Bemidji, Minnesota–Last June
Lauren Nelson sat on the wooden dock on the beach of the northern Minnesota lake where her family had a cabin. A look of serene satisfaction was splashed across her adorable 15-year-old face as a slight breeze whipped her way from off of the water, a welcome respite from the intense heat and humidity of early summer in Minnesota. The breeze gently tussled the dark blond hair flowing past her shoulders and felt great on her mostly exposed upper body contained in a light blue flower-print bikini top. Her feet hung over the dock and her toes barely reached the surface of the lake water, and she gingerly kicked them to create a small splash, which sent a few beads of water up onto her smooth, tanned legs and her pale blue denim cutoffs which crested well up her nicely toned calves and revealed the bottom dimple of her asscheeks underneath as her legs rose to kick the water. When the breeze withdrew for a moment, Lauren raised her freshly lit all-white cigarette to her lips and took a relatively modest drag, filling her insides with luscious smoke that felt as good inside her body as the cool breeze off the water felt outside her body. The look on Lauren’s face as she exhaled the smoke she had just ingested made it abundantly clear how pleasurable it had been.
Lauren was a fairly introverted teenage girl to begin with, and just loved the isolation of the summer weekends at the cabin with the family, particularly these moments alone on the lake with nobody around. But unbeknownst to Lauren at the time, she wasn’t gonna be alone for long….
From up the hill at a nearby cabin, a voyeuristic mid-teen boy was slowly heading towards the dock himself shortly after his family’s arrival at their cabin, but he stopped about 50 yards before he got there when he noticed the pretty blond his age sitting on the dock in a bikini top and cutoffs. After the long drive up from the Cities with his family, the boy had smoking on his mind, but after seeing how wholesome the girl looked he quickly dismissed the possibility of her being a smoker. But a split second after the dismissal, he was stunned to see her insert an all-white in her lips and take a drag. His instinct was to do what he usually had done when taking a mental note of a pretty girl in his path….to turn around and run. But as he watched her exhale her smoke and innocently splash her feet onto the surface of the lake water, he felt he was being given a sign. He had just made a bargain to himself on the ride up with his family to let go of his inhibitions and approach a pretty girl he saw this summer, particularly if she was a smoker, to see what kind of reception he might get. And now he had one right in front of him in the very direction he was heading. Could he possibly get a juicier meatball thrown down the middle of the plate to take advantage of? It took all the courage he could muster into his 15-year-old body, but he took those final steps en route to the pier to introduce himself to this smoking cutie…
It wasn’t until the sound of footsteps began thumping on the wooden dock that Lauren knew she was no longer alone. Briefly startled, she looked over her shoulder to find a boy her age coming her way, and she quickly turned her face straight ahead towards the lake and lowered her half-smoked cigarette to the right of her body, curling it below the board she was sitting on. Particularly with the pack of Marlboro Lights 100s resting next to her right asscheek, Lauren knew she was probably busted, but was still instinctively shy about being revealed as a smoker to an approaching teenage boy. The boy walked up to her left side, fully aware she was smoking but pretending not to notice or care.
“Mind if I join you? My name’s Trevor,” said a visibly nervous Trevor McPherson, smiling awkwardly through his nerves as Lauren turned to get a closer look.
With even more apprehension in her voice, not to mention a face that was candy apple red with embarrassment, Lauren slipped out a halfhearted, “Okay” with a nervous smile.
Trevor sat down next to her, but made sure to leave a couple of feet between them to avoid invading her space and perhaps lessen their mutual awkwardness at least a little. When Lauren remained silent, Trevor once again powered through his reluctance and inquired, “So do you have a name?”
A flustered Lauren nervously giggled and responded, “Oh I’m sorry…my name is Lauren.”
Trevor smiled and extended his right hand to shake hers, knowing full well that the cigarette Lauren thought she was hiding was in her right. Lauren paused for a second and instead used her left hand to awkwardly clasp Trevor’s. Trevor discovered it was kind of fun to toy around with Lauren over her smoking, and proceeded to tell her about himself. They got more comfortable in each other’s presence the next few minutes as they told their respective stories and marveled that they lived only two suburbs apart west of Minneapolis and ended up only three cabins apart on this lake. Smiles of comfort and attraction emerged on both of their faces as they continued to chat, with each finding the other attractive, genuine, and easygoing given the introductory situation for the two bashful teens.
But there was still the unresolved matter of Lauren’s cigarette, which she had been holding under the edge of the dock for about three minutes now and figured it was probably about to burn out. She was frustrated that as she was getting to know this nice boy, she was in this pickle of not knowing how to reveal to him that she was smoking and thus not fully enjoying herself or concentrating enough on what he was saying. She was about to drop it into the water and pretend she never had it in the first place, but after thinking about it further, decided she might as well face the music now. Plus she really wanted another drag. When there was a pause in Trevor’s conversation, Lauren mustered up the courage to ask, “Do you mind if I finish my cigarette?” with an extra flourish of bashfulness.
“Sure…not a problem at all”, Trevor responded with a flourish of his own which he hoped would convey just how little of a “problem” Lauren’s smoking would be.
Lauren smiled and then lifted her cigarette up, tapping an ash that had grown to more than an inch and taking what ended up being the final drag from her cigarette. Trevor watched as her cheeks hollowed to pull in the smoke on the unattended cigarette that was very close to extinguishing itself. He recognized the look of nicotine relief on Lauren’s face as she let loose an exhale that was much thinner and sparser than the respiratory gymnastics he had just watched for several hours in the company of his heavy-smoking sisters, but nonetheless saw something he could easily work with in the face on this most unlikely smoker girl. Lauren tossed the remainder of her cigarette into the lake, further exciting Trevor as she went into defensive mode and assured Trevor, “I really don’t smoke that much. I know it’s a bad habit”.
“Oh it’s no problem at all for me!” Trevor said with a level of understatement that Lauren could sense was genuine and that there was perhaps more subtext behind it than Trevor was letting on. She was now officially comfortable in his presence and became more talkative, with a dialogue ensuing for the next few minutes and the two teenagers with little to no romantic experience connected with one another more than they ever had with anyone else.
The momentum was killed about 10 minutes into their memorable introduction when Trevor recognized the husky voice of his mother Becky calling him from the cabin. “Trevorrr! Time to eat!”
A look of disappointment was instantly evident on both of their faces as Trevor said, “That’s my mom. Gotta go for now. But you want to meet back here later tonight? I’d like to hang out with you more!”
A sweet, beaming smile on Lauren’s face was all the body language Trevor needed to appreciate he had sealed the deal with this girl. “I would LOVE to, Trevor!” she added, eagerly awaiting Trevor’s pending departure from the cabin after his evening meal. Trevor smiled back and got up to leave just in time to see a younger boy approaching the dock. Trevor and the boy made eyes with each other but never introduced themselves as they crossed paths.
