Ocak 31, 2021

A Costume Built for Two

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This is my entry for the 2019 Halloween contest. I hope you’ll enjoy this, and all the other stories the writers of this site have produced for your entertainment and pleasure. Thoughtful feedback is always welcome, and please be sure to vote.

*

“Ready, James?”

Becca’s face, normally the sort of café au lait confection a man could happily drown in, appeared almost unrecognizable under the heavy stage makeup. For her alien character’s complexion, she had chosen a palette of emerald and sapphire, with specks of brown and cream. It looked fantastic: remote, regal, imperious, with just the right touch of treacherous to seal the deal. A pair of fangs took her smile from dazzling to dangerous. And the costume! Skin-tight latex matched the makeup, then blended into the well-engineered torso, legs and tail she had spent weeks designing, refining and finally building, the latter with my help. Just looking at her made my heart pound with equal parts lust and fear.

“Ready as I’ll ever be!”

She smiled, and one fang glinted as her shiny chest rose and fell. My heart raced, while down below, I felt a familiar stirring. I sternly told it to stop; this was not the time to get a raging hard on.

“Then get in. We have a contest to win!”

She held up her skirts and I crawled in, passing her luscious legs and settling into the space behind them, reaching up for the handholds I had installed yesterday. Groping for them in the darkness, I couldn’t see very well, but I could just make out a hazy white shape. When I identified it, I instinctively tried to straighten up, instead crashing into the costume’s wooden spine.

“Damn!” I winced and rubbed my head.

“You OK in there?”

I cut to the chase. “You’re not wearing the rest of your costume?” I tried to sound casual, like the sight of her nearly naked butt was nothing special, but it came out as more of a squeak.

The costume vibrated with her trademark silent laugh.

“This thing’s hot as hell,” she called. “We never rehearsed with the skirt, so I didn’t know. It traps the heat, so I took off everything I could from the waist down. Nobody can see that part anyway. You don’t mind, do you? I mean, I can put the leggings back on if it bothers you.”

“No. No, you don’t have to do that,” I reassured her. “But you’re right about the heat.” It was hot. Two minutes in, and I was already sweating. My vision blurred and I swayed suddenly. “Wait a sec. I need to get out.”

The heavy skirt fabric lifted and I crawled back out, averting my eyes from her flawless curves on the theory that if I didn’t look, I wouldn’t touch.

I stood up, feeling better in the cool air, and she gave me a sharp look.

“Your face is flushed and you’re sweaty. We’d better get you out of those heavy jeans. The shirt needs to go, too.”

I glanced around to see the other competitors watching us. Without a doubt, we had the most spectacular costume, but as sophomores, we weren’t exactly Mr. and Ms. Popular on campus. The contest, which had a heavy bias towards well-known and well-liked seniors, definitely remained up for grabs.

Grabs. Bad choice of words, given my nearness to two of the world’s most delightful C-cups. The iridescent latex enhanced their every quiver. I desperately wanted to grab them, and the rest of Becca, and have my way with her, right now.

As if she could read my thoughts, her brown eyes twinkled amidst the greens and blues of her makeup. My face reddened even more as I pondered how perfectly each of us suited our current roles.

Becca reigned as the alien queen. I brought up the rear as the alien queen’s ass.

**

I had first seen Becca the day after arriving on campus freshman year. Citing the ungodly cost of an airline ticket, my father had driven me the 500 miles from Maryland to Massachusetts, grumbling about traffic on the Jersey Turnpike and the tolls, but otherwise keeping to himself before decanting me and my few possessions into my dorm room and giving me an awkward hug goodbye. After the emotional chill of the 9-hour drive (not to mention the previous 18 years), I felt primed to meet someone passionate, outspoken and, if I hit it lucky, twice as alive as anyone else I had ever known.

Enter Becca.

Our small liberal arts college had retained the custom of making everyone come to the student union to sign up for clubs, sports and extra-curriculars. In theory, this would break the ice and allow us to meet each other in person, the way nature intended, as far as the college’s board of well-intentioned old white men could see. In practice, we all had to plunge into a seething mob of overstimulated, hormone-addled knuckleheads and hope we could find some activity, anything, that would enable us to meet attractive people and eventually get laid.

