Several days later, Adam found himself drawn back to Madge’s Speakeasy, a place where he was able to lose himself in whiskey on more than one evening during the week. The tramps that frequented the bar were also worthy distractions. They kept him amused but not totally satisfied physically or emotionally. But Adam didn’t mind. On many levels, he liked the superficiality of the scene. As he sat nursing his drink, he gazed around him at the other customers. Most were field hands, though there were some townspeople present, mostly men. Suddenly, all eyes turned to the door to the back room. He saw Madge standing in the doorway and looking right at him.
Madge wore a long, red silk dress, low cut to show off her ample breasts. Her hair was done up in the style of fashion models. Her red lips parted in a smile as she walked slowly toward him, her hips swaying seductively. All the men watched her make her entrance, and Adam guessed that most of them would pay top dollar for a throw in the hay with such a commanding woman. Her good looks and seductiveness made him nervous. Being a man, he wouldn’t mind doing her. He took another drink to calm his wayward thoughts. In the past, Adam loved being the one who pursued the female. Whenever a woman made a move on him, it unnerved him to no limits. He hated women who used their womanly wiles to get what they wanted—a man’s money.
A moment later, Madge stood beside him. “Hey, big boy!” she said over the dull hum of conversation.
Grace Kelso, a talented blues singer, was on the little stage. She was a former blues singer who once traveled the Chitlin circuit. She visited most of the nightclubs that featured black performers, which catered to black audiences.
“Haven’t seen you around here lately.”
“Been busy, Madge,” Adam said. He met her eyes but then looked lower.
“Like what you see?” she asked.
Adam said nothing.
“Would you like to dance?” asked Madge as she leaned forward to give him a closer view of her voluptuous breasts.
“No thanks,” replied Adam as he looked at the blues singer. He’d run across the singer in the past when he, too, was performing, though he hadn’t been on the road in quite some time. It was during one of his singing gigs that he’d met Grace Kelso. She had an unassuming voice, but it was her provocative gyrating that caught the male customers’ attention.
Madge laughed loudly. “I see you like Grace.”
“Yeah, we’ve met. But you probably already know that, don’t you.”
“For such a sexy guy, you’re pretty smart!” Madge said, taking a seat on the empty barstool next to him. “She already told me that you’re a great dancer and a wonderful singer. She said you have a variety of talents.” She leaned close and whispered in his ear. “I’ve also heard you’re a fantastic lover.”
Adam’s body tensed. Every muscle tightened when Madge ran her moistened tongue across his neck. “You’re not my type, so cut that crap out!”
Madge inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. “What’s your type?” Before Adam could respond, she blurted, “You’re not my type either. There’s only one man in these parts that’s my type. He has a good reputation and lots of money. Now, that’s my man. I heard Quincy Bryce is all wrapped up into one dynamic package!”
Adam stopped drinking. He didn’t want to be rude or ungentlemanly, but he needed to end the conversation. “Quincy would never deal with someone like you. He’s a good man who deserves a good woman. We both know you don’t fit that description.” The hair on his neck stood up. He knew this wasn’t a chance meeting, but something more sinister.
Madge flinched. “How do you know he’s not interested in me? Have the two of you been discussing me?” She glared at him for a moment. “I’m getting the feeling you don’t want to share me with him.”
Mockingly, he shook his head in defiance. “Share you? Not on your life. I’m not interested in you.”
“I’m trying to get my life together.” She slanted her head sideways and waited for his comeback.
“Why don’t you pull your life together somewhere else?” asked Adam cynically. “I just came in here for a drink. Is that all right with you?” He hated women who thought their looks could get them anything. To him, Madge resembled a man-eating fish looking for some new meat to chew on. He wasn’t going to be her next meal, even though he felt himself getting aroused.
Madge laughed and snapped humorously. “Since you have made it abundantly clear, you’re not interested, does Quincy have a ladylove? I don’t want her to get in my way when I go after him. I don’t mind saying that he’s prime husband material. I bet he can get mighty lonely out there on the farm.”
