Stepping into the building vestibule, Stephanie Morgan shook the water from her umbrella. It had only been a little over two block walk from the bus stop, but she had gotten soaked nevertheless. Opening her raincoat, the 24 year old blond made an attempt to shake that dry as well.
It had been bad luck that her brother Jerry's car had picked tonight of all nights not to start up. He had promised to drop her off at her friend Rachel's new apartment. No matter, she reluctantly concluded, at least she was here now.
"Let's see," she mused as she ran her finger across the row of intercom buttons. "Alexander ... Markham ... Ford ... here it is, Lieberman, 5B"
It took a few moments to get a response, then a semi-distorted voice filtered through the speaker.
"Hello?" the female voice asked.
"Rachel, it's me Stef." she replied.
"Come on up," Rachel said as the buzzer sounded and the inner door unlocked. "I'm in the shower."
"She's in the shower?" Stephanie laughed as she glanced back out into the rain covered street.
As she walked up the stairs to the fifth floor apartment, Stephanie couldn't help but envy her girlfriends new accommodations. To someone still living at home, the small apartment complex might as well been a palace. There was no way the salesgirl could afford a place like this on her salary.
Of course Rachel really couldn't afford a place like this on her salary either. The building was owned by Martin Lieberman, who when asked by his widowed sister-in-law to help her daughter find an apartment was more than happy to find her this one. It was a small thing to make a woman he'd admired for years happy. Besides, having his niece living here assured him an honest pair of eyes to watch over his investment.
Reaching the fifth floor of the small apartment building, Stephanie found that there were some limits to Mr. Lieberman's generosity after all. Apartment 5B was a small studio apartment, one of three on the top floor. Trying the door, she found it unlocked and stepped inside.
"Rachel," the blue eyed blond called out as she closed the door behind her.
"I'm in here, Stef," came a reply from the bathroom, a voice much more recognizable than the one that had come over the intercom. "Make yourself comfortable and I'll be out in a few minutes."
Hanging her coat, on the rack by the door, Stephanie checked the short red dress she was wearing. It was a little damp but otherwise okay. She had gotten home late and didn't have time to change clothes.
As she waited, Stephanie took in her surroundings. The apartment might be small, but it had a certain charm. The first feature she noticed were large twin skylights in the ceiling. The soft patter of rain could be heard against them. On a clear day or night, they would give a nice natural light to the room.
On the far left, a large bay window also added to the natural light. The view beyond it was nothing special, but it was a nice feature. A kitchenette over by the bathroom entrance consisted of a small refrigerator, a stovetop and microwave. And of course a kitchen sink.
There really wasn't much in the way of decoration on the walls, but then Rachel had only been living there a few weeks. The center of the room was dominated by a large green oversized U-shaped sofa. In addition to the deep cushions, it was covered with equally plush and oversized pillows. Rachel had mentioned to her that she used the sofa in place of a bed.
At the open end of the couch was one of those small self-assembly entertainment centers, the bottom of which was filled with her friend's old stereo system. What was new was the large 35-inch color television, a housewarming gift from Rachel's grandmother. The couch had been one from her mother.
On both sides of the television were some framed photographs. One brought a smile to Stephanie's face. The 5 x 7 picture was very familiar to the 24 year old. A smaller version was stuck in the mirror frame in her own bedroom. The picture had been taken last summer at the Oakdale Mall Talent Show.
Centered in the picture was Rachel of course. She always had to be the center of attention. To her right was Stephanie herself. That was when her hair had been down to her shoulders, rather than the short curly look she now wore.
To Rachel's left was a much smaller girl, whose mixed Philippine, Chinese and Spanish heritage had given her a soft brown complexion. Her very short black hair and unisex features gave her an androgynous look. In fact, if it wasn't for the small mounds protruding from her chest, she might've been mistaken for a teenage boy. Her name was Annie Liu, but everyone called her Penny. Despite her teenage looks, she was 20 years old.
