Relationships of Convenience, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 10 January 1998)


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    This story contains adult language and themes. If such language and themes
offend you, please do not read further. Copyright 1998 by SSTORYMAN. All
rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce this story in any form and
for any purpose as long as this notice is reproduced and no financial
remuneration is received, directly or indirectly, by the person reproducing
it.

    RELATIONSHIPS OF CONVENIENCE

    Part 1

    Brandi Johnston put down her book and looked at the clock. It was nine
thirty on a Thursday night. She stood and stretched. But she wasn't ready for
bed. Instead, she felt a familiar urge. She knew what she wanted, and she
wanted it now.

    Her sister Aimee wouldn't be home for awhile. Conservative, stuffy, old
Aimee, she sighed. She never broke the rules. But Brandi approached things
differently. In Brandi's mind, rules were made to be broken. And she was going
to break them - again.

    She'd have to be careful. She didn't want to get caught again. In the
kitchen she opened the cupboard with pots and pans. She reached inside. Her
fingers found a box of doughnuts. She carefully removed the box from its
hiding place.

    Brandi ran upstairs in the townhouse apartment. In the bathroom she turned
on the light and overhead fan. She closed and locked the door. She'd been
waiting all day to eat doughnuts, but she would wait no longer.

    She wasn't supposed to eat junk food. She felt guilty, but told herself
she deserved it. After all, she'd been home alone all evening while Aimee was
out with Bill.

    Upon opening the box her hands trembled with joy. She licked her lips,
waiting with eager anticipation. Brandi raised the first doughnut to her mouth
and began to eat.

   
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Brandi," shouted Aimee. "There's powdered sugar on the bathroom floor.
Have you been eating doughnuts again?"

    It was eleven o'clock. Brandi sat in the living room. Her mind raced. What
should she say? "No," she shouted back, though it was a lie.

    Aimee's blond head appeared in the doorway. "You're a liar. I can tell.
But you know you can't eat that stuff. It's bad for your diabetes. I suppose
there's another box of doughnuts hidden in the kitchen cabinet next to the
pots and pans?"

    Busted! She figured out where I keep them. Damn!

    Brandi chose to deny it. "I don't know what you're talking about," she
smiled.

    Aimee looked at Brandi. Aimee was 24, three years older than her 21 year
old sibling. Even so, they looked like twins. Both were tall and stunningly
good-looking at almost six feet tall. Both were slender. The same pretty,
dirty blond hair graced both heads. Aimee's hair was the longer of the two,
falling down over her shoulders and hanging perfectly straight. Brandi's hair
was short and curly, the result of a recent perm. But other than the hair, the
two were almost identical, except for the thing which was not evident to the
naked eye. Brandi suffered from insulin dependent diabetes for which she took
two insulin injections every day. Diagnosed during her senior year in high
school, Brandi was now supposed to watch her calories, matching her food
intake with her insulin shots. Doughnuts were not part of the regimen.

    From the beginning, Brandi had been indifferent to the rules of diabetes
care. It worried their mother when she was alive, and it still infuriated
Aimee. She didn't understand why Brandi bent the rules. Bent? She broke them
to pieces! Doughnuts were Brandi's special weakness.

    Aimee sighed. "How high was your blood test? You know you can't eat that
shit."

    Brandi returned a coy smile. "I love it when you talk dirty, Aimee. It
makes you almost human. It's so out of character!" she added condescendingly.

    "Don't change the subject," Aimee barked. "What was your blood test
tonight?"

    Brandi looked blank. "I forget," she mumbled.

    "Your AccuCheck monitor has a memory," Aimee said, starting up the stairs.
"I'll find out, assuming you did a test tonight."

    "I did a blood test," Brandi shouted as Aimee ascended the stairs. "But I
thought you'd be in a better mood after getting laid tonight. How is old Bill
as a lover, anyway?"

    Aimee returned. "Brandi, you're changing the subject again. But Bill is
not my lover. He and I merely have a relationship of convenience."

    "Yeah, it's great," jibed Brandi. "You don't even like the guy, but you
let him fuck you once or twice a week. Are you that desperate?"

    Aimee bristled. "I like Bill in a certain way. He and I have an
understanding. But you're right. The relationship is not romantic. This
relationship of convenience is all I want. But at least I'm getting laid. You
haven't been for months."

    Brandi offered no response. She was right. Previously the more sexually
active of the sisters, Brandi hadn't been laid for a long time. Too long. That
was a different problem.

