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Since their first four hour phone conversation it had been exactly 3 years and one month. During that time they had ups and downs, learning to see one another, learning how to love in ways neither had experienced before.

Maturing. Not infatuation any longer. More intimate than physical alone. Fun and satisfying on a level deeper than either had experienced.

Tonight He was alone at his apartment 100 miles away from Her. The plan was they would not see each other again until the music festival on September 15 – a full 20 days after they had last held each other in bed.

Life had changed, become somewhat complicated, for both of them. Her brother, sister-in-law and three dogs had moved in. He had taken that “career job” He had put off for so long.

Tonight, after a couple playful texts from Her, He longed. He longed for the smell of Her, Her ample hair pushed against His face as He held Her in bed. The softness of her body against Him. The mischievous smile She seemed to have at the slightest provocation.

He knew She missed as well. The foot massage followed by the playful tickles. The safety She felt in His arms each night. Him crawling back into bed with Her just before Her alarm and holding Her as she went through the 30 minute ritual of waking.

Sometimes, like tonight, the distance seemed hard. He thought of her and pulled a pillow to His chest and hoped to dream of Her.




Abundance and Value

There are truths about life I don’t particularly like.

I don’t like disease and decay are a part of living – if you live long enough – and death if you don’t. It’s not fun or fair or even defensible. But it is true nonetheless.

One truth I particularly hate is this: People value you only in what you provide for them. If you provide them a positive, joyful experience, they will value you because of that experience. They may not value you once that experience, or your ability to provide it, wains.

Duty or obligation may keep a child visiting the nursing home. Fear of loss of even the little bit a failing spouse can provide, believing the alternative is no one, can cause even the abused to stay. Your job is only secure as long as you provide something more valuable to your employer.

Friends are there for us until the price of friendship is higher than its return. Until we become an emotional “money pit” where walking away yields the higher reward.

Honor used to keep people committed. Paying the toll. It was an artificial social constraint that is less seen today. In my opinion, it is good we no longer see obligation as the reason to stay in a relationship, to give to others, to spend our woefully limited emotional and chronological capital on others.

In the midst of this truth, we must ask: What can we depend on to have a personal sense of worth?

The only way to thrive, to live or even survive in the face of this truth is to value yourself. What you give yourself is more important by far than anything you can give to others.

A sense of self that says “I am a person who values me, who values the me I am” overcomes the sense of self-doubt and valuelessness others might project.

I give to others of my time, my emotions, my love not simply because of what they might give to me in return, but because it is my morality to love. I value myself enough to spend my capital on others, as well as on myself, because that is the kind of person I choose to be.

They may not “deserve” it. They may not have “earned” it. I give to them even when it is unrequited because I am that person. The person I am dictates how I live, how I love.

Are there situations, relationships, where I hope for a return? Certainly. There is a level of love I reserve for reciprocation. If it is not, then I may count the cost too high and choose to end the relationship rather than continue the pain of unrequited love.

But those relationships are rare, reserved only for the most intimate.

Loving freely is the mark of Abundance in your life. You are secure in yourself and who you are, knowing someone else’s response to you is not an indication of your value.

Fear robs us of Abundance. Fear someone will “see” us. Fear someone will “reject” us. Fear someone will not “value” us. Fear of not looking “cool” to others.

When we value ourselves, there is no place for fear to assail. We are content and proud of who we are. We love the person we have chosen to be.

The key to valuing yourself is to identify and then live according to your deepest held values. It causes us to respect ourselves.

Resurrection 73

This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.

The Byrd Rule

The Byrd Rule is a senate rule allowing senators to block bills that would significantly increase the US budget deficit for a period longer than 10 years. In practice this means any legislation the GAO projects will have a negative impact on the deficit for longer than 10 years is going to get blocked by the senate.

George Bush was elected President in 2000 based, at least in part, on his promise to ease the tax burden on middle-class Americans. In 2001 he signed the first of two bills aimed to deliver on that promise and colloquially known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Due to the Byrd rule, these tax cuts expired in early 2010.

In response to public demand, Barack Obama reinstituted the cuts, with minor changes, at the end of 2010 with his “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act,” extending them for an additional two years, then made a compromise bill permanent in 2012 with the “American Taxpayer Relief Act.”

Buried in the 1,500 legalise of the Bush cuts were changes to the inheritance tax provisions. These changes expired at the beginning of 2010 and were modified and reinstated again starting January 1, 2011 under Obama.