Adam grimaced. “Let’s not go there!” He dismissed her like she didn’t exist. He noticed Madge struggling to control her temper. As soon as he left the bar, he was going to head over to Quincy’s place. He had to warn him about Madge’s sudden interest in him. He could almost put bank on the fact that old man Calhoun had sanctioned her. Given what Quincy had told him recently, and that Queen thought she’d seen strangers lurking around on the farm, he figured there was more to Madge’s moves than was obvious.
“I wonder why you refuse to answer me.” She stopped, taunting him. “I’m getting the feeling you don’t trust me.”
“I don’t know you, but I know of you. So does Quincy,” said Adam. “Whatever you’re after, you won’t get it from me.” He rose from the chair and walked toward the exit.
When he reached his mint-condition 1969 green Chevrolet pickup, he sighed deeply. He got into the Chevy and drove off. Ten minutes later, Adam pulled up in front of his best friend’s house. It was still relatively early. In fact, the sun was just setting. He saw that the barn door was open. Light shone through the wide opening. He got out of the truck and walked to the barn.
Quincy stopped working when he saw him. “Man, what got you so fired up? You look like you’re ready to do battle with the devil.”
“Madge Calhoun petrifies me,” said Adam. He leaned against a stall. “She was all over me earlier. You can bet your sweet ass, something is wrong with her. She slithered over to me and began asking questions about you. I was suspicious from the word go.” During his thirty-nine years, Adam had dated many women. None of them had unnerved him before. “No decent man would want to marry her. She’s been rode hard and put away wet.”
“Apparently, I’m in her crosshairs then!” Quincy said. “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if her father put her on me. The old folks say Madge has a white liver—whatever in hell that means.”
“She’s a whore—plain and simple.” Adam paused briefly. “That woman has slept with everyone except us.”
“Maybe that’s true, but there’s no reason to run her down like that,” Quincy said.
Adam was shocked. “Say again?”
“You heard me. She may be loose. Her papa is definitely a crook, and there’s no love lost between our families, but I’m sure there’s plenty we don’t know, Adam. Don’t forget you’ve slept with your share of women. I’m very surprised that Madge hasn’t crossed your path before now!”
Quincy picked up a pitchfork and began filling the feeding troughs with hay. The horses whinnied and started to eat.
“Women like Madge might give you something you can’t kick loose,” Adam said.
“Boy, what are you talking about now? What does ‘can’t kick loose’ mean?”
Adam knew Quincy didn’t know the ways of the world, but his friend’s apparent naivety made him pause. “When was the last time you been with a woman?”
“Adam, what I’m about to ask you to do might be hard,” Quincy said, obviously ignoring Adam’s last question. “But I need to figure out Madge’s angle. Since you have more experience with women, can you play along with her until we figure out her motives? I know you don’t like her, but this is very important.”
Adam didn’t want to agree. “Man, are you crazy? That chick doesn’t have any scruples whatsoever.” He paused for a couple of minutes. “Are we going to tell Olivia? She’s going to be livid. She’ll think I’m really sweet on Madge, and that won’t go over well.”
“To make this ‘relationship’ look authentic, we must keep everything to ourselves. The less she knows, the safer she’ll be.”
Adam shook his head. “I don’t like the idea of being that close to Madge. I’m telling you something is mentally wrong with her. Just what do you hope I’ll find out?”
Quincy didn’t answer right away. “I don’t know.”
“Well, why not just leave things alone?”
“I think that’d be a mistake. Just play along with her, okay? Hell, you might even get laid!”
“Perish the thought!” Adam said. “Like I said, I might catch something I don’t want to catch.”
Adam saw Quincy looked puzzled. That poor man is stunted in a lot of ways, Adam thought.
“Are you still a virgin?” Adam asked.
“Hush, Adam. Now, you’re getting into my business. Just because I don’t talk about my conquests doesn’t mean I’m a saint.”
Adam looked at Quincy strangely. “You better find yourself an experienced woman to get your old cherry!” He laughed loudly. When he saw the expression on Quincy’s face, he stopped joking with him. “Quincy, I’m just playing with you.”
“Well, stop it,” Quincy said. “This ain’t no game.” Even in his mid-forties, Quincy didn’t like discussing his sexual prowess with anyone. His personal life wasn’t up for discussion with Adam or anyone else for that matter.
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