," Alex's brother Sam put in. "Damn, that is one fine piece of ass!"

The boys giggled.

"So what would you do if you got her alone?" Mike Hagar asked, jabbing Alex in the ribs.

"Can't tell ya," Alex replied. "You're too young to know about that sort of thing."

The boys laughed again, even Mike.

Alysa eased out from behind her tree. Frankly, it saddened her to think that she, a three meter tall city slicker, could so easily sneak up on a passel of country-bred fellows like this. On the other hand, it wasn't much of a surprise, either. They had the smell of pussy firmly in their nostrils, and that could make a man- particularly a young one- overlook quite a bit. She settled into a crouch, a maneuver calculated to make her appear less threatening, placed the bucket she'd brought upside down on the ground, and rested her hand on it. "Hi," she said. "What'cha looking at?"

All four of them spun around at once, gaping in shock. It was all Alysa could do not to roll her eyes; Alex McClusky smoked whenever he got the chance and his brother had rather relaxed ideas about personal hygiene. She could almost smell them against the wind, and it was a dead certainty that they- or ones like them- would be here, as surely as honey drew flies.

"We ain't doin' nothin," Sam insisted petulantly.

"What are you doing here?" Benny challenged. "Does Jimmy know you're out?"

"That's neither here nor there," Alysa replied breezily, tapping her fingers against the bottom the bucket. "Jimmy doesn't own me. I'm free to come and go as I wish."

Sam opened his mouth, Alex silenced him with a jab. "Why're you here then?" he demanded.

"'Cause of you boys," Alysa replied. "Don't think I haven't noticed you out here, peeking through the bushes. Pretty dedicated too; you're out here almost every day, even when it rains."

"So what?" Alex wanted to know. "We ain't hurtin' nothin'. We ain't trespassing, neither. This ain't Jimmy's land."

"I know that." Alysa settled onto her knees. "In fact... It's rather nice, having and audience. Knowing that what I do is... appreciated."

"You offering something?" Alex asked, rolling to his feet and moving forward. He was a lanky youth but not exceptionally tall; his face wasn't much higher than Alysa's.

"It saddens me to think about you boys out here every day, watching and watching, without ever getting a chance to... participate," Alysa replied. She turned the bucket over. "I hear my milk's quite popular in town. Jimmy makes a bundle on it. But it's mine now, not his. So I thought you might like to buy a bucketful. I'll even let you fill it yourselves."

Alysa saw the comprehension dawn on their faces, at different speeds. Alex, who struck her as the quickest, if not the wisest, of the group, clued in first. "How much?" he demanded.

"Empty your pockets," Alysa replied, tapping bucket.

Sam's hand dipped into his pocket but Alex stopped him. "What would Jimmy say if I told him about this?"

"What would your daddy say if I told him you were over here instead of doing your chores?" Alysa countered. She rose. "If you don't want to buy that's fine. I'll find someone who will."

"We didn't say we wouldn't," Alex said quickly. "But you want us to just start throwing money? C'mon."

"You see any other milk vixens around here?" Alysa inquired. "It's what's called a seller's market." She crouched again, setting the bucket out before her. "You start tossing money in. I'll tell you when it's enough. Otherwise quit wasting my time."

Alex opened his mouth but Benny grabbed his arm. "Look, she's shaking us down," Alex hissed. He even covered his mouth with his hand. Alysa resisted the urge to laugh; he obviously had no practical experience of vulpine hearing.

"Sure, but if we don't pay she'll go shake someone who will and then we're on the shitpile, money or no," Benny pointed out.

"Yeah, right," Alex growled. But his hand dipped into his pocket and came out with a wad of cash. The others quickly followed suit, tossing money into the bucket.

Alysa lifted the bucket and peered into it. Coins- of small denominations- and a couple bills lay in the bottom. Five and a half Tars maximum. She brought out her right hand and lay down the length of iron pipe she'd held concealed behind her thigh, then counted the money.

Sam stiffened noticeably when the pipe appeared. Rumors had spread like wildfire about Henry and his ill-fated kidnapping attempt, as if the trial itself weren't sensational enough. Alysa glanced up, as if in surprise. "Well, I know you're all fine, upstanding boys," she said, "But a girl can't be too careful, what with everything and all, can she?"

"No ma'am," Sam said, reluctantly tearing his eyes away from the pipe.

Alysa nodded. She set the pipe aside; the point was made. There wouldn't be any funny business now. "I suppose this'll do for a first time," she allowed, pouring the money into her hand and slipping into the front pocket of her overalls. "Next time bring more. Two Tars each."

"Yes ma'am," Sam replied. Alex scowled. Benny and Mike crowded forward eagerly.

"I don't have a stool, so you'll just have to sit here on the ground," Alysa said. "Right here." She took Sam's hand and guided him to the proper location. With him sitting and holding he bucket between his legs Alysa languidly slid the overall straps off her shoulders and slowly unbuttoned her shirt. She preferred going without a shirt but in this particular case the effect achieved by removing it was worth the inconvenience. The expressions on the boys' faces as they beheld her naked mammaries were such that she suspected they'd consider their money well spent if she gave them only that. But she'd promised milk so she'd deliver. Besides, she planned to hook them on her charms, then squeeze them until they squeaked. Giving them a liberal dose now was an investment in the future. With her torso appropriately bared she got onto her hands and knees, placing her upper right nipple directly over the bucket.

Sam's eyes widened until Alysa was sure they'd fall right out of his face. He brought his hands up but couldn't seem to muster the coordination to actually take hold of her nipple.

"Oh, for love of-" Alex began.

"Relax," Alysa cut in soothingly. "He's just getting ready. Aren't you dearie?" She took his hand, rubbing it gently until it stopped quaking. Then she placed it against her breast. He drew a shuddering breath. She couldn't help thinking that the last breast Sam had touched was probably his mother's. "Here, it's just like milking a cow," she said, moving his fingers into position. "A gentle squeeze, and little tug... there you go." A bit of milk dribbled into the bucket.

"Aw, you're never gonna fill it like that!" Mike exclaimed.

"So what?" Alysa responded. "You bought a bucket of milk. Don't matter how long it takes to fill."

"I wanna go!" Benny exclaimed, pushing forward.

"Wait your turn," Alex snapped.

"It- It stopped!" Sam squeaked.

"Gently, gently," Alysa admonished as Sam began to tug frantically. "Squeeze and pull. Squeeze and pull. There, like that. No problem at all." She kept her hand over his, guiding him gently. He giggled hysterically and stroked the bottom of her breast with his other hand. "Other way," she advised.

"Huh?" Sam froze.

"She means with the fur, not against it, doofus," Alex said.

"Yeah, yeah," Sam retorted, flushing hotly. He reversed the direction of his strokes.

Alysa sighed mentally. It seemed this might be more difficult that she'd imagined; Sam felt as tense and over-wound watch spring. Only the steadying presence of her hand kept him from jerking painfully at her nipple. She hadn't really anticipated that her customers would be so very inexperienced.

Finally Sam developed a reasonably good technique and the milk came more readily. He laughed, aiming it at different parts of the bucket. "Okay, that's it," Alysa said, gently but firmly detaching his hand from her breast. "Next up."

"Me!" Alex muscled Sam out of the way and say down. Alysa gave him her lower right breast. He proved better... and worse. He seemed to know how to milk, but he also thought he knew how to properly stimulate a woman's nipples. "Don't pinch," she admonished.

"Ahh, you love it," he snickered. So did the others.

"No I don't," Alysa replied, still speaking calmly. "Anyway, you'll get more milk if you don't squeeze so hard."

"Now why would I want that?" Alex inquired. "You said yourself it don't matter how long it takes to fill the bucket." He twisted, as if Alysa's nipple were a dial on a radio.

Alysa reared back. Alex scrambled away, kicking the bucket over. "Aw, man!" Benny exclaimed, watching the milk soak into the ground. Sam, on the other hand, kept glancing between Alysa and Alex, who glared at one another.

"Bitch!" Alex snarled. His hand flashed out-

Alex's wrist slapped into Alysa's hand. She closed her fingers and twisted; bones grated but didn't quite break. Alex shrieked, twisting over backwards to relieve the strain on his arm. "I told you, no pinching," she said, calmly as ever. She gave his arm one last twist, then let him go. He slumped back, clutching the injured limb to his side. "You two," Alysa added, glancing at Benny and Mike. "Persuade your friend here not to be a pill and I'll let you finish off the bucket."

Benny and Mike glanced at one another, then grabbed Alex by the collar- one on each side- and dragged him into the bushes. Commotion raged for a few minutes, then stopped abruptly. Benny and Mike returned, scuffed, bruised, and a little bloodied. Alex did not. Alysa gave them access to her left side breasts and they managed about a quarter bucket each. With that she judged her obligation fulfilled; Alex has forfeited his share and spilled Sam's. She retrieved her shirt and pipe, leaving the bucket, and headed back to the road. Along the way she dressed and quickly re-counted the money. Between it, her own, and what she'd borrowed from Frederick, she came out forty-two cents in the clear. With the pipe over her shoulder, and after verifying that Jaquetta's deed was still nestled safely against her belly, she set out for town.

Jaquetta lay face down on what would have been a queen sized double bed for a regular person, but only accommodated her torso. Her legs hung over the edge, her knees on the floor. Blocks lifted the bed to such a height that her knees would rest on the floor without putting undue strain on them or her hips. Her head rested on a pillow her hands gripped with hysterical strength, threatening to tear it right open. Before her, on the barn floor, Frederick danced in the nude, to music coming from a battered gramophone. He flexed sinuously and twirled languidly, thrusting his hips forward and letting his head fall back, his tongue lolling out. One hand stroked his chest, the other along the shaft of his penis, as if masturbating in slow motion.

Alysa knelt on the floor next to the bed, behind Jaquetta, holding a milk can in one hand while her other one thrust hard and deep into Jaquetta's vagina. From long experience she recognized he signs of Jaquetta's peaking ecstasy and pulled her hand out a bare instant before the first spurt of nectar splashed into the can. When the flow slacked off and the last bit threatened to drizzle down the side of the bed she moved the can aside and licked it up. Frederick knelt on the opposite side of the bed, stroking Jaquetta's head and kissing her tenderly. Alysa rose, capping the can and carrying it to the store room. Jaquetta rolled onto her back, drawing her legs up. Frederick brought a wheeled cart loaded with foodstuffs up next to the bed and fed Jaquetta sliced fruit, vegetables, and bits of meat. She stroked his chest and fondled his genitals.

As she emerged from the store room Alysa paused, a troubled expression flitting across her face. To maintain production of nectar Jaquetta needed more than just water, vegetables, and some meat. She also needed a lot of sugar- hence the fruit- and more importantly, stimulation. Her body produced nectar the same way a man's produced semen: as a function of sexual arousal. Bringing her to orgasm every now and then wasn't enough; she produced nectar, but not much. She needed to be kept as horny as possible in the times between milkings. So Alysa and Frederick worked out this system: one of them danced or necked with Jaquetta while the other worked the "back end."

There wasn't any one part of that process Alysa could have said she didn't like. She'd always enjoyed dancing and Jaquetta could be a very appreciative audience. The pleasures of foreplay went without saying. Fingering, by itself, could get tiring, but watching Frederick dance and neck more than made up for it.

Alysa washed her hands, donned her overalls, and left the barn. Jaquetta had smeared fruit pulp on Frederick's penis and was licking it off. Alysa looked away before either of them could happen to catch sight of her expression. Outside she slumped against the barn wall, staring blankly up into the sky. She wanted to be the one laying on the bed, licking fruit juice off Frederick's dong. But she wasn't the nectar producer... and Frederick simply didn't have the stamina to spend all day making love to Jaquetta and all night with Alysa. They still slept together, but that's all they did. Frederick fell into bed and went to sleep almost instantly; most times the best Alysa got was to stroke and fondle him in his sleep.

Alysa squeezed her eyes shut. Knowing that she'd done it to herself this time only made it worse. She couldn't blame Jaquetta for trying to steal him; she'd given him away, trading him for nectar.

A klaxon sounded in the drive. Alysa opened her eyes; Mr. Hardesty drove up in his truck. "Hello, Alysa," he called brightly, climbing down from the cab. "I thought I'd stop by and pick up the next load in person. And since I'm here-" he flashed a grin- "I'll drop off your share of the take." He produced a stack of bills from his pocket and pressed them into Alysa's hand.

Alysa counted the money reflexively. She, Jimmy, and Mr. Hardesty had entered a partnership; Jimmy provided food and housing, and Mr. Hardesty got all the milk and nectar, which he sold in whatever form the market would bear. After deducting expenses the three of them split the profits. Alysa's share, from three weeks of production, amounted to forty-three Tars and sixty-one cents.

"How much is it going for?" Alysa asked. She didn't particularly care, but didn't want to discuss what was really bothering her.

"Thirty-five cents a cup," Mr. Hardesty replied.

Alysa blinked. That was ten cents more than last week and twenty more than two weeks ago. "And they're still buying up all you can make?" Ordinary ice cream went for five cents a cup.

Mr. Hardesty nodded. "I took Ilsa's suggestion, and handed out free samples at the railroad cafe. Word of mouth has gone up and down the line like wildfire. Just yesterday I had a fellow come all the way from Mazama. Vixen milk ice cream with nectar syrup topping is my most popular item. I had to stop selling the syrup separately; I use all I have for ice cream and sodas."

"That's wonderful," Alysa said, but her tone belied her words. "Any mail arrive for me?"

"As a matter of fact, yes." Mr. Hardesty retrieved a large envelope from the cab of his truck. Upon its face was prominently displayed the seal of the West Mazama Ministry of Public Records. "And that other thing you asked about turned up finally." He handed over a sheet of paper covered with neat, hand-written notes.

Alysa glanced at the hand-written page, then thrust it into her pocket and opened the large envelope. From it she drew a beautifully illuminated document with an intricately engraved border, printed on heavy stock. "Yes!" she exulted, leaping into the air and punching at the sky. All malaise vanished from her in an instant, replaced by transcendent joy. She scooped Mr. Hardesty up and kissed him repeatedly. "You've just handed me the answer to all my prayers. Thank you ever so much." She set him back on his feet. "If you want a blow job, or anything else, just ask." She gave him a pat on the head and dashed off to her room.

"Thanks, but I'm not sure the wife would approve," Mr. Hardesty replied to Alysa's retreating back, then shook his head. Even without a wife he wasn't sure he'd take her up; the idea of putting such a delicate and tender portion of his anatomy into a mouth full of sharp teeth did not appeal to him, no matter how skilled and careful the owner of said mouth might be. Then there was the whole fur thing, not to mention her being more than half again his height. He went around to the store room and loaded the full cans into his truck, resolutely ignoring the sounds he occasionally heard coming through the barn walls. He'd been told where the nectar came from and suspected that it wasn't the whole truth. But he'd seen enough in the past few weeks to realize that he probably didn't want to know. With his supply of milk and nectar on board and the empties returned, he headed back to town.

Jaquetta kept her hands clasped tightly together as she walked along the railroad tracks, headed toward Ruby Junction. A pair of improvised sandals, cut from the treads of an old tire, protected her feet from sharp gavel and tar leaking from the sleepers. Her fur had been trimmed, washed, and thoroughly brushed to bring out its natural luster. Her mane hung loose, falling down over her shoulders in a cascade of snowy ringlets. She wore her very nicest dress, a white and powder blue affair with gathered sleeves, a bodice trimmed with ruffles, and a pleated, calf length skirt. "What if a train comes along?" she asked, glancing nervously backward.

"Then we get off the tracks," Alysa replied patiently. She'd also bathed, trimmed, and dressed up, but not quite as much: her best overalls, freshly cleaned and pressed, and a plain white shirt. She didn't bother with sandals; farm living had toughened her feet enough that even crushed gravel didn't bother her unduly.

"But-" Jaquetta began. What if he's on board?

"It's all right, Jaquetta." Alysa lay a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently. "You're a free woman now. It's your constitutional right to get stinking drunk and make lewd propositions to cute guys."

Jaquetta was pretty certain the Constitution didn't say that in so many words, but that wasn't the point. From the very moment Alysa had proposed celebrating Jaquetta's newly won freedom with a night on the town, the only thought in Jaquetta's mind was that she might encounter him. She'd exceeded her nectar production quota by a fairly wide margin because of it. "Alysa..." she whispered. "What if... he doesn't like me?"

Alysa stopped dead in her tracks. For a moment she stared, then she planted her hands on her hips and assumed a stern expression. "That is the most ridiculous notion I ever heard," she snapped. "Jaquetta, you are a love beast manufactured and trained by one of the leading experts in the field, not just in West Mazama but this whole part of the country. Compared to you, the women around here hardly even qualify as female. Your beauty and skill in the arts of love are without equal. He's gonna take one look at you and shoot his load right through the front of his pants." Her expression softened and she pulled Jaquetta into a hug.

Jaquetta returned the hug fiercely, tears welling up in her eyes. "Oh, Alysa," she whispered. "You shared Frederick- and yourself- with me... you set me free... now this. I owe you more than I can ever repay. Thank you."

"Jaquetta, finding Frederick was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me," Alysa replied. "If I can help you find it too, well..." She nuzzled Jaquetta's cheek. "Seeing you light up is all the thanks I need." She managed all that without letting the twinge of conscience she felt into her voice or expression. Sure, it felt good to help Jaquetta... but just as surely, getting Jaquetta a man of her own meant she'd once again have Frederick to herself.

While Alysa and Jaquetta embraced a train came along. They stepped off the embankment and watched it go by; Jaquetta tensed but Avlar was not among the crew. Alysa reassured her with a gentle hug. Then, on impulse, she lifted her shirt, baring her breasts. The trainmen leaned out the locomotive's cab windows, hooting, whistling, and shouting lewd propositions until they'd rolled out of sight.

Jaquetta giggled. "You're incorrigible."

"Damn right." Alysa grinned, smoothing her shirt back down. "What's the use of having a great bod if you can't make a guy walk into a pole every now and then?"

Jaquetta laughed, then snaked an arm around Alysa's waist and gave her a friendly squeeze. Alysa returned it, and arm in arm they continued.

In due course Ruby Junction hove into view. From Jimmy's farm the straight line distance was somewhat less along the railroad, and one could reasonably expect to arrive not covered with dust if one chose to make the journey on foot. Since neither Alysa nor Jaquetta knew how to drive- or would fit in the cab of Jimmy's truck- Shank's Mare was the only realistic option. At the same time, though, Alysa had an ulterior motive she'd kept strictly to herself. Over the last week or so, with Mr. Hardesty's help, she'd learned about railroading. Or, at least, that bit of it concerning Ruby Junction. She knew, for example, that all of the all of the Mazama Traction Company's equipment was run by electricity, supplied by a wire hanging over the tracks and conducted to the train by a spring-loaded metal pole mounted on the roof of each power unit. Furthermore, along this particular branch the company operated two types of locomotive: forty-ton steeplecabs and seventy-five ton boxcabs. Telling them apart wasn't hard; steeplecabs had a single cab in the center of the frame and sloping hoods in front and behind. Boxcabs, as the name implied, had rectangular bodies with cabs at either end, and were somewhat longer. Steeplecabs served mainly as switchers, collecting cars and assembling them into trains that boxcabs would take to their ultimate destinations. Around Ruby Junction the switching was mostly done by one particular locomotive, #L4021. The operator of this locomotive was a thirty-something Terran named Curtis Mayhew, and his fireman- still called that even though electrics had no firebox- a young Morph by the name of Avlar Thistlewick. For the price of a blow job and a tit fuck the station master had- eventually- provided her with a schedule of #L4021's movements. As such it came as no surprise for Alysa to see the distinctive shape of a steeplecab parked on the spur behind the depot. She'd deliberately timed this expedition, and chosen this route, on the hopes of seeing just such a thing. To Jaquetta she offered the explanation that they were going to the Knothole Tavern, which lay closer to the depot than downtown. Partially she wanted it to be a surprise... and part of it as simple pragmatism. If she'd told Jaquetta straight out that she planned to meet Avlar, Jaquetta would probably have either locked herself in her room or run all the way to Ruby Junction, naked. Alysa liked to think that she hadn't gotten nearly so goofy over Frederick... but it wasn't a matter she cared to examine in great detail.

To Jaquetta, lacking Alysa's specialized knowledge, the evergreen steeplecab with gold lettering was just another locomotive. She glanced at it as they approached the depot but nothing more. Alysa smiled to herself; everything was going beautifully. "Say," she announced. "Since we're here, let's stop at the cafe. I hear they have the most incredible chicken fried steak." The station master had told her that Avlar hung out there when he had time off during the day.

"But-" Jaquetta began.

"We don't want to go drinking empty stomachs, do we?" Alysa inquired. "And we have as much right to be there as anyone else.

Jaquetta shrugged. In truth, she'd been more concerned about the logistical considerations. Just getting through the door would force her to bend almost double, and none of the chairs and tables would fit. Moreover, the portions would be comparatively tiny. On the other hand, regardless of what Professor Kasegawa said about her digestive system, she felt like a carnivore, and the diet Jimmy fed her didn't have nearly enough meat for her taste. "Okay."

Just as Jaquetta put her foot onto the station platform the door of the railroad cafe opened... and Avlar came out.

"Hey, sweet thing," Avlar called, leaning forward and planting his elbows on the counter. "Could I have another cup of tea?"

"Why, sir, I do believe you're being fresh," Rosalind replied with a giggle, but poured his tea.

"I'd hate to think I was getting stale," Avlar countered. When Rosalind turned away he caressed her rump.

"Now, Avlar, what have I told you about fondling the waitresses?" Specs demanded good-naturedly. The cafe's short-order cook was a somewhat more than middle aged ferret Morph, and had inevitably gained his nickname due to the dark ringlike markings around his eyes.

"Sorry, specs, but I just can't help it," Avlar replied. "They're just so darn cute." He made eyes at Rosalind, who giggled.

"Does that mean you'd pinch my bottom?" June inquired. She happened to be a rat Morph, with a black head and shoulders but a white body. She stood almost a head taller than Rosalind, her frame being lean and long rather than short and round. She also happened to be much closer to Specs' age than Avlar's.

"Well-" Avlar temporized.

June laughed, ruffling Avlar's hair. Specs grinned, showing several gold teeth. He and June were not married but might as well have been. Both of them loved Avlar and Rosalind immensely, because the younger couple reminded them of themselves in their youth.

Curtis shielded his face with a newspaper so June wouldn't see his expression. If he made a crack- if he even looked about to make a crack- June would tear a strip out of him. She acted as if Rosalind and Avlar were her own children.

Other patrons smiled. Most of them were regulars, and well acquainted with the two couples' antics.

"Would you like some more coffee, sir?" June demanded sharply, sweeping Curtis' newspaper aside and glaring at him sharply.

"Yes, thank you," Curtis squeaked. I've been coming here too long, he thought sadly. She reads me like a damn book. June nodded approvingly, poured the coffee, and moved on. Curtis heaved a sign of relief, then glared at Avlar and Rosalind, who were giggling at him. His hand drifted to his breast pocket... and his eyes widened. "Nuts," he muttered. "I must have left my watch in the cab."

"I'll get it," Avlar announced, bouncing to his feet. He blew Rosalind a kiss and was out the door before Curtis could say another word.

As he stepped through the cafe's front door it occurred to Avlar that what he was doing might be construed as brown-nosing. Then he shrugged, putting the thought out of his mind. Maybe it was, just a little; staying in Curtis' good graces meant he'd let Avlar continue to operate. But Avlar would never have started doing it in the first place if Curtis hadn't been a nice person. Avlar preferred to think that he did things like this because Curtis was his friend, and Curtis did what he did for Avlar for the same reason.

Because of his preoccupation Avlar didn't actually look in front of him until he'd closed the door and taken a step. As a result, Jaquetta's presence struck him all at once, without any warning, like an unexpected punch in the face. She stood at the end of the platform, about the same horizontal distance from him as she'd been the first time he saw her, from #L4021's cab window. But this time there was no vertical displacement; her feet and his rested on the same plane. Now he understood why the perspective had seemed odd then; she was more than a meter taller than him. And yet, otherwise, she looked just the same: the same voluptuous, incredibly firm figure, the same silky fur... the same double bosom, which she accommodated by adding a second bodice to her dress. Which, if meant to impress him, failed utterly; his unconscious mind edited it out, replacing it with memories of her sleek, naked form.

