A Lesson Regarding Humanity - nightclub,xxx,porn,free erotic story


Further adventures of Ken, Meghan, and Jo from A Correct Destiny. I have written this story so it is not necessary to have read the original novel to enjoy and understand it, although it will no doubt be enhanced if you have/do.

The Reptilian Lounge Nightclub in Dallas, Texas was in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of the city, a somewhat rundown though still vibrant district separated from the high-rises of downtown by the elevated lanes of the North Central Expressway. It was a humid, sticky Friday night in late summer and at thirty minutes to midnight the three-story club was packed to well beyond legal capacity, mostly with twenty-one to twenty-five year old men and women, most of whom were provocatively dressed, most of whom were enjoying some degree of intoxication.

On the ground floor of the club, the largest of the three levels, the circular dance floor was the dominating feature. Multi-colored lights flashed back and forth and lasers pulsed above, bathing the two to three hundred men and women moving their bodies to the beat of modern techno music around its polished surface in an eerie glow. To one side of the dance floor was a bar that ran the length of the room. Here, eight bartenders were on duty, every one of them scrambling endlessly to keep up with the demands of the thirsty patrons who were lined up five and six deep. Directly across the dance floor from the bar was the entryway, where a steady stream of new customers made their way into the loud, dimly lit meat market after clearing the identification checkpoints and the metal detectors. North and south of the dance floor were dozens of cocktail tables, most capable of seating four to eight but a few—usually off in the corners—tiny and only designed for two. In the spaces between these tables, cocktail waiters and waitresses circulated with trays full of drinks and patrons walked back and forth, heading to and from the bar, to and from other tables, to and from other levels, and to and from the dance floor entrances. Many of these patrons simply stood in the open areas, unable to find seats, or perhaps preferring to stand and mingle more intimately with the press of humanity. Sometimes they gathered in clusters that had to be broken up by the bouncers in order to keep the traffic moving along. Amidst this mass of drunken, partying youngsters were a male and a female who seemed to fit in quite well in this environment but who were not, by any stretch of the imagination, what they seemed to be.

The male was named Ken, although his mother and grandparents called him Kenneth. He was dressed in a tight black button-up shirt, un-tucked as was the current fashion, and a loose-fitting pair of jeans that sagged just enough to show the top of his boxers. His hair was brown and thick, his arms well-muscled, his abdomen without the slightest trace of a beer belly. The female was named Meghan. She was a stunningly cute brunette with green eyes a man (or even a woman) could drown in. She wore a tasteful yet sexy one piece dress. Black in color, it was sleeveless up top and designed to accent her breasts, which were of the sort men would sell their souls to touch. Down low, the hem fell to about mid-thigh, accenting her bare legs, which were of the sort men dreamed of feeling wrapped around their backs.

Ken and Meghan were married to each other though neither wore a wedding ring or any other kind of jewelry and both had been freely dancing, flirting, and even occasionally kissing or groping other patrons of the club all night. They were both physically attractive specimens of their sex whose outward appearance would lead anyone, even the most careful observer, to believe they could be no older than mid-twenties. In fact, however, in terms of chronological time on Earth, both were about twenty-five years older than they looked. And, no matter how many years passed, they would continue to look this way until they decided to reproduce or until they died. Ken and Meghan were members of a special breed of human, a breed that virtually all modern humans thought nothing more than a myth, a breed that had lived alongside human society for more than five thousand years and went to great lengths to conceal its existence. They called themselves the Cognate, though in human myth there were other, less kind words for them.

They sat in the northeast corner of the room, at the most isolated of the tables for two. They had encountered no difficulty whatsoever in securing this table for their use. They had simply asked the young couple sitting there before them—a couple who had met each other an hour before out on the dance floor and had become convinced (thanks to six Captain and Cokes apiece) they were each other's soul mate—to please leave. The couple left without argument, both thinking it was an entirely reasonable request, both promptly forgetting the encounter a few minutes later.

"Did you decide which one to take?" Ken asked his wife. He spoke softly, almost in a whisper, so low that one of the human patrons would not have heard his words even if he or she had been standing right next to him.

Meghan had no trouble understanding him, however. Like any cognate, her hearing was both powerful and selective. With a conscious thought, her brain could filter out the pounding of the music and the babble of hundreds of other conversations and focus only on what it was she wanted to hear. "I think so," she whispered back, her words just as inaudible to normal human ears, her mouth forming a naughty smile. "I'm kind of taken with Reg over there. The one I was dancing with last round."

Ken let his brown eyes track across the room to one of the eight person tables next to the railing that divided the dance floor from the table area. There, three young women and five young men were drinking bottles of light beer and laughing together. Three members of this party were wearing purple and white T-shirts with a caricature of a horned frog on them. These were the colors and mascot of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The young man of whom Meghan spoke was one of the T-shirt wearers. He was maybe twenty-two years old, aristocratically handsome in the face, but a bit on the thin side—certainly not a TCU student attending on an athletic scholarship. This was slightly odd. Meghan had a bit of a thing for men—and women for that matter—with athletic bodies and attitudes. "Hmm," Ken said, raising his eyebrows a bit. "Not your typical conquest."

"True," she agreed cordially enough. "There's something about him though. He seems ... oh ... innocent."

"Innocent?" Ken scoffed with a little laugh. "In this place?"

She gave him a very wifely look. "Don't you go mocking me," she said. "I know what I felt when I was dancing with him."

Ken took a sip of his drink. It was a seven and seven, heavy on the first seven thanks to an in-the-closet male bartender who had reacted very strongly to Ken's presence. He had consumed five of them in the past ninety minutes but was not the least bit intoxicated thanks to his cognate physiology. "I don't know what you felt," he told his wife with a smirk, "but I know what he felt. Once he got his hand on your left tit you had to damn near pry it off with a crowbar."

Meghan giggled, knowing that her husband held no jealousy in his heart over the incident. It was, after all, what they were here for. "He almost came in his pants while he was feeling me up," she said. "That's what's cute about him. I don't think he's ever ... you know ... gone all the way before."

Ken found this very hard to believe. "A virgin?" he asked. "Here?"

"I think so," she said, the naughty smile back on her face.

Ken shook his head sternly. "No way in hell," he said. "It's not possible for a man to spend two years in an accredited university without getting laid. Even if it is TCU."

"Wanna bet?" she asked sweetly.

"You're on," he said. "What are the stakes?"

She reached out and touched his face, sliding her soft fingertip from his ear to his lips, sending a chill through his body. "Winner gets the prize," she suggested. "Loser ... well ... loser doesn't."

He grasped her by the wrist and brought her fingertip back to his lips. He kissed it gently, looking in her eyes as he did so. "You're on," he said, confident that he would win.

A minute later, Meghan was up and working her way through the crowd to the table where Reg sat with his friends. As she went on her path, nearly every man she passed within five feet of stopped whatever he was doing and turned to look at her. They did this even if their backs had been to her as she approached. They did this even if they were in the middle of conversing with someone of the opposite sex. Three of the men she passed ended up not getting laid that night because the girl they were talking to became offended by this motion. But they could not help it. Not only was Meghan attractive on the surface, she was cognate. And cognate demanded attention even when they didn't necessarily want it.

For her part, Meghan ignored the ruckus she caused. She approached the table and the conversation around it stopped as all of the men (and one of the women) turned their heads to look at her. Reg, who had been not-so-surreptitiously glancing at her ever since they'd shared a dance twenty minutes before, swallowed audibly.

"Hi, guys," Meghan greeted cheerfully, her eyes meeting each pair looking up at her before settling on Reg.

The five guys and one girl who were taken with her all chirped enthusiastic greetings in return. The two girls who were not taken with her grunted semi-hostile verbalizations that technically qualified as polite greetings.

The pounding beat of the music made small talk impossible. As such, Meghan got right to her point. She held out her hand to Reg and nodded toward the dance floor. Reg looked to where she was indicating and then licked his lips. Finally, he nodded back, taking her hand and standing up. She led him to the nearest dance floor gate, Reg's companions watching them go. Meghan's cognate hearing picked up their conversation with ease.

"Damn," said one of the guys. "Reg has got it going on tonight."

"No shit," said another.

"She's a slut," opined one of the girls, her voice dripping with jealousy.

"I don't know," said another, her voice quite dreamy, her panties quite wet. "She seems nice enough."

"She's on the prowl," said the last girl knowingly. "She must know who Reg's old man is."

Meghan tuned the conversation out and let her brain process the sound of the music instead. The beat was pounding and loud, the synthesizers and the guitars hypnotic, designed to get the pulse pounding. She led the young man she now thought of as her prey to the corner of the dance floor, out of the view of his friends and close to the exit. They began to dance. As she moved her body to the beat she brought her upper arms away from her body just for a second, just enough for a small blast of the cognate pheromones, which were secreted from glands in her armpits, to waft into the air around her.

Reg did not consciously recognize that he had just inhaled a potent mind-altering organic chemical. He had the vaguest sense that the beautiful young brunette woman he was dancing with (he did not know her name as she had yet to introduce herself on that level) smelled really good—kind of like a combination of fresh oranges and limes—and then he was nearly overwhelmed with a sensation of lust for her. It was not simply physical attraction that rippled through him. He had been attracted to her ever since spying her from across the room more than an hour ago. Nor was it simple fantasizing or infatuation. He had been experiencing that ever since she'd asked him to dance twenty minutes ago. No, this was full-blown lust on a scale he had never experienced before, not even during the hottest, heaviest make-out sessions with Candy, his fiancée. He wanted the young woman like he wanted to breathe, like he wanted water when he was thirsty, food when he was hungry. In his pants, he felt his penis stiffen from a nervously shriveled noodle to a full-blown turgid erection. He felt his face flushing, his breathing pick up. He looked at her the way a man looked at a pornographic picture, his eyes tracking up and down from her face to her neck to her cleavage to her legs and then back. He could perfectly envision touching, tasting, possessing every inch of her smooth, sexy body. He was not so far gone that he would attack her, but given the slightest bit of encouragement he would go as far as she would allow him and would not spare so much as a single thought for the consequences.

Meghan's smile widened as her pheromones went to work on her prey. She did not need to look down to see the bulging erection in his pants. The cognate olfactory sense was extremely acute, acute enough to use as a navigational tool in pitch blackness if necessary, acute enough to inventory a room one was not even in, acute enough to identify individual humans from each other from more than a hundred yards without assistance from sight or hearing. She could smell the sudden spike in his arousal as plainly as a human could smell a bag of coffee being opened, or bacon being cooked, or garlic and oregano being simmered. More importantly, she could smell the effect she was having on the other humans nearby. All of the men in a six foot circle around her were being affected minimally by her presence and had been since she and her prey had settled here. That was to be expected. Her armpits were bare, she herself was more than a little sexually aroused, and, most significant, she was hungry. Under these circumstances a certain amount of the pheromones would percolate out into the surrounding air no matter what measures she took to prevent it. The submission reaction, however, was something different. Not so long before, she would not have dared direct a blast of pheromones at someone in so crowded an environment. Now, however, she was learning to use the tools of her species more effectively. No one but Reg had been hit full force. True, a few of the closer guys might find themselves with a strange lapse of memory for the last few minutes, but none would try to physically accost her.

Use your pheromones like a scalpel, her mother and grandmother always told her, not like an axe. That was wise advice indeed. Advice that was serving her well just now.

She danced around behind her prey, so she was gripping his waist from behind, her breasts pushing into his back, her lips near his ear, close enough he could feel her breath upon it. She was careful to keep her upper arms pinned against her body. "You said you have a car out in the parking lot?" she whispered to him, just loud enough that only he would hear her words.

"Yes," he said dreamily, nodding, his body still swaying to the music, his hands dropping to hers, caressing them.

