Arrested For Promoting Great Sex!

Dominating beauty in handcuffs


They call my house the “Playgirl Mansion”

Here’s how to start a commotion:

Take a group of women, invite them into your living room, and introduce them to the latest products for enhancing their love lives.

On that cool, rainy night, that was exactly what I was doing. Timed to coincide with Monday night football, my Whoopieware party had the house rocking.

“Herb said if I don’t stop buying this stuff, I’m going to kill him,” Nadine Richards, one of my older guests, remarked. “I said, ‘Honey, at least you’ll die happy.’ ”

The younger women shrieked with laughter. She touched her silver bouffant and smiled coyly. “If you want to know the truth, I’m having the time of my life.”

The group applauded and cheered.

Friends having a drink together Katie Randall, a young mother, added: “After the twins were born, I sort of lost interest. I think Clark gave up on me. Then, one day, I found him talking to a cute secretary in his office. I knew then that I had to get my act together. You know that passion fruit body cream that I got last time? Let’s just say he ate it up.”

There was another round of applause, interspersed with a few hoots. Katie blushed demurely.

Twenty women had showed up that night and if their laughter was any measure, they were having a great time.

With this being a fairly small town, I knew many of them. Some were regular attendees, but some of them were new, representing a growing following.

Although I’d hosted more than a dozen Whoopieware parties, I never stopped having fun at them. It was a place where women could get together, share some of their most intimate thoughts, and have a good time. Sure, a few were embarrassed or just curious, but most came back for more.

“What surprises have you got for us tonight, Sherry?” one of my regulars asked.

“New toys and teddies,” I said. “And later, with refreshments, a video entitled Playtime.”

While my guests twittered, I opened my “toy box.” Inside were several new plastic gadgets designed to enhance both male and female response. As I passed them around I brought out edible creams—one in a new cappuccino flavor—and a chocolate thong.

sex toysThere was a teddy made of the sheerest black fabric and a lace-up bustier. There were also scented candles and aromatherapy oils and bubble bath gels. I topped off my demonstration with a board game in which a roll of the dice determined what one partner would be required to do to the other. The object was to teach people new and enjoyable sexual techniques.

“I’ll take all of them,” Nadine said. “That is, assuming the teddy comes in plus sizes.”

“It does,” I replied.

A regular prodded a newcomer to try a sex toy. A timid-looking, middle-aged woman studied a candle.

“Surround your bathtub with lit candles while you and your partner indulge in some aromatherapy in the tub,” I suggested.

The suggestion brought an embarrassed smile to her lips. “I hope to goodness my mother-in-law never finds out where I am tonight. She thinks these parties are just so disgraceful.”

The chatter in the room stopped.

“How so?” I asked.

“She thinks they’re vulgar and immoral, and that somebody needs to put a stop to them.”

My stomach clutched. From the group came a collective groan. Her mother-in-law was Bertha Cochran, a banker’s widow and well-known member of the community.

“But she has never been to one of my parties,” I pointed out.

“Of course not. She’s only heard about them. If she had any idea I was thinking about loosening up her little boy, she’d have me arrested. She’s probably the reason why Hank is so repressed. How we managed to have two kids is nothing short of a miracle.”

She stood up. “I don’t know all of you, but please don’t tell anyone I was here. I even came on foot. Please don’t breathe a word about anything. I shouldn’t have said all those things, but they kind of slipped out. But I just felt I was with people who would understand.”

“Of course we do,” I said. “We’re all friends here. And friends don’t snitch on each other.” Assurances from the others followed.

“I’ll take a few candles and some bubble bath,” she said shyly.

When the evening was over the unsatisfied wife had been sent on her way with a roomful of well wishes, and I’d netted more than five hundred dollars in orders. Not only had it been an enjoyable evening for me, but I’d given others a good time. In addition, I’d be contributing much needed money toward family expenses.

If anyone had told me that I’d be selling sex toys someday to help make ends meet, I wouldn’t have believed it. But when our second child was born prematurely with a host of problems, we went into a financial tailspin.

Davey, who had severe asthma and other lung problems, needed my full-time care. In addition, I had to look after my older son, Jacob. That meant that whatever I did to earn extra money had to be something I could do from home.

I could have sold cosmetics, but I had a special interest in Whoopieware, because similar therapy had helped my husband, Wes, and me transform our sex lives.

The first five years of our marriage were childless. Doctors could find nothing wrong with either of us and said that we simply needed to “relax”. Making matters worse was that the whole ordeal was affecting Wes’ performance.

At one point, he even suggested that maybe I should marry someone else. But that was out of the question; I loved him too much. When I confided my problems to a friend, she handed me a book about sex play, which included descriptions of various sex aids. Before long, we were like new lovers again. The real proof of success came seven years ago, with our first child.

After our second child was born two years ago, I learned about a new company, Whoopieware, in which products are introduced to women at gatherings in private homes. Seeing it as just the extra-income opportunity I’d been seeking, I hosted my first party. Just a few adventurous friends came, but my clientele has since grown to several hundred women. I like to think I’m helping them have the time of their lives.

My business, which I advertised discreetly in my sister’s beauty shop, has been a source of amusement more than anything in our town of about thirty thousand. Of course, there had been a few negative comments. But until tonight, I hadn’t heard of anyone who wanted the parties shut down.

After the party, as I was putting away the last of the folding chairs, the front door opened. It was Wes and the boys.

“Hey,” he greeted me, smiling. “How many ladies did you make happy tonight?”

I gave him a quick kiss and hugged the kids. “About twenty. We had a lot of fun. I’ll get about two hundred and fifty dollars. Not bad for one night’s work.”

“Some of the guys were teasing me during halftime. Max Thornberry said, ‘I bet there must be some good times at your house.’ I told him to send his wife over, but he claimed he was so great in bed that she didn’t need any of that. Can you imagine Max, who can’t see his feet for his pot belly, as some kind of Hugh Hefner?”

“It’s difficult,” I conceded.

“One guy asked me how things were going in the Playgirl Mansion!”

Exasperated, I shook my head. “Wes, I hope you don’t mind being ribbed. You’re not embarrassed by what I do, are you?”

“No, honey, and don’t you ever think that,” he said, taking me into his arms. “They’re teasing me because they’re jealous, and they have good reason to be. You know I’m your biggest supporter—and we both know why.”

“I don’t mind the teasing if you don’t. I’m used to it. It’s to be expected. But one of the ladies tonight said her mother-in-law said the parties ought to be shut down.”

He frowned. “She can think whatever she wants, but there’s nothing she can actually do.”

“I know. But it’s hard not to take something like that personally, like I’m some sort of a madam.”

“Why don’t you invite her to your next party?” His eyes twinkled with mischief.

“She’s a widow, Wes.”

“Okay. Make her a merry widow!”

I landed a playful punch on his muscled arm. “You’re crazy, but I love you anyway.”

“Mommy!” Jacob interrupted. “Can we play this?”

