The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Phase Zero Clinical Trial: Response To Hypnozamine In The Human Female

by B Pascal

Chapter 24

I had no trouble at all falling asleep that night. I recall some pleasant dreams, but no specifics that I could remember, and woke feeling thoroughly rested and ready to start the day. I even made a real breakfast, with eggs and bacon and toast, something I rarely do.

I sat in on Art and Ted’s huddle where they were discussing the preliminary results from their first tests of their opioid blocker. It wasn’t what they wanted, but there was a trial and error element to these kinds of projects, because so little is known about the actual mechanisms that control the brain’s reward system. They’d get there eventually, and it was information I thought I could use, too.

While I waited for that to happen I finished the design of the experiment Clark had approved for me to run, and sent it off to him. If he signed off on it, I could start it.

In the late morning, Art and Ted got in another intense discussion about research direction, and this one actually started to get a little heated which was surprising, because these two guys always seemed to get along. I wandered over and eavesdropped while they argued, trying to pick up the point of contention.

Eventually they noticed me there and started to appeal to me to place myself on one side or the other. But if I understood the argument, neither of them were actually wrong. It was more a question of how to determine the best next step. After I’d asked some questions of each of them, it seemed they each felt that their chosen next step would prove their assumption about how the brain’s reward signals were processed.

I thought that there was an intermediate question that had to be answered first, and the answer to that should show more clearly what the next step should be. We batted that around for awhile and finally they both agreed that doing that would give them more information, so they buried the hatchet and went off to figure out an experiment to provide that intermediate answer.

As I turned to go back to my desk, I saw Clark standing in the corner, watching us. I didn’t know how long he’d been standing there. He nodded pleasantly and left the lab.

That tête-à-tête with Art and Ted has lasted longer than I’d thought, and it was way past lunch time. I decided to wait a little longer, then have a late lunch, and perhaps Liz would show up for dessert. I busied myself cleaning out my inbox till then.

Around one-thirty I went down to the cafeteria and looked at what they had left that shouted lunch. Most of the specials were gone, but there were two lonesome stuffed green peppers sitting by themselves on a tray, so I ordered that and a side of overcooked green peas, and some salad.

It wasn’t that good, but I finished it, then went back and got coffee and a piece of pie. I got back to my table just as Liz arrived. She looked at my empty lunch plate and asked, “Were those the green peppers?”

“Let us never speak of this again. They were pretty bad.”

“So what’d you think of last night? Did you like her? Did you like her book?”

“I think I said last night, after we left, that it was fun and interesting, and I did like her book. She seems pretty nice, too, for all I was able to glean in the thirty minutes we spent in the bar.

Known her long?”

“A couple of years. We sometimes use each other as sounding boards, or if we’re in a slump and need a kick. Less so now, but more earlier, when we were trying to get our books started.”

“That can be important, I understand that. We do that, too, in science, when we’ve hit a roadblock in research, and need to bat around our approach and our theories because we can’t see our way out. Then it helps to have someone you can go to who’ll listen, maybe point out something you’ve overlooked. Just happened an hour ago in the lab, as a matter of fact. So I can see how you’d be useful to each other.”

“Exactly. She’s smart, and sometimes I think she’s a better writer than I am. At least she’s a faster writer, doesn’t hit as many speed bumps like I do where you wonder if you’ve made a big plot mistake or something like that.”

“It seems to me you turn stuff out at an astounding rate. I know I’m not seeing first drafts, the stuff you give me to read, so you must be rewriting page after page.”

She didn’t say anything, but she nodded.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t get to read the pages you gave me last night. I’ll do it tonight.”

“Oh, that’s fine, Sam, no hurry. I’m at a point now where I’ve got to think very carefully about how I want this to end, that’s how close I am, so I won’t be turning stuff out as quickly as before.

I feel like I’m somehow being unfaithful to my characters if I go the way I think.”

I must have looked puzzled, because she said, “I don’t want to explain it now, because I don’t understand it myself. You’ll understand when you finally get to read the conclusion.

“Before I forget, Sam, Jane called me this morning because she forgot to tell me something last night after the reading. I was terrified that Schwartz would hear me on my cell phone and chew me out for taking personal calls at work, but he was wrapped up in something.

