Mary wore purple to the upper room, purple dress, short and slit on the bottom, low-cut and revealing on the top. She wore lacy underwear, see-through, and a matching bra. Over that, she wore the matching garter belt and stockings designed for and sold with the outfit. To complete the look, she wore high heels, also purple, and open-toe mules even though it was winter. She carried the shoes and wore winter boots for the street.

Bill did not see what she actually looked like until they got there because it was dark when he picked her up. She was watching from her doorway and ran quickly to the car bundled in her coat and a wool hat that covered her ears. The car was dark inside so best he could do was smell her, sweet lilacs, and taste her when his lips clung to her lipstick on the hello kiss.

“I got everything we need,” she said as he drove.”Towels and sheets and a good electric blanket. And of course the bourbon.”

“I got plenty of weed and Quaaludes,” Bill said, “and uppers for the morning. I could use a shower to wash off the funk.”

“So take a shower while I fix the bed.”

“I’m glad you came. I didn’t think you were going to.”

“I wasn’t gonna. But damn if I’d waste the opportunity. I want me some good loving.”

“You got to tell me exactly what you want.”

“Why? You know what I want. You know what I like.”

“I want you to tell me. I want you to direct me, step by step.”

Mary looked at Bill as he drove. She was quiet now, maybe sulking, Bill thought. But then he thought maybe she was thinking about what to tell him to do. That thought in mind, he started thinking about what he would tell her to do. It wasn’t a bad thought. Then he thought about yesterday when he’d returned to work from having taken the split shift.

They’d had a terrible quarrel. Mary was totally pissed that he’d gone with Lorraine. She’d watched him from the back door, steaming.

“The hell with you,” she’d said first thing when he came into the kitchen, even before he’d tied his apron.

“What’s up?” he’d asked.

“You know what’s up, you sleaze.”

“Actually I don’t.”

“The hell with you.” She’d stared him down. “I ought to slap the shit out of you.”

“Don’t know what I did, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.”

“What you mean you don’t know?”

Bill had started putting the baked potatoes into a steam table pan. “Her kids are home on school break.”

“What you saying?”

“I’m saying I took a nap on her sofa. She slept in her bed. Her kids did what they did in their rooms. Then I got up and came back here.”

Mary did not apologize but she’d turned softer when Bill told her he was taking her to The Upper Room. She’d even given him a goodbye kiss when she left for the day.

Now she sat quietly. Bill could not imagine what was going through her mind, but he reached for her hand and held it in his, stroked her skin with his thumb. The Upper Room was not too far from her house and they were almost there.

Mary turned to look out the window, then looked back at him. “Whatever I tell you to do you’ll do?” she asked.

“Whatever,” Bill said.

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