More Bang! For Your Buck


More Bang! For Your Buck

EXCERPT from More Bang! For Your Buck

Judy Banger tugged on the plunging neckline of her one-piece swimsuit in an effort to contain the bulging swell of breast into the sculpted demi-cup that had looked so becoming on the size-1 mannequin. Too bad she was thirteen or so sizes larger.

She posed before the full-length mirror attached inconveniently behind the hotel room’s bathroom door. “How do I look?”


Judy sighed.

“I know you think the black would be better–“

“No,” Pru snapped. “I don’t think, Judy. I know.”

Prudence O’Riley, Judy’s BFF, cut short her Mediterranean cruise to rush home to Judy’s side the minute she learned of the wrongful death lawsuit being filed by Buddy Fusco’s son. Judy appreciated her friend’s gesture and refused to question the uncharacteristic selflessness, but since Pru’s arrival on the scene, Judy’s tenuous hold on the situation had slipped through her fingers like water laced with chicken fat–down the drain but leaving a tangible ickiness behind.

“Black conveys danger, power, death.” Pru punctuated each word by advancing forward, the heels of her thigh-high, five-inch stiletto boots digging into the carpet. “Purple screams Elton John and dancing dinosaurs. You can’t walk into the sniveling little shit’s room, pull out a whip and expect him to fall to his knees and beg forgiveness when you’re wearing a bright plum one-piece–no matter how cute it looks on you.” She cocked her head. “Have you lost weight?”

“A pound or two…along with my mind,” Judy muttered. A second sleepless night–this one a result of more qualifying rounds in the Sex Olympics–combined with a full day of “helping” Jed Blassingame install new flooring in her bedroom had left Judy in a fugue fog. Gone was the proactive, take-charge woman who’d conceived this ridiculous, dangerous plan. A plan any idiot could see was destined to crash and burn in a blaze of humiliation, regardless of Pru’s last minute tweaks.

Pru grabbed a black satin and lace bustier from the foot of the queen bed closest to the bathroom. Judy had resurrected her entire BDSM wardrobe from a box marked XXX a few hours earlier. “I’m telling you, this is what you need to wear.” Pru shoved the slightly musty smelling object in Judy’s hands. The satin felt cool, sleek and alive. Blush-worthy memories flitted across the movie screen in her brain. Memories from one short moment in time.

She held up the top, pressing the cleverly spaced “bones” against her waist. The square cut neckline and underwire cups had had men drooling over her boobs. She’d never felt sexier or more in control of whatever sex-capades she found herself in than when she wore this getup.

“But fishnets and a garter belt put me out on the high wire without a safety net, Pru. If Lewis calls the police and I’m wearing a swimsuit, I could pretend I was planning to jump in the pool and accidentally wound up in my late-lover’s son’s hotel room.”

“With a picnic basket full of sex toys,” Pru added.

An annoying burst of acid etched a trail up Judy’s esophagus. She swallowed the bad taste in her mouth. “Those were your idea, remember? My plan was to throw myself at Lewis’s feet and beg him to drop the wrongful death lawsuit.”

Pru let out a short, musical laugh. “Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen. I agree you might have done that if I weren’t here, but, girlfriend, let me tell you, I didn’t travel sixteen thousand miles and forty hours–” Judy rolled her eyes. She often told people the only time Prudence O’Riley exaggerated was when she opened her mouth. “–to let you debase yourself before a complete and utter sleezeball. The man plans to take out all his twisted feelings of inadequacy and Daddy-never-loved-me shit by crucifying you. Judy. The kindest, most generous and all-around good person I know.”

Pru shook her index finger back and forth in the air like a prim, old-fashioned schoolmarm. “No, sirree, Bob. Not on my watch. We have a plan, and we’re sticking to it. Now, dump the pretty purple suit and get into costume.”

The Plan. Judy may have momentarily considered using Buddy’s son’s perceived deviancy to blackmail him into dropping the suit, but she’d dumped that idea after spending the night with Jed Blassingame–her remodeling contractor. Making love with Jed, who was roughly the same age as Lewis Fusco, had reminded her that sex was supposed to be fun–not something used against you in a court of law.

“What if I’m wrong, Pru? I only met the guy once. Am I one hundred percent certain Lewis likes an extra serving of pain with his pleasure? No. Do I know for a fact that putting him over my knee and spanking his bare ass will give me the leverage I need to make him cease and desist where this lawsuit is concerned? My gut says yes, but what if that’s my hiatal hernia talking?” She poked a spot just above her diaphragm. Her pudgy roll did seem a bit less pudgy. Maybe those stupid sit-ups were working.