“Jane’s having a party this weekend, a cookout at her place to celebrate the upcoming release of her book. She and her boyfriend, fiance, significant other, whatever you want to call him, have a place out in Springdale, white picket fence, backyard, all that suburban stuff, so that’s where they’re having the party.

“She begged me to come because, she said, ’You helped push me through the hard parts, Liz, so it’s partly your book, too.’ She said that, Sam, really. And she also said, ’Bring that guy, Sam, if he’s free. I want him to pick my lottery numbers.’” She smiled.

So if my radar was working correctly I was being set up. I don’t think Liz had any part in this plot, but she was along for the ride. This was Jane deciding that she was going to nudge things along.

“A cookout. I’m suddenly feeling all suburban, and I’ve got this overwhelming urge to rush out and buy Bermuda shorts and a pair of sandals.”

“My, aren’t we being all dramatic all of a sudden. C’mon, they’re nice people, and it can’t be much different from that patio opening you went to a few weeks ago. You showed me pictures.

You were almost proud of it, you can’t fool me. Are you in, or are you going to bail on me?”

“I’m teasing you. I like to see you get all agitated, because you’re usually so aloof. I’m in.

Where and when?”

It was tomorrow, and they’d start around five. Springdale was a little less than thirty minutes east by car.

“Good, I’m glad you decided to go. I know Jane and her boyfriend, Andy, but I don’t know who else will be there that I know, so I’ll have at least one friendly face.”

This was sounding better and better, if she viewed me as a ’friendly face’.

“Should I bring something, Liz? I don’t know what might be an appropriate food offering.”

“I’ve got it covered, I’ll make something she likes, and it’ll be from both of us.”

“I don’t know if it makes much sense to take two cars. Should I pick you up and we can go together?”

“That sounds good, Sam. Let’s say about four-fifteen at my place? You can help me take stuff down to the car. I’d better get back, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay, four-fifteen.” And as she walked off, the me that lives in my head was pumping his fist and doing his end-zone touchdown dance. The me on the outside ate his pie and finished his coffee and looked stoic.

* * *

I know they suspected something in the lab, I know it. They didn’t say anything, but the looks were all there, replete with hidden meaning. They wouldn’t ask, because they knew I wouldn’t say anything, but the gossip line had been buzzing and they knew something was up.

The few hours to the end of the workday seemed endless, but I got through it. Frank and Art asked if I wanted to join them for dinner, but part of me was afraid they’d choose TGIF with its Friday Trivia Contest again, and also that they’d tag-team me with questions about Liz. So I declined.

I got Chinese to go and went home and sat at the kitchen table eating General Tso’s Chicken and reading Liz’s last chapters. I could see how the plot was closing in like a thunderstorm forming, giving the reader a sense of—maybe not foreboding, but of something significant about to happen.

I was now involved with her characters, something that didn’t usually happen to me when I read novels, but did here.

I liked them, they seemed like real people you might meet and like spending time with. I wanted nice things to happen to them, but there were forces at work in the background. I’d have to wait and see what Liz had worked out for them in her mind.

And for once, I had no corrections, no questions, no suggestions. I felt superfluous. I hoped she wouldn’t be disappointed.

I read a book until it was time for bed, feeling at loose ends. Part of me was tap-dancing like Fred Astaire, singing a happy song, and part of me was sitting in the dark corner saying,

“Something bad’s gonna happen, just you wait.” On that bright note, I went to bed.

I woke up with an urgent voice in my head saying, “The car! The car’s a mess, you’ve gotta clean it.” I don’t know where that came from, but it wasn’t entirely wrong. Stuff got dumped on the floor, in the back seat, while I told myself, I’ll take care of it later.

Later had arrived, so after coffee and cereal, I took some trash bags out to the car and gave it a going over. I found toll receipts going back two years. As I rummaged under the front seat I said out loud, mostly to myself, “So that’s where the rest of that cheeseburger went.”

When it was mostly tidy, I dropped the trash in the building’s garbage cans and looked at the outside of the car. I shook my head, took out my keys, and drove to a car wash, where I sprang for the high-end wash’n’wax. I would never see that $20 again, but the car looked marginally better.

I picked out one of my new sport shirts and a pair of khaki pants, just the kind of thing for a cookout, then showered and shaved. Looking okay, Halloran, not entirely unlike Fred Astaire if you squinted a bit.