"Good," Meghan whispered. She had already known the answer to this question, of course. She had asked him this earlier, during their first dance. It was, in fact, the only thing she had asked him, other than his name. "Why don't you take me out to see it?"

"To ... to my car?" he asked, another burst of arousal scent blasting into the air at this suggestion.

"Yes," she whispered, her lips actually touching his earlobe now. "To your car." She could take him here and now if she was so inclined, but she wasn't. That would be madness. There were too many people here, too many security cameras. Cognate preferred to take their prey to dark, secluded places in order to maintain what was known as The Subterfuge—the masquerade that allowed their kind to exist alongside humans without detection.

"Oh ... okay," Reg said, shuddering a little. "Let's go."

"Lead the way," Meghan told him.

He led the way, walking quickly, purposefully to the dance floor gate nearest the exit. From there, he began weaving in and out of the throngs of young people gathered at the door. Meghan stayed a few paces behind him, not touching him, far enough back so anyone who happened to be looking at them, either with their own eyeballs or through the lens of a security camera, would not be able to say for certain if the two of them were leaving together or just leaving at the same time. Her eyes tracked back, forth, up, down as they went, looking at the position of the cameras, the locations of the bouncers. Her ears listened for any snatch of conversation that concerned the two of them. Her nose sampled the thousands of scents in the air, her brain scanning them for anything that could be categorized as dangerous. Everything seemed as it should.

They reached the exit door. A bouncer looked them up and down for a moment, his eyes lingering considerably longer on Meghan's breasts than was considered polite.

"Everything okay?" Meghan asked him, her voice conveying just a hint of irritation.

He jerked a little. "Uh ... yeah ... just fine," the bouncer said, blushing. "I was ... uh ... just making sure you had your band on so you could get back in."

"Of course," she said, diplomatically not mentioning that the band in question, which she had paid a five dollar cover charge for, was on her wrist, not on a necklace chain on her chest. "Thank you for your concern."

The bouncer mumbled something in reply, something her cognate hearing could not even make out, it was so inarticulate. He bothered her no more.

"Which way?" Meghan asked her prey once they were through the door. She moved a little closer to him and let just the tiniest blast of pheromones slip out into the air.

"Oh ... wow," Reg said, nearly drooling at the sight of her now. "You are so ... so ... pretty."

"Thank you," Meghan said. Oops, maybe that last blast wasn't really necessary. He's getting loopy. "Now which way to your car?"

"Oh ... yeah, my car," Reg said. He looked around the parking lot for a moment and then pointed off to the north. "That way. Out toward the back."

"Very good," Meghan said. "Take me there and I'll give you a surprise."

"I love surprises," Reg said. He began to walk again.

Reg's car actually turned out to be a truck. It was a 2010 Ram Big Horn extended cab, cherry red in color, four wheel drive, with extra-large tires and rims that had probably cost more than she and Ken had paid in rent the last three months. On the bumper were two stickers. One was the official Texas Christian University logo that was available only to students and alumni. The other was a Jesus fish eating a Darwin fish with the word TRUTH printed next to it.

"Nice truck," Meghan commented. "I hope it doesn't mean you're compensating for something."

"Compensating for something?" Reg said. "No ma'am. My daddy paid cash for it."

Meghan smiled. "Of course he did." She took another survey of her surroundings, casting her special senses about. There were no security cameras nearby—a recon of the area when they'd arrived had already established that. They were in a dark part of the parking lot, a part where ordinary human eyeballs would not be able to see through the truck's windshield unless they were closer than twenty feet or so. She could smell a small crowd lingering near the front door of the club and twenty or thirty random humans scattered throughout the parking lot (including a man and a woman who were getting hot and heavy in a Ford Mustang out toward the west side) but none were within sixty yards of them currently and none were heading in their direction. There was one figure ambling in their direction but it wasn't a human. It was Ken. Even if she didn't know his scent quite intimately, she would have known he was cognate if nothing else. The licorice-peppermint odor of male cognate pheromones was unmistakable.

"Would you ... uh ... like to see inside?" Reg offered, a bit of his shyness returning as he was exposed to the fresh air.

"I would love to," Meghan told him. "Why don't we start with a tour of the back seat?"

Reg gulped nervously, his face flushing again. "Umm ... uh ... okay," he said. He took his keys from his pocket and pushed the electronic lock button. The truck chirped, its lights flashed twice, and the door locks shot up. Reg opened the rear door for her and she climbed inside. He followed quickly behind.

The back seat was actually quite luxurious. Large enough to carry three passengers in comfort, the seats were leather and there was plenty of leg room. Meghan smiled at her good fortune. She hated to be cramped when she took her prey. There would be plenty of room for everything she wanted to do ... assuming, of course, that she won her bet and earned free reign to do that particular everything. She was pretty confident she was right, however. Her prey just seemed too inexperienced to be anything but what she suspected.

"Um ... uh ... so what would you like to see?" Reg asked her, his tongue obsessively licking his lips as the odor of her pheromones in the closed cab began to work on him in earnest.

"I'd like to see everything," Meghan told him, her fingertips touching his leg just above the knee. "But first ... how about we talk a little?"

"Talk? Uh ... sure, I can do that."

"I like to talk," Meghan said. "But maybe I can sit on your lap while we talk. Would that be okay?"

Reg nodded so fast he might have sprained his neck. "Yeah, sure," he said. "That would be nice. You sitting on my lap that is. I mean ... if you really want to."

"I really want to," Meghan said. With that, she scooted over until she was next to him. With a quick maneuver, she spun herself around, swinging her left leg over his lap. She sat down, her bare legs straddling his thighs, her breasts just about even with his face. She opened her arms a little, releasing more pheromones into the air. She began to stroke up and down his bare arms, softly, sensually. "Can you hear me well?"

"Uh ... oh ... yeah," Reg gasped. "I hear you very well." His hands had gone to her waist. He was moving them up and down, feeling the curves and softness of her body.

It had not been Reg that Meghan had been asking that question to. It had been Ken. She could smell him out there, about ten yards away, standing in the shadows, ready to run interference for her if someone should head in her direction. Faintly but clearly, her ears picked up his reply. "I hear you. I smell you too. I wouldn't get too comfortable up there. It'll be harder to get down when you lose."

"Let's just see whose gonna lose tonight," she said.

"Prob'ly the Rangers," Reg said thickly, his fingertips now running all the way down to Meghan's upper thighs, just to the point where he was touching bare flesh. "They kinda suck this year."

"Right," Meghan said with a chuckle. Faintly, she heard Ken give a little bark of amusement as well.

"You really are sexy," Reg said, his fingers now sliding under Meghan's skirt a little. "What did you say your name was?"

"Meghan," she replied, sliding her fingertip over his shoulder and up to his face. She touched his lips for just the briefest second.

"I like that name," Reg said. "I like everything about you."

"That's very nice, Reg," she said. "Tell me something. Do you have a girlfriend?"

He nodded without hesitation. Humans, when under the influence of pheromones, found it very difficult to lie. They, in fact, had a tendency to volunteer information—sometimes information a cognate didn't really want to hear. "Her name is Candice ... Candy for short. She's almost as pretty as you are."

"Is she now?" Meghan said. "Do you like to touch her thighs the way you're touching mine?"

He nodded. "Oh yeah," he said, digging his fingers into her thighs just a little. "I don't do it too often though."

"You don't?" Meghan said. She was now scratching lightly at the back of his neck with her left hand. Her right was twirling around inside the collar of his shirt, touching his warm skin. "Why not?"

"Too much temptation," he said. "I might ... you know ... want to do more with her."

"What's wrong with that?" Meghan asked.

"We're not married yet," he said, his fingertips now touching her inner thigh, about half an inch away from the elastic band of her pink lacy panties. "God you smell good."

"I do, don't I?" Meghan said, leaning forward and kissing his forehead with her soft lips. "You can touch me there, you know. I like it."

He shuddered beneath her. His fingers moved forward, burrowing beneath the crotch of her panties. She felt his middle finger probing and pushing until it finally encountered the wetness of her slit.

"Mmmm," she said. "So eager. Why don't you put two fingers in?"

He did, pushing them in well past the second knuckle. He began to move them in and out. Meghan began to rut her body against him, clenching and releasing.

"Okay now," Ken's voice told her. "We haven't established virginity yet."

She cast an evil look in his direction, knowing he could see her perfectly with his cognate eyes. She turned back to her prey. "So you're not planning to have sex with Candy until you're married?" she asked.

He was almost too far gone to answer her. His own natural sexual arousal and the constant exposure to her pheromones had almost taken him away. But not quite. "No," he panted, his lips now kissing her exposed shoulder, putting his nose even closer to the source of her control over him. "I'm ... I'm a good Christian. I ... I would never ask her to ... to..." He inhaled deeply. "Oh, Lord you're so sexy."

"Yes ... I am," Meghan said. Her right hand had dipped down low, under the hem of his shirt. She was caressing the bare flesh of his stomach. "But let's go back to Candy for a moment. You've never fucked her?"

"No," he said. "I sucked on her titties one. And I jacked off on her stomach. I was really drunk that night. I shouldn't have done it. God forgives me though. I was repentant."

"I'm sure you were," Meghan told him. Her fingers were now touching the waist of his jeans, sliding over the buckle of his belt. "What about other girls? Have you ever fucked anyone before?"

"No," he said. "Never. It's ... it's a sin to do it before marriage."

"Son of a bitch!" she heard Ken's voice bark.

"Looks like I have a winner here," Meghan said, her fingers sliding the end of the belt out of the buckle.

"Thank you, Meghan," Reg said, unaware she wasn't talking to him, also unaware of the irony of his statement. "The Lord will reward me come the rapture."

"I have no doubt he will," Meghan said. She was about to open Reg's pants and take her prize but something occurred to her. What if Reg and his girlfriend were in a correct destiny relationship? A correct destiny—meaning a relationship in which both parties were mutually in love with each other—was a rare thing among humans but it did happen from time to time, usually through blind chance. Interfering with a correct destiny was forbidden by the Fifth Commandment of cognate law. And while it was true that simply preying upon one member of a correct destiny relationship did not technically constitute interference in and of itself, knowingly doing so was starting to edge into the gray area on the fringes of the line. Meghan was a very young cognate. She and Ken had been propagated (as the term went) less than six months before. She had gotten over such silliness as worrying about whether her prey was married or not but she still felt very uncomfortable at the thought of entering the gray area. Penalties for cognate who violated cognate law were understandably severe.

"Your pussy feels so ... so... tight," Reg exclaimed. "Do they all feel like this?"

"I don't know," Meghan said. "I haven't felt them all."

Reg giggled like a child.

"Listen, Reg," Meghan said, reaching down and grasping his wrist, stopping the thrusting of his fingers in and out. "Let's talk a little more, okay?"

"Talk?" he said, struggling a little against her restraining hand. He was no match for her cognate strength, however.

"Yeah," she said. "Just for a second. You and Candy. Are the two of you happy together?"

"Happy?" he said, puzzled, as if he was unsure just what she was talking about. "What do you mean?"

"I mean do you love her?" she clarified. "Is she the woman who makes you happy?"

"Well ... she's beautiful," he said slowly. "She's the most beautiful woman I ever hooked up with. And she doesn't mind that I won't go all the way with her."

"Yes," Meghan said, "but do you love her?"

"My dad thinks she's a gold digger," Reg said, not answering the question. "He never told me this—he says he likes her and that she'll make a fine addition to the family—but I overheard him telling my uncle what he really thought one night when Candy and I were visiting."

"I see," Meghan said. "And..."

"My friends don't really like her much either," Reg interrupted. "John and Steve—those are my two best friends—told me she's just trying to marry into a rich family too. Steve even told me that ... well, it don't matter."

