Astrid Wagner checked her small to-do list as she walked
out of the Central Avenue Bank. The thirty-nine year old redhead
had been running errands all morning and only two items remained.
The last was to pick up groceries and would be done on her way
home. That just left dropping off two rolls of film to be
Checking her coupon wallet, she found the discount
certificate she remembered getting in the mail earlier in the
month. Despite the substantial insurance settlement following her
husband's fatal accident the year before, Astrid still tried to save
money wherever she could. Checking the address on the coupon,
she saw that the store was only four blocks over. Dropping it back
into her purse, she decided to leave her car where it was parked
and walk over.
There were two customers ahead of her in line when she
entered the store, so Astrid had to wait a few minutes. The black
haired young man behind the counter, dressed in a blue T-shirt and
jeans, quickly handled the short line and it was soon her turn.
"Welcome to Photo World, how can I help you today?" the
slim teenager asked with a smile as Astrid stepped up to the
"I'd like to have these developed, please," she replied,
returning his smile.
"I think we can manage that," the young man, whose
nametag identified as Alexander, grinned. "Would you like one hour
service or would tomorrow be soon enough?"
"Tomorrow would be just fine," Astrid answered, thinking
that she never understood why so many people needed to have
photos developed in an hour. Especially since the exposed
canisters had probably sat in a dresser drawer for the longest
time before they ever got around to bringing them in.
"If you'll just fill these out then," Alexander said as he put
two envelopes in front of her. "I'll be right back." he added as
another customer stepped up to the other end of the counter.
Astrid quickly filled out her name and address, along with
the number of prints she wanted. She decided on double copies
since both rolls were of her new grandson's baptism and
undoubtedly the proud mother and father would want copies as
While she waited for Alexander to finish the other
transaction, Astrid glanced around the store. In addition to quick
developing, the small shop also sold frames, albums, various photo
equipment and of course film. What also caught her eye was a
'help wanted' sign near the door that she hadn't noticed when
she'd walked in.
"What kind of help are you looking for?" the short haired
redhead asked as Alexander came back to take her envelopes.
"Someone to run the developing machine, work the counter,
that sort of thing," he answered as he checked the envelope to
make sure that all the information was there. "Pretty much the
same things I do."
"You need someone with experience then," Astrid asked,
"to work the machine I mean?"
"Not really," came his reply. "A few days training and
almost anyone could handle it. It's almost idiot-proof."
Alexander paused a second to drop the envelopes into the
appropriate storage tray and then rang up the sale for the rolls of
film she had also bought. As Astrid handed him a few bills, he
asked. "Did you know someone who might be interested?"
"Actually, I though I might be," she said as he handed back
"Really?" Alexander said, a surprise in his tone. "I really
didn't expect someone like you to be interested in a job like this."
"Too old to learn?" Astrid asked, more in humor than
"No, no definitely not," Alexander quickly replied, having
taken the quip far more seriously than she'd intended. "It's just
that usually we wind up with high school or college kids, basically
because of the money if nothing else. I mean it's better than
minimum wage, but not exactly going to make anyone live the good
"And which are you?" Astrid asked out of curiosity.
"Somewhere in-between," Alexander said. "I graduated last
month and start college in the Fall. Plus my Dad owns the store so
if you're really serious, you'll have to talk to him."
Astrid considered it for a moment, asking herself if she was
indeed serious. The idea of getting a job had been on her mind for
a while now, just not urgently. With her daughter, Karen, married
and now a mother, and her son, Karl away at school, the house was
quite empty. It wasn't a matter of needing to make money to live
on, just the need to have something to do every day. Something
more interesting than just watching the soaps and cleaning a house
that only needed it once a week.
"Do I need to fill out an application?" she asked, making up
"Not really, at least not until Dad has a chance to interview
you. Do you think you could come back this afternoon, say after
two? He'll be in by then."
"That shouldn't be a problem," Astrid replied as she glanced
up at the clock on the wall. "I'll see you after two then."
With two hours to kill, Astrid decided to have lunch in town
rather than make the thirty-minute drive home and then back
again. Dayton's Diner was always one of her favorite places to eat
and she was sure she'd be able to get a table even at this time of
Sitting in a corner booth, enjoying the special of the day,
Astrid asked herself one more time if this was something she
really wanted to do. After all, it wouldn't be fair to the man who
owned the store to take the job if she wasn't really serious about
it. Finally, after spending almost an hour thinking about it, she
decided that she was very much so.
Sitting in an empty house was driving her crazy, that much
was pretty evident. Even more so were the attempts by her
friends to make sure that she got through what they referred to
as 'her time of grief'. Undoubtedly, a few of them would see her
taking this job as a side-effect of that grief, something she
wouldn't have done had she been in her right mind.
Yet the truth was, not that any of them would understand it,
was that she was more in her right mind now than when Pete was
alive. If he hadn't died in that car crash when he did, they
would've wound up in divorce court by the end of the year. The
marriage had been a sham for the longest time, with Pete playing
around on her so openly as not to care anymore. Added to that, his
drinking had brought them to a point where they were more
roommates than husband and wife.
No, she had hardly been devastated by his death. If
anything, she had been reborn by it. Astrid was of course sorry
that he'd been killed, if only for the man he once was. But she'd
be damned if she was going to spend the rest of her life mourning
the man that he'd become. No, in the end, all the good that had
come out of their marriage had been the children and a large
enough insurance policy as to make a new life possible.
After lunch, she still had a little time to kill and decided to
walk off lunch. Glancing at her reflection in the glass display
windows along the avenue, Astrid saw a woman just slightly past
her prime. She'd always tried to take care of her body and, as a
result, weighed only a dozen or so pounds more than she did when
she'd graduated high school. Her medium sized breasts were still
noticeable, if not as firm as they'd been back then, and she'd also
managed to hold the line when it came to other parts of her body.
Most of the girls she'd grown up hadn't fared as well with that
The bell on the courthouse clock stuck two o'clock and
Astrid headed back to Photo World. It was a short walk, but one
in which each step told her she was doing the right thing.
Stepping back into the store, Astrid had no problem picking
out Alexander's father. In his early fifties, the salt and pepper
haired man was an equally handsome older version of his son. Fit
and trim, something to be admired in a man of any age, he also
sported a two-tone van dyke beard.
"Welcome to Photo World, how can I help you today?" he
said, echoing his son's greeting of before.
"Hi, my name is Astrid Wagner," she explained, "I was here
a little earlier and I'm interested in the position you have open."
"Oh yes, Alexander told me about you," he said with a warm
smile. "I was wondering if maybe you'd come to your senses and
decided not to come back."
"Hardly that," Astrid grinned.
"Well if you're still interested, why don't we step into the
back office and talk about it," the older man said as he called for
his son to come out and take over the counter. "I'm Nicholas
Jennings by the way."
"Nice to meet you," Astrid replied as she followed him
around the counter and into the back room. As she passed
Alexander coming out, they two of them exchanged a smile as he
silently wished her good luck.
