December 18, 2015

Friday Free Read: Change of Pace

"Any word from the gallery yet, Tom?"
Tom's girlfriend Vicki curled up on the lumpy black couch in the photographer's studio apartment. She wore one of his shirts, a faded Van Halen tee that came to her knees, and she had her pretty legs drawn up underneath her like a cat as she flipped through one of her poetry magazines. Edward—who, in the mirror, appeared to be every bit a Tom—glanced up from the canvas he idly toyed with.
"Not yet," he managed. Did Tom call his woman honey, or darling? Baby, that would have to be it.
"No, baby, not yet," he repeated. He tested the words for himself as much as he said them for her benefit.

Vicki paused in her reading and gave him a quiet, careful assessment. She had warm, brown eyes behind her prim reading glasses, the beauty of which were almost hidden by the straight, heavy drape of her equally brown hair. She was a very soft girl: a little bit overweight, with subtle roundness to her features and a smooth, flawless complexion. Her skin was the color of cream, with a slight hint of rosiness to her cheeks. If he could paint, like the man he pretended to be, he would have loved to capture the sight of her there, comfortable and warm on their couch, with that idle and innocent expression on her lovely face.
"They'll call," she promised vaguely, dropping her eyes back down to her journal, flipping the page.
With her attention elsewhere, Edward indulged himself in a longer admiration. Tom had told him a little about Vicki: she studied modern literature at the university, she assisted in teaching the fourth grade classes at the local private school part-time, she hated Thai food and loved a warm caramel macchiato. Accordingly, Edward brought one back with him from the coffee shop today, after he had—as far as Vicki knew—signed off from work.

The utter strangeness of the situation still astounded him. For years he had lived in this city, passing by Java House a hundred thousand times or more on the way to work. He'd never once paused to drop in, always bustling off to one high-profile meeting or another. His assistants found the time to get his morning brew for him. Three days ago, in the same hurried rush, he'd happened to trip into the little café for the first time, and find himself face to face with...
Tom Canton, the barista behind the counter, wasn't the sort of man who simply looked like Edward Prince. They might have been identical twins. Their own mothers would struggle to tell them apart, not to mention their colleagues, friends and—as he now discovered—their significant others. A damn amazing thing to stumble on when you were twenty-eight years old and an only child your whole life: somewhere out there had been a man wearing his face, and living a wholly different life.
A life he could have had, if things had only been different.
Tom proved likewise floored by the discovery. For the man behind the coffee-shop counter, here came an image he had never imagined for himself: wealthy, privileged... blessed. Edward, the boy king of one of the country's biggest corporations, a business he took over for his father when the old man retired early to do all the things rich men had the fortune to do. Edward lived in a penthouse apartment overlooking the best parts of the city. He was engaged to the daughter of one of the world's premier businessmen. He drove a brand-new Lexus and for the first time ever, he'd stopped in to Tom Canton's tiny little Java House for his own three-dollar cup of coffee, instead of sending one of his many gofers to do it for him.
On the flip side, Edward saw a chance for himself: simple. Slow-paced. Art and coffee and music, not PowerPoints and Blackberry phones and men in starched suits crowding him at every turn. Tom wore his hair shaggy and tucked it under a worn old cap; he barely shaved and he wore jeans and sandals. He had a girlfriend who taught fourth-graders.
He was... uncomplicated.
Edward supposed his assessment might have been unfair and probably naïve. He couldn't help it, though: the instant he saw himself serving up lattes and muffins in the little corner café, he wished everything—everything—had been different.
And now...
He realized he had been staring at Vicki an inordinately long time, and though she hadn't looked up from her poetry magazine, she must have noticed. He stood from the stool behind Tom's easel, where Tom probably spent hours fretting over his oil paintings when he wasn't working on photography. Crossing to sit with her, he leaned over to slide his hands around her waist and incline his head close to hers, planting a chaste, tender kiss on her neck. She smelled of warm vanilla and dark, rich espresso. Edward had seen her modest but carefully arranged collection of body washes and hand lotions neatly tucked into a little basket in Tom's bathroom, all of them mellow, sweet scents, pleasant and earthy; not a cool Cucumber-Melon or Citrus-Gelato among them.