"Yes, yes it does matter," Meghan told him. "What did Steve tell you?"

"He says he heard she's sleeping with other guys ... like the jocks you know, and one of the professors."

"Hmmm," Meghan said. "And do you think that's true?"

"I told Steve there's no way in hell Candy would do something like that," he said, his voice cracking a little.

"That's very interesting," Meghan said, "but you didn't answer my question."

He swallowed. "I ... I don't want to believe it," he said.

"But do you?" she persisted.

He stared at her face for a moment. Finally, he nodded slowly. "Yeah," he said. "I think it might be true."

Ken's voice came drifting to her again. It was a little irritated. "For Christ's sake, Meg. He's most definitely not in a correct destiny. Get on with it!"

Meghan ignored him. "Why do you stay with her if you think she's cheating on you?" she asked. "Why do you stay with her if you think she's just trying to marry into your family?"

Reg had to dig—probably down into his subconscious—to answer that one. "It's just ... just ... well ... you know? It's like she's the most beautiful girl I've ever been with. When I walk down the campus or go driving around with her and I can see people looking at me like I'm ... I'm ... you know... somebody."

"But people are laughing at you behind your back," Meghan said. "Doesn't that make you angry?"

"I don't think about stuff like that," he told her."

"But..."

"Meg!" Ken hissed. "We're in a freakin' public parking lot! People are coming and going from the club. Pretty soon one of them is bound to head this way."

Meghan sighed. Ken was right. She had found out what she needed to find out and it was time to finish her business. She removed her hand from Reg's wrist, allowing him free reign to her wetness again. He did not immediately resume his ministrations, however. She realized his arousal odor, while still potent, had ebbed significantly during their conversation.

"What's the matter, Reg?" she asked him. "Not in the mood anymore?"

"Well ... you just got me thinking about Candy and all, and I..."

"Shhh," she hushed. "Don't worry about Candy right now. Just put her right out of your head."

"Umm, I'll try, but..."

"Don't just try, do," she told him. She grabbed his hand again. This time, instead of restraining it, she pulled it toward her center. "Why don't you put your fingers back inside of me? You said you liked my tight pussy, didn't you?"

He licked his lips. The arousal scent started to kick up again. "Yeah," he said. "It did feel really good."

"Then feel it some more. It's all yours."

He slid his fingers back into her. She clenched down on them, drawing them in. "Yes," she said, kissing his forehead. "That's the way. In and out, Reg. In and out."

He obeyed, moving slowly at first and then heating up as she did. Soon, Candy was the furthest thing from his mind.

"Would you like to suck my titties?" Meghan asked.

It turned out he did. She pushed the front of her dress down, exposing them to his gaze. He wasted no time in slurping one into his mouth, tonguing and suckling her hard nipple inexpertly but with an enthusiasm that more than made up for his lack of experience.

"That's right, Reggie," she encouraged. "Worship my titties. They love to be loved."

He continued to love them, switching from one to the other while his fingers maintained their pistoning action in and out of her wet vagina. Her fingers went back to the job of opening his belt. They then began the task of opening his pants. It didn't take long. She fished his hardness out from under his BVDs and brought it out into the air. It was not the most formidable weapon she'd ever held in her hands, but she thought it would do. She stroked it up and down a few times.

"Ohhh," he moaned from around her nipple. "That's ... that's..."

"Yes," she whispered, kissing the top of his head. "It is. Hasn't a girl ever touched your cock before?"

"Never," he mumbled. "It feels so ... so ... hot."

"Yes it does. But I can smell that you're not going to last very long."

"No," he groaned. "I'm gonna ... gonna..."

She slowed her motion, buying herself a little more time. "You don't want to make a mess in the back of your truck, do you? A mess your friends might see?"

"Uh ... no, but ... but..."

"Shhh," she said, sliding her lips down to the side of his face, kissing him lightly above his left ear. "I have a much better place for you to shoot your stuff. A place that's warm and soft."

"You mean ... your ... your..."

"Yes," she said, her teeth nipping at his earlobe. "My pussy. Would you like to put this nice hard cock in my pussy and come in me?"

He didn't hesitate for an instant. "Yes," he said. "I want to. I have to!"

Had she been in the privacy of a bedroom (anyone's bedroom but the one she shared with Ken—that one was sacred) she would have strung him out a little longer. She would have teased him for awhile, would have asked him if he was sure he wanted to cheat on his girlfriend, sure he wanted to break his vow of chastity. Inside of a truck cab in a crowded parking lot, however, was not the place for such shenanigans, arousing as they might be. Even with a pinnacle feeding, it had to be done quickly if there was even the slightest chance of discovery.

She stood on the floorboards, raising herself off of his lap. She pushed her panties down past her knees and then pulled her right leg free of them, leaving them dangling on her left knee. She then leaned forward and grasped the waist of his pants. He lifted up and she pulled them down, past his knees.

She took his hardness in hand again, feeling the pulsing of blood beneath, feeling the heat radiating from it. Straddling him, she rubbed the head between her slippery lips, eliciting a trembling moan. Slowly, she sank down upon him, relishing the feel of his cylinder rubbing against her nerve endings, getting an extra thrill at the knowledge that her prey had never felt such a sensation before.

"Oh ... oh ... ahhhhh," he moaned, a look of utter exhalation on his face.

"Feels like heaven, doesn't it?" Meghan whispered.

"Yes!" he said. "Oh, God yes. It does!"

She squirmed her pelvis around until he was buried to the hilt within her body. She could tell he wasn't going to last more than a few seconds. That was okay with her. It wasn't her own orgasm she was after. Ken could (and would) provide her with that later, once they returned to the small Garland apartment they shared with their mother. Meghan was after something more fundamental.

"Let me kiss your neck," she told him.

"Yessss," he said enthusiastically, his own pelvis trying to drive upward, trying to increase the wonderful, sexy sensation he was feeling. He tilted his head back submissively.

She put her lips to the left side of his neck, just below the jaw line, under his ear. Her cognate touch could feel the blood coursing through his carotid artery just beneath the skin. She began to move her pelvis up and down, grinding herself on him, maximizing the sensations he was feeling.

He moaned and groaned as she fucked him. His hands pawed at the cheeks of her butt, pulling her against him on each downstroke. He was in ecstasy, feeling sensations he had never imagined before. And soon, too soon from his point of view, the machinery of orgasm began to kick into gear.

Meghan could tell he was getting close. She could feel it in the tenseness of his body, could smell it in the sweat bubbling out of his pores. She moved faster, ground her body into him harder. And her lips stayed against his neck, feeling the delicious pulse of blood through his carotid. His tension reached its peak. He moaned loudly and Meghan felt the first blast of hot semen inside of her. This was the moment she had been waiting for.

Her incisor teeth had been resting over the carotid artery, over the Sweet Spot, as it was known. As he reached the peak of his orgasm, the point where his blood would be flooded with sex hormones and neurotransmitters, Meghan let herself go. Razor sharp fangs suddenly shot out from her incisors, driving through his flesh and into that carotid artery, penetrating it.

"Oww ... ohhh ... wow," Reg moaned from within the depths of his ejaculation. "You ... you bit me." He did not sound outraged at this. He sounded intruiged.

"Mmm hmm," Meghan mumbled. She pushed her head forward a fraction of an inch, widening the tear in his carotid. Hot, delicious, life-sustaining blood rushed up the underside of her fangs and into her mouth. She drank greedily, swallowing each spurt, feeling it going down her throat and into her stomach, warming her like the finest whiskey.

As she drank from her prey, special proteins, very potent and secreted only by cognate, dribbled down the top of her teeth and into Reg's artery. Within seconds, they made their way into his brain where they acted as a powerful amnesiac and hypnotic drug. In addition, they temporarily transferred some of the cognate healing properties to Reg's body. As Meghan's hunger was slaked, and as Reg's memory of the past ten minutes was irretrievably obliterated from his database, Reg's body began to rapidly repair the damage her bite had inflicted. The walls of his artery began to knit back together. The tissue of his skin began to do the same. Feeling this, Meghan's fangs retracted back into the sheaths from which they came, returning her teeth to the appearance of perfectly normal human incisors. She kept her mouth in place for another ten seconds, until her tongue felt the wound on his flesh completely heal up. Only then, did she pull her mouth away.

Reg was alive and well, quite happy in fact, but a bit catatonic at the moment. His orgasm had finished and his penis was now wilted within her. She pulled herself off of him, feeling a few dribbles of his semen drip out of her body. She reached down and, after some maneuvering, managed to get her right leg back in her panties. She pulled them up and then opened the door, stepping gingerly out into the parking lot.

"Reg, honey?" she said.

"Yessss?" he asked, his eyes open but unseeing, a goofy smile on his face.

"It's been fun, but I gotta go now."

"Okayyyyy."

"Be sure to pull up your pants when you're up to it, and if anyone asks what you were doing, the girl you were dancing with asked you take a walk with her but when she started getting fresh with you, you left. She was mad and told you to fuck off. Called you a prude even."

"Okayyyy," Reg agreed.

"Bye, honey," Meghan told him. She closed the door and walked away, knowing that Reg would not remember anything about her, but would repeat the story she had fed him if one of his friends asked.

-------

Ken could smell the young human's sex secretions all over his wife's body as she approached. He had watched and listened to the entire episode from the moment she'd climbed into the human's truck to the moment she climbed back out. Yet he felt no anger or jealousy about what she had done. Nor was he the type who got off on watching his wife have sex with others. The young human had been just that: a human. Most cognate did not consider sexual contact with humans to be infidelity. Sex between cognate was so sublime and the bond between married cognate so strong, that having a little fun with one's prey was regarded almost as a form of masturbation, although it was generally the prey's orgasm that was the goal, not the cognate's. Feeding from a human in the throes of orgasm made the blood rich in testosterone, estrogen, and, most coveted, dopamine. After pinnacle feeding, as the act was known, a cognate would feel a blissful euphoria that would usually last an hour or more.

"So how did the blood of a virgin taste?" Ken asked her when she reached his position in the parking lot.

Meghan was quite obviously feeling the results of her pinnacle feeding. Her eyes were shining and her skin was flushed. "I wouldn't know," she said with a smile. "He wasn't a virgin when I fed."

Ken chuckled. "Good point." He leaned in a little closer and kissed her on the cheek, making her coo. "Too bad he won't remember the best he'll ever have."

Meghan saw through him with ease. "Oh no," she said, waving her finger at him. "Flattery is not getting you shit. You lost the bet fair and square. Your little weasel keeps his nose dry tonight."

"Prude," he said sourly.

"I am not."

"Are too. What about pinnacle feeding? I still get to do that, don't I?"

"By all means," she said. "I wouldn't dream of depriving you of that. Who's your target? The giggling blonde slut in the denim mini-skirt?"

Ken glared at her. He hated to be predictable. "Maybe," he said, a certain amount of indignation in his voice.

"Gee, how could I have known?" Meghan said, giving him an eye roll. "You only danced with her three times. And we both know your fascination with natural boobies. She was about the only chick in the place that didn't have bolt-ons."

"Would you rather me feed from some phony beauty queen with a self-esteem problem?" he asked.

She stepped closer, taking his arm in hers, and kissed him on the lips this time. "You know I don't care who you feed from," she told him. "We both got over that by our third hunt. I'm just tweaking your balls a little."

He nodded. "Yeah, I know," he said. "Sometimes it's still hard to let go of some of our human feelings."

"Believe me," she said with utter sincerity. "You don't have to tell me that. Now go get your dinner. I trust you can sniff her out without any problem?"

