Gromet's PlazaLatex Stories

Gary & Kristin

by Kim Manners

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© Copyright 2005 - Kim Manners - Used by permission

Storycodes: M/f; Sbf; latex; bond; outdoors; gift; cons; X

This work of fiction is Copyright © 2005 Kim Manners. This story may not be reposted without permission.

Gary and Kristin had been friends for about ten years. They met as classmates at UCLA and their friendship grew. Real friends, buddies with practically identical tastes, senses of humor, and outlooks on the world. When they were together, seeing a movie or having dinner or just hanging out, they shared an easy and complimentary familiarity married couples would envy. One would say they were soul mates, were it not for the plain fact they never shared a romantic relationship. Sometimes in life timing is everything. For when Gary and Kristin met, they were both in relationships with others. Gary was engaged to Amy, A girl he met freshman year, and Kristin was dating a musician named Sergio. Gary really didn’t like him, but kept it to himself.

One April night about a year after they met, Kristin asked Gary to come over to her apartment to help with some tax paperwork she was stuck on. He arrived to find Kristin in her underwear and in a romantic mood. Sergio had left her three days before and she sought solace. Alas, Gary was struck with immediate fear and guilt. He pretended to be unaware of her advances (never a difficult thing for a man to do), made excuses and left quickly. In some ways it’s admirable Gary showed such fidelity when confronted with such temptation, but sometimes fidelity is merely self-denial and fear—the certainty of the pleasures of the flesh squelched by fear of loneliness and the unwillingness to cause pain to others.

And such was Kristin’s sheer beauty that would cause Gary to at least think these thoughts. She had straight, chestnut-brown hair that framed a lovely heart-shaped face. Her skin was pale and unfreckled—quite a trick for a Southern California Girl—and her eyes were luminescent hazel. Slender yet curvy, fine-boned yet muscular, endowed with a pair of high-riding C-cup breasts which gave extra depth to her cleavage and strained her tops in a delightfully sexy way. The best and most unusual part: her breasts were completely natural, a gift of good genetics. Celebrities and wanna-be celebrities in this town pay good money to surgically attain a pale imitation of her assets.

The second lost opportunity for the friendship of Gary and Kristin to blossom into bliss occurred three years later, when Amy had to spend several months in Northern California to attend to her dying father and put his affairs in order. Gary was just hired as a production estimator and couldn’t join her. As the weeks without his fiancée went by Gary spent more time hanging out with Kristin, who was between boyfriends at the time and had the spare time to hang. Old feelings awakened in him and he decided he had to somehow consummate his relationship with Kristin regardless of the consequences. The very night he was going to flat-out propose they take it to this higher lever she flaked on him. The next day Kristin excitedly gushed to Gary in the phone she met a nice guy the previous afternoon. She was sorry she was a no-show, but the chemistry was just right. He played the good friend, pumped her for details and generally congratulated her, but inside his heart was broken. His heart was still scabbed over and bandaged at the wedding of Kristin and Brad less than a year later.

In subsequent years the foursome—Gary and Amy, Kristin and Brad—traveled and golfed, shared cookouts and threw parties. Eventually, Gary and Amy also got married and moved to Tujunga, while Brad’s star at as a set builder rose at the studio where he worked, which allowed him to buy a home in Burbank. The world of this foursome became comfortable, even idyllic. Over the years, any lingering regret Gary had over the missed chances with Kristin eased for several reasons. One was his re-discovery of just how much he valued his close friendship with Kristin. They still talked for hours on the phone about everything under the sun, knew what was wrong with the world and how to fix it, and grew to know each other so well they could finish each other’s sentences. Even though they both had spouses, they were still the first call for any news, good or bad. It was a rare and wonderful thing, something he never again wanted to endanger.

The other reason Gary no longer seriously pined over Kristin was his wife’s strange sexual reawakening. After Amy’s father died, a switch seemed to turn on in her libido. The sexually timid and relatively inexperienced girl he first met and fell in love with became someone who wanted to try everything. Their erotic practices grew from simple missionary intercourse to oral sex and increasingly varied positions to the inevitable experimentation with bondage and fetish. When she proposed he buy some fetish wear to try out, his heart (as well as something else) leapt, for latex was his secret passion, and had been as long as he could remember. He bought a few small items, a pair of slit rubber panties and a molded brassiere with cutouts over the nipples. That night he gave them to Amy, who smiled wickedly, held them under her nose and inhaled the aromatic latex deeply. Gary could see they had stumbled onto something powerful. The very act of helping her dress in the glossy black material was electric: the ensuing foreplay and sex was volcanic, incredible, mind-blowing. Afterwards Gary and Amy lay exhausted in each other’s arms in the endless afterglow, looked into each other’s eyes and knew there was no going back.

