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Life settled into somewhat of a routine over the next several months. Erin was gone about two weeks of each month, although once she was gone for a full month. Robert was frantic with worry for the last two weeks of that absence, and if Control had been there, Robert would have besieged him with questions and demands of her whereabouts on a daily basis. He had watched the newspapers for events that might be the result of Erin and Controlís covert activities, but found no clue. Then, one day, the quiet knock on his door that Robert answered found Erin and Control at his doorstep. Erin was quite the worse for wear. The mission had been fraught with failure and betrayal. Erin had been captured and beaten, but rescued by Mickeyís team before the interrogationís violence was stepped to the next level. The bout of dysentery she contracted didnít help, either. It took her another three weeks to regain her health, just in time for the next assignment. Each time she left, Robert reluctantly swallowed his worry and impatience and looked forward to her return all the more.
Whenever possible, their time together between missions was filled with intense lovemaking as if each opportunity was going to be the last. This was the only part of the Ďone day at a timeí philosophy Robert could really embrace. Tonight they were going to go out to dinner and he was determined to make it an unforgettable evening. He had taken Erin to a ladyís fashion boutique earlier that afternoon and purchased a stunning evening dress for her. It was an extremely enjoyable outing. Erin had heard of such places, where women tried on different fashions and displayed them before their male friends or spouses, but had never been to one. She owned the requisite black evening gown required for Company business, but had never seen anything like the extensive array of fashions available in this shop. The saleswomen had a wonderful time dressing Erinís slender frame in sleek, form-fitting outfits that took her natural beauty to a new level. Erin enjoyed the gentile feminine company and conversation greatly, as well as the sensuous feel of the silken garments. She found modeling the lovely dresses before Robert an excitingly sensual experience, as well. They decided on a dark blue sleeveless gown with a plunging neckline and a slit in the skirt to her hip on the left side that emphasized Erinís slender waist and long legs. She looked absolutely wonderful in it, he thought. Robert arranged for a limousine, from an acquaintance he had assisted through his Equalizer activities, with a privacy shield that hid the occupants from the driver. The intimate things he had planned to do with her during the limousine ride filled his mind as they readied for the evening. Making love in the shower before they dressed had only whetted his appetite for more.
The limousine driver pulled in front of the apartment building at seven. Robert felt his groin stirring again as he shepherded Erin to the vehicle. It was a luxury limousine with a small bar in the back. Robert adjusted the air conditioning to a comfortable level and instructed the driver to take a scenic drive around the city for about an hour before arriving at the restaurant. Erin found the entire experience amusing as Robert mixed them drinks from the small bar. They cuddled together to survey the scenery from the darkly concealed windows of the limousine. After a few sips from his drink, Robert put his glass down and turned to Erin to gently kiss her bare shoulder and run his fingers from her collarbone along the neckline of the dress to its deepest point just under her breast bone. He found that he could slip his hand into the dress to cup her breast and pull it from its confines. Robert leaned forward and took the delicate nipple into his mouth, flicking his tongue back and forth across it. Erin took a deep breath of pleasure and caressed his silver hair. He let her breast slip back into place, framed her face with both hands and pulled her lips to his. Robert thrust his tongue into her mouth and moaned his desire against her lips. His hand slid from her waist to where her leg protruded through the slit in the dress. There, he caressed the silk-sheathed thigh and followed the stocking to the top where the stocking ended and bare skin began. She was wearing the type of stockings that didnít require a garter belt but were held up by a ring of soft plastic on the inside of the stocking that adhered to her warm skin. He ran his fingers back and forth on her skin at the top of the stocking several times before following the crease where her thighs met to the junction of her legs. Robert felt a shock of pleasant surprise as he encountered her soft pubic hair. He broke their kiss for a moment.
"Ah, what an adventurous vixen you are," he crooned into Erinís ear. Erin laughed suggestively deep in her throat and ran a hand over his erection, obvious through his trousers. "It looks like you had some designs on this evening, too."
"Well, Iím always up for a new experience," Erin whispered into his hair as he kissed and nibbled her neck and throat. "Can we actually make love in here without getting too rumpled for dinner?"
