Chapter 1

I awoke with a start. I lay in my bed for a moment to collect my jumbled thoughts. It was always like this—waking up just before my alarm went off. It was still early dawn, and the room was filled with little more than darkened monochromatic shapes. I yawned and reached for my cell phone resting on the night table. It read 6:29 AM. I shook my head. Every morning almost without exception. I don’t know why I bothered to set it at all except there were those days when due to excessive drink or dalliance with a girl the night before, my internal clock would go belly up on me.

I turned and looked at the sleeping figure in bed beside me. I had my fair share of bourbons the previous night but was nearly sober by the time I fell asleep. As far as the young woman snoozing, well, I had too many other things on my mind and my performance with her was less than stellar, not to mention exerting. Thus, BAM! I woke up one minute before my phone alarm did.

I canceled the alarm before it woke up Princess, set it back on the night table, and dragged my naked ass out of the bed. I walked across the floor of my bedroom and towards the French doors which opened to the stairwell leading down to my indoor pool.

Closing them quietly behind me, I padded down the stairs and flipped on just the pool lights, illuminating the otherwise darkened room with an eerie blue glow. The surface of the water was like a perfect sheet of glass. I stood and marveled at the sight for a moment. I always kept the water temperature at seventy-two degrees so even on cold days—as it looked like this one was going to be, I would be toasty warm as I swam my laps.  

That was my regular routine: I would wake up at 6:30, walk down one flight to the indoor pool, and swim laps for a half hour. It helped to wake me up, allowed me to keep in shape, and gave me time to contemplate the day ahead. No one else was awake, so there was total privacy—which suited me fine. I was never one for idle chitchat in the morning—or ever.

I scanned the folded towels on the table as I passed them on my way to the bathroom. Nature being what it was, I needed to get rid of the last remnants of the bourbons from the night before.  The stack of towels was getting low—there were just two towels left. It was a good thing my housekeeper, Eldora, would be returning from her vacation by Friday. If not, I’d find myself having to buy more towels. I know I had a laundry room, but I wasn’t certain where it was. I was certain I wouldn’t know how to operate the machines. Buying new towels was the only solution if I ran out.

Once I had taken care of my business, I headed back out towards the pool. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, however, and stopped. The swimming was doing me good. Not much flab on my six-foot, two-inch frame. I patted my stomach. I was most proud of my abdominals. I had been working on them and it showed. My hair was becoming grayer, though. It was more pronounced at the temples, but the rest was definitely turning. I was fifty-two years old. I suppose gray hair was an inevitability.

I dove into the water, making minimal waves when breaking the surface and swam nearly the length of the fifty-foot pool underwater. I was already feeling better by the second lap. It was a good thing to clear your mind and exert your body at the start of a day I knew was going to be pure hell.

By the time I had made my tenth lap, I looked up into the face of my previously snoozing bed partner. She was wearing nothing but a smile and the tattoos she went to bed with the night before—and I suppose would for the remainder of her life. Her body was literally an artist’s canvas—probably several artists. I was intrigued by them, however—probably the only reason she was with me at the moment; I wanted to see them up close.

One tattoo that caught my attention was a Peacock that covered almost all her right shoulder and arm, with the plumage running down to her wrist. It really was quite a masterful work of art—and must have hurt like hell to get. There was also a star tattooed just above her pubis. I had to wonder which location hurt more to be tattooed, but it was just idle curiosity on my part.

Evidently, Princess must have awoken and heard me playing in the water. Curiosity having gotten the better of her, she came down to investigate. I stopped.

“Good morning, Princess. You’re up early.” I greeted her.

“So are you, but not in the way I’d hoped.” She said with a little grin.

“Yeah, well…I’ve still got several more laps to do,” I said as I pushed off the side and continued.

She sat down at the edge of the pool with her legs dangling in the water. She lit a cigarette she pulled from a crumpled pack she had brought with her and watched me as I did two more laps.

“Isn’t it boring just swimming back and forth like that?”

“Not for me. I do this every morning. You don’t think a body like this just happens, do you? I have to work at it.” I replied.

“Well, c’mon out. I’m itchy and I want you to play with me.” She whined.

“Until I’m finished with my morning laps, you’ll have to just play with yourself,” I said.

She let out a laugh. “Will that help you get in the mood? I can do it, you know.”

I had no doubt, but it honestly wasn’t what I meant. I was still clearing the cobwebs out of my head and I hadn’t intended the innuendo.

“Do you keep anything to drink down here?” she asked.

I waited until I had reached the far end of the pool and stopped, briefly, and pointed. “There’s a fridge at the bar. Help yourself.”

I resumed my laps, catching glimpses of her as she moved across the room towards my wet bar. I kept several different mixers, juices, and beer in the refrigerator. I was certain she’d find something to her liking.