And then it was time to leave. I patted my pocket and made sure I had my house keys, wallet, the aerosol spray, then drove to Liz’s place. I buzzed her and shouted “Sam!” to the intercom, which granted me entrance. I decided to walk up, to work off some of the energy that had been building all day while waiting. I knocked on her door and she must have been standing there because it opened almost instantly.

“Ever prompt, Sam. Come in, almost ready.”

She turned away to walk to the kitchen and I almost fell down with a stroke. She was wearing white shorts that rode high on her legs and were so tight on her ass that I swear I could see blood vessels pulsing there. She had on a short sleeve blouse, and when she turned to open the refrigerator I thought I’d die, because it was pulled tight across her chest. I hadn’t been wrong. She chose her work attire specifically to downplay her attributes, which were spectacular.

But now I had a problem. I could feel the problem growing as I stood there. Fortunately she was not looking at me at that moment, or an awkward conversation would have ensued. I choked out, “May I use your bathroom, Liz?”

“Sure, down the hall on the left,” she said, waving her hand behind her. I found it, closed the door, and splashed cold water on my face and talked to myself until I could feel my dick shrink a bit. I would have to use every bit of my concentration to keep my thoughts away from her body.

I walked back to the kitchen and forced myself to carry on a conversation about the trip, the party, the food, while examining the back-splash behind the sink, the side of the refrigerator, the nutrition panel on the box of cereal on the counter.

“Okay, I think that’s it. Let me get a jacket in case it gets chilly, then we can bring this stuff down. New shirt, Sam?”

“Um, yes, I bought it with the other new shirt. Every five years, whether I need it or not, new shirts.”

She chuckled. “A man with a plan. Well, it looks nice, good choice.”

“Thank you. I think this is the first time I’ve seen you dressed so... informally.” I really didn’t want to go down this road, but I couldn’t not return the compliment.

“Oh, every once in a while, I try to dress more relaxed. Do you like it?”

Oh, crap, I was hoping she wouldn’t go off on this subject. I thought fast.

“It looks... perfect.”

She smiled. Brother, I got out of that one by the skin of my teeth. Just the right kind of non-specific compliment that wouldn’t reference her ass or her legs or her chest explicitly.

“Thanks. Okay, grab that package on the counter, I’ve got the bowl and my jacket, I think we’re ready.”

We stepped into the hall and she locked the door behind her. As we waited for the elevator she asked, “Did you find a spot close by?”

“Yeah, just a couple of doors down the street.”

The elevator deposited us in the lobby and in moments we were at the car. We put the food on the floor in the back, then I held the front door for her as she got in, which forced me to look at her legs and how firm her thighs were. I took a detour behind the car and opened the trunk, only to give myself a moment to recover before I sat next to her.

Fortunately she suspected nothing, and asked me if I knew how to get there. I told her I could get us to Springdale, and she could direct me from there.

And we were off. I looked for topics that would keep my mind off her body, so I told her that I’d read her latest pages last night, and could find nothing that I would change. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind inserting a few typos so I’d feel like I was of some use.

She laughed and touched my arm. Okay, this is not going how I’d planned. When I was able to speak again, I said that I’d felt that something important was about to happen in her book, that the plot and the mood seemed to be heading in that direction.

She said, “Yes, that’s what I was referring to yesterday, when I said I was trying to reconcile what I was thinking of having happen to my characters, and I hadn’t decided yet. That’s what I’m trying to work out.”

“I was thinking last night while I was reading what you gave me that I liked these people, that if I met them I’d want to spend time with them, that they were interesting, friendly, that I admired them in some way.”

She didn’t say anything, but looked off into the distance, as if trying to see our destination.

Our exit came up soon enough, and I left the highway. She told me where to turn, and in short order we were there. I found a place to park and the two of us each carried a container to the door.

Liz rang the bell with her free hand, and the door was thrown open by Jane. They did an awkward cheek kiss, as she tried to keep the food container level.

“And you kidnapped Sam, too? Good for you, Liz.”

“I am here of my own volition. No threats were required.”

“However you got here, welcome. Everything’s out back, c’mon through.”

In the back, there was a decent sized yard, with a shade tree and flower beds, and a tiny patio.

There was a gas grill sending up smoke, and the guy tending it smiled broadly at Liz and waved.

“Hey, Andy,” shouted Liz. “That’s her boyfriend,” she said to me. There was a table with food and we deposited our donations there. A small folding table beside it was set up as a self-service bar. There was a cooler of ice underneath with beer and soda.