It turned out he could. While Meghan waited in shadows of the parking lot—it just wouldn't do for her and Reg to run into each other again tonight—Ken re-entered the club and followed his nose. His brain filtered out the thousands upon thousands of individual scents floating through the air and locked onto that certain combination he had come to associate with Ashley, the twenty-four year old blonde in question. He found her at the second floor bar, waiting to buy a fresh drink. Luck was with him and she was not with any of the friends she'd come to the club with, nor was there a guy actively talking to her. A few quick words, a little blast of pheromones, and she agreed to lead him out into the parking lot to see her car.

He was not as lucky in regard to her automobile. It was a three year old Chevrolet Cobalt sedan, four door, but with a cramped, unusable back seat. They climbed into the front seat instead. Ashley was no virgin. She sat in the driver's seat and pulled Ken into a steamy embrace the moment the dome light went out. Her tongue shot into his mouth and her hand began groping for the button on his pants.

"No no no," Meghan said playfully from her position ten yards away. "Mr. Happy stays in the cave tonight."

Ken broke the kiss long enough to glare at her though the window. She was smiling, of course. He grunted something and pushed Ashley's hand away, gently but firmly.

"Ohhh," Ashley whined, "take him out. I want to play with him."

"Later perhaps," Ken whispered in his ear, running his own hand up and down her smooth inner thigh. "I want to pleasure you first."

"Mmm," Ashley said, delighted. "Could it be I found myself a gentleman?"

"It could be," he told her.

Her panties quickly hit the floorboard and she opened her legs for him. Ken's finger found her wet, cleanly shaven slit. Using his cognate sense of touch, he could tell where she was most sensitive, where she liked soft pressure, where she liked medium pressure, where she liked hard. He manipulated her just the way she wanted to be manipulated. Within seconds she was panting, her clitoris a hard little knob begging for attention. He gave it attention, rubbing it with his thumb while his mouth kissed its way from her pouty lips to her ear.

"Oh ... God yes!" Ashley cried. "You're making me come! You're making me come!"

"Mmm hmm," Ken mumbled, kissing her neck now, his incisors hovering right over her Sweet Spot.

Her orgasm washed over her and his teeth slid out, driving into her carotid. So amazed was she at being brought off by mere manipulation with fingers (something she had trouble even doing to herself) she didn't notice. Her blood gushed into Ken's mouth and Ken's amnesiac protein dribbled into her artery. While her thighs were still shuddering and twitching, it went to work on her and she faded away.

Ten minutes later, she was back in the club, standing in line at the bar again. She had a vague sense that she'd maybe lost track of time a little—she could have sworn she had just been standing in this line a few minutes ago and then ... well, it seemed like she went blank for a bit. She shrugged the sensation off, blaming it on the five Long Islands she'd consumed. Maybe she'd better slow down a little. After all, someone had to drive home, didn't they? She decided she'd have just one more Long Island and then wait at least an hour. And while she sipped it, maybe she could find that cute guy she'd been dancing with earlier and try to hook up with him. She had trouble remembering exactly what he looked like now, but he had smelled so good.

-------

At 2:30 AM a two-year old BMW five series sedan pulled into the west parking lot of a run-down apartment complex in west Garland, about twenty miles from the nightclub where Ken and Meghan had enjoyed their night out. Behind the wheel of the sedan was a male. In the front passenger seat was a female. Both were cognate. Both appeared to be a youthful looking forty to forty-five years of age, which meant both had propagated, or reproduced in their cognate lives. Both were, of course, many years older than they appeared.

Glendon, the male, was the older of the two. Known these days as Glenn, he had been born as a human in 1892 in Seattle, Washington. He and his human sister had been propagated in 1931 by their cognate mother. A dark skinned Caucasian of thin build, he was a forgettable looking character, neither handsome nor ugly. Currently he was active in the cognate government, the treasurer in charge of the United States southern cognate tax collection bureau.

Josephine, the female, was known as Jo by most who knew her. She had been born as a human in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in 1920. Her cognate parents, a married couple, had propagated her in 1955. She was a dark haired brunette of slight build, also quite forgettable looking at a glance, although men of sexual age who met her tended to find her sexy as hell in some way they just couldn't seem to put their finger on. Until last year, when she'd propagated her children, she had been a successful cargo jet pilot for United Parcel Service—a profession that most cognate deemed insane since a plane crash was one of the handful of things that could fatally injure a cognate. After propagation she had been forced to leave that life behind and start over in a new identity in a new city. That was here and now, where her willingness to travel frequently by air had earned her a position as a courier, which was really nothing more than a glorified gopher for the cognate government.

Jo and Glenn were two of the 696 cognate who lived (and hunted) among the nearly seven million humans of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. They were one tenth of the entire DFW cognate government for the area. Jo was very much a part time employee at this point, getting paid in well-laundered American dollars by the job—said jobs coming maybe three times a month. Glenn was in what was considered a low seniority job. He wasn't even a hundred years old yet—cognate measured their age from the end of their propagation, not from their human birth—and it would be another twenty-five years at least before he was trusted with anything other than an accounting job.

"This is where you're staying?" Glenn asked as he looked around at the shabby buildings, seeing the dilapidated cars, hearing the pounding of ghetto music, smelling the odor of the unwashed masses who called the Citrus Tree Estates complex home. He was unable to prevent an air of distaste from shaping his tone.

Jo was unoffended. She would have reacted the same way had she been in his shoes. "Home sweet home," she confirmed. "It will be very temporary, I assure you. I wasn't able to save up much of a stake in my last identity and Meghan and Kenneth's estate is still in probate."

"Ahh, I see," Glenn said. He knew that Jo's parents were among the movers and shakers of the western cognate world and were quite wealthy, but he didn't ask why they weren't supplementing Jo's housing a little. In cognate culture, making one's own way in life was considered paramount. Only in the direst of circumstances would cognate parents lend financial support to a child once they left the nest.

"Things are looking up though," Jo said. "Kenneth and Meghan's human families have almost run out of reasons to delay the settling of the estate, Meghan is almost done with the classes to get her teaching credential and Kenneth is working now, although, like me, he's still very part time."

"What is Kenneth doing?" Glenn asked.

Jo gave a worried mother smile. "He's flying airplanes. What else?"

Glenn was aghast. "Flying airplanes? I'm assuming you don't mean airliners."

She shook her head. "A twenty-five year old Beechcraft," she said. "He's working as a reserve pilot for some sleazy little cargo outfit operating out of North Texas Regional. They have him hauling paperwork, medical supplies, and computer parts out to every bumfuck rural area in the south. He fills in for sick calls so he goes somewhere different practically every flight."

Glenn's mouth was now fully agape. "Whoever help him," he whispered. "He's even crazier than you are. You actually allow him to do this?" The prevailing opinion in cognate circles was that Josephine should not have been allowed to propagate at so young an age. Only sixty-seven years had passed since her own propagation and cognate were generally not considered mature enough for parenthood until they were at least one hundred. Glenn had never agreed with this rationale—after all, he had only been seventy-five when he'd been given permission to propagate—but now he was forced to wonder if maybe conventional wisdom had its place after all. Flying in jet airliners was bad enough, but small aircraft were nothing but death waiting to happen.

Jo shrugged. "I could have stopped him, I suppose. The two of them respond rather well to parental authority, better than I had any right to expect to tell you the truth. It's just that Kenneth is a born pilot. It's all he ever wanted to do during his human life; it's a part of who his is. He had an accident on his record as a human, something that wasn't really his fault, but it kept him from realizing his full potential as a pilot. Now he has a second chance. He has to start at the very bottom of the ladder, but there's nothing keeping him from going all the way to the top now. I guess I figured if he's willing to accept the risk of collecting enough flight hours to move up to something safer and higher paying, then I'm willing to accept the risk of losing him."

Glenn nodded. "I see your point," he said. "I can't say I agree with it, but I see it."

She smiled. "I can't say that I always agree with it either. Especially on those nights there are storms blowing through and he's on an IFR flight to Podunk, Oklahoma. But we live with the decisions we make in life, don't we?"

"Nothing is truer than that," Glenn had to agree.

"Well, thanks for picking me up from the airport, Glenn. Getting a ride home sure beats riding the DART. It's a bit of a walk from the Jupiter station."

"My pleasure," Glenn said. He hesitated for a second and then said, "Maybe you and I could ... you know ... go hunting together one of these nights?"

Jo looked at him, could see he was blushing like a school boy. That was okay though. She was blushing like a schoolgirl. "I'd like that," he told her. "I'd like that a lot."

Glenn couldn't seem to find anything else to say to her. Before the moment had a chance to turn awkward, she gave him one last smile and opened the car door. "Drive safe," she told him.

"Always," he replied. A moment later he was driving away.

Jo watched his tail lights until they disappeared. She then listened to the sound of his engine until it disappeared. Finally, she turned and headed for the cramped, crowded two-bedroom apartment she shared with her two children.

Her senses told her the children were home before she even mounted the exterior steps. Not only that, they told her what they were doing; namely, they were making enthusiastic love to each other in the small twelve by twelve room that served as their bedroom. She could hear the squeaking of bedsprings, the thumping of the headboard against the wall, the moans and pants. She could smell the intermingled odor of their sexual musk, the sharp bite of their perspiration. She felt no shame at this knowledge, nor would Ken and Meghan feel any embarrassment. Cohabitating cognate had no secrets from each other. If one could not get used to that, one was not cut out to be a creature of the night.

Several of the residents of the Citrus Tree Estates were out and about despite the late hour. This was pretty typical on any night of the week—gainful employment was more the exception than the rule in this part of town—but especially true on early Saturday mornings when the weather was warm. A group of four people were sitting on the steps of the building across from Jo's, smoking cigarettes and drinking cans of cheap malt liquor. Three others were in the laundry room adjacent to the building. On the patio below Jo's, a small party was going on, with four people listening to a James Brown CD and passing a marijuana pipe around. Walking to and fro in the general vicinity was a smattering of others, their business unknown to her.

Jo's senses told her where each of these people were, what their sex and general age was, and what they were doing. She kept to the shadows as she walked, prepared to veer away and disappear if she found herself on an intercept course with anyone. Her goal was to avoid contact with everyone who lived in or visited the Estates, to never meet one of her neighbors face to face. She had lived in this complex for two months now and so far she had been successful in this endeavor. Kenneth and Meghan had assured her they too had not come within fifteen unobstructed feet of a human in the complex. Cognate did not like being noticed by the neighbors, especially when forced to live in a high density environment. Anonymity was not the most powerful ally of the Subterfuge—that honor went to the fundamental human disbelief in any mortal creature more powerful than themselves—but it was certainly in the top three.

She swung wide to avoid being seen by the party on the balcony and then mounted the concrete steps, stopping before the door with the number 237 on it. She unlocked the deadbolt and opened the door but did not step inside just yet, not until she confirmed the security system was inactive. The system was produced by Baxter Home Defense, an electronic technology company owned and operated by cognate. Though Baxter did most of their business with humans, selling them car alarms, smoke detectors and security equipment, their main reason for being was to provide extremely advanced security equipment to fellow cognate at, or depending on circumstances, below cost. The SP-49 system Jo had purchased from them was something no human would ever see in their online catalogue. It featured criss-crossing laser beams, invisible to the human eye (but not the cognate eye, which could see into both the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums) that, if interrupted for even a millisecond, would automatically turn on a series of hidden micro-cameras that gave overlapping coverage of every square foot of the apartment. Once activated, these cameras would send a link to the cognate owner's cellular phone or laptop computer. At that point, the cognate could evaluate the nature of the intrusion and formulate a suitable response. An audible alarm could be set off, scaring away the average intruder. Or the police could be called if the cognate wished to involve human authorities. Or, if the intrusion was deemed to be something other than a typical human burglar, something that could have ramifications on the Subterfuge, cognate authorities could be called to open a more thorough investigation.