The back room doubled as both office and storage room,
with a number of boxes piled up against the far wall. Nicholas
stepped over to a coffee machine atop a filing cabinet and poured
himself a cup, offering her one as well. Directing Astrid to the
seat on the far side of the desk, Nicholas took his own chair and
asked her why she wanted the job.
Repeating the thoughts she had gathered during lunch,
Astrid explained that she was a widow and while she didn't need
the money, she did need to find something to occupy her time now
that her children were grown. She thought the job might be
interesting and while she hadn't worked in a number of years, she
promised to give it her best effort and learn what she needed to
know as soon as possible.
Nicholas said he appreciated her candor and wanted to be
just as candid in his response. This was just one of three stores he
owned, with plans to open a fourth over the summer. Because of
that, his time was split among all three, soon to be four, locations.
It was important, therefore, to have people who could run the
stores on their own with minimum supervision and handle any little
problems that might come up.
He was glad to be able to hire a responsible adult rather
than the students the position normally attracted. Not that he
hadn't had some fine young men and women work for him in the
past, his son of course included in that group, but they tended to
be few and far in-between.
It was at that point that Astrid lost track of what exactly
Nicholas was saying. She knew it had something to do with the
duties the job entailed, but the words had become something of a
blur. In the confines of the small office, and with the worry about
getting the job out of the way, the redhead suddenly became much
more aware of Nicholas Jennings as a man.
During the beginning of the interview, she was sure she'd
caught the photo store owner checking her out. His eyes lingering
on her legs for just a moment too long. That happened often
enough to reassure her that men still found her attractive.
Normally, she only gave such looks a cursory notice, but this time,
it made her feel quite warm, and not a little wet between her legs.
Rather than feeling embarrassed, after all this was a job
interview, Astrid found herself wondering if Nicholas and his wife
were still happily married? Did they still rock the sheets, or had
their marriage bed grown as cold as hers had been at the end.
What kind of fuck was the man sitting across from her?
"Any questions?" Nicholas asked as he concluded the
"Excuse me?" Astrid asked in turn as those final words
registered through her idle musing.
"Was there anything you'd like to ask me?" Nicholas
"I guess the only thing to ask would be when do I start?"
she lied as she forced the more inappropriate questions from her
"Tomorrow would be soon enough," came the reply.
They emerged from the office a minute later, with Nicholas
telling his son that Astrid had the job. He added that he was
depending on him to show her the ropes and he knew that
Alexander wouldn't let him down.
"Don't worry Dad," the eighteen year old promised. "A
week from now she'll be better on the developer than I am."
Astrid was too busy taking a last admiring look at the elder
Mr. Jennings to notice that the younger was pretty much doing the
same to her.
That week came and went and while Astrid would hardly
make the claim that she was better on the developer than
Alexander, she did become quite skilled at it. She guessed the
whole process was idiot-proof after all.
Along the way, and in the weeks that followed, Astrid and
Alexander struck up a pretty nice friendship. To the teenager, she
seemed more an older sister than a contemporary of his mother
and Astrid quickly forget that her co-worker was a year younger
than her own son.
The summer passed quickly, and by the time August rolled
around, Astrid felt that maybe that boast from the day she'd been
hired might now be true after all. On the flip side of the coin, she
also now felt a little sad that with the start of school only a month
away, she was going to miss working with Alexander.
"Welcome to Photo World, how can I help you today?"
Astrid said, having also adopted the standard greeting.
"Is Mr. Jennings in?" the dark haired gentleman asked as he
placed a roll of film on the countertop.
"I'm afraid he won't be in until later today," Astrid
answered, "I'm sure I can help you though."
"I'd rather Nick develop this," he insisted as his fingers
closed defensively around the canister, "he takes care of all of my
Astrid thought the request rather silly, but the first rule of
business was making the customer happy. Besides, since it was
obvious the man was on a first name basis with the store owner so
his request probably not that unusual.
She filled out the envelope and wrote across the top that it
was for the personal attention of Nicholas Jennings. Of course,
they wouldn't be ready until late this evening when Nicholas came
in, she told the customer, but he didn't seem to have a problem
with that at all.
A few minutes later, Alexander returned from lunch,
escorted by two attractive young ladies. One was Samantha
Montgomery, a curvaceous blonde that Alexander had been dating
since his junior year. Actually, the two had known each other since
grade school, but had only gone from friendship to something more
serious in their late teens. The other girl, a brunette almost as
well developed, was Doris Sullivan, who had been Samantha's best
friend even longer. And by association, she had become
Alexander's friend as well.
"Have a good time?" Astrid asked as Alexander lifted a
moveable section of the countertop and stepped behind it.
"It was great," Samantha answered for him.
Astrid turned towards Alexander to see if he agreed, but
only got a weak smile in response. Perhaps there was a problem
between the two, she thought, no relationship was perfect.
Hopefully it was only a minor one. Since meeting her earlier in the
summer, the redhead had developed a real liking for the younger
blonde, and thought she was real good for Alexander. It was a pity
that they were going away to different schools next month,
something that would put a strain on any relationship.
"We're going to have to hurry if we're going to make the
movie, Sam," Doris pointed out as she looked up at the wall clock.
"What film are you going to see?" Astrid asked, turning her
attention from Alexander back to the girls.
"Girls Night Out," Samantha replied.
"I've heard that is supposed to be pretty funny," Astrid
noted, thinking that she'd also heard that it was somewhat racy as
A helpful idea popped into the older woman's head. Turning
back to Alexander, she suggested that maybe he'd like to take the
rest of the afternoon off and go with the girls to the movie. She
would, she assured him, be able to handle the store alone.
"Thanks," Alexander said, "but it's okay. I really didn't
want to see that movie anyway."
"Suit yourself," Astrid shrugged, thinking that he was
missing the point. It wasn't what was on the screen that mattered
as much as who was in the seat next to you.
Samantha leaned over the counter and gave Alexander a
quick goodbye kiss, telling him that he was the greatest. Hardly
the comment of an angry woman, thought Astrid. Then again,
there were plenty of times she didn't understand her own
teenagers, so who was she to judge anyone else's.
Wanting to change the subject once the girls left, Astrid
mentioned the special order request to Alexander. He said that
there were a few customers like that, but didn't think anything of
it. As long as they didn't expect instant service, and in this case,
they didn't, it was okay.
Figuring he was right, Astrid put the matter from her mind
and turned her attention to the backlog of one-hour orders that
had piled up during the lunch hour. Between the two of them, it
didn't take long to catch up.
Alexander had told her this morning that he had to leave at
four, which wasn't a problem since Nicholas was due in at
four-thirty. Astrid had momentarily forgotten that when she
suggested he leave to go to the movies. That he was working a
short day as it was might have been the reason he didn't want to
make it any shorter. Any problem between him and Samantha
might've been all in her imagination.