Gary kept a small stash of porno magazines and videos in a space behind a hidden panel in his closet. He threw them all out. Over the months that followed that night of latex discovery, that space became the storage area for their fantasy wardrobe. Amy the latex maid, Amy the rubber slut, Amy the corseted Dominatrix: all these personas and more hung from satin-padded hangers ready for use. Amy liked to dress her husband in the magic material as well. Gary became the latex-clad intruder or just plain old Gary who just happened to have his cock strapped and locked into a rubber chastity belt and tied to the bed while a catsuited Amy attached clamps to his delightfully aching nipples. Every scene was memorable, every orgasm was if anything better than the last for both of them.

One night, after a particularly marathon session of wonderfully kinky sex, Gary picked up the latex garments on the bedroom floor and readied them for cleaning and powdering as Amy showered. Lately they had been playing out a particular B&D scenario that grew to become their mutual favorite. As he moved about the room examining and folding the black rubber items he recalled the sequence of events of the past four hours.

Gary’s job at the network office in west Los Angeles was a good 40 minutes away from home on an average weekday. On that long drive home he would call Amy (she had a job at L.A. Water and Power that had her home by 4 every day). He would tell her to powder and suit up in the best garment in the closet: a full-coverage latex catsuit with attached feet, gloves and a wicked bondage helmet. As the traffic crawled on the Santa Monica Freeway, he would listen to her describe how the tight latex slithered up her legs and torso. She would slow down the details of how she inserted the vaginal sheath inside of her, knowing she was handing out as much punishment as he was to her. He could hear the creak and snap of the rubber as she fitted her arms into the suit, and the low sigh of the zip as it traveled up her back. Amy, her voice distorted by the small mouth opening in the restrictive bondage helmet, continued her narration as she laced ballet boots to her ankles and slapped a pair of chained ankle cuffs over them. Her muffled grunts as she tight-laced the rubber waist cincher nearly caused Gary to swoon from desire. The erotic phone-sex foreplay finished as Amy slid the inflatable breathe-through gag into her mouth, strapped it tightly onto her helmet then, holding the phone in her hand, attached a pair of steel handcuffs to her wrists behind her back and hung up the phone. Until he arrived home she would be completely helpless and unable to free herself from her tight latex prison, silenced by the gag, her vision occluded by the plastic eye covers in the helmet rapidly fogging up.
Sometimes Gary’s lust was so strong he would go straight home; sometimes when he was feeling particularly playful he would stop off at the nearby 7-11 for a Slurpee.

But when Gary came in the front door he had a problem to solve, courtesy of Amy: he had to find her, for although he knew Amy was cuffed, gagged and totally encased by tight, hot latex, he was not exactly sure where in the house she was. Sometimes she was in the bedroom, but the last few times she was more bold: the living room, the hall closet, and once in the shower under a torrent of cold water, cuffed to the handrail. That one was fun.

Gary searched the whole house, even going as far as looking in her car in the garage. Amy was nowhere to be found. His amusement was growing into alarm. Where the hell is she, he asked himself. Although he considered it cheating, he went to the phone stand and pressed the page button. That would cause the cordless phone she used to chirp. He stood still—and heard nothing. His alarm was starting to ratchet up into panic. All the things that can go wrong in a situation like this started to swim in his head as he started to search the house again.

In the laundry area at the back of the house he suddenly heard it: the faint chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp of the handset page signal. On a whim he looked out the back door to the tiny backyard. There, dead center on the patio, was an immobile black figure. It was Amy, lying on a reclining lawn chair, her hands cuffed together underneath it. She lay splayed out under the open twilit sky, a pervy parody of a woman out to get a tan. As he stood in the doorway, watching Amy slowly writhe on the plastic webbing, his heart was filled with a radiance, something greater than his kinky lust, greater than the relief of finding her, greater than the admiration of her boldness, invention, and trust in him. Gary’s heart was filled with pure love.