As expected, however, the security system was off. No matter how hot and heavy Meghan and Kenneth got in their bedroom, no matter how young and inexperienced they were at being cognate, it would be impossible for them not to detect someone entering the apartment. They had undoubtedly detected her long before she made it to the top of the stairs. And based on the fact that they were still rutting away like animals in heat, they knew the person entering the apartment was their mother, home from her courier flight to Minneapolis.

She closed the door and locked it behind her. She then went to her own bedroom to unpack her small suitcase and start putting together a load of laundry to take to the laundromat later. She couldn't wait until they started making enough money to get a nicer place with its own laundry room and maybe a dishwasher.

"The price we pay for having children," she muttered, her voice so low that even cognate ears wouldn't hear.

By the time Meghan and Kenneth finished their business and took showers, an hour had gone by. Jo was now sitting on the couch, sipping from a glass of cheap red wine and reading a first edition hardback of To Kill A Mockingbird she had picked up at an estate sale in Irving for six dollars. She was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a sleeveless black blouse in anticipation of a quick feeding just before sunrise. Cognate could and did venture out in the daylight but, for reasons not understood by those who studied such things, they absolutely could not feed during the hours the sun was up. Doing so would cause the blood to congeal in the stomach, which, in turn, would cause crippling nausea and violent vomiting. As such, a pre-sunrise feeding was something of a cultural habit. Cognate could go a week without feeding if they had to, but in practice they tended to nourish themselves at least twice a night.

Kenneth was the first to emerge from the bathroom. He too was dressed in hunting clothes in anticipation of the pre-sunrise snack. "Hey, Mom," he greeted. "How was the flight?"

"The flight was fine," she replied. "The airport experience was horrid, as usual."

"The security checkpoint," Ken said with a nod. "For your safety and protection."

"For my safety and protection," she agreed.

He walked to her chair and leaned down, kissing her softly on the lips. It was a chaste kiss, that of a son kissing his mother, though there had been a time, when Kenneth had been human, that those lips had kissed her with passion. Cognate parent/child relationships always started out as cognate/human sexual relationships.

"We stayed out of trouble while you were gone," Ken told her. "We only committed one Subterfuge violation apiece." He smiled at his own wit.

Jo, however, did not smile back. "Kenneth," she said sternly, "it is considered to be in very poor taste to joke about Subterfuge violations."

"It is?"

"Yes," she said. "It's a bit like a devout Catholic making jokes about the Pope. It is just not done in polite company."

"Oh," he said slowly, displaying a high level of acute embarrassment. "I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't know that."

She was happy to see his discomfort. It meant he was taking her seriously. Raising cognate children was hard work, much harder than she'd thought it would be when she'd begged the Propagation Committee to approve her request. But unlike raising human children, young cognate at least had a mature sense of respect and accountability. "It is forgiven," she said. "Just remember that when I'm not the cognate you're talking to."

Meghan entered the room, a towel still wrapped around her wet hair. She had put on a pair of white shorts and a maroon spaghetti strap top. She greeted Jo with a hearty "Hi, Mom" before giving her a big hug and kissing her on the lips. As with Kenneth, Meghan and Jo had shared a sexual relationship when Meghan was human. After her propagation she became Jo's daughter though she did not become Ken's sister, she remained his wife. Cognate familial relationships were often complex when multiple propagations were involved.

"I trust you heard the conversation Kenneth and I just had?" Jo asked her daughter when the embrace was over.

"Yes, Mom," she said dutifully. "Subterfuge violations are off limits as a topic of humor."

"Very good," Jo said. She took a sip of her wine. "I take it by the commotion that was going on in the bedroom that you two enjoyed your night out?" It was only the second time she'd allowed them an unsupervised visit to a club with the intention of playing with their prey.

"It was wonderful," Meghan said. "You would have been proud of us."

"I didn't think it was so great," Kenneth said sourly.

"Oh?" Jo said, raising her eyebrows a bit. "Why not?"

"He's being a sore loser," Meghan said. "He lost a bet with me and didn't get to launch his torpedo."

"High stakes indeed," Jo said. "What was the bet?"

Meghan told her.

Jo listened attentively, intruiged by the thought of a virgin male college student in this day and age. Just when you thought you'd heard it all. "I don't think I've had myself a virgin male in..." she thought it over for a few seconds. "Has to be twenty years at least. The look in their eyes as they feel their first insertion is something to behold, isn't it?"

"Yes," Meghan said excitedly. "It was. At that moment I was a goddess to him. He worshipped me!"

"Exactly," Jo said. "I suspect that look of adoration, that worship, is the basis of these female teachers who seduce their male students. I imagine, to a certain type of person, the experience is quite addicting."

"I could envision becoming addicted to that," said Meghan. "Most definitely."

"Wow," Ken said, very much impressed. "Maybe I should find a virgin for myself."

"I'm afraid the experience would not quite equal Meghan's," Jo told him. "A girl's first time is generally not an overwhelmingly pleasurable event like it is with a boy. In fact, it's usually kind of painful and frightening."

"Unless you get a girl like I was," Meghan said. "My first time was with a candle from my mother's collection. My second through two hundredth time was also with candles, and the occasional cucumber. It felt pretty damn good the first time a guy stuck an actual whanger in me."

Jo laughed, reaching up to tussle Meghan's hair. "Girls like Meghan excepted," she allowed.

"No shit?" Kenneth said, looking at his wife in a new light. "You never told me about the candles."

"You probably never asked," Jo said. She had been told about the candles.

Meghan laughed and then turned serious. "There is one thing about tonight that kind of ... oh ... bothered me some."

"Bothered you?" Jo asked.

"Yeah," she said. "It's probably stupid, but ... well ... Reg was really a sweet guy. And he's engaged to some slut who only wants him for his money. He told me that he knows she's sleeping with other guys behind his back, that she's not even trying that hard to hide it. It didn't bother me while I was ... you know ... with him, but after ... while we were driving home, I started thinking about it and ... and ... I don't know."

Jo did know. "And you thought that maybe you should have used your powers of suggestion to steer Reg onto a different path," she said.

Meghan nodded almost shamefully. "Yes," she admitted. "It seemed like it was the least I could do after I fed from him, after I took his virginity."

"He won't remember that you fed from him," Jo reminded. "Nor will he remember that you took his virginity. He, like the vast majority of humans, is not in a correct destiny relationship. You owe him nothing, including your pity."

"Well ... yeah," Meghan said. "That's true, but ... but I can't help feeling like maybe I should help him. Don't we tell ourselves our purpose is to protect the humans?"

"Our purpose is to shepherd the humans and prevent them from destroying themselves, which, may I remind you, would cause our destruction as well. Shepherding does not include steering individual humans along a path in their life. We are not here to police their relationships with each other—especially when those relationships are not correct destiny relationships."

"But is there anything that forbids it?" Meghan asked. "Does cognate law say we can't help individual humans if we find one we feel is worthy of it?"

Jo chewed her lip for a moment. "No," she said. "There is nothing that forbids what you are suggesting as long as you do not endanger the Subterfuge or influence another human's correct destiny. But..."

"And what if I actually got him to break up with that slut and he ended up in a correct destiny relationship because of that?" Meghan asked. "Wouldn't that be an honorable use of our influence?"

"Meghan, really..." Jo started.

"You know, Mom," Ken interrupted, "I kind of see where she's coming from with this."

She looked at him. "Oh you do, do you?"

"Well ... yeah," he said. "The guy is in a pretty sad situation. I'm not usually one to take up for some rich bible-thumper's kid who has had everything handed to him all his life, but ... well ... he was sincere in his beliefs. He wasn't a hypocrite ... at least not until Meg hit him with the pheromones. He doesn't really deserve the kind of messed up life that's coming his way if he marries that girl."

Jo opened her mouth to tell them a few facts of life, about how many humans, through a combination of circumstance and upbringing, really had no hope of achieving any kind of correct destiny no matter what sort of influence was exerted on their behalf. She would tell them about patterns and cycles and psychological trenches ground into human behavior by generations of distorted moral codes. But before the first word could come out, she closed her mouth again. Perhaps words were not the proper response here. Perhaps this was what was known in human circles as a teachable moment.

She took a few breaths and then another sip of her wine. "You two want to help this human?" she asked. "You want to use your pheromonal powers of suggestion to get him to break up with this money-grubbing harlot and find a better life?"

"Yes," Meghan said without hesitation.

Ken took a moment longer but finally he nodded his head. "Yes," he said. "I think that would be ... nice."

"Nice," she muttered, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. "Okay, children. We'll do it. On Monday morning, assuming I don't have a courier mission and Kenneth doesn't pick up a flight, we'll take a little trip to TCU and see if we can help this pathetic human of yours."

"Yay!" Meghan said, clapping her hands. She leaned in and kissed Jo on the cheek. "Thanks, Mom."

"Yes," said Kenneth, leaning in and kissing the other cheek. "Thanks, Mom."

"What's a mother for?" Jo said, an enigmatic smile on her face.

-------

Western World Cognate—as the organization of cognate in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and western Europe called themselves—had embraced computer technology as a vital survival mechanism back in the early 1980's. By the time the century turned, the best computer programmers, hackers, and software developers in the world all shared the habit of drinking human arterial blood for nourishment. Cognate computer technology was nearly two decades ahead of human computer technology. There also existed a cognate internet which used the same basic infrastructure as the human internet but could only be accessed by verified cognate using a computer manufactured by Zale Computers. Zale, like Baxter Home Defense, was owned and operated by cognate. And though they made nearly all of their considerable profit by selling high-end computer systems and laptops to humans, their real purpose was to make special computer systems for cognate—systems that looked like ordinary computers but were actually much more.

It was a Zale computer accessing the cognate internet that allowed Meghan to track down the young college student she wished to help. Even though she only knew him by a diminutive of his first name, it took her less than a minute to find him. She simply accessed a search engine which was linked to standard hacking software. Reg, Texas Christian University, and red Dodge Ram Bighorn produced only three matches. A quick look at DMV photos, a click on the right one, and suddenly she had a wealth of information about Reginald Buck Winthrop III at her fingertips. She had his address (a $2400 a month off-campus apartment), his criminal record (two parking tickets and a speeding ticket), his employment history (none), his college transcripts (Business major, a junior, carrying a 3.92 GPA), and, most important, his current class schedule (eighteen units, nine of them Business-related classes, nine of them general education requirements).

"He has an hour break between the end of his Business Ethics class at 11:30 and the start of his Principles of Biology class at 12:35," Meghan said, pointing to the screen. "That's probably when he has lunch."

"A reasonable assumption," Jo allowed. "Is that when you plan to make your move?"

"Well ... I don't know," she said. "My pheromones will be pretty weak during the day, right?"

Jo nodded. Since cognate could not feed during the daylight hours, their bodies tended not to produce many pheromones then. "Weak but still capable of having an effect," she said. "As to whether it's enough to influence relationship behavior ... well, that depends on how susceptible your friend is."

"So you think it would be better to meet him after dark, at his apartment?"

"Your idea has more chance of success if you meet him after dark, at his apartment," Jo said. "There are several factors, however, that you don't seem to be taking into consideration."

"What do you mean?" Meghan asked.

"How do you know he'll be home tonight? How do you know he'll be alone if he is home?"

"Well..."

"And that's just the beginning," Jo said. "A twenty-four hundred dollar a month apartment complex probably has a certain amount of security, wouldn't you think? You might not be able to just go strolling up to his door and knock on it. And if you try to bypass the security measures, you might get caught. What if there's a security guard who is female, or a homosexual male, or past sexual maturity? Your pheromones won't work on such people, will they? What explanation would you have for trying to enter the building? You might end up having to talk to the police. And what if the police officer is a female, or a homosexual male, or past sexual maturity? Then you would be flirting around with an Eighth Commandment violation."