She'd been all warmth and gentle comfort, Vicki... not at all like Edward's slick, coiffed Madelaine and her perpetual photo-shoot manner of walking, standing, and even sitting. Madelaine would never lounge about in one of his old T-shirts and a pair of cotton panties, even if they were peacefully alone in the penthouse, quietly sharing the lights of the city. It wasn't nearly designer enough. There would never be a poetry journal sitting on the flawless glass of their trendy coffee table, no half-eaten pumpkin-bread muffin next to a tall glass of milk.
Edward wanted to take Tom's camera and photograph Vicki, himself. It would be an amateur job, no question, but he'd wanted to strip the T-shirt off of her since she'd gotten home and changed into it. He'd pose her on Tom's full-size bed in nothing but those white cotton panties, snap pictures of her in her comfortable, almost feline positions. He imagined he would like seeing her nude.

He and Tom had both decided not to tell anyone about this switch; it would be the truest and most authentic way they could imagine sampling each other's lives. Tom hadn't been thrown by the idea they would be thrust together into intimate situations with one another's women... not in the least. To be honest, he'd almost seemed thrilled by it.
Edward could understand. The idea of not only living Tom's life, but of being Tom, truly, even to this woman who would not realize anything had changed... it had all been so tempting, so wonderfully taboo, and so deliciously unthinkable. When he'd agreed to change places with Tom, the girlfriend issue had not proved much of a deterrent.
Of course, he'd never dream of taking advantage of the poor girl. He'd derail anything before it could go too far. Now, though, inhaling Vicki's tender, sweet scent... catching the barest hint of her lovely curves underneath the thin fabric of Tom's T-shirt... admiring her beautiful brown eyes...
He found himself in a difficult position.
Vicki welcomed him beside her, casually lifting one soft hand to stroke his cheek, as he bent to read over her shoulder. The gentle shape of her neck and shoulder was so comfortable, so nice, he imagined he might be able to sit beside her like this for hours. His mind raced with guilt, though: why had he believed it would be okay to deceive this innocent woman? Had he simply assumed the feelings of Tom's nameless girlfriend would be as shallow and meaningless to him as his fiancée Madelaine and her snotty, high-priced veneer?
Sleeping with Madelaine had always been a cheap, perfunctory thing. They were two powerful adults who could have anything they wanted, and sex had never been particularly novel for them. He supposed sex with any other person would have been exactly the same, and he'd have laid money on it Madelaine not only agreed with him, but had put the theory to the test.
Vicki, though... once she shifted from the nameless girlfriend and became Vicki, sitting here with him, thoughtfully nibbling on her muffin in between turning the pages, and gently stroking his dark hair...
She'd been surprised to see "Tom" had apparently decided on a haircut and a shave, and Edward suspected, if he could trust his ability to read women, there had been a silent note of disapproval too. She hadn't said anything except, "It's nice. More professional." Then she'd settled in comfortably to their placid evening routine.
He'd been through Madelaine's million-dollar closet of designer cocktail dresses and evening gowns before. All of them size zero. If some poor store clerk suggested she go up even to a size two, she threw a fit, tossed out anything in the house with so much as a single carb, and forced him to subsist with her on celery and cauliflower for days. When he'd arrived at Tom's apartment yesterday afternoon, some hours before Vicki came home, he'd taken a long while to familiarize himself with the place. When he'd seen Tom 's closet—and the few women's pants suits and one or two skirts Vicki kept there—he'd been astonished to see them in size twelve, fourteen. He'd be ashamed to admit it, but he'd expected a whale of a woman; even thinking of it now he cringed at his mistake, and he hugged the sweet lady a little closer in a wordless apology. The fact was, every little nibble she took of the delicious little muffin he'd brought her filled him with joy.
How could he tell her he wasn't her boyfriend? They'd slept side-by-side in Tom's bed the night before, with her cuddled up into the warm nook his body created, her soft pajamas giving his guilt a tiny mote of mercy. Thank goodness it wasn't the height of summer, when she might have slept naked; he wasn't sure he could handle the temptation of peeping at her, stealing illicit gazes at her vulnerable nakedness like a perverted voyeur. Already he had crossed a line, being there at all.

Despite the guilt gnawing at him, though, he couldn't help but love how it made him feel to be close to her. He gave himself permission to indulge in the fantasy a little, imagining this was his apartment and she was his girlfriend. They would cuddle like this every night before bed, and he could sleep beside her happily.
She finished the last of the magazine's poems, and she tucked it away in the caddy beside the sofa. Picking up her glass of milk she leaned back in his arms, drinking it quietly.