Gary came out onto the patio, looking back and forth to see of any of his neighbors were out (the patio was pretty private, thank God, but he stopped a second to think about the news helicopters that buzz constantly over the Southland). He knelt down next to his lovely, rubber-clad, highly aroused wife, unlocked her cuffs, and carried her back into the house. He took his time with her back in the bedroom in partial punishment for giving him such a scare, but he made it his solemn duty to give her no less than three solid, bed-shaking orgasms before he came himself and released her from her latex prison.

Which brought Gary back to the present, cleaning up afterwards. He came to the big item—the full-coverage catsuit Amy inhabited mere minutes before—and held it by the shoulders as he sat on the bed, listening to the shower run. It seemed to be staring back at him with empty plastic eyes; the small slit of the mouth opening slightly upturned in a wry smile. In an instant, a chain of thoughts entered Gary’s mind unbidden. Glancing down at the empty bust cups, he visualized them larger and rounder, perfectly outlining Kristin’s generous cleavage. Amy had a nice pair herself, but more modestly sized B-cups. But then again, as they say, more than a handful is too much—wait! Kristin? He wasn’t going through that again!

As held the suit as he tried to sort out his feelings. His love for Amy was never stronger than it was at that moment and his attraction to her knew no limits. Yet—somehow thoughts of Kristin bubbled up from his unconscious mind. But there was no conflict. There was no imbalance. There was no guilt. It was as if Amy and Kristin were parts of some strange, erotic algebraic formula. He continued to sift his feelings for Kristin when it occurred to him in a flash. What he felt for her wasn’t lust: it was a need to share something wonderful with his closest friend. It was that simple. Gary knew Kristin’s mind better any anyone, even Amy: he felt she would not only understand Gary’s fetish desires, but probably had them herself. Latent or realized, Gary had no way of knowing.

Furthermore, Gary further realized his sexual feelings were now adamantly, solidly fixed on Amy. It was true fidelity, the kind that comes not from fear but unconditional love. He would feel that way forever. The certainty of this loyalty allowed Gary to think of Kristin in this new, unconflicted way. Gary remembered his philosophy: Love came in three distinct forms. There is Eros, sexual love. He knew to whom that applied with crystalline certainty. Philia is the brotherly love of friendship, the kind he felt for Kristin. The most profound is Agape, selfless love, the gift freely given. This greatest form of love fit into the equation somehow…

So powerful was this insight that Gary didn’t notice Amy, robed and drying her short blonde hair, entering the bedroom. To Amy, he seemed lost in thought, contemplating the catsuit like Hamlet regarding Yorick’s skull. She sat down next to him and placed her head on his shoulder. Gary slowly swam back into the moment, put his arm around Amy’s waist and kissed her on the top of the head. He looked at his wife’s face and noticed the skin of her face and neck still showed slight creases that matched the seams of the bondage hood and thick zipper. Such are the marks of love, which show in such odd ways. Gary never felt more at peace.

*   *   *

The morning after Gary’s erotic epiphany he drove south on the Hollywood Freeway, still distracted by his strangely ordered new worldview. He still felt an overwhelming need to share his unique sexual tastes with Kristin in some way, but one thing was absolutely certain: he couldn’t. No way. For such a revelation would have to include Amy.

Amy may have a kinky streak a mile wide, but she made it crystal-clear her sexual arena was an arena of two. No threesomes, no telling, nobody must know. Her job at Water and Power had political aspects and her private life needed to be just that. Besides, even if he did confess his latex desires to Kristin, he was in no way certain how Kristin would react. Details of their sex lives were a subject they never shared. The mistimed April encounter early in their friendship formed a sort of unspoken barrier, and both found it more comfortable to just leave talk of sex out of their relationship. It made things simple and comfortable and allowed other things to grow to fullness.

Still, Gary somehow suspected Kristin would really dig it, and their close kinship would leap onto a higher plateau of openness and honesty, where nothing was off-limits. Forget the rarity of true man-woman friendship—what they would share would be the stuff of legend. He felt he knew her at least that well. But for all he knew Kristin might be disgusted and repelled by Gary’s revelation of his true sexual tastes, and their friendship would come to an end, which he knew he couldn’t bear.

The final reason he couldn’t come clean with Kristin was Brad. Brad was just about a good a male friend as he ever had. They had different temperaments—Brad was quiet and reserved where Gary was gregarious and open, but they always had a great time together. He was damn sure Brad just plain wouldn’t like it if Gary started talking kinky to Kristin. At best, Brad’s feelings would be hurt: at worst, Brad might kick his ass. Gary was smiling over the prospect of Brad getting physical with him—Gary had a full head over Brad, but Brad was in incredible shape and would mop the floor with Gary’s brains—as he pulled into the parking lot. He arrived at his desk, where a package waited for him. He picked it up, mesmerized. It was just the weekly delivery of production paperwork from New York that needed to be estimated, but he marveled at the plain wrapped box it came in.

