YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW Ch. 1~13

YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW Ch. 1~13

Chapter 1

Life is good except for the parts that suck and being homeless sucks almost as much as being old.

In the cold light of autumn dawn, under the uncaring eyes of the Sheriff's eviction team, I shoved the last cardboard box of my belongings into the cargo hold of my girlfriend's Rav4 and slammed the hatch closed.

Resisting the temptation to render a one-finger salute, I kept my opinion in my pocket and jumped into the passenger seat and shivered. Darlene flipped several strands of flyaway hair out of her eyes for the umpteenth time and squinted to read the tiny letters with directions to our new home: some Godforsaken prepper hideaway in the western mountains. Mapmakers tend to hide the most critical information in the smallest print known to man.

She was like that--a stickler for details.

Finally finished, she smiled. "Let's go!"

She adjusted the mirror, put the Rav into gear. We were going to start a new life off the grid.

Her soft and innocent musical voice accented her thoughts with honey and desire. To me, she sounded like exotic ear-candy.

She was more than she seemed and used a different song for every mood and season. When angry, sarcastic sandpaper replaced honey as her words scoured lies and bullshit away from facts until only the unvarnished truth remained.

We met at a local tavern where we developed an unlikely May-December relationship. She played the part of May at the youthful age of thirty-five. I fulfilled the role of December at the tender age of sixty-mumble.

Through the process of elimination, we had become drinking buddies at our local tavern. I'm not sure "buddies" is the correct word. More often than not, we happened to be the last people still standing when the bartender bellowed out, "Last call for alcohol!"

Initially, geography was our common bond. The tavern, built in the 1890s, featured a walnut and mahogany bar with an odd little 'L' shaped hook at the far corner of the saloon. The bar and a back wall of brick formed a naturally cozy alcove spacious enough to accommodate three stools.

According to local legend, the original owner ordered the hook's construction to allow him to observe activities of untrustworthy bartenders while also keeping an eye on equally unreliable patrons. The voyeur and hermit in me loved the location, and I had it all to myself for several months until the day Darlene arrived. She also loved the strategic observatory.

At first, I was annoyed at the invasion of my secret space. After a while, I looked forward to her company. Like commuters sharing an across-town bus, we got used to each other's presence on the installment plan. Familiarity grew comfortable, and silence gave way to conversation as we observed the ebb and flow of tavern life.

It all started with casual flirting. She flirted. I was casual.

Hell, she flirted with everyone: men, women, and even the bartender's mangy tomcat. While I enjoyed the sometimes risqué banter, I never considered Darlene as potential girlfriend material. She was a young vixen, and I was an old wolf. I amused myself by trying to sneak a peek down her blouse or up her skirt when I thought she wouldn't notice.

One Friday evening, the stars governing our relationship aligned like the bars on a slot machine. Heads turned as Darlene strutted into the tavern: a blur of legs, cleavage, and the predatory smile of a fox. Her outfit left little to the imagination. Her mini-dress must have been a belt in a previous life, and her tissue-thin blouse was unbuttoned down to her navel. She wore no bra.

"That's a nice outfit you're almost wearing."

I did a double take when she hopped up on the adjacent barstool.

"Panties optional dress code?" I asked with a nod of my head as I filed that image into my long-term memory vault.

"Like it? I'm going to get laid tonight. One of these stud-muffins is going home with me," she chuckled with a little shiver and scanned the tavern for targets of opportunity.

I grimaced; my envy was flavored a bit oddly by jealousy. What a curious blend of emotions for a virtual stranger. I did an inventory of my own.

The tavern was a working man's watering hole, and most the guys looked like drop-outs from Blubber Buddies or some such weight-watching group. Too many six-packs left many on the fat side of hefty. Over the last few years, I had gone from two-hundred-seventy-six pounds to a hundred and sixty-seven. I felt authorized to gloat.

Wives or girlfriends escorted most of the men. Boyfriends accompanied several others. Darlene's field of viable targets appeared limited unless she lowered her standards or went in for a threesome.

I pitied the lucky guy who won Darlene's attention. She had the uncanny ability to read people like a book and play them like a deck of cards.

"Compliments of the house."

Our curious barkeep did a visual inventory of his own as he set a beautifully mixed and handcrafted White Russian in front of Darlene.

She took a small sip and savored it like a gourmet. "Splendid!"

She tilted her head back and wolfed it down in one long gulp. Yikes! Talk about power drinking. Darlene hopped down from her seat and like Alexander the Great, set out to conquer the known world.

I had to admire her style. She was the Alpha-Fox loose in the hen house, radiating sexual availability like a neon sign in the night. Darlene was in a class by herself, and that was a problem. She sparkled like a diamond in a coal bin and scared the crap out of the men she approached.

If anything, she was too beautiful and too self-assured. The males she flirted with as she worked her way around the tavern were flattered, flustered, and fearful of her attention. None of them dared to take the bait.

After ten or fifteen minutes of flagrantly flirting, Darlene returned to her seat to regroup and refuel. Our bartender presented her with another complimentary White Russian as his sacrifice to the gods of Wishful Thinking.

"Thank you so much! You are such a sweetheart. Can I have another one to keep this one company?"

Darlene touched his hand, and if her smile had been any warmer, the barkeep would have erupted into flame. A few moments later, our generous drink master returned with three tall White Russians.

"One is for you and the other two are honor guards for the dead soldiers." He pointed to the two empty glasses.

"I love this drink."

She inhaled the beverage, chugging it down in one long gulp. I widened my eyes in puzzlement. How can anyone love a drink without taking the time to appreciate the subtle by-play of flavors?

Thirst quenched for the moment, Darlene resumed her quest for the night's bed partner. Her second expedition of seduction ended in bewildered frustration.

"What the hell? I usually have to beat men off with a stick." Shaking her head in disgust, she demolished another White Russian.

"Maybe you should offer to beat them off with a stick, you know, fifty shades of kinky?"

Darlene's eyes gave me a hard look. She was not amused. "Why? Do you want to get beat off with a stick?" she smiled coyly before dispatching the last White Russian.

"Hell no! I hate splinters," I said.

"He shoots. He scores!" Darlene laughed as she raised her index finger and traced a point on the invisible blackboard in the air. "Nice one."

I shrugged my shoulders. I could feel the rising heat of a blush. I squirmed in my seat under her gaze. As Darlene studied me, her dark look of frustration gradually brightened, and her emerald eyes sparkled as her grim expression transformed into the predatory smile of a fox once more.

"I'm as horny as hell. Wanna screw?"

She leaned into me until our noses touched while her hand moved to my knee and slowly slid along the inside of my leg. I answered by placing my hand on her knee and mirrored her journey of exploration.

"Your place or mine?" I whispered.

It was as cliché as hell, but I couldn't help myself. What could I say? She had just made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

Thus began our unlikely love affair. We became romantically involved as much out of laziness as out of lust. Neither of us cared to invest the necessary time to search for the ideal mate, so we settled for close enough for now. After we moved in together, I would joke that I was "robbing the cradle" when I took her to bed. She would always laugh and respond, "I guess that would make me a grave robber."

A few things attracted me to Darlene. The first was her personality. She was so easy going that I once tried to give her the nickname "Lake Placid." Still waters run deep, and it didn't end well.

"Enough! Dennis, that was a twofer."

The book she was reading sailed across the room, missing my head by less than an inch.

"Watch it, you nearly hit me! What the hell is a twofer?"

"A twofer is the first and last time something happens. I loath nicknames. Why the hell would I want to be named after a stagnant pond?"

Her smile was a weird combo of mischief and annoyance. I took pet names off my to-do list.

The other thing was her attitude toward sex. Everyone needs a hobby and sex was her diversion from work. She collected orgasms like some folks collected postage stamps.

She'd allowed me to move in with her and we'd shacked up to save money when my landlord evicted me because I refused to pay until he fixed the bathroom in my crappy apartment. He decided a new tenant would be cheaper than new plumbing. Darlene and I believed that two could live as cheaply as one. We were right, but only for half as long.

After a few months together, the real estate development corporation in which Darlene had invested fifteen years of her life went belly-up, and then her last two paychecks bounced. The rubber checks set up a cascading overdraft chain reaction.

Darlene's rent check went south, along with about twenty-five or thirty personal checks and ATM transactions; each bad check racked up a thirty-five dollar bank charge and twenty-five to thirty dollars in returned check merchant fees; her account was bleeding red ink by several thousand dollars.

The certified letter ordering our eviction was the last straw. Our financial camel lay mortally wounded with a back broken beyond repair. We needed a new place to live, and we needed it fast. We crisscrossed Denver and the surrounding suburbs, chasing every "For Rent" sign we could find. We were always an hour or a day late, or the price was way beyond reach.

"Well, if you hear anything, please give me a call. Thank you."

Darlene frowned as she hung up the phone. She looked at me, turned slightly, and examined the calendar hanging on the refrigerator door before returning her eyes to mine.

"That was our last best lead; we're screwed." She slumped in her chair.

We sat across from each other at the kitchen table as, like an unwanted house guest, a shroud of gloom settled over the room. Out of options, we ran out of clock. Eviction day was less than seventy-two hours away.

Darlene's posture suddenly changed as she sat upright in her chair; the corner of her mouth turned upward, and a smile twinkled in her eyes.

"Yikes! I can't believe I forgot 'em!" She slapped the table top with the palm of her hand and let out a laugh. "Dennis, how would you like to live on a commune?"

"Huh?"

What kinda random question was this and where was it going? Darlene's exotic view of life trended toward the spiritual rather than the religious. Oh boy. I braced myself for her answer.

"What kind of hippy village are we talking about?"

"Hippy? I'm not talking about Woodstock, my love. My friends from college are living in an off-the-grid cabin in the Rockies. They owe me some money ... maybe we can stay with them."

"What's their address?"

If you learn where someone lives, you can start to guess as to their culture.

"Honey, they don't have an address, and they're not on the road or any highway.."

Darlene moved to the living room sofa, and I followed.

"How far are are your friends from civilization?"

This was getting interesting. The closer to the road, the more connected they were to conventional reality. I had visited many communes in my younger days, and each had a personality ranging from boring to batshit crazy. We sat together on the couch.

"Fifteen miles, give or take." She leaned into me as we sat together. "We've been buddies a long time. We were friends back in college."

"What kind of friends?" If they had been living off the grid for fifteen years, this gang had something going for it

"You know, friends who help friends. Anyway, they are heavy duty into the survivalist movement. They might let us stay with them."

Any community holding its own for fifteen years might be an answer to our current housing crisis, depending on the depth of the batshit. Too deep would be too weird.

"Okay, you got my attention." I gave her a kiss. "Tell me everything you know. Who are these guys?"

We talked until there was no more to say.

"Stay or go. Your choice,” Darlene said. “Do you want to give them a try, at least for a few weeks?"

Living as amateur survivalists, her friends occupied an off-the-grid cabin located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains about two hundred and fifty miles west of Denver. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Living off the grid far from civilization was an attractive alternative to living in a cardboard box behind a Safeway Supermarket. Besides, I liked the high country, and I had made several hiking trips into the mountains while stationed at Lowry Air Force Base prior to shipping out for an all-expense-paid tour of Vietnam.

"Hum, I'm in. Let's see if your friends will let us stay with them."

I watched and listened as she dictated a text message requesting sanctuary for us, and shared her joy when she received an affirmative response a few minutes later.

"Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off the grid we go," I sang.

"Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off with clothes we go," she sang as she turned the dwarf song into a stripper-gram for two.

More efficient than artful, she had me barefoot from my toes to my chin within a minute. Bare ass and laughing, we sealed the deal by morning with a wild session of lovemaking. We were going to make a new life for ourselves.

The next two days passed in a blur as we raced to pack what we needed for our new lives. Our Rav4 got a new set of off-road tires along with a complete tune-up and oil change. We sold everything we couldn't take with us. What we couldn't sell, we gave away. We were done with Denver.

We departed a few minutes after sunrise and followed US-70 away from the city. Within an hour, we were up into the mountains, and four hours after that, we hit the town of Rifle and broke for lunch. I asked Darlene to stop at the local smoke shop. I had learned that our new home wasn't only remote, it was in the ass-end of nowhere. The idea of running out of cigarettes a million clicks from resupply was frightening. We parked in the alley next to the local smoke shop.

I assumed our new off-the-grid home had some power, so I purchased an electric rolling machine. I then covered my bet; I bought two hand-powered devices to be safe. I then cleaned the shop out of their inventory of Zen rolling papers (three cases), along with sixty pounds of tobacco, two hundred cheap disposable lighters, and five tobacco pipes. Darlene stood next to me as the cashier rang up the largest single purchase in the shop's history.

"Are you out of your mind? Who spends that kind of money on tobacco? My God! We're broke and almost homeless." She shook her head.

"Sweetheart, my VA check is direct deposit, and it hit my account last night. Where we're going, money ain't going to be of much use, so why not?"

I added another handful of Bic lighters to the pile of merchandise. The total bill of sixteen hundred and forty-seven dollars and twenty-eight cents wiped out half my available cash.

The Zen cigarette tubes and sixty pounds of tobacco were too bulky to fit in the Rav's cargo bay. I secured my newly acquired stash to the vehicle's roof by wrapping everything up in a tarp and triple tying it down with rope and bungee cords. The car looked like a band of gypsies owned it by the time I'd finished.

We turned north on Route 13, passed the town of Meeker two hours later, and turned on winding dirt road leading up into the mountains. About forty-five minutes later, Darlene announced, "It won't be long now" for the twentieth time.

Darlene was bright as well as beautiful. I was impressed at her skill as she programmed a series of waypoints her friends had emailed her into the vehicle's satellite navigation system. We followed the dirt road through a thick pine forest until the road devolved into not much more than a poorly marked trail. The trail shrunk down to a path as we ventured above the tree line, and soon our pathway became nothing more than a series of GPS waypoints connected by miles of barren rock.

I asked Darlene after an hour of driving ever deeper into the highland wilderness, "How long is not long?"

"We should be there within the hour," Darlene said

"Christ Almighty! Your friends aren't only off the grid, they're off the damn map. Do you have any idea of where we really are?" I complained.

Darlene shrugged, smiled, and kept driving.

An hour later, our Rav4 reached a ridge crest which afforded us with a splendid view of a long, thin U-shaped valley nestled between two towering mountain ranges. We could see a building almost lost in the distance at the far end of the vale.

The structure was considerably larger than it had seemed from the ridge as we approached the dwelling. The rustic cabin looked like it was growing out of the side of the rocky slope upon closer examination. It was as much a log mansion as it was a log cabin. Solar panels covered the south facing steel roof, and a farmer's porch wrapped around three sides of the cabin. Buck Rogers meets Davy Crockett.

The sun had disappeared behind the snow-capped mountains. Night and the thermometer were both falling fast by the time we rolled to a stop in front of the cabin. A welcoming committee of at least two dozen women gathered on the porch erupted in shouts of joy and hand waves when Darlene emerged from the vehicle. However, the boisterous welcome turned to a frosty silence when I stepped out of the car. It was as if someone had pulled the plug on the PA system.

Chapter 2

Darlene stepped around the front bumper and gave me a hug as she whispered in my ear, "Did I mention that this is an all-woman survival commune?"

"You forgot to share that little detail with me. What the hell we gonna do now?" I muttered back.

