Edward Walters wasn’t gifted with great intelligence. He wasn’t strikingly handsome nor was he fabulously wealthy. He was, more often than not, tongue tied around women so couldn’t claim to have a silver tongue. He didn’t have a six figure job, drive a fast sports car, or own a villa in the south of France.

But he was happy. Deeply, completely happy.

He had the love of the woman he’d been in love with since he was just a boy of six years. He’d lost his mother to a tragic accident and had no father so he’d been taken in by his mother’s cousin Shirley Wilson. While she’d been a less than ideal replacement, her ten year old daughter Grace saved him from a life of misery and loneliness. His love for Grace just grew over the years as he did.

And grow he did. Now that he was almost in his twenties he was a big man, standing 6′ 2″ and 240 lbs of hard muscle. His genes and years of playing football in school had given him a strong body. He wasn’t aggressive by any stretch of the imagination. Grace called him an innocent. He relied tremendously on her because he often found himself confused and troubled by people’s behavior. He didn’t recognize when he was being lied to nor did he understand why people did it. This often led to him being hurt or taken advantage of. He knew that wasn’t normal but Grace never made him feel stupid or ashamed for his inability to understand. She was patient and explained things to him. She understood him better than anyone and he loved her with every fibre of his being.

The truly incredible fact was that she loved him the same way.

They’d lived with her mother until Grace caught her sexually and emotionally abusing Ed. After the confrontation, Shirley spitefully sold her house to move in with her boyfriend making them essentially homeless. While they were both adults at the time they would have been on the streets had it not been for another woman in Ed’s life.

Rachel Thompson was the mother of one of Ed’s football teammates. Initially she seemed to be just attracted to his physical attributes but she confessed that she had fallen for his innocence and his sweet, gentle nature.

She’d later said that she never expected their relationship to advance beyond their mutual and powerful physical attraction and she’d resigned herself to that. She lived alone in a large mansion since her ex-husband and his son had unsuccessfully tried to kill her to collect the insurance money. She was lonely living alone in the big home and it was beginning to weigh heavily on her. When she heard that Ed and Grace were going to be out on the street she leapt at the chance to come to their rescue and ease her loneliness. Grace and Ed were stunned by her generosity and willingness to take them in.

When Ed discovered he was in love with Rachel as well as Grace, it was Grace who announced it to Rachel. Knowing him as intimately as she did, Grace was aware of his true feelings for Rachel almost before he was. She wasn’t threatened. She knew he loved her without reservation. She was also aware that Rachel wasn’t the only woman that he’d been intimate with. They, like Rachel, had begun their relationships with him for the pure physical thrill of having sex with the big man but they’d all become attached to him… as he was to them.

Ed had been with Rachel’s best friend Angie Spencer, a widower, and their mutual friend Zoe Sandoval who was separated from her husband as he was serving a life sentence in prison. He’d also been with two other women in Rachel’s neighborhood, also her friends, Stephanie Mathews and Carolyn Patterson, both of whom were going through divorce proceedings. All continued to see Ed with Grace’s blessings as long as they never abused Ed’s good nature or took advantage of his innocence. If she ever discovered they had manipulated him as Shirley had done then their relationship with him was over.

Aside from being very busy at home, Ed had his dream job working for Drakos Heating and Cooling. The owner had paid for Ed to get his certification and nurtured his favorite employee as Ed’s work was second to none. While his unique mental state may have given him some socially challenging issues they also allowed him to focus on his task with an almost laser like precision. It was almost a savant state. He wasn’t really clear on what all that meant but he knew he loved his job and for the first time in his life he was really good at something.

So he was happy. With the leaves gone and snow threatening to fall any day now, his very favorite time of year was rapidly approaching! Christmas! Now that he had so many more people to share it with Ed knew he had more reasons to be very ~~~~~~

Ed pulled his old, beat up pickup into the garage of the beautiful mansion up on Silverton Heights. His truck was as out of place in this upscale neighborhood as he often felt but it was perfectly suitable for him and he’d refused Rachel’s generous offer to replace it with a newer model.