At that point Gary set the box down, and stood staring out the window to the distant hazy Hollywood Hills as the last part of his maddening equation clicked into place. His workload was forgotten: He sat down at his desk, took out a yellow legal pad, and began writing as if possessed. Kristin would have a catsuit, custom-made to fit her every unique curve, nothing off-the-rack: her unique physiology demanded unique treatment to emphasize her natural beauty. The perfect fit would also send the message this suit was clearly and unambiguously intended for her. It would be full-coverage, all-encompassing and restrictive, like Gary and Amy’s favorite suit. And it would be delivered to her anonymously.

The perfect gesture. If received right, it would achieve everything Gary wanted: She would don the suit, feel the dizzying heights of passion and lust that is the essence of latex’s power, and the incredible sexual energy shared by Gary and his wife would manifest itself with Kristin and her husband. A selfless gift, freely given, requiring not the slightest acknowledgement. What could be a greater expression of love?

Looking up from his notes at his inert computer display (Gary’s haste to write was so urgent he hadn’t even turned it on yet) and was struck by a vision so strong he almost turned around to see if someone was standing behind him. There, reflected in the blackness of the monitor screen, was something blacker still: Kristen, dressed head-to-toe in tight, glossy-black rubber, standing calmly. Her latex-encased legs and torso betrayed not a wrinkle. Her breasts stood out perfectly as two ebon orbs, so large that rubber met rubber over her breastbone, and a zipper lay vertically atop each, straining to hold in the flesh beneath.

Her features were hidden and distorted by the helmet tight on her head. He could hear her breath whistle through the small nostril holes. Her lips, which protruded through the small mouth opening, were unmistakably smiling. The most striking detail: Kristin’s eyes, bright and hazel even through the plastic eye-hole covers, had an enigmatic, almost ascetic calm. As the vision faded, Gary knew his gift would be something of transcendent greatness.

Gary started breaking down on paper the steps needed to give Kristen her latex gift. The plan was simple and straightforward, although it involved patience and cunning. First, he would have clandestinely get Kristen’s precise measurements. Second, he would order the suit made. Third, he would package and deliver the catsuit to Kristen anonymously, taking special care to make the gift completely untraceable. Kristin would have no way to know who sent it. Even if she suspected Gary, Amy would be unable to verify her suspicions…

Gary then froze with the realization that if Amy somehow found out Kristin received a total-coverage catsuit nearly identical to her own the jig would be up rather quickly. True, she would defend her private life and not let on to Kristin, but she would not be too happy with Gary to say the least. He decided if Amy somehow found out, he would come clean and tell her the exact reasons why he gave her such a gift, and just hope she understood the purity and selflessness of his intentions. A cascade of doubts began to race in Gary’s mind. He quickly wrote down a sizable list of the range of possible consequences of his anonymous fetish gift. It took all morning. When he was done he took his finished list, stuffed the pages into an envelope, and promised not to read them again until the package was ready to send. He then tried to catch up on his work, vowing to put his plan into motion as soon as possible.

*   *   *

The first part of Gary’s latex gift project turned out to be easier than he imagined. On visits to Kristin and Brad’s house, while he was in the bathroom, he would carefully go through their laundry hamper, scribbling clothing label numbers onto a small notepad. Gary hated every moment of it. It felt intrusive, because it was. His unpleasant task did lead to a potentially helpful peek into Kristin’s (or perhaps Brad’s) sexual tastes though, for most of the lingerie Gary saw in the hamper was black and sheer. A good sign, Gary thought.

At the end of this phase, he had many of the measurements he needed, even her shoe and hat size. For the more precise circumferences around ankles, wrists, calves and such he devised an interesting methodology. He examined all the photos he could find of Kristin in his house and noted the exact places she was standing or sitting. He would then measure whatever objects were adjacent to her in the photos, like chairs, table legs, and railings. The photos were then scanned into PhotoShop and the object measurements were ruled onto a grid overlay. That gave him a two-dimensional measurement of every part of her body, which with a little math yielded every measurement he lacked. It was such an effective method he cursed himself for not having thought of it earlier, for it negated the need for him to paw through Kristin’s dirty clothes.