Darlene was like that. She tended to skimp on the details and fill the void with trivia or useless facts. She held my hand as we broke from our embrace, and spoke to the assembled women on the porch.

"I would like you to meet my partner, Dennis Richards, everyone. He's old, but he's kinda cool once you have a chance to know him."

An older woman, who appeared to be the group's leader, stepped forward. "I'm Sheila Carson, Mr. Richards. Please come inside. I think we need to have a talk."

I had the same, uneasy "Oh crap! Now, what?" feeling that I used to have when summoned to the principal's office as a kid.

Sheila turned on her heels, walked inside, and the rest of us followed into the cabin's great room. If the cabin appeared big from the outside, standing in the middle of the  enormous hall it seemed to go on forever. It was enormous. A massive freestanding stone fireplace dominated the center of the room with a blazing fire radiating heat and light in all directions. The cathedral ceiling towering over the open space was almost lost in the shadows and smoky haze of the great room, and rustic balconies ringed the wall on four sides at the second story level. Thousands of LED icicle lights hung from the balcony railings and stairways. A soft, comforting glow bathed the room.

Sheila directed us to follow her to her office upstairs. She stood about five feet six and was a good looking woman about my age. Streaks of red highlighted her short cropped brunette hair, and she appeared to be in excellent physical condition.

Her skin had the bronze tan of someone who was no stranger to hard outdoor work. Her face was more handsome than beautiful. She was wearing faded work jeans and a low-cut wool sweater, which allowed an excellent view of well-tanned, medium-sized breasts and ample cleavage.

Sheila's office featured a giant oak desk and a stone fireplace. A picture window filled one wall with a breathtaking view of the frosted mountains painted silver in the light of an almost full moon. A floor-to-ceiling bookcase crammed with books covered the opposite wall. There were several oriental rugs scattered about on the wood floor.

"Make yourselves comfortable, I'll be right back." Sheila made a quick exit through a side door.

Her abrupt departure startled me. Something was brewing. Darlene and I took a seat on a small loveseat in front of a coffee table and exchanged worried glances while we waited.

I leaned close and whispered, "What the hell is going on? This ain't the warm and fuzzy welcome we expected."

"I know. I don't understand. I told Sheila's assistant that you were coming with me, and she said, 'Great, the more, the merrier.'"

We could hear the muffled voices but not the words of two women engaged in a heated discussion in the next room. The conversation ended abruptly, and a moment later, Sheila entered the office with another woman in tow.

"Your presence here presents us with something of a problem, Mr. Richards. Darlene sent us a text to our satellite phone. She told us she was bringing her lover 'Denise' with her. It was on that basis that we gave you permission to join our family of sisters." Sheila crossed her arms and studied us closely.

Darlene let out a little gasp before she burst out laughing. "Fucking auto-correct will get you every time. I dictated it on my iPhone, and I never caught the error when it changed Dennis to Denise," Darlene said.

Oh, damn! Talk about getting off to a lousy start. We were at the intersection of Colossal and Fuck Up. It took Sheila only a moment to absorb the implications of Darlene's unintended error. There was no conspiracy at work here, only faulty technology.

"Mistake or not, Mr. Richards' presence in our family might produce, er, unnecessary sexual tension; that kind of stress can be bad for families," Sheila explained as she took a seat across from us.

"Seriously? If you're all lesbians, how can an old fart like me produce any sexual tension?" I protested.

"There are capital-L lesbians, and there are lowercase-L lesbians, Mr. Richards, and then there are those who might want to find pleasure from a man out of mischief or mere curiosity. The fact that you're old makes you seem harmless, but I know better. You're not as safe as you appear. You have already seduced one of our first lesbian sisters and convinced her to take you on as a lover," Sheila glanced over at Darlene.

I also gave Darlene an inquiring look of my own. I had suspected but never knew for sure, that my lady love walked both sides of the street.

Sheila leaned forward and looked directly into Darlene's eyes. "Since we're already on the subject, why on earth did you pick such an old guy for a lover in the first place? My God girl, he's old enough to be your father or even your grandfather."

Darlene laughed. "Everyone wants to know about our May-December relationship. I picked Dennis because he's low maintenance, easy to be with, and treats me with respect. He's a fantastic lover and knows how to make me happy. He has an extremely talented tongue."

Sheila glanced at me and raised a questioning eyebrow. I smiled back and blushed as the "talented tongue" comment seemed to hang in the air forever.

She let the silence stretch out a bit, and then leaned across the coffee table, took Darlene's right hand in her own, and licked her lips, "Tell me, dear sister, is his penis as talented?"

I shifted in my seat and struggled to keep a neutral expression as the two women discussed my sexual performance. I couldn't imagine a more awkward conversation.

Darlene eyes widened in surprise at Sheila's question and then narrowed in thoughtful reflection for several moments.

"His thing is untrained, and it doesn't work as well as his mouth. Sometimes my lover can't get it up or keep it up. Other times, his pecker has a mind of its own. He often suffers from premature ejaculation when he eventually gets an erection."

Sheila glanced over at me and raised another questioning eyebrow. I just blushed and did my best to sink out of sight. I tried to avoid any response that might extend discussion further. Darlene had a tendency to overshare information.

Turning toward her companion, Sheila asked, "Will you please show Darlene to her room and round up a few of the women to help unpack their vehicle, Lucia? I need to spend a few minutes on bringing Dennis up to speed on the ground rules for our colony. Please let the kitchen crew and the others know that we may be a little late for dinner."

With a quick kiss on my lips, Darlene rose and give Sheila a noticeably longer kiss as she followed Lucia out of the room. As the door closed, Sheila stood and beckoned me to follow her.

"Let's adjourn to the next room where we can be more comfortable. We've got a lot to talk about."

There was no doubt about it, I was a stranger in a very strange land.

Chapter 3

The next room turned out to be the bedroom Sheila shared with her partner, Lucia. The walls were hand-hewn pine planks decked out with bookcases and several artfully done watercolor portraits of lightly clad women.

A queen-size, four-poster bed covered with a beautiful handmade quilt took up one wall. Illumination provided by a handcrafted wrought iron table lamp beneath a stained glass shade provided most of the light for the room. The remainder came from a stone fireplace with several burning logs. A huge bearskin spread out on the floor before the fire along with several hefty throw pillows offered comfortable seating. The pleasantly warm room had an elegant and cozy feel to it overall.

Sheila retrieved an amber-colored bottle and two glasses from the bookshelf and sat down on the rug. She patted a spot next to her as she invited me to join her fireside.

"Dennis, would you care to join me in a glass of home-brewed brandy?"

"Only if you make it a double."

I was tempted to ask for a triple, but I let it pass. A double would do for now.

Taking a seat on the rug next to Sheila, I made myself as relaxed as possible. I was no longer as flexible as I had been when I was younger. Moreover, sitting on the floor was hardly my preferred mode of relaxation. I took a taste of the offered spirits. Liquid heaven! It was as smooth as silk, and I could feel it filling me with a warm glow.

"Tell me, Dennis, how at-ease are you with public displays of nudity?" Sheila asked as she took a swallow.

I almost snorted the drink out of my nose as I coughed and choked in surprise. What was the hell kind of question was that?

"I don't have a problem with public nudity." I regained my composure. "I've visited plenty of nude beaches in my life."

"Did you get undressed or just visit as a voyeur?" Sheila inquired.

"I got as naked as everyone else. Why do you ask?" I responded.

"Because our dress code most assuredly is clothing optional when we're in the cabin. Most of us go skyclad when we aren't working or cooking or if safety requires we remain covered up. I'm glad that you're comfortable with this," Sheila said, as she pulled her sweater over her head and exposed her braless chest.

I used to think I was pretty jaded and nothing would surprise me. Wrong. What do you say to a skyclad lady? I felt like I was playing a bit part on Candid Camera.

Neatly folding her garment, she rose to her knees, unbuckled her jeans, and slid them down to her ankles. My eyes widened in surprise. Sheila wore no underwear, and her un-clad body showed no trace of tan lines. My head was spinning.

The same dizzy feeling I had when standing at the edge of a cliff swept over me in a wave of cultural vertigo as I struggled to keep my mental balance. The normal social landmarks outlining the boundaries of acceptable behavior were either missing or obscured in this strange new world. She folded her jeans, placed them on top of her sweater, leaned back on the pillow behind her, and closed her eyes.

"Ahh, that feels much more comfortable. I'm getting to the age where I almost dislike clothing," she said with a deep sigh.

I took the opportunity to examine Sheila's exposed body as she lay exposed next to me. I was trying to engrave this moment in my memory for later replay. Maybe it would make more sense the second time around. Her breasts were still reasonably firm, and they showed few of the signs of aging or sagging, apart from a few stretch marks, which came along with advancing years.

Sheila's nipples were about the size of the tip of my little finger, and her dark brown areolas were roughly the size of fifty-cent pieces. Her stomach was flat with just a few wrinkles above a thin patch of reddish-brown pubic hair. She was in better physical shape than most women half her age. Either that, or she was a very high mileage thirty-year-old.

Her face had the usual lines and weather-worn creases of someone who spent most of their time outdoors, and there was only a slight hint of a double chin. She opened her eyes and caught me studying her body.

"Do I meet with your approval?"

I was stone-cold busted.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stare. I don't often find myself alone with a naked woman," I stammered. "This whole thing is way too weird. Talk about being beyond my comfort zone; you're nude, and you tell me an entire gaggle of naked jaybirds is just beyond this door," I searched around and waved my arms, "and then there's all this, this cabin half-way to nowhere. It's just everything. I don't mind being outside my zone, but I still need the time to process it."

I took a breath and continued. "Take this cabin, for example. It didn't grow here. It seems to be at least ten or fifteen years old, and it must have cost a fortune. What did you guys do? Win the lottery or something?" I said, waving my arms around the room.

"You're either a good guesser or a very lucky boy. That's exactly how this place came to be. Do you remember when everyone was freaking out over a seventy-five million dollar jackpot that remained unclaimed for almost a year about twenty years ago? That was the sisters and me," Sheila said.

"It took us that long to set up a corporation to hold the ticket. We decided that we would fly under the radar. We didn't want the media attention. I'm sure you can understand." She patted my leg.

"How the hell did you build this structure? You needed some heavy equipment to put this place together, and there are no roads in or out of the glen."

"We cut and milled all the wood we needed on site. A French Canadian heavy lift helicopter service brought in all the necessary equipment to complete this building and about a dozen utility structures. I'll give you and Darlene a tour of our colony tomorrow," Sheila offered.

I numbly nodded while reaching into my shirt pocket. I needed a smoke to calm my nerves.

With the pack of smokes in my hand, I asked, "Is it okay with you if I have a cigarette?"

"Shit! Cigarettes? I haven't had one in years!" She took the pack from my hand and tapped two cigarettes out before setting the pack down next to her leg.

Sheila gave me one before rolling on her stomach. Spreading her legs a little wider for stability, she stretched forward and reached into the fireplace to find an unburned twig to use as a match to light her cigarette.

Her buttocks were on vivid display as she sprawled before me. Each rounded cheek was firm, compact, and well-tanned. Her small puckered brown anus was clearly visible in the valley between them just above the lips of her vagina. I could feel a stiffening in my shorts as my body responded to the vision before me. I was going to have to get my aging and raging hormones in check if nudity was going to be the new normal. I had a hunch that sprouting a boner every time one of the women of the colony bent over wasn't going to cut the mustard.

I reached into my pocket, pulled out my Bic lighter, and lit my cigarette while Sheila worked to get her twig lit. I then tapped her on the leg and offered her my torch.

Sheila relaxed against her pillow for the next few minutes and puffed away at her first cigarette in years. "Gosh! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed a good smoke." She laughed and blew a perfect smoke ring and then another.

"Keep the pack; my treat. There are plenty more in the car."

I watched the smoke rings until they dissolved in the air. I was impressed. Not many smokers can blow a quality smoke ring.

"Really? How much is plenty more?" Sheila asked.

"I brought enough tobacco to roll at least twenty-four thousand cigarettes. That should last a few years." I told Sheila about my bulk tobacco purchase in Rifle, Colorado.

My eyes kept drifting back to Sheila's breasts and down to her pubic hair and vagina as we talked.

"I know that staring is rude, Sheila, but it's hard to keep my eyes away from your body. You're an attractive woman." I felt my erection twitch.

"I noticed, but don't worry about it. I didn't give you much warning before changing into my birthday suit, and this was a test. I wanted to see how you would handle female nudity, and you did just fine. I'm frankly flattered when someone admires my body, even if it's a man. Just try not to drool," Sheila said with a grin as she glanced at my crotch.

"I understand the usual norms around social nudity, and it doesn't include undesirable sexual aggression. Just because a woman is naked doesn't give me permission to grope or fondle her. I get it."

I rested my hand on my lap. Just to be safe.

"That is almost a feminist viewpoint for a man. Maybe you'll be able to fit in here after all." Sheila stretched and stood on her tiptoes as circulation returned to her legs. "I'm famished, and it's getting late, Dennis. Let's continue this conversation later, in the meantime, we need to get downstairs before nothing is left of dinner."

I gratefully took her hand as she helped me to my feet. I have the knees of a man twice my age.

Chapter 4

The dining area was located just off a large commercial kitchen at the far end of the great room. A supersized picnic table lined with benches provided more than enough seating capacity for the thirty-seven females who made the colony their home. The table itself was a stunning thing of beauty. The tabletop surface consisted of wide pine planking sanded to a silky smooth sheen and then coated with dozens of layers of polyurethane.

I took a good hard look around as we descended the stairs. Designed to appear humble, at least from a distance, the cabin functioned as a state of the art survival factory with enough solar capacity on the roof to meet the needs of several large households. All the lighting in the cabin utilized LED bulbs. The thousands of icicle lights deployed around the great room drew less power than two or three seventy-five watt bulbs.

The air temperature in the hall hovered at a pleasant seventy-five degrees. Most of the sisters of the colony were gathered in animated conversation around the expansive dining table, which Sheila said doubled as a conference table for group meetings. They were all topless, and most were bottomless. Never before had I seen so much exposed female flesh in one place at one time.

In a daze, I tried to process a torrent of new information. I was kinda prepared for the sight before me thanks to Sheila's sudden introduction to public nudity. Nothing Darlene told me about this place prepared me for the strange reality of actually being here, however.

One of the women spotted us and shouted out a greeting to Sheila before we even descended a third of the way down the staircase. A naked Darlene waited for me with a hug by the time we reached the bottom of the stairs.

Darlene whispered in my ear as we embraced, "Give me a long, wet, sloppy kiss and play with my ass. I'll explain later."

I learned long ago that obedience was the best course of action when Darlene gave a command like that. We locked lips and traded spit in one of the most passionate kisses we’d shared in a long time. I ran my hands over her bare bottom and lovingly caressed her buttocks as I held her.

Darlene let a low moan out. I cupped each cheek in the palms of my hands and jiggled them so much that she burst out laughing which ended in a loud 'yelp' when I gave a loud slap to one of her cheeks.

"What was that for?" she whispered.

"Payback for your excessively detailed account of my prick's sexual deficiencies," I whispered back.

Darlene giggled, gave me a quick kiss, took my hand, and then pulled me in the direction of the dining table as she said, "You've got to get some dinner before it's all gone. It's venison stew, and it is absolutely delicious."