As it happened, Jaquetta stood frozen in shock for about as long as Avlar did. Then she lit up like the sunrise and she started toward him, arms outstretched. He instantly recognized her expression; he'd seen it on Rosalind from time to time. It meant that if she got her hands on him she'd fuck him to within an inch of life and maybe just a bit farther. At this point the only thing even remotely like a conscious thought that passed through Avlar's mind was a line he'd once heard on a radio show: whom the gods choose to destroy, they first give exactly what they want. And he wanted Jaquetta to catch him, oh yes he did. He wanted to feel his face crushed against those four beautiful breasts, each one the size of his head. He didn't even need to do anything, just standing still would be enough.

Only one little problem marred what would otherwise be a perfect outcome all around. Avlar knew, with absolute certainty, that he'd never be able to square it with Rosalind. She would never believe- and rightly so- that there was nothing he could have done to avert disaster. Nor would he ever be able to square it with himself. Rosalind was his wife. He'd promised. Without his word, what was he?

The decision made, Avlar leapt into motion. Since he was responding emotionally, he sought emotional refuge: the place which he felt to be uniquely his, the place he'd yearned to be since early childhood, away from the turmoil of life and love. That is, #L4021's cab. He ducked between the cafe and depot and took off at a dead run. If he had been thinking rationally he would have ducked back into the cafe; squeezing through the door would slow Jaquetta down and he'd have the support of his friends to shield him from her attentions. As it was, his choice very nearly cost him the race. Her legs, half again longer than his, covered twice the distance in a single stride. Much more quickly than he'd expected she reached the corner of the depot. There, though, her greater size was her undoing: she couldn't make the turn at speed. Her tire tread sandals broke traction on the wooden platform. Her bare feet probably would have as well, but she possibly could have recovered by digging her claws in. Instead she slid nearly her own body length past the corner, flailing her arms to stay upright. That delay gave Avlar the start he needed to reach #L4021, tear open he cab door, and latch it behind him.

Jaquetta coasted to a stop. "A- Avlar?" she stammered.

"Go away!" Avlar shouted, from his hiding place behind the air compressor.

"But-" Jaquetta protested. The cab doors and walls were metal; to get inside she'd have to break a window.

"Go the Hell away!" Avlar screamed, leaping to his feet. "I'm married, don't you see?" He slapped his left hand against the window, showing the gold ring around his finger. "I don't want you, you- you freak!"

Even as the words left his mouth Avlar knew he'd made a terrible mistake. Leaving aside the fact that he'd verbally abused a woman- something his mother had very strong feelings about- he'd done it because of his own weakness, not anything she'd done. Rosalind- being the tender-hearted soul she was- would be almost as mad at him for doing that as if he'd gone ahead and slept with Jaquetta in the first place. Dawning horror kept him mute even as he struggled to apologize; his mouth worked but only inarticulate gobbling sounds came out.

Jaquetta's arms fell to her sides. Her joyful expression crumbled, like a bank undercut by a raging stream. While Avlar fumbled with the cab door latch tears welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. Just as Avlar finally got the door open she turned away, hands clutched to her face, and let out a fearsome wail. He shied back from the sound, and in that instant Jaquetta lit off at a dead run. Avlar took a step but instantly saw the futility of following; the legs which brought her upon him with such startling speed carried her away just as rapidly, if not more so. He slumped to his knees on the platform. "I'm sorry," he whispered. But, of course, it was much too late.

Evening shadows reached across the barn yard. Jimmy and Mr. Hardesty sat at the outdoor dining table, staring morosely at nothing. When Frederick arrived and poured Jimmy a glass full of nectar sweetened ice tea he drank it automatically.

Jimbo came up from the lower field, a spade over his shoulder. He noted the two men and shook his head sadly. While putting the spade away in the barn he met Alysa coming out. "How is she?" he asked.

"Bad." Alysa ran her fingers through the fur atop her head. "Jilly's in there with her but..." Alysa shrugged fatalistically. "She's taking it hard." She looked down, hands clenched. Tears ran from the corners of her eyes.

"Ain't your fault, Alysa," Jimbo said quietly, squeezing her forearm.

"I walked her right into it," Alysa said hollowly. "And the little bastard ripped her fucking heart out."

"Avlar's not a bad kid, Alysa." Jimbo said, gently but firmly. "He's lived out here all his life. He ain't like Frederick, who's been to the city. He don't understand 'bout... you kinda people. You and Jaquetta. Not like Frederick. He was one, practically. She just... came on a little too strong for him. Frightened him. He didn't mean all those things he said."

Alysa's fists tightened and her lips drew back from her teeth. then, All at once she relaxed, heaving a deep sigh. "I just... I should have seen it coming."

"C'mon." Jimbo tugged gently at Alysa's arm. "If Jimmy and Mr. Hardesty get any longer in the face people'll start thinking they're Morphs."

The corners of Alysa's mouth turned up just a tiny bit, and she made a sound that might, charitably, be called a chuckle. "This must be the first time a business has gone belly up because someone's love life fell through."

"I wouldn't bet on it," Jimbo replied. "People do strange things."

Alysa nodded. "That's for sure." She let Jimbo lead her to the table.

"What's the word?" Mr. Hardesty asked, perking up a little.

Alysa's eyes narrowed. You're only interested in your investment, she thought- but she too had bought into the scheme, trading Jaquetta's happiness for money. That was the only thing that stopped her from caving in his skull. "The word is, don't hold your breath for any new nectar. It's gonna be a long time before she's in a frame of mind to produce any."

The pall of doom that settled over the table was almost palpable. Frederick set a glass of tea in front of Alysa, who drank it without really noticing the taste. Regardless of what happened to the business, she felt responsible for breaking Jaquetta's heart.

Frederick poured himself a glass of tea, then sat beside Alysa. If he'd known what Alysa planned he would have warned her that it wasn't a good idea. Saying so now, though, would only be rubbing salt in wounds still painfully fresh. "The solution's simple enough," he said. "All we have to do is patch things up between Jaquetta and Avlar."

"How exactly do you propose to do that?" Jimmy demanded bitterly.

"With intelligence," Frederick replied. "Information, that is," he added quickly, so his remarks wouldn't be misconstrued. "The reason this happened is because we don't really know anything about Avlar. Once we know what he's about, we'll know how to go about making up."

"I suppose you're just going to go ask him?" Jimmy inquired acidly.

"That wouldn't be a bad idea," Frederick replied. "But for starters, we need more background."

"You know where to get it?" Mr. Hardesty asked.

Frederick nodded. "I know where to start, at least. Jimmy, would you drop me off at Mrs. Franelli's place?"

"How long will you be gone?" Alysa found herself asking.

"Overnight, at least," Frederick replied.

Alysa nodded, keeping her expression blank. Mrs. Franelli would no doubt demand a price for the information, and she could guess what it would probably be. "Do what you have to, and don't worry about it," she said softly, squeezing his shoulder. "For Jaquetta, it's a good cause."

"Thanks." Frederick gave Alysa a kiss. She pulled him tightly against her.

"Well, then, let's go," Jimmy muttered, rising. "We're burning daylight here."

"I might as well get back too," Mr. Hardesty put in, rising as well.

Alysa released Frederick, but only reluctantly. He blew her a kiss just before getting into the truck with Jimmy. She watched it out of sight, and kept watching even after it disappeared.

"How did all this get started, anyway?" Jimbo asked.

"She saw Avlar one day when she was out picking blackberries," Alysa replied. "She fell in love with him on the spot. She wanted to meet him, so I found out when he'd likely be in town. When her Certificate of Manumission arrived I took her to see him."

Jimbo blinked. "Jimmy freed her?"

"Well-" Alysa frowned briefly. "Technically, he gave her to me and I freed her, but it's the same difference, I suppose."

"I suppose," Jimbo said hollowly. Because of her preoccupation Alysa didn't notice the sudden change in his tone and demeanor. In only a few months he frees Alysa and Jaquetta, but it never once occurs to him to free his own field hands. Jimbo rose quickly and walked stiffly to the field worker's shack.

"Do you think-" Alysa began, then noticed that Jimbo had left. She glanced at the shack, but only for a moment. Jimbo was always the solid one, keeping his head when everyone else lost theirs. She headed back to the barn.

"Right, then." Frederick opened the notebook he'd acquired. "Here's the lowdown, as far as I've managed to dig it out." He nodded to Alysa. "And thank you especially for helping me with the last bits."

Alysa nodded. Filling in the basic framework Mrs. Franelli provided had required three blow jobs, one egg laying, and an episode of anal sex.

"To begin with, Avlar and Rosalind are both Freebirths," Frederick said. That meant they'd been manumitted as babies, and never known servitude. "Their marriage was arranged by their respective clans, Thistlewick and Periwistle. They hold dances, where young men and young women meet each other. Rosalind attended three without scoring a boyfriend but Avlar picked her his first time out. They dated for three months, then got married. That was four years ago; they're both twenty-two. They moved to Brooks three years ago when Avlar got a job with the railroad as a gandy-dancer. He worked his way up to fireman and aspires to be an operator. Which, unfortunately, isn't likely to happen; as a matter of policy the railroad doesn't allow Morphs to be operators, ticket-sellers, conductors, dispatchers, or managers. Rosalind got a job as waitress at the railroad cafe because June was having trouble with her hip at the time, and ended up staying on after June came back. They both make good money at their respective jobs and, with reduced-rent company housing, they live pretty well. But they both have big life-debts to pay off. What that is has to do with how these Freebirth clans work. What they are is a group of free Morphs who get together, pool their money, and buy children for various members. To make sure there's funds to keep going, each child has to pay back the money spent to purchase him or her before he or she can apply to have the clan buy them a child. That's a life-debt; what the clan paid for the new life. Avlar and Rosalind were bought into their clans at a time when skunks were in fashion, so their life-debts are quite high, even though skunk babies are out of fashion now and relatively cheap. There's also seniority; older members who've paid their debt and don't already have kids get preference over younger ones. All things considered, Avlar and Rosalind can expect to wait ten or fifteen years before getting even one child. But they happened to come from a batch favored for nannies, nurses, and other care-givers. So their bonding instincts are enhanced."

"That's why he spurned Jaquetta," Alysa muttered.

"Probably," Frederick agreed. "General feeling's that Avlar is far and away the handsomest boy of his generation. At his dating party the girls were practically fighting over him. Quite a number continued pursuit after he chose Rosalind, but there's no evidence that he ever cheated on her, even before they were officially married."

Alysa closed her eyes. That only made it worse. Jaquetta'd never had a chance.

"What good does any of this do us?" Jimmy demanded querulously.

"Rosalind and Avlar both have reputations for being kind hearted," Frederick said. "I think..." he stroked his chin, gazing off into middle space. "I think that Alysa and I should go see them, and apologize for putting Avlar on the spot like that. I think they'll forgive us."

"You and Alysa?" Jimmy asked, frowning.

"Yes," Frederick replied. "Show them that we're a couple too, and that we respect their union."

Jimmy fingered the brim of his hat. The whole idea sounded utterly ridiculous. But he didn't have a better one, and every day Jaquetta declined to produce nectar put him deeper in the hole. "But even if this works," he pointed out, "The best it'll do is put us back where we started."

"One step at a time," Frederick replied with a shrug.

Jimmy sighed heavily. "Okay. Do whatever you feel is best."

The music stopped for a moment while the announcer said something but Rosalind only noticed the voice, not the words. She sat on the love seat in the parlor, with Avlar's head nestled against her shoulder, her arms around him. His arm lay across her chest, but though his forearm pressed against her bosom, there wasn't anything sexual in the contact. It was more how a child might cling to his mother.

At first Rosalind had been angry, when the whole story came out, that Avlar had been tempted by that woman and hidden the fact from her. But seeing him literally cowering at her feet, sobbing, was too much. How could she be angry at him for refusing to abandon his marriage vows? So she forgave and comforted him. But now she was starting to get worried. It had been four days, for Heaven's sake. He went to work and did his job, Curtis said, but he did it mechanically, without his usual verve.

Avlar stirred and mumbled something. Rosalind pressed his face against her bosom. She didn't want him to see the expression she feared had flitted across her countenance. Part of the problem- more than she liked to admit- was that she needed him to be better. She longed to feel their bodies pressed together, his hips thrusting against hers, his semen erupting inside her. She despised herself for craving these things when he was so obviously hurt, but she couldn't help it. Until now she'd borne the privation, giving Avlar the gentle support he needed, and making do with her collection of marital aids. But there didn't seem to be any end in sight. What was she to do?

Avlar looked up. Even in his current state he sense Rosalind's unease, though his own inner turmoil prevented him from properly understanding the cause.

"Avlar..." Rosalind stroked his face. She tried to be calm and soothing but her voice caught. "Please..." she couldn't go on.

"I-" Avlar began.

"No!" Rosalind grabbed Avlar around the muzzle. He was going to say I'm sorry again and she couldn't bear it. "Please," she whispered in a quavering voice. "Don't be sorry. I know you're sorry. You've said it enough." She swallowed. "I just..." she stroked his cheeks. "I want you to be my husband."


"You were tempted," Rosalind cut in. "I- I don't blame you for that. Everyone's tempted. I- I- there was a man who came to came to the cafe a couple weeks back. He was- was one of your older brothers. He'd gone away to Mazama. Now he's a porter on an Electroliner. He had a fancy suit and a diamond ring and his fur looked like silk. He was so slim and handsome... even June couldn't help staring at him. And he- he'd come here because of me, Avlar. He wanted to see how I was doing... he said if I went with him I wouldn't have to work. I could live in a row house and even have a servant. He'd take me to clubs every night and dress me in satin and pearls." She grabbed Avlar's cheeks. "I- I wanted all those things, Avlar. I wanted satin and pearls, to drink champagne and ride in an Electroliner... but I told him no, Avlar. Because- because I have a husband." She squeezed his cheeks with trembling fingers. "A husband who's kind, and gentle, and loving, and so beautiful I can't stop thinking about him. And- he loves me. He could have had any woman he wanted and he chose me." She swallowed; tears streamed down her cheeks. "I- I know he's not a saint. W- what would I do if I had one? I... I'm no saint myself. I'm just a silly girl." She gulped. "My husband, he's just a man... but he's my man. My husband. I just... I just want him back!" She flung herself into Avlar's arms, squeezing him fiercely. "I just want my husband back," she managed before the tears finally overwhelmed her.

Rosalind didn't see it but the vacant emptiness finally left Avlar's eyes. A terrible sadness replaced it, but at this point she would have taken even that as an improvement. His mouth opened; he almost said I'm sorry but caught himself in time. That wasn't what she wanted. He slipped his arms around her and held her tightly. "You really want him back?" he whispered into her ear. "Even though he's just a poor, foolish man?"

"Yes," Rosalind managed between sobs. "I- I'd rather have him than- than all the saints in Heaven!"

Avlar held Rosalind tightly for a long time. Then he relaxed his grip, just enough to move her face in front of his. Ever so gently he lifted her chin... and planted a kiss on-

The doorbell rang.

Rosalind surged to her feet. The expression on her face would have been terrifying if Avlar hadn't grown accustomed to it by now. As she started for the door he jumped up and gently but firmly restrained her. In her current state if it were the CEO of the Mazama Traction Company at the door, come to offer Avlar a vice-presidency, she'd kick him in the crotch, knee him in the chin when he folded, and throw him in the gutter with the rest of the trash. Rosalind was a loving soul, as gentle as a summer breeze... right up to the point where something threatened to prevent her from enjoying her husband's company. Then even the demons of the Pit tiptoed away, hoping she didn't notice them. Avlar didn't think Rosalind would actually attack anyone, but he realized that this was something of a special case: considerably more than normal amounts of emotional energy were being released. So he compromised; he turned her around and walked her to the door with his arms around her torso, his hands massaging her breasts. She pressed back against him, and her hand stroked his thigh, but she went along quietly. At the last moment, as he opened the door, he shifted his other hand from on her breast to just below it. That might still be unseemly to some but at least it wasn't openly indecent.

"Hello," Frederick said. "Good evening, Mr. Thistlewick. Ms. Periwistle."

"We're terribly sorry if we're intruding," Alysa put in. "But we had to tell you how sorry we are for everything."

Avlar had seen Frederick around once or twice. He'd always been a scruffy vagabond, with a somewhat disreputable air about him. Now Avlar barely recognized him as the same person; he'd packed on at least ten kilos of muscle, and though not fat he had a sleek, well-fed look to him. His fur was clean, trimmed, and neatly brushed, and while he wore overalls and a shirt they were both clean, relatively new, and neatly pressed. Far from being a vagrant, he looked as if he might be a prosperous farmer in his own right. Alysa Avlar had seen around town once or twice and never up close; he couldn't help swallowing nervously, because she reminded him of Jaquetta. She had the same voluptuous, gravity-defying figure, and was if anything a bit taller and more muscular. But here and now she'd cleaned, trimmed, and brushed herself as carefully as Frederick had, her overalls and shirt just as carefully and lovingly tended. In one hand she carried a basket covered with a checkered cloth.

"If now isn't a good time we can come back later," Frederick said. "But please let us give you this as a gesture of friendship." He beckoned; Alysa held out the basket, which Frederick uncovered. It contained an enormous apple pie, sprinkled with sugar and still warm from the oven.

Rosalind had begun to glower but couldn't help gazing with some interest at the pie. Her generous figure wasn't an incidental thing, after all.

"Well-" Avlar began, uncertain exactly what to say.

"Please, sit down," Rosalind cut in. Having patched things up with Avlar she felt more magnanimous. "We can talk to them for a while, can't we?" She inquired of Avlar.

"Sure," Avlar agreed, relieved that Rosalind had decided to take it calmly.

Alysa turned and sat on the edge of the porch. The wood creaked under her weight. Frederick sat beside her, actually leaning against her. Avlar and Rosalind sat on the porch swing.

"Rosalind, I'm really sorry about tying you up," Alysa began. "I... wasn't in my right mind. I thought... I'd lost Frederick forever, and I'd only just found him." She stroked his shoulder gently. He put up a hand and scratched her chin.

"I guess it's okay," Rosalind allowed. "If I thought I was going to lose Avlar, I... might do foolish things too." She lay a hand over his and squeezed.

Avlar kissed Rosalind's forehead. His code against getting angry at women didn't prevent him from sternly disapproving of how Alysa had manhandled his wife, but if Rosalind chose to forgive he could do no less.

"What exactly did happen with Avlar and that skunk woman?" Rosalind inquired. She spoke quietly but there was a razor edge in her tone. Avlar resisted the urge to smile. No indeed, you didn't come between Rosalind and her husband. Not unless you planned on getting a ration of grief.

Alysa looked down. "I... I'm afraid that's my fault too," she admitted. "Jaquetta saw him one day when she was down by the tracks. She'd fallen into the stream and took off her dress to dry it. The train just happened to come along right then; she didn't mean anything by it." Alysa shrugged. "But she saw him, and he was so handsome, and a skunk, and she'd just come out here from the city, she'd never lived in the country before, didn't know anyone... she didn't know he was married. Neither did I. She couldn't stop talking about him. I felt sorry for her, being alone... and I what had with Frederick was so wonderful." She rubbed Frederick's chest. "I just... I hoped she might find something like that. Or at least get a taste of it. So when her Certificate of Manumission arrived, I wanted to celebrate. I knew that what she wanted more than anything was to meet you, Avlar. I... I'm really sorry. I should have checked more carefully." She dabbed at her face.

Avlar and Rosalind didn't know that what brought tears to Alysa's eyes, as much as what she'd said, was guilt at having dismissed as irrelevant the vows which, it turned out, Avlar took very seriously. She'd deliberately, and with malice aforethought, inflicted upon Rosalind and Avlar the same pain she'd suffered herself at having to share Frederick with Jaquetta in the first place. But while Avlar and Rosalind might have misconstrued the source, Alysa's tears were, nonetheless, convincingly authentic.

"I shouldn't have said what I said to her," Avlar mumbled.

"Would it be okay if she came around to apologize?" Alysa asked. "We don't want to intrude... if you'd rather we go away we will... but we don't want to be your enemies if we can help it."

"No, that's okay," Rosalind said.

"I should apologize too," Avlar put in. "Jaquetta's a beautiful woman, and she deserves someone. Heck, I weren't attached..." He snuggled Rosalind against him and kissed her forehead. "I already have the girl I want. And... I couldn't imagine being without her."

"Believe me, I know the feeling." Alysa stroked Frederick's head. "You take care of him, Rosalind. He's a fine catch."

"I know." Rosalind nuzzled Avlar's neck.

"You take care of her, Avlar," Frederick put in. "I've known a lot of women in my time. All too often they look pretty and luscious on the outside, but when you bite in they're all bitter and rotten inside. You've got a rare one, Avlar, one that's just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside."

"See?" Avlar said, gently stroking Rosalind's chin. "Even Frederick can see I got the best one of the lot."

Rosalind hugged Avlar tightly. then, after a moment, she opened her eyes and looked thoughtfully at Alysa and Frederick. "You know," she said quietly, "maybe... I could arrange for her to meet some of my clan brothers."

"Or mine," Avlar added hastily, mentally kicking himself for not having thought of it sooner. Then he giggled. "Of course Rosalind got the best, but maybe there's a few who who're pretty good."

Rosalind snorted, punching Avlar in the side, but then giggled.

"Thank you again," Alysa said. "And we're sorry for keeping you away from dinner, but I hope this'll make up a little." She lifted he pie out of the basket. "Frederick baked it. I'm afraid I can't cook to save my life, but he does a wonderful job." She rose, offering a hand to help Frederick up, then resting a hand on his shoulder. "Good night for now. We'll come back at a more convenient time with Jaquetta."

"Okay, sure." Avlar rose, waving. "See you all later."

Once Alysa and Frederick departed, Avlar picked up the pie, balancing it carefully on one hand. "I think it could last us a couple days, even if we aren't very sparing with it."

"Would you like to have dinner now?" Rosalind inquired. Something in her eyes suggested that she might rather he wanted something else.

Avlar did want something else. "Damn right I do," he replied, slipping an arm around Rosalind's shoulders and moving her back inside. "I'm gonna have me a big, fat, sexy skunkie until she screams and begs me for mercy."

Rosalind looked up. The fire had come back into her eyes. "I'm gonna hold you to that, you know."

Avlar nodded. "I'm counting on it."

"How did it go?" Jimmy asked.

"Not too bad," Frederick allowed. "At least they don't want to kill us on sight."

"What about Avlar and Jaquetta?"

Alysa fixed Jimmy with a look that caused him to take hasty step back. "I think it's still too early to be talking about that," he said frostily.

"Oh, okay," Jimmy said, quickly. "I'm just... worried about her." His expression turned grim. "Believe me, I know what it's like to have your heart stomped on like that."

Alysa relented some. She had no personal experience of it but rumor suggested that Jimmy's ex-wife had raked him over the coals pretty good. "There's some hope at least," she said. "They offered to let her meet their clan brothers. A good one's bound to turn up sooner or later." Who likes making love to a woman nearly twice his size, she added to herself. Put that way thing didn't seen nearly so hopeful, but she didn't want to say so.

Jimmy shrugged. "Guess we'll just have to deal with it as it comes." He sighed. "Well... see you all later. I've got paperwork to finish."

After struggling for a while and making only moderate progress, Jimmy gave up and went to bed. As he lay there dozens of random thoughts swirled in his mind: skunk Morphs of all sizes, life debts, babies with price tags, ice cream with nectar syrup topping, bills for the purchase, care, and feeding of Morphs-

Somehow the thoughts came together in just the right pattern. Jimmy snapped bolt upright in bed, blinking, mouth agape. The answer had been right in front of him all along. It was so obvious he hadn't seen it.

It was stupid. The most ridiculous, far-fetched thing he'd ever seen.

More ridiculous than a giant vixen who gives milk and lays eggs, and a giant skunk who gives milk and only produces nectar when she comes?