By the time Alexander left for the day, business had slowed
down to a trickle. In fact. they had only one customer come in
after he was gone. Although a regular, the woman now standing at
the counter was never one of Astrid's favorite people.
"Good afternoon, Monica," Astrid said with a smile. putting
her business face before any personal feelings. "How can I help
"I just need to get a few blow ups made," Monica Brown said
as she laid two strips of negatives on the counter. "The first two
on this strip and then the second on the other."
Astrid picked up the strips and held them up to the light for
a moment to check the numbers. Then she took two negative
holders from under the counter and marked off which ones she
"Did you want 5x7's or 8x10's?"
"5x7's would be fine," Monica replied.
Astrid quickly marked off the appropriate box, glad that she
could send this particular customer on her way. Monica, however,
didn't seem to be any particular hurry to leave.
"Is Alexander around?" she asked, glancing at the closed
door to the back room.
"No, he's already left for the day," Astrid replied. "In
fact, I was just getting ready to close up myself."
"How bout Nicholas?" Monica asked, totally missing, or at
least ignoring the hint.
"He's not coming in today," Astrid said, hoping that the
store owner didn't show up in the next few minutes to prove her a
"Too bad, I was hoping to say hello," the long haired blonde
smiled, more than a touch of regret in her tone. "That, is one fine
hunk of man," she added, "but then I guess I don't have to tell
Monica's innuendo reminded her once more why she didn't
like the sales clerk from the deli across the street. The two
women were just about the same age, but the blonde hardly acted
it. She constantly dressed like a woman still in her twenties, at
least one that was constantly on the prowl. Even today, she had on
a tight fitting top that looked at least two sizes too small and thin
enough to show off her nipples.
"Well tell Nicholas I was asking about him," Monica said as
she turned and strutted out the door.
"Yeah, sure," Astrid said under her breath.
There was little chance that she was even going to mention
to Nicholas, when he did show up, that the little tramp had even
been asking about him. With all the stories she'd heard from
other people in the block's Business Improvement Association, she
didn't feel unjustified in applying that nomenclature to her.
Following that first interview with Nicholas, Astrid learned
that his was indeed a happy marriage. She had met Mariel
Jennings several times and liked her a great deal. If Astrid had
anything to say about it, Monica would never have the chance to
come between the two Jennings.
Five o'clock came and went and still no sign of Nicholas. By
the time five-twenty rolled around, Astrid began to become
concerned and tried a few times to get him on his cell phone. She
got him on the third try and learned that he'd blown a tire on the
way back from the new store and wouldn't be there until at least
Hanging up the phone, Astrid remembered the special order
that she had promised to be done by six. All of the rest of the
day's prints were done, so she decided that there was no reason
why she should let that one sit there. She knew she had promised
that she would have Nicholas do it, but it wasn't like they were
charging anything extra for it. It seemed pretty silly to leave that
roll for him to do after having to deal with the problem of the
A few minutes later, the first prints began to come off the
machine and Astrid had to say that she doubted that even Nicholas
could've done a better job with the equipment at hand. It wasn't
until the fifth and sixth prints dropped into the tray that she
realized why the customer had been so insistent that only the
store owner develop them.
Just about every print featured the man who had brought
the roll in, and a woman who, Astrid assumed, was his wife or
girlfriend. Unlike most of the prints she'd processed that day, the
couple in these had a noticeable lack of clothing.
"Oh my God!" Astrid gasped as the last half dozen prints fell
into place, filled with images of the sort she hadn't seen since
she'd found the pile of dirty magazines Pete had kept hidden in the
Lifting the pile out of the tray, Astrid went through them
again, this time with a more discerning eye. Once the surprise
wore off, they didn't shock her as much. After all, there was
nothing in them that she hadn't seen, or done, before. In fact, the
brunette in the pictures seemed to be definitely enjoying herself.
That was something the film developer hadn't been able to say
about herself for the longest time.
After having gone through the pile of photographs for the
third time, Astrid began to wonder what she should do about them.
Was it even legal to print such things? She debated the dilemma
for a few minutes, then made a decision. Stuffing the prints and
negatives into an envelope, she locked them in the countertop
Just in time as the owner of the prints walked in the front
door a few minutes later. Hoping he didn't ask for the undeveloped
film back, Astrid explained that Nicholas had car trouble and that
the prints wouldn't be ready until tomorrow. To her relief, he said
it wasn't a problem and he'd be back the next day.
Only one customer came in after that, and Astrid was glad
to be able to lock up after they left. Even though the workday was
over, she decided to wait for Nicholas to show up. She wanted to
ask him what she should do with the X-rated pictures.
Which he did ten minutes later, thanking her for staying.
Astrid told him about the pictures and how the customer had
personally requested that Nicholas develop them. Apologizing for
taking it upon herself to do the work, she handed him the envelope.
Nicholas didn't bother to open it to see what was inside, instead
only taking a moment to glance down at the name on it before the
older man apologizing to her in turn.
"I guess I should've told you about special orders," Nicholas
said, "and what to do about them."
"I wasn't sure if I was even supposed to print pictures like
that," Astrid pointed out.
"Well as long as there aren't minors involved or anything like
that, there's really nothing illegal about them," Nicholas
explained. Still, different companies handle them different ways.
Most mail order places or the big stores will just destroy them on
the spot. That's why few people send them to those places. Local
shops usually have a more flexible set of rules. It's really up to
"I see," Astrid nodded.
"And to be honest, I don't see any harm in it," Nicholas
went on. "You can see a lot worse on almost any newsstand. Most
times it's just simple nude shots, but some people like the Taylors
like to take it a little further. With all the digital cameras out
there now, it's been a while since we got a roll like this."
"Is that Mrs. Taylor?" Astrid asked out of curiosity.
"Yes it is, nice lady," he added. "They live two blocks away
from me. Her husband owns a hardware store over on Maple."
"So I guess I'll just give them to him when he comes in
"If that's a problem for you, I'll take care of it," Nicholas
"No, not at all," Astrid replied. "I wasn't offended by the
pictures, just surprised."
"Well if any more special orders ever come in, I'll leave it up
to your discretion about what to do with them," Nicholas
concluded. "I'd just rather that Alexander not develop any of
"Oh don't get me wrong," Nicholas explained. "I'm not
naive enough to think that my son's never seen pictures like that,
or maybe even done some of the things in them. After all, he's
eighteen years old. I'd just rather not put him in the situation of
having to deal with a customer he'd just developed nude
photographs of. That might make him feel a little awkward."
"Of course," Astrid agreed, finding herself wondering how
she was going to feel when she handed those pictures to Mr. Taylor
"Well, lets call it a night," Nicholas said as he told Astrid to
take off and he'd lock up.
To her surprise, Astrid didn't feel even a hint of
embarrassment when Mr. Taylor came in the next day to pick up
his photos. She was as calm and professional as could be, At least
she was until Mrs. Taylor also joined them at the counter.
"We almost done here, Tool Man?" she asked her husband as
she checked her watch.