Flavored with an assortment of tasty vegetables that I couldn't identify, the stew was thick, hearty, and spicy. Darlene was right. The taste was out-of-this-world delicious. After allowing me a few minutes to eat, Darlene started to introduce me to each of the sisters.

Darlene possessed a natural ability to remember names. I, on the other hand, had already forgotten the name of the first woman by the time I had been introduced to the third sister.

I shook hands, made and kept eye contact (to avoid staring at their naked breasts), and repeated their names in a futile effort to drill each name into my memory as I met each member of the colony. Most of the women warmly responded to my introduction, but several were very reserved, if not hostile. A few of the sisters clearly had “man issues,” most likely the result of some abusive male in their history.

I couldn't say that I blamed them. I could understand how my presence might be disquieting, to say the least, if I joined a remote all woman community to put the world of men behind me.

An attractive sandy blonde named Alice was the next to last woman I was introduced to. She was well-endowed, and a dark golden tan like the rest. I guessed her age to be about fifty, and stretch marks on her somewhat saggy breasts and her stomach suggested that she had given birth at least once in her life. She seemed genuinely happy to meet me. She gave me a radiant smile and held onto my hand far longer than is customary.

Alice turned to the young girl sitting next to her, and said, "This is my daughter, StarShine, and she's been living in the colony since she was three years old. You're the first man she's ever met. She just celebrated her eighteenth birthday two months ago."

I bowed and shook Star's hand as I wished her a belated birthday while doing my best to make and keep eye contact. Alice's daughter was drop dead gorgeous with small, perky breasts, and a slim elfin and athletic figure adorned in a beautiful amber tan. She had bright blue eyes and wore her waist-length blonde hair in a braid, which made her look like a young Scandinavian fashion model. She was, in a word, stunning.

I had a hunch that I wouldn't earn points from her mother if I started drooling over her nude daughter, so I kept my cool even as I felt the stirring of an erection. Thank the Lord I was still fully dressed.

Her mother must have been a mind reader. Alice took my hand and pulled me close and asked, "Why are you still dressed, Dennis? Why don't you strip down and make yourself comfortable?"

I noticed her question elicited a few murmurs of agreement, including a nod from Sheila, and an, "'I'll second that motion" from Darlene.

"Moved and seconded. All those in favor, please signify by saying aye," Sheila announced in the voice of a true parliamentarian. A loud chorus of ayes filled the hall.

Sheila then called for the “no” vote; crickets. I half-heartedly raised my hand and quietly said, "No." My vote was as much a joke as an opinion.

Sheila smiled at me and said, "Hearing minimal opposition, I declare that the ayes have it. Motion carries."

After a long pause, Sheila said, "Okay, Dennis, you heard the vote. Now it's your turn."

Chapter 5

Stripping would be awkward. Getting naked in front of a group of nude women was the last thing I wanted to do, especially with a growing boner. I decided that I had no choice but to comply. I would eventually have to join the clothing optional norm of the colony.

Taking a deep breath, I braced myself and unbuttoned my shirt, took it off, and laid it on the table. I then took my shoes and socks off and placed them next to my shirt. I undressed as slowly as possible, trying to drag things out for as long as I could in hopes my erection would go down.

I undid my belt, unzipped my jeans, let them slide down to my ankles, and stepped out of my pants. I tossed them into the air with a flip of my foot, caught them with my free hand, folded my jeans, and laid them on the table.

I remembered how my mother always told me to wear clean underwear in the unlikely event I had to go to the hospital. I prayed that there were no visible racing stripes marking me as I stood in my tighty-whities. A small but noticeable bulge was making a tent in my shorts. I could feel myself blushing as I noticed Alice and her daughter staring at me with interest. All the colony's sisters seemed to pay close attention to developments in fact.

The attention on my private parts by so many women produced a chilling effect on me. A wave of apprehension spread across my body. Being naked was the ultimate in performance anxiety. I knew that my junk was about as average as you could get; my circumcised penis measured five and a quarter inches when fully erect and just under three inches when flaccid. If the girls expected a well-endowed porn star, I would not measure up.

I removed my T-shirt next, folded it, and placed it on top of my jeans. I stood dressed only in my underwear for a few moments as I worked up the nerve for the final act. I debated with myself; I didn't have much choice: I could either chicken out, or I could drop my drawers.

Well, I would give them a show since they apparently wanted one. I slowly lowered my shorts and exposed a patch of light brown and gray pubic hair. I paused and then turned away from the table and slowly slid my shorts to a half-mast position, leaving half my buttocks exposed. I slowly lowered them to my knees after another dramatic pause and then let them drop to my ankles.

I turned around, faced the women, and did an exaggerated bow from the waist with my arms spread wide. I heard Alice's daughter giggle. There was a smattering of happy, amused laughter from the sisters.

Thank God! My fear and stalling tactics worked; my erection subsided to the point where my prick was only semi-stiff, halfway between flaccid and hard.

"Well done and nicely played," Sheila said with a smile, as she gave me a thumbs up.

"I think this would be a good time for you to introduce yourself to our group, Dennis. Why don't you take a few minutes and tell us about yourself?" Alice suggested.

"Thank you, Alice. That's an excellent suggestion. You have the floor, Dennis," Sheila said.

Chapter 6

The sisters' leader was testing me. Earlier she had wanted to know if nudity by the colony's women would bother me. Now she was testing the sisters to find out if my nudity would bother them; quite clever actually.

I'd done my share of public speaking over the years, but it was different this time. There's a certain something about standing naked in front of an audience which compels honesty. I decided to give a very brief and unvarnished account of my life thus far. I stood in thought with my head bowed for a minute or so.

Two things worked for me during this interlude; the first was an old showman's trick: keep the audience in suspense by never starting on time.

The second was a political trick: use any extended silence to focus your mind and gather your wits. Show your audience that you're thoughtful and caring, or as my dad used to say, “Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you've got it made.” I was going to use the body language of my audience to gauge my reception while I spoke.

"Hello. My name is Dennis Nathan Richards, and I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. I am a retired Vietnam Veteran with a one hundred percent unemployable disability from Agent Orange exposure while in Saigon. I served four years in the United States Air Force, mostly in Japan and Vietnam.”

“What did you do after you got out of service?” Alice asked.

“I joined a local branch of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and spent the next three years fighting to end the war. Then the war ended, and I joined the Army.”

“Wow!” said one of the sisters.

“Why?” Sheila asked with a concerned smile as her puzzled eyes searched my face for something she couldn’t see.

“I was broke. One day, I happened across a bunch of Army reservists doing weekend duty at the Mall. They were recruiting and desperate to make quota. We got to talking. The Captain told me if I joined that weekend, I could enlist as a Sergeant E-5 and I would draw pay at that rank during the two weeks of active duty at Fort Drum in New York. Because I was prior service, I didn’t need to go through Army Basic Training. It sounded like a good idea at the time. I needed the coin. I enlisted.

I searched the faces of the sisters while I spoke as I tried to access my ability to engage each woman at a deeper and more positive level. I was, in essence, trying to seduce a room full of naked lesbians. Talk about your lost cause.

"You can stop me at any time if you want to ask a question. I would rather this be a dialogue and not a monolog," I said in an effort to break the ice.

The invitation to ask questions resulted in one brown-haired woman tentatively raising her hand. I asked her to remind me of her name, and she said, "My name is Amelia. One question ... you said you got a monthly disability check from the VA. What kind of disability? You seem to be in good shape."

"Good question, Amelia. My disability is mostly invisible. Type II diabetes because of exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam. And, more specifically, severe neuropathy in my right hand and in my feet, which is a side-effect of diabetes."

"What are the effects of your neuropathy?" Amelia asked as a follow-up question.

"Neuropathy is nerve damage as a result of too much sugar in my blood. In my case, the result is numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. The other effect is rather embarrassing," I said as I paused. I was not sure how much detail I wanted to get into.

"Don’t stop there. Please explain," Amelia asked as she pressed me for more information.

"Well, sometimes I, um, it's difficult to get it up and keep it up," I reluctantly volunteered to the group.

Amelia and several of her sisters nodded. I noticed that Sheila and Alice were paying very close attention to the conversation.

"The result sometimes is a limp dick, for lack of better words, when the nerves connecting my prick to my brain shut down due to high sugar levels," I answered.

Several sisters responded with stifled laughter or nervous giggles and additional follow-up questions. Sex is always an interesting conversation. I had their attention, at least.

"Can you still orgasm?" Alice asked with a look of concern on her face.

"Yes. Even when flaccid, a guy can still ejaculate. It just takes a little more effort, and it's not nearly as much fun," I explained.

"I don't understand. Darlene says you're a fantastic lover. How can that be if you don't get hard?" Alice asked. I heard several sisters say, "I was wondering the same thing."

"My goal or mission as a lover is to provide the necessary emotional and physical stimulation required for my partner in achieving an orgasm. I do that orally," I said.

Standing stark naked in front of a table full of attractive and nude women while talking about orgasms and oral sex was having unintended consequences. I could feel my semi-flaccid penis begin to stiffen. There was no way to hide my growing arousal.

"I thought you said that you couldn't get hard, but you apparently can," one of the women observed.

"I get an erection sometimes, and sometimes I don't. It tends to be a hit or miss affair. My prick has a mind of its own, and I can never depend on it to respond as I want it to. It's all rather embarrassing and frustrating," I explained as I shared far more information than I wanted.

Looking at several sisters' body language, I saw signs of what looked like sexual responses from about half of them. Nipples had slightly hardened, many had leaned forward a bit more than usual, their faces relaxed and smiling or friendly neutral. Body postures showed a focused interest. At some primal level, pheromones floated like mist in the air, and my body was responding.

I looked down at my gradually stiffening member; I covered myself with my hand. "Sorry about that, but all this talk about sex and stuff seems to be having an effect on my hardware, as I'm sure everyone can see. It never seems to respond as I want it to, as I said, and a public boner is rather awkward," I explained. I could feel the heat of a blush burn across my body.

Darlene came to my rescue. She walked up to me and gave me a big hug and lingering kiss, and then turned to face her companions while holding my free hand. "I think Dennis is thinking about the lovemaking session we'll have when we go to bed," she said with a foxy grin.

She started to rub my backside while she stood next to me, much to her sisters' amusement. The sensation of her warm hand massaging my bare behind did nothing to diminish my arousal. I continued to stiffen to about three-quarters erect, a little less than four inches, under her playful touch.

Looking out over my audience of colony members, I noticed that they all paid close attention to the interplay between Darlene and me. I was at a loss for words and didn't know how, or if, I should continue or try to beat a hasty retreat.

"Don't be embarrassed by having a hard-on, Dennis. It's a natural event. We all get sexually aroused from time to time; it is just that your arousal is slightly more noticeable than ours is," Sheila said.

Her statement got a chorus of chuckles and laughter from the sisters and did much to ease the tension that had been building in the room.

"I'll put it to a vote if it makes you feel better, however, Dennis. By a show of hands, how many of us would like Dennis to proceed with his self-introduction?" Sheila said as she raised her hand.

A unanimous show of hands joined with Sheila. The sisters wanted the show to go on. The vote left me both relieved and annoyed at the same time. I was glad I hadn't offended them, but I was still several zip codes away from my comfort zone. Exhibitionism had never been my thing.

I turned to Darlene who was still playing with my bare bottom and said, "Maybe now is not the best time for foreplay. Shall we continue this later?"

Darlene was as much of a ham as I was. With an exaggerated stage pout, she said to me, "You are such a tight ass. You need to learn to relax and have fun."

She jiggled my ass cheeks with both hands. The jiggle made my erection dance in the air.

My mind went blank as I started to speak; I’d forgotten what I was going to say. "I'm having a senior moment. I just lost my train of thought. Are there any more questions while I try to get back on track?" I asked the women around me while I stalled.

Alice and several of her sisters raised their hands. I figured it would be an easy question, so I called on Alice.

"Since you're the only man in a community of lesbians, how do you feel about women who love women?" Alice asked as several of her companions nodded their approval of her question.

I began my answer by explaining how Darlene and I were on the brink of being homeless when she suggested that we could go and stay with a group of her college friends who lived off-the-grid. Not that it would have made a difference, but she never bothered to mention that our new home would be an all women survival colony. I was completely unprepared for what I found when we arrived on their doorstep.

"This is all unexplored territory for me, and I am winging it the best way that I can. I believe it is a right for everyone to love anyone of his or her choice. I doubt that we have much control when it comes to selecting our sexual identity. We are who we are. I don't remember choosing to be heterosexual. It is just who I am. The real question is, how do you feel about having a man living among you in this beautiful colony? Because, as we all know, men can be real dicks, no pun intended, " I said to an outburst of laughter.

"I noticed that several folks here did not seem too happy with my presence when I was speaking earlier. I suspect that personal experience with abusive males is likely the source of this negative attitude. Let me tell you this, I know a thing or two about abusive men. A male babysitter raped me when I was twelve years old," I explained.

The sisters responded with a collective gasp. Alice looked shocked; her daughter stared at me with wide eyes and an open mouth as her hand shot into the air with an inquiry.

"How did it happen? How did it make you feel? Was it traumatic?" StarShine asked me in a series of rapid-fire questions.

"Without going into gory details, it happened after I got severely sunburned. My babysitter walked in as I got out of the shower. I was naked, and he offered to give me a massage after he took his shower. A naked pedophile giving a nude boy a massage … what could possibly go wrong? The rest is, as they say, history.”

The silence remained. I continued. “As to how it made me feel; I felt used and humiliated. I was there exclusively for his sexual pleasure as far as that bastard was concerned. He didn't see me as a person. I was only a receptacle for his goo. I hated it, and I vowed I would never treat a fellow human the way he treated me. I didn't hate men when it was over, but I didn't trust them. I did hate him, and I dislike the way too many men treat other people, especially females," I explained.

"How do you feel about gay men?" one of the sisters asked without raising her hand.

"As I said before, I believe that everyone should have a right to love anyone of his or her choice. I think most of us occupy some point on the sexual spectrum. Very few of us are born one hundred percent straight or one hundred percent gay. Almost all of us are born on one side or the other of the rainbow of possibilities. Does that answer your question?" I asked.

Nodding heads told me I had.

"What happens when you get an erection at a nude beach?" another sister asked.

I laughed, "I either sit down and wait for it to pass, or I go behind a bush and take care of business."

"What would you do if you end up staying with us?" Sheila asked.

Sheila was everything anyone could want in a leader. She was thoughtful and measured in her approach to unexpected problems. I was an unexpected problem. I knew her questions weren't accidental. It was all a test to determine whether I stayed or went away. My problem was that I had no way of knowing what the right answers might be. My only option was to roll the dice, tell the truth, and hope for the best.

"You and your sisters have built something here that is amazing, unique, and precious, Sheila. The protection and continued safety of this community is a top priority. I can understand why some might view me, as a man, to be a possible threat to this family. I am who I am, and there's nothing I can do to change that," I said.

We were now talking about the elephant in the room, and the hall had become silent as each woman considered my words. I raised my right hand and faced Sheila.

"I vow to do everything in my power to help this colony continue to succeed under your leadership," I said while making eye contact with the group's leader. "The world outside this valley is changing into something very ugly and dangerous. We live in troubled times, and I think that having a man among you might be useful. I would like to be that man, and I will place the safety of your sisters ahead of my own if you allow it."