I turned to find him toting the sex game I’d accidentally left on the dining room table. On the lid of the container was a picture of a naked couple squirting each other with chocolate syrup.

I snatched it away from him. “No, honey.”

“Why not?” His large brown eyes were round and inquiring.

“Because it’s an adult game. It’s not for kids.” I groped for the right words. “It’s too complicated for kids.”

“But it doesn’t look hard,” Jacob countered. “It looks like paintball.”

“Games are like books,” Wes explained. “There are some you’re not ready for yet. They have too many words you haven’t learned yet.”

“Oh,” Jacob said.

I turned to Wes with a feeling of relief. “While I finish putting things away, why don’t you start getting the boys ready for bed?”


As they disappeared into the hallway, I stuck the game in my “toy box” and took a quick inventory to make sure no devices, which would really be hard to explain to a seven-year-old, hadn’t accidentally been left lying around. The “toy box,” in turn, was placed on a top shelf in our bedroom closet.

The explanation I’d given Jacob for my monthly parties was appropriately vague. I called them “tea parties” for a group of friends. I wasn’t deceiving him; I was protecting him. He simply wasn’t ready for that type of information.

With Davey, the issue was still irrelevant. He was barely two. But the situation that night reminded me that it was something I’d eventually have to deal with. I wasn’t ashamed of my business, but I didn’t want my children to be embarrassed by it. I wanted to raise them to be informed, open-minded, and comfortable with sexual issues.

But in the meantime, I wanted to keep my children’s world separate from the adult world just as long as possible.

A few days later I stopped at my sister’s beauty shop for an overdue haircut.

“Heard you had a great party the other night,” Kim said, combing out my wet hair. “Renee Winchester was in the other day. She said she bought one of those board games.”

I giggled. “Is there anything you don’t hear?”

She began sectioning off my hair. “Not much. Erin Mabry is expecting twins.”

“Another satisfied Whoopieware customer,” I joked.

salon “Now if I could just manage to get the attention of that new junior high football coach,” she said wistfully. Kim was twenty-eight and an attractive brunette, but she’d yet to meet the right man.

“Let me know if you do,” I said. “I’ve got some things that will run up his score.”

She laughed. “You always were the adventurous one, Sherry!”

I glanced at a display shelf where I’d placed a small plastic case for Whoopieware brochures. There was only one left. “I’ll bring some more brochures tomorrow.”

“They go fast. Some just read them, giggle, and put them back. I saw one lady slip one into her coat pocket when she didn’t think I was looking.”

Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of a bell, signaling that someone had just walked in. I glanced in the mirror to see a couple who appeared to be in their thirties. I didn’t recognize them. Kim’s partner was busy at the shampoo sink, so Kim stepped over to greet them.

“Hi. Can I help you?” she asked.

The couple looked at each other and laughed nervously. “Do you sell Whoopieware here?” the man asked.

“No, but the lady you’re looking for is sitting right here,” she said, motioning toward me.

I swiveled around in my chair to face them. I was suddenly self-conscious. Half my dark hair hung down while the other half was clipped in tufts.

“I’m Sherry, the local representative,” I said. “Please excuse my appearance.”

“She’s under construction,” Kim joked.

“We’re the Browns,” the man said. “We’d like to look over your product catalogue. We’re interested in buying some things.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t sell things at the beauty shop. They’re sold at parties. I’ll be hosting another one next month. They’re for women only. Not even my husband attends. Mrs. Brown, you’re welcome to come.”

“Thank you, but we were hoping to pick up some things sooner,” she said. “You see, we’re going on a trip soon. It’s for our tenth anniversary and we really wanted to make it special. Isn’t there any way you could make a special order? It would mean so much to us.”

I sighed. How could I say no to a couple eager to celebrate such an important milestone? Wasn’t the whole object of my business to help keep couples together?

“I think I can make an exception under the circumstances,” I said. “But I may have to do a rush order, and that costs a little extra.”

Mrs. Brown’s face brightened. “We don’t mind, do we, honey?”

“No,” her husband said.

“If you’ll give me your address, I’ll put a catalogue in the mail today.”

“Um, could we just come by and pick one up?” she asked

“Sure, if you’d prefer.” I grabbed my purse and handed them my card. “My husband is at home now. I can give him a call and have him hand you one.”

“That would be great. Thank you so much. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible with an order.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, pleased.

“That took some nerve,” Kim said after the couple left. “I don’t think I could announce publicly that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some sex toys.”

Sandra Meyers, who was getting her roots touched up by Kim’s partner, laughed. “Who were they, anyway? I’ve never seen them before.”

“Neither have I,” said Holly, the other stylist. “They must be new. Maybe they’re connected to the new window factory.

I shrugged. “Obviously they found out about Whoopieware somehow. They could be somebody’s out-of-town relatives, but it seems they would have mentioned that. Oh, well—I’ll find out when I place the order.”

Quickly, I called Wes and asked him to slip a catalogue into a brown envelope.

Other than being glad over the prospect of making a few extra dollars, I didn’t give it much more thought as Kim cut the other half of my hair.

When I got home about an hour later, the couple had already picked up the catalogue. I also learned they’d come by the house earlier and that Wes had told them where I was.

“Did they say anything?” I asked.

“They just thanked me.”

I sighed. Whoever they were, I was hoping they would find plenty of things of interest.

As it turned out, they did. Just after lunch, they called with an order for several sex toys, a vibrating device, edible body cream, and Whoopieware’s skimpiest teddy. After thanking them, I asked if they were new in town.

“Well, uh . . . sort of,” Mrs. Brown said. She didn’t volunteer any additional information.

Not wanting to pry, I told her that I’d give her a call when the order arrived.

Four days later, the package came. That evening she came by herself to pick it up. She paid for the items in cash, then asked for a signed receipt, which I very gladly provided.

“I hope you enjoy your trip,” I said. “I have a feeling that you will.”

She gave an embarrassed laugh, thanked me, then hurried out the door.

“Who was that, Mommy?” Jacob asked.

“Her name is Mrs. Brown.”

“What was in that box?”

“Just some household items.”

“What for?”

“Just to keep around the house. Now, don’t you have a spelling test tomorrow?”

“I’ve already studied.”

“Let’s see how well you know your words,” I said, hustling him off to the den.

I thought of what I’d just told him and bit my bottom lip. I didn’t lie to him, but how much longer would it be before I ran out of creative answers for his questions?

One weekday morning, several weeks later, I was getting ready for another Whoopieware party when the phone rang.

“Mrs. Sherry White?” the male caller asked.


“This is Sergeant Franklin with the police department. I’m calling to notify you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.”

My mind went blank with confusion. “There must be some kind of mistake. You must have called the wrong White—”

“No, ma’am, I’m afraid not. You’re being changed with selling obscene objects. That’s a violation of state law.”

I turned cold. “How could that be? These are romance products. They’re not obscene objects.”

“According to the laws of our state, an obscene device is a simulated sexual organ, or an item designed for the purposes of sexual stimulation. The products you sold our undercover agents fit that description.”