"No, but there is some very enjoyable foreplay we could engage in before dinner." Robert picked up a small zippered bag from the floor that Erin had missed seeing. He opened it and pulled out several packages of moist towelettes and a vibrator. He smiled and felt thrills of desire run through him as Erinís eyes got wide and she broke into a wide grin.
"WellÖumÖinteresting," she said and leaned forward to trace his erection again through his trousers. Tell me what I can do for you," she said in a voice husky with desire. Robert reached out with one hand and caressed the outline of her lips with his fingers.
"Your beautiful mouth, darling, I want to sheath myself between your lips." He opened his trousers and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal the skin of his stomach and chest. Robert pulled his fully erect penis from under the waistband of his boxers and stroked it suggestively, leering slightly at Erin. She laughed at his expression and leaned forward to take him into her mouth. He shivered at the touch of her warm lips and her tongue, which circled the head of his cock several times before she let him penetrate further into her mouth. Robert groaned and shifted with the intense contact and caressed her hair. She began to move her head up and down over his groin. Robert leaned back against the seat and luxuriated in the absolute pleasure she was giving him. Moments later he pulled his cock from her mouth and together they watched the cum shoot over his stomach as he massaged himself through the last few seconds of his ejaculation. Robert caught her chin and pulled Erin to meet his lips.
"Erin, I love you," Robert whispered, his voice harsh with passion, as he broke the kiss. "Now, lean back, relax, and let me take care of you." Robert cleaned the stickiness from his stomach before lifting Erinís dress to reveal her slender thighs and the dark genital folds. He stroked her pubic hair and the bare skin above her stockings, glorying in her beauty and her desire to share herself with him. Her passionate response to his touch excited him beyond description. He wanted to drive her to new heights of excitement and pleasure. Erin parted her legs and Robert dipped his finger inside her already wet vagina. Erin moaned softly and curved her back into the seat to reveal more of her cunt. Robert watched her face as he took the vibrator and fitted on its rubber sheath. Her eyes were wide and she had kind of a silly grin on her face. He placed the vibrator between her legs as he turned it on and gently drew it across her thighs. He saw Erin close her eyes and give herself over to the sensual pleasure. He worked the vibrator slowly toward her groin so that she was thrusting her pelvis toward his hand, wanting to feel it in her wet cunt. He traced the outline of her pubic hair with the vibrator before placing it gently between her labia. Erin writhed breathlessly and begged him to put it inside her. Robert slowly pushed it into her vagina, while Erin moaned and twisted in desperate passion. He maneuvered it slowly in and out of her vagina and then across her clitoris several times, drawing extended gasps of pleasure. Erinís face flushed with excitement as he slowly let the vibrator wander across and through her pussy.
"Geez, Robert! Oh, thatís incredible!" Erinís voice was low and choked with passion. She closed her eyes and felt the electrifying tingles rush through her nerves all over her body. Robert resumed the rhythmic insertion of the vibrator into her vagina. He watched Erinís muscles tense and tremble as he pushed the instrument in and out of her body. Erinís hands wandered over her thighs and stomach, her excitement increasing at every second. He saw her body tense and quiver as she took a deep breath and tipped her head back. The orgasm hit her hard and she clutched frantically at her thighs and buttocks as wave after wave of it rushed through, keeping her trembling and breathless until Robert pulled the instrument from her. He gently cleaned her with the towelettes as she struggled to catch her breath.
"My God, Robert. That was totally beyond anything I could have imagined! There was nothing I could do! Iíve never been so out of control in my life! Has that ever happened to you?" She leaned forward to hug him tightly to her. His trousers were still unfastened and she caressed his partially erect penis through the folds of cloth.
"Iíve been that way once, with you, darling. Youíve shaken the very foundations of my soul. I wanted to give you the same feeling back." He kissed her softly and held her hand still where she had reached to stroke the length of his cock. "And think, it can only get better!" They laughed together and held each other closely. "But now, itís time to get straightened up for dinner. We should be arriving soon." Robert captured her lips with his and grasped her neck with both hands, his thumbs caressing her throat. They broke their kiss after a moment and hurriedly straightened their clothing in preparation for their arrival at the restaurant. Robertís eyes were drawn to Erinís lap, thinking about her bare cunt and butt covered only by that single layer of her dress.