Once Trevor had left the scene, the 11-year-old boy approached Lauren and immediately sensed an ecstatic excitement in her he’d never seen before, and took advantage of it the way an annoying younger brother is supposed to do, asking through a shit-eating smirk, “Who’s your boyfriend?!?!”
Lauren could barely contain her jubilation but muttered out an entirely unconvincing “Nooobody!”, knowing full well that her younger brother Brian would continue busting her chops about it, as he did. Lauren tuned him out and resumed her posture of staring out onto the open lake, only now with her heart a-flutter, wearing on her face that she was flying while sitting still. Her brother was unable to get a rise out of her, and she reached to her pack of Marlboro Lights 100s knowing that would knock him off his stride even more, extracting a cigarette and her lighter from the pack and bringing the cigarette to life.
Brian ramped up his merciless teasing after his sister lit up, rhetorically asking “if your little boyfriend knows you smoke and smell like an ashtray!” His taunts sometimes got to her, but they were elevator music to her this afternoon. This was the first cigarette of her life after meeting Trevor, and damn was it refreshing….
Suburban Minneapolis–Late November
Lauren rested in a similar pose with the same satisfied smile as she did that day she met Trevor, quietly seated in the backseat of her parents’ car looking out the window and daydreaming of that fateful June day that changed her life. Now, her family was about to meet Trevor’s family for a Thanksgiving meal, and while she was nervous about the imminent encounter, her heart was filled with joy recognizing how far she had come in five months. She was still immersed in blissful daydream when she reflexively reached into her purse and pulled out her pack of Marlboro Lights 100s. The daydream finally broke when she inserted an all-white cigarette into her lips and fired it up.
“What the hell?!?!” Brian shouted Lauren’s direction a split second after she lit her cigarette. “Why do you suddenly think you can smoke around me?!?”, he added with genuine annoyance at his sister who was seated only a few feet to his left in the backseat.
Lauren had genuinely spaced out Brian’s presence when she lit up, but she’d been increasingly brave about exercising her smoking freedoms in recent weeks, courtesy of the normalization of the lifestyle Trevor’s family had treated her to, as well as the escalation of her own smoking consumption. She even requested and was granted the freedom to smoke in her bedroom at home. Brian continued to piss and moan about her smoking, how bad she stunk, and how he hated having to walk around smelling like Lauren’s cigarettes all the time.
Lauren had been used to Brian being the typical “annoying little brother” and usually took it in stride, but the displeased grimace forming on her face made it clear that sometimes his taunts got to her, hitting too close to home to some of the bullying she endured at school. The combination of Lauren’s beauty and her good nature made her easy to take advantage of by some bullies at school, and she’d been quietly enduring that for a couple of years now. A year earlier, at the onset of her freshman year of high school, the insecurity of the bullying was the primary catalyst that drove Lauren and her best friend Carly to experiment with smoking, and the habit eventually stuck. As Lauren continued listening to her brother’s taunts, she reminded herself that the smoking habit she picked up almost certainly contributed to the fateful summer meeting with Trevor and their ensuing relationship. This epiphany brought a smile back to her face. She looked up at Brian who seemed to sense from Lauren’s naughty smirk that his provocations were backfiring and he quit talking in time for Lauren to take a deep drag from the cigarette and exhale the smoke directly into his face.
Brian appeared on the cusp of a meltdown as his sister’s smoke crashed upon his face. “Dad!!!” he tattled as he furiously waved the cloud of smoke away from him, “Lauren just blew cigarette smoke into my face! And she did it on purpose!”
Lauren was undeterred, maintaining her diabolical see-what-I-can-do-to-you smirk from before the exhale, even as her parents scolded her.
“C’mon now, Lauren!” her dad Craig barked. “We just have a few miles left to drive. Let’s not have a big melee just before we walk in the door.”
Lauren’s mom Michelle piled on, adding “We’re giving you more freedom with your smoking Lauren. Don’t go and ruin it for yourself.”
“Sorry,” Lauren responded while maintaining eye contact with her brother, very pleased with herself for asserting the whip hand in the situation as her brother continued to sulk in exasperated defeat. Seconds later, Lauren noticed out of the corner of her eye that she had provoked her parents to light up cigarettes of their own, cracking the car windows on the cool November morning and clearly upsetting Brian even more.
The more permissive smoking culture in the Nelson household had come about entirely within the last month or so. After Lauren witnessed the smoking culture at the McPherson home, she became bolder about asserting more freedoms for herself at her own home….and it was rubbing off on her parents! They were always careful to go outside when they smoked, catering to Brian’s disgust at their habit, and since Lauren had started smoking they insisted she did the same. But over the course of the last month, her impact had clearly rubbed off on them. At no point before the last couple of weeks could she have imagined her parents lighting up a cigarette in her brother’s presence, but here they were today, following her lead and doing just that. She felt empowered as she took another intense drag from her cigarette and didn’t put forth too much effort to make sure she directed her exhale out her cracked car window.
And as Lauren noticed the family car was pulling into Trevor’s neighborhood, she took another look at the sulking Brian. If he thinks he has it bad sitting in this car with three smokers, he really has an unpleasant surprise for him when he walks into the McPherson home in a few minutes, Lauren thought to herself. Her parents would too obviously, and that made her a little nervous, but just as Trevor had made the gamble with her a month ago, Lauren was making the same gamble with her parents today that the McPherson family smoking culture might rub off on them and normalize smoking in Lauren’s family life even more.
A few minutes later, the Nelsons pulled into the McPherson family driveway, with everybody a little bit nervous about how this gathering was gonna go. As they climbed out of the car, Lauren noticed a ruffling of the curtains followed by a familiar face peaking out. It was her beloved Trevor, getting his first look at her. She smiled and took the final drag from her cigarette before flicking the butt into the street and blowing him a smoky kiss from afar, hoping her parents didn’t see her.
As the family approached the front door, Trevor admired his beautiful girlfriend and knew that she dressed up to suit his preferences, decked out in her stylish black leather jacket and a pair of tight white pants he remembered telling her she looked sexy in on a past date. As they knocked on the door, it was time for Trevor to greet them. He was just as nervous as Lauren and her family, recognizing the risk of her family connecting some potentially awkward dots in the presence of his mother and sisters and their shameless heavy smoking. He hustled on up to the front door as he heard his mother opening it, wanting to be there to recognize the first impression of Lauren’s parents and brother.
Craig, Michelle, and Brian walked into the McPherson home amidst the warm greetings from Becky, with lit cigarette in hand as always. Trevor and Lauren briefly made loving eye contact with each other but also peered at the faces of the other new arrivals as the tidal wave of tobacco stench crashed upon them. Craig and Michelle tried to suppress their gag reflex and soldiered through it, but Brian’s face wrinkled up like a prune as the stale cigarette smoke was more than he could have possibly prepared for. Suddenly, the smell of smoke from Lauren’s bedroom in the past month seemed pretty pale by comparison.