Well... maybe not.

Jimmy rolled out of bed and dashed back to his office. Several minutes of intense calculation produced a tentative result. He stared at it... then started laughing. Yes, it would work. Seen all at once the cost might be pretty steep, but he'd be able to spread it out over months and months of nectar production. Given current returns it wouldn't cut his profits much at all. He wrote a message to himself, pinned it to his note board, and went to bed, still chuckling.

As he pulled up in front of Avlar and Rosalind's house, Jimmy wasn't laughing. In fact, the scheme didn't seem nearly so clever now. But he got out anyway, with the papers tucked under his arm. If he didn't at least try he might have to borrow money to stay in business for the rest of the year, and he'd seen far too may farmers get in serious trouble following that road. Any way of keeping his cash flow positive was better than that.

Rosalind opened the door when Jimmy rang the bell. "Yes?" she asked, eyeing him somewhat suspiciously.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Ms. Periwistle," Jimmy stammered. "I- I'm Jimmy MacGregor. Jaquetta's and Alysa's, ah, employer." He'd almost said owner, then remembered that he wasn't anymore.

"Ah." Rosalind relaxed a little. "What can I do for you, Mr. MacGregor?"

"Is, um, Mr. Thistlewick here? I'd like to speak to you both for a moment, if it's okay."

"Yes, Avlar's here," Rosalind replied. "Come on in. Have a seat in the parlor."

Avlar sat on the love seat. He looked up curiously as Jimmy entered.

"I have you now, miscreant!" a voice declared.

"Not so fast, Crimson Whip! Dodge this!" Bang, bang!

Jimmy started, then realized that it was the radio. He took a seat and waited politely while Crimson Whip and Doctor Shadow fought in the tunnels the doctor had dug under the city with the intention of breaking into all the banks at once, from underneath. Finally, backed into a corner, Crimson Whip pulled down a beam, and the whole tunnel collapsed. He managed to wriggle out through an air shaft. The doctor's minions straggled out of the tunnels in small handfuls, easily handled by the police. But of the nefarious doctor there was no sign. One could only wonder...

"Avlar, this is Mr. MacGregor, Alysa's and Jaquetta's employer," Rosalind said once the show ended. Instead of turning the radio off she switched it to a quiet music program and turned down the volume.

"Pleased to meet you, sir." Avlar shook Jimmy's hand. "Quite an interesting spread you've got, if I may say so."

Jimmy shook his head. "You have no idea." He laid the papers on the coffee table. "I'm sorry, I'm lousy at small talk," he apologized. "So I'll get straight to the point. I'm really sorry about that mess with Jaquetta. But she really likes you and-" he gritted his teeth. Already he was off track. "I'm sure you've heard about the fruit flavored ice cream?"

"Who hasn't?" Avlar replied. "Everybody's agog over it."

"People are always coming into the cafe, asking for it," Rosalind put in.

"That's just it," Jimmy said. "Everybody wants it... but production's stopped completely."

Avlar blinked. "Why?"

"Because-" Jimmy gritted his teeth; he had to get through this- "Jaquetta produces it."

"How?" Rosalind wanted to know.

"The same way Alysa produces her eggs," Jimmy explained. The room pulsed but, by sheer effort of will, he didn't pass out.

"Oh." Rosalind blinked. Then her eyes widened. "Oh."

"So, ever since what happened with Avlar, she hasn't been... in the proper mood to produce," Jimmy concluded. He got through that with only a minor tremor.

"We're really sorry about that," Avlar said. "If there's anything we could do-"

"There is," Jimmy cut in. "Jaquetta needs... companionship. And the companionship she wants is... yours. Mr. Thistlewick."

"Exactly what sort of companionship are talking about here?" Avlar demanded suspiciously.

"You want Avlar to be her boyfriend," Rosalind pronounced.

"Ah-" Jimmy clenched his hat tightly in one hand. Rosalind's eyes had taken on a hard, unpleasant look made all the more shocking by her gentle reputation.

"We thank you for stopping by, and we're sorry about Jaquetta's predicament, but I don't think can help you, Mr. MacGregor," Avlar said icily.

Jimmy swallowed convulsively. He was loosing it fast; he could see it in their faces. "I'll buy you a child," he blurted. "One year's work on the farm, and I'll buy you whatever type of kid you want. No cost to you at all."

"I don't think-" Avlar began, angrily. He fell instantly silent when Rosalind clamped a hand on his arm.

"Do you mean that, Mr. MacGregor?" Rosalind demanded.

"Yes ma'am." Jimmy laid a finger on one of the papers. "I have a contract right here."

"Would you excuse us a moment, please?" Rosalind asked.

"Certainly." Jimmy hurried out, only too glad to go.

"Rosalind-" Avlar began. The look in her eyes stopped him cold. "But..." he continued in a much softer tone. "I'll have to... do things..."

"I know." Rosalind took Avlar's hand in both of hers. "If you don't want to, we wont. but..." she picked up the contract. "We could have a child now. Instead of... a decade from now." Her voice remained calm but her eyes pleaded. "And I... I'm not afraid, Avlar. I... I doubted you once. I worried that... you might decide I wasn't the woman you really wanted." She stilled his protest with finger on his lips. "I know now that's foolishness. If you wanted another woman you could have one, any time you wanted. So... I'm not worried about you going to Jaquetta. Because... I know you'll come home to me."

Avlar stroked Rosalind's hand. He wasn't so sure he'd handle himself as well as she thought he would, but he also knew he could never refuse those pleading eyes. She wanted a child so much... and so did he, for that matter. If his virtue were the price for Rosalind's happiness, he'd sacrifice it without a second thought. "Okay," he whispered, drawing Rosalind close. "I'll do it. But- only because it's for you."

Rosalind squeezed Avlar tightly. "I love you," she whispered huskily.

"I love you too." Avlar kissed Rosalind on the cheek. Then, after a moment, he gently disengaged. "Might as well get this over with. Mr. MacGregor! Come back please!"

"Yes?" Jimmy hurried in.

"We're accepting your offer, Mr. MacGregor." Avlar tapped the contract with his finger. "One year of work for one child."

Jimmy nodded, laying out the contract and a pen. He watched intently while Avlar signed, mainly to avoid looking at Rosalind. She said nothing but her expression spoke volumes. You'd damn well better hold up your end of the bargain, it seemed to say. If you don't there'll be Hell to pay. Even if I have to call up the Dark One and His minions myself and personally lead them to your front door. In response Jimmy could only nod once again; after Darla he didn't doubt the ability of any woman to put him through Hell.

Early evening shadows reached across the barn yard as Jimmy's truck pulled in. Jimmy himself emerged from the driver's side, and a moment later Alvar from the passenger's. He wore what must have been his very best suit, with his fur cleaned, trimmed, brushed, and styled as if he were going to a wedding... or a funeral. Judging from his expression, it would be his own.

From training and long experience Frederick knew how to keep what he truly felt off his face, so his expression didn't change even as he sighed inwardly. He and Alysa had argued about this but he'd held firm, asserting superior knowledge of the male mind. Avlar's demeanor indicated that Frederick had been right, but he felt no joy in the fact. It only meant that his job would be all the more difficult.

"So, where is... everyone?" Avlar asked, with transparently forced joviality as Frederick approached. Also by prior agreement, Jimmy left the two of them alone. That, at least, hadn't been difficult; Frederick had seen Jimmy's eyelids flutter several times while they discussed it. Frederick was impressed that Jimmy had managed to remain conscious.

"They're in the barn," Frederick replied, taking Avlar's hand and shaking it warmly. "Welcome to our little plot. Come inside and have a drink."

"I really am sorry, you know," Avlar said quietly as Frederick seated him in the kitchen. He surrendered his jacket without comment; Frederick hung it on the coat rack. Underneath Avlar wore a white shirt with a starched collar and a four-in-hand. "About... what I said and all."

"I know, and so does Jaquetta." Frederick removed a pitcher of ice tea from the cooler and set it on the table along with two glasses. "Here, have a drink. I'm sure you could use one."

"Thanks." Avlar took the glass and gulped its contents, ice tea sweetened with nectar and fortified with a generous shot of whiskey. Frederick poured him another without comment; he needed his edges taken off. At the moment he looked about as jagged as a pile of broken glass.

Frederick lifted his glass but only took a tiny sip. "How long did it take for her to doll you up like this?"

"Three hours," Avlar replied morosely. "The second I got home she was all over me, and it didn't stop until I got in the truck." He stared sadly into the depths of his glass, which Frederick obligingly refilled. "I mean, will you look at this?" he raised his arms, turning them to show his pearl cuff links. "Like I'm going to church, for Heaven's sake."

"She just wants everyone to see what a fine man she's got," Frederic replied.

Avlar sighed. "I don't know about this," he mumbled.

Frederick shrugged. "I have to say I wasn't so delighted about it either. But what's for it? Alysa would have my guts for garters if I told her I'd chickened out now."

"Ain't that the truth." Avlar sighed, then took a drink. "I wonder how many great men did what they did 'cause their women threatened to kill them if they didn't?"

"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world," Frederick observed.

"That's what this is all about, isn't it?" Avlar rotated his glass, watching the fluid swirl within it.

"Look, you're doing this because you love her," Frederick pointed out. "It's no different than buying her some ribbons for her mane, a pretty dress, or even a nice house. Sure, it's a lot of work. Sometimes it's a real pain in the ass. But just seeing her light up when you show her... that makes it all worthwhile."

"Yeah." Avlar sighed, a goofy smile spreading across his face.

"This is just the same," Frederick continued. "You're doing a job to buy her something. Because you know it'll make her happy."

"Yeah." Avlar rolled his glass between his palms, his eyes focused on nothing in particular. "But..." He licked his lips. "Frederick... if it were just..." his hands tightened on the glass. Frederick freshened his drink; he took a convulsive gulp. "Dresses and ribbons aren't the only thing I bought her," he muttered. "I... had some work done. I swore- I promised- that it was only for her."

The corners of Frederick's mouth turned up. "Had your tummy tucked?"

"Ah, no," Avlar admitted.




"Uh uh."


"Um..." Avlar seemed to consider that for a moment. "No."

Frederick crossed his arms and rested them on the table, leaning forward to shift his weight onto them. "Avlar, do you know what a woman looks at when she's deciding whether a guy is cute or not?"

"I haven't exactly asked around," Avlar replied archly.

"His butt," Frederick replied. "Most often, she wants to see narrow hips and firm buttocks. But just as there are guys who like well padded girls, there are gals who prefer a fellow with a paunch and a softer rump. More cuddly, they say. Like a teddy bear." He paused a moment. It was clear that he had Avlar's complete and undivided attention. "When you're in bed with a woman, what's your most important love-making tool?"

"Your hands," Avlar pronounced, wiggling his fingers.

"Then why modify your schlong?" Frederick wanted to know.

Avlar sighed, looking down at his glass. "She may not look it, but Rosalind is... um..."

"You mean to say if she were a guy she'd be well hung?" Frederick suggested.

"Ah, yeah." Had Avlar been a human, his face would have been bright red.

"How'd you know what size to get?" Frederick wanted to know.

Avlar smiled shyly. "I bought her some- ah-"


"-of various, um, sizes and shapes." Avlar giggled. "She... she wouldn't tell me which one she liked the best. But I found the one she kept in the nightstand when I was away."

"You're sure it wasn't just a one-time thing?" Frederick asked.

"Oh, yes." Avlar nodded. "I checked over several weeks. The others, she kept in a box in the closet, but that one was always in the nightstand."

"I see." Frederick uncrossed his arms, lacing his fingers together. "And since you got it just for Rosalind, you don't want any other woman to use it."

Avlar shook his head.

"So then don't use it," Frederick continued.

Avlar looked up, perplexed.

"It won't do you any good anyway," Frederick pointed out. "Think about it. Jaquetta's nearly twice as tall as you are. That's means she's twice as big down there, too. More than twice, in her particular case. She's a love beast; her designer maxed her out in every way. I can tell you- from personal experience, mind you- that if she were a man she'd be hung a God damn horse. Literally." Frederick paused a moment let the words sink in. "'Less you got a cock as long as your arm, she ain't even gonna feel it. Nothing personal about it, that's just how it is."

"Then what am I supposed to do?" Avlar demanded sharply.

"Don't be an idiot, for one," Frederick returned, just as sharply. "Didn't you tell me just a minute ago that your most important lovemaking tools were your hands?" Frederick freed one of his own, wiggling his fingers. "Your fingers are smaller than your cock but I bet Rosalind doesn't complain when you use 'em, does she?"

"No." Avlar shook his head.

"Make a fist and shove," Frederick went on, thrusting his fist out as if punching in slow motion. "You might try adding a little twist of the wrist as well. For best results put her on hands and knees, kneel over her calf, and grab the base of her tail with your other hand. If you get tired before she does, you can switch hands. Or lay on your back, elbow braced, with your forearm up, and let her do the work. Stroking her inside with your fingers will get you lots of points, I can assure you. Beyond that... size or not, she's still a woman. Do what you'd do with any other woman. It doesn't even matter if you've had lots of lovers or just one. What's important is that you're willing to listen and learn."

"Yeah." Avlar nodded. "That makes sense."

"Look at it this way," Frederick said. "All you're doing here is being Jaquetta's boyfriend. You already know how to do that or you never would have made it with Rosalind."

Avlar sighed. "All right. I take your point."

"Good man." Frederick leaned across the table and clapped Avlar on the shoulder. Better yet, the tension had finally drained out of him. "Now, there are a few things about Jaquetta that your experience with Rosalind may not have taught you."

"You think?" Avlar retorted, but he grinned.

"You better damn believe it. The most important is that you don't ever let her get in a position where she might accidentally put her weight on you. At the beginning she'll be careful, but when her body's on fire with pleasure she won't. Neither will you, of course, but you don't weigh as much as a horse. Ever had a horse fall on you?"

"No, thank God."

"Let's just say that having Jaquetta accidentally crush you to death would end the honeymoon right quick," Frederick surmised. "I doubt Rosalind would be too pleased either."

"She'd drag me back from the Afterlife just so she could kill me again," Avlar said, shaking his head.

"Sounds about right." Frederick pretended to take a drink. "Another thing you need to know is that, like Alysa, Jaquetta gives milk. The very same milk, as it turns out. Half of what's going around the county as vixen milk is actually skunk milk, but it tastes the same."

"Do I have to- ah-"

"Milk her?" Frederick put in. "You don't have to, but I predict she'll want you to. She'll also want you to rub her breasts and suck on her nipples after the milking's done. She may tell you it stimulates production."

"Does it?" Avlar inquired.

"To be perfectly honest I don't really know for sure," Frederick admitted. "According to Alysa, her creator told her that sucking on her nipples released a chemical that stimulated her milk glands, even if there wasn't any milk in her breasts at the time. Even so, it wouldn't be gentlemanly to refuse if she asks, would it?"

Avlar chuckled. "I suppose not."

"I do know one thing, though," Frederick continued. "You can squeeze her breasts, or suck on them, to make milk come out but you don't have to. If you squeeze her nipples in just the right way it'll spurt out on its own. Milking machines, as I understand, use suction to assist the process but hand milking relies entirely on the breast's own pumping action."

"Does that mean that cows would produce more milk if their udders were sucked on?" Avlar wanted to know.

Frederick frowned. "I don't know. I suppose. I'm not sure I'd want to find out, though."

"I have to agree with you there." Avlar nodded and took a drink.

"Anyway, as I was saying, milk comes out on its own if you stimulate the nipples properly," Frederick continued. "Sometimes it comes out even if you stimulate the nipples improperly. Sometimes it comes out when you aren't even touching them."

"You mean I could be sitting there and she'll start... spurting?" Avlar asked, with a horrified expression on his face.

"Usually it's more of a dribble, and most often it happens at night, while she's asleep," Frederick clarified. "But yes, it could happen while you're with her, and even if you aren't doing anything with her breasts at the time. As I understand it's a hazard of lactation and there really isn't anything you can do about it. It's most important to you 'cause you might go to sleep with her one evening and wake up glued to her chest."

Avlar frowned. "It couldn't be that bad, could it?"

"You've noted the size of Jaquetta's breasts?" Frederick inquired.

"Well-" Avlar fidgeted uneasily. In point of fact he'd thought quite a bit about that very thing. "Yes," he mumbled.

"Jaquetta's nearly twice as tall as a regular woman," Frederick explained. "Which means that her body- and her breasts- enclose eight times as much volume."

"Eight?" Avlar exclaimed, frowning.

"Think about it," Frederick prompted. "Say you have two boxes. Both are square, one twice as long on every side as the other. How many little boxes could you stack in the same amount of room as would be needed for the big one?"

Avlar thought a moment. It was a fairly simple loading problem, and he'd helped lumpers load and unload cars from time to time. "Oh, I see," he said. "Four little boxes in a square, then four more piled on top of them."

"Exactly." Frederick nodded. "So if Jaquetta's breasts are twice as big as those of a regular woman, and otherwise the same shape, there's eight times as much stuff inside them. And she has four of them."

"Oh," Avlar said hollowly. "That's.... thirty-two breasts."

"And we're not talking dinky little A or B cup breasts either," Frederick concluded. "Even if Jaquetta were the same size as Rosalind her boobs would be enormous. E, F, or possibly G cups. Imagine sixteen Widow Franellis."


"And a half. Jaquetta may not look like a cow but she produces as much milk as one. Her dribbles add up to a considerable amount of liquid. If it gets too bad you can cover her chest with a towel. I just wanted to make sure you knew, so it wouldn't come as an unpleasant surprise."

"It's happened to you, I take it?" Avlar ventured.

"Twice," Frederick replied. "Now the last thing is most important because it's why you're here."

"Nectar?" Avlar inquired.

"Exactly." Frederick nodded.

"Where exactly does it... come from?" Avlar asked, with great trepidation.

"Do you want me to come right out and say it?" Frederick countered.

Avlar drew a deep breath, then exhaled it in a heavy sigh. "Go ahead. If I'm not man enough to handle it we might as well find out right now."

"According to Jaquetta's creator, the nectar is produced by a spongy lining in her uterus," Frederick said. "When she comes, it squirts out through her vagina."

For a heart-stopping instant Frederick feared that the whole enterprise had just gone right off the rails. But as the shock cleared from Avlar's expression he looked thoughtful rather than horrified or disgusted. Then he grinned, and giggled. A moment later he was nearly falling out of his chair, convulsed with laughter. In due course he recovered, removing his tie and collar so he could breathe more easily. "That's good," he pronounced. "All these people, putting nectar syrup on the pancakes, in their tea, on their ice cream, and it's really- really-" he cracked up again. When it passed to took a drink of fortified ice tea, but caught himself before setting glass aside. "This is it, isn't it?" he asked.

Frederick nodded. "It's ice tea sweetened with nectar."

"Hmm." He nodded. "Pretty good, actually."

"It's even better fresh." Frederick couldn't help grinning.

"It it?"

"Oh, yes." Frederick nodded. "Though it isn't the flavor so much as the..." he fluttered his fingers. "Experience."

"I can imagine." Avlar nodded in agreement.

"If you decide to sample it yourself you'd best be careful," Frederick warned. "The muscles that push it out were put there to squeeze a baby through a hole that, realistically, is a bit too small for it."

"Oh?" Avlar thought a moment."Oh," he repeated, more soberly. "It... comes out with some force, I take it?"

"That it does," Frederick confirmed. "And the more excited she is the greater the force, as well as the quantity."

"I... see." Avlar stroked his chin thoughtfully. "And considering how worked up she is about me... you're saying that as soon as I look at her she'll light off like a baby geyser."

"We think probably so, yes," Frederick concurred. "Which is exactly why you're here. Nectar doesn't build up on its own the way milk does, or at least not nearly as much. It only really builds up when she's excited."

"I see." Avlar placed his fingertips together, forming a digital steeple. "It's not only that I sleep with her and make her come. I have to make sure she's... having lascivious thoughts about me all the rest of the time, too."

Frederick nodded. "And the more lascivious, the better."

Avlar picked distractedly at his teeth with one fingernail. Sleeping with Jaquetta, then going home to Rosalind, he could handle. But this sounded dangerously like encouraging Jaquetta to love, or at least lust after, him. He could always hope that she'd get tired of him after a year... but his job was to keep her interested. At that rate things would get very interesting indeed by the time his contract ended. He actually opened his mouth to tell Frederick it wouldn't work but a realization stopped him cold: that he'd have to tell Rosalind that she wouldn't be getting her baby after all. He shifted uneasily in his chair; it occurred to him that he should have been more resolute when Jimmy came to them in the first place. Backing out now would cause as much trouble as going forward. Which, in a way, decided the issue. If he wasn't backing out then he had a job to do. "I never had any trouble with Rosalind on that score," he said, rising to his feet. "I suppose I should get started."

Frederick nodded. Frankly, his own thoughts paralleled Avlar's: he could imagine all too many ways how this might end badly. But it wasn't his decision. "All right then. Take off your clothes."

"What, now?" Avlar exclaimed.

"Here, step into the bathroom," Frederick said, gently steering Avlar in that direction. "There's a robe for you to wear. We wouldn't want your nice clothes to be ruined. Jaquetta's likely to rip them. As you say, she's got herself pretty worked up and she's devilishly strong to boot."

"I see." Avlar stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. For a moment he leaned against the sink, staring at himself in the mirror. Shutters excluded the late evening sunshine; a single, small light bulb did little more than add highlights to the dark regions of his face. His hands unbuttoned his shirt but his eyes never left those of his reflection. From the instant he'd first seen her he'd wanted Jaquetta so much he could taste it. Only his determination to remain faithful to his wife had restrained him. And yet, in the supreme irony, here he was, about to have the very thing he'd craved so much... with Rosalind's full knowledge and explicit consent. He didn't even have to give up Rosalind to have it; every other night, and weekends, he'd go back to her.

After folding his shirt Avlar removed his shoes and pants. He was not a particularly devout individual; he went to church because he deemed it the duty of a good husband, not out of any profound belief. He said the prayers and clove to the morals he'd been taught but did so unconsciously, without much thought to the whys and wherefores. Faith, to him, was like breathing: mostly it happened in the background, coming to his attention only in times of great distress. Now was definitely such a time; he wasn't sure he really believed in Heaven or Hell... but he knew he was going off track. And that somewhere down the line he would somehow end up paying in direct proportion to however much he enjoyed himself now.

Avlar donned the robe, tying the sash around his waist. Even in the face of certain retribution his resolve to go forward never wavered, not even slightly. His actions now purchased his and Rosalind's future happiness. For that, no price could possibly be too great. He stepped out of the bathroom, meeting Frederick just outside.

"All right then." Frederick looked Avlar up and down. "You look great. Damn fine, if I say so myself. Only one thing." He rested his hands on Avlar's shoulders, looking him straight in the eye. "You're about to make love to a beautiful woman, not be tortured. A woman who's just as frightened and uncertain us you are. Get me?"

Avlar opened his mouth, but realization struck just as he formed a question. He chuckled ruefully. "It wouldn't help much if I let her think she was torturing me, would it?"

"No, it wouldn't. Especially not now." Frederick put an arm lightly around Avlar's shoulders and guided him to the barn.

In the barn, Alysa sat with both arms around Jaquetta's shoulders. In part it was a comforting gesture, but mostly so she could restrain Jaquetta, should it become necessary. Which was, in large part, why Alysa had agreed to Frederick's plan. No one else could handle Jaquetta if she got hysterical... which had happened several times just in the last few hours.

In fact, Alysa was having serious second thoughts. Upon hearing that Jimmy had secured the object of her desire, Jaquetta had worked herself up into a fearful state. If Avlar failed to live up to her expectations things would get very, very difficult. Frankly Alysa wasn't sure he could, even if he really were the greatest lover who ever was. Alysa would have called the whole thing off but for the fact that doing so invited consequences even more dire than going ahead.

"They're coming," Jilly announced, poking her head in briefly.