"Just paying for the film, Jill," the man said as he took his
change from Astrid.
Watching them leave, the redhead thought it strange that
actually meeting the woman in those photos had left her so
flustered. If wasn't as if she'd never seen another woman naked
before. Then again, none of those naked women had been sucking
their husband's cock at the time.
"You okay, Astrid?" Alexander asked as he noticed her
"I'm fine," she smiled. "I must be getting old, I just had a
hot flash." she joked.
"You're not old," Alexander pointed out.
"You didn't think so the day I walked in here and asked
about the job."
"Well, I think you've gotten younger since then," the
Astrid had to also smile. In her own view, Alexander had
become a lot older over the last few months as well.
"Oh by the way, would you be able to close up for me
tomorrow night?" she asked. "I know it's Saturday and you and
Samantha might have plans, but I..."
"Well a date anyway, I don't know if I'd call it hot," Astrid
said. "In fact, I haven't even met him yet, my sister-in-law set it
"A blind date!" Alexander laughed. "I didn't think anyone
still went on those."
"Well they do if they can't think of a graceful way out of
it," the older woman said. "So could you?"
"Consider it done," Alexander replied. "You've covered
often enough for me."
Stepping out of the shower the next morning, Astrid walked
naked into her bedroom and took a good look at herself in the
mirror. Slowly she turned all the way around, checking out every
aspect of her body, from her breasts to the cheeks of her ass.
"I'd give me at least a six," she told herself, "or maybe
even a seven."
For women in her age group, that wasn't bad, she added.
Mrs. Taylor, star of naughty photos, she decided would merit an
eight or nine. The mental image that flashed through her mind
reminded Astrid of just how long since she'd enjoyed the games
that had been captured in those photographs and how much she
"You know," she told herself as she looked at the underwear
she had previously laid out on the bed and decided to replace them
with something more interesting, "if this Doctor Dale Kingston is
really all Susan says he is, tonight could be his lucky night. Or
maybe I should say mine."
Slipping on a pair of fire engine red, lace bra and panties,
the thirty-nine year old wondered what her children would think of
her considering fucking a man on a first date. A wicked curl
formed at the corner of her mouth as she imagined their replies.
Karl of course, being the more conservative of the two, would be
shocked. There were times when her younger child couldn't even
acknowledge that his parents had sex in the first place. It was as
if he and his sister had been conceived through immaculate
conception. Karen, on the other hand, would not only tell her to 'go
for it' but would give her a few pointers as well.
"I knew there was a reason I always like Karen the best,"
Astrid laughed as she reached into her bra and adjusted her
breasts, making sure it was still a comfortable fit.
The dress she had picked out was one she hadn't worn in
years. It didn't quite cry out 'slut', but it certainly wouldn't pass
for church wear either. All-purpose black, it was short enough to
show off her legs, and low enough on top to give a tantalizing view
of her mounds. She completed the outfit with a pair of black high
heels, and sheer stockings to go with the garter belt she had
previously put on.
"I almost seems a shame to take it all off," she told herself
as she admired the final product in the mirror, "at least if there's
no one there to admire it as you do."
Still, it would hardly do for her to show up at work dressed
like that. Instead, it would all go into a garment bag and she'd
change for her date in the back room. There was a small bathroom
with a large enough mirror for her to do her makeup, and more
importantly, a lock on the office door that closed from the inside.
So, reluctantly, it all went away, to be replaced by a simple
pair of tan slacks, a dark blue blouse and a well-worn pair of
sneakers. Hopefully, the next time that dress came off, it would
be to an appreciative audience.
Five o'clock came soon enough and Astrid excused herself to
get ready for her date. After washing up and putting on her
makeup, it took almost no time at all to change the rest of her
clothing. Everything she'd worn to work went into a gym bag that
she'd take home tomorrow since there was no room in her trunk
and she didn't feel comfortable leaving the bag on the back seat.
"Whoa, sexy lady," Alexander gushed as Astrid stepped out
of the back room.
"Not too much?"
"I hope this doctor is a heart surgeon," Alexander replied,
"cause you're going to be causing heart attacks all over town."
Astrid smiled, that was exactly what she needed to hear
"Hold on, let me get a picture of you," Alexander said as he
grabbed one of the disposable cameras off the rack and quickly
tore it open. "Something for you to remember this night by."
"I really don't think..." she started to say, but then stopped
when she saw that he already had the camera ready to go. "Okay,
just a quick one."
The quick one turned into four, five and then six, as
Alexander snapped away as fast as he could advance the film in the
cheap camera. Finally, Astrid said she had to go and said no to one
"Well have fun," Alexander said as he watched her walk out
of the store.
"Hopefully," came Astrid's whispered response as the glass
door closed behind her.
Dinner turned out to be excellent, the food the best Astrid
had tasted in years. The restaurant was superb as well, right down
to the dim lighting and roving violin player wandering among the
tables. Unfortunately, it didn't take the time for them to even get
to the main course for the redhead to realize that neither of
those adjectives could be applied to the man sitting across the
table from her.
At first, when she had met the good doctor in front of the
restaurant, Astrid had thought she'd struck gold. The man was
gorgeous. Six one with a muscular build, a thick head of blond hair,
and a face that little reflected the age that Sue had told her,
Astrid quickly concluded that the man had to have been gay, or at
least have a string of ex-wives to need to go on a blind date to
It didn't take long, however, for her to discover that
neither of those suppositions were true, but a third, equally
damaging one certainly was. There seemed to be only one topic of
conversation that Doctor Kingston enjoyed discussing - namely
himself. By the time the dessert cart rolled around, Astrid knew
more than she ever wanted to know about the career of Dale
Kingston. The vibrator she kept in the night table by her bed had
more of a personality she thought, and that was the only thing that
was going to be pleasing her tonight.
"Oh dear," Doctor Kingston said as the beeper on his belt
came to life and he lifted it up to read the text message. "I'm
afraid that we're going to have to cut the night short. I'm needed
at the hospital."
"That's a shame," Astrid lied, thinking instead that if she'd
only thought of it, she'd have had him paged herself, "and we were
having such a good time too."
"Perhaps I could get someone to cover for me," the Doctor
suggested, much to the redhead's consternation.
"No, that wouldn't be right," Astrid quickly recovered.
"I'm sure they wouldn't have paged you if they didn't need your
"I suppose you're right," he agreed as he called over the
waiter to asked for the check.
"Absolutely," Astrid said, reinforcing his personal sense of
importance. "And don't worry about me, I have my car and can
drive myself home."
From the look on his face, she realized that how she was
going to get home never occurred to him. For all he'd known, she
could've come to the restaurant on the bus.
Ten minutes later, safe in her car, Astrid vowed never to let
her sister-in-law set her up again. Hopefully, for whatever
emergency they had paged him for at the hospital, the good doctor
actually was really as good as he thought himself to be.