Lauren had tried to soften the edges of this inevitable encounter as much as possible in the past month, never missing an opportunity to inform her parents that Trevor’s mom and sisters were all heavy smokers whenever they asked her if Trevor smoked or if he minded that Lauren did. Still, no words could do justice to the McPherson home and the degree to which it was a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s regarding smoking prevalence and acceptance. And Lauren’s eyes darted the landscape to notice Courtney and Haylee approaching from a distance, both wielding cigarettes of their own.
Introductions were made, courtesy of Becky and Michelle, to acquaint the respective families, and Lauren’s parents and brother tried their best to pretend they weren’t a little stunned that all three females in the house, including two teenagers, were smoking as they greeted their houseguests. Trevor and Lauren darted their eyes back and forth between each other and their family members to lock in as much body language imagery as possible, particularly savoring Brian’s awkward introductions to the friendly Courtney and the aloof Haylee in between drags of their cigarettes. Suddenly, Lauren’s smoking in the car on the drive over didn’t appear so oppressive to him anymore.
Thanksgiving dinner was almost ready to be served and Becky instructed their guests to take their seats amidst multiple conversations by both the adults and the young people. Trevor made sure he got a seat next to Lauren while everybody else worked their way around the table. Brian found himself next to Haylee and across the table from Courtney, intimidated by both girls but especially Haylee since she was closer in age yet clearly light years more “mature” than himself. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing as both Haylee and Courtney brought their cigarettes to the dinner table with them, and was even more stunned moments later when they rested their respective butt bucket ashtrays and packs of cigarettes right next to their plates of food. Hard as Brian was trying to avoid eye contact with Courtney and especially Haylee, it was impossible for him to avoid observing this outrageous spectacle.
Craig and Michelle were helping Steve and Becky in the kitchen as they were taking multiple dishes out of the oven and range at the same time. Steve was carving the turkey while Becky was nervously bringing the dishes towards the kitchen table clouded over with a fresh haze of cigarette smoke, adding to that with a half-smoked Marlboro Red dangling from her own lips. Seeing Haylee and Courtney sitting there smoking at the table reminded Becky to offer similar accommodations to their guests.
“Craig and Michelle, you’re both smokers….would you like us to set you up with ashtrays at the table?”
Craig and Michelle were busy in the kitchen and hadn’t fully taken notice yet of the table arrangement complete with cigarette packs and ashtrays until they looked that direction. The couple looked at each other with a silent shriek at the site of two teenage girls smoking at the dinner table, but gathered their bearings in a moment when Michelle spoke for both of them and tried to appear as unflinching as possible in the situation, responding, “No thanks. I think we’ll be happy with eating all this delicious food before we think about our next cigarette.”
“Sounds good,” Becky responded warmly before turning to Lauren at the table and asking through another talking dangle, “How about you Lauren? Would you like an ashtray?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Lauren warmly responded with “Yes please,” charming Becky with her winning smile and then placing her pack of Marlboro Lights 100s on the table next to the plate just as Courtney and Haylee had done. As Becky fetched another ashtray, Lauren made sure to look Brian’s direction out of the corner of her eye to measure the extent of his dismay, which she figured had to be considerable.
Seconds later, Becky was back with Lauren’s ashtray and hurriedly said, “There you go, dear”, in her husky long-time smoker’s voice before returning to the kitchen to help with the main event as dinner was about to be served.
Lauren wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity as she opened up her cigarette pack, extracted one, and dangled it from her lips as she handed her lighter to Trevor. Trevor was caught a little off-guard by her abruptness but responded in kind, sparking up Lauren’s cigarette for her and admiring the bubbly effervescence glowing on her face and throughout her general body language while tilting her head just a little bit skyward to release a long plume of exhaled smoke following her first drag. Lauren knew how much Trevor must be loving this as they looked longingly at each other, or as longingly as they dared to in front of both of their parents. She also occasionally looked Brian’s way knowing how much he must be hating the whole spectacle! She tried to avoid eye contact with her parents, expecting they probably weren’t the biggest of fans of her lighting up at the kitchen table.
The final entrees were all coming towards the table now at the hands of the various adults transporting them. The gigantic turkey was set in the middle of the table and Steve trained his eyes on Brian as he said “Let’s eat!”
While the food looked good to Brian generally, the haze of cigarette smoke commingling with the food was taking away his appetite. His attention was diverted away from the food yet again when he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Haylee sitting next to him was digging out another cigarette from her pack. She was texting on her phone with her left hand while flicking her cigarette to life with her right, letting the cigarette dangle loosely from her lips while the smoke gushed out of her mouth and nose in a way that Brian had never witnessed before and found positively disgusting. Even with that cigarette in her mouth partially obstructing her facial expressions, there were bursts of glowing smiles that came and went on Haylee’s face as Brian eyeballed her. He figured she must be texting a boyfriend, and he was right.
Haylee’s recent fling with Grant, who she had met at the Willow Creek Mall a month ago, was stuck in neutral based on their difficulties in finding ways to see each other given that neither of them drove and that Grant’s parents were in no way gonna tolerate him dating Haylee. But absence made the heart grow fonder as was clear by the grins on Haylee’s face as she distractedly texted away, dangle-dragging from her cigarette and ignoring the table full of guests.
Becky and Courtney quickly followed suit and lit up cigarettes as the food was being passed around. The faces of nearly everyone at the table were discreetly observing this insanity with varying degrees of shock and awe. Lauren and Trevor were watching admiringly, Craig and Michelle were observing in stunned disbelief, and Brian was watching with otherworldly disgust….a disgust that escalated as he watched sexy Courtney take her first drag from the cigarette and then exhale one of her torrential blasts of smoke straight forward. An explosion of smoke erupted from Courtney’s mouth and nose, sailing about three feet in front of her face and covering nearly the entire table of food with a blanket of toxic carcinogens. Brian, Michelle, and Craig made brief mutual eye contact as if to say “does nobody else find this bizarre?”
But for Brian, the tough times were only beginning as the food items were getting passed around counterclockwise, with Haylee handing him each successive dish. Brian was most looking forward to the potatoes. Craig handed Haylee the potatoes while she was finishing a text. She briefly put the phone down, kept the cigarette dangling from her lips, and took hold of the bowl of potatoes. As she scooped out a couple of spoons full to put on her plate, her lips puckered up around the dangling white-and-pink cigarette for an intense drag, and Brian watched as the smoke poured out of her mouth and nose in a downward trajectory right into the potato bowl, accompanied with a mild smoker’s cough, the instant before she handed it to him. Brian no longer wanted any potatoes and passed it along to Lauren, still smoking herself and merrily taking hold of the bowl and scooping some out. Brian was thinking to himself that he might be the first person ever to walk away from a Thanksgiving meal still hungry!