Even in that crowd, she stood out. She moved like a dancer who also did mixed martial arts — feminine, graceful and powerful. Somehow, people parted automatically to allow her to pass. Once I spotted her, I stopped cold, bahis firmaları holding my breath, taking in her serene smile, her shining dark hair, her air that she had the right to move freely even as chaos swirled around her.

She caught my eye briefly and her smile widened, drawing a line between us. Yes, it’s all silly, her expression acknowledged. You and I know that, even if nobody else sees it.

I fell in love right there, even as the crowd swallowed her up. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the scrums, eager to catch another glimpse of my girl and maybe see which clubs and activities interested her.

After several long minutes of having my feet trampled and my ribs elbowed, I popped out of the throng and almost tripped over her.

“Sorry,” I said, breathless at getting so close to her.

“No worries,” she answered, retaining that sense of amused detachment I had noticed. “I’m just happy you didn’t actually fall on me.”

“I never fall on a girl until we’ve been introduced.”

She stuck out her hand.

“Becca Pearson.”

I grasped it, admiring her delicate bone structure and flawless light brown skin.

“I’m James. James Sanderson.”

“Pleased to meet you,” she replied.

“Now can I fall on you?”

“Bad idea.” Her eyes sparkled. “I don’t allow boys to fall on me until I’ve invited them to do so.”

“Very smart of you. Some boys might try to take advantage.”

“Any boy who tries that will regret it.”

“Black belt?” I guessed.

“In three disciplines. My father raised his little girls to defend themselves against naughty boys.”

“Very smart of him.”

She dimpled.

“He was a naughty boy himself once. He knows what men are capable of.”

“Some of us do have morals, you know.”

She nodded. “And some of you don’t. The trouble is figuring out which is which.”

I bowed. “Mademoiselle Pearson, I promise not to fall on you without your express permission.”

She laughed.

“Good to know. Now, what are you signing up for?”

“Haven’t decided. I’ve played tennis and soccer. They’re OK. I used to play the clarinet until my band director asked me not to anymore. So music is probably out.”

“Hmm.” She gave me a careful once-over. “You seem strong, and your hands look like you know how to use them.”

“All the ladies say so.”

“Ha. I meant you look like you’ve done manual labor.”

“Good eye.” I raised my hand, palm facing her, so she could see it better. “I worked construction this summer. Mostly hauling lumber and pounding nails, but I do some carpentry work too.”

She regarded me for a moment. I’m not sure what she was looking for. I mean, I’m a fairly average guy in a lot of ways. An inch or so under six feet, sandy hair that turns reddish in the winter, blue eyes, strong but not bulky. I’m Scottish on my mom’s side, and it shows.

“Have you ever thought about theater?”

I laughed.

“I can’t act my way out of a paper bag. Why would I do theater?”

“A lot happens in theater that has nothing to do with acting. Lighting, sound, set and prop design, construction. I do costume design, myself. It’s fun. You should try it if you don’t have anything else burning inside you. You might like it. God knows we need competent carpenters. And if you can do creative work, maybe we can work together. I have some designs in my head that need someone who knows how to build stuff.”

I imagined nights spent working closely together, perhaps getting closer still in those intriguing empty spaces backstage. I nodded.

“Why not?”

“Great!” She grabbed me by the wrist and led me to a table. Its signup sheet had about 20 signatures, with plenty of spaces left. I wrote my name with a flourish and turned back to Becca. She was looking past me and waving.

A nice-looking guy — OK, he could have been a model, dammit, or maybe minor nobility — emerged from the crowd.

“Richard,” she said, taking him by the hand in a way that made my heart sink, “this is James. He’s a carpenter.”

“Cool.” Like Becca, he seemed unaffected by the miasma of hope and hormones around us. “Good to meet you.”

Becca twined her arm with his, and all hope within me died.

“Do you design costumes or build sets?” I asked, making a valiant effort not to punch Richard in one perfectly shaped eye.

“Oh no,” he replied. “I direct.”

Of course you do, I thought. Director Dick. How appropriate.

Becca looked up at him, proud of her man.

“Great,” I said without enthusiasm. “Well, see you backstage.”

“I’m so glad we met you,” Becca said, apparently not noticing my sudden chill. “It’ll be a great semester!”

“Sure,” I replied, and melted back into the throng.