    "But back to business," Aimee said. "According to the monitor, your blood
test tonight was 310. That's too high. Your sugar should be below 150. Normal
is between 80 and 120. You _have_ been eating doughnuts again. C'mon, admit
it. How many?"

    Brandi sighed. It was inevitable. "Three," she admitted. "I ate three."

    "Damn," Aimee exploded in anger. "You little bitch! I should spank you."
After a deep breath, she replaced the anger in her voice with compassion.
"Brandi, you're killing yourself. You've got to keep your sugars in the normal
range. Otherwise, you'll develop complications. I shouldn't have to tell you.
You could go blind. God, you could even die!"

    "At least I'll die happy," Brandi shot back. But she knew the long-term
health consequences of uncontrolled diabetes. These included infections and
cuts refusing to heal. Eventually, horrible consequences occurred like
neuropathy, kidney failure and retinopathy. Diabetes is also a leading cause
of blindness. Brandi knew all that.

    "Okay," Brandi finally admitted. "I can't help it. I go crazy at home
alone. I want to eat. I want sweets. Ice cream, candy, cookies. Or doughnuts.
Especially doughnuts!" She started nervously pacing around the room. "I know
I'm killing myself, but I can't control it. I always eat what I shouldn't. I'm
stupid, I guess."

    It was hot and humid. The apartment's air conditioning was on the fritz.
From the couch Aimee watched Brandi pace. As Brandi stopped to look out the
open window, she wiped perspiration from her brow. She was upset.

    "You're not stupid," Aimee said with kindness in her voice. "It's just
that ."

    Aimee was interrupted by a shrill sound. "What the hell is that?" she
asked.

    Brandi looked out the window. "Our next door neighbor has a new puppy,"
she smiled. "I think he's walking the dog."

    "Oh," Aimee replied, glad for the brief interruption which distracted
Brandi from her self-condemnation. "You're not stupid," she repeated. "But you
need help." She smiled. "And I've got an idea."

    Brandi flinched. Aimee had a good heart, but sometimes she lacked common
sense.

    Brandi sighed. "What is it?"

    "Remember Mom's old friend, Judy Sargent?" Aimee asked.

    Brandi nodded and moved back into the kitchen. Judy Sargent was an old
friend of Mom's. She'd been a frequent visitor in their house until ... until
Mom died two years ago. Brandi hadn't seen Judy since the funeral. "Sure, I
remember Judy Sargent," she answered. "The single mom with the two bratty
kids. God, who could forget Mark and Heather, those two little brats you used
to baby-sit for? Yeah, I remember. Judy and Mom were good buddies."

    "We both liked Judy, right?"

    Brandi nodded. Yeah, Judy Sargent was cool. As Brandi remembered, Judy
Sargent was younger than Mom. She was Mom's neatest friend. Cute, loud-mouthed
and cynical, Judy was more "with it" than most of Mom's friends. She liked
crazy music and treated kids like equals. Brandi knew Judy'd lived a wild
life. In her thirties, she stopped drinking, thanks to AA. Before quitting,
alcohol cost Judy Sargent her marriage. But Brandi always thought she was
cool.

    "I liked Judy Sargent," Brandi said. "She was a neat lady. So what?"

    Aimee smiled. "Judy was a recovering alcoholic. I'm sure you also remember
that smoking was how she coped. Mom hated it, but smoking helped Judy handle
temptation. She never smoked 'til she attended AA. Then she stopped drinking
and smoked like a fiend."

    "Yeah," Brandi nodded, looking back at her sister. "So what?" she
repeated.

    "Don't you get it? I think you should take up smoking. It's oral
gratification, like eating. It would give you something to do instead of
eating doughnuts all the time."

    Brandi was incredulous, but Aimee continued. "You eat junk food, but it's
bad for you. Maybe if you smoked you could control your blood sugar better.
Smoking doesn't have calories." She paused. "What do you think?"

    "You're crazy," Brandi answered. "Smoking is bad for you. My doctor says
diabetics shouldn't smoke. It can make the complications of uncontrolled
diabetes worse. Besides, what if it didn't work? I'd wind up smoking and
eating junk food, too!"

    "But it worked for Judy Sargent," Aimee answered smugly. "She quit
drinking when she started smoking. She replaced one bad habit with another.
Think about it." She looked at her sister. "Brandi, you know how I feel about
smoking. Cigarettes are disgusting and smoking isn't good for you. I don't
like the smell, either. I wouldn't want you to smoke in the apartment. But we
could work something out. Your bedroom could be a smoking area. As disgusting
as it is, it's better than killing yourself with sweets and raising your blood
sugar through the roof!"