Haylee returned to her phone to fire off another text when her father had had enough. “Haylee!” Steve exclaimed, startling his youngest daughter. “We’re at the dinner table! Put that phone away! It’s rude to the guests!”
Haylee responded with the typical look of a 14-year-old girl with a chip on her shoulder, setting the phone on a stand behind her. Brian, Michelle, and Craig were all thinking the same as Haylee surrendered the phone but continued smoking her cigarette….that texting at the dinner table was about the LEAST rude thing that was going on at this table! Haylee returned to alternating between bites of food on her plate and drags from her cigarette in the butt bucket next to it. Lauren had finished her cigarette and was just eating her dinner now, but Becky and Courtney continued to smoke shamelessly across the table from Brian, with Courtney cloaking the dishes of food in one after another monster exhale rocketed out of her face straight ahead for everybody there to choke on.
The meal ensued, at one brief point without anyone at the table smoking and the haze temporarily contracting, with only the thick residue of lingering tobacco smoke odor hovering in the dining area. But as the meal began winding down and desserts started busting out, the temporary cigarette reprieve ended, with Becky, Courtney, Haylee, and Lauren all lighting up again as the men cut the pies.
Courtney wouldn’t last long though, checking the clock mid-cigarette after finishing her pumpkin pie and noticing it was 1:30, then announcing a familiar refrain to members of her family. “Oops…almost 2. I gotta go.”
Craig looked confused. “Where do you have to go?”
“Work,” Courtney responded. “Tomorrow’s Black Friday so we have quite a bit to prepare for.”
As Courtney bantered with Craig and Michelle about her job at House of Leathers at the mall, while casually dragging from her Marlboro Light Menthol 100 and expelling giant snootfuls of smoke in talking exhales, Steve and Becky looked at each other with some suspicion, an intangible feeling that Courtney’s excuses weren’t adding up. In particular, this “preparatory workday” at a leather store in the mall the day before Black Friday seemed like a convenient excuse for her to leave a house full of company. On its own, they wouldn’t have been so suspicious, but it was becoming a pattern and they were starting to believe Courtney was hiding something.
Courtney left the room to get changed for work and the table full of guests resumed their dialogue, with Becky once again offering, “You sure you guys don’t want an ashtray?”
Michelle and Craig looked at each other as if deliberating before Michelle decided for both of them, “Sure, that does sound good actually. You can just bring one and we’ll share it”. Becky went to fetch another butt bucket, as Michelle and Craig broke out their cigarettes, fully aware Brian was pissed at them.
Lauren, meanwhile, was beaming ear to ear, recognizing that the McPherson family culture had rubbed off on her parents in less than an hour, and that that portended nothing but good things for normalizing smoking behavior in her own home. Having had a taste of this freedom, it would be hard for her parents to return to going back outside every time they wanted to smoke just to spare Brian. She didn’t even realize the extent to which her boyfriend’s calculated deviousness had rubbed off on her in such a short time.
Courtney zipped on by towards the front door with as little fanfare as possible, decked out in skin-tight black leather pants and pretending to be in too much of a hurry to bid everybody a formal goodbye. The males in the room didn’t fail to take a passing interest in Courtney’s shapely female body draped in the black leather but quickly reverted to the conversations they had been immersed in at the table. Steve and Becky, however, gave each other one more skeptical look watching Courtney leave the house….as if both wondering why Courtney has to or would want to wear leather pants on an inventory day at work where there were no customers. Despite their skepticism, they resumed their ongoing conversation and discovering they got along well with the Nelson family. And as Courtney was walking out the door, her purse went briefly horizontal and a single metal key fell onto the floor, which Courtney and everybody at the table failed to recognize.
Last August–Willow Creek Mall
Kurt Collins sat behind the register of the House of Leathers store he had been managing at the mall for six years now. He was working the register by himself in the quiet mid-afternoon weekday hours of the late summer, and sitting there he couldn’t get his mind off of the new 17-year-old employee Courtney McPherson who he hired a month earlier, who was currently out behind the store on one of the many smoke breaks she takes every shift. He had a forbidden attraction to her on the day he hired her, taken in by her beauty, but it had really escalated lately, consuming his every thought. The fact that she flirted with him shamelessly and seemed pretty genuine about the flirtation only fueled his fire.
Curt’s secret fetish for girls in leather helped lead him to this job in the first place, and his successful early manipulation of Courtney with his interview warning that “employees are strongly advised to wear leather themselves as a visual aid for customer benefit” was actually heeded by Courtney, who used her employee discount to stock up on leather outfits and now wears them for all of her shifts, driving Curt absolutely mad with desire. The fact that he was 43 years old with a utilitarian appeal and a beer gut who happened to be the underage Courtney’s boss was not wasted on him, but his raging middle-aged hormones were getting the better of him….and he was about to take a risk and briefly abandon his post on this dead weekday afternoon to test her interest in a setting outside the official store while she’s smoking. As he looked down the corridor of the mall to see nobody in sight, he realized this would be his best chance.
Curt opened the door and briefly walked through the store’s backroom before going through the employee exit behind it, turning the corner to see the gorgeous Courtney leaning against the mall’s exterior taking a deep drag off of her two-thirds-smoked cigarette. The image drove him nuts, particularly as he noticed the volume of smoke charging out of Courtney’s mouth and nostrils like a raging bull ready to charge a matador, sailing at least two feet in front of Courtney’s gorgeous face. Curt had never really found cigarette smoking sexy before meeting Courtney, but her passion for the habit made for visual carnival shows that managed to seduce Curt, particularly with the backdrop of her beautiful features, long blond hair, shapely and feminine upper-body, and those tight leather pants framing her even more spectacular body. The entire aforementioned image, which Curt was taking in as he approached Courtney at this moment, was what compelled him to follow his primal male instincts when his brain continually told him to not get too close.
It was too late now though as Courtney noticed him exiting the store and approaching her. “What do you want?!” she asked with a mock sassiness that had become part of her repertoire with Curt and stood up straight after having leaned against the wall.
Curt grinned to make sure Courtney knew this was all in jest, responding, “I want your butt back inside to get some damn work done, girl!”
Courtney’s playful smirk expanded as she played along with a sassy “Kiss my ass!” and partially turned her leather-draped posterior towards Curt, who was now right in front of her, while quickly becoming distracted and dragging from her cigarette.
Curt looked down to that stretched-out tight leather on Courtney’s ass and temporarily lost control, taking advantage of her while distracted and giving her a swift and highly unexpected smack on the ass with his hand. Courtney yelped in surprise, throwing her cloudy and voluminous exhale off kilter from its typical straight line ahead as she turned to make eye contact with her sexual harasser, penetrating his soul with an intense look of deep surprise. Curt was paralyzed with fear as he surveyed the look she was giving him, thinking he had crossed a point of no return and could face massive consequences for it.