Getting out of the cab he stretched his tired muscles. He’d worked out this morning with the gym equipment in the basement. If he’d known how strenuous work was going to be he might have chosen to skip the workout. The four story shopping complex in the downtown boutique shopping district the team was working on these days involved a lot of heavy lifting and cramped working conditions but he was putting in extra time to get the job done quickly. If they could meet the deadline for the spring opening there was a generous bonus involved.

Mr. Drakos was very delighted with the progress they were making, especially Ed’s. They were reaching a phase where the other contractors would be taking over the building to complete their work and they would have a couple of months of respite before they’d need to return to finish up. If the other teams didn’t encounter any complications then they would definitely hit the deadline. As it was they’d be early, largely due to Ed’s peculiar gestalt perception of systems and patterns.

He had poured over the building’s blue prints to ensure he understood where their installations would run and noticed some errors in the construction of the building’s layout. Two important walls had been poured in the wrong location and there wouldn’t be enough room in the central utilities shaft to house all of the required conduits. He’d brought this to the attention of the new site foreman who confirmed Ed was right and contacted the project managers, the Klein Group, with the setback. Ed provided an alternate suggestion for the location of the electrical conduits which actually cut some of the cost so the foreman was able to take steps to keep the project moving.

But today Ed was tired. It was late. Getting home at 9PM every night this week was draining but he was done for the weekend. No Saturday shift tomorrow.

He entered the house and heard voices coming from the kitchen and the wonderful aroma of cooking. He followed this until he was standing in the doorway looking at the two women he shared the home with.

Rachel noticed him first as she was facing his direction. Her smile dazzled him as it always did. Lovely blue eyes twinkled with delight as he stood enraptured by her beauty. Lush red hair cascaded over her shoulders and partially obscured her abundant cleavage. His eyes were trapped there for a moment as she subtly arched her back to tease him just a little.

Grace turned with a smile and he looked into her loving dark eyes. She was not as tall or svelte as Rachel but she absolutely glowed with love for him and quickly crossed the room to pull him into a tight hug. Ed kissed her and felt himself floating away to heaven as her soft lips against his were absolute bliss.

“Welcome home,” she purred when she pulled back. He loved the feel of her body against his but he was just too pooped to respond that way.

“It’s good to be home!” he sighed happily.

Grace released him and he made his way over to Rachel. He pulled her into a hug and kissed her. She slipped him a little tongue which sent a spark to his groin but he pulled back and shook his finger at her. “I’m not risking falling asleep while making love. Tonight I sleep. Tomorrow…” he bounced his eyebrows at the two ladies who chuckled at him.

Rachel patted his thick bicep, feeling a tantalizing little tingle shoot through herself and turned to get his dinner.

“I made a chicken casserole from that recipe you gave me.” Rachel said as she pulled the dish from the oven. Ed’s mouth began to water immediately. She served up three plates, giving Ed a large portion. They carried their plates to the table. “Careful everyone, it’s hot!”

Grace brought tall glasses of cold water to the table and they sat together.

“You two don’t have to wait for me to get home to have dinner!” Ed exclaimed.

“Nonsense! We love eating together!” Rachel insisted and Grace just smiled at him. She knew he was secretly delighted they were sharing this mealtime with him.

Ed blew on a forkful of the steaming noodles and chicken then popped it into his mouth. His eyes closed in happiness as the flavors melted across his tongue. “Oh, that’s so good, Rachel!”

She gave him a very pleased smile and enjoyed her own meal.

“How was school today?” Ed asked Grace. She was attending college studying accounting as she wanted to be a forensic accountant.

Grace’s sudden smile warmed his heart. He was so glad she was finally on the path she was destined for and he was so glad he was able to make it happen for her.

“It was really good! The prof is taking us through an actual case history of a company involved with money laundering!” she gushed.

Rachel smiled at the other woman’s obvious delight.

Ed turned to her and she dabbed her mouth as she swallowed. “Well, I had lunch with a bunch of very wealthy ladies with too much time on their hands,” she quipped.

Ed looked at her curiously and she realized he hadn’t caught her self-effacing tone. Grace raised an eyebrow at her and she nodded apologetically.