Dinner was wonderful. Robert watched the sparkle in Erinís eyes through their light conversation and drinks before dinner. She was thoroughly enjoying herself. He wondered how much of her mood was generated by the thought of wearing nothing under the evening gown. It had definitely lifted his mood, and his cock, too. He was hard even now, enjoying her repartee to his different subjects of conversation, but thinking in the back of his mind how he desperately wanted to get her back into the limo and sink his cock to the hilt in her hot cunt. Electrifying tingles of desire ran through his entire body. As they were seated side by side at the table, he could caress her leg through the slit in the dress, but of course, was unable to do much of anything else. Besides, they didnít want to shock the rest of the restaurantís patrons. But her light caresses on his erection as her hand lay in his lap were driving him to distraction.
They didnít linger long after desert and aperitifs. Erin sensed Robertís impatience to leave; it matched her own. As they stood outside waiting for the limo to pull along side the curb, Robert put his hand on her waist and pulled her closely to him. He had to firmly remind himself not to slide his hand down her hip to caress her buttock. It had become such a delightful habit. Erin looked into his eyes and smiled, her face lit with joy, seeing nothing but contentment and desire in his face. This is true happiness, Robert thought to himself. She is the other half of my soul. Iím going to ask her to marry me. He hugged her closer as the limo pulled up to the curb. Robert opened the door for Erin before the driver could come around and they slipped quickly inside. Robert instructed the driver to take them straight home. It would take about fifteen minutes, he thought to himself, since they were still in Manhattan. Inside the limo, Erin snuggled under Robertís arm and with a mischievous look on her face, stroked and caressed his erection through his trouser during the ride home, despite his insistent demands that she stop. Robert could hardly sit still during the last few minutes and was just a little bit short with the driver as he handed him the envelope containing the money for his services. He hurried up the stairs after Erin as the limo left. Erin was waiting for him at the door to the apartment. She gasped with surprise when Robert pulled her roughly into his arms and kissed her deeply, thrusting his tongue into her mouth and hugging her tightly. As they both ran out of air, they broke their kiss and Robert started tickling Erin with the hand that had circled around her back and grasped her ribs. She squirmed and giggled as Robert spoke.
"You snipe, teasing me unmercifully! What should I do to you?"
"Make wild, passionate love to me with that impressive weapon you have hidden beneath your jacket," Erin husked into his ear, with one hand behind his head and fingertips of the other teasing his erection through his trousers. Robert fumbled with the keys at her touch and they fell through the door into the apartment, laughing and trying to keep their balance. Robert guided Erin to recline on the couch and immediately lifted her dress to plunge his face between her legs. His tongue parted her labia and thrust into her vagina. Erin moaned his name and caressed his soft hair. He brought her quickly to orgasm, her hips undulating against him, her body tensing and quivering. Robert wiped his damp face on her thighs and stood to unfasten his trousers. His aching erection jutted out as he loosened his clothing. He positioned himself between her legs and thrust his cock deeply into her cunt, eliciting sighs of pleasure from her. Robert took her hard, his excitement and passion driving him to fuck her faster and harder. Erin whispered his name over and over as he pounded against her, seeking the climax that would spurt his seed deeply inside her. He came with a gasp, slowing his thrusts and moaning her name. Erin cradled his head against her chest as he caught his breath and relaxed his body on top of her.
"You are so incredibly exciting!" She kissed him gently on his hair as his head rested on her chest. "My dearest lover and most precious friend. Darling, I donít know what I would do without you!"
Robert felt his heart melt with joy as she said all the wonderful things he had wanted to hear from a woman for so long. Sheís the one, he thought, sheís the one I have searched for all my life. He raised his head and looked deeply into her eyes.
"Erin, this is not the traditional way of asking by a long shot, butÖwould you marry me?" Erinís mouth opened in surprise and she found she couldnít breathe for a moment. Tears sprang to her eyes and she pulled his head to her chest again in a tight embrace.
"Oh, Robert, of course Iíll marry you! I had never dreamed you would ask me such a thing. You make me so happy!" She loosened her embrace and pulled his face to hers and covered it with kisses. Robert laughed at her impetuous affection and sat up to hold her tightly.