I lowered myself to one knee before Sheila, crossed my arms over my chest, and bowed my head when I finished speaking. I held my position as I waited for Sheila to speak. It may have been a bit melodramatic, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I had once seen it done in a movie.

The silence seemed to stretch out forever, but I didn't move. I did a long count in my head to track the time. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, and Sheila broke the silence when I got to fifty-three Mississippi.

"That's a compelling offer, and I appreciate your apparent sincerity, Dennis. It's very moving. Truth be told. However, I don't know you well enough to trust you with the lives of our family. I can't give you trust that you haven't yet earned. I will allow you to remain among us as my guest until I make a final determination as to your status here. We will revisit this question in two weeks. You will not attempt to leave our company in the meantime..." Sheila paused before she continued "...do you understand?"

She was not making an optional suggestion; this was a stone cold command. I didn't want to find out what would happen if I disobeyed.

"Thank you, Sheila, I can't ask for more. You have my word of honor," I replied, as I resumed a standing position.

At least my status had been clarified; I was a guest/prisoner of the group's leader.

The serious discussion didn't arouse me as much as the sexy questions. My erection got bored and decided that it was time for a nap. I took the opportunity to wrap up my “brief” introduction as quickly as possible.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you, and I'm thankful for your generous hospitality. I will do my best as your guest to carry my own weight for as long as I'm under your roof," I concluded.

The applause of the sisterhood caught me by surprise. While not over the top wild, it was polite and lasted about twenty seconds.

Chapter 7

As the applause died down, I took a seat on the table's bench next to Sheila and tried to relax. I felt like I had just run a marathon. Darlene gave me a warm hug and a glass of cold water and sat with me. I don't know which I appreciated more; her company, the hug, or the beverage. I guzzled the water down in one long gulp. Public speaking is lonely and thirsty work.

The sisters stopped by in ones and twos to exchange small talk with Sheila before retiring for the evening. That was the cover story, at least. I noticed after the third such “visit” that most of the women seemed to spend more time sneaking glances at my naked crotch than they did in conversation with their leader.

Great; I was now either the object of sexual curiosity or at the very least, a diversion in the colony's daily routine. It had been some time since most of the women in the cabin had seen a man, with or without clothes. I sympathized with animals in the zoo. Maybe I should charge admission.

Sheila stood and stretched after too long sitting on an uncomfortable wooden bench without padding. "I'll show you both to your quarters if you two are willing to call it a night."

After several minutes, the last of the group drifted away to their rooms.

The colony's sleeping quarters were on the second level balcony that ringed the rectangular shaped Great Room. I did a quick count; there were twenty-four doorways in total, seven on each side of the long axes, and five each on the short sides of the rectangle.

The room reserved for Darlene and I was located on the western balcony above the cabin's Great Room and appeared to be identical in size to Sheila's quarters. The room was stunning in its simplicity. The walls had the same pine paneling that we had seen in the leader’s rooms, with wide planks of Gambel Oak for flooring and exposed wood beams supporting the white plaster ceiling.

A colorful handmade antiquated quilt adorned a queen-sized bed on the wall opposite a large picture window. I paused for a moment and looked out over the moonlight bathed sleeping valley. The shadows of mountains rose in the distance like sentinels into a sky ablaze with stars.

The belongings we had brought with us on our journey nearly filled a huge walk-in closet. I was pleased to see that my tobacco stash had also been unpacked. A small windowless half-bath with an "Out Of Order" sign affixed to the door was located at the far end of the closet. Sheila advised me that a communal shower was located two doors to the left when I asked where I could bathe.

I had to admire the cabin's design efficiency. The half baths used a minimum of plumbing and were handy for midnight relief, while the community showers were for general hygiene. Sheila wished us a good night and left us alone in our room. As I started to strip to take a shower, Darlene wrapped her arms around me when Sheila departed and gave me a hug and a kiss that was almost violent in its intensity.

"I'm so damn horny, Dennis! I want you to make love to me right now," Darlene said, as she wrapped her arms around my bare backside and pulled me onto the bed.

"Your wish is my command," I replied, and slowly began to kiss Darlene's face.

I softly kissed eyelids and cheeks. I lightly traced the tip of my tongue across welcoming lips and followed with kisses under her chin before moving down and nibbling along the nape of Darlene's neck. I kissed along the edge of her collarbone to her shoulders' rounded top. I reversed direction and gently kissed the side of her neck, and then softly nibbled her earlobes.

Darlene's steady breathing changed into little pants punctuated by low moans as I continued to circle her face and neck with kisses. I softly caressed the rounded underside of each breast with my hands before touching the whole breast. I avoided direct contact with nipples. I let my fingers brush ever so slightly against each tit as my hands caressed the contours of her chest instead.

Darlene arched her back as she tried to push stiff nipples into my hands each time my fingers approached the tips. I refused contact and continued to tease. My hands moved back to Darlene's shoulders and along the inside of her arms. My lips followed the same path traced by my hands and fingers. I kissed the top of each breast and used my tongue to trace a circle around the base of each nipple before flicking my tongue across the very tip.

I moved my hands to the inside of my lover's thighs and softly caressed sensitive skin as I kissed and licked the underside of each breast. I sucked one nipple at a time as I drew each button into my mouth and gently squeezed them between my teeth when my exploring fingers approached the outer lips of her vulva.

Darlene’s whimper was whisper quiet as she pulled at the bed coverings while spreading her legs further apart. I moved my fingers to each side when my hands reached the base of the vulva and followed the valley between the pubis and the top of her thighs. I reversed direction when my fingers reached the base of Darlene's stomach and worked back down toward trembling knees.

My lover glistened with moisture and glowed pink as her skin took on a deep reddish blush. Her soft moans became steadily louder as Darlene's arousal grew in anticipation while I explored and stimulated each erogenous zone in turn.

I slowly licked, touched, stroked, and caressed Darlene's inner thighs as I steadily worked my way upward toward her pussy. I wanted to keep her on the edge of a climax for as long as possible. I could feel the tension building within her as her body trembled and tightened in response to ever-building waves of pleasure.

I slid my tongue along the valley between her swelling pubis and the top of her thighs when my mouth reached the base of her vulva. Darlene's hips and body began to writhe and twist to meet my mouth as I used the point of my tongue to gather her secretions into my mouth. I celebrated and savored every delicious drop.

Gently and carefully, I opened the large lips of her labia with my fingers and let the flat of my tongue slide along the valley separating the inner and outer lips. I used my tongue like a magnifying glass in a beam of sunlight to narrow the focus of her pleasure and drive each particle of joy toward the center of her erect clitoris. Women have twice as many nerve endings in their clits as men do in their pricks. I wanted every nerve to be on fire with desire.

I finally gently parted the lips of her labia minora to reveal a wet vaginal opening and swollen clitoris. The inside lips were bright red and slick with her lubricant. I ran the tip of my tongue around the opening and then moved upward and swirled the tip of my tongue around the base of Darlene's clitoris, as she began to force her hips upward to meet my mouth.

"Oh, mercy yes! Don't, uh, oh my God, don't stop!" she screamed as her legs and body started to shake and quiver.

I flicked my tongue across her clit as I slid my index finger into her vagina, and started to massage the ridges of her G-spot with a “come hither” motion. I increased the pressure of my tongue around and on her clitoris as I stimulated the inside of her vaginal canal. I slowly slipped the index finger of my free hand inward and wiggled it from side to side when I felt mounting waves of contractions ripple within her body.

Darlene's orgasm exploded in a series of vaginal spasms, her legs went stiff, and then kicked and thrashed about as she cried out and screamed "Yes! That's it, oh yeah!" I relaxed the pressure a tiny bit and then redoubled my efforts as I stimulated all points at the same time as each wave passed.

I knew I was finished when I felt hands pushing my face away from between her legs. I scooted up, wiped my face with my hand, and lay along the side of my lover's body, holding her close to me. We cuddled together and basked in the warm afterglow of euphoria.

I kissed Darlene's lips, and innocently asked, "Did I make you happy?" I knew it was a stupid question, but I loved hearing the answer. It was my report card.

"You were absolutely fantastic, Dennis, and you know it! My God, I came so many times that I lost count," she said, and then hugged me as tightly as she could.

"That was only the first installment. Are you ready for part two?"

I kissed her skin in a line across the top of the pubic mound, and whispered, "Turn over onto your stomach."

She eagerly obeyed. I straddled her and began to caress her buttocks and the inside of my love's thighs. The delicious musky scent of sex rose from Darlene like steam. Using my fingers to spread her buttocks apart, I leaned forward and ran my tongue down the side of the valley between two pink cheeks. Darlene twitched, and her hips jumped as she screamed, "Oh my God, that’s it, yes!"

I licked from the top of her crack down to a point just before her vaginal opening. I then reversed direction and used my tongue to lick along the opposite side of the valley. I avoided contact each time I approached the anus and traced a teasing wet circle all around her puckered hole instead. I savored the sweet/tart taste of her fluids and the rich aroma of her arousal.

I continued to lick an up and down path along each side of her valley. Each pass was slightly faster than the previous one as I teased and pushed her toward the brink. Darlene suddenly arched her back after several minutes of mouth play, and screamed, "Oh my lord, oh Dennis, yes! I'm going to cum!"

I stiffened my tongue and drove it deep inside as she screamed. Sliding it into her as far as I could, I could feel Darlene's entire body tense in a screaming, nearly ear-splitting climax. She reached the top of her mountain and kept climbing. The contractions of her orgasm squeezed my tongue like a pulsating vise in one wave of pleasure after another before she lay still.

"Christ, Darlene, do you think you can make any more fucking noise?" I scolded.

"I doubt it, but I can try," Darlene giggled, as she tried to catch her breath.

"I had been telling my sisters what a fantastic lover you are while you were meeting with Sheila, but I don't think they believed me, so I decided to let them hear for themselves. Besides, you need all the advertising you can get," Darlene explained.

"Why would I need any advertising?" I asked.

"I think they all heard how hard you could make a girl cum after tonight. You now have a reputation to uphold, Mr. Talented Tongue. A few of my sisters might want you to give them personal tutoring if I know them."

"And you would be okay with that?" I asked as I gave her a skeptical eye.

"Of course I would be, just as long as you make sure your students use me for the final exam," Darlene laughed with a wink.

"Okay, okay, I'll think about it," I said, as I lowered my mouth between her legs and began to lick. It had been a long day, but the night was still young.

Chapter 8

The bright glow of morning sunshine reflected off the snow-capped western mountains and cascaded through our bedroom window, filling every corner with light. Some part of my sleeping brain registered the change in illumination and curiosity teased my eyes open.

My initial reaction was a momentary disconcerting sense of confusion that we all feel when waking up in a brand new place for the first time.

The mountains dazzled white and magnificent against the brilliant blue sky; Darlene slumbered next to me as naked as a newborn child. Her freckled face had a relaxed innocence of deep sleep.

The fog of confusion lifted within a few moments as I remembered yesterday’s journey to the colony. I became acutely aware of important business requiring my immediate attention; my full bladder and rock solid piss hard-on screamed for relief. I felt like a star of one of those annoying TV commercials featuring old men and their “urgent need to go.”

I got out of bed and raced (if you can call a stiff-legged gait racing) toward the bedroom door. I paused for a second to scan the room for a set of underwear to cover my nakedness. Increasing pressure on my bladder warned me not to delay. I exited the bedroom and moved toward the community bathroom as quickly as I could.

As luck would have it, none of the sisters were visible on our side of the balcony. My luck changed the instant I entered the bathroom. Alice was lathering up under the shower, and her nude daughter was brushing her teeth at a complex of sinks under a wall-sized mirror. Mother and daughter turned to stare at my erection and me, as I made a beeline for the toilet.

Standing before the open bowl, I glanced around at my unwanted audience and tried to take a piss. It’s an unpleasant fact that urinating with an erection is challenging, if not impossible.

Males have an annoying little valve inside the prostate gland called a sphincter. Its job is to control urine flow in the urethra, and it is directly above the two ejaculatory ducts that bring sperm up from the testicles. The system is part of a man’s hard-wiring, designed to prevent sperm and piss from mixing. The shut-off valve remains closed even with a raging boner until the erection subsides.

Maneuvering my erection in a downward direction was painful and awkward. I managed to dribble out a pathetic little creek instead of a mighty stream of golden relief. It was just enough to reduce the internal pressure on my bladder, which in turn relaxed the pressure on my prostate gland and allowed my erection to subside. The dribble swelled into a yellow river of pure relief, leaving my toes tingling as my penis returned to a flaccid state.

“That was fascinating, I’ve never seen a boy urinate before,” Star said in a quiet voice.

Modesty wasn’t a priority in the design of the bathroom, showers and walls were tiled and open, as were the toilets. Privacy was non-existent.

“He’s not a boy, he’s a man,” Alice said, as she corrected her daughter’s choice of nouns.

I turned my head to see Alice behind me toweling her hair dry. Alice’s gaze, like her daughter’s, fixated on my genitals.

Great! A mother and daughter inspection team. Just what I needed.

I decided that I might as well clean up from last night. I stepped under the shower Alice had vacated and turned the water on to the hottest setting that I could stand. Maybe a cloud of steam would offer some privacy.

Crap! I had no soap.

“Alice, could I borrow your soap please?” I asked.

“My pleasure,” Alice answered, as she joined me under the shower and started lathering my back.

I tried to figure out a polite way to discourage Alice’s hands-on assistance when her daughter joined us and proceeded to lather my legs. The sensation of two sets of hands caressing my body vanquished whatever objections I had over getting woman-handled. I could probably force myself to get used to pampering with a little bit of effort.

“You need to clean all his body parts, Star,” Alice said, as she ran her hand between my butt cheeks and scrubbed my puckered poop-hole with her fingers. “Turn around so that we can do your front, Dennis,” she said, as her hands turned my body to face them.

Alice soaped up my chest, and Star soaped my legs. I closed my eyes and let them do their thing as hot water rolled off my back. The sensation was incredible and arousing as the mother’s hands scrubbed downwards and her daughter’s small hands caressed upward. I wondered what would happen when their hands met at my private parts in the middle; maybe they would arm wrestle for cleaning privileges.

“Am I supposed to clean his thing?” Star asked her mother.

“It’s called a penis and, yes, it also needs to be cleaned,” Alice instructed her daughter.

I looked down to see Star kneeling before me. She was at eye level, and only a few inches away from the beginnings of an erection. Star looked at me and back at her mother who nodded her head.

Star reached her hands out, and with a tentative and delicate touch, began to apply soap to my pubic hair. She grew bolder and spread the soapy lather along the length of my growing erection as her fingers created a flurry of lavender scented soap suds.

I seriously doubt that Star had any idea of how her touch was affecting me. Her mother, on the other hand, knew damn well what was happening as she proceeded to “help” her daughter by circling my erection with her thumb and fingers and stroking me with enthusiasm.

Alice abandoned all pretenses at cleaning after a few minutes of pumping and moved full throttle into giving me a hand job. Alice had locked eyes with mine. She was smiling and unblinking as we made and kept intense eye contact.

“I will ejaculate if you keep this up, Alice,” I warned her.

“I know,” Alice said as she rubbed her fingers around the tip of my glans and played with my tip. The tempo of her strokes increased and abruptly ceased.