Meghan was chewing her lip nervously. The Eight Commandment of cognate law stated: Cognate will engage in no activity in which lengthy incarceration by human authorities may conceivably result. "I ... I hadn't thought about all that."

"Apparently not," Jo said. "Are you starting to see how complicated messing in the affairs of humans is?"

"Yes," she said quietly. "So are you saying I should just forget about this?"

"Not at all," she said. "There will be times when influencing human behavior is necessary. I do not believe this is one of those times, but it is a good practice exercise for when you do have to act. So think this through, Meghan. What is the solution to this problem?"

Meghan thought it through. It took her a few moments, but finally she came up with an answer. "I could meet him at the campus during the day and influence him to invite me over in the evening?"

Jo smiled. "Very good, dear," she said, patting her on the leg. "Although I would do more than just have him invite you over. You need to make sure he will be alone when you arrive. You need to make sure he tells no one you are going to be coming over. You need to ask him about the security guards and the neighbors. Will one of the guards manning the security cameras be in a position to tell anyone who matters about your visit? Will one of the neighbors? Are his friends in the habit of dropping by unannounced? Are his parents?"

"Wow," Meghan said. "This is pretty complicated."

Ken, meanwhile, had been using Jo's laptop computer to hunt down Reg's fiancé. They had decided that simply influencing Reg might cause more of a ripple in their lives than they really wanted. Who knew what a gold digger scorned might be capable of? So while Meghan was working on Reg, Ken would see what he could do to make the impending break-up more of a mutual thing. And who knew? Maybe he could even get the gold digger to change her evil ways as well. "I think I got her," he said, pointing to a picture on the screen. It was a DMV photo of an attractive, smiling young woman. She had blonde hair that looked natural but likely was not as it did not quite match her complexion.

"You think?" Jo asked, raising her brows.

"Sorry," Ken said. "I got her. I couldn't find anything that linked her to Reg in the cognate internet so I went to the human internet and pulled up Reg's Facebook page. There she was, listed as his fiancé. There are about two dozen pictures of her too. I checked her Facebook page and she has Reg listed as her fiancé. Once I got her name, I went back to the cognate internet and looked her up. She's Candice Lorraine Hoganson. Twenty-two years old, sophomore at TCU, English major, 2.8 GPA, lives in one of the dorms on campus."

"Hmmm," Jo said. "The dorm creates a bit of a problem. It would be impossible to guarantee the privacy required for what you are trying to accomplish."

"Yes," said Ken. "I guess it would."

"What would your solution be?"

Like Meghan, he thought it through for a few seconds. "I should meet her during the day, on campus," he said. "I can then give her instructions to meet me in a more secluded location on or near the campus after dark."

"So far so good," Jo said. "And what might that more secluded location be?"

Ken drew a blank on that one. He pulled up a map of the campus and began looking at it, running his finger over parking lots and places where buildings were close to each other.

Jo let him do this for a minute or two before asking him just what he was hoping to accomplish.

"I'm trying to find a good meeting place," he said, a little exasperated.

"And are you having any luck?" she asked.

"Well ... I see half a dozen potential places, but ... it's hard to tell by looking at a map. I've never been to TCU before so I don't know if these places I'm looking at are actually secluded or not."

"A bit of a dilemma," Jo said. "Have you thought that maybe Candice herself may know a good place to be alone with you? After all, she actually lives at TCU and seems to be the sort of girl who may have made use of such a secluded spot in the past."

Ken clicked his tongue a few times as this blindingly simple solution to the problem worked its way in. "I ... uh ... guess I hadn't thought of that," he finally muttered.

Jo gave him a motherly smile. "I'm sure you would have if given enough time," she said.

"Yeah," Ken said doubtfully. "I'm sure I would have."

-------

Cognate were creatures of the night and they found it both unnatural and uncomfortable to be outside during the day, especially on a warm, sunny late summer Texas day. As Ken staked out the Winton-Scott Hall, waiting for his target's eleven o'clock European Literature class to end, he stayed firmly in the shadow of a large sycamore tree. He was wearing blue jeans, an extra large Dallas Cowboys jersey, a Ford baseball cap and a pair of dark sunglasses. This kept as much of his skin covered as was practical in this weather. Direct sunlight caused no harm to him but everywhere it touched bare flesh it felt like tiny needles were being pricking him. And while his sense of hearing and smell were unaffected, his sense of sight was noticeably degraded. He was not blinded, by any means, but the ultraviolet radiation gave everything a washed out and slightly blurry appearance, like he was looking at the world through a condensation fogged window. The sunglasses helped considerably. Manufactured by Owl Sportswear and distributed only to cognate, they did not just filter out the UV but actually countered the visual effect. With a pair of Owls on, a cognate could see during daylight hours almost as well as a healthy human.

When Ken's watch told him it was 11:40 AM, he stood and walked a little closer to the hall, keeping to areas of shadow whenever possible, enduring the sting of sunlight on his face, neck and forearms whenever it wasn't possible. His timing was perfect. Just as he reached a small picnic area adjacent to the hall, the main doors opened and a flood of students came pouring out. He looked at each person that emerged, hoping that Candace Hoganson would do as he predicted and exit through this doorway instead of one of the side entrances or the main entrance on the other end of the building. Logic suggested she would. This was the closest exit to the classroom she had been in and it was facing in the direction of the main cafeteria and most of the contracted eateries. But if there was one universal truth in life it was that humans—women in particular—could not be relied upon to follow the logical course.

In this case, however, logic won out. She was one of the last to emerge from the doorway. She was dressed in a pair of white shorts and a yellow tank top that accented the artificial blonde of her hair quite well. A purple and white backpack was on her back. He was prepared to deal with the situation if she was with a female friend—as long as the friend was heterosexual it wouldn't take much to separate them—or to abort his mission if she was with a male friend. It turned out she was with neither, at least not in actuality. She had a cell phone glued to her ear and was chatting away. Ken let his auditory sense focus on her. There was too much background noise for him to hear the person she was talking to, but he could make out her end of the conversation easily enough.

"So he's all, 'no way'," she told her mouthpiece, "and I'm like, 'way'. He didn't like that very much but he totally caved as soon as I hit him with my little pout." A pause. A mean spirited laugh. "I know! Totally! Someone should really give me a firm spanking, you know what I mean!"

Ken let his auditory sense return to its normal, broad focus and then started after her. He melded into the crowd of people quite easily, almost without notice. His armpits were clean and closed and his pheromonal level was about as low as it ever got. Any lingering glances he received were a result of his own inherent physical attractiveness and not chemically induced.

Candice followed a winding foot path away from the hall, her conversation continuing as the crowd around her thinned out. Ken stayed about ten paces behind her, waiting for it to thin a little more. He admired the smooth skin of her bare legs and the near-perfect shape of her buttocks. She really was an attractive young woman, even if she was ugly as sin on the inside. When they reached an open area adjacent to one of the residence halls, he deemed there was enough space between her and the others around them. He made his move.

It was nothing dramatic. He simple quickened his pace and passed her on the left. She did not look at him as he passed. When he was about ten paces in front of her he extended his arms to either side of him. To Candace, or to anyone else who happened to take note, it would look like he was simply stretching—a simple motion to loosen up after an hour of sitting in a classroom. What he actually did was let loose a cloud of pheromones into the air right in Candace's path. It wouldn't be enough to overwhelm her, but, assuming she was heterosexual, it would serve to get her attention.

It worked just as planned. The first indication was her phone conversation.

" ... all the way to friggin' Big D, you know? And I'm like totally going to have to go shopping and get a new ... a new ... uh ... uh..."

The second indication was her smell. From between her legs came a sudden spike in her own pheromonal odor. Something had just given young Candace a case of the hots.

"Uh ... I'm sorry," Candace told her mouthpiece. "I just got like totally distracted. Wow." She lowered her voice to where Ken, had he been human, would not be able to hear it. Since he was cognate, however, he did. "This guy in front of me is so totally fuckin' hot," she whispered. "Holy shit." A pause. A giggle. "Seriously, he's making my panties wet just looking at him. Literally." Another pause. "Fuck yeah, I'm gonna talk to him. Let me catch you later, chick. Bye."

Ken heard the snap of her phone being closed. It was followed by the quickening of her pace. Excellent. He had hoped she would be assertive and make a move on her own. It certainly made the initial contact phase of the mission easier.

"Hey there," she said when she was next to him, a bright, inviting smile on her face. "I haven't seen you around before."

"Maybe you weren't looking for me," he suggested, returning her smile.

"Oh, believe me," she said. "I'm always looking for you."

He chuckled politely and moved a little closer to her, let his right arm ease away from his body just a bit. "I'm flattered," he said. "And I have seen you around. Lots of times. I just never had the nerve to come talk to you."

The additional blast of pheromones worked its way into her brain. She licked her lips. "You should have," she said. "You really should have."

"Well ... we're talking now, aren't we? My name is Ken."

"I'm Candy," she said. She giggled. "Wouldn't you just like to eat me?"

He chuckled. "Perhaps later," he said. "For now, maybe you'd like to sit and talk with me for a few minutes."

She hesitated. "Uh ... well ... I'm actually supposed to meet my fian ... uh ... I mean a friend, over at Fresh Choice, but ... well, maybe I can give you my number and we can hook up later?"

He reached up and scratched the back of his neck, once again allowing a flood of pheromones into the air. "I'd really like to talk to you now," he said. "How about we go over to that bench there?"

"Umm, well ... oh ... wow." Her eyes glazed a bit. "What were we talking about?"

"About you and I going to that bench and talking," he told her. "Your friend can wait a few minutes, can't he?"

She nodded rapidly. "Hell yeah," she said. "Let's talk."

They talked for perhaps five minutes. When they were done talking, Ken left her there and headed back to the off-campus parking lot where his mother was waiting with their car. Candy sat there for another minute or two and then got up and continued toward Fresh Choice where she would meet Reg. She did not know that Reg had been delayed as well, but that was okay because she really didn't realize that she herself had been delayed. One of the wonderful qualities of pheromones was their amnesiac effect—an effect that hit hard but faded slow. It was only when Candy looked at the time on her cell phone that she got the sense that she had somehow misplaced a few minutes. Why had it taken her so long to walk to Fresh Choice from the hall? And later that day, when her friend Barb called her and asked about the hot guy she had been talking about, she would feel a bit of disquiet because, while she did remember talking to Barb about the Ladies Night Revue they were planning to attend, she remembered nothing about drooling over some guy (although it seemed like maybe she'd had a dream about something like that, maybe a few nights ago).

Like most humans did when their paths crossed those of cognate, she dismissed the incidents as being stress induced, or perhaps from not getting enough sleep, or perhaps Barb was the one who was whacked. The human tendency to refuse to think about such things was almost as great an ally to the Subterfuge as the pheromones themselves.

And at nine o'clock that night, when she got the urge to take a walk out to a certain secluded grove of trees adjacent to the school's football stadium, it didn't seem the least bit unusual to her. Despite the fact that she had never been to "Condom Grove" by herself before (though she had been there on quite a few occasions in the company of young men), she grabbed a blanket and headed out, never suspecting for an instant that a subconscious command very similar to a post-hypnotic suggestion was compelling her.