My breath caught. “You mean that couple who came to my house . . . ”

“I’m afraid so.”

I crumpled. “I can’t believe this! These products are sold in adult stores. I’ve never hear about raids on them. What’s going on here?”

“I’ll explain when you come to the station.”

“Come to the station?” I repeated numbly.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve giving you a chance to come down voluntarily. If you don’t, we’ll have to come and bring you downtown.”

My breakfast started to churn inside me as I envisioned myself handcuffed and being put into the backseat of a squad car.

“Who’s behind this?” I asked.

“We got a complaint. That’s all I can say.”

“Can’t this be settled in some other way? I’m not a criminal. I’m a wife and mother who is just trying to make a little extra money.”

“I’m sorry, but a warrant has been issued by a judge. It’s my job to serve it.”

“How long have I got to come down?”

“Twenty-four hours.”

I hung up with a shuddering sigh. The mother-in-law of one of my party guests—had she done this to me? What was I going to tell my husband? What was I going to tell the boys?

After taking a few moments to get myself together, I called Wes.

“I’ll be right home.” His voice was tight with anger.

About twenty minutes later he came through the door, not bothering to take off his coat. His face was flushed as he gathered me into his arms.

“This is ridiculous,” he said. “I’ll call the police chief.”

But the call was in vain. The chief said he sympathized, but it was their responsibility to enforce the law, no matter how quirky and out-of-date it was. A complaint had been filed and they had to act on it. Like the other officer, he refused to reveal who the complainant was.

“I’m sorry,” Wes said after hanging up. “Other than getting a lawyer, I don’t know what else to do.”

“You know we can’t afford to hire a lawyer.”

“We can’t afford not to.”

“I’m so sorry, Wes, but I’m doing nothing wrong.”

“I know you’re not. I’m behind you all the way.”

The following day Wes went with me to the police station, where we met the officer who’d called me. A thin, weathered man with graying hair, Sergeant Franklin photographed and fingerprinted me, adding to my humiliation. I wanted to lash out, but I knew I would only be hurting myself.

I learned that I was being charged with selling “obscene” devices. It was a misdemeanor, but that was no consolation. I could still face up to a year in jail and a four thousand-dollar fine. I would be notified when to appear before the judge.

On the way home I was in tears. “I want to know who did this to me.”

“We’ll get a lawyer,” Wes said, squeezing my hand. “We’ll get this sorted out.”

I wanted so much to believe that, but I could tell by the slight wobble in his voice that he was just as worried as I was.

That evening I was forced to try to explain things to Jacob. I knew word would soon get out and I wanted him to hear it first from me. Struggling to stay calm, I pulled him on my lap as Wes sat next to us.

“Jacob, do you remember the game you wanted to play and I said it was a grownup game?”


“Well . . . at my parties I sell things that are for grownups only. There are some people who think I shouldn’t sell those things. They want the police to stop me. Today I had to go talk to the police about it. Now I have to talk to a judge about it, and explain why I think I did nothing wrong.”

“But why would someone want to stop you from playing games?”

“Because they don’t like the games.”


“Because they think they are bad games.”

Why?” he asked, looking pretty bewildered.

“Because they are about lovemaking—kissing and things like that. But your father and I and our friends all disagree with that. We think it’s good that couples who love each other kiss and hug and play games together.”

I explained that he might hear remarks being made, but not to worry, that I believed I had done nothing wrong and that a lot of people stood behind me.

I gave him a hug and silently prayed that he wouldn’t be hurt by my circumstances. But a few minutes later, when a newspaper reporter called, I realized the situation could be even more trying than I’d anticipated.

The following day the newspaper story came out, reporting that I’d been arrested for selling “erotic devices.” I was quoted saying that I believed I’d done nothing wrong in trying to help couples improve their relationships. Immediately, the phone started ringing. Most were calls from my clients.

“Honey, if there’s anything I can do—baby-sit, house-sit—I’ll do it.” It was Nadine.

Several offered to make contributions toward my defense and testify in my behalf. If there was any upside to this awful fiasco, it was this outpouring of support from my friends. It brought me to tears.

But there were heckling calls, as well. “Smut-peddler,” one woman snapped and hung up. “If you don’t pay for this now, you will in the afterlife,” an old man railed. After someone called with a suggestive remark, I unplugged the phone.

Later that day, there was some good news: A lawyer friend had agreed to take my case, and Whoopieware, which had never had a consultant charged with obscenity before, decided to pay my legal expenses.

“I just don’t understand how this could happen,” I told Gary Bartley, my attorney. “Why aren’t people running adult stores arrested? They sell similar products.”

“It’s because they call them ‘novelties’,” he said. “Under our state law it’s okay to sell or promote them as novelties, but not as sex aids.”

My head spun. “But no matter what you call them, they’re used for the same thing.”

“You’re right. That’s what makes the law contradictory. Under the law, owning the items is legal, but selling or promoting them as anything other than a ‘novelty’ is not.”

“How am I going to get out of this then? I can’t go to jail. I have two children.”

“I think the best approach is to challenge the law. If it’s legal to own these products, then why is it illegal to sell them? You can lie about the products and sell them and you’re within the law. But if you tell the truth and sell them, you’re breaking the law. The law is flawed.”

I agreed that something needed to be done. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had.

“It will take a while and legal cases are always stressful,” he warned. “The question is, are you up to it? You can plead guilty to violating the state’s obscenity law, get it over with and go on with your life, or you can fight it.”

“I want to fight it,” I said without hesitation.

The consultation with my attorney had given me new strength. But that began to waver the following day when I picked Jacob up from school. I could tell from his troubled expression that something was wrong.

“Mom, Danny Ketchum said you got arrested for selling dirty pictures. Is that true?”

My stomach tightened. I’d expected Jacob to take some flak for this, but judging from the hurt and bewildered look on his face, there was no way I could have completely prepared him for it. Seeing him hurt made me hurt.

“Yes, I got arrested . . . but it wasn’t for dirty pictures.”

“Then what was it?”

“It was for games and toys for—for adults. Some people think that’s bad, but most people don’t. It’s one of those few people who reported me to the police.”

“Who reported you?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Are you going to have to go to jail?” There was a hint of fear in his voice. “Danny said you were.”

“No, I don’t think so.” I reached over and squeezed his hand. “My lawyer is working hard to prove I did nothing wrong. I would never knowingly do anything that would take me away from you, Davey, and Daddy.”

“Some of the other kids were looking at me and laughing.”

His words drove the ache deeper into my heart. “I’m so sorry, honey, but none of this is your fault. Remember that I love you. If anyone bothers you again, tell them this is all a big mistake, and it’s going to get straightened out.”

He was quiet for the rest of the ride home, but I could tell he was still concerned and confused. No matter how hard I tried to explain things, I could only go so far. At seven, he simply wasn’t ready for much more.

For Jacob’s sake I tried to be cheerful that evening. I made him his favorite dish—macaroni and cheese—and spent extra time playing with him and Davey.