That left 2010 a particularly unique year where the inheritance tax no longer existed.

Jon Langston was a practical man. While inwardly grieving and unsure of himself contemplating his father’s rapidly approaching death, he still was conscious of the financial consequences. He met with his estate planner, Jeff Albertson, who was graduate of Harvard Law as well as a CPA, to find out how the estate would move forward after Dick’s death.

“Well, while none of us want to see Mr. Langston pass, if any person of means could choose the year of their death, this would be it” the Albertson said.

It was October 15 and Langston was pretty sure his father could not live out the year. He wasn’t sure he could live out the month. But Dick Langston was not to be underestimated. Jon had seen others do that many times before. He had a tenacity allowing him to often beat the odds. Jon mentally noted he might have to call Mr. Black into duty come December, if it came to it.

During their meeting, Langston felt the vibration of the second phone in his pocket. He didn’t bother to check who was calling.

“I need to take this,” he said to Albertson. “Give me the room.”

It was a command, not a request and Albertson felt a bristle of anger shoot through him. He showed no visible emotion as he rose from his desk and exited his office.

“Mr. Black,” Langston answered, trying to sound calm and authoritative. He was anxious. Tab Carter scared him, possibly more than the predicament he currently found himself in with the preacher.

“You need to get Reeves out on bail. Arraignment is this afternoon, Roy White is his attorney.”

Langston started, “Now just a minute….” but Black had already disconnected.

Langston gave himself a second to catch his breath and get his emotions under control. He returned his burner to his pocket, noticing the slight tremble in his hand. He exited the office and through the lobby, not sharing a glance or a word as he passed Albertson.

He climbed in his black Mercedes and pulled out his “legal” phone, telling Siri to call Jack Thorton’s private number.

“Mr. Langston, what can I do for you today?” Thornton had a measured, pleasant tone.

“Tell me how I can get Reeves out on bail today without anyone knowing it’s me.”

“Certainly, Jon. I already looked at the docket. He should be arraigned this afternoon on the charge of murdering a deputy. The bail could be up to $2 million, maybe more.”

“Shit.” That was a lot of money. Langston felt his was already spending far too much on this debacle and this was many times what he was willing to part with. He also didn’t have $2 million laying around he could just access unnoticed.

“Of course,” added Thornton, “if Reeves never made it to trial, any money you put up for bail would be returned to you by the court.”

Langston was processing how he could access that kind of money. He had about $250,000.00 in his secret “rainy day” fund, syphoned off slowly over the years. He was pretty sure Dick didn’t even know about it.

“I’m not sure I can come up with $2 million on short notice without drawing unwanted attention. Attention neither of us wants,” replied Langston.

“Well, he will probably be given cash or bond. You can do a $2 million bond for $200,000.00, but even if there is no trial, the bondsman will keep it for his fee. You’ll never see it again, no matter what.”

Well, fuck, thought Langston.

“Let me make some calls and see what I can put together quietly. I’ll call you back. His attorney is Roy White. Is he someone we can work with?”

“I don’t know him, but I checked up on him already. He’s a small town criminal attorney. Pleads out almost all of his cases. He hasn’t been in front of a jury this year. One thing about criminal attorneys, they are all a little bit criminal themselves. I’m sure we can get him to work with us.”

“What about the Judge? Can we get to him?”

“Judge White is up for reelection and this case is making state headlines, maybe national. We’ll have limited influence unless we give him something big.”

“OK, well Jack, play through the angles. I’ll call you back soon once I figure out how to put together some money.”

“Jon, we’ve got this. It’s all just details,” replied Thornton.

“We better” replied Langston, disconnecting.

Jon started the Mercedes and began the drive back to Langston Farms. He drove without thought through the beautiful hills and painted fall trees. His mind was processing how to put together the money he needed. When he arrived, he didn’t respond to Mary’s greeting and retreated to his office, closing the door behind him.


Principles of Abundance: Habits

This is the second in a series on The Principles of Abundance. You can read the first installment here.

Almost everyone has a religion, whether they are a person of faith or not. A person’s religion might be sports or karma or fitness or money or family or love, but almost everyone has a religion. Some people have several simultaneously.

You can tell a person’s true religious belief not by listening to what they SAY they believe in, but by their habits. Habits are the rituals of a person’s religious belief.