-------

Reg was operating under a similar series of subconscious instructions. At nine o'clock that evening, he was sitting on the couch in his eleven hundred square foot apartment two miles from the west entrance to TCU. He had no memory of running into a cute girl named Meghan while on his way to lunch that afternoon. He certainly did not remember telling her that he knew none of the security guards who patrolled his apartment complex, or that there were no security cameras covering the buildings, or that he was expecting no visitors tonight, or that the gate code to get into the main entrance was 3988 (it was the complex's street address number—very unoriginal). Even when he had been actually talking to her (and her questions had seemed so reasonable to him at the time) he had had only the vaguest idea that he'd met her somewhere before—probably a long time ago—and not the slightest inkling that only sixty-eight hours before, his throbbing penis had been buried to the hilt in her clenching vagina and her teeth had been buried in his neck. All he knew was that he felt like staying home this evening, and that he wouldn't answer his phone. And he would only open the door if someone knocked once, rang the doorbell, and then knocked again.

At two minutes after nine o'clock, that particular series of knocks and rings occurred. Without stopping to wonder why, he got up and walked to the door. He did not look through the peep hole. He simply opened it. And there, on the other side, stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He did not know why she was here, but he didn't think that odd either.

"Hi, Reg," Meghan said. "Do you mind if I come in?"

"Not at all," Reg told her. "Welcome."

"Thank you," she said, stepping inside and closing the door behind her. "I'm Meghan, by the way."

"That's a nice name," Reg said.

"Thank you again. Do you mind if we sit down?"

"Sure. Would you like something to drink?"

"Do you have any wine?" she asked.

"I have a bottle of Cabernet my dad game me," he said.

"Oh?"

"Yes," he said. "It's a 1989 Inglenook. That's the year I was born. He told me to save it until my wedding day, but I can open it now if you like."

"Uh ... no, that's fine, Reg," she said. "Why don't we just talk?"

They talked. Meghan had not fed since her last pre-sunrise meal and her pheromones were flowing quite freely. This made Reg very susceptible to their effect. There was a fine line between keeping him coherent enough to be controlled and overwhelming him into a seething mass of sexual desire incapable of rational comprehension. By a judicious opening and closing of her armpits, Meghan managed to stay just on the right side of this line.

"Why are you so interested in my girlfriend?" Reg asked her playfully, his fingertips stroking the skin of her upper thigh.

She moved his hand away. "I was just thinking that maybe she's not the right girl for you."

"Because she sleeps with other guys or because she just wants to marry me for my daddy's money?" he asked matter-of-factly.

"Uh ... a little of both," Meghan replied. "Mostly though, because she's not in love with you—and you're not in love with her."

Reg nodded wisely. "I suppose that could be a problem later on." He put his hand back on her leg. "You've got the most awesome breasts I've ever seen."

She pulled her arms tight against her body, cutting off the pheromonal flow. "If you listen to me carefully for a minute or two, I might let you see them in the flesh."

"Really?" he said.

"Really," she assured him. "Now let's talk about Candy again. She's all wrong for you, Reg. I want you to break up with her."

"Break up with Candy?" he asked, still stroking her leg. "She'll get mad at me if I do that. And my dad will get mad too. He thinks Candy is the perfect wife for me. He says she's beautiful, just like my momma was when he met her."

"Uh huh," Meghan said. "And what does your momma think of her?"

"Well ... I don't talk to her very often. She and Daddy got divorced back when I was about eight years old. That's when Daddy was havin' that affair with Maureen Charles. They were gonna get married after the divorce but Mom's attorney found out that Maureen had another boyfriend living over on the east side. Anyway, Momma don't much like Candy. She says she reminds of her someone she used to know. I don't know who she's talking about though because Momma always said that she..."

Meghan held up her hand, stopping him. "Uh ... never mind your momma for now, Reg," she said. "And never mind your daddy too. It's your life we're talking about here, not theirs."

"Uh ... okay," he said. "But Daddy will be awful sore if I don't marry Candy. He always says a man has to have a good looking wife if he wants to make it in the business world."

"An interesting philosophy," Meghan said. "All the same, I want you to break up with her. Tell her it's because of the time she let you suck on her titties."

"You know about that?" he asked.

"I do," she said. "Tell her your Christian beliefs won't allow you to be with a girl who tempted you into sin like that. Tell her it's not her, it's you."

"Not her, it's me," he repeated.

"Exactly. And don't worry about how she's going to feel. I have a feeling she won't take the break-up all that bad, that she's kind of been expecting it."

"She is?"

Meghan nodded. "She knows you're too good for her, Reg. She knows she doesn't deserve to be the wife of a nice guy like you."

"Wow," Reg said.

Meghan hit him with a little more pheromone action. Reg actually shuddered this time.

"Are you still with me?" she asked him.

"Yeah," he said, his hand on her stomach now, beneath her shirt, his fingers creeping northward. "Your skin is so soft. So sexy. Can I see your titties now?"

"Are you going to break up with Candy?" she asked.

"Yes! I promise!"

"And what are you going to tell her?"

"That it's because of the time she let me suck on her titties. I can't be with a girl who leads me into temptation like that." His hand reached the bottom of her bra. Once his knuckles felt the soft swell of her breast, he gave up all pretense of creeping. He cupped her in his hand and began to squeeze. "Oh Lord," he whispered. "It's so soft. So nice."

Meghan smiled. "Here, Reg," she said, pulling his hand out from under her shirt. "Let me help you out." She leaned back, out of his reach, and pulled her shirt over her head. She draped it carefully over the back of the couch and then reached between the cups of her bra and undid the fastener. She let it fall open, revealing the objects of Reg's desire to his gaze.

Gaze he did. He stared at her mammaries as if he had just found the secret of the universe. Meghan was already quite turned on, but she started kicking into high gear when she saw this awe in his eyes. Oh God, she thought. Maybe I'm like those teachers. Maybe I'm getting addicted to being worshipped like a goddess.

"Can ... can I touch them?" Reg asked, his tongue running continuously over his lips now.

"Sure you can, Reg," she whispered, leaning toward him again. His hands reached out, each one grabbing a breast. He began to squeeze them, experimentally at first and then with more passion.

"Mmmm, that's nice," she cooed at him. "Are you still listening to me though?"

"Yeah," he said, nodding, his eyes locked onto her nipples. "I'm listening."

"After you break up with Candy, try to find yourself a nice girl, okay?"

"A nice girl?"

"Yes," she told him. "Someone who won't cheat on you. Someone who will love you for what you are instead of for your daddy's money."

"Uh ... okay, I guess," he said, sounding doubtful.

"Is that a problem, Reg?" she asked.

"Uh ... well ... maybe. I don't know if there is anyone like that."

"There is, Reg. Trust me. There is."

"Uh ... if you say so." He still didn't seem convinced.

Meghan didn't need to convince him though. She just needed to instruct him. "I say so," she said. "Now why don't you take out Little Reg and I'll give you a treat."

"Little Reg?" he asked.

"Your cock, Reg," she told him. "Take out your cock."

"Oh... that Little Reg." His fingers released her breasts and went to the button on his shorts in nothing flat. In a matter of seconds, Little Reg was out of his cage and looking around.

Meghan reached down and took him in her hand. She then stood up and moved her body between Big Reg's legs. Slowly she kneeled on the floor before him, so his manhood was only a few inches from her face. It was about as hard as it was possible for a penis to get, already drooling a little stream of pre-come. She stroked her hand up and down a few times, feeling it pulsate, feeling the blood surging. Reg moaned, his entire body trembling.

"Do you want me to suck it?" Meghan whispered.

"Oh ... yes," Reg groaned. "But ... but ... I'm not going to last very long."

She leaned closer. Her lips were now only inches from his head, close enough he could feel her exhalations tickling it. "That's okay, hon," she said. "When a woman is sucking you she doesn't really want you to last too long. Remember that and you'll go far in life."

"I ... I will," he said, not realizing that he wasn't going to remember any of this. At least not with his conscious mind.

Meghan took him in her mouth, her eyes watching his face as she did so. There it was again. That look of absolute worship. She shuddered herself as she saw it, felt a fresh blast of moisture go surging into her sex. Yes, there was something addicting indeed about making a young man look at you that way.

She gave him her best work, sucking with her mouth, stroking with her hand. As had been the case in his truck the other night, he began to display the unmistakable signs of impending orgasm almost immediately. As his hips began to buck up and down, the index finger of Meghan's free hand stroked lightly over the junction between his inner thigh and his groin. She could feel the rich blood surging through his femoral artery and her incisors itched to be let loose. She would not feed from him, however. She could not. The amnesiac quality of the protein she released when feeding was much more potent than that found in her pheromones. If she bit him even his subconscious mind would forget what they had just talked about, the orders she had just given.

Reg came mightily, shooting so much pent up semen into Meghan's sucking mouth that she couldn't keep up with it. She swallowed what she could. While she did not particularly enjoy the taste and consistency of semen, the look in Reg's eyes as he watched her more than made up for it.

After, while Reg was still panting from the exertion, his now wilting penis still exposed to the air, she quickly fastened her bra again and put her shirt back on. She then sat down next to him on the couch and kissed his cheek.

"I have to go now, Reg," she told him.

"So soon?" he asked.

"I'm afraid so," she said. "Remember what we talked about, okay? Remember, and do what you said you would do."

"I will," he promised.

She was out the door a minute later. She was hungry and extremely horny, but beneath all that was the satisfaction of a job well done.

-------

Two and a half miles to the southeast, in Condom Grove (so called because of all the used condoms that ended up beneath the sycamore trees, making it look as if they'd grown on the trees and fallen there) Ken and Candy were on the blanket Candy had brought along with her. Candy was on her knees and elbows, her shorts and panties pulled down, her pretty white butt sticking up in the air. Ken was kneeling behind her, two of his fingers inside of her wet vagina, stroking slowly, touching the nerves just right, while his little finger rubbed softly on her hard clitoris.

"Oh ... oh God, that feels so fuckin' good," she panted, pushing her butt back against him, trying to increase the pressure.

"I'm glad you like it," Ken said. His clothing was still fully fastened and in place. And though he was sporting quite the erection and was anticipating the moment he would put himself inside of her, his cognate senses were still on high alert. Despite the relative seclusion, this was far too public of an area to let his guard down. Currently there were no other sentient beings in the grove (although he could smell three flocks of birds roosting in the trees, a few dozen squirrels, eight rabbits, and a small herd of feral cats) but that could change any moment. He did not want to be interrupted before his business was done.

"Fuck me now!" Candy barked at him. "You said you'd fuck me! Put it in me!"

"In a moment," Ken told her. "Patience is a virtue, after all."

"Virtue is for losers," she scoffed, unwittingly spouting her general life philosophy. "Fuck me! Fuck me now!"

"Tell me one more time what you are going to say when Reg breaks up with you," he instructed.

"Oh ... mmm, I like that." She took a few deep breaths. "I'm going to ... to agree that it's for the best. I'm ... I'm not going to have any hard feelings about it."

"Very good," Ken said. "And when people ask why you two broke up?"

"He was ... was too religious for me. He didn't like it that I didn't take the bible seriously. I didn't like it that he took it too seriously."

"Excellent. And once the break up is settled down?"

"Oh ... Jesus, man. I've never felt anything like this before. How do you do it?"

"It's a special talent," he told her. "Now what are you going to do when the break up is settled?"

"I'm ... I'm going to try and be a nicer person. I'm going to try to find someone who ... who loves me instead of someone who is just rich, or someone who is just good looking and wants to ... to fuck me."

"Again, very good," Ken told her.

"Are you gonna fuck me now?" she asked. "I'll beg if you want me to! I swear I will!"

"That won't be necessary," Ken said, taking his hands from her body and reaching down to open his shorts. "It's time for your reward."

He gave her her reward, mounting her from behind. His hands grabbed her hips and he thrust in and out, moving his erection in a way designed to rub her in exactly the right places. She moaned and shuddered against him, soon reduced to a panting, sweaty, inarticulate mass of flesh. When her orgasm hit, he let himself go, timing it so they hit their peaks together. He spurted his semen into her body, knowing it contained no spermatozoa that could impregnate her, knowing that the very cells that made up the ejaculate would react with the fluid that carried it and self destruct in a matter of seconds, leaving not so much as a single strand of his DNA inside of her.