But all the while I silently fumed. Whoever had done this to me had hurt my child. That was what bothered me most of all.

“I’m going to find out who reported me,” I told Wes after putting the boys to bed. “I want him or her to realize what they’ve done.”

“Do you think it would make any difference?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but maybe it will make me feel better.”

He put his arm around me. “Don’t worry about it. I doubt if it’s anyone we know. Let’s just focus on putting this behind us.”

“I hope I’m not causing too many problems for you.”

“A few people have brought it up, but it’s no big deal. Most people think the police ought to concentrate on more important things, like drunk driving. Don’t worry about me.”

I kissed him good night, but I had trouble sleeping. Despite his show of support I knew that this was an ordeal for him, too.

In the meantime, my curiosity about who had turned me in only grew, along with my indignation.

The next day I phoned Mrs. Cochran, whose daughter-in-law had reported that she disapproved of my parties. When I identified myself, there was a pause at the other end of the line.

“Under the circumstances, I know that my calling you may be a bit of a surprise . . . ”

“You’ve got nerve if you’re trying to sell me something,” she snapped.

“No, no. That’s not the way I operate, Mrs. Cochran. I called about something else. I know that there are a number of people in town who disapprove of what I do. . . . ”

“There certainly are,” she interjected then.

“Whoever reported me had that right. But I’d like to talk to that person, to better help them understand my situation.”

“Why are you calling me about this?” she demanded.

“Perhaps you know who did this,” I said delicately. “I would like to talk to them with the hope that they would withdraw their complaint. I can deal with this, but I hate to see my husband and child suffer.”

“You must think that I had something to do with this,” she retorted. “I did not. I don’t know where you would get such an idea.”

“Do you know who did? I’m asking for the sake of my family.”

“You should have thought of your family before you started having those disgraceful parties. A decent mother would not be peddling pornography. The whole thing is disgusting. And furthermore, even if I did know who reported you, I wouldn’t tell you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mrs. White, I have things to do.” The line went dead.

I stood by the phone, frozen with disbelief. I struggled to hold back tears. No one had ever maligned me as a mother before. It was the worst thing anyone could have said. Were other people thinking that, too?

Stunned, I picked Davey up off the floor and held him close, listening to his labored breathing. No one could love their children more than I did. I read to him a while, then got up with a new resolve. I was not going to let people shame me.

I continued to receive calls of support from my clients. That meant a lot to me. But one day I got some news that I hoped could help with my case. It came from Nadine.

“I found out who turned you in,” she said.

My blood surged. “Who?”

“Beverly Vickers.”

“I don’t know her.”

“She’s lived here only a few years. Don’t ask me how I found out. All I can say is that a friend found out from someone she knows. That person is a volunteer for an agency that helps the physically disabled. Beverly Vickers volunteers there, too.”

A new energy took hold of me. “Maybe I can talk to her, let her know that I’m not the bad person she thinks I am. Maybe she will reconsider.”

“Please don’t let her know how you found out,” Nadine said. “My friend would kill me. She’d never trust me again with any more gossip.”

“You have my word. Thank you so much, Nadine.”

“I don’t know if I’ve been any help, but you can give it a try.”

I thought about calling Mrs. Vickers, but in the end I decided to go to the rehabilitation thrift shop where she volunteered. I thought it would be my best chance of our meeting face to face. The following afternoon I strapped Davey into the backseat and drove to the center.

Pushing him in his stroller, I entered the thrift shop. There were several women behind the counter. My heartbeat quickened. “Is Beverly Vickers here?”

“I’m Beverly,” a middle-aged woman wearing glasses said.

“Could I talk to you privately for a few minutes?”

She looked baffled. “Why, I suppose so.”

She led me to a staff break room and closed the door.

“Mrs. Vickers,” I said, maintaining a friendly tone, “ I’m Sherry White.”

Her gaze turned hard and intense. For a moment she seemed to stunned to speak. “What do you want with me?” she asked finally.

“You know who I am, don’t you? I’m the local Whoopieware representative. There was a story about me in the paper.”


“I understand that you are the one who turned me in to the police.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Who said?”

“I couldn’t give you the information if I wanted to. The information came to me third-hand.”

She said nothing.

“Mrs. Vickers, you were well within your rights to go to the police. I didn’t come here to cause trouble or create a scene. I just thought if you could meet me, maybe you would see me in a different light. As you can see, I’m a wife and a mother who is trying to help others improve their relationships while earning a little extra money for my family. I’m not a porn peddler.”

“Well, that’s a matter of opinion,” she retorted.

I tried to explain how much fun the women had at the parties and how the products had even saved a marriage or two.

“I don’t know what respectable women would want with things like that,” she said disgustedly.

“They want closer and more meaningful relationships with their partners. Did you know that without some of these devices, some couples wouldn’t be able to have regular sex at all?”

“What do you mean?”

“One of the products I sell enables impotent and handicapped men to perform,” I explained. “You obviously have special feelings for the handicapped, or you wouldn’t be volunteering here. You certainly must feel that they should live life as fully as possible.”

She swallowed hard. “But other people have no need for such rubbish like that.”

“The people who need it would never call it ‘rubbish’. Please think about that, Mrs. Vickers. For some people, it’s a physical necessity. For others, it’s therapeutic. For many, it’s a novel and fun way to express love. Is there anything so wrong with that?”

“What do you want from me?” she asked.

“I’d like for you to consider withdrawing the complaint against me.”

“But you’re breaking the law,” she argued.

“The law is full of loopholes—it may even be unconstitutional. Sex shops sell the same products I do, and it’s legal for them because they call them ‘novelties’. You’re not just punishing me, Mrs. Vickers. You’re punishing my entire family. My seven-year-old is being teased at school over his mother’s business—one he’s not ready to understand yet. Please put yourself in my place.


“Your complaint won’t stop me from selling these products. From now on, they’ll be sold legally—as ‘novelties’. So nothing will be really gained by the charge that has been filed against me. I’m asking you to reconsider. I don’t want my family hurt anymore. And if you have any doubts about what I’ve said, please contact my lawyer.”

I gave her his card. She looked at it for a moment, but said nothing.

“Please think about it,” I repeated before leaving.

I’d all but concluded that my visit with Mrs. Vickers had been an act of futility when my lawyer called. He said that she had agreed to withdraw the complaint against me.

My spirits rose like a balloon. “That’s wonderful!”

“Don’t get too excited,” he said. “It’s not over yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“The authorities may want to go ahead and pursue it.”

“But I thought . . . ”

“I’m sorry, Sherry. It’s more complicated than that.”

I hung up, dispirited once again. Still, I was hopeful. But the following day, hope vanished.

“The district attorney is still going to prosecute,” my lawyer said. “Technically, you’ve broken the law, even though the law is flawed. He can’t ignore that.”

“Now what?”

“I’m going to file a motion to dismiss the case, because the law violates someone’s right to own a sexual device, which is not illegal. It’s only illegal to sell one, which makes no sense at all.”