I looked down to see what was going on, or not going on in this case. Alice was guiding her daughter’s hand to a glistening drop of precum which had formed at the opening of my urethra. Mother and daughter both shared the common signs of sexual arousal. Nipples stood erect and hard, and a rosy blush added a glow to their faces.

“Notice how slippery it feels, Star. It’s precum, and men produce it to help lubricate a woman’s vagina to make penetration more enjoyable for both parties,” Alice instructed her daughter.

The intense look of serious curiosity and wonder on Star’s face almost made me laugh. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Star pulled a pad of paper out and started taking notes. I let out a groan of pleasure when her mother touched the drop with her finger and smeared it around the surface.

Star mimicked her mother’s actions with Alice’s encouragement as she dipped her fingertip into another emerging drop of the colorless fluid and carefully spread it over my gland.

“Dennis will make more if you continue to stimulate him,” Alice said, as she caressed the length of my erection and, several drops of fluid oozed out of me almost on command. Alice continued to slowly milk me as her daughter used the tips of her fingers to spread clear lubricant over the crown my swollen junk.

I could feel the pressure building in my testicles, and my legs began to shake as my body tensed. I was close to going over the edge.

“Are you in there, Dennis?” Darlene’s voice called as the door to the bathroom swung open.

“Come on in, Darlene, the water’s fine,” I answered with a less than steady voice.

A nude Darlene took a few steps into the bathroom before she stopped and surveyed the situation. Her eyes widened at the sight of the mother and daughter pleasuring me. Darlene’s mouth opened in a mischievous grin, and she started to laugh.

“It didn’t take you too long to introduce yourself to my friends. It looks like Alice and her daughter have the situation well in hand,” Darlene punned with a chuckle.

Darlene walked over to Alice and whispered something into her ear. Alice’s only response was to giggle, nod, and stroke even faster.

“I’m close,” I grunted.

As I passed the point of no return and my toes began to curl. I could feel a hot rushing sensation building up in my groin, and my body went rigid as a surge of sperm began to rush upwards in search of release.

Alice reached behind my body when I let out a long moan, slid her free hand between my buttocks, plunged her index finger deep into my rectum, and wiggled it to and fro. The intense pleasure I was feeling suddenly kicked into overdrive as my brain released an additional surge of endorphins.

I exploded in an incredible orgasm of pure ecstasy and gratification while her surprised daughter tried to catch my ejecting sperm in her hands.

“That was interesting. Can you do it again?” Star asked as she cleaned her hands under the stream of hot water from the shower.

“Err, not likely. I need to recharge.”

I sympathized with Jack in his box. My little guy was a one hit wonder. The show is over, and the music stops when the monkey pops.

Small talk after sex with strangers is not my strong suit. Nor is a ‘show and tell’ clinical discussion of orgasms and ejaculations. Especially with a naked and casually curious daughter in the company of an equally undressed and aroused mother. I was a lab-rat running a maze between awkward and weird. I needed a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

Darlene and I returned to our bedroom a few minutes later, and my partner burst out laughing.

“Alice is very proud of her homeschooling skills,” she replied when I asked her what was so funny. “She told me last night that she was thankful a man showed up at the colony. You arrived just in time to help teach her daughter advanced sex education.”

My roommate’s eyes glistened with glee. “The curriculum apparently includes lots of hands-on fieldwork, and there is a killer oral exam she’ll have to pass if she wants to graduate, from what I understand,” Darlene laughed as she patted my bare fanny with her hand.

Chapter 9

We returned to our room after breakfast to find a note from Sheila pinned to our door. She was reminding us to join her on the front deck for an introductory tour of the colony and the surrounding area. The instructions also suggested that we dress for the weather.

Our walk-in closets looked like walk-in dumpsters. Everything we had brought with us in the Rav4 had been piled in the storage spaces like an unorganized jigsaw puzzle. I busied myself picking out an appropriate wardrobe for our tour.

I selected my favorite Indiana Jones style hat; a dark-brown, fur-felt fedora which had cost a small fortune. I had bought it online a few years ago in the mistaken belief it made me look like Harrison Ford. Fedoras are some of the most practical headgear known to man. The wide brim keeps the sun out of your eyes and sheds rainwater like a mini-umbrella.

I customized the hat with the addition of an eagle's feather I had acquired at a yard sale. It counted as contraband since I didn't belong to a federally recognized tribe. Non-native people are prohibited by law from possessing eagle plumage and could be fined as much as a hundred thousand dollars and sent to prison for up to a year.

I'd decided to take the risk for the sake of fashion. I stuck the feather into the hatband, which was adorned with a small enamel replica of the red-yellow-green Vietnam service ribbon that I had earned when I finished my tour in Vietnam. I didn't think that I would run into any federal feather police considering the remote location of our mountain hideaway. I preened in front of the full-length mirror, wearing nothing except for my hat, a beaded necklace with the same ribbon colors, and a smile.

The handmade necklace was a work of art created by Paul Lavoie, a fellow Vietnam Veteran who'd succumbed to the effects of Agent Orange. I never met the man, but after he died, his sister gave me the necklace under the conditions that I wear it in his memory and never take it off. I honor the man and his legacy by mentioning his name and story whenever someone asks me about the necklace.

"You're so vain that you probably think this song is about you..." Darlene sang in a perfect imitation of Carly Simon as she gave me a warm hug. "Wow, the cowboy hat makes you look sexy."

"It's not a cowboy hat, it's a fedora," I replied with a grin.

"Well, it's a very sexy fedora," Darlene whispered into my ear as she pressed her nude body against my backside.

Her hands reached around me and began to fondle my semi-flaccid equipment. The incredibly sensual feeling of her slender fingers delicately caressing the length of my shaft almost drove me out of my mind.

"I'm horny. Want to fool around?" Darlene asked.

"We're meeting Sheila in ten minutes; we don't have the time," I answered.

"Ten minutes? Isn't that nine more than you usually last?" Darlene teased.

I turned to face Darlene, dropped to my knees, and was eye level with her sex. I positioned both legs in a wide stance and glanced at my wristwatch. Using my fingers, I gently opened the cleft of the mons pubis to reveal a pink clitoral hood. Beads of lubricant and a reddish glow around her vagina testified to Darlene's advanced state of arousal. She let out a little gasp and shifted her feet to maintain balance when I ran my tongue over the hood's length and licked the swollen clitoris beneath it.

I blew a cooling stream of air on the clit before placing my mouth over her genitals and exhaled a hot breath. The contrasting sensations were like fire and ice. I followed each sequence by giving the little man in the boat a rough tongue bath.

Darlene's legs began to quiver and tremble. She grabbed the back of my head to help steady herself and to maintain balance and pressed my face into her sex. Lick, blow, and suck, I increased the pace of my stimulation and was rewarded by a series of pants and grunts as Darlene's level of arousal increased. I slid my finger into my lover's vagina and stroked the rough G-spot with enthusiasm to speed her ascent as she climbed the mountain.

"Oh my God, I'm cumming," she cried, as waves of contractions squeezed around my finger.

She suddenly lost all control and my mouth filled with liquid as she squirted and urinated. She pushed my face away with her hands. I loved the sight of her contractions as Darlene's clit pulsed in climax and streams of liquid trickled down the inside of her legs.

I looked at my watch again and announced, "One minute, thirty seconds. I think that we have a new land speed record. Now we've got to hustle if we're going to be on time."

Darlene stood naked before me and tilted her head. With a woe-is-me face, she asked, "What about my afterglow?"

"Take it with you," I said, patting her bare behind.

Sheila was waiting for us with a warm smile when we arrived on the cabin's front deck more or less on time. I returned her smile as handed her a pack of hand-rolled cigarettes and a red Bic lighter. The shadows still held a hint of last night's frost despite clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

"Follow me," Sheila said as we set out on our tour of the Colony.

Our first stop was a utility building built into the base of the mountain with only the outer garage doors visible.

"This structure is designed to minimize the colony's visual footprint. We don't want to draw undue attention to our presence because of Google Earth and the plethora of available satellite imagery. Our continued survival is dependent upon us keeping low visibility, and we do our best to be invisible to the outside world," Sheila said, as she opened a set of outer doors to reveal a long dark tunnel blasted into the mountain's bedrock.

When Sheila entered the darkened corridor, motion sensors activated banks of overhead LED lighting which in turn illuminated the passageway for as far as the eye could see.

"Holy crap! You guys build this?" My words echoed off the walls.

The tunnel was a twenty-by-twenty-foot wide box ramping downward into the mountain's interior. The rough-hewn rock walls glistened with seepage and condensation. Drainage ditches lining each side of the corridor's crushed gravel roadway carried the excess water into the depths.

"The Liberty Mountain Mine was one of the several thousand hard-rock gold mines dotting the Rocky Mountains back in the 1860s. The claim, like many, never much amounted to anything. It went bust after three years. We took the existing mining shafts and adapted them to accommodate our vehicle fleet," Sheila explained.

The temperature gradually rose as we descended. About five minutes later we found ourselves in a large cavern containing a full-service automotive center, complete with a dozen vehicles of various descriptions. I spotted several snowmobiles, Jeep Cherokees, trucks of various makes and years, and ATVs, along with a few front-end loaders and small Bobcats. I saw our Toyota Rav4 parked off to one side.

"Several sisters are excellent mechanics and skilled operators. They do a fantastic job keeping our fleet up and running," Sheila said as she led us to a tunnel at the back of the cavern.

We followed the lighted passageway for a few thousand feet into another expansive cavern so large that the roof and far walls were lost in darkness. The hot and humid air in the grotto hummed with energy; the distinct whine of three-megawatt steam-driven turbines filled the chamber with the low rumbling hum of power.

I was slack-jawed in disbelief. It looked like a scene out of the science fiction movie Journey to the Center of the Earth. Piping and heavy machinery at the middle of the cave surrounded a huge complex of hot springs and heated pools of water on three sides. A single story control center occupied space on the side of the pond nearest to where we stood.

Looked like waterfalls frozen in time, Flowstone oozed down the walls of the cavern behind us. Stalactites reached down from the darkened ceiling, and thousands of stalagmites grew from the floor, some as massive as trees. We followed a well-worn path through the stone forest while batteries of strategically placed LED streetlights bathed the area around the lagoon in a glow of whitish-blue illumination. I noticed that motion detectors kicked the lights nearest us into high power when we came into the range of a lamp; it was like walking beneath a searchlight's moving beam.

"Let's stop by and say hello to the technicians on duty. We'll have a cup of coffee and some conversation. I'll tell you more about this amazing place." Sheila pointed to a two-story building about the size of a raised ranch and motioned for us to follow her. She climbed the exterior stairway and entered the building without knocking.

"Surprise!"

"No way, Sister. We've been watching you three on camera for the last twenty minutes," said a thirty-something brunette as she gave Sheila a warm hug.

The slender technician was dressed in a loose-fitting one-piece coverall. The zipper of the hunter green outfit was pulled down to her navel, and it was clear at a glance that she wore nothing under her outer garments. I recognized the woman as one of the sisters from last night's meeting.

Thanks to air-conditioning, the interior of the control center was ten or fifteen degrees cooler than the cavern's tropical humidity. Wraparound observation windows provided three hundred and sixty-degree field-of-view.

A control panel filled with switches and dials below the window monitored the performance of the turbines and generators. Several large screens displayed different views of the underground labyrinth of caverns and passageways. Images of various views of the area around within the cabin dominated one bank of displays. Big Sister was watching. Security cameras doth make saints of us all.

Sheila said a quick hello to the two women on duty before leading us to a large conference table on the Center's first floor. Three K-cups worth of hot steaming coffee awaited our pleasure.

"What is this place?" I took a sip of coffee.

"It's incredible, whatever it is. Never seen anything like it. How on earth did you manage to build that?" I pointed out the window to the maze of generators and machinery at the center of the cavern as I shook my head in disbelief.

"It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. More like an engineering nightmare. We hired a Swiss engineering firm to design and construct the entire system. Everything and everyone needed to build this facility were brought in by their heavy-lift air service. When they finally finished, we gave them a ten percent bonus to forget we ever existed. Lucky for us, their banking secrecy laws encourage financially induced amnesia," Sheila laughed.

"This facility," Sheila tapped her finger on the conference table, "doubles as the control center for our geothermal generating capacity and also serves as a security command center in the event of an intrusion. We've wired every conceivable approach to our valley for sight and sound. We have acoustic sensor arrays and remote video cameras to alert us in the event of any intrusion."

Floor to ceiling maps of the valley and surrounding area covered one wall of the center, and banks of radio equipment filled another wall. I hadn't seen anything like it since I completed my tour of Vietnam. I had worked in the Out-Country Air Operations command center at MACV back in the day. We tried in vain to interdict the flow of enemy supplies coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail.

The Seventh Air Force dropped tens of thousands of seismic and acoustic sensor arrays along the length and breadth of the trail system. The enemy couldn't fart without us smelling it. It didn't do much good. Charlie had more gas in his gut than we had aircraft and bombs. Still, we wired the trail like a pinball machine and played it every day.

"Our sensors are solar powered and have a ninety-nine percent uptime. Yesterday, we picked you up on surveillance when you were still ten miles out. Our response teams didn't go on high alert since we expected your arrival. On ready-alert maybe, but they didn't deploy to prevent your entry into the valley," Sheila said, as she pointed out the greasepaint marking which indicated our route of travel.

"How often have you had a problem with intruders?" I asked.

"We've only had two incidents since we opened the cabin. The first was a troop of lost boy scouts. We intercepted them and redirected them back to civilization. The second time was when two escaped convicts wandered into our valley," Sheila said.

"How did that turn out?" I asked.

"Not well for the convicts. They happened upon three sisters skinny-dipping in the river and decided to have some fun. They almost beat one girl to death and tried to rape the other," Sheila said, as her eyes narrowed and her expression hardened.

"The third woman got away and radioed security. We got there before they could do more harm than they had already done," she said.

I remembered the hullabaloo over the escape of two men from the federal prison in Englewood. It eventually died down. No one ever found the escapees, and folks assumed that they had made their way to Mexico.

"What happened to the men?" I asked.

"I executed them and left their bodies for the animals. No trace of them remains," she said without elaboration. I noticed her hands were shaking as she spoke.

The phrase uttered by Robot B9 from the TV series "Lost in Space" rang like an alarm in my brain. "Danger Will Robinson, danger!" I had an increasingly uneasy feeling.

Sheila was a first-class security freak, and she was telling me way too much and sharing far too much information. If I couldn't earn her trust, there was no way she would ever allow me to leave this place alive. In her mind, millions of dollars and fifteen years of labor depended upon Liberty Mountain staying off the grid and a secret from the outside world.

She was a competent and capable commander, and the security of her family of sisters was clearly her number one priority. My mission was to figure out a way to become a fully-vetted member of the colony and to earn Sheila's complete acceptance.

Shit! She'd just confessed to murdering two men in cold blood. I tried to hide my involuntary shiver. I pulled my pack of smokes out of my shirt pocket, offered a cigarette to Sheila, and took one for myself.

I felt a surge of sympathy as she smoked in silence. It wasn't for the dead rapists that I grieved, but for Sheila. Necessity forced her to take two lives to protect her community. She would carry the memory to the grave. I shuddered as I realized she wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet into me if she thought it necessary to protect the colony. Having a cup of coffee with someone who one day could be your executioner was weird. Stranger still was the fact that I liked and respected her.

Memo to self: Don't piss Sheila off.