"Would you like the last of the muffin, Tom?" she asked.
"Yes, thank you," he replied with a huge grin, thinking it far too proper a phrase for his counterpart to have uttered. He should have said "sure" or "yeah", but her offer made him so strangely happy he forgot, and it happened so quickly he realized she probably didn't even care.
She stood then, leaning momentarily over the coffee table to straighten up the other books and the photos, and Edward received a full, beautiful view of her round bottom, the pretty white cotton of her briefs covering the little pink treasure of her womanhood. He should have glanced away but he didn't—he loved it. He wanted to reach out and caress those darling buttocks, but he held his hand stubbornly down and waited for her to finish her tidying and take the milk glass and the muffin wrapper to the kitchen. He watched her with a smile, though in the pit of his stomach the first bittersweet fluttering of uncertainty stirred.
Tell her, part of his mind said. Before she climbs into bed with a stranger for the second night in a row, tell her the truth.
"Vicki," he began, as she crossed the room to turn off the lamps.
She paused, meeting his eyes. "Yes, Tom?"
She waited expectantly. Her long brown hair swept back from her face for once and he saw the full, beautiful shape of her cheeks and her pouty mouth, the gorgeous brown eyes, and even her cute, cherub-like ears. He couldn't imagine anyone so adoringly perfect.
He stood, crossed the room to wrap her in his arms, and gave her a tender kiss on the lips.
"Nothing, baby," he whispered into her hair. "Just... thinking about how amazing you are."
When Vicki cuddled up against him in the darkness of the bedroom, fitting gently into his contours again, to his relief she wore another set of comfortable cotton pajamas. He held her close and inclined his head to inhale the scent of her hair as he drifted off to sleep. His brain still sent him vivid shocks of chiding urgency, tell her the truth! Stop before this goes too far!
They weren't going too far, though. They were cuddling, nothing more, nothing scandalous. She'd already dozed off, breathing deeply, evenly beside him, her hand lying on his chest.
Even though they hadn't made love, it didn't mean Edward wasn't thinking of it, and vividly. He imagined the gentle curves of her nude form as he cradled her closer; he dreamed of nuzzling her sweet, ample breasts, carefully exploring her flush areolas and the nipples capping them like pert little cherries. He wanted to slowly caress his palms over the curve of her belly, sliding them down to cradle her smooth hips. He would massage her calves, her thighs, and her buttocks, all the way up to her shoulders while she lay naked on her stomach in front of him, her head on her arms as she relaxed under his careful, adoring touch. He'd kiss her for long, long moments, spending a glorious time tasting those beautiful lips, and teasing her darling tongue with his own.
Underneath the covers, his rebellious cock started to stiffen, growing underneath the cool fabric of his boxers. He slipped one hand down to encourage the pleasant erection, pulling Vicki a little closer with the other to bury his face in her hair. In the back of his mind he realized he had no clue how light a sleeper Vicki might be, and having her awaken to his masturbating would be mortifying. So he nursed the erection with calm indulgence, presently giving it up and wrapping both arms around her to find pleasant dreams instead.
He felt Vicki stir against him, muttering as she nuzzled her head against his chest. As he stroked her long, brown hair, he nuzzled back.
Her voice came blurry in the darkness. His hand drifted down to his stubborn erection again, this time in effort to hide it. Hoping he wasn't incredibly obvious, he murmured, "What is it, sweetheart?"
"Just wondering if you were still up," she said. With endearing innocence, she curled even closer, stretching one leg over his. Her hand drifted gently up and down his body, never quite venturing southwards enough to discover the stiff evidence of his illicit fantasizing, but stirring it worse nonetheless.
"Are you having trouble sleeping?" she asked.
"No. Lying here listening to you breathe," he replied. With a little caress behind her ear, he gave her a peck on the forehead and hoped she'd drift off again quickly.
Vicki surprised him by returning his little peck with a deeper, longer kiss. Before he could do anything her whole body pressed against him, and the rigid shape of his hard-on rested, obvious, against her hip.
Evidently it surprised her: she backed out of her kiss with wordless confusion. Edward wasn't sure what to say, though his mind screamed about a dozen things. It wasn't wise—it wasn't fair to her—but despite everything telling him to stop, he found himself pulling her against him, kissing her again and running his hands down the curve of her back. His erection nudged at the soft round of her belly and he pressed against her with a quiet moan.