The evening finally came when he sat in front of his computer, measurements in hand, ready to place the custom order for Kristin’s catsuit with a fetish clothing shop online. He picked one in another country, which he figured would make the provenance of the suit much harder to obtain. The details of his order were guided by the vision he saw in his monitor that fateful morning when his plan was born. Black, extra thick latex. Back three-way zip, crown to crotch. Attached helmet with plastic eyeholes, with buckles for a blindfold and gag (which would be included). Bust cups with zips. He only stopped cold at the vaginal sheath option. That felt strange to him, although it was his personal preference. He liked the feeling of rubbery slick tightness during intercourse and the extra work it took to get Amy off due to the sheath’s sensation-insulating properties. But as far as Kristin and Brad were concerned, it felt like he was literally coming between the two in the form of a layer of black rubber. Which was true in an overall general sense, Gary wryly realized, but he felt the sheath was just a wee bit over the line. So he left that particular option out and sent in the order.

About a month later Kristin’s completed catsuit arrived at Gary’s office. After business hours when he had the office to himself he opened the package, handling it with a pair of surgical gloves to leave no prints. He unfolded it and held it up for inspection. He gasped. He couldn’t help himself. Kristin’s figure was latent but powerfully apparent on the glossy surface of the empty suit, as if Kristin was a latex lizard who shed her skin whole. On a whim, Gary grabbed a roll of gaffer’s tape and carefully applied it to the openings of the suit on the inside—the bust zips, the nostril holes, the back zip. He then strapped the gag into place and, using a can of Dust-Off, inflated the suit from the mouth tube. He sealed the tube with a plug of tape, stood the inflated suit next to his desk and examined it.

The vision Gary experienced in the monitor was standing before him. It was her exquisite form rendered in latex. The light played on it’s every dark, curvy surface: the smell of the fresh latex filled the room, erotic, compelling. Gary looked upon it and felt not lust but a wistful sadness. His melancholy surprised him. He pondered his strange reaction as he circled the inflated suit, examining the fine craftsmanship and looking for flaws in the finish.

He came upon the eyes and in the eyes his answer came, for there was nothing behind the plastic lenses. It was an exact likeness of Kristin in form but she was not inside, giving it life. Her hazel eyes did not sparkle behind the plastic. Very soon he would fold this magical garment into a box and send it to his best friend in the hopes it would elevate to intense erotic bliss the one part of her life they never, ever discussed. Gary realized in all likelihood this would be the last time he would ever lay eyes on his gift to Kristen, and there was no chance at all he would ever see her inside it, animating it, commanding it, enjoying it. But, with steely resolve, he knew that was the way it had to be; that was the nature of the gift.

*   *   *

The next morning, after Amy left for work, Gary called in sick. Now alone, he diligently enacted the final part of the project. He inspected the suit again, removed tags and any other traces of its origin, then folded it carefully and wrapped it with tissue paper. With gloved hands he placed the wrapped suit into a blank cardboard box he bought shrink-wrapped, placed latex care instructions (Xeroxed from the original and cropped so as to be anonymous) and a small bottle of latex polish into the box. He then wrapped the box in Kraft paper and added printed address stickers and postage. Grabbing his keys, the box and a manila envelope, he started the ninety-minute trip to Anaheim (for added anonymity: neither knew anybody from there) to mail the package.

On the way there Gary had plenty of time to open the envelope and read the list detailing the manifold consequences that could arise from his gift. He didn’t need to. He remembered them clearly enough.

1. Mutual Ecstasy – The gift has the intended effect. Kristin and Brad explore latex fetishism and it changes their sex lives forever for the better. The best outcome.
2. Unilateral Ecstasy – Kristin loves it, Brad is indifferent. Kristin can still wear it when alone and enjoy it. Or Brad loves it and Kristin is indifferent. Not quite as good, but still a nice gesture-- at least to Brad, who could probably talk her into wearing it once in a while.
3. Indifference – perhaps they try sex while she’s wearing it once, decide it does nothing special for them. A sad outcome, but at least the effort was made.
4. Ridicule – Kristin finds it hilarious. She wears it as a Halloween costume with a toy whip, leading Brad around on a leash. Worse than sad, it would be humiliating.
5. Disgust – Kristen opens the package, regards latex as something worn by freaks and perverts and throws it away.
6. Fear – Kristin and Brad make the not-unreasonable assumption that Kristin has a perverted stalker and call the cops. This is the absolute worst-case scenario, which would probably create a crisis in their marriage, which would in turn spill over to Amy and Gary. Amy figures out this whole thing was Gary’s harebrained idea and leaves him. Kristin never speaks to Gary again. Brad beats the crap out of Gary, then has him thrown in jail where he is stabbed to death with a sharpened toothbrush.