In addition, he said he was also going to file a request for a restraining order that would bar my case from proceeding until a judge rules on whether our state’s obscenity law is constitutional.

In the meantime, I’ve pleaded innocent. The judge has approved a pre-trial hearing, but has not set a date. I am in legal limbo in a case that will take many months to resolve.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if this is worth what I’m putting my family through. I could have pleaded guilty and taken the slap on the wrist that my lawyer thinks I would have gotten and gone on with my life.

But there are bigger issues here. It has to do with the intrusion of my state’s government into the private lives of consenting adults. It has to do with trying to fix the flaw in an outdated law that says sex toys are obscene. It has to do with helping others.

My parties may seem silly, but they have changed the lives of many of my clients and their partners. They have helped couples stay together.

Most importantly, it has to do with standing up for what I think is right. I want to set a strong example for my children. It will be difficult to explain things to them until they’re older. But it would be even harder to explain why I wouldn’t fight for what I believed in.

Rock ‘n’ Romance

drummerFrom the June 2010 issue of True Love Magazine

I stared in horror at my friends’ gloating faces. “Did he just call my name?”

The man with the microphone waved a slip of paper in his hands. “Nicole Malone, we hear it’s your birthday? Come on up.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I grumbled.

Sarah shoved against me with her shoulder. “Go on. You gotta do it.”

“No, I don’t,” I hissed. It was bad enough my three closest girlfriends dragged me to karaoke on my thirtieth birthday, but to embarrass me by having me stand in front of a crowd of self-deluded crooners was beyond humiliating.

Michelle and Heather jumped from their barstools, each taking a hand and pulling me toward the stage.

“Ah, there’s the beautiful birthday girl. Come on, sweetheart. We don’t bite.” Given the karaoke master, or whatever his title was, wore a studded collar around his neck, I couldn’t take his word for it.

Accepting there was no way out of standing center stage while enduring an off-pitch rendition of the happy birthday song, I faked a gracious smile and walked to the front of the crowd.

Catcalls and whistles pierced the air in the packed bar.

I took my place next to the Pat Sajak of the karaoke world when suddenly a spotlight flipped on. Great. Now the whole room can see my red face.

“Woo hoo! Go Nikki!” Sarah was really going to get it when I returned to the table.

The announcer put his arm around my shoulders as if we were good buds. “Ladies and gentleman, it’s the lovely Nicole Malone.”

Crazy cheering broke out. You’d think I was a celebrity with their level of enthusiasm. And I had to admit that their energy was contagious. Just to be a good sport, I curtsied. So what if they sang happy birthday to me? I was a big girl, officially a real adult. No longer a twenty-something.

Wow. That was a depressing thought. Thirty years old in an uninspiring job and no relationship to speak of, unless you counted my live-in Scottie. And no, I didn’t have some hot-kilted guy waiting for me at home. My Scottie was a dark haired cutie who liked walks in the park and belly rubs.

The announcer handed me the microphone, and I stared at it as if he’d handed me a snake. Did they expect a speech? “Um, thank you?”

“Material Girl!” someone in the back shouted out.

“Love Shack!”


What is wrong with these people?

The announcer, who towered over me by a good foot, grinned expectantly. “Well, what’s it going to be? Are you an 80’s girl, or do you wanna rock?”

Whoa! They expected me to sing? I covered the microphone with my hand. “I’m sorry. There’s been some mistake. I don’t sing.”

When he took the microphone back, I almost melted with relief, but it was short lived. “Our little Nikki is shy, and she needs your encouragement.” He waved both arms in the air, cuing the crowd to join him. “Nik-ki! Nik-ki!”

Soon the whole room exploded with noise. They chanted my name over and over until I knew there was no way I’d leave that stage without singing. Now I wished I’d had that second margarita.

I nodded as my knees knocked together. Again, they cheered. I accepted the microphone. “I don’t know what to sing,” I whispered.

The man looked into the crowd. “Tyler, why don’t you come help out the birthday girl?”

Someone stood, but with the light behind him, I couldn’t tell anything except he had nice shoulders and a tapered waist.

The crowd broke into a frenzy of excited screams as Tyler made his way to the stage. Forget the margarita. I wanted some of whatever everyone else was drinking.

The first thing I noticed when he hopped on the stage was his bare feet. They were nice-looking feet as far as that went, but who didn’t wear shoes in public? In fact, didn’t I see a sign when we came in that said, “No shoes, no shirt, no service?”

My gaze traveled up his long blue-jean clad legs, took in his slender hips and screeched to a halt at his gorgeous face. My, I’d never seen any man that handsome unless he was twenty feet tall and projected onto a movie screen.

His smile about knocked me on my backside, and the amused look in his eyes told me he’d noticed my bold assessment. My cheeks burned with mortification.

He extended his hand. “Hi, I’m Tyler.”

I shook his hand. “Hi, I’m the worst singer on the planet, but my friends call me Nicole.”

He winked. “You couldn’t possibly be the worst. My dad holds that title.” He grabbed another microphone from the table and leaned to say something to the karaoke guy, who consulted his laptop.

Tyler returned to my side and nodded to a screen set up to the right of the stage. “Do you know ‘Cruising’ by Smokey Robinson? You sing the lines in green and I’ll take the red ones.”

I swallowed hard, sure I might pass out.

He grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Just think of the stories you’ll have to tell at work Monday.”

For some reason, the touch of this stranger’s hand settled the turmoil in my stomach. The intro started to more cheers, but the crowd quieted quickly.

Tyler looked into my eyes. “Baby let’s cruise.” His voice was as smooth as café au lait and made me warm all over.

“A-away from here.” I almost missed my cue and my voice came out as a rusty squeak at first.

He beamed at me as if I’d done something miraculous, like founded the Hair Club for Men or invented the Magic Bullet.

I cleared my throat as he sang the second line. “Don’t be confused.”

“The way is clear.” This time I surprised myself by not sounding like fingernails against a chalkboard.

SingersBy the time we reached the chorus, I was more relaxed and I had to admit, I didn’t sound half-bad. And my partner was quite the performer. Even I wondered by the end of the song if we were involved in some torrid love affair. Right. No such luck.

The applause was shocking. I couldn’t believe how wild the crowd went. Tyler stepped back and swept an arm toward me. It really was invigorating.

Once the clapping died down, Tyler led me off stage and escorted me to my friends. “Mind if I join you ladies?”

“Not at all,” Michelle said, and scooted over for him to pull up another barstool.

His hand touched my upper back and he spoke softly in my ear. “That was fantastic. Let me buy you a drink.”

I nodded, too overcome by his nearness to speak.

“Another margarita?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He offered to buy a round for my friends, too. As soon as he left for the bar, Sarah leaned over. “Do you know who that is?”

“Should I?”

“He’s the drummer for Chaos.”


Sarah lifted her eyebrows. “The band? Hello, where have you been hiding the last year?”

Michelle squealed with excitement. “They’re touring with the Repentant Ones soon. Sold out shows all over. I wanted tickets so bad.”