But just as Curt’s heart began to flood with “what was I thinking?” paranoia for letting his impulses control him, Courtney’s stern scowl turned into a seductive smile. She always thought her relationship with Curt would stay in the flirty, sexual tension zone, despite her inexplicable sexual attraction for him, but now that he had gone where she never thought he would, she was eager to further, and let her body language convey that with increasingly lovey-dovey eyes towards Curt. Whatever inadvisable instinct led Curt to make that journey outside to taunt Courtney during her smoke break had led him to the point that he had spent the last couple of weeks fantasizing about as he and Courtney pulled together to kiss. A passionate lip lock ensued with tremendous tongue action and Curt tasting the warm and tobacco-laced flavor of Courtney’s mouth while lowering his hand to fulfill another simmering fantasy of stroking Courtney’s leather-draped ass. Neither could have imagined even 20 minutes earlier that their sexual tension would ever actually come to life, but as wrong as it felt for this adult boss/teenage employee courtship to be playing out with this extended makeout session behind the store in the middle of the afternoon, it felt oh so right to both Curt and Courtney.
Courtney’s Car–Thanksgiving Day
As Courtney was driving, she daydreamed as Lauren did about her first unlikely romantic encounter with the boss who would become her lover. They’d been having a top-secret affair for three months now and even though she felt guilty about the lies to her loved ones and the peril she was putting Curt in by having a sexual relationship with a minor and an employee, it was just too satisfying to stop. Amidst her daydream, she took another intense drag from her partially smoked Marlboro Light Menthol, her thoughts distracted by Curt’s loving as she exhaled another missile that sailed straight into the front windshield, the smoke parting and spreading left and right as it hit the glass. She was returning her cigarette hand to the steering wheel when the long ash she’d let accumulate while daydreaming about Curt dropped to her lap and landed on her leather pants.
“Shit!” Courtney exclaimed as she approached a traffic light, recognizing she’d left an imperfection on the most expensive pair of leather pants in her wardrobe…and the personal favorite of both herself and Curt. As she stopped at the red light, she placed the cigarette in her mouth and dangled it while trying to figure the best way to remove the ash without staining the pants, ultimately choosing to flick it off onto the floorboard of the car. A small gray spot remained on the otherwise perfectly smooth black leather near her crotch, and she used a Kleenex to gingerly wipe it clean before the light turned green. She sped off with the cigarette still in her mouth, unaware she had a curious young male voyeur observing in the car next to her. She drove right on past the entrance of the Willow Creek Mall, which she told her parents was her destination. Courtney had a different destination this Thanksgiving afternoon.
Ten minutes later, Curt was pacing the floor of his apartment, knowing he was about to have company, both nervous and excited about his forbidden visitor. He knew she was coming but Curt was startled nonetheless when his doorbell rang. He walked over to the door and quickly opened it. As expected, there stood Courtney McPherson decked out in her leather jacket and leather pants, cigarette in hand and looking badass as hell. He drug her on in to minimize the exposure as much as possible for his neighbors, lest they find out he had an underage girlfriend. Courtney didn’t make it easy for him. Smoking was forbidden throughout his apartment complex, and was particularly unwelcome in the hallway where Courtney had just thoughtlessly walked through with a cigarette. He mentioned to her before to please wait till she got into the apartment before smoking, where he could at least camouflage the odor a bit, but with as ingrained as smoking was in her lifestyle he figured she wasn’t even conscious that she was doing it. He didn’t even bother to scold her about again as she was too frisky to be contained, lunging for him to stick her tongue into his mouth where they remained for a couple of moments.
The couple wasted no time moving towards Curt’s bedroom. Curt sat on the edge of his bed while Courtney sat on his lap, taking an occasional drag from her cigarette in between kisses until the cigarette was finally at its end and she crushed it out on the ashtray he left for her on his nearby nightstand.
“You know you can’t smoke in her you little criminal”, Curt playfully snarked, moving his hand up the thigh of her leather pants towards her crotch.
“Well what the hell are you gonna do about it???!” she fired back just as playfully.
Curt fluttered his eyebrows before delivering his one-word response, “Discipline!”
Courtney let out a playful little scream and Curt proceeded to put her over his knee, her leather-draped ass fully exposed, and then began spanking her repeatedly and with increasing intensity. Their ensuing banter played right into the stereotype of a couple with this many years between them, with Curt’s proclamations of her being a “naughty little girl” countered with Courtney’s equally cringeworthy “Sorry, daddy!” responses. Curt had never had a thing for girls Courtney’s age before and found himself an unlikely source of indulging a teenage girl with daddy issues and he swatted her ass….and Courtney had never really had tangible daddy issues until they surfaced in Curt’s presence. She had no specific sexual attraction to her father, but the memories of her father whooping her ass as a girl–and then being the older sister who watched her younger brother and sister get belted by their father years later–had quietly manifested themselves into Courtney’s sexual identity. And there was no foreplay with Curt that was as titillating as when he put her over his knee and beat her ass until it was candy-apple red.
Once the ass-whooping was complete, Courtney climbed back onto Curt’s lap, overcome with passion and began to unbelt his pants. She pushed Curt back on the bed and he gladly let her take the power position, knowing what she was about to do. In seconds, his erect cock was poking through the fly of his pants and Courtney’s mouth attacked with even more ferocity than the many cigarettes a day she ripped to shreds. Curt watched as Courtney morphed into a primal beast, thrusting her mouth over his cock and gyrating her body up and down as she fellated on him, her leather-draped ass and hips zigging as her mouth zagged, performing a seesaw motion that drove Curt absolutely wild for the moments she performed. Curt used to ask if she wanted to taste it, but at this point they had been lovers long enough that he knew she always did, so he gave her a split second worth of warning before delivering a giant blast of male fluids into the mouth of this 17-year-old seductress who had so infatuated him. Every moment that Courtney was not around Curt, he thought of himself as crazy to put his job and perhaps even his freedom on the line for this underage girl, but in these moments when they’re lovers, everything felt right even if it was incredibly wrong.
Courtney’s face rose from his crotch with a dribble of cum running down her chin that she wiped off. She made quick work of removing her blouse and then began undressing Curt. Curt groped her hips and ass one last time before working that tight leather off of Courtney’s lower body. It was never physically easy to remove Courtney’s tight leather outfits that turned Curt on so much, but after nearly three months of regularly molesting her, he had gotten his rhythm down and made reasonably fast work of it. He trusted Courtney fully when she insisted that she was on birth control, so he didn’t give it a second thought when she removed her panties and approached his still-erect cock with the oval inferno that was her moist vagina. In seconds, her body was atop his midsection and she perforated herself on his dick, then proceeded to maintain the penetration with manic thrusting motions, pleasuring herself to no end with his middle-aged manhood and knowing that she was providing just as much pleasure to him. She reached for a cigarette on the nightstand and flicked it to life in the kind of speedy motion that only comes from an experienced smoking pro.