"Oh shit," Astrid called out as she started the car and
realized that the night wasn't getting any better,
The key ring in the ignition was missing the other half of it,
the one with her house keys. She had to have left it with her
clothes back in the gym bag. Throwing the car into gear, she
headed back to Photo World.
It was already well after closing and the front door to the
store was locked. Luckily, those keys were on the half of the ring
that Astrid still had. Letting herself in and then locking up behind
her, she noticed that the lights in the back room were on. Also,
Alexander's backpack was still sitting on the floor behind the
"I wonder what he's still doing here?" Astrid asked herself
as she reached out for the doorknob, hesitating for a second as
she considered the idea that he might not be alone. Having a
private place to play was always a concern to a young couple on a
Saturday night. "Better cover up, Alexander and Samantha, if
that's who's in there," she thought, "cause I need those keys."
"Excuse me," she called out in warning as she pushed the
door open and stepped inside. It took a moment for her eyes to
adjust to the brighter light, but when they did, it took all her
self-control not to laugh.
Alexander was in the back room all right, and almost to her
disappointment, quite alone. Sitting at the desk, his pants were
down around his ankles and his right hand was wrapped around his
cock. He was so wrapped up in the pumping motion he'd been
making, it took a few seconds for the teenager to register Astrid's
"Fuck!" he exclaimed as he dropped his cock and tried to
quickly pull up his pants.
Astrid tried to avert her eyes, looking at anything but his
bulging manhood. She did get enough of a look at it, however, to
have been suitably impressed. Samantha was indeed a lucky girl.
"I'm sorry Alexander," she apologized as he finished closing
his belt, "I didn't mean to..."
It was then Astrid noticed the half dozen photographs
spread out across the desk. They were only a few hours old, and
quite familiar. The pictures of her he'd taken with the disposable
"Oh my God!" she gasped as the teenager turned the
brightest shade of red possible.
Alexander stood there silently, not saying a work. Astrid
took a few long, deep breaths, looking again at the collection of her
photographs. This just didn't make sense to her.
"I think we need to have a little talk," she said as she
looked back at an embarrassed Alexander.
Giving in to the inevitable, Alexander nodded his head yes.
Pulling up one of the chairs, Astrid set it next to the one
Alexander had been sitting in and motioned for him to sit back
down. Then she did the same.
"I can't say that I'm not a little flattered," she began,
making reference to his choice of jerk off material, "but I'm also
a little stunned. Why would you want pictures of me, or anyone for
that matter, when you have a such a beautiful and sexy girlfriend
Alexander hesitated a few moments before answering.
When he did, the answer came as quite a surprise to Astrid.
"Samantha and I really don't do anything like that," he
confessed. "All we've ever have done is kiss."
"The two of you have never done anything?" Astrid asked,
thinking how unusual that sounded in this day and age. Sure, maybe
the two of them weren't fucking, but this was a generation, she
reminded herself, that viewed oral sex as part of petting.
"No," was his one word conformation.
"I'm sorry," Astrid said, still somewhat surprised. "I just
always assumed that the two of you were..."
"Samantha's gay," Alexander repeated, "she's a lesbian."
"Did she tell you that?" the redhead asked, not believing
what she was hearing, but knowing that sometimes teenagers went
through some confusion about their sexuality. Her own daughter
had once spent the night with a girlfriend and wondered if she
might be gay for months after that.
"Yes, back in the summer before our junior year," Alexander
"Your junior year?" Astrid repeated, feeling even more
confused. "Then why were the two of you going out all this time?
The answer suddenly came to her in a flash. You just had to
look at the situation from a different angle.
"All this time," the redhead said as it became clear to her,
"it wasn't Doris tagging along when the two of you went out, it was
you going along with them. But why?"
"Samantha's parents are really religious and would've
disowned her if they knew she was gay," Alexander explained,
nodding his head in acknowledgment of Astrid's conclusion. "If she
could keep it a secret until she was eighteen and went away to
college, then the money put away for school would be hers and no
one else could touch it."
"Alexander," Astrid asked, "why would you do such a thing?
I know you wanted to help a friend, but at what cost? As long as
people thought you were with Samantha, you couldn't see any other
girls without seeming like you were cheating on her."
"That's okay," he said, not wanting to look right at her as if
he wanted to hide something. "There never were any other girls
that I was interested in."
"Alexander, are you interested in boys?" Astrid asked,
thinking that was what he was trying to say.
"No, I'm not gay," he said, looking up at her. "It's just that
girls my age really don't excite me."
"Oh," Astrid said as she glanced down at the pictures on the
desk and the last pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Now it was Astrid who hesitated before saying anything
more. Alexander's revelation had put so many little things
between them over the last few months in a new perspective.
"Alexander, have you ever actually been with a woman?"
Astrid asked, wondering as soon as the words had come out of her
mouth why she had even asked such a question.
"Yes I have," Alexander admitted.
"Well that's something," Astrid said.
"Monica Brown," the young man unexpectedly clarified.
"What?" Astrid gasped, more shocked at that revelation
than the one that Samantha was a lesbian.
"Last December after the Business Association's Christmas
party," Alexander added, thinking that Astrid was looking for
more information. "She invited me back to her apartment."
The look of continued shock on Astrid's face told Alexander
that he had been very wrong about that. He might've just made
this whole situation even worse by being so open. A stillness filled
the air for long seconds as both just looked at each other.
"And now you must hate me," Alexander said, breaking the
silence as he turned his head away.
"Now that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard you
say," Astrid said as she reached out and, placing her fingers
against his cheek, turned his face back to hers. "I could never
"My God, of course not," Astrid said. "We're all entitled to
make a few mistakes. I care about you. If things were different,
if you were older and I was younger..."
Astrid paused as she realized how trite those words
sounded. At the same time, Alexander looked deep into her eyes,
the depth of his feelings for her clearly evident in his own.
The words never came out as the young man leaned forward
and kissed Astrid on her lips. It was a soft kiss, but full of
promise nevertheless. It took the redhead by surprise, but before
it ended, she found herself responding to it. He kissed her again,
this time more intimately. She opened her lips without hesitation,
taking him into her mouth.
Back and forth they traded kisses, even as their hands
explored each other's bodies through their clothes. Part of
Astrid's mind told her this was wrong, that she should stop
immediately. But it was a voice rapidly overtaking by much
"Alexander, we can't," she said with her last bit of
self-control. "If I do this then I'm no better than Monica."
"No, you're nothing like Monica," the eighteen year old
insisted as he kissed her again. "She just wanted someone to fuck
her. If it wasn't me, it would've been someone else. I only want
you, only you."
"This is so wrong," Astrid told herself as her thoughts
swirled in confusion. "We shouldn't be doing this."
Yet, how could she convince Alexander of that, when she
honestly couldn't convince herself. After a few more minutes of
sharing each other's touch, Astrid finally realized that she wasn't
even trying to do that any longer.
Rising from her chair, Astrid swung her right leg over both
of Alexander's and sat on his lap. She kissed him again, this time
letting their lips brush together for only a fleeting touch. The
stiff hardness pressing against her crotch told her that he was as
excited as she was, ready to let their wants and desires take over.