"Tom—"she whispered, as if for a moment she wasn't sure what to make of his advances. Then, though, she kissed back, her hand drifting to his hair to run through the dark, tousled strands. Edward found his own hands slipping under her pajama top, gently lifting it up over her head, though not yet daring to touch the lovely breasts underneath. She had a simple white bra on, and he brushed his palms over the curves of the cups, reverent in his careful fondling. Vicki kissed him without a sound, nestling, stroking him gently. Her hands were warm as she tenderly ran them down his chest—one threatened to slip beneath the band of his shorts but he carefully took it in his own, making a small sound of negation between their kisses.
"Roll over a sec," he murmured against her lips. He carefully guided her with his hands, turning her away from him so he could gently knead her shoulders, running his hands over her neck and collar, kissing her gently up and down the smooth slope beneath her ear. His hands wrapped around her and found her breasts again, squeezing them, lovingly cupping them in his palms as he lavished her skin with sweet brushes of his lips.
Vicki moaned, and with his hands over her chest he could feel the vibrations of the joyful sounds, and the wonderful beat of her heart. She backed close against him so his hard-on pressed urgently against her buttocks, surely fully aware of what it would do to him, she wiggled her butt the tiniest bit, letting him feel the smooth warmth of her pretty cheeks welcoming the hard arousal of his member. He pressed into her with a yearning groan. Inhaling deeply, he savored Vicki's phenomenal scent as he slowly rocked his hips against her, rubbing his thick erection in the smooth crevice between her cheeks.
As he kissed her neck she writhed, gently running her hands over his hands over her chest, giving him permission to slip palms under her bra and take hold of her generous breasts. Her nipples were stiff but pliant as his fingers brushed over them; he rolled them between his thumb and forefinger, tracing tiny circles around their pert little shapes.
"Tom?" she whispered, her voice thick with low, sweet passion.
"Yes, honey?" he murmured between kisses. In the heat of the moment, even he had started to forget he wasn't really Tom. He wanted to be Tom. He wanted to be hers.
He slowly massaged her, rubbing her lovely breasts in tandem with the slow gyration of his hips against her back. She tasted clean and crisp and smooth, her skin a beautiful little treat.
"I love you."
"I love you too," he replied before he could think better of it. Instantly his brain screamed at him, warning him things had definitely gone too far—but then Vicki rolled over in his arms again, her wonderful plump breasts pressing up against his chest, and her hand finally released his cock from his shorts, playfully stroking the length of it.
"Oh," he gasped. The careful brush of her fingers stirred up a heated gratification in his loins.
"You're so sweet tonight," she whispered, kissing him. He pressed his erection into her hand, sliding it in and out of her palm, deaf to the protests of his conscience. He wanted Vicki too much—he wanted to pleasure her, to make love to her slowly and passionately, and to appreciate every gentle curve and soft embrace as long as he could.
She pressed her hips to his, letting him feel his firm erection rocking against her heat, her hand sliding down to his thigh. He reached out and guided her leg across his hip again, pressing his stiff cock more firmly to her loins, rubbing his whole body along hers, holding her as close as possible.
In the darkness, he lowered his face down to her breasts, and took her nipple into his mouth, kissing it, pressing his lips down on it, and giving it a teasing suck.
Vicki gave a quiet moan of pleasure, and whispered close against his ear. "Oh, Tom..."
Each time she said the name he felt a little groan of anguish inside, but he loved the note of pleasure in her voice. He kissed her again, suckling the tiny little jewel, running his tongue over the dimpled surface.
Vicki tightened her embrace around him; he moved his kisses to her other nipple, teasing it with the tip of his tongue, kissing and sucking it with flirting little motions of his mouth. He pressed both her breasts together and nuzzled his face against them. They were deliciously full, beautifully yielding under his touch.

"Lie on your back," he whispered, moving even as he said it to guide her into the position. She lay obediently beneath him as he kissed his way down her body, slipping his fingers under the band of her pajama pants and sliding them slowly down her legs. She helped him with the panties next, and with keen, almost instinctual knowledge, he found the hot mound of her sex and nuzzled it deeply, pressing his face deep into her sensual musk.