He left her there a moment later, after telling her one last time to remember what they had talked about and to obey the instructions he'd given her.

-------

Two months later, Jo, on behalf of the cognate government, delivered an envelope full of forged Dallas County issued documents to Buffalo, New York for a cognate couple who were undergoing an identity change and were using Dallas as part of their back story. She stayed overnight in a Buffalo hotel room (first class accommodations, of course—the cognate government was not hurting for money and liked to take good care of its couriers), hunted at a local nightclub, and the next morning climbed on an MD-88 and returned to Dallas via a stopover in Atlanta. She slept most of the five and half hours of flying time and landed at DFW an hour before sunset.

Once again, Glenn was there to pick her up in his BMW. He greeted her with a smile and a pat on the back, about as much affection as a male and female cognate were comfortable showing each other at this point in a relationship. The two of them had been out hunting together four times now. They had gone to restaurants twice and to a movie once. They had not kissed or even held hands. Despite their wanton sexuality with humans, among themselves, cognate were usually quite prudish. A cognate courtship was almost Victorian in nature, sometimes taking decades before progressing to the physical level.

"Sunset is coming soon," Glenn said as they traveled east on the LBJ Freeway toward Garland.

"Yes it is," she said, smiling.

"Would you care to go to a restaurant with me?" he asked. "We could dine and have a bottle of wine or two and then go find some real nourishment together after."

"I'd love to, but I can't tonight."

"Oh ... I see," he said, disappointed.

"It's my children," she said. "I think they're going to want to talk to me when I get home."

He looked concerned. "Problem?"

"Not really," she said. "Do you remember when I told you about how they wanted to intervene in the lives of two humans?"

"Oh yes," he said, nodding. "The fledgling desire to correct a human social injustice. It's funny how they always want to do that at some point."

"Yes," she agreed. "I suppose it's lingering survival guilt left over from their human days. Their society practically indoctrinates them into feeling bad about their own successes when compared to those less fortunate."

"An interesting way of looking at it," he said.

"Anyway, it's been two months since they made their little intervention. They were fully prepared to just assume that all worked out well and to go on thinking that they'd actually accomplished something." She gave a motherly smile. "I couldn't allow them to delude themselves that way."

"What did you do?"

"I gave them a little project to do while I was gone. I told them to go back to TCU and find the two humans, to talk to them and see how their lives are doing these days."

Glenn chuckled. "Epic, as my daughter would say. What happens if you're wrong though? If the humans have actually turned over a new leaf? You might have created a monster."

"I suppose there is a chance of that," she said. "But knowing humans as you do, do you really think I was wrong?"

He shook his head. "No. I'm sure they found exactly what you were expecting them to find."

They drove on, working their way another two miles east in companionable silence. Finally, Glenn asked her what she was doing tomorrow night.

"No plans at the moment," she assured him.

"How would you feel about our children meeting each other?"

She looked at him, surprised. "Mine might not be the best company tomorrow," she said.

"I understand," he said. "Mine are only a few years older than yours and have been through this particular stage themselves. They're brother and sister, you know."

"Yes ... I heard that," she said. It was not unheard of for a cognate to propagate human siblings, but it was unusual, particularly siblings of the opposite sex. The propagation process itself must have been very interesting.

"I think it might do all four of them some good to talk to cognate their own age," Glenn said. "Yours in particular might benefit from having the basic morality of our own kind reinforced. I was thinking we could have a barbecue and some beer at my place before sunset and then all go out and hunt together once darkness falls."

"We can't really afford to..."

"Don't worry about that," he said. "I have a brisket I was planning to slow cook anyway. And beer is cheap. If you can put together a potato salad and bring some ice, we'll call it even."

She smiled, feeling warm all over. "In that case, I'll take you up on your offer."

He nodded, obviously quite pleased with her acceptance. "It's a date then."

They talked of inconsequential things for the rest of the drive—cognate politics, who was leaving the area, who was coming into it. The cognate community in any given metropolitan area, even one as large as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, was very much like a small-town human community. There were movers, shakers, oddities, elders, youngsters, and even the occasional slacker, although the strict requirements for permission to propagate tended to keep this last to a minimum. Gossip and speculation was always a favorite pastime.

"I'll see you tomorrow, about five-thirty?" Glenn said when he dropped her off in the parking lot of the Citrus Tree Estates.

"With potato salad and ice," she confirmed. "Don't forget to shoot me an email with your address."

"The second I get home," he assured her.

He drove off, leaving her standing in the parking lot. She made her way up the stairs to number 237. She could sense that Meghan and Kenneth were sitting on the couch, the television and radio off, glasses of the cheap wine they disliked but drank anyway in their hands. As soon as she opened the door, one look at their faces told her they had found things not to their liking at TCU.

"Hi, guys," she greeted.

"Hey," said Meghan without the slightest trace of enthusiasm.

Kenneth simply nodded.

She closed the door behind her and set her suitcase down. She would deal with it later. She walked over and sat in the chair across from them. "I take it you didn't find what you were expecting when you visited your friends today."

"You knew, didn't you?" Ken asked, his tone more than a little accusatory.

"If you're implying that I have been keeping track of your friends and knew their status, then no. I knew nothing in that regard. If you're saying that I knew how this situation would turn out before it was even initiated, then yes. I did know."

"They went right back to the way they were!" Meghan yelled. "They're not with each other anymore but that's the only thing we changed. They might as well have stayed together!"

"So they're both with other people?" Jo asked.

"Yes," Ken told her. "Candy is hooked up with a nerdy Business major whose parents own about half of the Burger King outlets in Fort Worth and Irving. He's not a virgin but she keeps him satisfied with a handjob once a week or so. She's still sleeping with any good looking guy who crosses her path and shows an interest in sleeping with her."

"I see," Jo said. "And Reg?"

"Reg is dating one of the school cheerleaders," Meghan said. "A very beautiful girl who is so far outside of his league I'm surprised they speak the same language. He is already having suspicions that she might be getting her sexual satisfaction in other places. Despite that, he feels she might be the one for him. His daddy likes her a lot and says she'll make a good businessman's wife."

Jo nodded. Yes, this was exactly what she had been expecting. Thank Whoever for the glorious predictability of human nature. "I'm sorry, guys," she said.

"Are you?" Meghan asked. "You set us up. You knew this was going to happen and you could have just let us go on believing we accomplished something but you made us go check back with them anyway."

"I did all that," she agreed. "Would you really have preferred I let you go through life believing you were helping a couple of pathetic humans when in fact you did nothing but put a speed bump in front of them?"

"Yes," Meghan said. "I would have."

"No," Jo said, shaking her head firmly. "You wouldn't have. And don't try to convince me for a second, young lady, that I don't speak the truth."

Meghan opened her mouth to protest but no words came out. She closed it again and took a few deep breaths. "Okay," she said. "Maybe you're right."

"I am right," Jo insisted. "It was my responsibility as a parent to show you the futility of interfering in the affairs of individual humans. It takes planning and involves danger and it is almost always for nothing."

"But why?" Ken asked. "Why didn't they follow our commands? Why did they go right back to the sort of people they were?"

"They followed some of your commands," Jo said. "They broke up with each other, didn't they?"

"Well ... yes," Ken said.

"And was the break-up amicable, as you commanded?"

They both nodded.

"Reg said Candy told him she understood when he broke up with her," Meghan said. "He said she told everyone that story Ken fed her about the religion being their issue. She didn't talk any shit about him or stalk him or anything else."

"Candy actually believes the relationship failed because of religion," Ken said. "She remembers Reg as a nice guy, very marriageable, but a little too much of a bible thumper for her tastes. She said he's perfect as far as economics go, but there are some things even she won't put up with."

"So that part of your suggestion took," Jo said. "It was the other parts, the parts about turning over a new leaf, that didn't take, right?"

"Right," Ken said.

"Yes," said Meghan. "I don't understand it. You told us that cognate have used their pheromonal influence to stop the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating to a nuclear exchange! You've told us cognate have used their influence to keep Hitler from invading England in World War II! Why the hell can't we get two ordinary people to change their lives for the better?"

"Two reasons," Jo said. "Number one, the influence of the American high command during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the German high command during World War II were tactical influences that took place in the short term. You can get a susceptible human to do almost anything in the short term. That's what happened when you told Reg and Candy to break up and to keep it amicable. They may not have really wanted to do that, but they obeyed you."

"Right!" Meghan said. "So how come..."

Jo held up her hand. Meghan stopped talking.

"Number two," Jo continued. "Cognate influence cannot change someone's basic nature beyond the short term. Once you stop influencing them, they return to the pathetic people they were before you came along. In the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the invasion of England, by the time the influence wore off and the decision makers returned to normal, the circumstances were different. The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved. The invasion of England was no longer possible because of weather and German air losses. That is why our influence worked in those situations. With Reg and Candy, there was nothing to prevent them from going right back to the way they were. Reg's destiny is to marry a shallow, beautiful girl who is only interested in him for his money and who sleeps around behind his back. Candy's destiny is to marry an easily controllable, socially inept rich kid who will never take a good look at what is going on behind his back. You cannot change that about them."

"But it's not a correct destiny!" Meghan protested.

"No, it's not," Jo agreed. "But it is a destiny, nonetheless. It's a destiny carved by the generations of their families that came before them. They are the only ones who can change that destiny. It is not our place or our obligation to try to do it for them."

They looked at her, her children, the two beings she loved more than anything else on Earth, and they said nothing. They were miserable and it hurt her to see them this way, but their misery was no longer directed at her. It seemed she had gotten through to them.

"It's a hard lesson to learn," she told them gently. "All of us go through some version of this when we're young. Some cognate parents simply explain the facts of humanity to their children and hope they absorb it. My parents did what I just did to you two: they let me fail at an attempt to make the world better so I would know unequivocally that it is rarely possible to do so."

"You ... you went through this too?" Ken asked.

She nodded. "I fed from a businessman one night and under the influence of my pheromones he told me how he was sexually exploiting his young secretary. I was outraged and I wanted to intervene. My mother and father allowed me to give it a try. I succeeding in putting a stop to the exploitation—my command to the businessman to never touch her in passion again held. A month went by and he replaced her with another young woman. Within a week he was sexually exploiting the new secretary. Within two weeks the first secretary found another job working for another man who sexually exploited her. It was all for nothing."

"All for nothing," Meghan said, shaking her head.

Ken took a sip of his wine. "All for nothing," he agreed.

"You'll get used to it," Jo said. "You'll get used to it the same way you got used to feeding from the humans for nourishment, the way you got used to taking pleasure from their flesh without jealousy toward each other."

"I suppose," Meghan said.

"Yeah," Ken agreed.

"And on a brighter note," Jo said, "we've been invited to a barbeque tomorrow. Glenn has two cognate children a few years older than you two. He would like you to meet them."

"A barbeque?" Ken asked, interested already.

"Yes," she said. "He's going to cook a brisket—classic Texas style I'm assuming."

"That does sound good," Meghan said.

"And there will be beer there," Jo told them. "Lots of beer."

"Now you're talking!" Ken said. He had always been a big fan of beer but they rarely bought any because of tight finances.

"So look forward to tomorrow," Jo said. "There's no need to look back at today."

They both agreed that maybe that was a good plan.

"Of course it is," Jo said. She looked at the clock on the wall. "Sunset is in eighteen minutes, children. Have either of you thought about where we should hunt tonight?"

They hadn't, but they did now. It was always fun to plan for the night's hunt.
A Lesson Regarding Humanity


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