But the last rational part of her mind held sway for one moment
"Are you sure?" she silently asked with her eyes.
"More than I've ever been sure about anything," came the
reply in much the same manner.
With that, rational thought was swept aside, taking away
any barriers that may have existed between the two of them.
They were now simply a man and a woman, both eager to fulfill the
Astrid reached down and took hold of Alexander's T-shirt,
pulling it up and over his head. Never taking her eyes from his, she
dropped the blue top onto the empty chair next to them. Her
hands caressed his smooth, almost hairless chest, her fingers
running back and forth across his nipples, causing them to grow
stiff and hard.
Letting out a deep sigh at her touch, Alexander reached
behind her neck and pulled down the zipper of her dress, causing it
to loosen around her body. Astrid pressed her feet against the
floor, lifting her body just high enough for the teen to lift her
dress up over her head. He held on to it just long enough to make
sure that it also came to rest on the spare chair and not the floor.
"Oh God!" Alexander exclaimed loudly as he took in the
sight of Astrid, now clad only in the bright red lingerie she had
wore underneath. "You are so beautiful."
Now more than ever, the redhead appreciated her decision
to add something more daring to her ensemble this morning.
Alexander ran his outstretched palms across her stomach, along
the lower edge of her bra and to her back where his fingers closed
on the clasp that held it together. As they worked it open,
Astrid's own hands rubbed the back of his neck, moving down to
his shoulders and back to the center of his chest.
Alexander slid the straps of her undergarment down along
her arms, freeing the ample mounds within. His eyes grew wide as
her hard pink nipples came into view. The appreciation sent a thrill
deep inside Astrid. It was one she was certain she wouldn't have
felt had it been Doctor Dale beneath her.
"I hope you're not disappointed," Astrid said as she brushed
her hand against his cheek.
"How could I be disappointed when I've been dreaming about
this every night for the last few months," Alexander said as he
ran his hands along the sides of her breasts.
"Are they better than Monica's?" she couldn't help but ask.
"No comparison," Alexander replied as he kissed her.
Astrid wrapped her arms around Alexander's neck, leaning
forward and pulling the two of them closer. Her chest pressed
against his, flesh on flesh, even as their mouths again came
together. It was a brief contact but full of the excitement yet to
Alexander took firm hold of her breasts as they separated,
squeezing them with his fingers, enjoying the softness of her flesh
and the hardness of her nipples. Astrid continued to massage his
neck, working her way down his back.
Back and forth they went, enjoying the rising heat of each
other's body. All the while, Astrid could feel the press of his cock
grow even harder against her cheeks.
"Can I suck your tits... I mean your breasts" Alexander
"Honey," Astrid laughed softly, "you can do anything you
want. And you can call them whatever you want too."
Alexander's choice of words actually added to her arousal.
Breasts were a word to be used in the doctor's office during your
exam. Tits on the other hand were more suited to when you
wanted to be fucked.
Filled with enthusiasm, Alexander lifted Astrid's left breast
high enough that he could close his mouth around her nipple. His
tongue washed over the dark tip, pulling it deep between his lips.
Like many young men his age, his technique was clumsy, lacking the
skills learned through experience. Still, Astrid didn't mind,
thinking that Pete hadn't been much better their first time, and
she had hardly been the first girl who'd let him explore their body.
Alexander moved on to her other mound, doing no better,
but again no worse. Content to just let him enjoy himself, Astrid
thought there would be plenty of time for the teenager to learn
another day. She let him play a while longer, then gently
disengaged his mouth and slid as far down his legs as she could
without falling off them.
Her fingers closed on the belt buckle he had so hastily
closed before. It came undone in a moment, followed by the zipper
of his pants. Reaching down into his trousers, Astrid pulled his
stiff manhood out into the open air. As it rose to its full height,
the older woman had to gasp.
In her entire life, Astrid had only ever seen three erect
cocks. There was Pete's of course, with which she's spent half of
her life playing with. Then there was David Ryan, the only other
man she had ever gone all the way with before she'd been married.
That last had been her younger brother, Stephen, on whom she'd
walked in on one afternoon when he'd been masturbating and had
forgotten to lock his bedroom door. A snap comparison of all four,
the redhead decided, ranked Alexander as the second best she had
ever seen. Honesty compelled her to place Stephen on the top of
that list. She also decided that he really didn't count because
there was never any chance of her even touching it. Therefore, if
only on a technicality, Alexander had just been bumped up to
Suitably impressed, Astrid ran both hands up and down his
cock, enjoying the warmth and hardness of his flesh. Alexander
moaned as her fingers played with his manhood, stimulating the
sensitive flesh. It was hard to tell who was enjoying the simple
Still holding his cock, Astrid slid all the way off Alexander's
lap and down to the floor. Her hand pumped his cock a few times
more, then tilted it just enough as to be able to take it deep inside
her mouth. Alexander let out a loud sigh as he felt her wetness
engulfed him as his cock disappeared between her lips. She
engulfed his whole length in one quick movement, taking it in as far
as it would go. His sigh grew to a loud moan as Astrid's tongue
rolled over and around his shaft, sucking on it lightly at first, then
with more force. The tiny pleasures her hand had produced now
doubled and tripled.
Ever so slowly, Astrid moved up and down on his cock,
fondling his balls with her hand as her tongue left a tiny trail of
delight in its wake. Alexander's moans grew in volume and
frequency as she took his entire length. If it was one thing she'd
learned from her marriage, it was how to give great head. When
she wanted to, she could make Pete last for an hour. Or, depending
on the circumstances, bring him off as quick as a twenty-dollar
This time, Astrid decided on something in-between as she
worked his cock back and forth between her lips. Two decades of
practice came into play as she brought him to the heights of
delight, then slowly took him down a peg or two so they could start
all over. This went on for almost a good half hour.
"Oh God," Alexander gasped as he felt his self-control
weakening and the pressure in his balls passing the point of no
return. "this is even better than I ever imagined it could be."
"So, Monica never went down on him," Astrid thought as she
ran her tongue once more across his balls and then back up the
length of his cock, guiding the crown back into her mouth.
"Should've known she'd be a selfish bitch who just wanted him to
get her off and not waste any time making him feel good."
It was a realization that made her want to make his first
blow job be as memorable as possible. If she couldn't be the one
who'd taken his virginity, then she'd at least leave him with some
other memories that he'd never forget. Astrid took him deep into
her mouth once more, bobbing her head up and down, her short
hair tossing every which way. In only a short time more, she had
him ready to burst.
"Aaaaahhhhhh..." Alexander groaned as he released a torrid
of youthful vitality into Astrid's mouth. The redhead swallowed
most of it with practiced skill, letting only a few wayward drops to
spill down her chin.