"This is one of the secrets of Liberty Mountain. We decided to expand the network of tunnels leftover from the days when this site was a gold mine when we built the cabin. Imagine our surprise when we busted through into this cavern. It's a geothermal treasure. It took us almost five years of engineering to design and build this system. Construction was a three-year process which cost us nearly seven million dollars to complete," Sheila explained.

I looked around in amazement as Sheila spoke and tried to imagine the kind of mind which dreamed all this up. I had the dizzy feeling I had woken up in the middle of someone else's science fiction novel. Darlene had told me that Sheila had been a college professor back in the day and she was reverting to form. Her eyes sparkled with enthusiasm as she warmed to her subject.

"We've pretty much run the generators nonstop for the last ten years. We keep one generator active and the other in reserve. Every few months we switch them out to perform routine maintenance."

While she talked, Sheila moved from one window to the next as she pointed out the different aspects of the underground complex. Her enthusiasm was catching.

"We produce far more electricity than we need. The excess capacity doesn't go to waste. We use it to crack water into hydrogen. Our location is so remote that it's impractical to import gasoline. That's why we've converted most of our vehicles to run on hydrogen fuel cells. The cabin is steam heated. We keep the fireplaces going for their psychological benefits rather than for heating value. Our relationship with fire is both a primal and tribal thing. There's something about fire and an open hearth that makes a house a home," Sheila said, as she tapped the ash off her cigarette into an empty water glass which now doubled as an ashtray.

"Let's take a walk. I've got a few things to show you two," Sheila motioned for us to follow as she exited the control room.

I couldn't help grinning. Sheila was beginning to sound like one of those infomercials on late night television. Just as she gilds the lily with more features than you could possibly imagine, she opens the next chapter with the words, "Wait! There's more..." or in this case, "I've got a few things to show you."

We followed the trail down to a winding passageway leading to another cavern deep within the mountain. After several hundred feet, the corridor emptied into an illuminated grotto. The air in the open space was thick with humidity and the rich scent of growing things. Before us was an expansive underground hydroponic garden, roughly the size of a football field.

The garden's computerized hydroponic system automatically operated with a minimum of human intervention. Row upon row of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and other vegetables thrived under a full spectrum array of an artificial lighting system.

There was a patch reserved for cannabis production. Forty or fifty dark green marijuana plants added a pungent and musky blend of sweet, earthy fragrances to the air. Cannabis is packed with a bewildering variety of the same compounds and chemicals found in other plants. Kinda like a pleasant skunk flavored mint tea with a hint of mushrooms and lemon. Weird in a wonderful way.

"Our colony is nearly one hundred percent self-sufficient in the production of food. We hunt deer and elk and take one or two a week. We also have a herd of thirty-five or forty free-range cattle and two dozen swine, to say nothing of our flocks of free-range chickens. The only foods that we still import are wheat for flour, coffee, and sugar. We could grow winter wheat in the valley, but the fields would stand out like a neon sign on satellite imagery. Speaking of food, it's time for lunch," Sheila said.

The leader led us to an elevator shaft dug out of one side of the hydroponics room instead of following the route we had taken to the cavern. We emerged in the grand kitchen of the main cabin a few minutes later.

Our journey from cabin to cavern and back to the kitchen had left me in a daze. I felt like I had just witnessed an impossible magic trick performed with flawless precision. I blinked in the bright lights of the sisterhood's cookhouse and shook my head. How many more rabbits were hiding in the bottom of her hat?

Several sisters, a few dressed in aprons and nothing else, were busy fixing the colony's midday meal. Lunch consisted of the remainder of last night's venison stew, freshly baked bread, and a garden salad. The food looked and smelled as delicious as the naked backsides of the kitchen crew.

I didn't realize how hungry I was until I took a bite of the warm bread. The next several minutes passed without conversation as we consumed lunch in blissful silence. I tried to process what I had seen on Sheila's tour of the colony. What she and her family of sisters had constructed defied description, and was goddamned close to defying imagination. I wouldn't have believed such a thing was possible if I wasn't a witness.

"How did you find this place, and how did this community come to be?" I asked Sheila as I spread a pat of freshly churned butter on a new slice of warm bread.

"My father and I found this place by accident about thirty-five years ago. We were hunting on horseback and came up over a ridge, and we saw this spectacular valley below. The cabin was in ruins, but it was still beautiful. My dad knew these mountains like the back of his hand, but he had no idea this valley existed until the day we stumbled upon it." Sheila's eyes were closed as she shared her memories.

Several of the sisters took seats near us and listened intently to the conversation while the colony leader retold the story of the valley's discovery. Most of the lunchtime crowd was dressed in work clothes, although a couple of the women were nude. The mixture of dressed and undressed females was oddly erotic and distracting, and I had to force myself to listen and not to stare.

"We explored the cabin's wreckage. I was the one who found the old safe filled with stock certificates for the Liberty Mountain Mining Company, three hundred and forty-five thousand shares total. The original owners bailed when the gold ran out, and the mine went bust."

Sheila paused and chuckled before she continued. "They even left a note which described the gold mining venture as a fool's dream. Anyone stupid enough to try to make a go of it was welcome to the company and all its worthless holdings. We researched the business when we returned to Denver. Apparently, no one had filed to dissolve the corporation. Although dormant, it was still a legally valid entity.

"It took a bundle to clear hundred and sixty years worth of back taxes, fines, and fees Almost two hundred and forty thousand dollars to get on the right side of the law. It was worth every cent," Sheila said with a grin that would put the Cheshire cat to shame.

"Dad and I fixed the cabin up enough to be useful as a family hunting lodge. We came up to the mountains every year before he died. When he died, I became the sole owner of the Liberty Mountain Mining Company."

Her words ended in a sigh as she stared out the window at the cavern beyond. A single tear trickled down her face.

"God, how I miss that man," Sheila said softly in a barely audible whisper of remembered sorrow before she resumed her story.

"I continued to visit the cabin with friends and lovers after my dad passed. We fancied ourselves a ‘society of sisters' and often daydreamed of starting an all-women commune. Every week, we pooled our money and purchased lottery tickets. We planned to split any winnings among the players. We used to daydream about winning and held many discussions on what to do with our good fortune if we were so lucky. Then it happened. We hit the jackpot for seventy-five million."

The word about Sheila's history lesson spread and a dozen or more sisters joined the others at the table.

"Each sister could have cashed out with one point five million before taxes if we had split the money evenly, but the windfall would have been the end of our group. We decided, after much discussion, to pool our money and build a state of the art survival colony instead. The vote was unanimous," she said.

"I remember the vote well. I wasn't ready to live away from civilization, and turning my back on that kind of cash in my pocket was a tough choice. I considered the money as an alternative retirement account," Darlene said.

The attention to detail and planning which went into the colony's creation was impressive. Sheila and her group spent a year creating a shell company to redeem the seventy-five-million dollar winning ticket. To avoid the public attention associated with winning a large jackpot, the Society created an LLC to redeem the prize. They drafted a charter and a set of bylaws governing the community's operation.

Everything was open and democratic according to Darlene's remarks, and the comments from several sisters, at least as open as a secret society could be. Free and open elections for colony leadership resulted in Sheila's selection as leader, a post she had held without visible opposition since their inception.

Members of the family of sisters were fiercely loyal to each other and to their leader. The fact that I was accepted, or at least tolerated, by Sheila did much to improve my standing as a guest.

"I love what you've done to the place."

"The only thing missing is children," one of the women said to Sheila.

The comment about children hung like a pregnant pause in the air. Looking around, I was startled to see all eyes were on me as the phrase "founding father" took on a potentially new meaning.

"Children might be a nice addition," Sheila sighed.

Chapter 10

The tour of the Liberty Mountain camp consumed most of the day, and I welcomed the chance to sit down and collect my thoughts. We were back in the cabin with about twenty minutes to spare before dinner. I wanted to use the time to clean up before supper.

Darlene had left  to rekindle a long lost friendship or love affair. I had the evening to myself. Her parting words were, "Don't get into too many beds and if you do, save a spot for me." I had a real affection for Darlene. She was unusual in that she was emotionally loyal while also a free spirit when it came to sex.

We were as much fellow travelers as we were lovers. Ever try to force a cat to sit on your lap against their will? It never ends well for either the cat or the lap. The night belonged to me. I frankly welcomed a few solitary moments.

I went to our room, changed out of my clothes, grabbed a towel, a bar of soap, and visited one of the four community showers. Any hope of sneaking in for a quick scrub down without company ended when I entered the room.

The hour before the evening meal apparently was rush hour. I spotted the naked bodies of several females of various ages amid billowing clouds of steam. The way the light glistened off the women's skin sent a jolt of lust through me. The “slippery when wet” sensuality of water on bare flesh is a major turn-on.

I waited my turn by the sinks lining one wall. Out of instinct, I glanced around for a urinal to use. The designers of the women's restroom neglected to install plumbing for men, of course. Until I learned the practices and customs of my new home, situational awareness demanded that I be more mindful of my surroundings. Looking for urinals in a women's bathroom equaled a major brain fart.

My voyeuristic presence in the shower room remained unnoticed by the ladies, so I took the opportunity to watch and relax as the sisters frolicked under clouds of steaming water. Each of the sisters shared a common physical trait with the others. In fantastic shape, the naked bodies displayed the lean and well-toned appearance of women who worked and played hard. The clothing optional dress code produced deep, bronze-colored natural tans. Even the most expensive tanning booths couldn't duplicate the deep golden hue of a sunshine glow.

The unlimited supply of hot water didn't lend itself to short showers. A person could spend the entire day in the shower without hitting cold water if they wanted to. Voyeurism soon gave way to impatience. I would be likely to die of old age before I got a chance to take a shower at the rate things were going. Finally, I left my towel on the sink and entered the clouds of steam with a bar of soap in hand in search of hot water.

My appearance at the center of the group elicited a short “Eek!” of surprise from Charlotte, who made an instinctive and half-assed attempt to cover herself with her hands. One of the women called out, "What are you doing in here, Dennis?!"

"I'm here to clean up like you guys before dinner," I said.

"Well, come on in," Charlotte beckoned to me as she regained her composure.

She was by far the tallest woman in the colony and towered over me by six inches or more. I might just as well be standing in a hole when I stood next to her. I measured in at five feet, eleven inches.

She possessed a strong and muscular body without a trace of fat. Her lovely tanned breasts weren't perfectly symmetrical, like many women's. Her right boob appeared to be a half-cup size larger than her left. Charlotte didn't shave her pubic hair or apparently anything else, unlike most of the women in the colony.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to alarm anyone. Maybe I could schedule my shower for a time when no else is around," I offered.

"No, no, you're welcome to bathe with us. You just startled me. I forgot that there's a male in our midst. I'm not going to start wearing clothes because you're here. Besides, it feels kinda sexy to prance around naked in the company of a man," Charlotte giggled. Her breasts jiggled as she bounced up and down on the tips of her toes.

"Okay, would you rather I wear clothing when I'm around in the evening, or is it alright with you if I'm as naked as everyone else?" I asked.

"Nudity is the norm around here, and you'll need to bare your backside like the rest of us if you want to fit in," Charlotte said with a grin. Something in her voice belied her smile. She meant every word.

I found the whole nudity thing to be kinda weird and erotic. I enjoyed looking at the wide variety of body types in the female landscape provided by the sisters. Heck, the hidden exhibitionist in me got a thrill at the chance to strut my stuff. The objective critic in me realized that I was a certifiable old fart.

I had grown a bit too comfortable in my old age, not overweight, but I tended toward the flabby side. My stomach and legs were fish's belly pale. A box of rubber bands displayed better muscle tone than I did. I at least wanted to look sexy if I had to run around unclad.

The evening dinner, like all meals in the commune, was served buffet-style. The evening offering was beef Wellington. The sisters in the kitchen displayed some serious cooking skills. Wrapped in homemade puff pastry and an aroma of pure delight, the filet of beef tenderloin, assembled with liver pate, mushrooms, and onions indeed was fine dining worthy of a five-star eatery.

I worked my way through the serving line and took a seat at the far end of the community table. I sat down in a social twilight zone; halfway between sitting close enough to be “next” to someone, yet far enough away to be “by myself.”

The last twenty-four hours had buried me under an avalanche of new experiences, people, sights, and sounds as I tried to adjust to my new environment. My senses were on edge from operating at a level of hyper-alerted awareness. I was suffering from information overload, which felt like a major case of jet lag in my situation. I took long, slow, cleansing breaths, and forced myself to relax as I centered myself on the here and now. I moved my mind to a place where there was neither a past nor a future, only the moment of now was real.

I could sense the tension draining away from my body like an outgoing tide with each breath I took. I had dabbled in Zen, self-hypnosis, and meditation when I was much younger. I closed my eyes and recited my personal mantra to help me relax and center in the moment.

 

Seek not the storm's fury

Nor it's jagged light.

Search instead for the quiet center,

and from there, stand against the night.

 

A voice asked, "Is this seat taken?" on the third or fourth recitation. I opened my eyes as Sheila wedged her nude body into space next to me.

"Please sit down," I said after the fact.

"What are you doing?" Sheila wanted to know.

"I was meditating and trying to settle down and reduce tension. The last twenty-four hours have been hectic and eventful, and I'm creating a space to relax and process recent experiences," I responded.

The warmth of our bodies wedged together, and the sensual heat of skin-to-skin contact had its effect on me. The tension I had been trying to drive out of my body returned as sexual arousal. Nothing I could do would hide my rising interest. If Sheila was trying to get my attention, she was doing an excellent job.

"Christ Almighty; you're as tense as shit, Dennis. A back rub will calm you down. Let's go up to my bedroom where we can relax and get to know each other better," Sheila suggested, as she took my hand and led me up the stairs to her quarters.

The dimly lit bedroom appeared much as it had the night before. The embers smoldering in the fireplace provided scant illumination; enough to see shapes, but little detail. Sheila instructed me to lie down on her bed, and she fetched two glasses of the delicious homemade brandy that she’d served me on the previous evening as I got comfortable.

I rested on my back with my head up propped up on her pillow while Sheila positioned herself next to me. We sipped our spirits in silence together for several minutes. Alcohol is as effective as meditation when it comes to reducing stress. My body was relaxed and as horny as hell within a short time.

"So, what did you think of your tour of our colony?" Sheila inquired, as she absentmindedly fondled my thigh with her right hand.

"You've built an extraordinary place. I can't believe how lucky I am to be here," I answered.

"Do you think it was luck that brought you here?" Sheila asked.

"Well, it sure wasn't planning," I said, shrugging my shoulders.

Most of Sheila's body was in shadow except for the curves of her breasts which were highlighted by the glow from the fireplace. A soft, warm hand rubbed my inner thigh.

"This may be a stupid question, but are you trying to seduce me?" I asked with a slight grin as I realized that I sounded like Dustin Hoffman in the movie The Graduate.

"Maybe; what do you think?" Sheila replied, as her fingers stroked my scrotum. My growing erection twitched in response to her touch.

"What about the upper and lower case L for lesbian?" I said in reference to Sheila's comments from the night before.

"I'm also a capital 'L' leader, and I've made love to everyone who calls Liberty Mountain their home. It's my way of getting to know people. I can only trust a person if I've made love to them. Words lie, but the human body tells the truth if you take the time to listen," Sheila explained, while her fingers tenderly caressed my shaft.