    Brandi shook her head and smiled ruefully. "Back in high school you made
fun of smokers. Remember Paige Sanderson? You dumped on her because she
smoked. No," she concluded. "I'm sorry. I can't. End of discussion. I should
control my eating, but not that way." She walked to the stairs. "I'm going to
bed. Let's not talk about this anymore."

    Aimee was crestfallen. Smoking was stupid, but it might be an alternative
for Brandi. It worked for Judy Sargent. Why couldn't it work for her sister?
Aimee sighed. When Brandi's mind was made up, she was immovable. Almost. Aimee
smiled. She had another idea.

   
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After work the next day Aimee dropped Brandi at home. It was Friday.
Brandi asked where she was going. Aimee lied. She said she was going to see
Bill. But she wasn't.

    By mentioning Bill, she stopped Brandi's inquiries. Brandi didn't like
Bill. She thought he took advantage of Aimee, using their relationship for
sex. Of course, Aimee was using Bill to get laid, too. But Brandi disapproved.
She didn't like the passionless nature of the relationship.

    A wicked smile crept over Aimee's face. What was wrong with using people
or things to accomplish your objectives? She liked getting laid, but didn't
like commitment. Bill helped accomplish her goal. She called these
relationships of convenience. You use what you need to get what you want. It
was a bit cold-blooded, but it was logical.

    Aimee believed smoking was a brilliant, if unorthodox, solution to
Brandi's over-eating problem. For some reason, Brandi had nixed it, and she
could be stubborn. Until Aimee had a chance to think more about it more
carefully, she didn't want Brandi to dwell on it. So when she dropped Brandi
off today, she told her to forget the whole thing. "You're right," Aimee had
admitted. "Smoking would be a dumb way to control your eating. Forget I
mentioned it." Aimee promised not to bring it up again. That part was true.
She didn't intend to bring it up again, at least not in the same way.

    She didn't want Brandi thinking about all the reasons why smoking was bad.
That would derail her entire plan before she finished designing it. She needed
another approach. Could she change Brandi's mind if she herself started
smoking? She wasn't sure. But she wanted to discuss the idea with Paige
Sanderson.

    Aimee and Paige were high school friends. Paige was Aimee's only friend
who smoked. Last night she called Paige, after Brandi went to bed, and asked
if she could stop over. As she parked in front of Paige's apartment, she took
a deep breath. She walked up and rang the bell.

    Paige opened the door. She was pretty and vivacious with a mischievous
smile. She never changed. She looked every bit as good as she ever had. Long,
yellow blond hair reached her waist. Aimee was sure it was bleached, but she
was still a knockout!

    Paige wasn't as tall as Aimee, but was well above-average at five foot
seven. She was slender, with a classic hourglass figure. That's what separated
Paige from the other girls. Her big tits and round ass turned heads wherever
she went. She worked during the day as a secretary. In the evenings she worked
two nights a week at Hooters. The long blond hair and big tits made her a
natural as a Hooters girl!

    Aimee had always been jealous of Paige because Paige got every guy she
wanted. She had the morals of an alley cat to match her stunning looks. She
was as loose as Aimee was uptight. But even so, they remained friends.

    "Hey, Aimee," Paige grinned. "Long time, no see. How're you doing?"

    "Fine," Aimee replied. "Are you busy? I really need to talk."

    "No problem, kid," Paige winked. "C'mon in."

    They walked into the apartment. Paige wore a skimpy halter top and short
shorts, which blatantly advertised her ample assets. The halter top was too
small; Paige's nipples poked through the fabric. She wore no bra. Her long
legs were tan and supple. Her long blond hair was in a pony tail. As always,
Paige looked great!

    Her apartment was another matter. Old newspapers and magazines were
everywhere. Empty pop cans, yesterday's clothes and overflowing ashtrays
filled the room. The room smelled of stale smoke. It was a disgusting sight.

    "Let me get you something to drink, Aimee," Paige began. She flipped her
blond pony tail over her shoulders. "Do you want beer or Diet Pepsi?"

    "Diet Pepsi would be great," Aimee replied.

    "Coming right up." Paige disappeared into the kitchen. She returned with
two cans of Diet Pepsi. She cleared several empty cans from the table and
motioned to Aimee to sit.

