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 developed.
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 counter.
"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 well.
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 the change.
"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 anything else.
"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 life."
"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 her mind.
"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 day.
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 battle.
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 interview.
"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 repeated.
"I guess the only thing to ask would be when do I start?" she lied as she forced the more inappropriate questions from her head.
"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 photos."
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 well.
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 you today?"
"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 wanted.
"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 liar.
"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 you that."
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 seven.
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 blown tire.
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 garage.
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 drawer.
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 the owner."
"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 tomorrow."
"If that's a problem for you, I'll take care of it," Nicholas offered.
"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 them."
"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 tomorrow.
"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 flustered look.
"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 teenager smiled.
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 up."
"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 missed them.
"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 right now.
"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 final pose.
"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 meet someone.
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 particular expertise."
"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 counter.
"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 presence.
"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 camera.
"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 as Samantha?"
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 responded.
"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."