Annoyed that she let herself become sidetracked when her entire future hung in the balance, she threw up her hands. “This is crazy! I’m going home. Why did I let you talk me into spending a hundred bucks on this room?”

Pru sidled into the bathroom and leaned forward to inspect some imaginary flaw in the mirror. Her mostly unlined skin reflected a warm, expensive Mediterranean glow–the sort Judy once paid forty dollars to have applied in a spray booth. “You know perfectly well that kidnapping Lewis off the street and taking him to your place–which doesn’t even have a bed at the moment–would be far riskier.”

True. “And kidnapping carries a longer prison sentence.”

“Exactly. That’s why my way is our only option.”

“Wrong. I could move in with my mother. Or jump off a bridge.”

Pru threw back her shoulders and turned sideways to eye her still curvy form. Her weight hadn’t fluctuated an ounce in all the years Judy had known her. “Same difference if you ask me.” Their gazes met in the mirror. “Judy. This is going to work. The fact Lewis agreed to meet me–a stranger with some vague connection to his father–for a drink in the hotel bar tells me he’s lonely and needy. And, trust me, I’ve never met a man I couldn’t flatter into believing I actually wanted to spend time alone in his company. He will invite me to his room. What happens next will be up to you.”

Judy eyed the bustier again. “I was ten years younger and twenty pounds lighter the last time I wore this.”

Pru motioned Judy to join her at the wide bathroom counter. The artificial glare of the overhead lights turned the ripe plum color of Judy’s suit to pre-prune. Pru was right. Not sexy enough. “Try it on,” Pru said. “If you spill over, so what? He’ll enjoy the peep show. If it doesn’t fit at all, I’ll spring for a new one.”

Judy palmed the hefty weight of her bosom with both hands. “My ex used to tell people the U.S. Postal Service considered giving these girls their own zip code.” She gave the pair a little nudge, which made the flesh jiggle. “Trust me. You’re not going to find an off-the-rack bustier in my size anywhere in town.”

Pru frowned and turned her attention to her own reflection. “You make me glad I never took Wallace up on his offer of a boob job.”

Wallace? Boyfriend? Husband? Lover? Plastic surgeon who may have belonged in all three categories at one time? Judy couldn’t remember. Pru gave new meaning to attention deficit.

“Well, give that one a try, okay? And please tell me those aren’t the spikiest heels you own.”

Judy looked down. Two and a half toes sporting black nail polish peeked out of the toe-pinching hole of her ancient pumps. She vaguely remembered buying them at a discount shoe place for one of Pru’s fancy dress galas.

“Not only are these my only F-me pumps, they pinch. Are you done undermining my self-confidence…Mom?”

Pru shuddered theatrically and crossed herself, although Judy knew for a fact her best bud worshipped at the Church of What’sInItForMe?

“Not to worry. I brought along an extra pair. You’re a seven-and-a-half, right? They’ll be great with that getup. Hurry, now,” she ordered, executing a precision perfect about face. “I’m supposed to meet Lewis in ten minutes, and I want to double-check your provisions.”

Before making her exit, Pru dropped one shoulder to adjust the spaghetti strap of her size zero dress. From a distance, the material clinging to her ridiculously fit body looked like ocelot. Up close, the micro-fabric invited petting. Judy balled her fingers in a fist and focused instead on Pru’s short, messy hairdo. Hip? Yes. Too young for a fifty-something woman? Definitely. Did it work? Strangely, yes.

Judy started to close the bathroom door until Pru chided, “When did you turn into such a prude? Just change for god’s sake.”

A command that sounded a lot like the one Judy’s mother said all too often throughout Judy’s life. “When are you going to change, Judy Banger?” When, indeed?

With a bit more force than necessary, Judy stripped off her purple suit and donned the various pieces of black: a G-string made to resemble wet leather, the bustier, a garter belt, fish nets and, last but not least, a black velvet choker adorned with faux diamonds.

She sucked in her gut to tighten the hooks of the corset, which, luckily, was well made. She’d kicked herself at the time for wasting so much money on a “recreational” piece of clothing. “You just never know, do you?” she murmured under her breath as she looked in the mirror.

Not bad, she thought running her hands down the noticeable curve of her waist. Maybe those workouts have been helping. She made a resolution not to complain so much the next time she went to the gym for a training session with her fitness guru, Kelly.