There were a few friends and neighbors milling about, laughing and talking. Liz nodded at a couple of them. “I’ll introduce you to the ones I know. You’re on your own for the rest of them.


I said I’d have a beer and found one. She mixed something with vodka and fruit juice. I was doing my best to watch everyone else and not her. She took my hand and led me over to the grill and introduced me to Andy, who said, “Ah, right, Jane mentioned you. Really glad you could make it. Food’ll be ready shortly, Sam.”

So apparently Andy was in on the plot as well. I mean, I was reading between the lines, but she had to have told him everything.

Liz and I found a couple of beach chairs in the shade under the tree and sat. It was a nice day, not too hot, with just a bit of a breeze. I was surprised that our conversation ranged so widely, from writing, to people at work, public scandals to scientific developments. And in retrospect, I realized that it was mostly her directing the conversation. I was surprised at the breadth of her mind and her interests. She hadn’t really shown this in any of the discussions we’d had before.

Some time later, Andy gave a piercing whistle to get everyone’s attention, and shouted, “Food’s on!” The crowd had expanded by now, perhaps thirty people in attendance, many of whom knew each other. I got chicken and three kinds of salad and cornbread, Liz mostly salad and a very small piece of chicken. We carried our plates back to our seats, and said little as we ate.

I felt a lot better after the food. Liz, who had eaten almost nothing but green, leafy produce, said, “I’m stuffed.” I thought it better to withhold comment. A woman came up to Liz with drink in hand, and they air-kissed and chatted in a friendly way. I was introduced, and Liz said she was also a writer. Who could’ve guessed that? I mean, what are the odds?

Liz got up to dispose of her plate and made the rounds saying hello to several people, being introduced to others. From my vantage point, removed from most of the crowd, I was able to watch the men, who were invariably polite and friendly, but as Liz walked away their eyes would follow her ass. I resented it, but I also couldn’t blame them.

When coffee and dessert were announced, Andy called for everyone’s attention. When they had mostly quieted down, he thanked everyone for coming to help celebrate Jane’s pending triumph, the book would be released to the stores in several weeks, early reviews had been very positive, and he and she were grateful for everyone’s support and mostly grateful that they could finally stop to take a breath.

Everyone smiled and applauded politely at that, and Jane looked gratified. Liz grabbed her hand and squeezed it, one author to another. Andy ended with, “So thanks for coming. Dessert and coffee are ready, anything you don’t finish here you’re taking home in a doggie bag. We don’t have room in the fridge.”

I went to get coffee, and Liz finished chatting with Jane and went to make herself another drink.

I wandered back to our chairs under the tree. Evening was approaching, and the light was fading.

A few lightning bugs flitted about, flashing their signals to possible mates. I sat in my chair and just enjoyed the evening.

Liz walked back toward our seats. Behind her, I could see eyes following her. Could she not be aware of it? It must be an everyday occurrence. I thought that she had just learned to ignore it as the best way of not feeling self-conscious about her body.

“Well, this is nice,” she said. “I don’t always like these parties where a lot of strangers get together and try to be friendly, looking for topics that won’t trigger a reaction, like politics or religion or what’s wrong with the younger generation.”

“It’s a minefield. I’ve never been terribly good at it.”

“That’s why it’s helpful to always bring a friend. If I want to talk about politics or religion, I know I can do it with you, Sam.”

She continued to chat about nothing substantial, just enjoying where she was, who she was with, and I was really flattered that she felt that comfortable with me. And again I wondered what I was to her, just the friend she could always call to go to a party with her, or something else. I needed to know before I got so emotionally involved with her that I couldn’t extract myself. I was already half in love with her. Maybe more than half.

One of the unexpected side effects of hypnozamine was its ’truth serum’ aspect. In reality, it wasn’t a truth serum at all, but it effectively eliminated inhibitions for the duration of its brief presence in the body, and it’s those inhibitions that allow us to mislead and to lie, because we don’t want people to find out what we’re thinking. So I should be able to find out what’s on her mind with some degree of accuracy.

The light breeze was blowing from the tree toward the crowd gathered near the food and drinks.

I put my cardboard coffee cup down on the grass beside my chair and got up. I excused myself to get another piece of cake, asking Liz if she’d like anything. She didn’t, so I grabbed a slice of cake on a plate and a plastic fork and wandered back.