When I was in the Christian church, I would often hear individuals talk about others not being “true” Christians because they were divorced or they smoked or drank or didn’t attend services often enough. In their minds, a True Christian (TM) would act a certain way in their everyday life.

And, to an extent, they were right. At least when it came to their own belief system.

Every Belief System Has It’s Own Rituals

Show me your habits and I will tell you your religion.

Some people go to the gym. Some people worship at the altar of fitness or, in more extreme cases, bodybuilding. You can tell the difference simply by their habits – their “religious rituals” – performed each day and week.

Early in 2017, still trying to find the root of confidence in my own life, reading various life philosophies to find some or one I could integrate, I stumbled about a new way of thinking about religion and rituals.

Rituals Focus and Reinforce Our Belief System

When I stopped believing in anything supernatural, I also gave up all the Christian rituals I previously performed daily and weekly. I no longer prayed, fasted, read and memorized the Bible. I no longer spent time trying to find God’s will for my life.

After all, while I had found those things beneficial in the past, they were obviously just impressions in my own mind. They had no “real” impact on the world around me. At least, that was what I thought.

While reading about various life philosophies I came about a new idea. One not rooted in the supernatural, but in the mind.

Historically we have numerous examples of people who have accomplished great things despite personal adversity or huge obstacles. Hitler, Alexander the Great, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bill Gates were/are all just men. They have the same basic human abilities we all have. Yet, in spite of being just ordinary, they were able to accomplish extraordinary feats – for good or for evil.

They didn’t succeed at their passion because they won the lottery of life. They succeeded because of one simple yet incredibly powerful trait: The power of their own will.

In my own life, though not in any way on the level of a world changer, I have seen the power of my own will accomplish seeming impossible, even foolhardy, goals.

Several years ago I was the worship leader for a new church plant in southeastern Kentucky. Our first Sunday we had 12 people in attendance. Over the next few years that had grown to a small congregation of around 80.

I had attended a worship conference at a large (10,000 member) church in Atlanta. Over the next week, in my prayer time, a stray thought crossed my mind. I began to think God was calling us, me, to host a worship conference in our tiny church.

To give you perspective, small churches in rural Kentucky don’t host what I was envisioning. Most of the kind of conferences of this type were hosted by “mega-churches” numbering in the thousands of members. Typically in a big city. The idea of our little church in the middle of nowhere Appalachia hosting a worship conference was almost laughable. Certainly attempting to do so would end with few in attendance.

Over the next few weeks, as I “sought God’s will” in the matter through prayer, I became more and more convinced God was calling me to move ahead and hold a worship conference. That confidence caused me to start taking bold action.

I contacted the church in Atlanta that had hosted the conference. I asked their worship director if he would be willing to come up to Kentucky and host a conference for us. He said he would get back to me. A month later he was still undecided.

I continued to pray and became more and more certain God was “calling” me to set up a worship conference in my little town. Undeterred by the indecision of that worship leader, I reached out to an international music publishing company and asked if they would like to co-host a conference with us.

To my surprise, they said yes. They advertised the conference via a number of channels, put together speakers and flew one of their worship bands to provide the music. Once the day came we had over 250 people from as far away as Korea come to Appalachia to participate.

While at the time I believed this was all put together due to “supernatural intervention” the reality is nothing supernatural happened. Instead, all that happened was I willed it into being because I believed God was behind it. In my belief system at the time, when God is behind something he would make it happen. The ritual of prayer so focused my will I persevered despite the odds and obstacles and made it happen.

Rituals Don’t Have to Be Supernatural

The key element in what I learned early in 2017 was this: The rituals I participated in as a Christian focused my will and rituals (habits) can still be used to focus my will today.

The regular practice of rituals focuses our will to create a desired outcome.

Like many of you, I have been paying some attention to the news the last several years about Scientology. I guess my interest began when Tom Cruise fired his long-time publicist and then went on Oprah to denounce psychology and jump on her couch.

Any rational person I know who has looked into Scientology even a bit thinks it is foolish. A belief that ancient volcanic activity produced a race of invisible beings who inhabit our physical body and must be properly exercised in order for us to live a billion years.

For a long time it puzzled me how people who have succeeded in many areas of their lives at a high level could believe such foolish things. They were intelligent people. Successful. They must have some grasp on reality or they couldn’t have gotten where they are in life.