"Weíre going to be very happy as man and wife, darling, I know we are." He squeezed her until she squeaked in protest and they snuggled happily together. Suddenly the phone rang. Robert stood to answer it and Erin giggled at the sight of him with his trousers around his ankles. Robert glanced back at her with a goofy grin, realizing the picture he presented to her and quickly restored his pants to their proper position. He reached the phone before the answering machine picked up.
"Robert, this is Control. I have to speak with Erin first thing in the morning. She will have to leave by noon. Will you bring her in by eight?"
Robertís shoulders drooped visibly at hearing Controlís voice and the news Erin would have to leave yet again. He took a deep breath before answering, and told Control not to worry; Erin would be there. Control wished him a good night and Robert hung up the phone. He stood for a moment with his back to Erin to collect his thoughts. Erin rose to put her hands on his shoulders and leaned silently against his back to listen to his heart race. She knew without asking what Robert had heard from Control. He turned to face her with the saddest expression on his face she had ever seen, but didnít say anything. Erin felt her own heart pounding loudly in her chest as she ran her hands down his arms to hold both his hands. She laid her head against his chest and his arms wrapped around her automatically.
"I can retire, Robert. Or at a minimum, I can stop being a field agent and have Control find me something else to do that will keep me closer to home and wonít be as dangerous. I know I can. Let me talk to Control."
Robert grasped her shoulders to pull her away from him and looked at her incredulously. "You would do that for me? Being a field agent has been your whole life up to now, hasnít it? You would really give that up for me?"
"Of course I would, Robert. Nothing compares to the love I have for you. Nothing. I promise Iíll talk to Control tomorrow."
Robert pulled her savagely against him and held her tightly. He buried his face in her hair as tears began to form in his eyes.
"I love you so much, darling, I love you," he whispered hoarsely into her hair. He swung her into his arms and carried her to the bedroom to lay her gently on the pillow.
They awoke early to prepare for Erinís departure. She pulled her gear from the room where Robert stored his weapons and went through everything to ensure its readiness. Robert paced silently through the apartment while she dressed for the mission. She probably would not have the opportunity to return before the time came to leave. The mission briefings usually took a couple of hours, and then Control would go over the other goals. There were always several other goals to be accomplished. Presently, Erin emerged from the hallway, carrying her gear bag. She placed it by the door and looked for Robert. He was staring dejectedly out the window in the den. Erin walked up behind him and massaged his shoulders. Robert took a deep breath and turned to her with a smile on his face. He took her gently into his arms and hugged her to his chest.
"Lord, Iím going to miss you," he said.
"It will always happen like this, you know, about the time weíre looking forward to something important, a mission will come up and Iíll have to leave. Thatís why Iím ready to get out of this. I canít live one day at a time anymore, either. I have too much to look forward to as your wife, lover, and companion." She had run her hand across his groin as she said the word lover. Robert jumped slightly at her unexpected caress and gave her a mischievous smile.
"Yes, lover, come back soon." He held her butt with both hands and gently pinched the cheeks. They laughed together, feeling better with this bit of shared intimacy.
Robert searched for something to occupy his time after dropping Erin off at Controlís office building. He thought about dropping in on Mickey and inviting him over for dinner that evening. Yes, that would be the best, he thought. Donít be alone on this first night. Mickey gladly accepted the offer for free food and pleasant company. They planned to watch soccer matches on television, a sport they both understood and enjoyed. Mickey arrived about six and they arranged the food and drinks on the table in the den in front of the television. About half way through the game, they heard a knock on the apartmentís front door. McCall opened the door to find Control standing there. His face was drawn tight as if in intense pain. McCall felt his heart clutch painfully as he tried to speak.
"Control, whatís happened?" Then, as his panic rose, he asked again, his hands gripping iron hard on Controlís arms. "Control, whatís happened?" He pulled Control into the living room.
"Robert, I had to tell you myself. I sent Erin ahead with the Stockís team. I had planned to join them tomorrow. The plane went down over the Atlantic in the open ocean. Itís fairly certain there are no survivors. We have search helicopters over the crash site now." Controlís voice broke into a sob. "Sheís gone, Robert, sheís gone."
