“Would you like to make an appointment, Mrs. Meadowcroft?”

“I was told to ask for Andre.” Browsing the menu of treatments at the reception desk, Grace returned Annie’s magnanimous smile.

The late autumn weather was unseasonably warm, and the chaise lounges at both the regular and saltwater Finedale pools had been occupied as soon as classes had let out, so Grace’s stroll after her afternoon class landed her at the front reception desk in time to see Dr. Snyder emerge through the spa door wrapped in a terry robe, radiant as a debutante and sporting a carefully groomed hairstyle.

Annie looked up at Grace with a wry smile. “It’s Andre’s day off. But I have a very good alternative. Hans. Many of our guests swear Hans is even better than Andre. Would you like to try him out?”

“I recommend him,” said Dr. Snyder to Grace, with an uncharacteristically slutty expression.

Grace confirmed the choice with a shrug and a nod, and was shown to the locker room, where she was handed a baby-pink terry robe and size large rubber sandals. After lying down in the steam room for ten minutes, she made her way to the serene waiting lounge that was filled with current editions of the most popular style and gossip magazines.

A tall blonde man, no older than twenty-five, greeted her.

“I am Hans.” He was an exquisite specimen of Slavic extraction, punctuated by a sharp click of his vintage Doc Martens buckle-up combat boots. “I will be your massage therapist today.” Grace followed him down a hallway, passing many massage rooms from which moans of pleasure emanated. Hans glanced back at Grace and winked. “I am better.”

“You have a similar style to Andre’s—is that right?”

“Oh, Andre,” said Hans. “All the women love Andre. He knows how to please them. But the French have nothing on us Germans. Please remove all your clothes and lie face down on the table. I return when you ring bell. Then I ring yours.” Winking again and handing Grace a brass bell and a hot, damp terry cloth roll, Hans left the room, and Grace awkwardly got naked. Shaking the brass handle, she scooted quickly onto the scrumptiously pre-heated table and pulled the sheet and light duvet cover over herself.

Returning, Hans lowered the lights and increased the volume of Dave Matthews’ “Crush.” As he dragged the duvet down to the top of Grace’s buttocks, a sigh escaped her lips as Hans began to rub her back. His hands were large, his touch firm, and the mentholated massage oil had been warmed in advance.

“How is the pressure?” he asked.

“That feels incredible.”

He moved to the small of her back and caressed the sides of her hips, ever so briefly, stroking his strong fingers between her thighs and gently moving back up to her hips. Grace had to focus hard on the grief of missing her son’s concert in order to stop herself from gasping with pleasure.

Moving to her feet, Hans slowly made his way up her calves and even rubbed inside the backs of her knees, which felt divine.

“You’re amazing.” What Grace chose not to tell Hans was that in all her years of weekly massage, she couldn’t remember one single massage therapist who had caused her to feel as though she was about to self-immolate—like Hans did.

“Would you like more? Like what Andre provides?” Hans reached the backs of her thighs again and drizzled warm oil.

“Whatever this is, that’s what I want.” Grace’s eyes were closed, Nick’s concert long buried in the wreckage of her decorum.

He asked her to roll over and shielded her with the duvet as she did so. “Lights out,” he said as he laid a washcloth across her eyes, blocking out all light as he gently adjusted the seal along her temples. Ever so slowly, Hans pulled up the cover to her thighs, then spread her legs apart and ran his fingers lightly up her legs, and then to the outside of her hips. Repeating this path, stroking purposefully, he pulled her knee up into a V position, adjusting the sheet so as to maintain privacy. He kneaded the front, back, and sides of her right leg. His hands rhythmically reached ever higher along the inside of her thigh. Her body tingled as she became increasingly aroused by the pulsing of Hans’ hands on a part of her body that rarely got touched—and certainly never like this. Grace moaned without realizing the utterance had come from her own mouth. At the brink of what Grace could only have called dangerous territory, had she been able to actually form words in that moment, Hans straightened her leg and switched to her other side.

Her lust mounting incomprehensibly, as it never had with Peter, Grace’s mind wandered to the logistics and consequences of sex—right here, right now!—with Hans.

Peter had been an adequate lover, especially during the early years of their marriage. But as adult obligations enlarged, adult fun shriveled. Grace couldn’t recall when she’d last received personal pleasure from their lovemaking. Like much else in their relationship, it was usually Peter’s needs being met.

Hans made his way up to the inside of Grace’s other thigh. This time she was ready; she relaxed and enjoyed it immensely. Hans placed a warm washcloth across her breasts and then pulled the duvet down to her hipbones. “In Europe, women do not use a washcloth. Would you like to keep yours on?”

Grace turned beet red and abruptly sat up.

“Um, I think so, yes, most definitely.” She caught the washcloth before it slid off her breasts.

“You are like an uber-wound-up spring.” Hans cradled her back down to the table. Standing behind her, he rubbed her head with the tips of all ten of his fingers, and she melted like caramel.

A strange sensation streaked through her as Hans worked down from her shoulders to her arms. He reached the precariously perched washcloth. Will he move underneath it? she questioned as she held her breath. Can he see that my nipples are erect? She breathed out, almost in a whistle. Hans kneaded her chest down as far as her cleavage, and then between her breasts and down her ribs to her stomach. No one had ever massaged her tummy before. So soothing. He lightly rotated her arms so that her hands were palm-side up. Then he delicately placed his palms at the tops of her arms and moved his hands down the length of her arms, ever so slowly, until his palms reached hers.

Several minutes passed before Grace realized Hans was gone. A smile came onto her face. If a massage can be this great, I’ve got to have some real sex. And not just mid-week-Peter-sex, but pre-marriage hot sex.