Jaquetta tensed, drawing a quick breath. "Just a little bit now," Alysa whispered into her ear, nuzzling it gently and rubbing Jaquetta's shoulders in a vain attempt to loosen them. Needless to say Jaquetta had dressed up, as much as she could. She'd washed, trimmed, brushed, and primped endlessly to make herself as desirable as possible. Then she'd gone and spoiled the effect with repeated bouts of hysterics, leaving her eyes red and puffy, her cheeks wet with tears. Alysa had, between comforting and restraining Jaquetta, corrected the damage as much as possible. Now there wasn't any time left.

The barn door opened. Frederick entered... and then Avlar.

Jaquetta drew a deep, quivering breath, and her whole body went rigid. She didn't even seem to be breathing. Avlar, meanwhile, stood silently in the doorway. He looked, frankly, like a man confronted with an unpleasant task but determined to make the best of it. "Well," Jaquetta whispered in a tiny, trembling voice. "At least he's glad to see me."

On her second glance Alysa noticed that the front of Avlar's robe protruded outward around crotch level. Quite a bit, in fact, attributing generous dimensions to the thing doing the lifting. As interesting as speculating about the bulge may have been, Alysa's gaze quickly returned to Avlar's face. There was where the battle would be won or lost. Clearly Avlar was not a man ruled by his crotch; if so this whole problem never would have come up in the first place.

Avlar swallowed convulsively. He'd more than half expected to find Jaquetta naked. Instead she wore a sleeveless, lime colored dress with a square bodice. Her fur gleamed and her mane- which she'd gathered into a pony tail- practically glowed. A few wisps that had escaped curved sinuously, but the bulk of the hair hung straight. She looked every bit as stunningly beautiful as he'd imagined, and more so. "So-" he began, but cut himself off, realizing that he was about to say something monumentally stupid. "Hello, Jaquetta," he said. "You look beautiful." That almost always worked with Rosalind, so it seemed like a safe bet.

"You look nice too," Jaquetta replied, barely audibly.

Frederick gave Avlar a firm push, then closed the door. Avlar coasted several steps forward, about halving the distance between himself and Jaquetta. Even though she sat with her legs folded under her he still had to look slightly up at her face. "I'm sorry for what I said at, at the depot that day," he began. "You just... caught me by surprise. I... overreacted."

"It's okay," Jaquetta whispered, taking Alysa's hand. Anyone else would have screamed in pain from the intensity of her grip.

"No it isn't," Avlar insisted, moving forward a few more steps. "I never should have said... what I said. It was awful. Hateful." He looked down for a moment, then up again. "It's not true, either." He reached out hesitantly, stroking Jaquetta's cheeks. "You're a beautiful, desirable woman, Jaquetta. I can't imagine any man who wouldn't want to be with you."

In a flash Jaquetta had her arms around Avlar, squeezing him against her, sobbing and wailing inarticulately. Avlar groaned, about all he could manage with Jaquetta crushing the air out of his lungs.

Alysa vacillated between intervening and letting nature take its course. Then Jaquetta shifted her grip, stroking Avlar's head and back while licking his face and shoulders. Alysa watched until Frederick tugged on her hand. Then- reluctantly- she rose and followed him out. "I hope they'll be okay," she said once they'd gone outside.

"Me too," Frederick agreed.

"They seem happy enough now," Alysa continued.

"But what happens in a year?" Frederick suggested.

Alysa only nodded.

Inside the barn, Jaquetta's hand dropped to Avlar's shoulder, slid down his back, and gripped his rump. The flesh she felt through his robe was every bit as firm as she'd imagined. Her hand rose a little, exploring the side of his body just above his hip. Her fingers encountered a small ridge of flesh just above his hip bone.

Due to its location a person might mistake the ridge for a roll of fat, though if so it would be the only one anywhere on Avlar's beautifully sculpted physique. Jaquetta did not make that mistake, and wouldn't have even had her fingers not confirmed the ridge to be made of muscle, not fat. She knew that such ridges were present only in men who spent a great deal of time and energy thrusting with their hips. For all that Rosalind might not seem particularly athletic, she managed to keep her young man well exercised.

Jaquetta had promised herself- and Alysa- that she'd be gentle with Avlar, at least until he got over his initial uncertainty. But, alas, resolve withered along with patience in the face of burning desire, fanned to even greater heat by having its object literally in her grasp. Unable to restrain herself any longer, she tore Avlar's robe off and flung it away, followed almost instantly by her own dress. She took him in her arms, reveling in the sensation of his naked flesh pressed against her own, her hands greedily exploring every part of him.

Avlar, for his own part, passively endured the manhandling, primarily because he was afraid to appear that he might be resisting. Seeing the naked lust in Jaquetta's eyes, he couldn't help thinking that if he equivocated she'd simply take him.

Not so long ago Avlar would have laughed at the notion of a woman raping a man. Assault or abuse, sure. Even torture, with the right equipment. But rape? How could she possibly force him in that particular regard? The physiology was all wrong. Now he couldn't help thinking that perhaps he'd seriously underestimated the possible scope of sexual assault, and strongly suspected that Jaquetta could, if she chose, do quite a number on him even if she never once touched his genitals. And yet... he could have resisted more than he did. He could at least have made a show of resistance. Instead he did nothing as Jaquetta lay him on his back, at an angle. That way, while supporting the weight of her torso on her elbows, her right hand could grope his inner thighs and fondle his genitals while her left rubbed his chest and played with his nipples. He'd be loathe to admit it, aloud or even to himself, but there was something wickedly stimulating about being helpless, of being able only to lay there while Jaquetta took her pleasure from him however she pleased. Then she lowered her head and applied her lips to his other nipple.

Avlar inhaled sharply, which thrust his chest against Jaquetta's mouth and hand. He'd never given much thought to the fact that men also had nipples. Now he became intensely aware of the fact as every gentle pinch, tender caress, and delicate nibble sent blasts of sensation flashing through his body like jolts of electricity. And never once did Avlar think of escaping, mainly because he couldn't think of much of anything. The flood of sensation drowned his conscious mind in a sea of sensual pleasure.

Jaquetta lifted her face away from Avlar's nipples, trailing her tongue across his chest and throat until she reached his face. Delicately, playfully, she licked his cheeks and muzzle. Then her tongue gently but firmly pressed its way into his mouth. Avlar started; this wasn't anything like the tongue-kissing he did with Rosalind. For one, Jaquetta's tongue was quite long. Longer even than could be accounted for by her size alone. Because of that his own tongue couldn't reach her mouth, and she probed far more deeply into his than Rosalind ever had. About all he could do was caress her tongue with his own... and suck on it-

Two realizations struck Avlar simultaneously. One was that the manner in which Jaquetta probed his mouth was much the same as how he probed Rosalind's vagina with his own tongue. The other was that what he was doing to Jaquetta's tongue was much the same as what Rosalind did to his penis, when she took into her mouth. He flinched, violently.

Jaquetta withdrew her tongue. "What's wrong?" she asked, more teasingly rather than worriedly.

"I- I-" Avlar stammered. The thought of articulating these particular feelings aloud mortified him.

"I can't believe you've never kissed with your mouth open," Jaquetta commented, giggling.

"No, it's not that," Avlar exclaimed hurriedly.

"What, then?"

Avlar bit his lip. He really didn't want to say... but he didn't have the option of letting anything impede the progress of this encounter. "It- it's your tongue," he tried. "It... it's so big. When you- when we kiss- what do I do?"

"Why do you need to do anything?" Jaquetta inquired. "What do you do while Rosalind's sucking on your cock? What do you do while she's undressing you? When she's brushing you, or running her hands through your fur? Don't these things give you pleasure, merely knowing that she enjoys them?"

Avlar bit his lip. He couldn't deny that Jaquetta made a very good point. Truth was, the problem had nothing to do with Jaquetta tounging his mouth. It was that equating Jaquetta putting her tongue in his mouth and Rosalind putting his dick in her mouth made him think of putting one in his mouth. And that he simply could not handle. Little boys might play secret games with one another- Avlar had, with some of his clan brothers- but when boys became young men they shifted their attention to young women. To do otherwise was to go contrary to the proper ways of men and women. For his own part Avlar did not ascribe any particular moral weight to the issue, as some did. That others might choose this mode of behavior didn't concern him unduly. His problem of the moment was simply that the idea of putting another man's penis in his mouth made him gag, and definitely put him off the mood for an intimate sexual encounter. "I'm really sorry, I don't mean to be a wet blanket," he said. "Could we... do something else for a while?"

Jaquetta stroked her chin. The look in her eyes made Avlar fidget nervously; he couldn't help thinking that she was contemplating what other perverted practices she could inflict upon him. "Sure," she allowed, giving him a gentle lick on the nose. Then shifted slightly, coiled her tongue around Avlar's penis, and drew it into her mouth.

Avlar moaned, his eyes rolling back. He was no stranger to oral sex; Rosalind seemed to enjoy sucking on his penis as much as he enjoyed licking her vulva. But the very first actual penis she'd ever had in her mouth was Avlar's, which gave her about five years experience, only four of which were steady. Jaquetta, on the other hand, had been trained- not merely from birth but before- in the art of making love. And it made a difference. A huge difference. Enough that Avlar didn't notice Jaquetta place her hands between his legs, gently forcing them apart. He might have noticed, in a distant sort of way, while she caressed his inner thighs and fondled his testicles, but only as a part of the overall sensation flooding into his brain from his crotch. Nor was he in any condition to wonder why she slipped her middle finger into her mouth, sucking on it at the same time as his dick. He did notice when her wet finger slipped between his buttocks, located his anus... and penetrated it, all the way up to the third knuckle. Not that he could do anything about it, other than moan incoherently while his arms and legs twitched like the limbs of a decorticated frog. Jaquetta sucked him all the way down, swallowing at the end of each stroke, her finger thrusting in time with the motion of her head. When Avlar came- after a remarkably short time- he was mildly surprised not to see cum shooting out the back of Jaquetta's head. His whole body twitched with the force of his ejaculations. In fact he never saw so much as a drop of semen; every bit of it vanished down Jaquetta's throat.

"Mmm, that was fun, wasn't it?" Jaquetta murmured, licking her muzzle. "Now it's my turn." She straightened up, turned around, and settled onto her hands and knees.

Very slowly Avlar levered himself up to a sitting position. He found himself staring at Jaquetta's rump. It was firmer than Rosalind's, but whatever it lacked in padding it more than made up in sheer size. And there, in the middle of it, Jaquetta's vulva pouted invitingly, the labia minor presenting their wet, ruddy pink inner faces to him. For a time he only stared; in part his dissipation was due to the intensity of his orgasm, but that wasn't all, not by a long shot. He felt... strangely violated and giddily excited at the same time. As if... as if he'd lost his virginity all over again. Though... not exactly. Again wasn't the right word. Jaquetta had popped his cherry, no doubt about it. But not the same one he'd lost before. This was a completely new one, one he'd never even realized he had until she took it. And now, as to the former virgin he effectively was, the thing he'd never known suddenly became indispensable. He longed to feel Jaquetta's lips and hands on his nipples... and her finger, strong but gentle, probing his soft, inner reaches. He quivered, and his penis stiffened, merely at the thought of it.

Jaquetta looked back questioningly. Avlar blinked, then shook his head to clear it. He had a job to do. He scooted forward, settling himself between Jaquetta's legs. He reached out, but hesitated and drew back. Frederick, he decided, had merely told the simple truth in describing the size of Jaquetta's sexual apparatus. As he gazed upon it Avlar found himself thinking that it was a vagina of which any mare- an actual one, not a Morph- could be proud. He probably could put his whole hand in, not to mention a lot of his forearm.

"Need help?" Jaquetta inquired.

"Certainly not!" Avlar snapped. As if he didn't know what to do with a woman presenting to him! Though perhaps, should he wish to avoid eliciting any further derogatory comments about his masculine prowess, he'd better start doing it. He placed his hands on the highest curves of Jaquetta's buttocks, then slid them down to her thighs. The hairs comprising Jaquetta's pelt were longer and thicker than those of Rosalind's or his own, but they felt as sleek and smooth as they looked. Avlar squeezed, marvelling also at the texture of the flesh beneath the fur. A generous layer of fat- especially on the hips and thighs- gave Jaquetta's body its delightfully rounded look, but he didn't miss the thick slabs of muscle laying beneath it. Even the fat seemed more rigid than, say, Rosalind's. On the other hand, even if Rosalind and Jaquetta were the same size Rosalind's frame would carry significantly more fat and noticeably less muscle. Which, in point of fact, was why Avlar found her so attractive. Merely thinking about her great, squishy buttocks and generous thighs, the rolls around her waist, her protruding belly, and her plump torso would set him to panting. Jaquetta, for all her statuesque perfection and full-figured glory, simply wasn't fat enough.

An image of Jaquetta being as fat as Rosalind popped into Avlar's mind. In the vision she sat on her heels, facing him. Her belly bulged out over her crotch and the tops of her thighs, her colossal breasts piled on top of it like partially deflated water sacks-

"Avlar?" Jaquetta asked, sounding a little concerned this time.

"Huh!" Avlar shook himself all over, as if ridding his fur of water. He gripped Jaquetta's rump tightly but even so his hands quivered. No, no, no, he told himself firmly. Fantasizing about Jaquetta as herself was bad enough. Fantasizing about Jaquetta being like Rosalind... well, the truth was, that might lead him to fantasizing about Rosalind being like Jaquetta. Or anything at all other than exactly what she was. If he wanted a woman with huge tits he should have married one. He could have, in point of fact. Genetics had endowed Cassandra with a most impressive rack... but she wasn't even as full figured as Jaquetta, and compared to Rosalind she was an absolute bitch. Living with her would have been a nightmare. No, Rosalind was the best possible choice... and still was, even given that he might seriously consider exchanging her, which he wouldn't. "I'm all right," he said, hopefully forestalling any further comments on Jaquetta's part. Still and all, he couldn't help thinking that he wasn't putting in a very good showing as her ultimate sexual fantasy. Which, interestingly enough, more than anything else pulled him out of his funk and set him back on track. It offended his work ethic to do a half-assed job. "I'm sorry, this is all just... a little overwhelming, that's all," he added, straddling her left calf and pressing his body against her thigh and rump. With his left hand he reached around her leg as far as he could and rubbed her belly. It lacked the soft, fleshy rolls that made Rosalind's such a delight to caress, but given how Jaquetta sighed and let her head droop it wasn't any less sensitive. With his right hand he cupped her vulva. For half a second he hesitated, then he thought of the muscle he felt on her legs and rump. It seemed unlikely that he'd ever have to worry about hurting her. In light of that he estimated about twice the force he'd use on Rosalind, then squeezed and shoved, as if he were trying to push her crotch up into her belly. She drew a sharp breath and thrust back against his hand, so he figured he must have judged correctly. He quickly realized, however, that he couldn't maintain the necessary pressure with his hand alone. As he squeezed and pressed he felt the strain in his forearm. He'd have to stop soon if he kept it up. He shifted his grip so he could use his pectorals for the thrusting, leaving only the squeezing for his fingers. After a bit- and seeing that Jaquetta responded favorably- he curled his fingers, pressing them into her vagina, while keeping the heel of his hand against her clitoris. Jaquetta let out something that might have been an exclamation or an extra loud gasp; he couldn't tell which.

There didn't seem to be anything at all unusual about the hot, sticky fluid that oozed from Jaquetta's vagina as Avlar continued to stimulate it. The liquid smelled the same as what Rosalind produced. Though there was somewhat more of it. Enough, in fact, that it began drizzling down the inside of Avlar's wrist. Avlar shifted his grip again, so he could probe more deeply with his fingers, transferring clit-rubbing duty to his thumb. There was a spot inside Rosalind where, if he rubbed it with his fingertips while stroking her clit with his thumb she would squeal in a most gratifying fashion. He quickly realized, though, that if Jaquetta had such a spot he wouldn't be able to reach it one-handed; it would be too far inside. He tried reaching for her crotch from the front with his left hand but her thigh was too big around to allow him a good grip. Oh, what the Hell, he decided after a moment's consideration. Jaquetta didn't seem to be in the mood for gentle, delicate love-making. He leaned back, straightening his right arm and rotating his hand so his thumb pointed up at her anus. With his thumb jammed against her perineum he stroked the inside of her vagina with his fingers and marvelled at the fact that he wasn't anywhere near hitting bottom. He drew his hand out completely and, on an impulse, licked his palm. The fluid coating it tasted more or less as he expected... except for a sweet, fruity overtone. The very one, he realized, that he'd noticed in the tea Frederick gave him. Frederick was right, he decided. It did taste better straight from the source.

While Avlar licked his fingers Jaquetta shifted onto her back, drawing her knees up and spreading them wide. He glanced at her quizzically; she looked back hopefully. His gaze dropped to her crotch and he grinned, licking his muzzle. He lay down on his belly, wrapping his arms as far as he could around her thighs, and contemplated her vulva, which lay right before his nose. Up close he could actually smell the fruity overtone. He flicked out his tongue and ran it across the full breadth of her sex, from bottom to top. Odd flavor or no, there wasn't anything the least bit strange about the feel of her hot, soft, slick flesh under his tongue. Nor in the way she moaned, her thighs quivering. Alvar savored the taste for a moment then attacked in earnest. He stroked the labia with his tongue and teased them with his lips. He nibbled and sucked delicately at her clitoris. Several times he thrust his muzzle inside her so he could reach farther with his tongue. In fact, he did so more and more as time passed; the fruity component was getting larger and he wanted every last drop-

Suddenly Avlar recalled something Frederick had said. He jerked his head back, staring at Jaquetta's vulva as if it were the muzzle of a loaded gun. It comes out with some force, I take it? Avlar had asked. That it does, and the more excited she is the greater the force, as well as the quantity, Frederick had responded. Avlar glanced up but he couldn't see Jaquetta's face past her breasts, which heaved and bounced as she gasped and moaned. Her thighs quivered, her knees twitching together and apart as if she wanted to clamp her legs around his head. Which Rosalind did sometimes, if she found his tongue especially persuasive. He hoped Jaquetta wasn't so inclined; she could easily squeeze hard enough to suffocate him, if she didn't break his neck outright.

Which wasn't, by any stretch, Avlar's immediate problem. He glanced around frantically- and fortunately there was a can, right by Jaquetta's left hip. He grabbed it and rolled out of the way.

Just in time. Barely in time. The first pulse splashed off the can's lip, spattering the floor, Jaquetta's leg, and Avlar's face. The next went in squarely as Avlar finished positioning the can. And the next, and the next, and the next. Now Avlar found a new worry: to catch the spurts of nectar he'd had to lay the can on its side. Would Jaquetta's orgasm run its course before nectar started spilling out onto the floor?

Eventually the pulses slacked off. Jaquetta relaxed with a deep sigh. Avlar stood the can up; fortunately it wasn't that full. Even so a goodly amount of nectar ended up on the floor; even at the beginning, between each pulse a certain amount drizzled out instead of spurting. It covered her entire crotch down to her anus and pooled against her buttocks.

Avlar sat up, looked into the can, then sniffed. It smelled fruity, not like it had come out of someone's vagina at all. He dipped his finger in and tasted; now he could pick out the delicate bouquet of wet pussy. That the nectar was still blood warm probably accentuated it. He quivered, a rush of heat flashing through him. His penis, already stiff, hardened even more. He decided that he wanted to repeat this experience, just as soon as he could. "Hmm, I guess I should have had you on your hands and knees," he commanded, smiling warmly. "Shall we try it again?"

"Well... if you insist," Jaquetta replied, assuming the indicated position.

Avlar knelt between Jaquetta's legs, studying her crotch. This time he made sure the can was within easy reach before starting. "What a terrible mess," he commented, clucking in dismay. "We can't have that. I'm sure its unhygienic or something." A distant corner of his mind wasn't so sure that cleaning the spilled nectar from Jaquetta's crotch with his tongue was any more hygienic, but he wasn't about to say so and neither did Jaquetta. By the time he finished the fluid on his hand had dried, so he washed it off in the sink- with warm water, of course, knowing full well what would happen if he tried touching Jaquetta's nether regions with ice cold fingers. Upon his return he closed his fingers into a fist and thrust, as if throwing a punch in slow motion. He watched in amazement as Jaquetta's labia stretched around his closed hand without undue difficulty. He kept pushing and, with more than half his forearm inside her, finally felt his knuckles touch her cervix. He drew back, bracing his left arm against her rump and grabbing the base of her tail for stability, then started pumping his arm in and out, rotating his wrist as he did. Every so often he opened his hand so he could stroke her inside.

This time Avlar was ready. He watched carefully as Jaquetta squeezed her breasts with one arm while furiously masturbating with the other, even as he continued thrusting with his own arm. When she threw her head back, her breath hissing between tightly clenched teeth, he jerked his arm out and pushed the can into place. The nectar came as hard and fast as before, and in just as much quantity too.

"My, my," Avlar commented, swirling the nectar in the can.

"Third time's the charm?" Jaquetta suggested hopefully.

"Oh, sure, why not," Avlar replied. Once again he licked up the spilled nectar, then washed both his hands and Jaquetta's crotch. This time he had her kneel against the wall so he could set the can under her. He knelt against her left hip; that way he could reach her crotch from the front with this right hand and from the back with his left. He probed inside her with all eight fingers at once, rubbing her clit with his thumb. In not much time at all yet another batch of nectar spurted into the can.

"Avlar?" Jaqeutta called while he washed his hands.

"Hmm?" Avlar turned. Jaquetta had laid down on her belly, facing away from him, her legs apart. She looked entreatingly back over her shoulder at him. He started to point out that on her belly wasn't a practical position for harvesting nectar but snapped his mouth shut before speaking. It occurred to him suddenly that she might have something else in mind.

"It's your turn now," Jaquetta said quietly. Entreatingly.

Avlar licked his lips. He'd dreaded this moment. "I... I appreciate the offer, I really do," he responded, struggling to keep his voice calm. "But... I don't think I could do you justice anyway. You're so big, and I'm so... small."

"I... it doesn't matter, Avlar," Jaquetta countered. "You've already given me something truly wonderful. If only I could give you some of the pleasure you've given me, that would be enough."

Avlar left the sink and knelt by Jaquetta's head. "And that you have," he assured, taking her cheeks in his hands and massaging them gently. "Being with you has been... absolutely incredible. A dream." He licked her nose.

"For me too," Jaquetta agreed, laying a hand on Avlar's chest and stroking it gently.

In this tender moment Avlar noticed something. Jaquetta still lay on her belly, her torso propped up on her left elbow. Despite this her breasts wouldn't fit in the space between her chest and the floor. They bulged out to the side, the lower pair so much that they almost seemed to be attached on the side of her body rather than the front. He even saw the nipples, just peeking out from beneath the mounds of flesh. He swallowed convulsively; now didn't strike him as the time to be ogling Jaquetta's breasts but he couldn't help it. Even worse, his penis responded to the stimulation by stiffening noticeably.

Jaquetta didn't miss Avlar's furtive glances, nor the reaction of his manly organ. She smiled, gently but more than a touch wickedly. "Do you like my boobs, Avlar?" she inquired, shifting her hand to Avlar's penis and caressing it gently.

"Yes, I do," Avlar admitted. He couldn't see any point to telling anything other than the truth, even were honesty not strongly a part of his nature. "They're... unbelievable. I never would have imagined that ones so large could be so perfect."

Jaquetta giggled, her had still at work. "Call it a miracle of genetics." She let go and sat up, slipping her hands under her upper breasts and presenting them. "There's a network of ligaments inside the breasts, which support them, keep them firm, and give them their nice, round shape." She emphasized that quality in her own breasts by running her hands over them slowly, especially in the area around the nipples. "They're called Cooper's Ligaments. Every woman has them, but over time they stretch and the breasts get all floppy and saggy. It happens faster if the breasts are especially heavy, or the woman gives milk. My master gave me a stronger, more extensive network, optimized for my size, and reinforced with muscle so it can expand and contract as my breasts fill and empty. Like a built-in bra, you might say. Did he not do a good job, Avlar?"