By the time I had made another circuit, she was once again sitting along the edge of the pool, legs dangling in the water with a beer in her hand.

“A little early for that, don’t you think, Princess?”

She laughed. “It’s never too early for beer.”

I smiled. Yes, Princess would make wonderful mother material someday—if you planned on raising a serial killer. I managed another set of laps while she lit another cigarette and sucked down the beer. I frowned when I saw the previous cigarette stubbed out on my nice, tiled floor amidst a sprinkling of ash.

“Are you about finished? C’mon, Maddie.”

I had made it to the far end, and I stopped again and looked back at her. She was attractive—they always were. I really wanted to finish my swim, but my head simply wasn’t in it at the moment. I shrugged and decided I might as well give her another shot. Maybe after having gotten a good night’s sleep I would now be on my game, though from the looks of things, that wasn’t the case. I climbed out of the pool and walked over to the towels. She grabbed her pack of cigarettes and lighter, jumped up, and padded after me.

As I toweled off, she wrapped her arms around my neck, leaned in, and shoved her tongue down my throat. Now don’t get me wrong. Under the right circumstances, I would more than welcome this sort of behavior from a young, naked girl. However, in this case, I was still wet from the pool, she had just sucked down a beer and smoked two cigarettes and tasted like an ashtray—an ashtray that hadn’t brushed its teeth in a while. Additionally, this little extra foray was likely to cost me even more money. I pushed her back.

“Princess, wait a second there. I don’t mind a little playtime, but we need to work out the particulars first.”

She laughed. “Don’t worry about the cost. This one is a total freebie! Watching you swim has gotten me hot and I really need you bad. Like, you don’t know how bad.”

“Bad enough that you would consider giving the teeth a good brushing for me?” I asked.

She got a horrified look on her face. “I…my breath stinks? Ohmygod! I’m so sorry. Where’s the john?”

I pointed to the far end of the room. “There’s a bathroom right over there. I keep extra toothbrushes in the top right drawer along with mouthwash. Sorry, but the taste of beer and stale cigarettes first thing in the morning doesn’t get me going.”

She raced for the bathroom and I heard her fumble for the items I had described. I sighed, finished drying off, and surveyed my surroundings. This indoor pool was but one small section of my ten-thousand square foot mansion, yet the debris she left behind looked incredibly huge. I made my way over to the wet bar and grabbed some dampened paper towels and returned to clean up the mess she had made with the smokes. It didn’t irritate me as much as I suppose it should have because I had come to expect despite the amount of money paid, some girls just made themselves feel right at home with you once sex had been factored into the equation.

It was a common mistake too many of these girls made: You’re both naked and pressed together making noises that anyplace else would elicit frowns from those within earshot—how could you not expect a degree of casualness and familiarity? Well, the same way I don’t expect my doctor to crap on my floor just because he has been poking around on me down there. Call me a stickler for professional courtesy.

My humble, but now desecrated home, was in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco California, which I had purchased with my third wife. In fact, a former congressional representative lived just on the next block. My house was bigger, though, and I had a much better view of the Golden Gate Bridge than she did.

By the time Princess was finished making herself presentable, I was dried off and the burnt offering she’d left me on the floor was gone. She raced up to me and after a slight hesitation to see if I was willing, leaped into my arms. I cradled her and she wrapped her arms around my neck once again with a big smile on her face. She kissed me and I kissed her back, genuinely returning the smile. Yes, she was a bit on the thoughtless side, but it was also what made her attractive in a strange sort of way. She had no pretense despite the vast difference in our respective stations.

“Much better, Princess,” I whispered in her ear.

She reached down and tugged on me. “It sure is!”

* * *

I looked over at the time on my cell phone. It was 7:45 AM. Princess was still panting underneath me; her long auburn hair was tousled and stuck to her sweat-beaded forehead. I had most definitely made up for the poor performance of the previous night if I did say so myself. Given my improved performance with Princess, I wondered if should always swim laps before entertaining girls in the future. I shook my head. The previous night had been a one-off. I knew the next time I would be back to normal. It would be with a different girl anyway, so what difference did it make?

“Wow!” she breathed. “You really scratched my itch good, Maddie.”

“You’re welcome,” I said as I got up. “The shower is this way. How about I lather you up for the road? I’ll be taking one myself so we can kill two birds…”

She gave me a pout. I’ll admit despite my being completely sated by her, she still looked incredibly sexy splayed as she was on my bed. “I thought…I thought maybe you’d like it if I stayed. I could be waiting for you when you come home from work. I’ll help you ease your tensions. You know I can.”

I smiled. “Princess, we had a fun time, and it was money well spent, but I think we’re done here. Why don’t you come into the shower with me and I’ll let you lather me and then I’ll do you? Then we can dress and say our fond farewells.”