Curt looked up admiringly at Courtney’s body as she rode him like a rodeo bronco. The gorgeous young face dragging from a freshly lit cigarette….the perky young breasts bouncing up and down along with the cigarette….the well-toned stomach and hips so aggressively working his body….it was all so surreal to him that a young girl of this caliber was regularly banging him. He never had a girl like Courtney even in his prime, and figured 20 years ago that his days of ever having a girl like her were in the past. And that made it that much more satisfying to be enjoying it now.
For her part, Courtney was looking down through her self-induced smoky haze at Curt. The average-looking middle-aged facial features….the thick coat of unflattering chest hair….the paunchy middle-aged stomach….it was surreal to her that she was so inexplicably attracted to this man. Whenever thoughts popped into her head that her forbidden relationship with Curt was nothing more than a thinly veiled release of sexual energy intended for her father, she forced herself to let those feeling pass and reminded herself that Curt looks nothing like her father. Still, the stealthy disguised eroticism in the way Curt looked at her when she smoked her cigarettes was a look that was all too familiar from the looks she got from her father ever since she started smoking as a young girl. Just as she was mentally connecting those dots, she became distracted as she begun to climax. The decibel level rose in the room as the fornication approached its end, so much so that Courtney missed the buzzing of her phone on Curt’s nightstand next to her cigarettes….with the “Mom” spelled out on the caller ID.
Meanwhile, back at Steve and Becky’s place, the after-dinner conversation pressed on, with eight people still seated at the kitchen table getting to know each other better. Cigarette smoke continued to be omnipresent, with five of them attending to a fairly steady diet of cigarettes. Lauren and Trevor were frequently chatting with each other but also immersing themselves in the conversation with the adults, as inquiries about their life stories were raised by their respective parents. At one point, Lauren pulled out another cigarette from her pack of Marlboro Lights 100s, and before Trevor even had the opportunity to get excited as he always did when Lauren was about to smoke a cigarette, she once again handed him her lighter in a reflexive motion. He had gotten used to lighting Lauren’s cigarettes for her in the past month, but the fact that she was now so boldly initiated the exchange felt a bit awkward for Trevor, knowing her parents were taking this in and quite likely connecting some dots, which they were. Lauren didn’t seem to be bothered with it at all though and welcomed her boyfriend’s light that brought her long, all-white cigarette to life.
As Trevor’s parents began grilling Lauren with questions about school, Trevor took the opportunity to watch his girlfriend smoke her cigarette. She sat there in his favorite smoking position, her right elbow resting on the edge of the table and holding her cigarette only inches from her face. It so perfectly captured her cusp-of-womanhood aura, a very innocent looking teenage girl giggling that adorable laugh of hers while indulging an adult pastime that she had really begun growing into in a major way. When Lauren took a drag, Trevor admired her form, thinking back to six weeks ago when Lauren first sat at their kitchen table in this same position the night he introduced her to his family. Her drags had grown deeper and more confident, while her ensuing exhales were more voluminous, which was no surprise as her cigarette consumption had noticeably soared since that first night. Lauren was still nowhere near the caliber of smoker as his sisters were, but she had come so far since that night six weeks ago and even further since that day on the dock at the lake when they met. As the smoke sputtered from Lauren’s mouth and nose in the form of talking exhales, Trevor could feel his pants rise and it was gonna be pure torture to have Lauren sitting right next to him for this entire afternoon with little hope of a return foray into the bedroom.
While Trevor was licking his chops admiring Lauren as she smoked, a more complicated series of observations was playing out a couple of seats over at the dinner table. Haylee’s parents had long ago given up keeping her away from her phone as they had done during the meal, and she was now sitting there ignoring everybody and incessantly texting back and forth with Grant, a smirk constantly splashed across her face. In addition to the smirk, an incessant chain of Camel Pink No. 9s could be seen dangling from her lips as she texted, stiffening between drags and going limp as she exhaled, getting removed from her mouth only every couple of minutes when she ashed and then snuggling in her lips again, with semiregular soft-core smoker’s coughs being the only noise she made. Sitting next to her and able to steal glances every few seconds, Brian was 90% disgusted by Haylee’s crude smoking display, but as the show went on, the other 10% of him was becoming increasingly intrigued, despite the fact that Haylee seemed cold, distant, and aloof, barely acknowledging him the whole time he sat there. As he glanced over, he couldn’t help but admire how the constant stream of cigarettes–never more than three minutes or so apart–were almost like a part of Haylee’s person, the stream of smoke she kept producing almost blending into her residual freckles, curly light brown hair, and gorgeous facial features. And the pink logo on her cigarette was a perfect match for her pink top that she wore so nicely that crested onto the pair of tight black leggings that framed her lower body which Brian was also getting a trace of prepubescent excitement for. Even though this girl ruined his Thanksgiving dinner and was responsible for his watery eyes, burning nostrils, and intensifying headache, this image was nonetheless gonna leave a lasting impression on him.
All of the Thanksgiving dinner time hijinks were briefly interrupted by an abrupt thwack at the front door.
“What the hell was that?” Steve asked rhetorically.
Becky responded, “Oh I bet it’s the newspaper. With all the Black Friday ads for tomorrow, the paper is extra thick. Let me go grab it.” Becky got up to walk to the front door to retrieve the paper, Marlboro Red hanging from her mouth as usual, and as she opened the door to pick it up, she noticed a shiny metal key on the ground that had a familiar look to it. Her eyebrow furled as she tried to figure out the key’s origin when a light appeared to go off in her mind. She hustled back on into the kitchen and sat next to Steve, whispering to him that she thinks this is Courtney’s key and that it looks like her key for the store at work. Steve nodded and concurred that this would be an excellent opportunity to check on the truth of Courtney’s story.
Becky excused herself again briefly to make a phone call, dialing Courtney’s cell phone and impatiently sitting through multiple rings before it went to voicemail. Courtney knew better than this, Becky thought to herself, knowing that if her mother was calling her, it was for good reason and that she’d better damn well pick up. She approached her husband to break the unfortunate news.
“Call her at the store,” Steve said as a back-up plan, really hoping his daughter wasn’t up to anything untoward but agreeing with his wife’s instinct that she well may be. Becky nodded and the family’s visitors were starting to pick up on the unsettled vibe in the room.
Becky did a quick search on her phone for the landline number of House of Leathers and then placed the call with an urgency in her eyes. The phone rang and rang in the empty store in the empty mall with no answer….and Becky had become visibly hotter than the cherry of her Marlboro Red, looking at Steve and announcing with frustration, “No answer here either!”
