“No, it worked great,” she told Gloria over the phone. “The ‘ran out of gas’ trick worked perfectly. He picked me up and drove me around. We got milkshakes and stopped at a produce stand. I went cowgirl this time, ponytail, a little eyeliner, buttoned-down shirt… Easy.”

“Does he look fertile?” Gloria rasped into the phone.

“As the day is long,” she replied.

“And healthy? He must be healthy,” Gloria demanded.

“This is not my first time at the rodeo, Gramma,” she said. She stripped off the shirt and kicked off the farm boots.

“Will he call? There are only two days left.”

“He’ll call. They always do. I gotta go,” she said.

“Health to you, child,” Gloria said, “And increase.”

“Health, foremother, and increase.”

She dropped the phone on the bed and took off her dusty jeans and plain underwear. She stood before her floor-length mirror and admired herself, the breasts just starting to droop, the slight paunch of her stomach. She took out the ponytail holder and shook her hair back and forth, turning it brunette, then blonde, then back to pale red.

“Men are simple beasts,” she whispered.

The tiny burner phone on the bed rang softly.

“I knew you’d call,” she said by way of greeting.

“How could I resist,” he replied, trying for a calm just out of his reach. “When can I see you again?”

“When do you want to see me again?” she asked, running her fingers through her pubic hair, watching herself in the mirror.

“What about tonight?”

“I’m busy tonight,” she told him, letting her voice go cold.

“What? Got a hot date?” he asked. There was disappointment in his voice and she shivered with pleasure.

“Yes,” she said cruelly. “He’s very hot. Tall, dark hair, but not pretty. I don’t like ‘em pretty. I want to know I’m with a man, you know?”

“Oh,” he said quietly. She rubbed that little “oh” in tight circles around her clitoris and bit her lip not to laugh.

“Big hands,” she said. “Rough. Works for a living, you know?”

“OK, well, I…” he said.

“But I’m free tomorrow night,” she said brightly.

“Is, uh, he, uh, is he going to have a problem with us going out?” he asked.

“No, he’ll be dead by then,” she said. He responded with a startled laugh.

“Oh, will he then?” he asked, warming to the game he thought she was playing.

“I’m going to spin him up in my web and drain him dry,” she whispered. “He’ll be a husk by the time you get up the nerve to call again.”

“So you’re a spider, now?” he asked.

“No, I’m not a spider,” she said.

“What are you really doing tonight?” he asked.

“Getting ready for you to pick me up, of course,” she said, squeezing the glands on either side of her pubic mound to stimulate the flow of venom.

“Seven?” he asked. “Is seven good for you?”

“Of course it is,” she said, rubbing the paralytic on her nipples and lips. “You drive. I’ll have my hands full.”