Avlar said nothing. He was only peripherally aware that Jaquetta had asked him a question. Bits and pieces of her little exposition floated through his mind, disconnected and devoid of context. The soft, quiet tone of her voice and the motions of her hands had hypnotized him. Now he could only stare at Jaquetta's breasts, which filled his mind as they filled his vision. Had he been capable of articulating it he might have said that he'd rather Jaquetta's creator hadn't done such a good job. One reason he liked fat girls was because they generally had fat, saggy breasts, which their slimmer sisters generally lacked. On the other hand, size also figured strongly. In his fevered imagination he saw ladies with bulging, pendulous gams hanging down past their elbows... or even their waists. Jaquetta, of course, wasn't like that. But she would be, without her built-in bra. And her breast were so very, very... large. Easily twice the size of a normal woman's... and a busty one at that. He was gazing at his fantasy rendered in flesh. More than his fantasy; even there he'd never imagined a bust so big.

Only with some difficulty did Jaquetta resist the urge to laugh. She read Avlar's thoughts in his expression and body language as clearly as if they were printed in flaming letters on his forehead. She'd found his weakness at last: the unswervingly faithful Avlar was a tit man. Married to a woman who, though nice enough by all accounts, had no boobs to speak of (at least, not by Jaquetta's standards). Still, Jaquetta said not a word and made sure her thoughts didn't show on her face. There wasn't anything to say; her mammaries and Avlar's own frustrated desires would do her work for her. When she felt he'd stewed long enough she took his hands and laid them on her upper breasts, pressing them firmly into the soft flesh. Then she moved them in languid circles, stroking herself with his hands. After a moment he moved his hands on his own, without her prompting. She let her hands fall to her sides, letting him proceed at his own pace. "You need to check them carefully," she commented.

"Wha?" Avlar blinked, looking up.

"When you keep dairy stock, it's important that the mammaries be healthy," Jaquetta explained. "It's a good idea to inspect them from time to time. The skin should be smooth and supple, free of defects. The flesh underneath should be smooth and soft, without lumps or sore spots."

"Is that so," Avlar mused, halting his ministrations to study Jaquetta's mammaries. "They look absolutely perfect," he declared. "But what sort of farmer would I be if I didn't check carefully, hmm?" He cupped her upper left breast, meaning to lift it, but instincts adapted to Rosalind failed him with Jaquetta. One aspect of the problem was weight; this breast alone weighed a good eighteen kilograms, he estimated. Another was size; where one of Rosalind's breasts would fit comfortably in the palm of his hand, Jaquetta's wouldn't. He couldn't spread his fingers enough to stably support it. So instead he cradled it in his left forearm, reaching up underneath with his right hand. The fur felt a bit oily but that was only to be expected given that it was almost always enclosed by a deep fold of flesh. He worked his way up through her cleavage onto the top, reveling in the soft, supple feel of her skin and fur as he gently but thoroughly explored the rises and crannies of her body. He marvelled at how having two extra breasts gave Jaquetta three extra cleavages: one between the lower pair, and one between the upper and lower pair on each side. He investigated each and every one, reaching in until his fingertips touched bottom.

Even with the examination complete Avlar found himself loathe to give up his exploration. He shifted his attention to Jaquetta's nipples. They were human ones made large, not the sort one would find on a cow or a mare. They stood proudly at the center of their aureolae, whose hairless, textured skin set them apart from the equally black but furry skin all around. He stroked one between two of his fingers.

"Curl your fingers around it and squeeze gently," Jaquetta suggested. "Don't tug. A gentle squeeze'll be enough."

Avlar did as instructed... and started as milk spurted into his palm. Then he remembered what Frederick had told him. He started to wipe his hand on his thigh but caught himself and licked it instead. Like many around Brooks county he'd started using vixen milk in his tea. He even took it straight from time to time. But always chilled and from a glass, like regular cow's milk. Now he understood that he'd never truly tasted vixen milk. The warmth of Jaquetta's body brought out a vibrancy in the flavor that somehow didn't survive processing and packaging. Suddenly he knew exactly what he wanted. Using both hands this time he lifted her upper left breast, took the nipple into his mouth, and started sucking.

Jaquetta gasped. Her eyelids fluttered and her hands quivered. Then she gathered Avlar in her arms, cradling him in her lap as if he were a baby, stroking his head and shoulders with one hand, his hips and lower back with the other. He nursed languidly, drawing a mouthful and then swallowing, pausing occasionally to lick the nipple and aureola. His hands roamed across her breasts and torso, stroking, caressing, and gently squeezing. When he finally stopped she was acutely disappointed. Then she noticed his stomach, swollen with the milk he'd drank. She set him on her shoulder, supporting him with a hand on his rump and patting on the back. He let out a tremendous belch. That done she set him on her lap once more, facing the other way, and guided the nipple of her upper right breast into his mouth. He took it and started nursing once more.

If asked what oxcytocin was, Avlar would have responded with a blank look. Jaquetta could have explained to him that oxytocin was a hormone, produced by her hypothalamus in response to physical stimulation of her breasts and nipples by his hands and mouth. Its presence in her blood caused her breasts to "let down" their milk, so it could be extracted through her nipples. It also affected her brain, encouraging pair bonding and nurturing behaviors necessary in mammal mothers. She could have told him all these things... if she'd thought of them herself. Nor did she reflect on the fact that the system designed to make her love and cherish her baby would work just as well on someone who wasn't a baby, but stimulated the system the way a baby would. All she did think of just then was that Avlar's gentle nursing filled her with warm contentment. The feeling wasn't as strong as sexual desire, but like the coals of a banked fire it gave a strong, steady, long-lasting heat, as opposed to the intense but short-lived flames of lust. When he stopped drinking she burped him again and offered another nipple but he only nuzzled it. She held him there, nestled against her body, and stroked him until he drifted off to sleep. Then she carried him to her room and lay down, keeping him nestled against her for all the world like a mother curled around her new baby.

Light streaming through the windows summoned Frederick back to consciousness. That and Alysa shifting beneath him. "Morning, love," he said, licking the bottom of her chin.

"Morning." Alysa returned the gentle nuzzle. "Sorry, but I have to lay now."

"No problem." Frederick rolled off; Alysa sat up, leaning back on her hands, legs apart. Frederick knelt between her knees, gently caressing her vulva. They'd discovered a while ago that she laid more easily after mild stimulation. Not so much as to bring her to orgasm, just enough to make sure her vagina was relaxed and well lubricated. If the egg took a while to arrive- which it did sometimes- Frederick would supplement caresses with licks, kisses, and the occasional tongue probe. Alysa's secretions weren't sweetened like Jaquetta's but that didn't matter to Frederick. By his way of thinking, any man who complained about the flavor after eating a woman out was missing the whole point of the exercise.

This morning the egg arrived fairly quickly, after about five minutes. When the end of the egg appeared in Alysa's vaginal opening Frederick gripped it with his fingers and gently pulled it out. "Congratulations, ma'am," he announced, holding it up where Alysa could see. "It's an egg."

Alysa's right ear twitched and a wistful expression flicked across her features. "Frederick," she began in the tone of one broaching a delicate subject, "Have you ever thought about... having kids?"

Frederick sat, holding the egg in both hands, staring at it thoughtfully while rotating it slowly. "No," he admitted. "But only because... I never thought I'd be in a place where I could raise them." He didn't look up because he didn't want Alysa to see his eyes. He'd told the truth but not the whole truth. That humans selfishly kept the right of procreation to themselves, while forcing Morphs to pay exorbitantly for the privilege, filled him with hatred so intense it frightened him. He didn't even like thinking about it; all too easily he could see himself killing every single human he met simply for belonging to a species that could do such a thing.

Alysa didn't know the cause of Frederick's distress but she saw the distress itself as clearly as she saw the morning sunshine. Without a word she enfolded him in her arms, pressing him against her, stroking his head and back. He tensed briefly, then relaxed. "Maybe we could save up, like Rosalind and Avlar," Alysa suggested.

"Sure," Frederick agreed, though he knew well that Jimmy didn't pay them enough to have a chance of getting a kid before both of them were old and gray. Still, even that would be better than nothing. "But do you know what I'd really like to see?" he asked, working the egg out from between their bodies and holding it up. "I dream that one day I'll break open one of these eggs... and there'll be a little baby foxie inside."

Alysa tightened her grip suddenly, tears running down her cheeks and vanishing into the fur on Frederick's shoulder. "That's... a beautiful dream," she whispered. "I... wish I could make it come true." Not until that very moment had she realized how very much she wanted to produce a baby for Frederick.

"I know." Frederick clung to Alysa until her warm presence melted the chilling rage he felt growing in his heart, as cold as the center of an ancient glacier. Only then did he dare look up and nuzzle Alysa's cheek. "We should go check on Jaquetta and Avlar," he added.

"Yes." Alysa took the egg and set it aside, then left the shed and headed for the barn, with Frederick still in her arms and without bothering to dress. Clothing seemed to mean nothing to her and Frederick certainly wasn't about to complain.

"Hello?" Alysa cautiously opened the door to Jaquetta's room. In it Jaquetta and Avlar lay on the pile of cushions, him on his side in a fetal position, her in a similar position facing him, her limbs and body curled around him.

Avlar blinked as he awoke. He didn't recognize the voice, and that worried him. Almost at once another worry displaced that one: he couldn't breathe. He seemed to be suffocating under something that felt like a fur-lined comforter stuffed with raw dough. Only after he'd struggled free did he realize that his face had been pressed against Jaquetta's breasts. Which looked even bigger and more round than they had last night. He stared, his mouth gaping in shock.

"It's the milk," Frederick explained. "As her breasts fill they swell up. Did you milk her last night?"

"Well-" Avlar began. In a manner of speaking, he supposed.

The sound of a train whistle drifting across the fields interrupted whatever else Avlar might have said. "Omigod!" he shrieked, jumping to his feet. "I'm late! Gotta run, dear." He gave Jaquetta a peck on the cheek, only then noticing that she wasn't Rosalind. Fortunately he turned away before she noticed his expression, but Frederick did notice. He kept silent but frowned. "Where are my clothes?" he demanded, looking around frantically.

"Did he bring any work clothes?" Alysa inquired.

"I didn't see any," Frederick replied.

"Go get him a pair of overalls," Alysa directed. Frederick hurried off. The whistle blew again; Avlar moaned.

"They're stopped," Alysa decided. "Down by the culvert over Fanno creek, I'd guess."

"Shall I take him down?" Jaquetta asked, getting up on her knees.

"Sure, but don't forget to dress first," Alysa responded.

"Oh? Right." Jaquetta had several dresses hanging over the rafters; she pulled one down and slipped it on. Then Frederick arrived with the overalls and shoes, which Avlar hastily donned. Jaquetta scooped him up in her arms and took off at a run, tearing right through the middle of the lower field. Travelling on the creek bed forced a more cautious pace, especially when she had to wade. Eventually she reached the pool by the culvert. #L4021 stood on the tracks there, with a flat car and a livestock car behind it and Curtis leaning out the window.

"'Bout time you got here, slug-a-bed," Curtis shouted as Jaquetta struggled up the gravel embankment.

"Yeah, yeah," Avlar muttered. Because of Jaquetta's height Avlar found he could step right out of her arms onto the locomotive's catwalk... or could have if she relaxed her grip. "Jaquetta?" he asked, pushing gently but firmly against her forearms. Jaquetta blinked and her arms quivered briefly before letting go. Avlar leapt onto the catwalk and Curtis set the train in motion. Jaquetta stood there long after it vanished from sight. She never made a sound but tears streamed down her cheeks.

For the umpteenth time Rosalind twitched the bodice of her dress and crossed her legs the opposite direction. Though it was summer and the sun nearly set, Avlar wasn't late, really. The nature of his job was such that one day he might come home in the middle of the afternoon, and another he'd wouldn't arrive until after midnight. This looked to be a late one, was all. Rather convenient, actually; it gave her plenty of time to prepare dinner... and herself. She'd bathed and slipped into something she figured Avlar might like. And added a touch of makeup, just to top things off. And put on some nice music... and set out a collection of oils and devices that he might want to use later...

Rosalind re-crossed her legs and tugged at her bodice. Her left nipple popped out. With a muttered curse she stuffed it back in. Now she had to arrange it all over again-

The front door opened. Footsteps sounded in the hall.

In spite of all her preparations- both mental and physical- for a moment Rosalind couldn't speak or act. Then bounced off the couch and hurried into the front hall. There she found Avlar, taking off his boots. "Hello dear," she said. "How was your day?"

Avlar froze, one boot on and one off. Rosalind wore a dress he'd never known she had: a sleek, lavender affair that clung to her body like a second skin, a bodice cut so low her aureolae would have showed if they weren't black, and a skirt slit on either side all the way up to her hip bones. He could actually see her belly button through the material. Moreover, she'd styled her fur and applied makeup as if she were headed out on a hot date. What really paralyzed him with shock, though, were her eyes. The look he saw in them was such as he might see in the eyes of a lion, gazing down upon a crippled antelope. "It was... long, but not to difficult," he finally managed. "We ran all the way out to Enterprise to pick up a load. Got halfway back with it only to find out that someone up there had messed up the paperwork, so we'd grabbed the wrong one, and had to take it back."

"Are you hungry? Dinner's ready." Rosalind practically dragged Avlar into the kitchen and sat him down. He ate mechanically, without really noticing the food. Which was a pity; as well as having a sweet, loving disposition and a delightfully plump figure, she was one heck of a cook. But there was something else, too. She put great stock in being a proper young woman, but beneath the quiet, demure aspect she presented publicly lay a seething cauldron of passion. Sort of like a dormant volcano laying beneath green fields and lush forests. Out of sight most of the time, but capable of bursting onto the scene at any moment, without any warning. Most often it came out in bed, which Avlar didn't mind in the least. In fact it was one of the main things that had attracted him to her in the first place. The simple, uncomplicated joy she felt with the giving and receiving of sensual pleasure delighted him as much, or more, than the act itself. But that fuel of passion made her rage burn just as hot as her lust. Since it wouldn't be proper for her to let it out in public, she kept it bottled up... until she could safely vent it, most often on him.

Right then Rosalind exhibited an aspect Avlar hadn't seen before. It was as if anger and lust had fused into a single thing. She looked about ready to attack him, without a doubt... but she wouldn't be hitting and screaming at him. Not by a long shot. Avlar paused, apparently lingering over his meal but actually considering his options. Oh, what the Hell, he decided, dabbing at his mouth with a napkin. It wasn't as if waiting would make things any easier. The opposite, more likely. He recalled hearing about people who triggered avalanches, the idea being that if you couldn't stop it, at least you could make it happen on your terms. He rose, beaming happily, and took Rosalind in his arms. "It was absolutely wonderful, Darling," he said, lifting her face and kissing her on the mouth. In his mind he counted down. Three, two, one-

There wasn't an explosion exactly. There was a chorus of crashes as dishes were swept off the table. A number of pings as buttons popped from Avlar's overalls hit the floor. Cloth being ripped. After that there wasn't much sound except for a rhythmic thumping as the kitchen table shifted back and forth. And a collection of other incidental noises which continued late into the night.

Jimmy entered the barn and stopped dead. A whole row of cans stood waiting to be collected. Though sealed, he could tell by the lingering odor that they all contained nectar. A moment later Frederick appeared, whistling tunelessly and carrying the rake over he used to clean the chicken slanted back across his shoulder and a feet bucket in his hand. Jimmy turned suddenly. "Frederick," he said. "Did Jaquetta produce all this nectar by herself?"

"Well, with Avlar's help," Frederick replied.

"No no," Jimmy cut in impatiently. "I mean without you and Alysa.... helping her, like you did before."

"That is correct." Frederick nodded. "Alysa and I haven't needed to help her at all."

"Wow." Jimmy removed his hat and tapped it against his chest. Then he frowned. "Wait a sec. If she produced all this when Avlar's here, shouldn't she swell up like a balloon in between times?"

"Probably, if she in fact did that," Frederick responded. "Believe it or not she produces most of this on her own, between times."

"On her own?" Jimmy's frown deepened.

"Well, you know," Frederick said calmly. "Tickling her taco? Dating her hand?"

"Oh." Jimmy looked away suddenly, his face turning red. "Well... " He drew a deep breath. "At least... she's having a good time." He put his hat back on his head and set off, whistling cheerfully.

Frederick watched Jimmy go, then put his equipment away. On the way out of the barn he met Alysa, returning from the upper field with a spool of fence wire balanced on her shoulder. "Hey, Alysa," he called. "Everything's going great."

"Is it?" Alysa inquired, putting the spool down.

"Jimmy says so," Frederick responded.

"Well, then, it must be true," Alysa proclaimed, examining the cans full of nectar.

"What amazes me is that she produces most of this by fantasizing about him and masturbating while he's gone," Frederick commented.

"Jimmy's getting his money's worth out of him," Alysa observed in a voice utterly devoid of tone.

"For now, yes," Frederick stroked his chin. "Things'll get mighty interesting once the contract's up, though." Another pause. "Wonder if Avlar's ever thought of having two wives?"

Alysa snorted. "His head would explode."

Frederick smiled crookedly. "Which one?"

Alysa snorted again, but smiled also. "Don't hardly matter, does it? Between Rosalind and Jaquetta, they'd probably fuck him to death."

"Not a bad way to go," Frederick put in, but Alysa looked away. He took her hand, squeezing gently. "Don't beat yourself up," he said. "You were doing the best you could for someone you liked. Heck, I coulda said something but I didn't." He patted her hand, then gave her a friendly hug. Of course he had to put his arms around her waist, but since that put his face between her lower breasts he didn't mind so much. Rather nice, actually. "Feel like taking a break?" he asked hopefully.

Alysa, who'd begun stroking Frederick's head, paused. "Sure," she agreed after brief consideration. Frederick smiled warmly up at her and let go. Hand in hand they retired to their room.

"Here you go, Brucie," Rosalind said, setting the platter down on the table. "Your usual, just the way you like it. I'll be back with the ketchup." The platter was so big she couldn't carry it one handed.

"Thank you kindly, Rosalind," Bruce replied, beaming happily. "Give Specs my compliments."

"Aren't you going to taste it first?" Rosalind inquired.

"Don't need to," Bruce said. "It's always delicious."

Rosalind chuckled as she turned away to fetch a bottle of ketchup. Bruce Malvern happened to be one of only three people she knew who put it on eggs. He also happened to be the only person she knew who could eat an entire One Egg Omelette by himself. Not all at once, of course; half of it went into his lunch pail for later.

For her own part, Rosalind might have been interested to know that she was the only person- other than his mother- who could call Mr. Malvern "Brucie." He worked on the track gang, and years of swinging a spike maul had given him a trunk and limbs as thick and powerful as an old oak's. Anyone else calling him Brucie would end up with their teeth punched out through the back of their head. When Rosalind said it, though, he giggled like a schoolboy.

With the ketchup delivered Rosalind scanned the cafe. One patron needed more water, another more milk for his coffee. She delivered the required items briskly and with a few pleasant words for their recipients. That taken care of she rested a moment by the end of the counter. From there she noticed a group of young women on the platform, clustered together and obviously deep in conversation. When one of them noted Rosalind's scrutiny she started and urgently communicated with her companions. The group moved away, out of sight.

For just an instant Rosalind's face twisted into a look of sneering disdain that would have shocked and horrified her friends and patrons. Except Avlar and her mother, who perhaps knew more of Rosalind's nature than she realized.

June didn't miss the look, though it came and went in a flash. And it did shock and horrify her, though she'd divined more of Rosalind's inner nature that most people. She eased up casually, planting her elbows on the back of the counter. "Hey, Roz," she said quietly. "What's with that gaggle of old hens out there? They've been hanging around for days now."

"They aren't that old," Rosalind observed. The young women- some Morph, some human- were all about her age.

"They act the part," June replied shortly. "Studying diligently to become a pack of noisy old busybodies."

"That's for sure," Rosalind agreed.

June's lips compressed. She'd heard things; the railroad cafe was the clearing house for gossip from all over the county. Since Rosalind was being deliberately obstinate, that left no option. "They're here 'case of you," she said. "They're talking about Avlar."

Rosalind's head snapped around. For a heart-stopping instant June actually thought that Rosalind would fly into a screaming rage. Then, with a visible effort, Rosalind fought it down. June, however, didn't find the return of Rosalind's gentle, friendly demeanor to be in the least bit reassuring. It seemed too much like locking the lid on a pot so it wouldn't rattle and fume. Sure it calmed things down right then, but in the future there'd be an even worse noise. "What's going on, Rosalind?" June wanted to know.

"I know what Avlar's doing," Rosalind said after a pause. She knew that June wouldn't be put off; she'd keep on until she found what she wanted to know, one way or another. "He's doing it because I told him to."

"Why?" June demanded.

"Because if he does it Jimmy'll buy us a child."

June blinked. "Roz-" she began.

"I have a signed contract," Rosalind cut in.

June licked her lips. Rosalind's eyes, normally so soft and gentle, were now as hard and cold as steel. Arguing, she realized, would be totally useless. She sighed and gave Rosalind a hug. "Just... look out, okay? I don't know what I'd do if anything happened either of you."

After only the briefest of hesitations Rosalind returned the hug. Even now, gentleness came most naturally to her. "It'll work, June, I promise," she whispered. "Avlar's a good man. Better than- than I ever imagined."

June noted the hesitation and wondered what else Rosalind might have said, but forbore to comment. Now wasn't the time-

The phone rang. Specs picked it up. "Ruby Junction cafe, Specs speaking," he announced. "Uh huh," he added after a moment glancing toward June and Rosalind. "Hey Roz. It's your hubby."

"Okay." Rose broke loose and hurried over. "Hello?" she asked, taking the phone.

"Hi darling," Avlar's voice said from the other end. "I'm sorry, but we're on the Peedee run for a couple days."

Rosalind sighed. Going to Peedee took all day; Avlar would have to spend the night out there in a crew bunk. He'd only be home every other night. "Oh don't apologize, it's just how the job-" she began. She stopped when the implications struck her. Because of the timing, he'd be away on the nights assigned to her and in town on the nights assigned to Jaquetta. Rosalind would end up seeing him only on Saturday and Sunday.

"Tell Jimmy I'm sorry, but I can't make it this week," Avlar said.

"No no," Rosalind interjected hurriedly. "I'm not giving that man any reason to think we're defaulting on our agreement. Just... stick to the plan. I'll manage."


"Please, Avlar!" Rosalind paused, taking a deep breath. "I'll make it up to you on Saturday," she promised in a sultry whisper.

At the other end of the line, in the express office in Junction City, Avlar found it necessary to adjust the inseam of his overalls. "I'm not worried about me," he declared firmly. "I want to be sure you're all right."

Back in Brooks Rosalind dabbed at her eyes, which had filled with tears. "I will be," she assured. "It won't last forever... and then we'll have our baby."

Avlar paused for quite some time. He couldn't see over the telephone, of course, but he was absolutely certain that Rosalind was making her goo-goo eyes at the receiver. Just knowing that was enough to shatter his resistance. "Okay," he said softly. "I'll be thinking of you."

"I know." Rosalind smiled. "I'll be thinking of you, too."

In Junction City Curtis cleared his throat and pointedly tapped his watch. Avlar nodded. "Gotta go. Love you."

"Love you too." Rosalind kissed the phone. Avlar hung up and the line went dead. She sighed and returned the receiver to its cradle. For Avlar, Peedee runs only came up when the timber harvest was more than the regularly assigned crews could handle. Which didn't happen often... but when it did happen it could go on for weeks. With luck the timing would change... but if it didn't she'd only see her husband on weekends. But he wasn't just going away. He'd be with her.

At that moment Rosalind came as close as she ever had to canceling the whole agreement. Ruthlessly she pushed the thought aside. Avlar was doing this for her. The least she could do was be worthy of his sacrifice. She cleaned up her face and composed her expression.

June didn't believe it for a second. Avlar had said something that made Rosalind look as if the floor had dropped out from under her feet. But here too, June realized, arguing would be useless. So she gave Rosalind a friendly squeeze, which Rosalind gratefully returned. More customers had come in and there was work to be done so they parted to do it. This plan of hers better damn work, June thought grimly. If it don't, there'll be Hell to pay.