The last member of the quartet was a tall black woman standing just behind and to the left of Rachel. Five foot ten, she stood half a head taller than any of the others, more than that in the case of Penny's five two. Her skin was ebony black, a sharp contrast to both Rachel and Stephanie. Most men first noticed her somewhat ample bust. In the case of women it was her jet black hair which she usually wore in an elaborate design. At 26, Pamela Wilson was the oldest member of their little band.
All four women worked at the Oakdale Mall. Rachel was a medical assistant. Stephanie was a sales representative at one of the large department stores. Penny worked at her Uncle's restaurant. She was also a college student. Pamela was the associate manager of an office supply store.
Despite their differences in ages and backgrounds, they had all become friends over countless shared lunches. Soon their friendships had extended beyond work. The picture had captured one of the highlights of that friendship. Billing themselves as the Four Musketeers, so named because those were the only costumes they could find, they had entered the talent show as a singing group. It was more fun than hard work and the money went to charity. To their surprise, they finished in second place. Since then they still jokingly referred to themselves as the Four Musketeers.
"We'd have gotten first," Stephanie thought as she replaced the picture on the entertainment center. "If we paraded around half naked like Judy Peterman. The judges were more impressed by her big nipples sticking through her blouse than her singing."
"Any sign of the rain letting up?" Rachel asked as she walked out of the bathroom.
"No, it looks like tonight's a total washout." Stephanie replied as she turned around at the sound of her voice.
"A pity." Rachel commented as she walked over to Stephanie and kissed her on the cheek as a friendly hello.
Covered only by a large bath towel that she had wrapped around herself, Rachel walked over to a large dresser that lined the far wall, still drying her hair as she walked.
"It really sucks that it had to rain tonight." Rachel said, pulling a pair of panties and an oversized T-shirt from the top drawer. "I was looking forward to that concert."
The original plan for the evening was for a girls' night out. One of their favorite local bands was holding an open air concert in Marshall Park. They'd planned to take dinner, a couple of blankets, and a few bottles of wine out to enjoy the music. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas. So rather than let the night go to waste, they had decided to have a girls' night in instead.
"Penny and Pamela are picking up the food." Rachel said as she unwrapped the towel from around her and let it fall to the floor. "I'm not sure what they're getting, but knowing Pamela it's sure to be something interesting." she added as she stood there nude as the day she was born.
"I guess so." Stephanie replied in an strained tone.
Silly as she knew it was, Stephanie felt it a little strange for her friend to be standing nude in front of her as they continued their conversation. It wasn't of course the first time she'd seen Rachel naked. They'd gone to the beach many times, as well as clothes shopping both together and as part of the group. They'd shared dressing rooms many times, but somehow it now seemed different — somewhat out of context maybe, standing naked in the living room. Then she reminded herself that this was also Rachel's bedroom, a place where it was perfectly natural for her to be nude.
Stephanie also considered that she felt uncomfortable because when they'd first met, Rachel and she had almost the same physical build, the main difference being Rachel's darker brown hair and slightly larger breasts. That difference had grown to more than a few pounds of extra weight on Stephanie. Despite assurances from many of her friends that she looked better with the extra weight, which was still within the norm for her size, she always felt self-conscious about it. It was an outgrowth of her teen years when she had actually been overweight.
It didn't take Rachel long to put on the pair of panties and the T-shirt she had taken out. Since she was home and not planning to go out, she didn't see the need for anything more. With her breasts still a little damp, Rachel's much darker nipples clearly showed through the thin cotton.
"Judy Peterman would've been proud." Stephanie thought with a laugh as her discomfort passed.
Fifteen minutes passed as the two of them sat on the couch and chatted. They had seen each other that morning so it was more a matter of killing time until the others showed up than anything else.
"Oh by the way," Rachel said, "Remind me to give you keys to get in here before you leave. That way you can let yourself in the next time you come over. I've got one for Penny too and I've already given one to Pamela."
"Okay," Stephanie answered.
.... There is more of this story ...