Mickey had followed McCall to the door to hear the news and saw the manís knees begin to sag. He rushed to help Control support McCall. Robertís animal wail of grief chilled both menís souls.
"Oh, no! God, no!" McCall regained his balance and turned from his friends, staggering to the bedroom and closing the door. They heard his cry of grief again and pounding against the door. Control took a deep breath and looked penetratingly at Kostmayer before crossing the living room and opening the door to Robertís bedroom. They found him sitting on the bed, his head in his hands. Control stood awkwardly beside him.
"I can only begin to share your pain, old son. You know how much I loved her. I canít imagine the sorrow you feel. I can only know how badly I hurt with her gone." Control reached to put a hand on McCallís shoulder. McCall leaped to his feet and struck Control squarely in the jaw, staggering him. Mickey leapt forward to keep Control from falling.
"She was going to retire after this mission!" he cried, clenching and unclenching his fists. "We were going to get married! Itís your fault, you son of a bitch! Itís all your fault!" He drew his fist back for another blow. Mickey stepped between the two men and grasped Robert by the shoulders.
"McCall! McCall!" Mickey shook him by the shoulders until McCall looked away from Control. "Itís not his fault. Itís the risk we all take! You know that! It was either an accident or the plane was tampered with. Thereís nothing Control could have done to change that!" McCall sagged to the bed again.
"Go, go away, both of you!" Then again, more softly, "Go ahead. Iíll be okay. I need time to myself right now. Iím sorry. I just need to be alone." Kostmayer and Control each placed a hand on his shoulder before turning away and silently leaving the bedroom. Outside, Mickey turned to Control and spoke.
"Do you really think heíll be okay?" They heard McCall weeping; the deep sobs wracking his body. Mickeyís throat tightened in sympathy.
"I donít know, Mickey. I donít know. We probably should wait a while to see if he calms down."
"Right, Iíll clean up this mess and maybe by then, heíll be better." Mickey started picking up the dishes and carrying them to the kitchen. He covered the food and put it in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, Control poured himself and Mickey a drink and stood in the den with the glass in his hand, brooding, and staring sightlessly out the window. I know how Robert feels, he thought to himself. I have serious doubts about how Iím going to get through the next few days. She was such a breath of fresh air in my life, even though she wasnít mine. Life from here on out will be very bleak.
Mickey returned to the den and picked up the drink Control had poured for him. He had been shocked to hear Controlís confession of love for Erin. Well, why not though, he asked himself. Control is human, too. I guess if there were anyone who would have been perfect for Control, it would have been Erin. Iím going to miss her, too, he thought sadly as he stood looking at Controlís back. They heard a noise behind them and Mickey saw Control turn to see what was happening. My God, Mickey thought as he caught a glance of Controlís face, he looks like heís aged twenty years. Mickey turned to find McCall slowly walking toward them, his face red and his eyes swollen.
"Look, Control, Iím sorry. I know it wasnít your fault." McCall sagged into a chair and leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling.
"Robert, are you going to be alright?" Control asked as he came over to sit on the nearby couch. Mickey hovered closely behind him. McCall wearily nodded his head.
"I-I just do not know what Iíve done to make God punish me so severely. He must have taken her from me because of something Iíve done." He paused and ran a hand over his face. "What happens to us, Control, when we die? Iíve believed in God all my life; despite the evil things Iíve had to do in the perhaps misguided belief in the good that would be achieved in the end. Does God understand these things, or are we mindless puppets to him?"
"I donít know, old son. I canít answer that. I can only believe that a righteous man will be rewarded in the end. And I canít believe that every tragedy in our lives is punishment for something weíve done." Control poured Robert a drink and handed it to him. Robert received it gratefully and took a large swallow.
"Mickey, what do you think?" McCall asked hoarsely.
"I leave all that deep stuff to my brother," Mickey said quietly. "He instructs me on how I should regard God in light of my career." He sat down on the other end of the couch with Control and took a long swallow of his whiskey. The three men sat reflecting silently until Mickey rose to refill the glasses and place the decanter of scotch on the table in front of them. He watched McCallís hands clench into fists again and again as he tried to control his emotions. It was going to be a long night.