    "I'll drink beer later," she grinned. "I'm going out with a new guy
tonight. When he says 'Your place or mine, babe?' I'd better say, 'yours.'
Right?" She sighed. "I'm sorry this place is so trashed." She surveyed the
mess in her living room with an unapologetic smile.

    "Paige, you never change," Aimee grinned. She opened her Diet Pepsi.

    "You're right," Paige smiled. She cracked her can and took a sip. Then she
reached for a pack of cigarettes. "You don't mind if I smoke, do you?" she
asked. "I haven't had one since I got home." Without waiting, Paige placed a
cigarette between her lips.

    "No, of course not," Aimee smiled. "It's your apartment, Paige, for God's
sake."

    "Yeah, it is, isn't it?" Paige laughed, the cigarette dangling while she
readied her lighter. The flame brought her cigarette to life. Aimee watched
Paige take a long, hard drag. Quickly the smoke disappeared into her lungs.

    "Oh, God, that's better," Paige sighed. "Now, what's up, Aimee? It's not
like you to drop in on me." Bursts of smoke punctuated her words.

    "I need to talk, Paige. I need to talk about smoking."

    "Oh, no," Paige protested. "Don't go there, Aimee. We're not going to do
one of those 'I'm so concerned about you smoking' sessions. No fuckin' way!"

    "Relax," came the reply. "I'm not ragging on you. Quite the contrary.
Actually, I've been thinking about learning to smoke."

    Paige gasped. "What?" She eyed Aimee suspiciously while taking another
long drag. She sucked the smoke inside. "Are you shitting me? Why?" She
stopped and twin streams of smoke escaped from her nostrils. "You've always
been Miss Anti-Smoker, Aimee Johnston," she went on. "Is this a joke?"

    "No, it's no joke. Why are you suspicious? You smoke. You like smoking.
You always said so. Why is it strange that I might be interested?"

    Paige shook her head. "Because nobody these days is interested in smoking.
Not anymore. Smoking is taboo, especially with prim and proper girls like
you." She waited for an indication Aimee was joking. But Aimee was dead
serious.

    Paige shrugged. "I do love to smoke," she agreed. She held her cigarette
by her cheek as smoke drifted in front of her face. "If they'd let me smoke at
work, I'd smoke two packs a day." She stared. The interest on Aimee's pretty
face was clear. "God, you _are_ serious! Why?"

    Aimee explained about Brandi's uncontrollable eating, and how Brandi
couldn't stop. "I told Brandi she should consider smoking," Aimee concluded.
"Smoking doesn't have calories. By smoking instead of eating, she could keep
her blood sugar under better control."

    Paige knocked ashes from her cigarette into the ashtray. "I don't get it.
I thought you said _you_ were thinking about smoking?"

    Aimee nodded. "If I start smoking, eventually Brandi will, too. She
imitates everything I do. Getting her hair cut short and permed was the first
independent thing Brandi's done in years. She works with me, she lives with
me, she dresses like me. If I smoke, eventually she'll try it." Aimee smiled.
"I think it's a brilliant plan."

    "Maybe Brandi has already tried smoking," Paige noted. "She was in the
same class as Bette, my little sister. All Bette's friends smoked in high
school."

    "But I don't think Brandi did. She wouldn't have done it behind Mom's
back. In fact, she almost hit me last night when I suggested it. I don't think
she likes smoking."

    Paige took a long, last drag, inhaled, and crushed her cigarette in the
ashtray. "God, this is damn interesting. You're right about smoking and
eating." Smoke escaped from her lips as she talked. "I control my weight by
smoking," she giggled as she rubbed her tight abdomen. Her lips still released
wisps of smoke. "Shit, if I quit, I'd gain twenty pounds! Smoking could help
her. Lots of girls smoke to keep weight down. But Brandi's already skinny!"

    "Weight's not her problem because she's diabetic. She doesn't gain weight
when she overeats. Her body doesn't metabolize the extra food. But her blood
sugar level skyrockets and she gets ketoacidosis. High blood sugar is bad for
you. I know smoking is bad, too, but it can't be worse than what Brandi's
doing to herself now."

    Paige furrowed her brow. "What do you want? Do you want me to talk to
Brandi?"

    "No," Aimee replied. "I want you to teach me to smoke. Then I'll get
Brandi to try it. If I say I like it, she'll try it, too. It'll be worth it if
it helps her stop eating all the time!"

    Paige grinned, as if she knew a delicious secret. "But what about you?"
she asked innocently. "Will you keep smoking once you get Brandi to start?"