My friends all began talking at once, but shut up fast when Tyler reappeared with a starry-eyed waitress and our drinks. I didn’t miss how she brushed against him when he gave her a tip. He probably had women throwing themselves at him all the time. Didn’t women go gaga over drummers?

I could see why in this particular situation. The drummer of Chaos made me feel like a chaotic mess inside.

“Well, thank you for the drink,” I said. “And for standing beside me on stage. I’ve never been so frightened in my life.”

He grinned, his white teeth flashing in the dim light. “Is that a hint I should go now?”

Sarah, Michelle, and Heather all shouted out, “No!”

Tyler chuckled. “Thanks, ladies, but I was asking Nicole. After all, she is the birthday girl.”

I smiled shyly. “Of course, you should stay if you’d like.”

He leaned close, sending my heart into a rhythm to upstage any drum solo. “I like.”

Surprisingly, he didn’t leave our table the rest of the night, despite the different women stopping by trying to gain his attention. He spoke politely to each one, and then picked up our conversation again.

Eventually, my friends became bored with watching us talk and wandered off to speak to other people they knew.

“What’s a famous drummer doing in the Midwest?”

The smile slid from his face. “Am I famous?”

I shrugged. “That’s what I’m told.”

“So, you didn’t know who I was on stage?”

“No, I just thought you were some dorky guy with no shoes. Which reminds me, where are your shoes?”

Tyler laughed. “Ah, Nicole. You are a breath of fresh air. I guess you have no idea the reason I’m not wearing any shoes either.”

I lifted an eyebrow. “Should I?”

“It’s my thing, my gimmick.”

I made a face. “But it’s disgusting! You can’t tell me this floor is clean. Let me see the bottom of your foot.”

“No, I don’t want to.” His sudden bashfulness was adorable. “I don’t eat with my feet.”

“Good thing,” I retorted. “You might get hoof and mouth disease.”

He laughed again and hugged me to his side. “I really want to take you home.”

I stiffened. This is what he wanted? A one-night stand?

I squirmed out of his embrace. “Listen, Tyler. I’m sure you’re used to women jumping in bed with you, probably without an introduction even, but I’m not—”

His eyes widened. “No! Oh, man. That’s not what I meant.”

What? He didn’t want to sleep with me? Why the heck not? I’m still a hottie. Really, thirty is not that old.

He must have noticed my frown. “Don’t get me wrong, Nicole. You are gorgeous, but I meant you’re the type of girl my mom would really like.” I wasn’t sure if he was blushing or if it was simply the red glare of the disco lights. He blew out a long breath and ran his fingers through his dark curls. “Wow. I can’t believe I said that aloud. You probably think I’m some kind of freak.”

I reached out and placed my hand over his. “You are a complete freak, but I kinda like you. How about we meet for coffee first, then if we hit it off, in ten to twelve dates you can take me to meet your mom.”

“I’m only in town for three weeks. Could we start dating tomorrow?”

How could I resist? I could use a little fun in my life. “We could count tonight as our first.”

“Excellent.” He cocked a grin. “How many dates until I can get to first base?”

“What are you, an adolescent?” I teased. “What is first base again?”

“A kiss.” His husky voice sent chills racing along my skin.

“I don’t believe in PDA. Otherwise, you’d probably get lucky tonight.”

Despite my flirtatiousness, I was usually very uptight. Never in a million years would I have dated a rock star or kissed a guy I just met, but I was thirty. Time seemed to be slipping by a lot faster than I liked. My entire teens and twenties sped past without me ever doing anything wilder than purchasing a skimpy bikini off the clearance rack, one I never wore.

At the end of the evening, Tyler walked us to the car. We arranged to meet the next day at Maggie’s Café, and I gave him my number.

All the way home, my friends squealed like teenage girls, and their excitement began to make me nervous.

When I walked into Maggie’s the next morning, Tyler was already there in a booth. An older waitress fussed over him.

“Now, are you sure I can’t get you anything else, sweetie?”

Good grief. Were there no women immune to his charm?

“No, Aunt Kay,” he answered. “I’m waiting for a friend.”

Oh. Did I ever feel foolish!

Tyler broke into a big smile when he spotted me. “Nicole.” He scooted out of the booth to greet me with a hug. “I’d like you to meet someone.” He turned to the waitress with his arm around my shoulders. “This is my favorite aunt, Kay.”

We exchanged warm greetings, and she poured me a cup of coffee before leaving us alone.

I leaned on my elbows. “I thought we agreed to several dates before I met your family.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t know she worked today. Besides, we agreed you wouldn’t meet my mother until ten to twelve dates. I have family all over town, so I’m afraid we won’t be able to avoid them.”

That explained why he was in town.

He reached across the table and took my hand. His touch had the same effect on my senses as the night prior. I felt giddy inside. “Of course, you’ll fall madly in love with me before ten to twelve dates, so I let her know we’ll stop by toward the end of the week.”

I knew he was joking, or at least I thought he was. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. And don’t worry, I won’t fall in love with you. In three weeks, you’ll be on the road. I’m nothing, if not practical.”

He flashed his grin, his sea-blue eyes sucking me right in. I really couldn’t allow myself to fall for him.

“Three weeks gives me plenty of time to convince you otherwise,” he said.

I rolled my eyes. “Knock yourself out.”

Over coffee, I found out Tyler was born and raised in this town. He left after high school to attend Northwest University in Chicago and graduated with a degree in fine arts. For fun, he’d joined a band with some of his classmates, and when they started booking gigs in small clubs, he discovered he loved performing.

He hadn’t had a serious girlfriend since college, and I got the feeling from some of his comments, that he’d had some bad experiences with women who turned out to only care about his modest fame.

“So, I make a living doing what I love,” he said, passing a creamer across the table after Aunt Kay refilled my cup. “I’m one of the few living a dream.”

He leaned back and draped his arm along the back of the seat. “What about you? What’s your dream? Don’t tell me you enjoy banking.”

I wrinkled my nose and peeled the paper from the creamer. “There’s nothing wrong with banking.”

He chuckled. “No, but your eyes don’t light up when you talk of your job. If anything, you look as if you’re about to lapse into a coma.”

Dumping the cream into my coffee, I figured he had a point. “It pays the bills. And I’ve made good friends.”

Tyler leaned forward. “But isn’t there anything that stirs your passion?”

I sighed. “Let’s go. I have something to show you.” We both slid from the booth and Tyler dropped a twenty on the table.

“Bye, Aunt Kay. I’ll see you next Saturday.”

Aunt Kay waved from behind the bar. “Sounds good, sweetie. It was nice to meet you, Nicole.”

I returned her warm smile. “What’s next Saturday?” I asked Tyler.

“Family gathering. I’d ask you to join us,” he said with a teasing twinkle in his eyes, “but I don’t think we will have been on enough dates by then.”

We stepped from the cool air-conditioned café into the balmy summer air. “I always love how the heat feels like a cozy blanket wrapping around me when I first step outside.”