"Oh! Tom..." she moaned, shivering under his touch. A thatch of dark, silky hair graced the lovely swell of her mons—she didn't shave or wax like Madelaine, and he found the scent of it, the texture of it under his questing mouth, amazingly new and exciting. His tongue found the folds of her slick lips, and he leisurely tasted them, dabbing the tip of it up and down their length, teasing, testing, and listening to the murmured sounds of pleasure she made as he explored her. He wasn't in any hurry to rush her toward orgasm: he adored the quiver of her under his mouth, loved the sensation of her thighs underneath his fingertips as he stroked them. He slipped his tongue in between the slender folds and traced it all the way up to her clitoris, already stiff and eager between her labia. He laved it with indulgent pleasure. Her pussy was so wet with pleasure—she tasted like smooth, rich cream with the barest hint of bittersweet, like a warm, lusty latte, exactly as he'd expected.
"Oh, Tom," she murmured. "That's... that's amazing..."
He grinned, and kissed the bead of her clitoris affectionately. His own hard shaft throbbed with eagerness and he kneaded it gently before dipping his tongue into the warm entrance to her sex.
"Oh!" she whispered harshly. "Oh, honey—"
He climbed up from between her thighs, smiling at her though she couldn't see him in the dark. Sliding on top of her, he let her strip off his boxers and very lightly press the burgeoning head of his cock against her ready cleft.
"Vicki," he murmured, kissing her throat, her breasts, and her nipples as he toyed with his cock at the entrance to her body. "You are so beautiful... God, I don't deserve you."
"It's okay," she whispered with a hint of humor, kissing his brow, running her hands down his arms, and pulling him down into her embrace.
He slid into her slowly, pleasuring her with a loving, deliberate entry, wanting her to feel every worshipful inch of his manhood exciting her inner flesh. He slid in to the very last, giving her all of him and feeling her warm, slick tightness all around his cock. He rolled his head back in happiness.
"Oh, sweetheart," he moaned, withdrawing from her in the same slow way, letting his shaft thrill along the walls of her inner sex, amazed at his wonderful—if ill-got—good fortune.
Edward's breath became heavy and hoarse as he made love to Tom's girlfriend, gently stoking her arousal with attentive enjoyment. She welcomed him happily, sighing as he rocked his hips against her, wrapping her arms about his neck, one leg tight around his waist. She never stopped kissing him deeply as she matched his rhythm.
"Oh, Tom," she whispered. Small sounds of pleasure escaped her, hitched breaths and urgent moans, as their bodies found a comfortable pace, slowly tripping upwards toward bliss together. "Oh, honey, yes..."
Her wonderful body undulated so perfectly with his. He got lost in a heavenly, glorious delight—she gasped underneath him, as he realized she must be quickly nearing her peak. The very idea of bringing her to orgasm—almost as if were occurring to him for the first time, happily buried in her most intimate depths—made him instantly ravenous. He deepened his thrusts, picking up his pace and carrying her with him in smooth, tantalizing strokes.
"Oh, sweetheart," he muttered happily into her ear as he worked his member in her warm, creamy sex. "I want to hear you as you come... please let me hear you."

"You're going to have to tell me what to call you, then."
He stopped, shocked. Vicki writhed beneath him with an unhappy whimper, urging him again with a slow undulation of her hips and a strong kiss on the mouth.
"You knew?" he whispered, astonished. Confusion made him dizzy as he found himself responding to her still-eager motions, resuming his ardent lovemaking even as his head raced with stunned guilt.
"Yes, I did," she whispered back. "And if you want to hear me coming for you you're going to have to tell me who I'm coming for."
"But you keep calling me Tom—"
She let out a moan, almost pained with her eagerness, urgently holding off the orgasm he ached to give her.
"Edward," he said in a rush, quickening his pace again with a strangely compelling, oddly erotic encouragement racing through his blood. She'd known, the whole time! She had opened herself to him anyway, offered herself, and she wanted to come for him even though he'd been a lying imposter—
It all tumbled too quickly to a head and he threw his own head back with a moan, coming inside of her, each excited throb of semen pulsing into her sweet depths a uniquely intoxicating feeling. The burst of his orgasm inside of her sparked her own climax finally, and she tightened both legs around him, holding him there and taking each pump with relish. She whispered desperately in his ear, "Oh, I'm coming—I'm coming, Edward, yes... oh, yes!"
They sat in long, awkward silence for many, many minutes after he finally slipped out of her. Sheepish, he turned on the lamp on the bedside table and stared at the woman lying naked next to him.
"You... knew?" he said again.

"I'm not an idiot," she replied. Showing no sign of shame or regret, she pulled the bed covers up over herself, leaning on her side to study him carefully. "I saw you weren't really him the minute I got home yesterday."