    Aimee shrugged. "I doubt it," she replied. "I don't want to smoke." She
paused. "I call these relationships of convenience. You do something, or put
up with something or someone, to get something else you want. If I learn to
smoke, it will only be a relationship of convenience. Like my relationship
with Bill. I can quit anytime. There's no commitment."

    Aimee didn't notice the insincerity as Paige nodded and answered. "Yes,
you're right," she smiled sweetly. "You can always quit. No problem."

    "Tell me," Aimee asking, leaning forward. "How long have you smoked? Why
did you start? What motivates someone to start smoking? I need to understand
to get Brandi started."

    Paige smiled. She shook another cigarette from her pack. Without looking
at Aimee, she pulled her long pony-tail behind her shoulders. She put the pack
on the table and slowly, thoughtfully, put the cigarette in her mouth. She lit
it immediately, still looking away. She took a long drag and inhaled. The
cigarette dangled from her lips, as she considered how to answer. Smoke slowly
escaped from her nostrils. Together with the smoke ascending from the tip of
the long white cigarette in her mouth, a wreath of luminescent glory circled
her head.

    For the first time, Aimee realized that smoking could be damn attractive!
With her long blond hair, her pretty face, and her big tits bulging out from
inside her tight halter top, accented by a freshly lit, long white cigarette
dangling from her beautiful mouth, Paige looked like a goddess with a smoky
wreath circling her head. Aimee reminded herself, however, that Paige looked
fabulous doing anything!

    "I started when I was 15," Paige began. The cigarette between her lips
bobbed as she talked. "That was nine years ago." She paused and took a drag,
finally removing the cigarette after filling her lungs. "I was dating Robby
Spriggs. He was 18 and he smoked. After awhile, I started, too." There was a
pregnant pause. Smoke streamed from Paige's nostrils in twin plumes.

    "My parents didn't know I was going out with Robby," she went on. "I was a
freshman and he was a senior. They would have said he was too old for me, and
too wild. So I told my folks I was hanging out with my girl friends. Robby
picked me up in his car at the school playground a few blocks from our house.
Usually we wound up parking and he'd get into my pants." She giggled. "After
we'd been out a few times, he asked me if I wanted a cigarette. I didn't want
to look like a nerd. I said, sure."

    "I'd never smoked before," she went on. "Right away I started coughing.
Robby thought it was funny. 'You've never smoked,' he said. 'Yes, I have,' I
said. 'It's just been awhile.' 'Let me help you,' he replied gently. He showed
me how to puff and, eventually, how to inhale, too. That's how it started.
After that, every time he had a cigarette he offered me one, too. At first I
only smoked with him to be cool. But that quickly changed."

    "What do you mean?" Aimee asked.

    Paige let smoke escape from her mouth as slowly as possible. "I started to
enjoy smoking. I began sneaking out with Robby more often. I told Mom I was
working longer shifts at the restaurant, 'til eleven. But I got off at nine
and Robby picked me up. We'd go out for a couple hours every night. At first,
it was just one cigarette a night, but pretty soon I wanted to smoke as often
as Robby did. He smoked three or four cigarettes, and so did I. On weekends we
went to parties with his older friends. I was only 15, but I wanted to be part
of the crowd. So I smoked and drank beer like everyone else."

    Paige smiled as she remembered. "I finally realized I was hooked. Before
long, I didn't just _want_ to smoke. I _needed_ to. I bummed four or five
every night. But it wasn't enough. If I didn't see Robby for a couple days,
I'd go crazy thinking about cigarettes. I finally asked him to buy me a pack
of my own. I tried to make it sound like no big deal. I said I might need a
cigarette sometime when he wasn't around. He laughed and said he'd take care
of it. The next day he gave me a carton of Marlboro Lights 100's. He'd bought
me a whole fuckin' carton! Ten packs! I thought it would take me a year to
smoke them. I remember his amused look. 'No, it won't,' he smiled. 'They'll be
gone before you know it.' He was right! I started smoking more every day.
Eventually my parents found out."

    "What happened?" Aimee asked. She'd known Paige throughout high school,
but had never heard this story. For some strange reason, it fascinated her.

    Paige smiled. "My parents smelled smoke on my clothes," she explained.
"One day my mom went through my chest of drawers. She found my cigarettes. She
fuckin' freaked out! She gave me a long lecture. She said smoking would kill
me, why was I so stupid, they couldn't trust me anymore, etc. It was a
disaster. I was sixteen years old, but she treated me like I was ten."