Now I wonder: Is Scientology important to these people not because they believed all of the talk of Thetans and the power of the e-meter, or is it important to them because the rituals focus their will, their intent, whether they believe it or not?

Growing up in the US where the vast majority of people identify as Christian, I see this all the time. The majority of Christians here pick and choose the rituals they find meaningful, helpful to them. Some don’t even believe in a god of any kind, but choose to follow the moral principles of the Bible. Others view the Bible literally and take all of the rites and requirements there as sacred obligations and joy.

Formal religion is a product and we choose what works for us.

The Mind and the Placebo Effect

For the last few decades, medical doctors have know placebos can be just as effective for some “self-observed” physical ailments. Prescribing a placebo for pain, for example, can lessen the perceived pain for the patient without actually doing anything for them physically.

The reason most researched believed this effect happened was because the patient “believed” the treatment would work.

Dr. Ted J. Kaptchuk has been studying the placebo effect for decades at Harvard. In recent studies he began to ask: “Would the placebo effect still occur if the patient KNEW they were receiving a placebo?”

Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

Your mind and its workings are complex. We do know, however, that adopting rituals – even without a belief in anything supernatural – can have a powerful effect. Rituals can focus and then refocus our mind, our will, and create the reality we choose.

Reality is Created in Our Minds

None of us really can know objective reality. Let that sink in for a minute. Everything we experience is experienced by our minds. You could be the only “mind” in existence and be living in a Matrix-like simulation. You would have no way to know. Reality is whatever your mind believes it to be.

If you believe your parents loved and valued you, that is your reality and you will behave accordingly. If you believe they did not, you will also behave accordingly. The objective reality of whether or not they actually loved you means nothing, only your belief and reality.

Scott Adams, of Dilbert comic fame, has written a book about how we can program our brain to change our reality. In fact, his theory is someone is programming your brain right now – and it’s up to you to determine whether that will be you doing the programming or someone else.

How to Change Your Reality

Dr. David Burns is a pioneer in the psychological discipline of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is rooted in the belief that our emotions are first rooted in our thoughts. If we change the thoughts, the emotions change as well. His book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy teaches individuals to do CBT on their own.

If someone is experiencing an emotion that is troubling to them, they can go through a process to evaluate and refine their thoughts. First, they identify the emotions they are feeling. Next, they identify the thoughts behind those feelings. Finally, they identify the actual truth of the situation.

Amazingly, identifying the irrational thoughts and countering them with truthful thoughts is surprisingly effective. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or just about any negative thought pattern, I would suggest you give it a try.

But CBT can be effective not only in dealing with negative emotions, it can also be used to create positive emotions you need to change your reality.

The Chalice of Abundance

When I visualize Abundance’ role in my life, I picture my life as a chalice. The chalice is always full of The Wine of Abundance. Always, to the brim. Abundance fills everyone’s chalice completely, every day, all the time.

But here’s the thing: Everyone’s chalice is a different size. Someone with a small chalice has little room to be filled with Abundance. Someone with a large chalice, has more room to contain The Wine of Abundance.

The size of anyone’s chalice is based on their own beliefs and desires. Their will. My goal each day is to increase the size, the volume, of my chalice so I can hold more.

How to Increase the Size of Your Chalice

Several activities will increase the size of your chalice. Here are some I have identified work for me, your mileage may vary. You also may find new ones not mentioned here, feel free to let me know about these in the comments.

Remove Limiting Thoughts

When I finally gave up Christianity I had a limiting belief. Even though I “knew” objectively I had accomplished in my life the things I had accomplished, I somehow believed I could only accomplish challenging things because of my faith in God.

The objective truth wasn’t truth for me. I believed something else, even in the face of that truth.

How do you remove limiting thoughts? You counter them with truth. CBT. In my case I have a ritual I practice every morning where I go through a series of index cards, reading them aloud but often under my breath, to remind me of truths I need to counter my own limiting thoughts.

Focus Your Will

Several years ago I started this blog with the intent of learning how to write fiction. I was making my living as a nonfiction writer, doing well at it, but I wanted to create fiction. Initially, my writing was poor. “Sucking is the first step to succeeding” I’ve heard.

My fiction was written in “fits and starts.” I might write a chapter, or a story, then write nothing for months. My “skills” saw little improvement for years.

Two things changed that, and they both had to do with focusing my will.