After kicking her crappy shoes into the closet, she walked into the main room to get Pru’s opinion. “How’s this? Bad ass?” She regretted her choice of words when a draft touched her bare derriere.

Pru stood beside the queen bed where she’d dumped the contents of Judy’s XXX box. Sex toys, tricks of the BDSM trade, a couple of useless VHS porn videos and other assorted goodies lay scattered as if shot from a freak cannon.

“Much better,” Pru said looking up. “Gorgeous. Sexy. Perfect.”

Judy snorted. “For a middle-age, over-weight woman, you mean.”

Pru ignored the comment and handed Judy a shoebox.

“Here. These, as the retired southern gentleman I left in Greece would say, are the coottie-graws.” Her wink said the butchering of the French pronunciation was intentional. “Five-inch platforms with–”

“Diamond-encrusted ankle bands,” Judy exclaimed. “Holy shit. You’ve got to be kidding. I’ll kill myself in these.”

“You’ll be fine. They’re platforms. I wore them every day on the ship.”

Every day? What kind of cruise was this? Judy almost asked. Instead, she zipped the cleverly designed cuff in place and stood. To her shock, the shoes were more comfortable than they looked, and once she got her balance, she managed to walk without twisting an ankle. “Being taller is cool. They’re empowering. Were they as expensive as they look?”

“Don’t ask.” Pru checked her watch. “I should be going soon. By the way, I brought you a coat, too. You can’t wear that pilled jersey robe you call a cover-up with a getup this sexy.”

She pointed at a calf-length, belted, black leather trench coat draped like a boneless leopard across a nearby chair. Judy sent it a token glance.

As if I could fit into Pru’s Barbie clothes. My cover-up’s not that bad. “So, what do you think of my selection of goodies? “

Pru picked up the riding quirt and whipped it back and forth for effect. The silvery hissing sound made the hair on the back of Judy’s neck lift.

“This isn’t bad, but half the tassels are missing. Did a mouse gnaw on it?”

Judy shrugged. “Shouldn’t. I have a cat.”

“Who is lazy and overfed, apparently.”

She tossed the little whip, which Shawn pretentiously had insisted on calling a tawse, toward what Judy assumed was their “keeper” pile. If anyone asked her ex the meaning of the word, Shawn would launch into a windy discourse on Scottish schoolmasters and corporal punishment–acts Shawn had demanded from their lovemaking more and more often before they split. One of the last things she clearly remembered him saying as he bent her over a chair was, “Prepare yourself, woman, as I chastise you with my God rod.”

“My basket’s a cool idea, though, isn’t it?” Buddy had ordered the gift online from a store way outside Judy’s price range. It had come packed full of specialty treats and culinary goodies they’d shared over the course of several “dates.” And now I’m using it to transport sex toys to his son’s hotel room. The thought probably should have upset her more than it did. But the fact remained: if Buddy hadn’t taken a little blue pill against his doctor’s advice and clocked out of life while having sex with her, none of this would be happening. So, in a way, this was all Buddy’s fault, not Judy’s.

Pru held up a loose, black hood with obvious disdain before letting it drop in the not-happening pile. She handed a medium-size flesh tone dildo, fur-lined handcuffs, elasticized mask and fistful of white cotton ropes of various lengths to Judy to store in the basket. She continued sorting for several minutes then let out a sigh.

“Something wrong?”

“Who knew you were such a traditionalist?” She picked up her briefcase-size black leather purse. “Luckily, I brought a few things from home.”

She opened the sides and dumped everything on the bed.

Judy blinked in surprise. A few of the items made sense: the gleaming stainless steel spatula, the large slotted serving spoon with a wide, shallow surface and a pair of elbow-length black rubber gloves. But the wire whisk and garlic press demanded an explanation.

“Do I even dare ask?”

Pru grabbed the whisk and returned it to the purse. “Never mind. But the press stays. Depending on the size of his balls, some men find this pleasurable.” She made a face. “That is your objective, right? To prove to Lewis that having sex with you is worth dying for?”

“No,” Judy cried, slapping both hands to her face and shaking her head. “I don’t plan to fuck the man. I simply want to use his sexual proclivity to prove he’s more like Buddy than he cares to admit. And more important, he needs to see that I’m not the bad guy here. I didn’t coerce Buddy into having sex with me. He swallowed that little blue pill because he wanted to go out with a bang.”

“No pun intended.”