When Ilsa brought her truck to a stop in Jimmy's barn yard she jammed the brake so hard all four wheels locked and the vehicle skidded sideways in a cloud of dust. Without bothering to shut off the fuel cell she leapt out, slamming the door behind her, and marched toward the house. Because of the drifting dust she didn't notice Jimbo in time to evade him. She side-stepped but he merely snaked out an arm and trapped her. She struggled for a moment, but he out-massed her by more than half, with every gram of it rock hard muscle. "Let me go!" she commanded imperiously.

"What'cha gonna do if I do?" Jimbo calmly inquired.

"Give that filthy son of a bitch a piece of my mind!" Ilsa bellowed.

"Darla already did that, Miss Ilsa," Jimbo pointed out.

Ilsa drew a breath to fire off another angry retort, but by then the implications of Jimbo's words sank into her mind and blew out the breath in an exasperated sigh. "I guess... yelling at him wouldn't help, would it?"

"Nope," Jimbo agreed. "Make things a lot worse, I'd say."

Ilsa bit her lip. "I just wish-"

"Probably woulda been better if he'd talked to you before doin' it, sure," Jimbo agreed. "But now as he's done it, what can he do? Rosalind and Avlar really want that kid. You gonna tell 'em they can't have it?"

"They're selling their souls for it, and Jimmy's selling his for nectar," Ilsa snapped.

Jimbo shrugged. "May as be. He's gotta support us somehow, don't he? And you started him on this ice cream thing. You sent him to Mazama, too, where he got stuck with Jilly and Jaquetta."

Ilsa gritted her teeth, then slumped against Jimbo's side. "Damn it," she muttered, but without any heat.

"I think Jimmy could really use your help, Miss Ilsa," Jimbo commented. "I think... he's just kinda muddling along, without really knowing what he's doing. He's not- not a bad guy."

Ilsa nodded. She'd noticed Jimbo's hesitating at the end and couldn't help wondering what it might portend. She opened her mouth-

"Go see to him." Jimbo turned Ilsa toward the house and gave her a gentle push. "You're the best thing that's happened to him in long time, and that's God's truth."

"Okay." Ilsa set out. Without realizing it she'd filed the question of Jimbo's hesitation at the back of her mind.

Jimbo watched Ilsa go. He almost called her back; he even went so far as to draw a breath and open his mouth. In the end, though, he let it out. Ilsa was a nice person, and she could probably even persuade Jimmy to act... but suddenly he found he didn't want that. It felt too much like begging for favors at his master's foot. He turned and marched toward the barn. Relying on humans, he decided, was a plain and simple waste.

Avlar sighed heavily as he shambled into the shower room, dropping his overnight bag on the floor. Peedee runs weren't so bad, really. Hook up a train, take it down to Junction City, then come back with a string of empties. Very little of the constant shunting that characterized #L4021's usual assignment. Problem was, they had to do all that in addition to making the Peedee runs. So they'd straggle into Peedee late at night and have to leave early in the morning. Which left Avlar short on sleep when he most desperately needed it. Weren't any point whining about it, though. He shed his clothes, leaving them piled on a bench, and entered the shower. Just the water running over his body felt so good. He stood there for a while, reveling in the sensation...

"Hey, Avlar."

"Uh?" Avlar blinked, straightening up. A young, male, mink Morph had entered the shower room. "Oh, hi Tolin." Tolin had started recently- only a month or two back- on the Peedee run as a brakeman. He and Avlar had become friends, after a fashion, due mostly to Tolin's efforts.

Tolin turned on the shower next to Avlar's. His face resembled a weasel's or a ferret's, coming to a sharp point at his nose and surmounted by small, round ears. Soft, chocolate brown fur covered his lithe, slender frame, except for a white patch on his front. He lacked two years of Avlar's age and a centimeter or two of Avlar's height but rather more of Avlar's weight. He more than made up the lack with a fluid grace that was itself a thing to behold, even separate from his slim, beautify proportioned body. "Thinking about your girl?" Tolin ventured as he wet himself down.

"Yeah," Avlar admitted. Sometimes she and he would shower together-

"Thought so." Tolin chuckled. "Your semaphore's up."

"Oh." Avlar glanced down. Then a gloomy expression settled on his face. He hadn't seen Rosalind for two days and wouldn't see her for two more. That wouldn't have bothered him except that he would be seeing Jaquetta. At times like this he felt visions of Jaquetta filling his mind more than those of Rosalind. Worse yet, there were times he wasn't even sure which one he fantasized about. That bothered him most of all. He felt Rosalind slipping away.

"Trouble?" Tolin inquired.

"Only the usual," Avlar sighed. He'd been on the Peedee run for three weeks now with no end in sight.

"You need a vacation from your womenfolk," Tolin observed.

Avlar opened his mouth to protest but closed it before speaking. Tolin's comment was more true than not. Avlar's protest came from not wanting to imply that he wanted to get away from Rosalind. Which was true: he didn't want to get away from Rosalind. He didn't want to get away from Jaquetta either. He wanted to... to get away from both of them at once. He could live with Rosalind, as he had so far. He was coming to think that he might even be able to live with Jaquetta. But having them both was too much. He felt like they were pulling him apart, and one day he'd crack under the strain.

"Avlar, you need to spend some time with just guys," Tolin decided.

"I do plenty of that right here," Avlar pointed out as he lathered up.

"Working together isn't the same," Tolin pointed out. "I mean... having fun."

Something felt wrong with how Tolin said fun but Avlar was too tired to give it more than passing thought. "Oh?" he inquired, mainly to make conversation. "What sort of fun did you have in mind?"

Tolin paused a moment before responding. Though lathering himself his eyes remained fixed on Avlar, as they had since the very beginning of the encounter. "Avlar, you spend all your time thinking about women," he said. "When you're working you're working for them. When you're having fun you're fitting it around them."

"Yeah? So?" Avlar lathered his buttocks, and rubbed them because #L4021's hard seats pounded them mercilessly. He didn't notice Tolin watching intently, his penis quickly stiffening to full erection. "That's just the way things go when you're married. Often as not when you aren't, too."

"It doesn't have to be that way," Tolin commented, taking his penis in hand and stroking it languidly.

"What other way is there?" Avlar demanded as he lathered his mane. With his eyes closed against the soap he didn't see Tolin pumping his tool with steadily increasing frequency.

"Just... let it go for a bit," Tolin suggested. "Learn to... have fun without thinking of women."

"And how exactly do you propose I do that?" Avlar turned his face into the spray, letting it rinse the soap away.

"Oh, it's easier than you might think," Tolin said, smiling warmly.

Avlar shook his head, then rubbed his eyes to clear them. "What exactly does-" began, then stopped dead.

Tolin was going in earnest now. He leaned against the shower wall, his fist pumping furiously, his eyes half lidded and looking at nothing. His breath came in short gasps.

Avlar's mind complained loudly about the disgusting spectacle Tolin was making of himself but somehow Avlar's mouth couldn't quite form the words. Nor could his eyes tear themselves away. He stood there, staring, his mouth working slightly, as Tolin built himself closer and closer to glorious release. When his eyelids fluttered Avlar knew that the moment had come. All at once Tolin's hand ceased pumping. His penis promptly took over, sending spurt after spurt of semen into Tolin's cupped palm. So much accumulated that it dripped off the edge of his hand.

When he looked up Tolin didn't seem the least bit abashed. In fact, he grinned triumphantly. "Don't try telling me you never jack off," he declared.

Not in front of my male friends I don't, Avlar thought but couldn't say. His eyes remained fixed on the handful of semen. Even as Tolin brought it up to his face... and licked it up with a few swipes of his tongue.

"You weren't thinking about women then, were you?" Tolin inquired softly, licking a few lingering stains from his muzzle.

Avlar nodded because Tolin's statement was certainly true. Still, he doubted that his agreement meant what Tolin thought it did.

"It's as easy as that," Tolin added, easing forward. "Nothing complicated about it. You just take your hand and wrap it around your pole." Suiting actions to words he took Avlar's left hand and maneuvered it into position. It worked, even though Avlar's arm hung limp, because Avlar's penis remained proudly erect. "Then you just... stroke it." He moved Avlar's hand in and out. "And let nature take its course."

After a moment Avlar started moving his hand without Tolin's prompting. The basic problem was that any intellectual consideration of the current situation had to start from the indisputable position that he was naked, with another man, also naked, having just watched said man not only jack off but swallow his own cum. Now he was being encouraged to jack off in such a fashion that was, at best, only one tiny step removed from the man doing it for him. That stretched even his fairly liberal views on appropriate sexual roles well beyond their breaking point. Which should have meant that he simply wouldn't tolerate it. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only force at work. Somewhere, deep in his id, lurked the former virgin Jaquetta had deflowered at their first meeting. That individual had decidedly different attitudes about what was happening. He reminded Avlar of how it felt to have Jaquetta's finger in his rectum, her tongue in his mouth, her lips on his nipples. As it had been with Jaquetta, Avlar found himself paralyzed by indecision. He resolved the matter the same way, by surrendering to the sensation. With his conscious mind out of the way he could enjoy the feeling without worrying about where it came from.

By the time orgasm electrified his body it could even be said that Avlar had forgotten his circumstances. He remembered them right quick when he saw Tolin kneeling on the floor before him, mouth open. Now, Avlar realized with a sinking feeling in his gut, he'd just added coming in another man's mouth to his list of transgressions.

Tolin gazed up, half tenderly and half challengingly, languidly licking his lips. Avlar swallowed convulsively. If Tolin had tried explaining, cajoling, seducing, or anything at all, Avlar could have resisted. But Tolin did none of those things. He took Avlar's flaccid member into his mouth and started sucking. All the while his eyes never left Avlar's, as if daring him to protest. Avlar did not; doing so would mean confronting the fact that he now had his penis in another man's mouth and was, in fact, rather enjoying the experience. The underlying truth, quite simply, was that Avlar had indeed stumbled upon a path to sexual release that didn't involve wading into the morass of his current female problems. It just so happened that Tolin had found him at a time when he was most vulnerable... and unknowingly benefited from the groundwork laid by Jaquetta. He leaned against the wall, closed his eyes, and let the pleasure fill him.

That is, until Tolin stopped abruptly. Avlar blinked; Tolin flashed a grin, rose to his feet, and turned around. Spreading his buttocks with his hands he hiked up his tail, bent forward a bit, and eased backwards. The glans of Avlar's penis bumped against a spot about three centimeters above his anus.

Avlar hesitated, but only for a moment. Strictly speaking, up until this point he'd only acquiesced passively; past it he'd have to take an active hand. But that was a flimsy excuse and he knew it. So far as end results mattered, not saying no came within at least nine tenths of actively saying yes. Besides, having come this far he didn't feel especially inclined to stop. The blessed relief of not having to think about Jaquetta and Rosalind for a time would have been enough on its own, even without the added bonus of sexual delight. With his right hand he aimed his penis; his left he placed on Tolin's belly, just above his crotch, using it to guide him into place. With his glans socketed firmly against Tolin's anus he leaned forward, meaning to ease it in gently, but Tolin beat him to it by thrusting firmly backwards. From there it felt completely natural to place his right hand on Tolin's hip, using it to guide and moderate Tolin's thrusts, while using his left to caress Tolin's stiffly erect member. In a way, he decided, it wasn't so unlike masturbating. Same basic principle, really. He stroked an erect cock and derived pleasure from it. Some might observe that his summation made light of an important intermediate step, relating to the fact that the cock he stroked wasn't his own. In his current state of mind Avlar would have dismissed such objections as quibbling over minor details. In fact he started pumping faster as his own pleasure built, just as if he were masturbating. He got deep enough into it that the feeling of semen spurting into his hand startled him; after all he wasn't quite ready. The motion of his hips slowed almost to a stop while he stared at his hand, but Tolin made up the lack. He also licked up the mess, just as he had with his own hand. Avlar reached climax a moment later, grunting as he shot his load into Tolin's rectum.

As Avlar's penis softened and slid out of Tolin's anus with a soft, wet sound, Avlar took ahold of Tolin's tool and massaged it gently. He could tell at once that it would take more than casual stroking to bring it back to appropriate hardness. He frowned, considering the alternative, then chuckled. As a pre-pubescent, the idea of putting his tongue in a girl's vagina struck him as rather disgusting. That feeling lingered with him right up to the point where he first found himself with his arms around a girl's thighs, staring at her pouty vulva from a range of only a few centimeters. He proceeded primarily because she'd already fellated him and he felt obligated to repay her in kind. Once he started uncertainty vanished; he found he enjoyed the practice immensely.

What he thought of doing with Tolin's penis wasn't any different, he decided. He couldn't say he didn't like it without at least giving it a try. He turned Tolin around, sank to his knees, and took Tolin's penis into his mouth. He flinched as residual smears of semen came in contact with his tongue, but in truth he couldn't say the flavor was any worse than that of the fluid produced by Rosalind's vagina. Just... different. A thought came to him and he couldn't help smiling as his lips and tongue caressed Tolin's member. Now he'd get to find out if receiving any number of blow jobs made him as much of an expert on the subject as he liked to think. He at least knew enough to keep the soft, delicate flesh away from his teeth, especially his canines; Rosalind hadn't understood the importance of that when she first started. He tried to duplicate the practice he enjoyed the most, rubbing the underside of the penis with his tongue while squeezing the shaft with his lips. He didn't think about the fact that the organ in his mouth grew steadily more rigid, except insofar as that it made his job easier. When Tolin grabbed his head he reflected on where this would inevitably lead. Oh, what the Hell, he decided. He'd be annoyed if a partner left him hanging after working him up like this. Best to just take it like- well... somehow, saying man didn't seem appropriate at this juncture. On the other hand, he wasn't exactly in a position to split hairs-

Avlar tasted the first drops of pre-ejaculate and realized that he'd run out of time, for better or worse. Tolin grasped, shoving his dick in as far as he could, the let fly. Avlar swallowed the cum because he didn't want to risk choking on it. Only afterward did he recall that Rosalind did much the same and wondered if she swallowed for the same reason. An image of himself and Rosalind comparing the finer points of fellatio flashed through his mind and he couldn't help laughing. He backed off hastily so he wouldn't accidently bite down with Tolin still in his mouth.

"What's so darn funny?" Tolin wanted to know. The thought of trying to explain it only made Avlar laugh harder.

The locker room door opened. Avlar and Tolin both froze instantly, their minds just as paralyzed as their bodies.

"What's going on in here?" the stationmaster's gruff voice demanded. "You two taking long showers together?

Realizing that the station master couldn't actually see them allowed Avlar's mind to start working once again. "Oh, sure," he replied breezily. "Nothing like a nice, homo orgy to help you unwind after a long day."

From the doorway came only a very pregnant silence. Tolin's eyes grew incredibly large. Avlar put a finger to his lips. "Oh, jeeze, I'm kidding!" he exclaimed in exasperation. "It's this damn track grease. It's a pain like you wouldn't believe, getting it out of your fur."

"Well, all right then," the station master replied gruffly, obvious relief in his tone. "Just wrap it up, okay? There's others of us that like hot showers too, y'know." The door closed.

Tolin remained frozen for a moment, then literally fell over, convulsed with laughter.

Avlar rose, nodding in satisfaction. He'd learned early on that in conversation, as in war, the best defense was a good offense. The art to defecting an embarrassing question lay in skewering your opponent with an unexpected sally, either by firing off a pointed question of your own or a little heavy sarcasm, as Avlar had done. Most opponents would immediately retreat merely from the shock of loosing the initiative. Still, he realized that their escape had been a narrow thing. He rinsed and shut off his shower, gesturing for Tolin to do the same. After a brief hesitation he complied.

While they dried, brushed, and dressed neither Avlar nor Tolin said a word. Returning to the regular context of his life made caused recent events to take on an unreal quality; he didn't want to talk about them because doing so would validate them, making them more real. His resolve wavered only as he left the shower room; he couldn't help glancing back from the doorway. When he did Tolin grinned and blew him a kiss.

Avlar came very close to loosing it right then and there. Only the realization that there really wasn't anything he could do held him back. He could just see himself explaining to the station master that Tolin had sexually assaulted him. Relating how this "assault" involved Avlar putting his penis in Tolin's anus and Tolin's penis in his mouth would be especially interesting.

"See you tomorrow," Tolin whispered, smiling broadly.

Avlar turned away without a word. But in his heart of hearts he knew he'd be back.

Rosalind entered the front hall of her house and slumped against the wall with a heavy sigh. Wednesday night was the nadir of her week; she hadn't seen Avlar since Sunday and wouldn't until Saturday. Eventually she stirred herself into motion, dragging heavily into the kitchen. She liked cooking family meals but cooking for herself alone was too much like work. Instead she made a cold-cut sandwich and a simple salad. With that out of the way she retired to the bathroom, leaving her clothes scattered on the floor. She set the drain plug and opened the taps, sitting on the toilet while the tub filled. Even now nice soak never failed to wash away the aches and pains of a long day. She settled in on her back, her feet by the taps. The tub wasn't quite long enough for her to stretch out in so her knees ended up partially bent, leaning against the sides. Above them her belly, breasts, and face stuck out of the water like a sequence of islands. Her tail came out of the water by the taps and hung over the side; she'd wash it later.

After a bit Rosalind's left hand crept across her belly and between her legs. One particular reason she liked this position in the bathtub was because Avlar could be counted on to take advantage of it. He'd lean over her, massaging her belly, fondling her breasts, kissing and licking her face. Then he'd settle his hips against hers, rubbing his penis against her vulva. Every so often he managed to get it in without using his hands; most times, though, he ended up guiding it with his fingers. Oft times he'd caress her crotch, if he felt she wasn't quite ready or just because. She'd return the favor, stroking his penis and tenderly fondling his testicles.

Now, though, Rosalind had only her own fingers with which to tease her clitoris, stroke her labia, and probe her vagina. Oh, and what she'd come to call her Little Avlar. It stood on the table by the tub, within easy reach. Since Big Avlar wouldn't be around until the weekend there wasn't any reason to put it away. Without having to look Rosalind picked it up in her right hand while her left continued its ministration.

The device was made of some plastic material that fairly accurately duplicated the feel of an actual penis. The texturing on its surface was incredibly realistic, right down to individual veins. It even seemed warm to the touch. Where it failed was in its lack of skin; on a real penis the tegument enclosing the shaft would, to some extent, slide over the core. Since Rosalind couldn't imagine how to model that she didn't worry about it. Besides, she didn't have much choice. At this very moment Avlar's penis was off in Peedee, leaving only this artificial one ready to hand.

There were, of course, any number of real, flesh-and-blood penises in and around Brooks whose owners would happily wield them in service of Rosalind's pleasure. She smiled, imagining them lined up in her front yard, presented for her inspection. Then the smile vanished. That idea would never be anything but an idle fancy. Avlar was her husband; she wouldn't have any other. She didn't want any other.

Rosalind lowered Little Avlar into the water. In shape, size, and texture it matched Big Avlar precisely; the engineer who'd modified him did an absolutely astounding job. With the index and middle finger of her left hand she parted her labia major; with her right she set Little Avlar's tip against the vestibule of her vagina. With the application of gentle pressure she felt her labia minor pushed apart by Little Avlar's blunt, rounded head. With the head inside she constricted her vaginal muscles so that her labia enjoyed maximum stimulation as the thick, textured shaft slid over then. When the tool's flared base came against her crotch she relaxed, drawing it out until the flange around the head only just emerged. Then she repeated the operation, thrusting and squeezing. All the while the fingers of her left hand stroked and gently pinched her clitoral fold and the labia major.

Even as hot pleasure built up inside her Rosalind knew full well that Little Avlar wasn't a real man. With a real man she'd feel his hips and thighs slapping against her own, his chest and belly sliding against hers, his tongue in her mouth, his hands squeezing her breasts or caressing her flanks. But she could imagine it... and Little Avlar made it very easy to call up those memories. When roiling pleasure erupted white-hot she arched her back, threw her head back and thrust her hips hard against those of the man who existed only in her imagination. As the heat faded to a pleasant glow she relaxed, leaving Little Avlar in place and languidly massaging her vulva with the fingertips of both hands.

What Rosalind felt the lack of most in Little Avlar was that she'd never feel it tense with orgasm, spurting its hot, sticky seed into her vagina. If it could do that... well, it still wouldn't be any kind of a replacement for an real man but at least these times she spent alone would be much more enjoyable.

Rosalind's mildly contented expression turned grim. She couldn't help wondering: did Jaquetta enjoy feeling Avlar's semen spurting into her? On the one hand she wanted very much to believe that Avlar was much too small to give her any real satisfaction... but on the other hand, she couldn't abide any thought that might call into question Avlar's sexual prowess. She struggled for a while but in the end, as it most often did, pride won over spite. Avlar would make Jaquetta squeal like a pig and gush nectar like a fountain because he was surely the greatest lover that had ever been. Rosalind grinned, imagining women coming from far and wide to sample the delights Avlar had to offer. She knew better now; they'd all have to come here. She'd make them strip and perform for him to prove their worthiness for his affections.

As she imagined the varied humiliations she'd inflict on all those hapless females Rosalind's fingers pressed harder and stroked more rapidly. Why not make them go naked all the time? With their hands tied behind their backs so they couldn't touch themselves. If they wanted pleasure they'd have to ask Avlar for it. Furthermore, they'd have to submit to whatever Avlar wanted, whenever the mood took him. If they refused he'd be entitled to spank them, either with his hand or a nice, hard, leather belt.

A second orgasm interrupted Rosalind's fantasies. After it passed, though, her mood turned melancholy. All these thoughts, and everything she did, for that matter, only underlined the basic problem: Avlar was there, with Jaquetta, instead of here, with Rosalind. Admittedly he wasn't with Jaquetta at this precise moment, but as time passed Rosalind found that mattered less and less. She wanted her husband back. She felt that Jaquetta was enjoying the benefits of Avlar's company after she, Rosalind, had done all the work. Knowing that she'd set up the very situation in which she found herself only made it worse.

Very deliberately Rosalind pressed with her fingers and began sliding Little Avlar in and out. When the hot rush of pleasure took her she... well, she didn't forget, exactly, but she could push her worries to the far corners of her mind and not worry about them.

Basking in warm afterglow, Rosalind didn't at first notice the odd sound pricking the edge of her awareness. Then, all at once, she recognized it: someone knocking on the door. She surged out of the tub, streaming water all over the floor. There wasn't time to dry properly so she threw on a terrycloth robe. Two steps closer to the bathroom door she realized that she'd left Little Avlar buried to the hilt in her vagina. While she stood, debating what to do, the knock sounded again. Screw it, she decided, and hurried out into the front hall. So long as she kept her legs together it wouldn't fall out and her visitor wouldn't see it through the robe. Also, the sensation of having it there while the rest of her body moved around it was... interesting. At the front door she paused to belt her robe securely and peek through the window. On the porch she saw Specs, still wearing his white apron and cook's outfit. She unlocked the door and opened it wide enough that they could comfortably see one another's faces, but not so much to show her entire body.

"Terribly sorry to bother you, Roz," Specs began. "I just got a call from Avlar. There was a nasty wreck up around Enterprise, so he and Curtis'll have to fill in for the wounded crews for the next couple weekends, probably."

"I... see," Rosalind said after a lengthy pause. She glanced at the sky; because of the season dusk was still a long way off, despite the relatively late hour. "Can I speak to him now?"

"I'll leave a message, but most likely you'll be able to reach him tomorrow from the depot phone," Specs replied.

Rosalind nodded. "Okay." She reached through the doorway and gave Specs' hand a squeeze. "Thanks."

"Anytime." Specs returned the squeeze, then nodded. "I can't wait to see your little one."

"I can't either," Rosalind agreed. "Well... I don't want to keep you from your work."

"Right enough." Specs nodded again. "Buck up, Roz. Things'll work out in the end." He gave her hand another squeeze and turned away, hurrying back to the cafe.

Rosalind closed the door and slumped against it, sighing heavily. The Fates were laughing their asses off, of that she had no doubt. Distractedly she stroked her right knee against her left thigh because the motion, with Little Avlar's help, awoke a pleasant feeling in her crotch. She locked the front door, walked slowly into the kitchen, and sat down on one of the wooden chairs. That produced a very pleasant sensation as the weight of her body drove Little Avlar into her vagina and against her vulva. She sighed, rocking her hips back and forth. Not a few times she'd acted very similarly while in Big Avlar's lap, sitting in these very chairs.