First, I connected with my friend Meg and we decided to write something together. A silly story, one chapter at a time, alternating weekly and posted to our respective blogs. Over three months I learned much more about how to write dialog, picture a scene, tell a story in a longer form. It wasn’t great. It was possibly mediocre, but it was better.

The focus produced by the partnership meant I was “obligated” to get better.

The second was NaNoWriMo last November. It “forced” me to write every day and do so with a deadline. I now have an almost complete draft of 76,000 words. It is far better than any fiction I had written previously.

Focusing my will, even by these self-imposed obligations, increased the size of my chalice.

There are other ways you can focus your will on a daily basis. I’ll cover those in my next installment.









Principles of Abundance

This is the first in a series I will be writing to record my thoughts and experiences searching for greater levels of Abundance in my own life. You may find these helpful to you as well.

Before I dive in, let me make one thing clear: This is not based on something supernatural. It is not “The Law of Attraction.” It is not based on vibrations or various gods and goddesses intervening. It is actually based on some solid science about how our brains function.

For a long time I was a Christian (you’ll hear more about that later) and believed in two worlds, natural and supernatural. I became an atheist and no longer believe anything exists outside the “natural” world. Physics always trumps faith.

Having said this, recognize the Principles of Abundance I will begin to flesh out here and in future posts will be applicable to people with or without faith or religion. In fact, if you are a person of faith they may be a bit easier to apply than a person without faith.

What is Abundance?

Paul J. Meyer was a pioneer in what was to become the personal development industry. In 1960, Meyer started a business named “Success Motivation International” or SMI designed to teach business people how to find greater levels of happiness and fulfillment in their lives through goal setting and time management.

One of the key elements of his technique was to separate our lives into six parts and evaluate where we are in each. I first started reading his materials in college and quickly adopted those six areas in my own personal evaluations. Here are the six areas:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Mental
  3. Physical
  4. Familial
  5. Social
  6. Financial

For a number of years after college I asked myself on a regular basis “what does ‘success’ look like in each of these areas?” Finally, about 10 years ago, I surveyed just over 10,000 people and got their responses to that question. Here are the results:

  1. Spiritual – Living in tune with deeply held values and beliefs.
  2. Mental – Having a mind that is sharp, peaceful and optimistic.
  3. Physical – Having a body that is fit, healthy, strong and attractive.
  4. Familial – Having a family that is happy and healthy.
  5. Social – Having a wealth of personal relationships where you are giving and receiving love, help and encouragement.
  6. Financial – Having more than enough for today and the future.

You don’t have to adopt these particular definitions, find ones that work for you. The point is, however, to understand what Abundance would look like in your life. For me and thousands of others, these definitions work pretty well. Your mileage may vary.

Beginning to Understand Principles of Abundance

When I was 12, at a church retreat, I became a Christian. At 16 I began practicing a daily ritual many Christians engage in called a “daily quiet time.” It was a time set aside each day for prayer, scripture reading and meditation.

As I grew in my faith, I added other rituals like fasting, scripture memorization.

At 17 I enrolled in a Christian college where I determined to spend my life helping other people find happiness in their lives. Particularly, at least for the next several years, I planned to do that through teaching and counseling Christian principles. I moved to rural Appalachia to help some of the most physically and spiritually impoverished people in the US.

I had big goals. I wanted to transform people’s lives by providing inspiration, well-paid employment and individual counseling. I began leading worship and helped start or restart several churches throughout eastern Kentucky.

By this time my prayers and other rituals were more about me seeking the will of God. Once I was convinced I was in God’s will in a certain area – like planting a church or growing a business to provide employment – I had incredible boldness and confidence. I truly believed if I did what God was calling me to do, I would succeed no matter how big the goal or how oppressive the obstacles may be.

My supernatural belief in the power of God gave me force of will to succeed. It worked, I was able to do many things I would never have dared attempt without God’s help.

Through a long series of events over a number of years, I decided to give up my faith in the supernatural. It was painful, discouraging and created a number of personal crises.

It was a necessary step to take me to where I am today, but it left me with an ongoing lack of confidence. In my mind I understood anything I had accomplished was done by force of my own will, not the will of any god or supernatural force, but mustering up confidence without belief was difficult. Knowing something in my head didn’t necessarily mean it was in my “heart.”