**

Despite my defeat at the hands of Director Dick, I enjoyed getting involved with the theater people. Their dramatic antics, on and off the stage, always entertained me, and I liked becoming known as that dependable guy who could build anything. I had never kaçak iddaa stood out in music or sports, but in this world, I could contribute. It helped that my class schedule was heavy on math and physics. Manual labor gave my new life a balance it would have lacked otherwise.

I saw Becca all the time, and we slid into an easy relationship once I resigned myself to the friend zone. Her quicksilver mind worked so differently from mine that we wound up making a good team. We took long walks together, hammering out the details of a new design, arguing about possibilities, dreaming up new ways to dazzle the audience. She made me see the world in stunning new ways; I analyzed that beauty, breaking it down into components and showing her its structure. She supplied the creative vision; I brought that vision to reality.

By mutual unspoken agreement, we seldom mentioned Director Dick, but his ghost haunted me anyway. She and I could be discussing the price of paint and I would suddenly find myself imagining her skillful hands on him, her sculpted body pressed against his, her succulent mouth giving him the pleasure I craved for myself. And I could hardly avoid him at rehearsals, but he kept his remarks to me brief and businesslike. Wrapped up in his own magnificence, he didn’t seem to notice my distaste for him.

So by the time Emma Scarlotti started flirting with me after the January break, I welcomed the distraction.

Emma, a senior, had an eye for younger guys like me, as well as a certain reputation for initiating us into the mysteries of sex. Like Becca, she lived her life on her own terms, and hardly anyone sniggered about her extra-currics the way they did about some of the other young women and men. To know Emma — attractive, intelligent, talented, straightforward and highly sensual — was to accept her. I envied her that confidence, and felt flattered when her eye turned to me in January as we began preparing for the March one-act plays.

My duties tended to bring me to the theatre workshop earlier than the performers, so I didn’t expect her when I arrived to work on the set of a two-character romance that had some interesting lighting and design challenges. It called for prisms of light to illuminate the characters’ faces at one point, and I had a sack full of pendants and crystals so I could experiment with them and a key light.

“Hey James,” a cheery voice called out.

Startled, I dropped the bag as Emma emerged from the alcove that housed our stock of chairs.

“Uh, hey, Emma. Nice to see you. What brings you here?”

She wore a long crimson sweater that clung to her many curves and contrasted with her brown eyes and black curls in the best possible way. A black miniskirt and leather boots showed off her shapely legs, diverting my thoughts of lighting challenges to something a lot more primitive — and pleasurable.

“I heard you were working on the Valentine set. Richard just posted the casting assignments, and I’m the female lead. I wanted to see how it was going.”

“Oh. Well, um, I’m just getting started.” I bent down to gather the pieces of glittering glass back into the bag and she walked over to help. “I was planning to see if any of these would work in the prism scene.”

She smiled. “I loved that part when I read it. ‘Don’t move — there’s a rainbow on your face.’ So romantic.”

I smiled back. “I liked it too, and I want to do it justice. That’s why all the glass.” I rocked back on my heels, thinking. “As long as you’re here, would you help me out with that?”

“Of course. What do you need me to do?”

“I need you to sit in a chair and let me light you. Kinda boring for you, but it sure would help me.”

She blinked. Like Richard, she had reached a point in the theater program where other people did that kind of scut work, but she nodded.

“I live to serve.” Her sultry voice made me shiver, and her direct look pierced me all the way down to my suddenly alert cock.

“Cool,” I replied, trying to keep my mind on task. “Have a seat. It won’t take me long to get this up and running.”

“I like a man who can get it up in a hurry.”

I nearly dropped the bag again and turned to see her leaning back in the chair, relaxed and cheerful. She gave me a saucy wink and I laughed, entering into the spirit of the game.

“Then you’ll love me.”

“I’m sure I will. I love any man who makes me look good.”

“Luckily, that’s no problem at all, Beautiful.”

She rose from the chair and came over to me as I fiddled with a clamp and a piece of glass. “You talk a good game, Mr. Sanderson. But can you produce?”

“Miss Scarlotti, you will have to wait and see. But I make no promises I can’t keep.”

I grabbed the light and positioned it. Her hand, feather-light, brushed mine. I shivered and she chuckled, pleased with her effect on me.

“Neither do I.”

“That’s what I hear.”

She sat down once more, holding still so I could train the light on her. “Oh, really? Please tell me, what have kaçak bahis you heard about me?”