    "What did you do?"

    Paige tapped ashes in the ashtray and hit on her cigarette again. "I told
Mom I had no intention of quitting. I liked to smoke. Damn it, I'd smoke
whether or not she and Dad approved. She threatened to ground me. I didn't
care. I told her I'd just smoke at school with my friends. But I was not
quitting."

    Paige took a last drag before crushing her cigarette in the ashtray. "Mom
cried. She said she'd have to think about it. After a couple days she agreed
to let me smoke as long as I didn't smoke in the house or in public. I agreed
to her terms. But within three months she let me smoke on our back porch. Then
she let me smoke in my room. She just gave up. She knew she couldn't stop me.
I liked to smoke. It made me feel good." She smiled. "It still does."

    Paige lit another cigarette. After a long, leisurely first puff, she again
brushed back her blond hair, and slowly exhaled a tight stream of smoke toward
the ceiling.

    "By age 16, I was a smoker," she smiled. "It was funny. I never decided to
become a smoker. It just happened. Slowly but surely, over several months, I
was hooked."

    Paige sipped Diet Pepsi, holding her cigarette in the same hand. "My
parents still won't accept it. No one in my family had ever smoked before. The
funny thing is, my younger sister Bette eventually started smoking, too. That
really pissed 'em off."

    Aimee remembered Bette, who was a friend of Brandi's. Bette, like Paige,
was a blond beauty, the kind of girl men die for.

    Paige paused for another puff. The cherry end of the cigarette glowed
bright for several seconds. Aimee watched carefully as Paige removed the
cigarette from her lips and sucked the smoke into her lungs. She certainly
enjoys smoking, Aimee mused.

    "Bette was three years behind me in school," Paige went on, punctuating
her words with smoke bursts. "My senior year Bette and I drove to school
together in my car. It was fun to see Bette change as the year progressed.
Back when I'd first started smoking, Bette gave me shit. And when we first
started driving together, Bette complained about me smoking in the car. But
after awhile she stopped bitching. I thought she'd just accepted the
inevitable. But actually something much more interesting was going on."

    Paige tapped more ashes into the ashtray, took another drag, and inhaled.
Her ritual of smoking and talking was second nature.

    "Bette changed," she said, pausing to let a stream of smoke dribble into
the air. "She no longer insisted we open the windows so smoke could escape. I
cracked the driver's window, but now even on warm days Bette didn't open her
window. She seemed much more comfortable. And she started asking questions.
Did I like smoking? Did my friends smoke? That sort of thing. I guessed she
might be ready to try smoking. One morning I noticed some cigarettes were
missing from my pack. I confronted her. She turned white as a sheet. She
admitted she'd tried smoking. She'd figured she'd steal a few and I'd never
notice." Paige laughed. "She was wrong. I was waiting to catch her."

    Paige clearly enjoyed telling this story. Surprisingly, Aimee enjoyed it,
too. "What happened?" she asked.

    Paige finished the tale. "'I told her she was a hypocritical bitch. I
threatened to tell Mom as a pay-back for all the shit she'd given me. 'No,'
Bette begged. 'Please don't tell.' I agreed not to. But I had a plan, a really
nasty plan, to convert Bette into a smoker and get her hopelessly addicted. I
agreed not to turn her in, but only if she joined forces with me. 'You've got
to smoke with me in the car every day,' I said. 'You have to became a real
smoker.'"

    Aimee furrowed her brow. "Why did you care?"

    "Because smoking is more fun if there's someone else to smoke with," Paige
explained. "And as childish as it seems now, I wanted an ally against my
parents. I told Bette she had to smoke at least four cigarettes every day, two
on the way to school and two coming home. She agreed. She caught on real
quick. From then on we smoked together all the time. Right away I taught her
how to inhale. Then she started smoking with me at lunch and in the evenings
in my room. Within a week she was smoking half a pack a day. Eventually Mom
figured out what was going on, but by then it was too late."

    "My God," Aimee gasped. "You forced your little sister to smoke!"

    "Sort of," Paige giggled. "Aren't I awful? But Bette was a willing victim.
Remember, she'd already tried smoking. I just made sure she stuck with it.
God, did she! The only thing that irritated me was the little _bitch_ started
smoking Salems after awhile. Some of her school buddies introduced her to
menthols."

    "What's menthol? Aimee asked innocently.

    "God, don't you know?" Paige replied. "Cigarettes come in regular and
menthol. Menthol tastes cooler. Some people like them. I don't. I like the
regular tobacco taste."