He took my hand and squeezed it. “So, where are you taking me?”

I pulled him along the sidewalk. Our destination was only two blocks away.

A bell tinkled when I pushed open the glass door to enter the Second Street Gallery.

Janice, the owner, broke out a large smile and stepped forward, but she caught the warning look I sent her. “Welcome,” she greeted as if we were customers. “Please feel free to browse, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“This is your passion? Art galleries?”

I shrugged. “Care to look around?” I led him to a display of black and white photographs. My stomach churned. What would he think? These pieces were a glimpse into my soul.

“Wow. These are amazing. Are these your favorite?”

He perused my work, candid photos I had taken around town. One was of a vagabond passing through with his backpack. He’d taken refuge in the alley behind the bakery and leaned against the chipped red brick wall. The vacant look in his eye had drawn me to him. It was as if he’d already lived life and only the outer casing remained. After I took his photo, I offered him twenty bucks. I still tear up when I see his image.

I had pictures of young children playing in the water fountain at the park, an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand with love in their expressions, and a baby napping on a picnic blanket while his father gazed at him in such adoration.

Tyler moved closer to the photos. “N. Malone?” He smiled at me over his shoulder. “Nicole, these are magnificent.”

The wonder and admiration in his voice warmed my heart. “These pieces are my passion,” I said shyly.

Tyler faced me again and stepped closer until I could feel his body heat and smell his light cologne. With a gentle touch, he pushed a piece of hair behind my ear, sending waves of pleasure zinging throughout my body. “Thank you for sharing these with me. I am honored.”

I grinned. “And I’m easily flattered.” The gallery was empty of other patrons, and Janice had disappeared into the back storage room. “Enough to allow you to get to first base.”

“Now, that’s what I’m talking about.”

His fingers slid into my hair to cradle the nape of my neck, and he brushed his lips over mine. If I thought his touch was electrifying, his kiss was like a lightning bolt. My legs trembled, and he wrapped his arm around my waist to steady me.

When we broke the kiss, he didn’t let me go. Instead, he stared into my eyes, his having darkened to a stormy blue. “Nikki, Nikki. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let you go.”

If only that were true, but I’d be a fool to believe it. He’d be gone soon enough, and he’d have plenty of women ready to make him forget all about me.

From the art gallery, we walked to the riverside park, just enjoying each other’s company.

“Would you photograph me sometime?” he asked, as we meandered along the shaded path.

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll sell them to the tabloids?”

“Ooh,” he rubbed his hands together in mock delight, “nude pictures might make me a star.”

My cheeks heated, but I couldn’t help laughing. “That wasn’t what I meant.” Then feeling like the flirtatious girl I had been the night prior, I added, “But I have a feeling you’d be a work of art.”

“As would you, my pretty.”

As evening approached, I was reluctant to leave Tyler. Darn him if he turned out to be right and made me fall in love with him.

As I lay in bed that night, my cell bleeped with a text message. “Can’t stop thinking about u. See u tomorrow? Tyler.”

Tomorrow wasn’t soon enough, but it would have to do. I sent him a message in return.

Funny, but by the end of that week, I was ready to meet Tyler’s family.

We attended the family gathering, and everyone treated me as if I was part of the clan. I couldn’t believe how sickeningly happy I was.

That night, against my better judgment, Tyler and I made love. I was head-over-heels for a man only a week earlier I’d promised I’d never love.

When the rising sun peeked through my windows the next morning, it created the most beautiful shadows on Tyler’s face. I quickly grabbed my camera and clicked off several frames before he stirred.

He grinned, and looked as sexy as could be. “I knew you’d take pictures of me in the nude.”

“I wasn’t.”

Male model in bedHe eased the sheet down to reveal his sculpted chest and firm abdomen. The trail of dark hair disappearing under the covers stood out in strong contrast to the white sheets. “Why not?”

Tyler was beautiful. I clicked a few more frames, all very tasteful, while he posed for me. The only semi-inappropriate one accidentally showed his bare bottom, but I was too enamored with his captivating smile to notice until later.

He reached for my camera. “My turn.”

I felt really awkward being in front of the lense, but as Tyler showered me with loving words and admiration, I loosened up. I actually felt like the seductress he believed me to be.

At the end of three weeks, I hated to see him leave on tour. We made plans for Scottie and me to join him for two weeks on the road in the middle of his tour, and I marked off each day on my calendar, hoping it might speed up the process.

Unfortunately, time seemed to slow down instead, and talking on the cell phone in the wee hours only made me miss Tyler more. When he ended each call with “I love you,” it was all I could do not to cry. I was a goner whether I liked it or not.

Two weeks after he’d left, I invited my girlfriends over for dinner thinking it might help me get back into the swing of things. It was nice getting together with them again. I had ordered Chinese take-out and we sipped on white wine.

We sat in my living room laughing and gossiping about the latest office romances. I pulled out my camera, as I often did, and shot a few pictures of my friends. When my cell rang, I sat my camera on the side table and hurried to find my phone.

It was Tyler. He’d gotten a chance to call before the show. We didn’t talk long since my friends were over, and when I walked back into the living room, Michelle held my camera.

“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed. “He is so hot!”

My other friends jumped from their chairs to crowd around her to see the viewer.

“Totally hot,” Heather agreed. “Nikki is so lucky.”

My heart tripped and I ran across the room to snatch the camera before they discovered Tyler’s bare bottom picture. “I’ll take that,” I said, scooping the camera from Michelle’s hands.

“Spoil sport,” she teased. “So, when do you meet up with him again, anyway?”

I shared our plans to meet in Kansas City in six weeks.

“You really are lucky,” Michelle said on a sigh. “I wish it had been my birthday that night. Tyler Samson is the best gift ever.”

“Yeah,” Heather agreed. “How will you stand being away from him for so long?”

I shrugged. “We’ve only been dating a few weeks.” I tried to play it off, but the separation really was killing me.

The time to join Tyler on tour was close. Scottie and I would be on a plane in three days, and I couldn’t wait. As I wrestled over which bathing suit to pack, my phone rang. It was my mom.

“Now, Nicole, don’t freak out,” she said. My mom always said that when she called, so I never freaked out. What was it this time? Her seventy-year-old neighbor bought a red sports car and traded in his wife for a buxom blonde. Buxom. That word always made me laugh when my mom used it.

“Okay, I won’t,” I promised, cradling the phone with my shoulder while folding a pair of shorts.

“Tyler’s on TV.”

I chuckled. “Yes, Mom. He is from time to time. What channel?”


I grabbed the remote from my bedside table and clicked on the flat screen. A butt filled the screen, and my mouth went dry. The picture widened to show Tyler’s smiling face. No way! It was my photo!

“It’s an exposé,” my mom whispered. “Apparently, he’s posed for some X-rated magazine. They say he’s selling pictures of himself to pay for drugs.”

“That’s a lie,” I exclaimed. How could this be happening? How did my photo end up on Entertainers Exposed? “Hold on, Mom.” I dropped the phone on my bed and raced to find my camera. Popping it open, I saw the memory card was missing.