I felt my face get hot and busied myself with aligning the light and glass. “I hear you’re an excellent actress, and based on what I saw of you in Rent, that’s an understatement. You have contacts in New York, and you drive down there every two or three weeks to see new plays and meet people.”

“That’s right,” she agreed, surprised at my honest and non-flirty answer.

“I hear you like younger guys.” I paused. She crossed her legs and leaned forward. “I hear you’ve broken a lot of hearts, and on no account should I fall in love with you.”

“You’re a good listener.”

I gave her a brief smile. “I learn a lot that way.”

She sat still, enduring prism after prism, as I continued my experiments. Finally, she broke the silence.

“You work hard at this.”

“Of course. My goal is to make you look so beautiful so that nobody thinks to wonder how the effect was achieved.”

“Nobody should notice how the magic happens,” she agreed. “Anyway, I keep my ears open, too. Would you like to know what I’ve heard about one James Sanderson?”

I shot her a wary glance. “Maybe?”

Emma shook her head. “Nothing bad. Word is, you’re a dark horse, capable and brilliant. Your math professors love you, but also don’t quite know what to do with you. Your physics prof counted on you as a class leader. And your French professor wished you would speak up more so she could help you with your atrocious accent.”

I gawped at her. “How did you hear all this?”

“I have my sources,” she responded airily. “Your classmates think you’re OK, but most don’t know you very well because you keep to yourself so much. Half of them think you’re the next Einstein and half of them don’t have a clue. The only person you seem close to is Becca Pearson, but all she’ll say about you is that you’re a true original.”

She cocked her head, considering me.

“I don’t think you’re in danger of falling in love with me. I think you’re already in love with Becca.” I gasped and stood up straight, my heart pounding. “Don’t worry. I don’t think anyone else knows. You know actors — self-involved. If it doesn’t affect them, they barely notice.”

Despite myself, I nodded.

“Anyway, I don’t think your feelings for her are an obstacle to us spending some quality time together. You need a distraction from her and Richard. And I need someone to make my final semester special. Very special. And I think you just might be that man.”

She rose and came to my side. I turned to her, inhaling her musky scent, admiring her deep-set eyes, feeling her heat. She wasn’t Becca, but she was a damned sexy woman, and my body knew it.

“We’re both adults,” she continued. “Let’s see if we have any chemistry.”

My hand found its way to her waist and slid around to her back. I had to lean way down to kiss her — somehow, I had never noticed her lack of height — but all that trivia vanished the instant our lips met. That unexpected kiss should have felt awkward. Instead, it felt wonderful, natural, exactly right. Her soft body pressed against me and I ran my hands around her back and into her mop of silky curls. Her hands curved around my neck, holding me down where she could reach me. Her lips parted and we both moaned, grinding together urgently as the kiss gained speed and traction.

A door slammed somewhere nearby and I broke away, panting. We stepped back, faces flushed, grinning like lunatics, as the sound of chatter drifted back to us.

“I think we’re getting an A in chemistry,” I whispered.

“You should try for some extra credit anyway,” she murmured, smoothing her hair as she prepared to head to rehearsal. I grinned down at her, handing her my phone so she could give me her number.

“Absolutely. I always want to be teacher’s pet.”

She handed my phone back and patted my arm.

“You’re a good boy, James. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”

“I hope so.”

“I make no promises I can’t keep.” She winked at me, whirled on one toe, and walked out of my workshop. Beside me, the prisms glittered and winked, as if they knew something I didn’t.

**

It didn’t take long for Emma to stake her claim. At that Saturday’s meeting about the one-acts, she made a point of sitting next to me and touching me lightly on the wrist, arm and thigh — nothing inappropriate, but it kept my attention on her. Her message was clear to anyone paying attention.

At the break, she had hardly left when Becca charged over to me.

“I see you and Emma are friends now.”

“Yes. She’s really nice. I like her.”

“She’s playing you like she does everyone else.”

“Meow,” I replied. “Such sharp claws you have.”

“I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I can take care of myself. And I don’t need your help selecting a girlfriend.”

“But James — you’re such a wonderful guy. You deserve someone who adores you.”

Her large dark eyes pleaded with me to be sensible.

“Sometimes, it’s OK to be with someone who’s fun and sexy and smart, and not expect anything more than some good times with someone you really like. Not all of us find true love at 19.”

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