As I approached the chairs I ’accidentally’ kicked the cup I’d left on the ground by my seat, saying, “Nuts, talk about clumsy.” She just gave a glance my way, and went back to watching the crowd in the distance. I put the cake plate on the chair, leaned down to pick up the cup, and from behind the chairs I sprayed a brief burst from the aerosol behind Liz’s shoulder. The breeze carried it forward.

I picked up the plate and sat down in my chair, placing the empty cup on the ground. Liz sat quietly, looking pleasant, a little distant. I watched her for a few moments.

“Are you feeling okay, Liz?”

“I’m fine, Sam, Feeling very nice. It’s good to be here.”

“Yes, it is. I was just thinking how pleasant it was to be sitting here with you, and all these nice people around, enjoying the evening and the food.”

“That’s what I feel, too.”

“I was also thinking how nice you make me feel, and how attracted I am to you. What do you feel, Liz?”

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot, the past couple of weeks. I was surprised that you made me feel so, I dunno, happy, confident in my abilities, proud of my talents. That you spent so much time getting to know me without throwing yourself at me. That you seemed to be well-bred and educated and respectful. That you liked my mind and not just my body. And how attractive you are.”

Huh? Me? She’s talking about me, right?

“What do you think might happen between us, Liz, not today, but in the long run?”

“I try not to think too far ahead, so I won’t be disappointed.”

“But if you were forced to make a guess, what would you like to happen?”

“I think I might like living with you, maybe getting married. You’re a good person and I think you understand me, and I’m really attracted to you. I haven’t found that a lot recently.”

Wow. I wanted a more definitive answer. That’s pretty damned definitive.

When I caught my breath, I said, “Liz, I’m more drawn to you than I have been to anyone, and I think I would like exactly the same thing.”

And she smiled, a secret smile. She was still staring at the back of the house, but her eyes were starting to move a bit more. It’s wearing off. If I were to implant some suggestions, I wouldn’t have time to finish. I’d never given anyone more than two doses before, except for Ellen and those were separated by a week or two. But as far as I could tell, there had been no adverse side effects with Ellen, so they were unlikely here as well. The unknown was the time span between the two applications.

I made some rough calculations in my head and decided it was probably okay, so while she was still slightly dazed, I put my arm behind her chair and sprayed once more. I waited a bit. Her eyes again became unfocused, unblinking.

“Do you still feel okay, Liz?”

“Yes, it’s a lovely night. I’m glad we’re here.”

“So am I. And sitting next to you, I’m grateful that I get the chance to be with such a smart, talented, beautiful and sexy woman. The more I look at you, Liz, the more aroused I am, the more I want to kiss you and touch you all over. How does your body feel?”

“Like... Like my body is charged with static electricity, like sparks jump every time I get close to you or I touch you.”

Wait, that was my line, she put her hand on mine and it paralyzed me. Is she saying that happens to her?

“Exactly, Liz. It’s as if when we touch there’s a jolt that passes between us, but for me it’s a jolt of pleasure and it takes my breath away. If I were to touch your hand now, I think you’d feel a burst of erotic pleasure, not electricity.”

I reached out and placed my hand on her wrist.”

“Oh! Oh, my God,”

“I’m glad you feel it, too. It feels so wonderful, Liz. If we were to kiss, for example, and you were thinking about my hands on your body, you’d feel your nipples getting really hard, and your pussy getting wet. In fact, your pussy is a little damp now, isn’t it?”

She hesitated, but said, quietly, “Yes, it is.”

“Thinking about it now, you’re surprised at how turned on you are, Liz. You know that if I were to suck your nipples or lick your asshole or rub your pussy, it would bring you really close to cumming, making you feel better and better, and even more aroused, bringing you right to the edge. Can you feel that?”

“Oh, yes.”

“When I lick your clit or stick my fingers in your pussy, Liz, you’ll cum, a series of delightful, small orgasms that will leave you feeling so relaxed and happy. When I stick a finger or a dildo into your ass, it will give you a wonderful, warm orgasm that spreads from your ass all through your body, leaving you feeling a little slutty but really satisfied.