"You're a lesbian. I thought you didn't like men," I said to Sheila as she continued to fondle me. My erection was now at full mast. I was so hard that it was almost painful.

"It's not that I dislike men; I prefer women. There have been a few male lovers in my past," Sheila replied, as the tip of her finger played with the clear drop of precum leaking from my urethra.

My level of sexual arousal increased as she smeared the clear, colorless, viscous fluid over the head of my prick.

"Darlene has told me all about your lovemaking skills. Shit! She made more noise than a brass band last night. Everyone in the cabin heard you two going at it," Sheila told me as she traced the veins on my dick with her finger.

I watched as she played with me. Her face glowed in the light of the fire, and she was studying my trouser-snake with the intensity of a mongoose studying a cobra. She was playing me like a fiddle, and I could feel the pleasure building within me. Fuck! Premature ejaculation is a real buzz-kill. I needed to give Sheila her share of tender loving care, just to buy time.

"Enough. Lay back and take my place. Turnabout is fair play," I said, as I climbed to my feet and guided Sheila back into the spot I had previously occupied.

She had a bemused smile on her lips as she settled into my place on the bed. "What do you want me to do?" she asked.

"I want you to be happy," I said, as I leaned over her and lightly licked her lips. Sheila's eyes widened in surprise, and she resisted my kiss for an instant.

I gazed into her eyes as I stroked her cheek with my fingers. I slowly leaned forward again, nuzzled her cheeks, and kissed her closed eyelids. I traced the outline of her lips with my fingers and followed with a series of butterfly kisses.

I caressed her face and chin and nibbled the nape of her neck. I kissed her on her lips again as my hands moved across her shoulders. Her lips opened this time, and her tongue touched mine for a moment before it withdrew.

I looked into Sheila's eyes and whispered, "Do you want me to make love to you?"

"I'm not sure that I'm as ready as I thought," Sheila said with a sigh.

"It means you are not ready if you're not sure. Reluctant lovemaking is the second cousin to rape. You're an extraordinary woman, and I find you to be incredibly attractive and sexy. I'll make love to you when you ask me, but not until then. I don't attend parties unless I'm invited," I told Sheila as I took her into my arms and held her close to me.

Sheila shifted her body and rested her head on my chest. I thought I heard her whisper, “Thank you” as her breathing slowed. She was soon gently snoring in my embrace. I pulled the blankets over us and tried not to think about the pain in my balls.

Sheila's playful and seductive touch had brought me to the edge. I could have taken her at her word when she said that she wanted to make love to me to get to know me. There was no doubt in my mind that she would have allowed me to have my way with her. She was the one who’d suggested using sex as her way of getting to know her people, after all.

Sheila had boxed herself into a corner by making an offer she hadn't been one hundred percent comfortable honoring. I gave her the opportunity to withdraw without losing face when I asked her permission to proceed.

My grandfather used to tell me, “Sometimes we can only get what we want by not taking everything we can get.” He also used to remind me that, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Sheila snorted in her sleep as she rolled over on her side and we nestled like two spoons in the kitchen drawer. She was quietly snoring again within a few minutes. I wrapped my arm around her bare body and held her close as I kissed her neck and soon joined her in slumber.

Chapter 11

My bladder is the perfect alarm clock. The urgent need to go dragged me out of hibernation as the night sky brightened in advance of dawn. I awoke to the gentle sound of Sheila's breathing. Nude, beautiful, and warm, she lay next to me in the relaxed innocence of sleep. Sheila sensed a change in my position, shifted her body, and pressed her bare bottom into my groin as we snuggled together under the covers. My hand remained cupped to her breast. Sheila placed her hand over mine and pulled it tight to her body as she slept.

We cuddled together in blissful warmth. I wanted to stay under the sheets forever, but I needed to take a piss. With a bad case of morning wood, my erection found a home between the hills of Sheila's fanny. As pleasant as it felt, I wouldn't be able to stop my body from unleashing a flood if I didn't get out bed soon. Wetting the bed wasn't an option.

I untangled myself from Sheila and silently slipped out of bed into the chill of the morning air. I adjusted the blankets to cover Sheila's exposed shoulder and made tracks for the bathroom. I decided to make a quick getaway instead of using the facilities in her room to avoid an awkward encounter after a night in which nothing happened. I almost made it to the door when Sheila's sleepy voice called my name.

"Where are you going, Dennis?"

"Gotta pee," I mumbled.

"Excellent idea; hang on, and I'll join you." Sheila threw the quilt back and climbed out of bed.

 

"We might as well take a shower since we're already up," the leader said as she tossed me towels and soap from the closet.

Three members of the kitchen crew hard at work preparing breakfast were the only other people up and about in the hour before sunrise. We owned the empty showers to ourselves.

We dried each other off after our morning scrub, and Sheila suggested, "Let's head down to the kitchen and score a cup of coffee."

The custom of indoor nudity might make more sense if we were born kangaroos with built-in pockets. I stopped by my room to make up for our genetic deficiency, put an unbuttoned flannel shirt on, stuck a pack of smokes and a lighter in the inside pocket, and joined Sheila in the kitchen.

Coffee is the nectar of the gods and Colombia's only legal drug export. It is also a natural lubricant, allowing us to slide from slumber to wakefulness with a minimum amount of friction. Java in hand, Sheila led me to a cozy nook beside the hearth in the Great Room, and we sat together next to the blaze.

"I want to talk to you about last night," Sheila said, as she sniffed her coffee.

"Okay, what's on your mind?" I responded.

"Tell me something, I know I turned you on. Why didn't you want sex with me?" Sheila's concerned eyes blinked with curiosity.

Her question was both delicate and dangerous. The wrong answer could do damage to our friendship, but I had no idea of what she thought the correct response should be. I followed my grandfather's advice: "If all else fails, and you can't think of a good lie, tell the truth."

I set my coffee down on the fireplace hearth, took Sheila's hands in mine, and looked into her eyes as I spoke truthfully. "Your body said one thing, but your words were saying something different last night. I listened to the wishes of your body. You weren't ready to be that intimate with me. "

"True, but I would've consented if you had persisted," she acknowledged, as she gave my hands a soft squeeze.

"I figured you would allow intercourse if I pushed it. You would be resentful. Nevertheless, it would be a lousy start to our relationship. I would have selfishly screwed you to the floor if I only thought about my own gratification," I admitted with a guilty grin.

 

"I'll take your friendship if I have to choose between being a friend or your lover, if I can't have both," I further explained.

My father used to tell me the best way to learn the thoughts of another is to ask a direct question, shut up, and listen to the answer. "What about what happened, or didn't happen last night?" I cooled my coffee with my breath.

"At first I was relieved when you asked for my permission, then I was pissed. I was confused after that. I was happy in the end. Maybe you didn't think me desirable enough, or maybe you didn't like me enough for sex. I felt safe, loved, and cared for when you held me in your arms and stayed the night." Sheila whispered as she gave me a hug wrapped in a smile.

Silence filled the pleasant space between us as our conversation slowed to a stop. The colony's leader took a sip of coffee and studied me over the rim of her coffee mug for several moments.

 

"You're a strange man, Mr. Richards. Whatever am I going to do with you?"

Our zone of silence gradually evaporated as the sisters of the colony drifted into the kitchen for breakfast in ones and twos.

"Refill your coffee and grab a seat; we've got a group meeting in fifteen minutes," Sheila announced as she excused herself to prepare for the assembly.

I marched to the kitchen, looking for fresh coffee. Ready or not, a new day was getting underway.

One fundamental law of the universe: staff meetings seldom begin on time. The Society's assembly was no exception. Significant numbers of sisters hadn't taken a seat at the conference table. Start time came and went as Sheila kept glancing at her wristwatch and scanning the faces of the attendees for missing members.

 

I also glanced around the table for Darlene who was among the absent. My lady love took starting times and deadlines as suggestions rather than requirements. She had a long established reputation for always arriving at the far edge of fashionably late.

Only the light tapping of Sheila's pencil on the tabletop betrayed her outwardly calm exterior. The taps steadily increased in tempo the longer we waited. It was as if the yellow stick doubled as a Geiger counter reporting her frustration was approaching critical mass.

The giggles and laughter of several women echoed from the walls as if on cue. Darlene, Lucia, and a woman whose name turned out to be Sandra emerged from the kitchen a few seconds later. I saw the trio and almost burst out laughing. They were as drunk as skunks, barely staying upright as they staggered and wobbled toward the meeting table.

Darlene stumbled into the seat next to me and collapsed with a moan as she held her head in her hands. She seemed as if she had just come from an orgy: her hair was a mess, nipples stood like stiff pencil erasers; her shoulders, face, and chest glowed like a neon sign, her cheeks were bright with the rosy blush of arousal.

"Too much party," she groaned, as she leaned her body against me.

"Too much sex?" I patted her head.

"There's no such thing as too much sex," she said with a burp. Her hand flew to her mouth as her face took on a greenish tint. "But there is such a thing as too much (burp) brandy."

Darlene gasped, as she bent double and barfed up who knows what over my naked feet. Standing in a puddle of someone else's used dinner is over the top gross. I nearly lost my lunch before I got my gag reflex under control.

"Clean up on Aisle Five," I yelled out, as I helped Darlene to her feet.

Sheila's expression was halfway between annoyed and amused. "We'll start the meeting as soon as we've gotten these gals cleaned up and into bed," she said.

Twenty minutes later I took a seat next to Alice and her daughter. The meeting of the sisterhood  was finally, almost about ready to start. The woolen shirt I was wearing gave me the comfortable illusion of being dressed even though it was open. It covered none of my vital parts.

Alice leaned over and murmured in my ear, "Is it true you spent the night in Sheila's bed?"

"We kept each other company last night," I sipped my coffee.

"Very interesting; will you keep me company tonight if I ask nicely?" Alice gave me a sexy smile as she touched her hand to my thigh and gently caressed my bare leg.

"Mom!" her daughter protested as she watched her mother's attempt to seduce me.

"Shush, little one. You'll have your turn after I check him out," her mother said.

The touch of Alice's sweating hand stroking my skin in close proximity to my genitals was enough to attract my libido's attention, and I could sense myself responding to Alice's invitation.

Part of me was amused at the turnabout in my love life since I arrived in the Society. I had always played the part of the seducer prior to my visit to the Society of Sisters. With the tables turned, I was now the target for seduction. The new state of affairs perfectly fit with my passive/aggressive approach to sex. I had always been the sexual aggressor early on, usually with mixed, mostly miserable, results in my younger days. My advances ended in failure more often than I cared to admit.

"Your place or mine?" I smiled at Alice, as I moved her hand to the relative safety of my knee.

I didn't want to sprout another public display in front of so many naked women. Exhibitionism isn't my thing, as I said.

The gathering's primary agenda item was the question of work assignments. The concept was simple: many hands make light work. Maintaining the colony required a lot of effort, and every individual of the community had at least one assigned task or duty. The cabin ran as smoothly as a Swiss watch when everyone pitched in.

I was the only person without anything to do after the sisters had divvied up the chores. Sheila called on me when I raised my hand.

"Freeloading ain't my style; I need a chore. How can I contribute to our community?" I looked about the hall.

"You are my guest until your status here with us is resolved. Feel free to help out wherever you can," Sheila said.

"Does anyone need a helping hand?" I said as I turned to face the gathering.

Silence answered my inquiry until Alice spoke. "Our sensors have picked up a deer herd about ten miles out. Lucia and I are on the schedule too bad a deer this afternoon, but she isn't in any condition to do anything until she sleeps it off. You can tag along in her place."

"I've never been hunting before," I pointed out.

"Do you know how to shoot?" Alice frowned.

"Sure. I took basic training and qualified as an expert marksman."

"Are you a member of PETA?" the Chair inquired.

"If you mean People Eating Tasty Animals, then yes I am," I said amid chuckles and snickers from the sisters.

"About time you earn your place in the food chain. Alice is extremely skilled, and she'll make sure you have all the appropriate gear. You two leave in an hour. Meeting adjourned. Happy trails." Sheila tapped the gavel.

Chapter 12

"These mountains are as dangerous as they are beautiful. They might appear to be lovely and majestic but don't let 'em fool you. The beauty hides the heart of a killer," Brenda explained as she dug through her inventory, looking for a pair of gloves in my size.

"Got 'em!" she yelled as she held the object of her search aloft, a pair of insulated gloves joined the rest of my new wardrobe.

A slim and attractive woman in her mid-thirties, Brenda served as the colony's quartermaster. Medium sized, well-tanned breasts protruded from her chest, and a pageboy haircut framed her freckled face. The dented, circular scar of a long healed bullet wound adorned her left breast, a few inches below her collarbone.

One wall of the armory displayed her honorable discharge from the US Army along with a citation awarding her the Army Commendation Medal for heroism, a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, and an Iraq Campaign Medal. Ex-Army and combat tested, she was the real deal.

The brand new garments still carried tags from LL Bean. I let out a long whistle when I did a tally in my head. The camouflage Gore-Tex hunting jacket and matching tactical cargo pants carried a hefty price north of eight hundred dollars. Gore-Tex is some amazing shit. The fabric is a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable membrane that repels liquid water while allowing moisture and vapor to pass through. A pair of Gore-Tex lined winter hiking boots I had brought with me turned out to be the only article of my clothing which passed muster with Brenda.

"The secret of staying alive in the wilderness is to stay warm and dry, and the proper clothing is your first defense," Brenda commented as she rummaged around for headgear.

"Is it true that we lose most body heat through our heads?" I questioned Brenda.

"We lose heat from any part of the body exposed to the air, but the head is a special case. For example, when hands are unprotected and exposed to severe cold, the human body tries to maintain core temperature, and sometimes our bodies will shut down circulation to the hands to conserve heat," Brenda replied.

"The rapid loss of hand function is the net result. Eventually, they become useless popsicles. Our bodies will sacrifice our hands to save our lives. The head is different. Our bodies will never shut down blood flow to our heads, but it will sacrifice everything else to maintain our brains at a functioning temperature. Folks succumb to hypothermia and die from cold without ever realizing they are in danger," Brenda spoke as she produced an adjustable thermal fleece Balaclava Winter Face Mask.

"Is all this really necessary? We're only going hunting. We're not climbing Mount Everest," I grumbled.

"I use the 'parachute principle' when it comes to gear," Brenda said as she examined the facemask. Gear is like a parachute. It's better to carry one and not need it than it is to need one and not have it," she said with a laugh.

After a few adjustments and additions, Brenda smiled with satisfaction. My wardrobe now met her minimum standards for survivability in extreme conditions.

"You can't go hunting without a weapon."

The quartermaster laid a Kimber 84M Mountain Ascent rifle on the counter for my inspection. The rifle weighed in at less than five pounds. Fitted with a four round magazine, it fired a .30-'06 bullet with a muzzle velocity of a bit over three thousand feet per second. The rifle's two thousand dollar price tag was the heaviest part of the Kimber. Apparently, when you win the lottery, money is no object.

Brenda positioned me in front of a full-length mirror and, like a tailor, stepped back to admire her handiwork. "Very nice. Now you look like a hunter. The deer will take one look at you and die of fright," she noted with pride.

"More likely Bambi will die laughing. I feel like an escapee from an LL Bean fashion catalog," I said with a silly grin.

"Either way, dead is dead, and Bambi is dinner." Alice smacked her lips in anticipation of venison stew.