Craig and Michelle could tell the vibe had abruptly changed and when Becky got off the phone, they offered to leave so they could tend to their family issue. Steve and Becky thanked them for coming and offered to break bread again, but it was clear their minds were elsewhere.
“Let’s go to the mall and see what’s going on with that girl”, Becky said to Steve, eager to get to the bottom of the mystery and knowing she likely wouldn’t enjoy learning the truth, whatever it may be.
The four children at the table could tell the afternoon was coming apart too, and Trevor and Lauren saw their opportunity for an extended visit rapidly slipping away. Trevor knew he didn’t have a play here so he looked desperately at Lauren as she finished off the final drag of her cigarette, knowing it was in her hands to keep their day going. Lauren immediately picked up on it and looked towards her dad, knowing he’d be the easiest sell.
“Dad”, Lauren called out. “Do you mind if I stay with Trevor for a while? He can drive me home later.”
Craig and Michelle looked at each other with anticipation and then looked at Steve and Becky, who had other priorities but also had their doubts about leaving the horny young teens alone together. But as they looked at Haylee sitting there, they realized they wouldn’t be alone and figured she would be a needed buffer to keep anything inappropriate from happening.
“Pleease”, Lauren begged. “I won’t get to see him again for days!”
Craig got the blessing from Steve and Becky as they prepared to leave and nodded in approval towards Lauren, who perked up and squeezed Trevor’s hand. Trevor then took his hand and stroked Lauren’s leg in those tight white pants he’d been lusting for since they sat down, knowing the line of vision of his elders camouflaged the view. As Brian got up and followed his parents out the door, with a flustered Steve and Becky following, Trevor looked at Lauren with naughty eyes, knowing that with Haylee there or not, that leg stroke he just sneaked in was definitely not gonna be the last opportunity he’d take to get physical with his girlfriend that Thanksgiving.
Haylee was oblivious to her brother and his girlfriend’s situation as she was also thinking of Courtney, sympathizing with whatever she was about to get busted for and knowing that it was probably something that could get herself in trouble over one day. Recognizing this, she switched the ID on her cell phone from Grant to Courtney. She lit yet another Camel Pink No. 9 and let it dangle from her lips like those before as she began to type out a warning message to her older sister.
Across town, Courtney laid in Curt’s arms after their intense round of copulation, sweat covering their faces and Courtney indulging in a heavenly postcoital cigarette and burrowing her face into his chubby and hairy chest while exhaling plumes of smoke that got lost in it. Their playful banter continued until Courtney’s buzzing phone got their attention. Courtney may have missed the buzzing phone in the climax of their intercourse, but in the quiet aftermath she certainly heard it. She casually reached over to pick up the phone, the relaxed and satisfied look splashed all over her face rapidly dissipating as she read the message.
“Oh my God!!” Courtney shouted, snapping upright off of Curt’s chest. “It’s my sister. My parents know I’m not at the store and are driving to the mall to prove it!”
“How??!” Curt fired back, becoming very concerned himself about the implications if their sordid love affair were to come out.
“Long story…..” a shaken Courtney began following by a pause, “…..I lost my spare key for the store, my parents found it, and now they’re on the way to the mall.” She looked at him with desperation in her eyes. “I gotta get to the store! Like right now!”
Curt concurred as Courtney’s naked body shot up of the bed. He helped her get dressed as quickly as the possible, the cigarette dangling from her mouth as she put her bra and panties on as well as her blouse. Curt was all too happy to help Courtney back into those tight leather pants. She jumped onto the bed, bouncing up and down to get the pants to fit right with Curt’s assistance, zipping and buckling them on after the pants crested her shapely hips. Courtney raced for the door, once again entering the hallway of his apartment with cigarette in hand. Not that long ago, Courtney bringing her cigarette into his apartment was Curt’s biggest fear. But he had much bigger concerns now, hoping Courtney could make it to the mall before her parents did.
Courtney climbed into her car and peeled out, brushing her sex-tussled hair frantically with one hand while holding the wheel in the other and dangling a cigarette from her mouth. She was fortunate to be closer to the mall than her parents’ place, but had no idea how much of a head start they had. In another 10 minutes, she’d know for sure, for better or for worse.
Back at the McPherson home, Haylee retreated to her bedroom, continuing to text Grant but eagerly awaiting feedback from Courtney to see if her sister had dodged the parental bullet train coming her way.
But on the couch in the living room, a much more active scene was playing out with Lauren sitting on Trevor’s lap, indulging in a heavy makeout session. Per Trevor’s request, Lauren put that leather jacket he liked so much back on and his hands were going wild moving from her leather jacket to her white pants, feeling up every curve on her young body as she similarly moved her free hand along his body, but being carefully not to burn him with the smoldering cigarette in her other hand. They pulled apart from their lengthy open-mouth kiss and Lauren took a huge drag from her cigarette, pulling closer to blow the smoke into Trevor’s mouth. He accepted her smoke, and coughed as he inhaled it, temporarily interrupting their makeout session as his body wasn’t used to inhaling smoke directly. Lauren giggled as the smoke spilled from his mouth and nose and he coughed a few more times.
“You gonna be okay there?” she asked sweetly, trying not to be emasculating although having a hard time not projecting some pride that Trevor couldn’t handle the smoke he loves so much coming from her.
“I’m gonna be way better than okay!” Trevor reassured her as he regained control of his respiratory system.
Lauren bit her lower lip while staring into his eyes lovingly, her persistent tell for being on the cusp of serious arousal. Their young bodies were on fire with desire, and they couldn’t let this opportunity pass.
Moments later, Haylee heard a knock on her bedroom door. She told the visitor to come in and Lauren opened the door. Haylee barely looked up from her phone as she continued texting grant, Lauren got the awkward duty of making the request, “We need a big favor from you Haylee.”
“What?” Haylee asked, finally triggering enough curiosity to raise her head from her phone to see Trevor and Lauren with their arms around each others’ waists looking impossibly frisky.
“Can you keep our secret for us?” Lauren added with clear embarrassment flashing her eyebrows at Trevor in a way that Haylee would know was a signal they were about to have sex.
“Ewwwww!” Haylee exclaimed with genuine disgust, and perhaps a touch of envy, at the thought of her brother having sex. With a half-smoked cigarette perched from her pouty early teen lips, Haylee nodded yes but added through a messy talking exhale “Hurry up though before mom and dad get home or I’ll be in more trouble than you two!”
The young couple looked at each other even more excitedly before Trevor chimed in with “Thank you so much, Haylee!” before closing the door to leave Haylee to herself.
It was a short trip one door down to Trevor’s bedroom and the young couple wasted no time disrobing each other, with Trevor having fun removing Lauren’s leather jacket and that tight pair of white pants he loved so much on her, revealing her nubile young body in bra and panties for only the second time that he was able to thoroughly enjoy. They consummated their relationship in Trevor’s parents’ bed a month earlier, and had messed around a little since then, but found that the backseat of Trevor’s car was less than ideal for sexual activity, and both had bruises trying to navigate around the sharp buckles from the seatbelts poking out of the backseat. This would be the first time they’d be able to make love again in the comfort of a bed.