“With our neighbor from the top of the hill no longer available to attend these social events, the Empanada League invited me to their luncheon. Most wouldn’t even look at me as I hadn’t inherited my fortune but one of the ladies was friendly so the lunch wasn’t a complete loss. They were discussing some big charity gala event tomorrow night. I think it’s a five thousand dollar a plate dinner with a silent auction and celebrities attending.”

“Five thousand dollars a plate! That’s crazy! But I’d pay $2000 for another plate of this casserole.” Ed exclaimed.

Rachel snorted and got up to get him some more. On the way back to the table the phone rang. She put the plate in front of him and ran her fingers through his hair as she walked past to get the phone. Ed and Grace got to hear one side of the conversation.

“Hello? Oh, hi Tristan. Tickets? No, I didn’t buy any. Tomorrow night? Yes, I know. What?! No, that’s- that’s too generous… I- I suppose I could. A date?”

Rachel looked desperately at Ed who just blinked back at her. She looked to Grace who grinned, pointed at Ed and nodded.

“Yes, I have a date. What? Yes… he is pretty special. Are you sure? OK, I’ll see you there. Seven PM at the Esplanade. Thank you!”

Rachel looked back at their curious faces. Her mouth was working but she couldn’t speak.

Grace grinned at her excitement. Ed just continued to eat as he watched her.

“That was the nice woman I met at the luncheon, Tristan Grant. She’s invited me and my date to the charity dinner tomorrow night.

“Who are you taking?” Ed asked.

Rachel smiled at him and Grace snorted.

“Me? At a fancy charity dinner? Should I wear my fancy jeans?” he grinned.

“I guess we’re going shopping tomorrow!” Rachel cheered.

Ed grinned and hung his head to the sound of Grace’s giggles.

Chapter 2

The Esplanade Convention Center was buzzing with activity. The paparazzo were out in force trying to capture images of the rich and famous, participants of the annual charity dinner. The men were mostly dressed in classic black tie but the ladies wore a stunning array of styles and colors. Classic to avant garde was on parade and the onlookers were eating it up. They were also appreciative of the beauty being flaunted. Along with the beautiful dresses and glittering jewellery many of those attending were very pretty indeed, both the men and women. Most of the idle rich spent their time with trainers and in salons maintaining their physiques. Others went the other way because, fuck you, if great food and wine is meant to be enjoyed why not enjoy it to excess!

As their limo pulled up to the red carpet in the underground entrance of the Esplanade Rachel was trembling with excitement. She’d always wanted to walk the red carpet. Ed was looking a little stunned but he was doing his best to hide it.

Just like he was doing his best to hide his very large and visible erection against the damn tight pants Rachel and Grace had insisted he get with the tuxedo. He hadn’t been able to keep his eyes off Rachel as she looked incredible in the deep shimmering purple dress which left her shoulders exposed and had an expanse of lace over her chest that did little to hide her impressive assets. Ed swore the lace accentuated her round, firm- He moaned quietly as he throbbed once more.

Rachel’s luxurious red hair was artfully teased up onto her head exposing the soft skin of her long neck. Ed struggled to keep from kissing her neck and to keep his fingers out of her red locks.

The car came to a stop and Ed stepped out. He walked around to Rachel’s door and tried to ignore the flashes popping in his vision. He opened the door and offered her his hand. Her soft fingers settled in his and she stepped from the car and smiled demurely at him.

They began their walk.

Ed was taken aback at the thunderous yelling and the almost violent lightshow coming from the paparazzo. He felt a gentle tug from Rachel’s hand on his arm and they stopped briefly to face the cameras. If anything the noise got louder.

Then they continued on their way. Once they were out of range the noise dropped considerably.

Rachel leaned close to Ed and he felt her trembling. “Oh my god Ed! That was almost worth paying the price for dinner tonight,” she said quietly just for him. Between them she brushed her fingers lightly across his bulge and her shiver intensified. “Ohhh, if there was a way to take care of this right now I would!”