This last scenario was playing in Gary’s head as he pulled into the parking lot of the post office in Anaheim. He sat there for a minute or two before he realized his hands were locked onto the steering wheel, sweating under the surgical gloves. He made a final evaluation of his scheme. All he had to do was chuck the box in a Dumpster and he could put all this insanity behind him. The status quo would be upheld, and the lives of the two couples would continue in their idyllic way. Gary started to laugh. His whole obsession was crazy. No, it was several counties past crazy. Oh well, Gary thought. Life is risk, and in a situation like this the payoff, though subtle for him personally, is well worth the risk. Besides, Gary’s gift to Kristin will definitely shake things up, and that can be a very good thing sometimes.

He was still chuckling as he slipped the parcel into the slot in the post office lobby, hoping nobody would notice the thin surgical gloves he was wearing and suspect he was some sort of mail-bombing terrorist. He laughed until tears ran down his face as he drove by the place he gave as the return address on Kristin’s gift: 1313 Harbor Boulevard. Disneyland. Gary arrived home around two in the afternoon with a broad smile on his face. He called Amy at work, told her he was home early, and asked if there was anything she needed.

Absolutely, she replied: First, get powdered up…

*   *   *

Several days passed. Gary heard nothing from Kristen or Brad. He was beginning to feel somewhat relieved. No cops breaking down his door. No tearful Kristen followed by an angry Amy. No Brad-- sad, murderous or otherwise.

A weekend came and went. Amy called over to see if they wanted to go out for dinner and a movie, but Kristen made excuses. It was not an extraordinary stretch of time for the couple not to get together (Brad and Gary’s jobs sometimes played hell with everyone’s social lives) but for Gary every passing day was agony. One Sunday about two weeks after Gary mailed off his most unusual gift, he and Amy were heading home from Pasadena, having attended a play written by one of Gary’s co-workers. Since they were now both thoroughly depressed and needed a cheer-up, Amy proposed they drop in on Kristin and Brad in Burbank. Gary’s heart leapt, but he forced his excitement down and calmly told her it was a fine idea. Gary called and got their answering machine. Unthwarted, Gary suggested they just drop in—maybe they’d catch Kristin and Brad just coming home.

When they arrived, they found both cars in the driveway.  Gary knocked on the door and about a minute later a somewhat disheveled Brad opened it. He seemed a bit distracted, but nonetheless invited them in. Kristin was in back taking a nap, Brad explained, and would be out shortly.

As the three sat in the unusually disorganized living room, Brad seemed almost apologetic. They were both working a lot of weird hours the last few weeks and were not really able to do anything socially. Brad’s mood, although initially distracted, had an uncharacteristic level of energy to it. It was unusual for him to dominate any particular conversation, but that’s exactly what he did, keeping Gary and Amy in stitches with endless numbers of first-hand “aren’t famous people stupid” anecdotes.

Kristin, wearing loose sweatpants and a T-shirt, padded out of the bedroom and joined them. She seemed tired, but nonetheless slipped effortlessly into the general good mood the other three were sharing. The foursome’s easy social intimacy picked up right where they left it. It was comfortable, even idyllic.

Gary was his usual jovial self, but he had his radar up to full power and focused of Kristin and Brad. He paid extra attention to any changes in them, looking for any sign of unusual distance or closeness. Aside from Brad’s gregariousness, he could sense nothing at all unusual in the couple. Mentally, he scored the reception of his gift somewhere in the middle of the range of possibilities. No ecstasy, either mutual or unilateral. He held his disappointment deeply in check.

After ten minutes or so Kristin went to the kitchen to make coffee. When it was ready, Gary went to get his cup. The pair stood next to the coffeemaker, pouring fake cream into their mugs, when Gary stole a hard glance at Kristen as she stirred in sugar substitute.

There, under the strong florescent lights, Gary noticed a very subtle, unmistakable pattern of creases on Kristen’s cheek and neck.

Kristen looked up at Gary with her bright, twinkling hazel eyes, gave him an enigmatic smile, then carried her cup into the living room.

The End


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