Regaining Confidence to Pursue Abundance

For several years I tried to rediscover the confidence I had once known. Confidence allowing me to build a successful business, raise happy and healthy sons, care for my ill wife. It worked to some extent, but still I struggled. I found it hard to embrace and believe in the grandiose ideas and goals I had once trusted God to materialize.

Over the next few years I was able to regain some confidence, but life seemed to have less purpose. My sons grew up, moved out and started families of their own. My wife and I parted ways. All of my life I had done things for God, my family and others, and now all I had was me, and on some level I wasn’t very motivated to pursue lofty goals for just myself.

Lack of motivation led to some problems. My business began to fail. I had to lay off workers. Money, which used to be abundant, was becoming scarce. I fell victim to my own unfulfilled desires and overindulged in many things, often on a daily basis.

By mid-2016 I knew I had to make some changes. I needed to get routine, significant income. I needed to find my own center. I needed to figure out what was holding me back from the mental joy and peace I desired.

By January 2017, I began to understand I needed to cohesive philosophy to pull together the various pieces of my life. I began reading various views, many of them ancient, about how to live life to produce happiness and abundance.

By May, I had found a puzzle piece that completely changed my life and my journey. More on that in the next installment.

Voyeur IV

Warning: This is an erotic story and not for anyone under 18 nor those with a heart condition. You can see the chapter index here.

The pattern of Watcher’s seduction continued every few nights. Pam found herself longing for his 10pm texts. She wondered if on the nights he didn’t text if he were pleasuring, “watching,” some other woman. It made her jealous.

Watcher would tease her for an hour or more and Pam would pleadingly text “please let me come.” Often, when she did, he would tease her longer, not allowing her release until he chose the time and method.

Then after two weeks, the texts stopped. For ten days she heard nothing from Watcher.

“What’s wrong with you?” Emily asked across the table at Barney’s.

“Nothing…” lied Pam. Watcher made her feel young. Sexy. Desirable. The whole part of her she had put away when she got pregnant and married at 18, she now was experiencing with him.
“You’ve been so happy lately. Heck, it seems like Shae’s promotion didn’t even phase you. Now, tonight, you seem pretty down. Actually, you’ve seemed down for the last few days.” Emily was perceptive about her friend.

Pam didn’t know what to say, and couldn’t tell her about Watcher, but her emotions were close to the surface. “It’s just…well…I met someone and we’ve been texting and now he’s…disappeared.”

“I’m so happy to hear you’re trying to date! He’s probably just busy. You’re a catch, he’s not going to find anyone like you. Who is he? How did you meet? Dish, girl, dish.”

“We aren’t dating…we’re mostly, well, just texting.” Pam was trying to figure out what she could say and still appear she wasn’t being reckless with some ax murderer.

“‘Texting’, huh? You mean you’ve been sexting with some guy? That’s kinda hot.” Emily didn’t miss a beat.

“Well..I guess the texts are a bit sexual.” Pam wanted to change the subject before she got in any deeper. She looked down at the menu. “Do you want to order one entree and split it?”

That night she went to bed early, trying to put her mind at rest and stop thinking about Watcher. At precisely 10pm, her phone alerted.

“I want to see you.”

“Where have you been?” Pam typed. Thinking how out of control she was being. Watcher was obviously manipulating her.

“I want to see you.” Watcher repeated.

Pam was frustrated and angry, there was no way she was going to meet a man she had never spoken to, she didn’t even know his name. She did something she had never dared before. She clicked “Call” on his number.

The phone went to voicemail.

“I don’t want to talk to you, I want to see you.” Watcher replied.

“I am NOT going to meet you.” Pam was defiant.

“I don’t want to meet you, I want to see you.” Watcher clarified. “Go to the balcony.”

Pam’s house was in a lightly wooded area with a few more homes, all spaced a hundred yards apart or so, with the small patches of woods between. Outside her bedroom door a balcony overlooked her living room with a vaulted ceiling. The opposite wall was windows, looking out to a small wooded area with a neighboring house behind. The lower windows had blinds, but the upper windows were unshielded.

For the first time Pam realized any time she was on the balcony, like when she walked from her shower naked to her bedroom, anyone in the woods below could see her.

Had Watcher been there, seeing her? The thought both terrified and excited her.

“NO!” Pam texted back, realizing just how vulnerable she was.

Pam waited anxiously for Watcher to reply. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell him off or experience the pleasures again. She stayed up until midnight.

There was no reply.