Two weeks later, Kostmayer knocked on McCallís apartment door. Robert admitted him with a wistful smile.
"Itís good to see you, Mickey. Please, come in." Mickey appraised McCall quickly. Robert had lost weight and his face carried new lines. But at least there was a glimmer of life again in his eyes. It looked like McCall was going to be able to get through this.
"How was the mission to Saudi Arabia?" McCall asked as they wandered to the living room to sit down.
"Piece of cake," Mickey replied with a smirk. "We were in and out of there in thirty-six hours. These terrorists should just learn their lesson. The U.S. isnít going to put up with them any more." Mickeyís expression sobered as they sat down. "How are you?"
"Oh, I guess Iíll make it, Mickey. Donít worry. Iíve gone through the whole gamut of emotions in this whole thing. Believe me, Iím not self-destructive. Iím just not ready to start over again. Erinís death left a huge hole in my heart. Itís going to take a long time for that to heal. But it will."
"I was worried about you," Mickey said quietly, looking at McCall out of the corner of his eyes. "I would have been here again sooner, if Control hadnít tagged me for this mission. I know you would have been there for me if it was the other way around."
"Youíre a good friend, Mickey. Thank you. Come on; letís see whatís on the television. Maybe you can finally explain this game of football to me." McCall threw his arm around Mickeyís shoulder with a smile and led him to the den. Once, when Mickey excused himself to use the bathroom, he looked in through the open door of McCallís bedroom. He saw Erinís favorite blanket folded and laying on the pillow.
How sheíd had time to do it, he didnít know, but he had found in her will that she had left her entire estate to him. Robert had thought his own earnings and investments were impressive, but they were nothing like hers. Maybe it was because she didnít need much to live on for years and years, unlike me he mused, who attempted to raise a family and later had to finance a bitter divorce. He boxed up Erinís belongings to put in storage, except for her blanket. Somehow, he couldnít put that away yet. She didnít have much to put away, other than a few items of clothing. Her years in Southeast Asia had cultivated little desire for material needs. Robert had purchased a string of pearls for her as a Christmas present that contrasted beautifully against her tawny skin, but sheíd had little chance to wear them. Robert laid them carefully into the box. Her Christmas gift to him was a collection of pewter Civil War figurines, but he packed these into the box, as well. Too many happy memories too soon. Maybe after a while he could remember her without breaking down and truly appreciate the happiness theyíd had together without sorrow. He had taken the Equalizer ad from the paper the day after she died, knowing he could not open his heart to anyone elseís troubles until he had his grief under control.
Nighttime was still difficult. Erotic dreams of Erin plagued him continually. He went to sleep with images of her lithe naked body bouncing on the bed as she had teased and laughed with him. He had loved to watch her small breasts sway to her movement. His hands yearned to hold her, caress her breasts and stroke the strong, taut butt cheeks. In his dreams, her kisses were hot against his lips and her hands traced wildly exciting patterns on his body. She whispered passionate endearments in his ear and against his skin. But the moment he was ready to take her, to plunge his hard aching cock into the moist, hot recesses of her body, she would disappear. He would awake sobbing, clutching her pillow and blanket to him, calling her name aloud.
McCall shook his head, clearing it for a moment, at least, and concentrated on the job at hand. He heard the front door open. Who could that be, McCall thought wildly, reaching for the pistol that was on his dressing table. Only Scott had a key and he was in Europe. McCall edged his way out of the bedroom door and into the living room.
"Scott, what are you doing here?" McCall asked incredulously.
"Control got in touch with me," Scott answered as he searched his fatherís tired eyes. "He told me about Erin and suggested that I come for a visit. Is it okay?"
"Oh, Scott, youíre welcome at any time, you should know that. And yes, I am glad for the company. Control told you correctly, Erinís loss has had a great effect on me. And as I can, I will tell you about her. Itís probably a good part of the healing process. Yes, Iím glad youíre here."
Scott felt the utter sadness radiating from his father and put his arm around McCallís shoulders. McCall smiled at him and they walked to the den together.