Unloaded rifle in hand, I followed her to the underground garage. A somewhat dented 2009 Kawasaki Mule retrofitted to run on hydrogen fuel would be our transportation. We spent the next fifteen minutes doing a pre-trip safety inspection.

I read out the items from our pre-trip cheat sheet, and Alice reported the status of each. Tires? Check. Fuel? Check. First aid kit? Check. Radio? Check. Emergency rations? Check. And so it went until we had checked each of the vehicle's systems.

Satisfied our pre-trip checklist was complete, Alice took her place behind the wheel. I climbed in next to her and rode shotgun, and we sped down the tunnel toward the exit. Our Kawasaki Mule abruptly decelerated the moment we hit daylight.

"Why so slow? I can walk faster than this," I said to Alice.

"This is our exit protocol. We reduce speed when crossing the meadow to minimize damage to the grassland." Alice kept our speed to a crawl.

It was all rather clever. The colony's survival strategy was to do nothing to alter the visual footprint of the valley. The likelihood of someone accidentally entering the valley at Liberty Mountain was modestly remote. However, it was a virtual certainty on any given day dozens of Google Earth's armchair explorers loaded images of the valley into their computers. Dirt trails left by vehicles exiting the mountain would attract unwanted attention.

Once we crossed the meadow and entered the forested area, the air temperature dropped like a rock as our rate of travel increased to a more reasonable twenty miles per hour. The ground was littered with splotches of sunlight mixed with delicate patches of sparkling frost feathers left over from last night's deep freeze. The ecosystem of the valley and the mountains idled between fall and winter as plants and animals braced for the arrival of winter and the season's first major snowfall.

"The herd we're hunting should be about fifteen miles ahead of us. We'll need to cross a steep ridge and two valleys to get there," Alice said.

Thanks to the modifications to our ATV's exhaust system, we journeyed westward in near silence. The sound of our tires on the rocky trail was louder than the whispering purr of our engine. As we topped the crest of the last ridge between our deer herd and us, Alice let the ATV coast to a stop.

The top of the rocky ridge offered a spectacular view of the snow-capped summits all around us, and the clear, chilly air gave the illusion distant mountains were much closer than they actually are. High overhead, the bright indigo sky of the morning now had a hazy white tint and high altitude streamers of wispy mare's tails and cirrus clouds smeared across the heavens from the west.

"Time for lunch and a potty break," she said as she secured the vehicle, killed the engine and dismounted.

"Great idea! I gotta go water some moss."

Turning my back on Alice, I used my body as a modesty screen. As I was busy unzipping my fly, Alice moved next to me and stood at my side.

"Do you mind?" I protested.

"Don't get your knickers in a knot. Just pretend I'm not here," Alice responded with a wink. "Besides, you weren't very shy when my daughter and I were playing with you in the shower," she reminded me.

Despite some major boundary issues, I was both amused and flattered by her interest in my equipment. Since our shower episode, she flirted with me and teased at every opportunity. As much as I hated to admit it, I enjoyed the attention. It was a weirdly major turn-on.

My bladder was so full I started to leak and dribble. I gritted my teeth and tried to stem the flow. I didn't have time for an argument. I raced to pull Harvey out of hidings as quickly as possible. It was a photo finish. The floodgates opened just as the head of my dick cleared my fly.

My knees trembled in relief as urine drained out of me. I am at the age where my early warning system is a bit out of tune. The interval between the sensation of needing to urinate and uncontrolled release was razor thin.

I turned to rebuke Alice for her bad manners. She was intently following every movement of my man parts with her eyes. They might just as well have been super glued to it.

"Oh, crap, I gotta take a piss,"  Alice said as she succumbed to the power of suggestion.

"Would you like some privacy?"

I made a point of drawing out and embellishing the final word of my question with extra syllables for dramatic effect. My version of "privacy" sounded like a blurry "Pretty-City."

"Thank you for asking," Alice said as she unbuckled her pants and let them drop to the ground. She lowered her blue cotton panties to her ankles. She squatted down, wiggled a bit for balance, and looked me in the eye as she smiled and pointed to her neatly shaved crotch. She grunted and grinned as she let loose a thickening stream of golden yellow.

I frowned at Alice for her exhibitionist behavior, and she burst into laughter. "Don't be such a prude. I caught you spying on me while I was spying on you. I could tell you liked what you saw,” she blushed.

“So I gave you a show for the fun of it."

"Lady! That ain’t no show, it’s the whole ‘effing circus," I growled as I pretended to be annoyed. My stern demeanor crumbled when my shoulders started to shake with suppressed laughter. I couldn’t stop the smile as my mouth broke into a grin.

"One day a voyeur and an exhibitionist walk into a bar and," I took a breath as I tried to remember how the joke went, but my mind went blank. All I could recall was the punch line. "Here's looking at you kid."

An interesting fact of life: it is nearly impossible to stay pissed-off at someone while sharing a laugh.

After the show-n-tell piss break, we got down to the business of lunch. The thermos we had filled in the kitchen prior to our departure produced two steaming hot bowls of the colony's legendary venison stew.

I studied Alice as I dug into my serving. Despite our shared laughter, there was something about Alice's sexual advances and continuous flirting that didn't ring true. Why would a hardcore lesbian like Alice suddenly decide she needed a man in her life?

There was a frantic, almost desperate desire for us to engage in sex, so much so that she was even hinting at bringing her virgin daughter into the action. Even though they were both hotter than a Texas parking lot in August, I held my libido in check. Until I had a better understanding of the mother/daughter dynamics involved, I decided to make haste slowly.

Years of social trial and error had taught me the best way to clear the air between two people was to speak plainly. I liked to think of it as playing poker with my cards face-up on the table.

"Alice, we need to talk. Curious minds want to know, do you want us to have sex?" I said.

My blunt question seemed to take my hunting partner by surprise as she raised her eyebrows and blinked at me. She said nothing for several moments before responding, "Do you mean right now? Can I finish lunch first? Why do you ask?"

"At the meeting this morning, you asked me if I would share your bed tonight if you asked nicely. Was that a real question or were you just flirting?" I inquired as I moved to sit at her side.

"I was serious. I wanted to know if you would make love to me." Alice's face took on a reddish tint as she blushed. "Dennis, will you make love to me tonight?"

"Be honest. You are a lesbian, and I'm an old fart. Why would you want to have sex with me?"

She looked at me in silence for the longest time before answering. "I am concerned about my daughter."

It was my turn to be surprised. "What does your daughter have to do with us having sex?"

"My home is Liberty Mountain, and I'm here because I love my sisters. My daughter has displayed no interest in sexual relations with other women, but she has shown a keen interest in getting to know you in the biblical sense. I want her to explore her sexuality, and I want her to be true to herself. Star and I have had a few long talks about you. You are the first male she's met." Alice turned to face me and looked directly into my eyes.

"I warned her one man is not all men, and I told her I might give my blessings for her to have sex with you, but I would do so only after I've had a chance to check you out." Alice glanced at my private parts.

"Your daughter is still a child. I wouldn't feel right taking advantage of her that way." I sighed and fidgeted as the conversation entered an awkward phase.

Alice frowned and gave me a sharp look. "Bullshit! How old were you when you lost your virginity?"

"I-I was fifteen, and sh-she was nineteen." I stammered as I tried to remember who seduced who.

"So fifteen is old enough for boys.” She leaned back, crossed her arms and narrowed her hazel eyes. “But eighteen is too young for a girl?”

She frowned as she poked my chest with her index finger.  “Sounds like a fucking double standard,” she paused, “pun,” pause and poke, “intended!”

The final poke hurt.

"Ouch and okay. I get it. I'm old-fashioned. However, I still don't understand why you would want your daughter to have sex with me." I studied her smoldering green eyes and searched for her answer.

"I want the best life for my daughter, and that begins with her being true to herself. If it turns out she likes men, I'm good with that. If she prefers women, I'm also good with that. If she's bisexual like her mother, that would be fine. I'll love and support her no matter who she is. Besides, I have a dream of someday being a grandmother," Alice said with an almost shy smile.

"What about you? Why is it so important that you check me out first?" I was looking for the truth behind her interest in me.

"Because if you turn out to be an asshole like her father, I won't let you near her; that's why. He was a lousy, selfish lover who cared nothing for the sexual needs of his partner," Alice concluded.

We spent the next several minutes in thoughtful silence as we finished lunch and got ready to resume our quest for fresh venison. Our vantage point on the ridge afforded us a clear view of the deer herd in the valley a thousand feet below. Under the watchful eye of a magnificent stag, a dozen does graze along the banks of the stream flowing across the glen's floor.

It would take all of Alice's driving skills to traverse the pathway to the bottom.

Chapter 13

"This is Liberty base. The National Weather Service has issued a revised winter storm warning for our area. Forecasters are calling for up to thirty-six inches of snow starting tonight at five o'clock with blizzard conditions beginning at 6:30 PM. Snow will continue throughout the evening and into late tomorrow afternoon. Winds south by southwest twenty to thirty miles per hour with gusts up to one hundred and twenty miles per hour along exposed ridges. Return home immediately. Please acknowledge."

"It's too bad we can't acknowledge a message we never received," Alice said as she turned off the radio's power.

I scanned the sky overhead. The wispy streaks of the morning had given way to a high hazy overcast. Tops of advancing clouds were beginning to appear on the western horizon. The minuscule amount of weather lore I still remembered from my days as a Tenderfoot Scout told me high, thin clouds and mare's tails were telltale signs of approaching storm systems and usually signaled that a weather front was moving in.

We left base around 9:00 AM and had been on the trail for almost four hours. If we return now, we will make it home with barely thirty minutes to spare before the storm was upon us.

"We need to turn back if we’re going to beat the snow," I urged Alice.

"No fucking way! I'm not getting this close without bringing back Bambi burgers," she replied with a look of determination that could blister paint. "Besides, we can get down to the valley floor and back in less than thirty minutes. We should have time to spare. Not much, but enough. I didn't come this far to go back empty-handed."

I wasn't going to win this argument.

The thirty-degree angle of the slope and the sheer granite face of nearly treeless stone made for a treacherous descent. We had almost made it to the base of the ridge when our rocky trail abruptly narrowed before ending in a dead end at the edge of a vertical cliff. It was fucking frustrating. We were within a hundred feet of our goal. As far as we were concerned, our destination could just as well been on the dark side of the moon.

"Shit! I missed the turn, we're on the wrong trail," Alice swore as she reached for the radio and turned on the power.

Haste makes waste, but I kept my thoughts to myself as I scanned the sky.

"Liberty Base this is Hunter One, come in, please. Over." Alice paused and repeated her call, "Liberty Base this is Hunter One, come in, please. Over."

It was useless. A granite slab a mile thick stood between our location and the base's radio receiver, effectively blocking out our signal. The steady hiss of static ruled the airwaves. Alice handed me the radio's microphone and instructed me to repeat the call to base every five minutes.

Backing up the steep slope was a royal pain in the ass. Reverse gears are slow, and the best speed our Mule could manage up the incline was not much faster than a slow walk. Our retreat finally paid off when we came to a wide spot on the trail after twenty minutes of travel. Alice executed a tight three-point-turn, and at last, the front of the ATV pointed in the right direction.

The trail up the side of the ridge was difficult to follow. The overcast changed the light. None of the landmarks we’d passed on the way down looked like the ones we passed on the way up the trail.

We blazed our own path and followed the contours of the slope in an ever upward journey. Slow and steady wins the race in fairy tales. In our case, we gained the ridge in an hour and thirty-six minutes and lost our race against the clock.

We used too much time backtracking, and there was no way in hell we would be able to make it home before the weather turned to shit. Unless we could find a sheltered place to hunker down and ride out the blizzard, we would both be dead before dawn.

"Do we have the time and tools we need to build a lean-to?" I asked.

"Good idea. We have the tools, but we don't have the time. We've gotta find something almost ready-made, like a cave, rock overhang, or a cluster of fallen trees," Alice said as she handed me a pair of binoculars.

We drove to an outcropping with a good overview of the eastern face of our ridgeline.

"Scan to the north, and I'll scope out the south," Alice said as she lifted her binoculars and searched our southern flank.

The heavy overcast of clouds reduced the daylight in the valley to near twilight conditions even though sunset was still forty-five minutes in the future. In a classic case of the lull before the storm, the wind died down to almost nothing. I felt a drop of wetness on my cheek and a few moments later, another on my nose. Like the advance scouts of an approaching army, the first flakes of snow explored the ground around us.

"Damn it! There's nothing to the south of us!" Alice growled in frustration.

To the north, the slope of the ridge gave way to a nearly vertical drop. Conditions were favorable to the formation of rock shelters. Over the eons, slabs of granite had broken away and tumbled to the ground. I was looking for anything resembling a natural rock lean-to or cave opening.

"Alice! I think I’ve got something," I shouted with more hope than conviction as I pointed to a dark shadow in a land of shadows at the base of the granite cliff.

My partner studied the rock feature with her binoculars for a moment before slamming the ATV into drive and racing forward to the possible sanctuary. Hope turned to disappointment as we got close enough to see the details of our target. We were well and truly fucked; the rock outcropping was too shallow and exposed to serve as a shelter. Daylight was nearly gone, and snow was falling as fast as the thermometer.

"Now what do we do?" Alice gripped the steering wheel, her words flavored with fear.

"Let's check that out," I said pointing to a stand of saplings about a hundred yards to the left of the useless overhang.

Maybe we could construct an emergency lean-to from the young Aspens. We drove across the dusting of snow-covered ground and dismounted our vehicle. Flashlights in hand, we inspected the thin grove of trees.

"Holy shit, there's a cave opening back here!" Alice shouted and pointed to a five or six foot wide opening at the base of the cliff behind the trees.

The remains of the aborted attempt at gold mining were almost hidden behind the stand of saplings. We explored the inside of the cave with our flashlights. Thankfully, it was uninhabited. The dry and dusty floor of the tunnel sloped upward to a level area, which formed a low, cramped chamber about fifteen feet across and twenty feet deep. At most, we had about four feet of headroom. Whoever had been looking for gold hit a dead end, gave up, and went home. Bad for them, lucky for us.

"Unload the Mule and get our stuff inside while I cut down as many saplings as I can with our survival saw," I said as I grabbed the folding cutting tool from the ATV's cargo bay.

Our plan was as desperate as it was simple. Cut as many of the young Aspens as possible, slide the trees into the cave opening, and use the thin branches and remaining leaves to block the wind. As the storm raged, the crowns of the trees would collect snow and form an impenetrable shield against the wind. The narrow trunks of the young trees were only four or five inches in diameter, and the saw made for fast work. Fifteen minutes later I had almost a dozen saplings down on the ground.

By the time I cut the last tree, swirling snow, and falling shadows were all around us. The first night of winter arrived with a vengeance. Alice finished bringing the last of our gear into the cave, and together we hauled away at the fallen Aspens to plug the entrance as best as we could. Alice and I had no choice; the rock cavern would be either our salvation or our grave.

As I adjusted the position of the last tree, Alice screamed, "Snakes! Oh my God, look at 'em all, the fucking cave is filled with rattlesnakes!"


To Be Continued

Before You Go:  Could you take a moment and rate my story? I am a 70-year-old Vietnam vet and this is my first work of fiction. I value all honest feedback - your comments have made me a better writer. Thank you.

0