"That was the best thing I've ever felt," Alexander said in
gratitude as the older woman let his now semi-soft cock slip out of
"Really?" a surprised Astrid smiled up at him as she climbed
off the floor, mentally adding that, despite her reputation, Monica
must truly be one lousy fuck.
Was it possible, she asked herself, to lose your virginity
twice? Maybe, she answered, if you could wipe out the memory of
the first time. That was a goal she was now determined to
accomplish. She no longer worried about the consequences of her
actions. After all, having just sucked off the boss's
eighteen-year-old son, how much more trouble, the thirty-nine
year old thought, could she be in for screwing him as well.
"Oh God, Oh God, Oh My God!" Alexander panted as, again
straddling him face to face on the chair, Astrid rode his cock.
Up and down she went, the walls of her womanhood wrapped
tightly around his erect cock. She held him tight as they rocked
back and forth, her own breathless cries encouraging him onward.
"Fuck me, oh baby fuck me," she called out loudly as her
breasts bounced in front of his face. "Give me that big, beautiful,
She had started off slowly enough, gently taking hold of his
re-energized manhood after a little break and guiding him into her.
She had gently massaged his cock with her tightness, sharing with
him the desires that had been denied for much too long. In no time
at all, they'd built up a rhythm that increased in tempo until they
were crashing against each other with wild abandon.
During their brief rest, Alexander had, in response to
Astrid's inquiry, described his solitary encounter with Monica
Brown. By the time he'd finished the story, she understood why it
hadn't been repeated and the details filled her with an even
stronger loathing for the woman across the street.
Despite the fact that she knew that it had been
Alexander's first time, which in itself should've been enough for
her to make an effort to make it all the more special, the
narcissistic bimbo had instead made it all about her. For all she
cared, Alexander might as well have been a man-sized dildo,
existing for no other reason than to fill her hole. No wonder the
encounter had left the young man with an impression that sex was
little different than masturbation, only using someone else's body
instead of your hand.
Determined to change that impression, Astrid had taken
Alexander's hand and guided it between her legs, pressing two of
his fingers deep inside of her. A look of astonishment filled his
face as he felt the warm wetness engulf him.
"Do you see how wet you've made me already?" Astrid asked
as he pumped his fingers in and out. "And you've barely even
touched me yet. Imagine, just the thought of you being inside me
has gotten me this hot."
Carefully, Alexander withdrew his fingers and brought them
up to his face, drawing in the scent of her passions. Curious, he
slipped one finger into his mouth and tasted the sweet nectars,
following it quickly with the other one.
"I'm told it's a lot sweeter at the source," Astrid
suggested. "That is if you want to try. I know that some young
men don't really go in for that sort of play."
The truth was that Astrid loved having her pussy licked,
sometimes even more than being fucked. But she promised herself
that she'd let Alexander take it all at his own pace and not
pressure him into anything he wasn't ready for. After all, it had
taken her six months after Pete had started fucking her to finally
get him to trade his cock for his tongue.
"No, you did it for me," Alexander responded as he
withdrew both fingers from his mouth. "The least I can do is to
With that he traded places with the older woman, sitting
her down in the large, cushioned chair, and spreading out her legs
wide, dropped down to his knees. He took a few moments to study
the carefully trimmed mound in front of him, reaching out with one
hand to part the way with his fingers.
Astrid assumed that since, according to the account that
Alexander had given her, Monica had slipped off her panties from
under her skirt and then just lifted the latter to give him access,
that the teenager had never seen a real woman's sex before. So
she was more than happy to let him study it a while and figure out
what part was what. After all, there was only so much you could
learn from pictures.
Having come to that conclusion, Astrid would later be quite
surprised to learn that, even if he'd never actually touched one,
Alexander had indeed had a previous opportunity to see a woman's
sex up close. Not only that, but he'd also been fortunate enough
to have been given a quite informative lecture on how to orally
please a woman. After all Alexander had done in covering for her
the last few years, Samantha had felt it was the least she could do
to thank him. So while conceptual knowledge would never
adequately replace hands on instruction, the dark haired teen was
starting from a much better position than Astrid might've
imagined. He more than knew what part was which.
"Oh my," Astrid gushed as a wave of tiny delight radiated
from between her legs. "I was wrong about this boy, real wrong."
she mentally added.
Those small sparks, fired by Alexander's darting tongue as
it followed the road map outlined by Samantha, quickly grew into
massive starbursts. The teenager could feel her body reacting to
his touch, soft moans spilling from her lips as she leaned back in
the chair and closed her eyes.
"Ooooooo," Astrid cried out as a particularly powerful wave
washed over her.
Erotic waves that continued as the enthusiastic young man
improved with each passing motion. Sam would be proud of him, he
thought as he ran his tongue across her clit one more time.
"Fuck me," Astrid cried out as Alexander once more struck
home with the tip of his tongue, "I want you to fuck me, fuck me
Those were the most beautiful words Alexander had ever
Astrid continued to ride her young lover for another quarter
hour, alternating between a slow leisurely pace and rapid bursts of
passion. Then she lifted herself off him and turned to face the
picture covered desk.
"I want you to fuck me from behind," the redhead said as
she stretched her naked body over the desk, her breasts coming to
rest against her photographs.
Alexander moved behind her, taking hold of her ass with
open hands. He rubbed his cock between Astrid's cheeks a few
times before wrapping his fingers around its base and bringing it to
rest against the entrance of her pussy.
"Fuck me, please," Astrid intoned as she spread her legs
even wider to give Alexander better access.
Access he took full advantage of as he pressed forward and
slipped deep inside of her. Calling to mind some of the porn films
he and his high school buddies had sometimes secretly watched,
Alexander emulated the actors he'd seen, pumping his cock in and
out of Astrid as fast as he could. Quickly catching his timing,
Astrid met his thrusts with equal enthusiasm. slamming her body
back to meet him halfway.
"Oh yes," she purred as she felt his hardness fill her all the
way. "That feels so good."
Alexander closed his eyes, never missing a beat as he felt
the tightness of her body drawing him even deeper. A feeling of
pure bliss washed over him as their bodies became one. This was
nothing like his encounter with Monica. That night had been little
better than the times he'd taken satisfaction with his own hand.
The strange thing was, he began to realize, was that those
memories were becoming ever fainter. In fact, he wondered if
after tonight he would even remember it at all.
With the idea of purging them once and for all, Alexander
pulled out of Astrid and rolled her onto her back, sending her
photographs scattering across the floor. Astrid was impressed by
his initiative, and happy that he took no time in filling her once
She gasped and cried out in ecstasy as her body shook with
orgasmic pleasure. Her cries were matched by Alexander's even
louder moans as he tried to enter her as many times as possible
before he totally lost control.
Their fucking grew more intense as Astrid wrapped her legs
around Alexander's waist. She drew him deeper inside, both
narrowing the length of his thrusts and increasing their frequency.
Continuing to meet his efforts with her own, the older woman
pushed her body forward to meet his.