She looked around at my master bedroom suite and all its amenities. The sweeping view of the San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge situated almost dead center through the window, the balcony, the double king bed—whose sheets would most definitely need to be laundered, giving my housekeeper, Eldora, yet another reason to curse my name. “But I…I don’t want to leave.”

I closed my eyes and sighed. This is why you never order a hooker when you’re drunk and alone at home. No, she wasn’t something I picked up off the street; I’m not suicidal. She is what is referred to in the business as an Escort—and a damned expensive one at that.

After downing four bourbons to blot out the insanity, which was the present state of my life, I decided I wanted the company of a female. Since I didn’t have one handy at home at the moment—for reasons I’ll get to in a little while, I made a call to a discrete service owned by a friend of mine which I use on occasion. I described to him what I wanted, and he sent me a photo of Princess on my phone. 

She was absolutely lovely—young, cute with auburn hair down past her shoulders and hazel eyes. Then I saw the tattoos—specifically the peacock. I ordinarily do not care for tattoos on women, but in my drunken haze, I thought it would be interesting to see these in person. I told him to send her over. Mistake number one. I usually make such calls from my office and meet the girls at a nearby hotel. You don’t shit where you eat, folks.

Within twenty minutes, Princess and an exceptionally large, ugly-looking bodyguard showed up at my front door. I immediately grabbed my pistol and, hiding it from their view, opened the door.

“You Tanner?” the brute asked.

“Of course. Who else would I be?” I said.

The girl pushed past the brute and into my foyer. She spun around like a princess in a castle—hence, my nickname for her. She stopped in front of a large, full-length mirror and admired herself while I dealt with her associate.

“That’s twenty-five-hundred, bro.” The brute said.

“Yeah, yeah. You must be new. Roger has my info. I settle up with him at the end of the month, so you can leave the girl and go.” I responded dismissively.

His eyes narrowed. “Don’t get cute with—”

“Look, Pal,” I interrupted. “This is a business transaction. I do girls, not Neanderthals. I said I’ll settle with Roger personally, so beat it. Otherwise, I cancel this transaction, call Roger and you’re out of a job.”

He looked over at Princess and then back at me.

I shoved a hundred-dollar bill in his hands. “There will be another one for you when you return tomorrow morning to pick up Princess here. Be here when I call.”

He stuffed the bill in his pocket, “You okay here, Jeanette?”

She gave him a huge smile as she once again twirled about the foyer with her arms outstretched. “Are you kidding? I’ll see ya later.”

The brute huffed and walked out the door. I locked it and then turned to get a good look at what I had just bought. She was gazing all over the foyer like a little kid in a candy store. Well, in this case, I was the kid, and she was most definitely the candy. I grabbed her by the hand and pulled her along with me.

“Hey!”

“I’ll give you the grand tour later, Princess. Right now, I’ve got other ideas in mind for you.”

But that was last night. I wasn’t thinking straight, had had a miserable day, and after the bourbons had taken possession of my faculties. Princess in my home was the result. Now Princess didn’t want to leave. So once again, I took her by the hand and pulled her naked, tattooed ass into the shower with me. She was a mess; I was a mess, and the situation was quickly becoming a mess. A shower was the very least needed right now.

I turned on the spigots and pushed her inside. My shower was quite large and had a bench seat which she thought was an invitation for more activities. Nope. I had to get her scrubbed up and out the door pronto. I had a hellish day ahead of me and the last thing I needed was to deal with a hooker who thought she’d found the mother of all Sugar Daddies.

“You know, Maddie, I could be really good for you. I haven’t shown you even half the things I can do. I’d do ‘em all for free, too!” she negotiated with me as I lathered her up. “I can do this thing where I put my legs behind my—”

“I’m sure you would, Princess,” I said as I put my fingers to her luscious red lips to shut them up. “…except your version of free is probably somewhat different than mine. Who would buy your food, clothes, jewelry, etceteras? You see, you wouldn’t exactly be free, now would you? Even at twenty-five-hundred dollars, plus a generous tip for your caveman escort, I’m still money ahead.”

She pouted again. “You keep calling me Princess. You don’t even remember my name, do you?”

“Sure, I do,” I said. “It rhymes with ‘Get the hell out of my house.’”

“You’re such a bastard, Maddie.”

I rinsed the soap off her and then turned off the water. “I guess I am, Princess, but at least I’m honest about it.”

And so, that was how my last three days on Earth began. Yes, you heard correctly—my last seventy-two hours on Earth. My name was Madison Alton Tanner, and I was fifty-two years old when I was murdered on a Friday night in late May of 2013. Now the obvious question one would ask is if I am dead, how am I able to tell this story? It is a legitimate question, but a question I can only partly answer. So, let me tell you the whole sordid tale.

~ ~ ~