“And when I finally fuck you, Liz, my dick in your cunt or in your ass will make you delirious with anticipation, feeling better and better, bringing you right to the edge of cumming, but you won’t cum, Liz, not until I tug your earlobe, or you hear me say the words ’cum for me’. What are those words, Liz?”

“You’ll say ’cum for me’.

“That’s right, Liz. You won’t remember me saying the words, but you’ll know just what’s supposed to happen when you hear them. And when you do cum, you’ll cum with a powerful release that will leave you breathless, feeling wonderful, deeply satisfied, and delighted and happy and complete and loved.”

She nodded.

“One last thing, Liz. When I say the phrase ’Joseph Conrad’ to you, you will block out all the sensations and stimuli around you, and will hear my voice alone, nothing else. And you will want to do what I tell you because it makes perfect sense. And when I clap my hands, you will awake again and remember nothing of what was said, but you will still do the things I asked, as if you thought of them yourself. Can you do that, Liz? What’s the phrase you’ll be listening for?”

“Joseph Conrad. You’ll say ’Joseph Conrad’.”

I checked her eyes again. She still seemed to be focused and hadn’t blinked.

“Liz, tell me the things that turn you on. What do you like to have done to you? What gets you really excited?”

She put her hands up in front of her face. This was unexpected. No one had done this before.

“Liz, why did you cover your face?”

“I’m embarrassed. I don’t want people to see.”

“No one can see that you’re embarrassed. Please put your hands down. Are you afraid to say what gets you excited?”

She nodded, looking guilty.

“Liz, you are so smart and creative, I don’t care if you think something’s a little naughty. I would never judge you for that. If it makes you happy, I’d be thrilled to help you get there. Please tell me.”

Even in her trance state, she was still self-aware enough to know she was embarrassed by this, so she had a hard time speaking it aloud.

“I like... I like when guys fuck my ass.”

That’s it? That’s all?

“That doesn’t bother me in the least, Liz. What else turns you on?”

Again she hesitated. “I like when I’m blindfolded so I can’t see what’s going to happen.

Sometimes I like being tied up.”

“These sound like fun things, Liz. They’re nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Her eyes were starting to move again. Gotta finish up.

“Liz, what would you like to happen tonight, after the party?”

“I’d like for us to go back to my place and make love. I’d like you to stay the night.”

“I’d like that more than anything, Liz. Let’s see what happens.”

I let her wind down and come back to reality slowly. So far, each induced trance had left the subject with no conscious memory of what had been discussed. I hoped that I wouldn’t someday find a person who was partially or completely immune to hypnozamine’s effects. They’d be sitting there thinking, what the hell is this guy talking about, and why do I feel so weird?

As she started to recover, she gave herself a little shake. “Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second drink after all.”

“You’ll be okay, you’re not driving so you can sleep on the way back if you want.”

I ’continued’ the imaginary conversation we’d been having. “So you were telling me about Jane and Andy. How can she afford a place like this if she’s a writer?”

She paused, trying to remember the rest of the conversation, and she couldn’t, so she picked it up here. “Well, she’s not a full-time writer, not yet, anyway. She works in an office, and Andy’s got a good job, so between the two of them they do okay.”

“The suburban life. Everyone’s dream. Oh, look! Bermuda shorts!”

She smiled and punched me on the arm. It felt good.

We sat for a few minutes more, people watching, talking about nothing. Eventually, she stretched and gave a little shiver. Out of the corner of my eye I watched her in profile and thought that that was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen.

“Thinking of calling it a night?” I asked.

“Yeah, maybe. Looks like things are winding down except for the people who are too drunk to move. Maybe it’s a good time to leave. You want to stay?”

Thinking about what might await me on the other end of this trip, I shook my head no, I didn’t want to stay one second more than I had to.

“Okay,” she said, “let’s say our goodbyes. I’ve got to find the bowls I brought, then we can go.”

She got up and started across the lawn. I picked up my trash and watched her ass in those shorts without trying to be too obvious about it.

Together, we found Jane and Andy and thanked them for the party. Jane said to Liz, “Honey, I’m so glad you could come. And you, too, Sam. I still want those lottery numbers, I won’t forget.”

And to Liz, she raised an eyebrow, which had unsaid paragraphs embedded in it. Liz just smiled enigmatically.

We made our way back to the car, and started back to the city. On the way back we talked quietly, but she had turned toward me slightly in her seat, so she could watch me while we talked.

I thought that was a good sign.