    "Oh," Aimee nodded vaguely. "I understand."

    "It doesn't matter," Paige smiled. "The point is, Bette became a hard-core
smoker. Cigarettes are like that," she added dreamily. "Once you start, you
love smoking!"

    "But you're not sorry you started? Or that you got Bette started?"

    Paige thought. "No. I'm only sorry that people are so irritated about it.
I'm sorry that it's bad for us. And I'm sorry my parents don't like it. They
still won't accept it. But damn it, we're smokers. I like smoking. It's only
the shit we take that I don't like. Smoking itself is great!"

    Paige was finishing her third cigarette. She was smoking furiously now.
Talking about it seemed to make her want to chain smoke. Curious, Aimee
thought.

    Aimee took a deep breath. "Will you teach me to smoke, too?"

    "Sure," Paige replied with a wicked grin. "But do you know what you're
getting into?"

    Aimee shrugged. "If it's so great, it should be easy for Brandi to learn,
too."

    "Smoking will do wonders for Brandi," Paige said, still smiling. "But what
about you, Aimee? Do _you_ want to become a smoker?"

    Aimee hesitated. "It doesn't matter. It's a relationship of convenience.
Once Brandi starts, I'll quit." She shrugged. "There's no reason for me to
keep smoking once Brandi starts."

    Paige smiled. She crushed her cigarette in the overflowing ashtray. "Of
course."

    "But I'm encouraged to hear your sister's story," Aimee added. "I can do
the same thing with Brandi."

    Paige laughed. "Maybe. But I'd been smoking for awhile before I introduced
Bette. I was smoking a pack a day. I assume you've never smoked?"

    Aimee nodded. "This will be my first time."

    "I'll try to make it good for you," Paige said with a wink. "Seriously,
though, you have to commit. Brandi will know if you're just acting. If you
want her to smoke, you have to become a real smoker yourself. She won't buy
something you don't believe in."

    Aimee nodded. "I can do it. Where do we start?"

    Paige grinned. "We begin at the beginning. You learn by doing." She picked
up her pack and shook out two cigarettes. "Here," she said. "Take one."

    Aimee accepted it. She looked at the cigarette. It was long and white. She
put it between her fingers like she'd seen Paige do hundreds of times.

    "These are Marlboro Lights 100's," Paige explained. "It's a light
cigarette, popular with girls our age. The 'light' means these are lower in
tar and nicotine. It's a good brand to start."

    Paige placed an unlit cigarette in her lips. "Put it in your mouth," she
instructed. "Get used to how it feels. Then try sucking on it."

    Aimee did as instructed. She sucked on the unlit cigarette, pretending she
was smoking. The fresh unlit tobacco smelled good. She mimicked Paige's
motions. She blew an imaginary plume of smoke into the air. "How's that?" she
asked.

    "Good. But when you really smoke, it's different. At first, it tastes
bitter," she warned. "You may want to cough. You may even feel queasy. Don't
worry. It means your body isn't used to the nicotine in the smoke. As you go
on, the experience changes. Smoking becomes pleasant." Paige picked up her
lighter. "Now, watch carefully, Aimee. Because you're next."

    Paige flicked the disposable lighter. "You touch the flame against the end
of the cigarette and gently suck. It's like sucking on a straw. That makes the
cigarette ignite." She demonstrated, immediately blowing out a small amount of
smoke after her cigarette caught fire. "Don't suck too hard. Don't breath in.
Just blow the smoke right out. Ready?"

    "I guess," Aimee said. Her hand shook. She was scared but excited. "Could
you hold the lighter?" she asked meekly.

    "Sure," Paige replied, with the burning cigarette in her mouth. She
flicked the lighter. Aimee leaned forward and caught the flame. The cigarette
began burning. Aimee tasted smoke.

    "Yuck," she exclaimed, quickly blowing it out. "It's terrible!"

    Paige laughed. "I told you. But you'll get used to it. Try again. Puff
gently on the cigarette and blow the smoke right out."

    Aimee put the burning cylinder to her lips a second time. She sucked
lightly. The smoke tasted awful. She blew it out. "I don't like it," she
announced.

    But Paige wasn't listening. She was in the middle of a long, deliberate
drag of her own. Aimee watched with amazement as Paige pulled the smoke deep
into her lungs.

    "Oh, God, that's great," Paige finally muttered. Smoke trickled
reluctantly from her mouth and nostrils. "Trust me, Aimee," she sighed. "Once
you get used to it, smoking is fuckin' great!" She exhaled the balance of her
smoke. "Do you want to quit yet?" she teased.