Abruptly Rosalind surged to her feet, jerked Little Avlar out, and cocked her arm back to throw it away. The immediate pleasure she felt wasn't enough to offset the sorrow from being reminded of what it was she lacked. With her body tensed for the throw, however, she hesitated. After a time she relaxed, brining Little Avlar up before her face where she could study it in detail. Her vaginal fluid coated the black plastic, making it gleam in the light. Her eyes narrowed, as if she might compel some great secret from it by sheer force of will. Which, in a sense, she was doing. Something- not even a thought, exactly, but perhaps the seeds of one- had flickered briefly at the back of her mind. Little Avlar had become a focus around which random tatters of thought began to accrete, slowly developing into an actual idea.

First, Rosalind noted that Little Avlar's importance to her stemmed from the fact that it was the model for Big Avlar's new penis. She'd never expressed the slightest dissatisfaction with the old one, and would have said she was quite happy with it, but all else being equal she'd take the new one. Of much greater import was that Avlar had done it solely for her pleasure, to make sure she had the best possible experience. She knew this because Little Avlar wasn't the only candidate. She had a box full of similar devices in her closet, of varying lengths and thicknesses, some with added ridges, fringes, or polyps designed to enhance the user's pleasure all the more. She knew with absolute certainty that if she'd chosen one of the smaller ones, or the ones with extra attachments, Avlar would have made the change just as readily. Time and time again Avlar had proven himself a man who clove unfailingly to his promises, and viewed a certain way all those devices in her closet were promises: that whichever one she chose would be hers. He wouldn't have presented her with any option he wasn't prepared to undertake; that would be dishonest.

Rosalind set Little Avlar on the table and leaned forward, resting her head on her folded arms. With the tip of one finger she idly traced up and down the shaft. At the time she'd wondered if Avlar having his penis modified was an oblique way of bringing up the subject of her having her body modified. She waited, but he never asked. Now she understood that he never would, and felt guilty for ever having doubted him. Since then she had, on several occasions, come very close to asking him outright if there were any changes he'd like her to make. Each time, though, fear held her back. In spite of everything she'd never managed to quite overcome the niggling doubt that beautiful, handsome, gentle Avlar could have chosen a woman more closely matched to his desires, had one been available. With her being exactly as she was, she knew that Avlar loved her for being exactly what she was. If she changed something... she ventured into unknown, and frightening, territory. What if she made a mistake? What if- what if-

Tears streamed down Rosalind's cheeks and her hand shook. She couldn't even think about the possibility of loosing Avlar. Having him was Heaven. Loosing him... would be Hell. She buried her face in her arms, sobbing and cursing her own weakness. Avlar had never asked in so many words if she enjoyed his body. Instead he'd done so by presenting her with the toys and asking her to choose. The faith that implied never failed to astound her. Avlar was so certain of her love that he didn't care what his body looked like. Rosalind... had tried mightily but couldn't, and cursed herself bitterly for that failure, not the least because it implied that he might, even in some microscopic way, possibly be untrue to her. That she could even think such a thing was a failure of her love, and she knew it. Now, through her own machinations, she found herself trapped. By trying to avoid her fears she'd driven herself straight into a dead end, hemmed in on every side. She couldn't go back, she couldn't forward-

Rosalind's tears petered out. Slowly she lifted her face, then took Little Avlar in her hands, turning it slowly and studying it from every angle. The way out was the impossible way: over the barrier of fear. Obvious, once she thought about it logically for half a second. She owed her husband a present. She didn't even need to ask him or present him with a selection of toys to know what he'd like. His behavior toward Jaquetta showed it as clear as day, to anyone with the wit to see it.

With the decision made, the weight of fear and doubt vanished from Rosalind's mind as if it had never existed. The relief was so palpable she laughed. She un-belted her robe and opened it, baring the front of her body. Then she lay Little Avlar in her cleavage, squeezing her breasts around its shaft. Avlar would be very surprised, without a doubt... but equally so he'd like his present. Without a doubt.

At the end of her shift Rosalind approached June at the cash register. "Could you... is it possible you could make do without me for a while?" Rosalind inquired. "I..." She looked down. "I've not been feeling well lately and... I thought I might go visit my folks."

For a moment June said nothing. She strongly suspected that there was much more to Rosalind's request than what appeared on the surface. Still and all- perhaps even for that very reason- maybe the bosom of her family was the best place for Rosalind to be. "Yes, I suppose so," she allowed. "How long?"

"Oh..." In truth Rosalind really wasn't certain. Avlar's modifications had only taken a few days but what she envisioned was rather more significant. "A week and a half, maybe?"

"Yes, we can do that," June agreed. "Just... take care of yourself. And hurry back." She gave Rosalind a hug. "We'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too," Rosalind whispered, giving June an extra squeeze. Then she left the cafe and hurried home. There she changed into a plain, khaki dress with a long skirt and picked up her travel bags, already packed. A bit later she was back on the platform, just in time to catch the catch the Salad Bowl Express.

On the Mazama Traction Company's master schedule this particular train was listed as Florence five two five. Colloquial speech named it the Salad Bowl Express because it delivered fresh fruit and vegetables to Mazama and its environs. Rosalind watched the line of refrigerated box cars roll past on the outside track. As always it stopped by the tower; given the nature of the train's cargo unexpected delays could be disastrous, so it always stopped in Brooks to check its routing before heading on down to the main line. Rosalind hoisted her bags and hurried over to the caboose, stopped nearly opposite the station. "Hey, Arthur," she called.

The conductor, standing on the caboose's rear platform, tipped his hat. "Hey, Rosalind."

"I'm going to visit my folks," Rosalind said. "Mind if I hitch a ride to Harrisburg?"

"Sure, hop on up," Arthur replied, even though it was a clear violation of company rules. The people who worked the Kings Valley Line mostly lived along it, and so did their families. The unspoken rule was that if you let another fellow's wife, mother, or girlfriend hitch a ride then you could reasonably expect him to let your wife, mother, or girlfriend hitch a ride. Besides, Rosalind was known and well liked by the crews. Even the crusty old line supervisor had a soft spot for her. So Rosalind rode to Harrisburg, chatting amiably with Arthur and his brakeman. There she hitched another ride out to Biggs Junction. After three tries- she wasn't so well known out here- she got a ride to Falls City. At which point she walked around the depot and bought a ticket on a regular passenger train headed for downtown Mazama.

Taking the Slug would have been easier but after careful consideration Rosalind had decided against it. Both crew and passengers on that train were too likely to recognize her, and it would inevitably become apparent that she wasn't really going to visit her parents and she'd be forced to answer questions she'd rather not.

Eventually Rosalind debarked at the Waiting Room in Mazama. With a bag in each hand she struggled manfully through the crowd, but not out onto the street. She'd no intention of hiring a jitney, never mind the cost. It was a well known fact that the men who drove them were maniacs. This whole episode troubled her enough that she didn't care to risk her life foolishly. Instead she tramped up the stairs to the 7th Avenue El, or elevated railway. Traffic being what it was in Mazama, anything to get people and vehicles off the street was a blessing. Elevated railways avoided the whole question by going over the streets on bridge-like structures. Though to Rosalind's country bred eyes, the press on the stairs seemed even worse than on the sidewalk. Struggling through the turnstiles with her bags was a nightmare, especially with people pushing and cursing all around. Not for the first time she wondered why it was that everyone in the city always seemed to be in such an all-fired hurry.

While waiting on the platform Rosalind was surprised to note the lack of overhead wires. Then she nodded, recalling something Avlar had told her. MTC trains drew their electric power from wires strung over the track; el trains instead drew it from insulated rails running beside the track. This arrangement, Avlar had said, simplified track construction and kept potentially dangerous traction power below the car floor. Since the tracks all ran on elevated structures there wasn't any danger of pedestrians accidentally stepping on the third rail and electrocuting themselves. Rosalind couldn't help thinking that it must make life interesting for the track workers, though.

In due course a train arrived, consisting of two new steel bodied cars with side doors and three older wooden cars with end doors. Rosalind boarded the last of the latter because everyone else tried packing into the steel cars, then spilled over into the first of the wooden ones. The train took off before she'd found a seat, nearly pitching her on her face.

During her ride Rosalind discovered two significant facts about elevated railways. One was that they curved sharply and frequently, since they had to follow city streets and couldn't cut through the buildings on either side. Another was that they existed to move people from place to place as quickly as possible. The operator of Rosalind's train clearly took that dictum to heart, flinging his consist around corners and through stations with what she felt to be excessive velocity. Her fellow travellers didn't seem to notice; they clung to their straps, leaning when the train went around corners, apparently without a single thought to what would happen if a car jumped the track on an outside curve with the street a good ten meters below.

At Grand Avenue Rosalind left the el and turned east. After following it for a while she decided that it did in fact live up to its name. A planted median ran down the center of it, with streetcar tracks to either side. Fancy brownstones and the occasional freestanding house lined both sides. The pedestrians were less numerous and more expensively dressed. There weren't many Morphs, and those she did see had the look of servants or other menials. She hurried along, trying to ignore the looks she got, until she reached a place with a modest sign advertising it as "Cordell and Sons, Engineering and Manufactory." Rosalind took a deep breath and marched up the steps.

A young and very pretty human receptionist waited in the hall. "May I help you?" she inquired, in a tone which suggested that Rosalind was definitely in the wrong place.

"I want to see an engineer," Rosalind replied.

"What about?" the receptionist wanted to know.

"That's between me and him, I should think," Rosalind snapped, reaching into her bodice. "If he's worried that I can pay, tell him not to." She drew a stack of twenty Tar notes and waved them.

"Ah, yes miss. One moment please." The receptionist activated her intercom and whispered into it. "Dr. Kearsarge will see you. Fifth door on the right."

"Thank you." Rosalind bustled off.

Rather to her surprise Rosalind found a rather young looking, clean shaven fellow in the indicated office. He turned his chair abruptly when she entered and bounced to his feet. "Ah... I'm sorry if I'm interrupting," she said, somewhat hesitantly. "I... I want a modification."

The young man seemed to consider that for a moment, then nodded and returned to his seat. "May I ask what sort of modification you had in mind?" he politely inquired.

"I..." Rosalind licked her lips. She'd rehearsed this encounter over and over since the moment's she'd decided on this course of action. "I want my..." she swallowed, then took a deep breath. She had to tell him or the whole trip was for nothing. "I want my bust enlarged," she said in a rush.

The young man simply nodded. "That won't be a problem at all. We do that all the time." He flashed a friendly smile.

Rosalind smiled hesitantly. On the whole things weren't going too badly. "That's... not all," she mumbled.

"I'm sorry?"

Rosalind gritted her teeth. Saying out loud, to a strange man, that she wanted bigger breasts had been difficult enough. Making her next request was infinitely worse. She considered not making it and going back with just the larger bust but decided against it. Going halfway on something like this would be worse that not going at all. "I want... more."

"I'm sorry, miss, I don't understand."

Only by clenching her hands tightly on the arms of her chair could Rosalind avoid fidgeting. "I don't just want the breasts I have to be bigger," she said. "I want more of them. More than two."

"Oh." The young man's eyes widened. So did his smile.

"Dammit, what else can I do?" Rosalind blazed, her composure cracking under the strain. "There's Jaquetta with her four gigantic gams, giving milk no less, and Alysa too and on top of that she lays eggs-" Rosalind snapped her mouth shut, realizing that she'd started ranting and more to the point telling the young man things he didn't need to know. "I want-" She put her hands on her breasts, then shifted them down, cupping an imaginary second pair.

"Four breasts?" the young man suggested helpfully.

Rosalind frowned. In her mind's eye she saw Jaquetta, with her four enormous, perfect boobs and her enormous, perfect body. Even with four breasts Rosalind wouldn't look anything like that, not unless she lost ten or twelve kilos in the process. And then... she'd be a miniature Jaquetta. However perfect she ended up, she'd be nothing but a copy of- and a tribute to- another.

"Miss?" the young man prompted. Rosalind's head snapped up and the young man gasped, unconsciously leaning back in his chair. The look is Rosalind's eyes could only be described as terrifying in its intensity.

Rosalind almost laughed. The answer to her problem was so obvious she hadn't seen it until just now. "I want big boobs," she announced, cupping breasts, then bringing her hands out an additional six or seven centimeters. "And... I understand there's a way to make them... firm on their own, so you don't have to wear a bra?"

"Ah, yes." The young man beamed happily. "You'd like that?"

"No," Rosalind contradicted. "I don't want that. I want them to- to look completely natural. Big boobs hang down. That's how they're supposed to look."

"Quite so," the young man agreed, nodding emphatically.

"And..." Rosalind lowered her hands one step, then one more step. "Any woman can have four breasts," she declared.

"But of course," the young man agreed, grinning fit to split his head. "I understand exactly what you mean. One moment please, and I'll be right back with your order."

Rosalind said nothing. In her mind she was already in her bedroom, undressing and showing Avlar her new bosom. He'd be amazed... and delighted. He'd scoop them up with his hands, squeezing and caressing them. He'd bury his face in them, licking and nuzzling them...

While Rosalind reveled in her torrid fantasy the young man left the office and hurried to the end of the hall, opposite the reception area. He placed his hand on what appeared to be an opaque glass plate set in the middle of an otherwise featureless door. The door opened to admit him, then closed behind him. He found himself in an enormous room that appeared to be a greenhouse.

It was common knowledge that germ plasm labs used gene engineering plants to do their actual work. If asked, most people would say that a gene engineering plant was some sort of machine. They'd be correct, after a fashion... but the truth was even more incredible. In fact, most people who saw one would say that a gene engineering plant wasn't a machine at all but an actual plant, one that might grow in someone's garden. Cordell and Son's engineering plant resembled a colossal daisy, with a thick, fleshy stem and a gigantic yellow flower on top more than four meters across. A canopy of leaves, more like a tree's than a flower's, absorbed sunlight coming through the glass roof. Around the base of the plant hung polyps of varying sizes, like ripening fruit. As the young man hurried across the shop floor two technicians set one of the larger polyps on a wheeled trolley and slit it open with surgical scissors. A mass of fibrous tissue fell out, along with a some fluid that looked very much like blood. After opening the inner husk one of the technicians reached in and drew out a baby skunk Morph. While she twitched weakly in his grasp he sutured her umbilicus and snipped it off, then held her up by the feet and gave her a sharp smack on the bottom. She coughed up some fluid and started wailing. The other technician wrapped her in a towel and headed out, followed by the other pushing the trolley loaded with the empty husk.

The young man ignored the by-play; he'd seen it all before. He stepped up to a large bell flower, which hung straight down from a curved stem. A number of fine tendrils, like stamens, dangled from its open end. He peeled off his hair, revealing a bare scalp with four odd pucker marks on it, two above his temples and two farther back. He set the flower on his head like a cap... and the tendrils reached for the puckers, passing through them and into his head. His expression turned vacant as the tendrils entered his brain, connecting him directly to the control center that governed the plant's operation. Only a minute or two later a nearby frond uncurled, revealing a small fruit like a miniature white tomato. The tendrils withdrew, he replaced his hair, and retrieved a syringe from a nearby workbench. Inserting the needle into the fruit, he drew out a dozen centiliters of amber colored liquid. After fitting a safety guard over the needle he left shop, syringe in hand, and returned the office where Rosalind waited.

"Is that it?" Rosalind asked in hushed voice, looking at the syringe.

"Yes ma'am." The young man lay the syringe on a tray. "May I have your arm please?" He lay Rosalind's right arm on the desk, then shaved a small spot on the inside of her elbow and wiped with an alcohol swab. After removing the safety guard from the syringe he carefully injected the liquid into her. A small stick-on bandage closed the wound.

"That's all there is to it?" Rosalind asked wonderingly, rubbing the inside of her arm.

"Not quite," the young man cautioned. "There's the fee, of course." He grinned.

"Oh. How much?"

"Seventy-five Tars."

"Oh." Rosalind counted out the money and handed it over, with only a slight twinge of conscience that she was spending her and Avlar's baby money. After all, with the arrangement they had with Mr. MagGregor, they wouldn't need it anymore. "That's not bad at all."

"It's a fairly simple modification," the young man replied breezily. "But there are some things you need to know. The actual change will take... oh, four or five days, in your case. You may get dizzy and throw up, like you've got the flu. It's nothing to worry about, just your body adjusting to the new configuration. However you feel, you need to eat and drink generously. You'll be burning a lot of energy while your body rebuilds itself. If you don't eat your body will burn up its own tissue, you'll take a lot longer to recover, and may suffer debilitating side effects. Also, I'm afraid your chest is going to hurt like crazy for a while. You should avoid scratching or rubbing it; the skin is particularly delicate while it grows and you could permanently damage it. You will have stretch marks, but they'll go away after a week or two."

"Well..." Rosalind fiddled with her fingers. After all that work-up, that actual doing seemed anti-climactic. "Thank you."

"Enjoy your new body, miss. I'd say your husband's a very lucky man."

"I'm the lucky one," Rosalind replied, taking up her bags. The young man held the door for her.

Once Rosalind departed, the young man grinned broadly. "Yes, I'd say your husband is a very lucky fellow," he chortled.


"Ah- sir?" The young man whirled. A much older, bearded man came down from the shop room.

"Have you finished that correspondence I told you to do?" the older man demanded.

"Yes sir, it's all on your desk," the young man replied.

"Good." the older fellow entered the office, sat down behind the desk, and started through the stack of papers. Out in the hall the young man looked toward the reception area and giggled.

"Uhhh," Rosalind moaned. A layer of sticky, vile tasting slime coated the inside of her mouth and even with her eyes tightly closed the bed on which she lay seemed to pitch and roll like the deck of a ship in a storm. The whole front of her body ached and she had to pee something fierce. Furthermore, she seemed to be smothering under something under something warm and furry. She cursed under her breath, wondering what in the world could have possessed her to use a comforter in the middle of summer. Except that it wasn't a comforter, she decided. Too dense and heavy. More like- like a hot water bottle wrapped in fur. She brought up a hand to shove the object away.

The object, Rosalind discovered, was one of her breasts.

In a flash Rosalind sat up. She would have thrown the covers to the floor had there still been any on the bed. Her eyes wouldn't open, which was perhaps fortunate; her sudden motion caused the room to spin drunkenly, like a top about to fall over. After the vertigo passed she explored her face with her fingertips. Her eyelids were gummed shut; she had to pry them open.

The bedroom was a mess. Clothes and bedclothes lay in crumpled heaps on the floor, along with empty food cans, jars, utensils, plates, bowls, and glasses, some of them broken. The bed stank, as if someone had peed in it, or worse. Rosalind's own fur was filthy and unkempt, as if she hadn't bathed in days. Many days.

However much all that offended Rosalind's fastidious nature, she hardly gave it a thought. She sat with her head down, looking at the front of her body. Specifically, her breasts. After some time she brought up her right hand and tentatively cupped one. It was real, of that there could be no possible doubt. And... it was indeed bigger. A lot bigger. So big that big wasn't anywhere near enough. Words like huge, enormous, colossal, and gigantic were the only ones that might begin to serve. The nipple hung more than a hand's breadth past her elbow joint, and the circumference of the breast at its widest point was significantly more than she could span even using both hands. After a moment's thought Rosalind decided that it was, by itself, more than twice the size of both her original breasts put together. And yet there, right beside it, was a partner that matched it in every particular. Rosalind's face quirked into a somewhat maniacal smile. She'd asked Dr. Kearsarge for larger breasts... and he'd certainly delivered.

The doctor had delivered on the other part of Rosalind's request as well. Below the first nipple her hand encountered another. And another.... and another... and two more below them. Two, three, then two. Seven in all. Each an every one attached to the end of the largest boob Rosalind had ever seen, not counting Alysa and Jaquetta. They completely filled her lap; she could only just see her knees sticking out from under the mass.

Rosalind remembered hearing once, on a radio show, that love could be likened to strong drink, for both released a person's inhibitions and could induce one to do things that, when viewed later under the cold light of reason, might seem... not entirely prudent. To extend the analogy, recovering from the mutagen even felt like a hangover, though never in her life had she ever consumed enough alcohol at one time to suffer like this.

But this wasn't like waking up with an embarrassing tattoo, or even in bed with someone whose name she couldn't remember. Tattoos could be covered or removed. Embarrassing trysts could be forgotten, with the aid of medication if necessary. Being a Morph, and therefore sterile, shielded her from the most long-lasting consequence of such a meeting. And yet... she'd done something just as bad, if not worse. A love child could be quietly shipped away to distant relatives. These gargantuan melons weren't something from which Rosalind could distance herself, given that they were attached to her body.

The urgent demands of her bladder ultimately dragged Rosalind out of her reverie. She braced her hands and pushed herself up, wondering if she'd still be able to stand with all this extra weight. She could... but only by moving very carefully, so as not to overbalance. She shuffled into the bathroom, supporting herself on the bed frame, dresser, wall, or whatever else happened to be handy. She found a mess as bad as in the bedroom itself; someone had urinated and vomited in there without much concern as to whether or not he or she hit the toilet. Rosalind didn't want to sit on the filthy thing but there wasn't much choice.

With the pressure on her bladder relieved Rosalind found that she could think more clearly... and didn't at all like the thoughts which came. She shuffled out into the bedroom and looked at herself in the full length mirror. From the front her enormous boobs covered her entire body between her shoulders and knees; she looked like a collection of tits with arms, legs, and a head. Turning sideways, she noticed that she didn't have a paunch any more, and her love handles had shrunk. All that tissue had become part of her new rack.

Another fact also became apparent. She couldn't wear panties anymore; the lowest pair of breasts filled the space where the front strap would go. Pants were out for the same reason; they wouldn't fit unless they had breast pouches sewn in. She'd have to reach under the upper five to button them in any case. A skirt and a blouse might be doable... if the blouse were several sizes larger than the biggest one she currently owned. Even then the middle three breasts would hang over the waistband of the skirt and out from under the hem of the blouse. Her head ached trying to imagine a bra she could wear. Assuming that such a thing could even be made.

Rosalind opened the closet and pulled out her waitress uniform. Even as she laid it against her body she knew it wouldn't fit. It could be let out, sure... but without a bra her boobs would stick out every which way. She'd end up looking like- like-

A storm or recriminations exploded in Rosalind's mind. She'd lied to June and Specs about where she was going, and for sure she couldn't go back to the cafe like this. She'd spent Avlar's share of the baby money without asking him... and she'd turned herself into a bloated freak. Her knees doubled up and she collapsed on the floor, sobbing.

The King's Valley Local eased to a stop. Two middle aged human men climbed down from the locomotive's cab.

"Well?" June asked.

"Bad news, I'm afraid," the operator replied, lifting his cap and scratching his bald pate. "She never reached her folks. They didn't even know she was coming."

"Ralphie in the Harrisburg tower says a friend of his told him she caught a lift with Ivar and Ront," the brakeman supplied.

"Which way?" June demanded.

"Out of Harrisburg, it would have been," the brakeman added.

"Ivar and Ront run timber trains out of Enterprise," June muttered, tapping her finger on her thigh. "That would mean she'd be coming this way." She frowned. "When was it?"

"Dunno. A while back. Maybe a week."

June frowned, visualizing schedules in her mind. Ivar and Ront would have passed through Ruby Junction late at night. After midnight, probably. Which didn't make sense. Why would Rosalind come back so late, without telling anyone? More to the point, why would she return only a few days after she'd left?

"Something happen to Rosalind?" the operator asked.

"I don't know," June admitted. "Do me a favor, will you? Pass the word to keep an eye out. But- quietly, okay?"

"Sure, I read you." The operator nodded. "We don't know anything's wrong. If Avlar heard, he'd just worry."

"Yeah." June nodded. Exactly what she'd had in mind... which didn't mean she liked it. Keeping Avlar out of the loop felt... wrong. Like she was betraying his trust. But if she had to tell him... she at least wanted to be able to tell him something. "Thanks a lot, you two," she concluded, giving them each a quick hug, then hurried back into the cafe. "Ila, Ysenda, you two'll need to hold the fort for a while, I have an errand to run," she announced.