No! Oh my gosh! Tyler’s going to think I betrayed him. Frantic, I scrambled back to my bed and rifled through the covers to find my phone. “Mom, I’m sorry, but I have to go.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Tyler doesn’t use drugs.”

“I know that, honey. Don’t you worry, no one else is going to believe it either.”

My heart beat against my ribs, and my hands shook as I hung up. Immediately, I tried to reach Tyler, but his voicemail picked up right away. “Um, Tyler. It’s Nicole. Please call me when you get this message.”

An hour later, I still hadn’t heard from him. I tried again, but I reached his voicemail. He probably hated me, and how could I blame him. Even though I hadn’t released his photographs, I hadn’t kept them safe either.

I jerked up my phone and dialed another number, but reached voicemail again. “Michelle, it’s me, Nicole. I want to know what you were thinking stealing Tyler’s photos. I’m furious with you.”

I tried Tyler four more times, but never reached him.

At ten o’clock after Tyler hadn’t taken any of my calls or returned them, I knew it was probably over. I was exhausted and beaten down when I fell on my bed and let the tears come. I sobbed for the great sense of loss I had.

Poor Scottie didn’t know what to think during all of this. He had whimpered and followed me around the house earlier. Now, he curled up by my side and shivered.

“Shh, everything’s going to be okay,” I told him, wishing I could believe it.

A loud knock jarred me awake. I looked at the clock. It was eleven-thirty. The knocking continued, getting more insistent. I stumbled toward the door, not even fully awake yet.

“Who is it?”

“Open up, Nicole.”

Tyler’s voice sent a shockwave through my body. My hand shook as I twisted the deadbolt and opened the door.

“I’m ticked,” he said and barreled into my apartment. “What a B! I got here as soon as I could, because I had to look you in the eye.”

Just as I’d feared, Tyler hated me. “I’m so sorry, Tyler. Really, I am.”

He looked taken aback. “Sorry for what, sweetheart?”

I blinked, really confused. “Don’t you know about the pictures?”

He dropped his backpack on the floor. “Heck, yeah, I do. And that hack job writer at Exposed is going to pay, making up that idiotic story about posing for money for drugs.” With a frown, he stepped forward and held out his arms. “Are you okay? I can’t believe Sarah took credit for your work.”

Sarah? My best friend? “It was her?”

Tyler wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. “I’m sorry, Nicole. Didn’t you get my messages?”

I shook my head before pulling from his embrace to go check my phone. Sure enough, I had four messages. I’d put my phone on silent somehow. “Are all four from you?”

“I left three of them.”

I listened to my messages and learned one was from Michelle. “I feel awful. I accused Michelle.”

“Well, call her and apologize.” Tyler plopped onto the couch. “I can wait.”

I called Michelle and apologized profusely for being such a moron, and fortunately, she forgave me. To make it up to her, Tyler promised her two tickets and backstage passes to the Minneapolis show. She gladly accepted with a shriek that almost burst my eardrum.

With things smoothed over with Michelle, I felt a little better, but I still felt awful about Tyler’s photos being plastered on TV. “If I hadn’t ever taken those shots—”

Tyler held out his hand. “Come here, Nicole.”

I joined him on the couch and almost cried with relief when he put his arm around me. “Those shots were amazing, and though I’d prefer not to have my butt shown to millions of viewers, it’s not bad publicity for a musician. In fact, the other guys want to know if you’ll photograph them, too.”

He kissed the tip of my nose before nuzzling my cheek. “I’ve missed you. Please, say you’ll come with me on the road. I can’t do this anymore without you.”

I pulled back, needing to break contact to think straight. “But, I have to work. I have bills to pay.”

“You’re a banker. Don’t tell me you don’t have a savings account.”

“I do, but it’s for emergencies. I don’t think running off with my rock star boyfriend counts.”

Tyler grabbed my hands in his. “Nicole, this is a chance to live your dream. I wasn’t joking about the guys in the band. We love your work, and we’ll pay you for your photos. Our manager wanted some new publicity shots, too. Think of all the subjects you’ll find traveling the world.” He pulled me close. “Please, come with me. I thought being part of a successful band was everything I ever wanted, but I was wrong. I want you by my side.”

If I did this, it would be the biggest risk of my life. But really, it was everything I’d dreamed as well, following my passion and loving a wonderful man. The fact that I’d turned thirty probably had a lot to do with my decision. It seemed silly to wait until age forty to begin living my life.

“I’ll come with you,” I said.

“Yes!” Tyler kissed me and sent a jolt of electricity to my toes. “I’ll never let you regret it.”

And Tyler has kept his promise. This September we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary, and every day is a dream come true.

Wife Swap Clubs: A 1960′s Scandal

From the pages of the October 1962, True Love Magazine, the following article on wife swap clubs was published:

The characters and places in the accompanying story have been fictionalized to protect the innocent. But, fantastic as they may sound, the events in this story are true. They happen all the time, all over the United States—perhaps even in your neighborhood. And the story is usually the same. Here, for example, is the way one recently exposed wife-swapping operation worked: Continue reading

The Challenge of Writing Sex Scenes

By Katherine Sharma

Sex sells. Would anyone read Fifty Shades of Grey without the sex? Luckily, I write mysteries rather than romance novels or erotica, so explicit sex is not the centerpiece of my stories. Still, as long as characters are not solitary beings, love and lust will come into play, and sex will have a role. I recently looked at several articles of the “10 Steps to Writing Great Sex Scenes” variety to help guide my creativity. The first step in one article was “Get drunk.” I assume the point was to lose inhibitions without losing coherence. The first step in another was “Decide what you’re comfortable reading and writing.” Agreed: Uncomfortable writing makes uncomfortable reading. The first step in a third was “Consider the genre.” Yep, romance readers demand love scenes. Those were all good pieces of advice. But I realized I needed to step back and start with more fundamental decisions. First, did I really need sex to advance my plot, flesh out characterization, or create a mood or foreshadowing? Tossing in an extraneous sex scene can bog down a novel as surely as padded dialogue and dead-end plot detours. Second, did I need to describe a love scene, a sex scene, or sexual acts? A love scene may include explicit descriptions, but it is first and foremost about emotions and the romantic relationship. In contrast, a sex scene spotlights sensual pleasures; a “What’s love got to do with it?” moment can be a thrilling read. Once you talk about depicting “sexual acts,” you veer into a darker place, with a focus on disappointment, conflict, and emotional and physical sadism (and I don’t mean the kind with a “safe” word). Third, what style — subtle or graphic — fits the purpose of the scene and the characters? By the way, “subtle” doesn’t mean hokey euphemisms (his rod) or hyperbole (the earth moved), and “graphic” doesn’t mean crude slang or anatomical accuracy. My thanks to one writer who helpfully put together a list of words to avoid, such as turgid and purple. For one of the more detailed guides to writing love scenes, check out

About Katherine Sharma

Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

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