Astrid's entire body suddenly tensed up, as a wondrous
feeling that had been absent much took long from her life overtook
her. Her moans abruptly stopped as a violent orgasm rocked her
with thunderous force.
As his lover's climax crashed through her body, Alexander
shared its delight as he felt the walls of her sex contract around
his own. It had taken all of his self-control to hold back this long,
and he knew immediately that he couldn't last a heartbeat more.
The eighteen year old groaned loudly as he felt his own body
explode, the force of his orgasm enough to make him dizzy. He
could feel his cock explode, the dynamism of his eruption enough to
leave him totally drained. Exhausted, he collapsed into Astrid's
willing arms, his eyes slowing closing as she wrapped them around
him and held him close.
Astrid felt more than a small measure of sadness as she
stood at the entrance to the Photo World and watched Alexander
pull away in the new car that his father had bought him to take to
school. The last few weeks had been more than incredible and she
was sorry to see them end.
Still, she was content with the memories they had left her
with, tempered by the knowledge that her young lover understood
that their sexual relationship had come to an end. No one had ever
found out about the two of them, or their almost daily trysts, but
in the end, both had decided that it was better than they revert
to friends rather than try and remain as long distance lovers. It
had impressed Astrid to no end that Alexander was able to make a
choice like that. She doubted she would've been able to do so at
"Makes a father proud to see his son set off in the world,"
Nicholas Jennings said as Astrid stepped back behind the counter.
"I know," Astrid agreed, remembering how she felt when
her own children had done just that. "I'm glad he stopped by to
say goodbye one more time. I'm going to miss him."
"I'm sure you will," Nicholas said. "Just as I'm sure he's
going to miss you as well. Hopefully, some cute co-ed will help take
his mind off that before too long."
"Excuse me," Astrid said, trying to project a look as if she
hadn't the slightest idea of what Nicholas might be talking about.
That effort lasted less than half a minute as she looked into
her employer's face and realized that the last few weeks might
not have been much of a secret as she thought.
"Oh shit!" the redhead said softly, then added, "I guess I'm
"Why, have you been stealing from the cash register?"
"No, of course not," Astrid said automatically, "I just
"That I was going to fire you because you slept with my
"Yes," Astrid admitted awkwardly.
"I'd look pretty silly if I tried to do that," Nicholas grinned.
"Seeing that, as I pointed out before, Alexander is legally an adult
and able to make his own choices. Although I did have my doubts
about some of those."
"Like me," Astrid offered, feeling at the moment like she'd
robbed the cradle.
"Actually, I was thinking more in the lines of Monica Brown
and Samantha Montgomery."
Astrid's mouth dropped open as she thought, "My God, he
"Yes, I knew about both of them as well," Nicholas said,
almost as if he read her mind. "I saw Alexander and Monica sneak
off after the Christmas party last year, and I knew she wasn't
looking for him to help her trim the tree. Stuff her stocking
Astrid couldn't help but laugh, then stopped as she reminded
herself that this wasn't a laughing matter.
"I'd probably feel differently if I had a daughter instead of
a son, but you deal with the world like it is, not like it might've
been," the older man went on. "I've known that Alexander had a
thing for older women since he was thirteen and I discovered that
he made duplicate copies of photos of women he found attractive.
It seemed harmless enough, so I just let it pass. Maybe not the
most professional thing to do, but I think any parent bends the
rules a little when it comes to their kid."
Thinking back to her own son and daughter, that was a
sentiment that Astrid had to agree with.
"And to be honest, if he was going to have a fling with
someone older, I'd much rather it be with someone like you rather
than that slut, Monica. She's been trying to get me to stop by
after work for over three years now."
"Is that why you hired me?" Astrid asked, suddenly feeling
a little used.
No, not at all," Nicholas quickly insisted. "I want you to
"Then you still want me to work here?"
"Yes, but with a little different arrangement."
Astrid wasn't sure she liked the sound of that. Could she
have been wrong about Mr. Loving Husband? Did he think that just
because she had slept with his son that there was now an open
place in her bed.
"I'd like you to take the Assistant Manager position now
that Alexander's gone, and hire someone to take your place,"
Nicholas explained. "Of course there would be some more money in
it for you too."
"Oh," Astrid said, feeling a little foolish at what she'd been
"You don't want the job?" the bearded man asked, thinking
that was the meaning of the look on her face.
"Oh no, I mean yes, I want the job."
"I was just wondering about what you said earlier," Astrid
lied, not ever wanting him to even think what she had been
thinking. "About Samantha having been a mistake."
"Well, it was just that I though it rather strange for a
young man to have a lesbian girlfriend," Nicholas went on. "Mind
you, I'm not like Samantha's parents. I believe that everyone is
entitled to live the life they want, and the chance to be happy. In
the beginning, I wasn't sure he realized that she was gay, but once
I understood that she wasn't playing him for some kind of fool, I
figured he knew what he was doing."
"How did you know?" Astrid asked curiously.
"I've been looking at pictures of people for over thirty
years, and you can't do that without learning how to recognize
certain looks on people's faces. Things you might not notice as
they happen, but can be pretty obvious when they're frozen in a
"I still don't get it," Astrid said.
"I must've developed a hundred rolls of film over the last
few years with Samantha, Alexander, and Doris in them. The truth
is pretty obvious for anyone to see, if you just know what you're
looking at. When you look at the photos, you can see the glow in
Samantha's face when she looks at Doris. A glow that wasn't
there when she looked at my son. He and she shared a friendship,
but not love. Once I saw that in the pictures, it wasn't hard to see
it in real life as well."
"And no one else ever noticed that?" Astrid asked, then
realized that she had been totally oblivious to it all as well.
"People often see what they expect to see," Nicholas said,
"its just human nature."
"And you never told her parents?" Astrid asked.
"Not my place to do so," he answered, "That's between
them and her. Personally, I hope they learn to accept her. Who
she loves doesn't change who she is. I know that's what I like to
think I would do in that situation."
"You know, I think I know now why Alexander turned out to
be such an extraordinary young man," Astrid said, changing the
subject. "He had such a great example to follow."
"Talk like that isn't going to have any influence on the
Manager of Photo World," Alexander said in a stern, warning voice.
"It might, however," he added in a much warmer voice, "convince a
proud Dad to take a good friend of his son's out to lunch to
celebrate her new promotion."
"You don't have to do that."
"I know, but I want to," Nicholas smiled.
"Okay, let me get my purse," Astrid relented.
"Good, I know a great place over on Knickerbocker, the
owner is a good friend of mine," the taller man said as he held the
door open for her, then locking it behind them. "In fact, Mariel
and I were thinking just the other day that the two of you might
hit it off."
"I'm not too keen on set-ups," Astrid said, remembered her
"You go out, you have dinner, if you don't click, you say good
night," Nicholas said. "What could happen?"
"What could happen indeed," thought Astrid as she climbed
into the passenger side of Nicholas's truck. If there was anything
she'd learned in the last month, it was that things had a tendency
to develop in ways that you never expected.