Both girls looked up. Ila nodded and Ysenda grimaced. June turned and left, biting her lip so she wouldn't say something unkind. Both of those two together weren't half as good as Rosalind by herself. Which was one reason June wanted Rosalind back. Not the first, of course. Quite a ways down the list, in fact. But on it nonetheless. She left the depot and jog-walked over to downtown Brooks. It had occurred to her that there was one place she'd never thought to look while scouring the entirety of the King's Valley Line for any trace of Rosalind.

Rosalind's and Avlar's house didn't look as if anyone were home. On the other hand, June hadn't ever thought to check, either directly or through her extensive network of contacts. She walked up to the front door and knocked. "Rosalind?" she called.

No one came to the door. June knocked again, more loudly, and rang the bell. She listened, with her ear pressed against the door. Nothing.

Just as June decided there wasn't anyone home, she heard something. Faint, muffled... but definitely not a sound from an empty house. Almost like... a scream?

June whipped off her apron, bundled it around her fist, and punched in the leaded glass window right by the door. She didn't notice at the time but she broke two fingers in the process. She unlocked the front door and hurried inside. The very first thing which struck her was the smell: of urine, vomit, and unwashed bodies. She followed it to it's source, the master bedroom. She kicked open the door.

A froze, gaping in shock at what she found there.

Avlar lay face down, his head turned to one side. Tolin's hands massaged his buttocks, then parted them. The head of Tolin's penis brushed against Avlar's anus, then entered it with a short, quick thrust. As Tolin got to work Avlar found himself thinking that this wasn't so good a position for a man. His penis wanted to stand up straight but the mattress bent it over. Rather uncomfortable, frankly. But he said nothing. Tolin didn't complain when he was on the bottom. As the force and frequency of Tolin's thrusts increased Avlar clenched his anus around Tolin's shaft. The feeling of it sliding in and out of him was... interesting. Not like sex, no. But quite... stimulating.

Tolin slammed his hips against Avlar's and held them there. He gasped quietly; his body quivered and his penis discharged its load of semen into Avlar's rectum. Afterward Tolin's penis softened and contracted, drawing itself out of Avlar's anus. Then he turned around, placing his head by Avlar's rump. Avlar felt Tolin's still-wet penis against the base of his neck. He also felt Tolin's hands spread his buttocks... and Tolin's tongue enter his rectum, licking up the semen only just deposited there. Avlar quivered, but still he said nothing. He'd never offered to lick Tolin's ass and Tolin never asked. So he didn't object if Tolin wanted to lick his ass. Besides, it too was... interesting. Stimulating, even.

"Avlar!" someone shouted. "Where are you? You need to see the dispatcher right away!"

Avlar and Tolin froze. Someone walked past the crew car, then away. Avlar scrambled out of bed and dressed hurriedly. "You wait here a while, then come out," he said to Tolin. They'd picked the old crew car as their meeting place because it wasn't used, thus reducing the chance of their activities being noticed. For his own part Avlar didn't see it as any sort of a big deal, but he knew that others wouldn't agree. Besides, word might get back to Jaquetta and Rosalind.

Interestingly enough, it never once occurred to Avlar that what he was doing might be considered cheating. Even better, it was his traditional upbringing that made it possible. "Cheating" meant leaving his wife to seek the favor of another woman. Which he wasn't doing. Tolin, after all, wasn't a woman. This was just... like masturbating. With a partner. Jaquetta wouldn't mind, he didn't think... but she'd tease him about it, of that he was certain. And Rosalind... she wouldn't understand. Better that he explain it to her himself, rather than letting her hear it through the grapevine.

"Yes sir?" Avlar exclaimed, somewhat breathlessly, as he burst into the dispatcher's office.

The old man looked even grimmer than usual. "Got a call from Juniper, down in Brooks," he said. "Something's happened with Rosalind."

Everyone in the room gasped. Except Avlar. He didn't make a single sound. In fact he wasn't moving at all, not even to breathe.

The old man looked at Avlar... then dropped his eyes. He'd been a young man once, with a beautiful new wife from whom he couldn't stand to be parted. "You can go with Charley and Mike if you hurry," he muttered. Avlar was gone, leaving nothing but a banging door in his wake, before the old man had even finished the first syllable.

Avlar jumped off the locomotive's step well before it came to a stop and very nearly took a nasty spill, which would have been exceedingly unpleasant on the crushed gravel roadbed. He kept his footing, though, and took off at a dead run. In due course he arrived at the front door of his house... which opened for him, revealing the figure of Specs.

"Rosalind's all right," Specs declared. "But she really needs you to be calm."

Avlar stopped. It was Spec's first words- Rosalind's all right- which halted him, not Specs' body blocking the doorway. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then stepped inside. Specs scooted aside. It was quite apparent that Avlar would go right through him if need be. "They're in the bedroom," he added. Avlar nodded in reply.

Through a significant exercise of will Avlar managed not to run through the house. The bedroom door was closed; he opened it- barely managing not to kick it out of its frame- and entered.

Rosalind sat with her back to the door, wrapped in a blanket. June sat beside her, one arm around her shoulder, looking pensively back at Avlar. The room itself was a God awful mess that stank to high Heaven. Even so, Avlar barely noticed. All of his attention remained firmly fixed on Rosalind. She didn't get up or even turn to look at him. In fact, she gulped back a sob and hunched forward, as if trying to make herself smaller.

For what felt like an eternity Avlar couldn't move. A feeling of sick terror grew in his gut, threatening to overwhelm him. With crystal clarity he recalled his first night with Jaquetta, and thinking that Fate would surely punish him. He recalled deciding that whatever doom befell he would endure, for Rosalind's sake. He realized now that the very worst possible doom wouldn't touch him at all. At least not directly.

Avlar's feet carried him forward, as if of their own volition. Inside he felt only cold, as if life and breath had already left him. But he had to know. As he came up next to the bed Rosalind buried her face against June's shoulder and curled up even more tightly. Avlar frowned; he couldn't see anything wrong... until he saw the front of her body. The blanket covered everything but her face and tail, but through it she looked... misshapen, somehow.

Fear held Avlar in an iron grip. He couldn't speak, he couldn't think. Otherwise he surely wouldn't have done what he did. But he had to know; not knowing was devouring him alive. He grabbed the blanket and jerked it off.

June squawked in protest. "Avlar, just what the Hell do you think you're doing?" she shouted angrily.

Avlar didn't respond. The sound of June's voice reached his ears but the meaning of it never reached his mind. All that existed for him was Rosalind, huddling on the bed, trying to cover herself with her arms. It was a hopeless task; her breasts bulged out above, below, and between them.

After what felt like an eternity Alvar gulped down a shuddering breath because his diaphragm spasmed, forcing him to start breathing again. With horrifying certainty he realized what must have happened. Despite putting on a brave front, Rosalind had felt threatened by his relationship with Jaquetta. She'd had herself modified to become more competitive. But merely meeting Jaquetta's bet wouldn't do; Rosalind wanted to win. So she raised the stakes, hoping to force Jaquetta out of the game. And... Avlar had to say that she'd succeeded. For all of Jaquetta's striking beauty and unusual build, Avlar was absolutely certain that with her and Rosalind side by side, all eyes would be on Rosalind. Whether it was because they saw her as an object of desire or something escaped from a freak show was a question he couldn't answer and didn't even care to think about. It didn't matter anyway, because of a more immediate and far more important fact: that he was the cause of this. He'd put the idea in her mind by having himself modified. By agreeing to Jimmy's plan he'd put her in a place where self-doubt rubbed her psyche raw and left her alone where the wounds could fester. And he'd fantasized about Rosalind having bigger breasts. About her having more than two, even. He'd never said anything, of that he was certain... but the longer he spent with Rosalind the more it seemed that they held entire conversations with so much as a word being spoken. They'd come to know one another's minds well enough that the words weren't necessary. That being so, how could she not know?

Now Avlar's wish had been granted. Rosalind had- literally- made herself a gift to him. Without any regard of the cost to herself. Which would be significant; he couldn't imagine her returning to work at the cafe and merely going out in public looked doubtful. Suddenly all the plans he'd made for his and Rosalind's future, which only yesterday had seemed as solid and eternal as stone, dissolved like sugar canes in hot tea.

"Avlar?" June asked. It seemed to her that an inordinate amount of time had passed. Mostly she just wanted to break the tension in the air, which was so intense she almost couldn't breathe.

Avlar swallowed convulsively, his whole body quivering. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled it slowly. When he opened his eyes again the doubt and shock had left them. He moved around the bed to the other side, bending over it to place his face closer to Rosalind's. "Come here," he commanded, crooking a finger. Not loudly, but very firmly.

Very slowly Rosalind uncurled, looking up at Avlar. Her eyes were red, her cheeks wet with tears. His expression was empty. He beckoned and she came, rolling onto her hands and knees and crawling toward him. Her breasts jounced back and forth as she bumped them with her arms and legs. When she reached the edge of the bed Avlar stepped back, gesturing for her to rise. She swung her legs out and carefully got up onto them. Avlar put a hand on her shoulder and gently but firmly ushered her into the bathroom. He directed her to sit on a stool while he opened the taps to fill the tub. "Get in," he commanded, once the water had risen sufficiently.

Rosalind got in and lay down on her back. With her arms at her sides they vanished beneath her breasts; only they, her face, legs, and tail emerged from the water. Keeping his eyes firmly on Rosalind's Avlar then shed his own clothing. He didn't bother folding it, he simply kicked it aside. Then he knelt beside the tub, leaning his chest against the rim. He picked up the shampoo bottle, poured some into his hand, and set to work on her mane. After that he worked his way down to her torso; when he came to her breasts he washed them too, showing not the slightest hesitation or reluctance as he reached between and under them. In fact he lingered there, stroking and squeezing gently, until he noticed her breathing quicken and her nipples harden. Then he slipped a hand down to her crotch, rubbing her vulva for a moment before slipping his fingers inside her. As he worked her eyelids drooped closed and her hips began to thrust gently against his hand. Her own hands came up out of the water, squeezing and stroking those breasts Avlar wasn't tending. He gradually increased the pace of his thrusts until he felt her quiver in the throes of orgasm. Even after it passed he left his hands in place, though only pressing gently against her.

"A... Avlar?" Rosalind asked hesitantly. At long last the terrified emptiness had left her eyes.

"I promised," Avlar said, lifting Rosalind's hand to his face and nuzzling it gently. "To love, honor, and cherish you, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, for all the days of my life." He kissed her palm. "I don't regret it, Rosalind. Now not. Not even once. Not ever."

Rosalind's mouth worked. Her throat had closed up' she couldn't force any words out. Instead she sat up, taking Avlar's face in her hands, then pulling him against her. "Oh, Avlar," she sobbed, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm, so- so-"

"Shh." Avlar halted Rosalind's protestations with a finger to her lips. "You did it because you love me," he said. "I don't want you to ever think you have to apologize for that."

"Oh, Avlar!" Rosalind clutched him in a bear hug, burying her face against his shoulder and sobbing.

Avlar held Rosalind, stroking her head and back, until her tears ran out. Then he went back to washing her. Looking up toward the bedroom, he saw June still sitting on the edge of the bed with Specs behind her. "June, would you do me a favor?" he asked.

"Sure," June replied. "What do you need?"

"Go get-" Avlar hesitated, speculating on who he should ask for. "Doc Ilsa," he decided. "I'd like her to give Rosalind a checkup."

"No!" Rosalind shrieked, surging up out of the water and clutching at Avlar's shoulders.

"What's wrong?" Avlar demanded, struggling to keep Rosalind from dragging him headfirst into the tub.

"I- I-" Rosalind's face quivered. She looked away.

Avlar took Rosalind's face gently in his hands and turned it, forcing her to look at him. "What is it?" he asked gently.

"I..." Rosalind shivered, biting her lip. "I don't want her to see me like this."

Avlar's face twisted. "You're my wife," he said harshly. "If anyone so much as bats an eye-" he looked away, taking deep breaths until the white-hot rage subsided. "You're my wife," he repeated, softly and tenderly. "You're the most beautiful creature in all creation." He kissed her on the forehead. "And if anyone gives me any lip about it I'll rip their fucking head off and shit down their neck." He pressed her head against her chest, stroking her tenderly. "I think... lets just say I suspect this isn't exactly what you had in mind when you decided to have a mod." Rosalind emitted a bark of sound that could have been a snort, a laugh, or a sob. "That being so, I think it's prudent to have Doc check you out. Make sure you're okay and all. I'll be right here with you the whole time. All right?"

Rosalind mumbled something unintelligible, but Avlar felt her head nod. "Go on," he said to June, looking up and nodding. "When she gets here, though, have her wait in the parlor. I'll show her in myself."

"All right, Avlar." June nodded and hurried out. Specs followed.

While waiting for Ilsa, Avlar finished bathing Rosalind. She definitely looked better clean, even with her fur all wet and spiky. He picked up the currycomb but she took it out of his hands. "There'll be time for that later," she murmured, sinking to her knees. Avlar's penis, already more than half hard, stiffened. Instead of taking it into her mouth, as Avlar had expected, Rosalind lifted her upper pair of breasts. Gripping each one tightly by the nipple she used her forearms to press them around and slide them along Avlar's shaft.

Avlar gasped. The soft, warm flesh of Rosalind's breasts didn't grip him as tightly as her vagina or anus could, but neither aforementioned orifice had fur in it. Feeling it slide against his hairless penis was like- like stroking in reverse. And it stimulated every part of his penis at once. Because of that, perhaps, Avlar came very quickly. Or just as likely because everything that had happened today left him so keyed up his body seemed to thrum like an over-tight violin string. Orgasm let all that tension out in one big rush. He ejaculated what felt like about a liter of semen into Rosalind's cleavage and, though not consciously aware of it, cried out.

Ilsa crashed through the bedroom door, slipped on a pile of vomit, and staggered into the bathroom, windmilling her arms. Somehow she managed to keep a grip on her bag, which was probably what saved her. The bag's mass, reacting against her arm as she swung it, levered her torso back upright. After recovering her balance- physically, and more importantly, mentally- she faced Avlar and Rosalind squarely. Just in time to watch Avlar's penis withdraw from Rosalind's cleavage, both of which body parts were soaked with cum.

"I..." Ilsa managed. She couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from Avlar's crotch, or maybe Rosalind's cleavage. Her eyes widened and a blazing hot flush rose not only in her face but her neck and breast as well.

Feeling Rosalind tense shocked Avlar into action. He leapt to Ilsa, spun her around, and brusquely thrust her back into the bedroom. "Not a word, do you hear me?" he hissed in her ear. "Not one single word. You will conduct your examination, then we will discuss the medical implications of your observations. But there is nothing wrong with her. Do you understand?"

Ilsa stared mutely into Avlar's eyes for a moment, then nodded. Later she would swear she saw fire in them. Whether she did or not, there could be no mistaking the implication of his furrowed brows, lips drawn back from his teeth, and the painful grip he maintained on her arm.

"Then let's get on with the examination." Avlar marched Ilsa into the bathroom.

Ilsa tried keeping her expression composed, or at least neutral, but couldn't help flinching. Rosalind was licking Avlar's seed from the gap between her upper breasts. She glanced up when Ilsa and Avlar entered, her tongue quickly cleaning a stray fleck from her muzzle.

Ilsa turned away to open her bag, as a way of giving herself time to compose herself. Examining naked people wasn't anything new. Examining a naked person who'd so obviously just completed a sex act was. Having the person's sexual partner present didn't even rate a mention. Backing out, though, clearly wasn't an option. Rosalind needed a checkup. In any case, Ilsa doubted that she'd be permitted to leave. Avlar wasn't a friendly, soft-spoken young man any more. He was a male animal defending his mate, which he perceived to be in serious danger. That the danger was abstract rather than physical made things worse, not better. From her bag she produced a stethoscope, a sphygmomanometer, and a thermometer. She paused, noting that this last item was the larger rectal version, rather than the smaller oral one. Ultimately she chose to stick with her original choice. Taking a temperature rectally produced a more accurate result and it wasn't as if she could imagine anything making this whole encounter any more embarrassing. "Sit here, please," she said, directing Rosalind to a stool. While Rosalind sat Ilsa plied her stethoscope, listening to Rosalind's heart, lungs, and intestine. And resolutely ignoring the squelching sound as she placed the stethoscope at the top of Rosalind's cleavage. She could have asked Rosalind to clean up more thoroughly... but that meant broaching the subject of why the cleaning was necessary in the first place. She knew that if she asked aloud she'd blush furiously and quite possibly stutter. She did not care to admit that she- a physician, no less- could be discomfited by such things.

Taking Rosalind's blood pressure allowed Ilsa to step back from the whole issue, which she did quite thankfully... except for discreetly wiping the stethoscope on a towel before slipping it under the sphygmomanometer's cuff. From there it was all routine: pump up the cuff until the pulses stopped, then bleed the air out slowly, listening carefully for the systolic and diastolic pulses, noting the pressure at which each one occurred.

"How is everything?" Avlar inquired as Ilsa removed the deflated cuff from Rosalind's arm.

"Just fine," Ilsa replied, recording the data in her notebook. "Pulse is strong, blood pressure right in the proper range, and all the inside bits sound like they're supposed to." It still bothered her a bit to deliver her results in such a casual and imprecise fashion, but she'd learned early on that people didn't like getting barraged with technical terms.

"Am I still... changing?" Rosalind asked.

"I-" Ilsa hesitated briefly debating whether to tell the straight truth or a more comforting version of it. "-can't tell, really, with just a quick examination," she concluded, deciding on straight truth. "If you don't feel sick, the answer's probably yes, but not necessarily." She spread a towel on the floor. "Would you lay down here, please? On your belly. I need to take your temperature."

"Okay." Rosalind lay down. Ilsa applied a dab of water based lubricant jelly to the thermometer bulb and inserted it into Rosalind's anus. Rosalind didn't seem discomfited... or, at least, her overall expression and demeanor didn't change. Which wasn't necessarily the same thing, Ilsa well knew.

With the thermometer in place Ilsa took the stool for herself. "If you are still changing, Rosalind, then the temperature might say," she began. "While your body's rebuilding itself you'll frequently run a fever, because your body reacts to the mutagen like an invading disease. Which, in a sense, it is. But having a fever- or not- isn't conclusive either way."

Rosalind shook her head sadly. She lay with her chin propped on her hands. Her breasts bulged from beneath her torso, sticking out every which way. "I sure was sick," she commented. "I've never been sicker in my life. I got dizzy on the train back from Mazama. I would have missed my stop if the conductor hadn't given me a nudge. And then my- my chest started hurting. It felt like- like once I'd sunburned my nose." She rubbed it for emphasis. "But it was all up and down my front. "Then-" she put a hand on her waist. "My gut started hurting too. Like-" she frowned, searching for words. "Like gas, but much, much worse."

"Where?" Ilsa asked. "No, don't get up," she added quickly as Rosalind began to rise. Upright, there was a danger she might accidentally sit on the thermometer and injure herself. "Just describe it for me."

"It was in the, the bottom of my tummy," Rosalind explained. "Below my waist but above my crotch. After that I don't remember much. I... ate when I could; I felt like I was starving. Rest of the time I... it seems like I was eating or throwing up. Or-" she looked down. "Let's just say it came out both ends."

Ilsa nodded. Diarrhea wasn't uncommon in such circumstances.

"I don't..." Rosalind distractedly rubbed her cheek. "There were times... it must have lasted about a week. I went straight to Mazama and came straight back. A day and a half, all together. I was here the rest of the time. I... I must have gotten food and gone to the bathroom but- I don't remember except in bits. Thinking back it's hard to tell what was real and what was... just dreaming."

Ilsa nodded again. "The mutation was upsetting your body's natural rhythms," she explained. "That's what made you sick." She decided not to say that the degree of illness suggested sweeping changes, more than perhaps than could be accounted for by Rosalind's new breasts, however radical in itself that change in itself might seem.

"Wouldn't it mean the change has stopped, since she isn't sick anymore?" Avlar asked.

"No," Ilsa declared firmly, shaking her head. "It only means that, that her body's gotten used to it. There could still be changes happening, though they'd have to be... less dramatic." She returned her attention to Rosalind. "What exactly did you ask for?"

Rosalind crossed her hands before her and stared at them for some time. Avlar knelt by her side, stroking her head and back. "I... I told the doctor I wanted bigger breasts," she said in little more than a whisper. "And... I told him I wanted more than four."

Ilsa frowned in thought. "Is that exactly what you said, Rosalind?" she asked, quietly and gently. "I mean, as opposed to saying 'I want breasts this big' and 'I want this many?'"

"I... I think so. Yes."

Ilsa nodded. Gene engineers were, as a rule, sober and responsible individuals. Still, Ilsa could imagine Rosalind going to one- a man- and telling him she wanted bigger breasts, and more than four, without being specific. All too easily she could imagine him... embellishing his orders somewhat. Or, at least, interpreting them in a very liberal way. "Did you ask to see his license?"

Rosalind looked up. "His what?"

Avlar flinched. Ilsa saw him open his mouth, then snap it shut. Ilsa shot him a baleful look. Don't you dare shoot your mouth off after leaning on me, she told him silently. He at least had the decency to look abashed. "Gene engineers have to have a license issued by the National Association of Gene Engineers." Ilsa explained. "If you go to see one, you ask to see his license. Then if... anything happens, you can file a complaint about it." Or your relatives can, at any rate.

"I know what agency it was and who I talked to," Rosalind volunteered.

Ilsa bit her lip. "That's good, but... I'm not sure it would be enough," she began, speaking very carefully. "You see... if his agency found out what this doctor had done... and I can't imagine they wouldn't... but they knew that you hadn't asked for a license number... then they could destroy the records and claim you were never there."

"That has to be illegal," Avlar growled.

"It is," Ilsa replied. "But it's... business suit and boardroom type illegal, not jimmying windows in the night type illegal."

Rather to Ilsa's surprise, Avlar nodded. "You mean that if we expect to get anywhere with it we have to hire a fancy pants city lawyer and pay him a shitload of money."

"Well... yes," Ilsa admitted. "In a nutshell." Though, in truth, she wasn't sure that things were any different for more prosaic crimes. Money had a way of dissolving all sorts of legal strictures, if applied in sufficient quantity.

"Is there a way to find out if there's still... changes to happen?" Avlar wanted to know.

"Yes," Ilsa pronounced. "I send off to Mazama for some special gear." She grimaced. "If it takes less than a week to arrive I'll be very surprised."

"How much?" Alvar asked.

Ilsa hesitated briefly. She hated this part but it was necessary. Doctors had to eat too. "Fifty Tars."

Avlar nodded without so much as a blink. "Do it. We'll have the money for you tomorrow."

Ilsa nodded slowly. "Let's have a look at that temperature," she announced briskly, rising from the stool and retrieving the thermometer. "Thirty-seven point one," she announced.

"That's a bit high, isn't it?" Avlar ventured.

"A bit," Ilsa agreed. Or maybe just a touch more; Rosalind's normal temperature is slightly lower than average. "Though I'd still say take it easy for a few days, eat right, and get lots of water. And be ready for a more thorough examination, tomorrow or the next day. I'll want to confer with my dad about this to make sure I'm not overlooking anything." She cleaned her instruments and put them away.

"Doc?" Avlar began. "Could we ask a favor of you?"

"Sure." Ilsa snapped her bag shut and tucked it under her arm.

"Give us a lift?"

"Ah, sure." Ilsa blinked "Why? Where to?"

Avlar's eyes narrowed. "I'm not having my wife live in this mess, especially if her health is in any way in question," he declared. "It's too much to clean up right now, so... I figured we'd stay somewhere else for a while." The corners of his mouth turned up in a smile that would have made the Devil himself cringe.

"Where would that be?" Ilsa inquired, with a growing sense of dread. Given Avlar's expression, she rather suspected she knew what he'd say.

"Oh, with the person upon whose behalf we were acting that led us into this predicament in the first place," Avlar responded breezily, but his eyes were as hard as stone. "And who, as a friend and business partner, should be more than happy to help us out in our hour of need. I figured we'd stay with Mr. MacGregor."

Genus Oryctolagus