"Why on earth didn't you say anything?" he asked.
Vicki shrugged.
"You obviously don't really know Tom," she said. "This is exactly the kind of stupid thing he'd pull, sort of a ‘restless, starving artist' mid-life crisis. Not sure why he'd be so keen to let another man have sex with me... without telling me... but honestly? I'm not sure I even really care anymore."
"It wasn't so we could sleep with one another's women," Edward said, trying hard to sound convincing. It was a hard thing to say when he had not five minutes ago climaxed inside of her, asking her to let him hear her own joyous orgasm as well. Indeed, Vicki gave him a shrewd frown, and he couldn't hold her gaze.
"I'm sorry," he said. He felt like a little boy.
"Don't be," she shrugged. "You don't even know me."
He felt deep shame crawling up the back of his neck.
"I didn't realize it would be such a... complicated thing," he said. "We switched places to get a break from our normal day-to-day grinds. Sort of a 'Prince and the Pauper' exchange. I assumed when it came to women, Tom wanted to escape someone as shallow and insufferable as I did. A woman he wasn't in love with. I didn't for a minute imagine he could be walking away from someone like you."
"Yes, well... like I said. He's got the whole misunderstood artist complex. Thinks the world owes him everything. Including women."
"I'm sorry," he said again. "But... why in the world did you go along with it?"
She grinned.
"To tell you the truth, Edward, when I first realized what Tom had done, that he had...switched places with someone else and not told me? Let me sleep with someone else and didn't even have the decency to give me a choice? I'm done with him. When this is over with and he comes back, he and I are through."
She paused. "He... is coming back, right?"
"Oh, yes," Edward assured her. "He is."
She nodded. "Good. So I won't miss the chance to walk out on him. It's not like I need this kind of juvenile bullshit."
"But why—"
"Because there's...something about you," she answered before he could finish. "You could be his twin but you're so much... softer. I admit it made me a bit curious, and... I wanted to see how far you would take it before you admitted what you were doing."
"I shouldn't have let things go this far," he said, putting his head in his hands. "This is... this whole thing has been terrible of me."
"Actually," she said. "I really liked it. Hell, Edward... from the moment you sat on the couch next to me tonight and kissed my neck, I wanted to let you make love to me."
"Really?" he muttered, astounded. "This is... this is unreal."
"If Tom can get off on being a secret swinger, why can't I?" she muttered, almost bored.
"But I lied to you too," he said.
She sounded disappointed. "I wish you'd been honest with me. It's really a shame."
They sat in silence again, awkward and unsure. Edward suspected they might both, somewhere, want to climb back into bed, sleep in one another's arms in the pleasant afterglow of their spectacular lovemaking. It would be sublime, really: as if there were no strange circumstances between them, no bizarre charade.
They couldn't, though. Not now.
Finally Edward stood and started gathering his clothes.
"I'll go to a hotel for the night," he said. "And I'll call Tom in the morning to tell him the switch is off."
"I think that's a good idea," Vicki said.
He dressed quickly, ashamed of himself, unable to find the words to make her understand how sorry he was. As his hand rested on the doorknob, however, he stopped.
"Will you let me take you to dinner?" he asked her.
Vicki raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious?"
"Absolutely serious. I can't apologize enough for this deception. I should never have made love to you without first telling you the truth. I wasn't lying about you being an amazing woman, though, Vicki... and I want to spend more time with you. As me, not the man who tried to trick you, disregarding your feelings."
She gave him a long, watchful glare, eyeing him up and down. Though he had been an insufferable ass, and though he didn't deserve even a mote of her forgiveness, he did see a glimmer of hope in her expression. There was something about him, she'd said... and he believed there was something about her.
"Aren't you involved with someone else too?" she said coolly.
"Not anymore," he said. "Not as soon as I get back home, and straighten out this whole mess."
She chewed on the idea, musing over it carefully.
"All right," she said finally. "I'll go out to one dinner with you. We can see where it goes. But if I get even the slightest feeling you're screwing with me again—"
"No," he assured her. "I promise."
He turned to go, slipping his business card out of his wallet to leave on the table for her. Before he could leave, though, she stopped him again.
"Edward," she said. "Why did you and Tom decide to switch places?"
He paused before answering, and gave her a soft little smile.
"I guess I wanted to see what it was like," he said. "To live one day in the life of a rich man."

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