He discreetly adjusted himself and they approached the door. A few couples were waiting their turn before them. At the door was a slim man with thin hair who was holding a printed list of names. He was gracious and professional as he greeted the couples. As the man identified each guest he would smile, hand the ladies a ticket and gesture for them to enter. Ed wondered what the ticket was for. There was so much new and strange going on here he was trying his best to fit in so Rachel would continue to enjoy the experience.

Then it was their turn and the man was giving them the once over. Ed remained silent and stood slightly to the side as Rachel approached. The man lifted his nose to look at Rachel.

“Rachel Thompson and Edward Walters, guests of Tristan and Dale Grant,” she said with a smile.

Ed noticed the man’s nostrils flaring and his eyes narrowing slightly as he turned to look at the list. Ed’s eyes snapped to the papers and the name Dale jumped out immediately. Just below that was Rachel’s and his name.

“Hmmm, I don’t see your names-” the man began with an odd tone in his voice as he pursed his lips like he’d tasted something foul. Ed saw Rachel begin to stiffen. Doubt slipped into her eyes.

“Actually, our names are on line fourteen of the page you’re holding just below ‘Dale and Tristan Grant’. Maybe you didn’t see it because the names are in reverse order on the paper,” Ed said in a friendly way as he leaned his large body in towards the man to point at the paper.

The doorkeeper leaned away from Ed who continued to smile and point to the names. Rachel’s expression quickly passed from doubt, to surprise, then anger and finally to satisfaction as the little man begrudgingly acknowledged their names were on the list after all, clearly intimidated by Ed.

He gestured for them to enter and they started but Ed turned back and held out his hand. The man looked at Ed nervously.

“Rachel’s ticket,” Ed said with a smile.

“Ah! Y-yes- ah, let me get that,” he said in a rush and handed Ed the ticket. Ed raised it and smiled at the man. He missed seeing the man flinch but Rachel saw it and enjoyed it. They moved further down the hall.

“I don’t know what the ticket is for but all the ladies were getting one so you should hold onto it,” Ed said, oblivious to the man’s foiled effort to embarrass them.

The ticket went into her clutch purse and she hooked her arm through as they made their way into a large open area. The theme was Winter Festivities so the huge hall was decorated in white and silver. Artfully positioned spot lights made the crystals sparkle and glitter. Ed was mesmerized and grinned in childlike wonder. Rachel enjoyed his excitement.

They made their way further into the room nodding and smiling to the guests who looked their way. There was a bar along one wall and people were milling about in small groups, talking, drinking, laughing, and generally people watching.

“Edward, could you get me a glass of white wine?” Rachel asked.

“Certainly. Don’t leave without me!” he said with a smile and she shook her head.

When he returned with two glasses of white wine Rachel was standing beside a very tall, slim and lovely strawberry blonde woman who could have been a little younger than Rachel. She was holding the arm of an equally tall and slim man with greying blond hair. He appeared to be much older than his companion. Rachel was smiling broadly so Ed smiled at the newcomers and handed Rachel her wine.

“Thank you Edward! I’d like to introduce you to the very generous and gracious couple who invited us to the event. Dale and Tristan Grant.”

“So this is the man Rachel talked about all through lunch yesterday!” Tristan said with a big teasing grin, her strong southern accent jumping out at him. Rachel blushed and Ed shook the woman’s hand.

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Ed said with a blush of his own.

“Oh my goodness! I’m just teasing Edward but now I want to know all the secrets!” the woman gushed with a huge smile.

Dale rolled his eyes at his wife’s antics and held out his hand to Ed.

Ed was a little surprised by the strength of the man’s grip but he equalized the pressure and something in the man’s eyes changed. He looked at Ed’s hands and noticed they showed some small scars.

“You a wine drinker Ed?” Dale’s voice was deep and gravelly, the roughness a little like what Angie’s voice had.

“Not really. I rarely drink but it seems to be the social thing to do. I didn’t know what else to order,” Ed confessed.

“I’m dry so let’s head over to the bar and get you a good drink,” he suggested and Rachel nodded so he let the man lead him away.

Once they were alone Tristan looked at Rachel with a twinkle in her eye. “He’s delightful!”

“Yes, he’s pretty amazing.” Rachel agreed glancing back in the direction Ed had gone.