Savage Love by Mark Ryan (Robert Silverberg), Bedstand Books, 1960
A dark story here, about revenge best served cold, a Bedstand Book by Robert Silverberg writing as Mark Ryan.
Ted Dennis is a successful copy writer on Madison Avenue at age 32. All is well except his sex/married life — his wife of six years had major surgery four years back and has low energy and a zero sex drive.
One day, walking down the street, Ted crosses paths with a woman from his past: Carol. Ten years back, when she was 18 and he was 22, he was going to marry her, then two days before the wedding he got cold feet and called it off, and enlisted in th Army to escape ever confronting her. He has felt guilty about this all these years and is surprised Carol is not mad — in fact, she had forgiven him, she tells him over lunch, and the old spark seems to still be there as they immediately check into a hotel room and have nostalgic sex.
Over the next two weeks, he meets Carol at the hotel room during lunch, and after work, them goes home. She had two bad marriages and ha always been in love with Ted, she says, and he finds he still loves her. They make plans: he will divorce his frigid wife and marry Carol, and make up for the past 10 years.
She was a virgin with him; ten years of sexual experience and she has become a dynamo.
He takes her to the Caribbean on a free trip from one of his clients, an airline. All is story-book perfect, until his divorce lawyer puts a private eye on Carol and finds out she’s a hooker.
Ted has never been to her apartment in Queens — she says it’s too shabby and she is embarrassed and prefers the hotel rooms. Seems she really uses the place to meet 8-10 tricks a night; on slow nights, she goes to the local bar and picks men up. She picks up the private eye who has sex with her and describes her body marks to make Ted think it’s true…then he spies on her and watches men come and go…
Finally he goes to her apartment to confront her. She admits it’s true: she’s a whore. She blames him. When he left her at the alter, rumors spread about her and she ran away. She had no money and had to sell her body. She liked the money. She was making $100 a day.
She tells him their chance meeting was not chance. She had planned it. She had been wanting revenge all these years. She figured the best revenge would be to seduce him with her expert bedroom talents, get him to marry her, and then systematically ruin his life be sleeping with all his friends and colleagues, and then abandon him.
Now that she can’t, she gets her pimp to beat him up…
Ted comes home, a bloody mess, and tells his wife the whole story…
A cautionary, moral story? A dark story indeed — and is revenge a dish best served cold, as pondered in the previous book I reviewed here, Brutal Passions?