After Lauren removed Trevor’s clothes and his shorts, she did the honors of putting the condom on his hard cock, while Trevor returned the favor by lighting Lauren’s cigarette, knowing that adding smoking to the sex for the first time would make the experience that much more enriching. They both knew time was of the essence and couldn’t wait any longer anyway, so Lauren foisted her naked lower body on Trevor’s and took the “top bunk”, lavishing the feeling of vaginal penetration from above. Trevor did all the work their previous times but was getting into the new position, watching from below as Lauren indulged in her two biggest pleasures at the same time…..cigarettes and sex. Lauren’s impassioned moans grew louder as Trevor hollowed her out, and the girl Trevor found so impossibly sweet and innocent took on an entirely different look atop him yet still evoked that same trademark Lauren Nelson innocence, squealing with pleasure as her boobs bounced up and down. From his current angle, Trevor definitely noticed that Lauren’s boobs were bigger now than they were that first day he saw her on the lake in her bikini top. And as he savored the physical pleasure, Trevor’s daydream resumed where Lauren left off…on that day in Bemidji where they met It was a magical day, and a gift that has just kept on giving ever since. As for Lauren, she looked down to Trevor with only one thought on her mind…..that she’s soon gonna need to have a very tough talk with her mom about getting her on birth control.
Next door, Haylee grumbled at the sound of Lauren’s loud moans as she fucked Haylee’s brother. She was still texting Grant, and without any additional context, messaged him that “Trevor owes me big after the favor I just did for him!”
Steve and Becky peeled into the mostly empty lot of the Willow Creek Mall. They knew where House of Leathers was in the mall and where the back entrance was….and they were headed for it like heat-seeking missiles as they parked their car. In seconds they were at the employee-only back entrance for House of Leathers and Becky began pounding on the door with her right hand while furiously smoking away at her Marlboro Red with her left hand. After about 30 seconds of pounding, a familiar face they didn’t expect to see opened it
Courtney put forth an Academy Award-worthy acting performance pretending to be surprised and shocked by her parents’ presence. “What are you guys doing here?” she asked, doing her best to hide the breathlessness in her smoked-out lungs after sprinting into the store only a couple of minutes earlier.
Relieved but still angry, Becky fired back with “Why the hell didn’t you answer your phone when we called?!” in her raspy long-time smoker’s voice.
Courtney’s put-on umbrage continued to be convincing as she snarkily responded, “Because I was worrrrking!” then pausing to add, “What the hell did you think I was doing?”
Steve chimed in this time with “Wait…why didn’t you call or text back? It’s been like 25 minutes since we called.”
“I didn’t hear it”, said Courtney. “I must have set down my phone somewhere while I was working”. She then casually peered to the table in the break room where she was standing. “Here’s my phone,” she pointed, walking over to the table where she had only moments ago set the phone. “I got busy working and forgot to take it with me back into the store.”
Becky and Steve were nowhere near convinced, with Becky taking the lead for the follow-up question. “We called the store too, Courtney….on their landline. You didn’t pick up there either.”
Thankfully Haylee had given Courtney the heads-up that they called the store too, so she had an alibi at the ready for this one too, again pretending to be offended at their doubting her. “I’m sure I was unloading the truck when you called. We got the shipment in that I came to work in the first place today to unload about 20 minutes ago. I had more to do than just wait by the phone on a day we’re closed just in case you guys want to call to check up on me! I mean, what were you guys calling about anyway?”
Steve and Becky continued to track her body language, not buying this perfect little yarn she was weaving, and still having one unsettled matter to potentially hang her up with. “We called because of this,” Becky answered, pulling the key she found at the doorstep out of her purse and showing Courtney. “Isn’t this your key for the store? How’d you get in without it?”
Courtney was again prepared, lying through her teeth to respond, “Yeah that’s my back-up key. My primary key is still in my purse. Wanna see?!??!” she said exasperatedly, sensing their frustration at not being able to crack her. Steve and Becky followed her into the store as she approached her purse, pulling out the store key that she had gotten from Curt before leaving his apartment.
Steve and Becky were quickly coming to grips with the fact that they had nothing, even though every instinct in both of their bodies convinced them she was covering something up. Steve took one final swing, asking her “Didn’t you say your boss was supposed to be here today too?” inadvertently stumbling upon the source of the deception.
“He was. He came to help me unload the truck but has Thanksgiving with his family so he left me to set up the new stuff on the displays.” She paused for dramatic effect before snapping back with “Any moooore questions?!”
Steve and Becky admitted defeat and were forced to eat crow, consoling an agitated Courtney with “we only do this because we love you” consolations and suggesting the entire incident be forgotten and that Thanksgiving leftovers would be waiting for her when she got home.
Courtney milked their conciliatory tone for everything she possibly could, talking them out the door as quickly as possible because “I still have work to do”, even though the work was entirely invented and nonexistent. As Steve and Becky walked out the door towards their car, Courtney closed the back door and sighed with sweet relief. She wasn’t supposed to smoke in the backroom but Curt always let her get away with it, so she fired up a cigarette, taking an immense drag and letting out a titanic exhale consistent with her emotional relief. She then picked up her cell phone that she planted on the back room table and began texting Curt, “Crisis averted! My parents bought the story!” As relieved as she was, Courtney knew Curt had more on the line and was even more relieved to be on the receiving end of that message.
Several hours later, it was late evening in the McPherson home, after Thanksgiving leftovers had been feasted on with the family beginning to wind down. Steve and Becky were watching TV but the kids were in their respective bedrooms. Trevor approached Haylee’s door and knocked on it. After she welcomed him in, Trevor expressed his gratitude.
“Haylee, thanks for covering me today. It means a lot.” Trevor offered while looking at his sexy sister smoking another freshly lit Camel Pink No. 9.
Just as Haylee was about to respond, Courtney peeked in behind Trevor with her own appreciation. “You really saved my butt today, kid. I owe you big-time”, Courtney said with a smile, failing to offer additional context for what Haylee saved her from and trusting Trevor wouldn’t inquire further either.
Haylee sat up in the bed confidently before responding with “Oh don’t worry!” pausing for dramatic effect and taking an intense drag from her cigarette, “You two will be returning the favors very soon!” with wisps of smoke slipping out of her mouth and nose before forming an O with her mouth and exhaling an intentional blast of smoke in a straight-forward jet that emptied out the contents of her black lungs, her demeanor taking on the aura of a mob boss who had some lowly shopkeepers right where he wanted them.
Courtney and Trevor looked at each other with confusion, unsure what Haylee meant but figuring it probably was related to the boy she’d spent the entire Thanksgiving afternoon texting.