When Philadelphia's infamous sex toy shop & museum, Erotique, is threatened by a pious patron, owner Amanda Long and her partner Bruce Winfield face their toughest trial to date, one that jeopardizes their relationship as well as their business.
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EXCERPT after the cut...
Bruce's ear-to-ear grin was actually audible through the phone all the way from California. "What it means, Man, is that if they really want to use this route for their new toll road, they have to spend about ten million extra to do a new impact study, and then they have to figure out where to submit it with no guarantee it will even be accepted. Plus, they have to butt heads with W's wonderful new bureaucracy to do it! We're talkin' major expense and red tape. At the very least, it extends the court case by two to three more years. Years! That'll buy us plenty of time to find another angle. The irony is just so incredibly delicious."
"So, you're telling me that your mission was successful? You've saved your old secret surf spot?"
"Most likely, yes! The judge'll still have a ruling to make on jurisdiction and applicability, but that's almost a foregone conclusion at this point."
"Good. So you're coming back to Philadelphia when? I really need you here, Bruce. It's insane. I swear that holier-than-thou bitch and her shyster attorney waited 'til you were out of town to turn up the heat, although how they knew your plans is beyond me."
"Whoa! What happened? We're still in discovery on that case. I mean, yeah, her deposition's next week, but the next court date's not for another three months."
Mandy took a deep breath and struggled to keep her voice from cracking as she explained. "Well, apparently, she's decided that not only did the 'defective' dildo she bought here make her unable to reach orgasm, but it also has now impaired her fertility and ruined her marriage prospects. Nobody wants her damaged goods. Cue fuckin' violins. She gave a press conference this morning, and I haven't had a moment's peace since. I'm hiding in the office. The shop is busier than ever, though. Everyone wants one of the toys at the center of this controversy."
"You're not still selling those are you, Man?"
"Of course not. You helped me pull them all off the shelves before we went to Chile, remember? That independent research study we commissioned ended a couple weeks ago. The results are due any day now."
"Right. Once we get the all-clear—and we WILL, of course, get the all-clear—I want those back on the shelves immediately! We're losing money and looking guilty in the process. So, where's Eddie? Isn't he there to help?"
"He's in the Annex, Bruce. Communing—or whatever—with Aunt Viv."
"No," she sighed. "Still. He only leaves to use the bathroom and fetch food. I've even told the staff at Appetites to stop catering to him. He scares me, Bruce. It's not healthy. I know he's been through a lot in the past few months—learning of Vivian's death and then losing their daughter—but still..."
With a start, Mandy read at the words she'd written on the Post-It note before answering Bruce's call, bringing her hand to her mouth to stifle a small cry: HIRE OFFICE MANAGER. Office Manager. That was Eddie's title. Professor Eduardo Rojas Aguilar: Office Manager. Not as prestigious as Dean of Archeological Studies perhaps, but he hadn't objected. Quite the contrary, he said he welcomed the change. She hurriedly extracted the note and wadded it into a tight ball, ashamed of herself for subconsciously replacing the genteel old man they'd recently entrusted with the management of the museum annex.
"We've gotta do something," she continued, "to pull him out of it. I think he's even sleeping in there, Bruce. I went to Aunt Viv's old place the other day before I came to work, and neither of the beds had been slept in. No dishes in the sink. The only indication that he'd been there at all was a damp towel in the bathroom."
Bruce grunted. "We'll think of something when I get back—probably Wednesday morning. In the meantime, though, you need more help. Lemme make a few calls and see if I can't at least find you a mouthpiece to get the press off your back. I've got the weekend pretty much free, here. Call you later, 'kay? Maybe I can relieve some of your tension—one way or another."