    Aimee frowned. "No. But I don't like it. How will I get Brandi to smoke?
It's awful!"

    Tapping ashes into the ashtray, Paige replied. "Keep going. It gets
better."

    Aimee puffed a third time. It was still bitter, though not quite as bad as
the first two times. She promptly exhaled. "You're right," she admitted
sheepishly. "It gets easier."

    Paige smiled, gratified. "It's downhill from here."

    Over the next few minutes, Aimee took half a dozen small puffs. She tapped
her ashes in the ashtray like Paige did. The taste and smell became less
offensive with each puff, but it didn't seem pleasant. She crushed the
cigarette in the ashtray when Paige finished hers.

    "God, I hope smoking gets better," she sighed. "Maybe I'm not cut out for
this."

    "Nonsense," Paige laughed. "Anyone can smoke. You don't feel sick, do
you?"

    Aimee shook her head. She felt fine.

    "Some people feel queasy when they smoke for the first time. But you
didn't. That's a good sign. It means you're adjusting fine. Let's rest a few
minutes. Then we'll try it again."

    Aimee took a bathroom break. Paige was in the kitchen on the phone when
she returned, talking to the guy she was going out with tonight. She was
laughing. She was in no hurry.

    Aimee wandered into the living room and turned on the TV. She flipped the
channels. She stopped on CNN Headline News. The story discussed a national
anti-smoking initiative.

    In a minute, Paige reappeared. "Are you ready to smoke?" she grinned.

    Aimee muted the TV. "Paige, maybe this isn't a good idea. Maybe I'm crazy.
It seems like everyone in the world is against smoking," she frowned.

    "Don't be silly," Paige replied. "If you cut through the bullshit, the
only people against smoking are the loud-mouthed anti-smokers! But once you
start smoking, you won't give a crap what they think! Screw them. Their
opinions aren't the issue. Do you think this will help Brandi? That's the only
question you need to answer."

    "Yeah," Aimee admitted. "But all you hear on TV is how everyone is against
smoking. I know smoking is bad for your health, but the media ."

    "Fuck the media," Paige interrupted, clicking off the television. "C'mon.
Are we smoking or not?"

    Aimee smiled weakly. She admired Paige's resolve. "I guess."

    Paige handed Aimee another cigarette. "Excellent," Paige said with a grin.
"After talking on the phone, I'm ready for another one." She saw the
trepidation on Aimee's face. "Don't worry. It'll taste better this time. Trust
me."

    After lighting her own, Paige offered a light to Aimee, who took a small
first puff. The taste was less stringent. She smiled at Paige. "This is a
little better."

    Paige exhaled a huge cloud of smoke. "I promise, Aimee, that the more you
smoke, the more you'll like it."

    "I'm not sure I like it yet," she muttered. She took a second puff,
immediately blowing the smoke away again. "But it is more tolerable."

    Paige stretched and smiled. "You're getting there. You'll be smoking like
a pro in no time. In fact, I think you're ready for the next step," she added
coyly.

    Aimee looked confused. "What do you mean?"

    Paige raised her cigarette to her lips. "Inhaling," she said simply.
"Watch."

    Paige's lips closed around the cigarette's filter tip. Her fingers
released for a moment, making a "V" around the cigarette as she sucked hard.
After several seconds, Paige removed the cigarette from her lips and breathed
the smoke deep inside her lungs.

    "You inhale like this," she explained as she held her breath. Then Paige
exhaled a long, thick stream of blue-white smoke. "See the difference? When
you don't inhale, the smoke comes right out. That's what you're doing. But I
breathe the smoke into my lungs before releasing it. That's inhaling. All real
smokers inhale," she continued, with wisps of smoke trailing her words. "The
pleasure comes when you inhale. I think you're ready to find out."

    Aimee tapped some ashes in the ashtray. "Okay," she said hesitantly. "If
it's important."

    "It's important," Paige confirmed. She leaned forward and brushed back her
blond hair. "On your next puff, let the smoke sit in your mouth for a second.
Then breathe it in. Let the smoke go in your lungs. Like this."

    To demonstrate, Paige took a modest puff. She held the smoke, and then
opened her mouth to breathe in. Aimee saw a big ball of smoke quickly
disappear down her throat. Paige tipped her head and blew a long, white stream
of smoke toward the ceiling. "See? It's easy."

    Aimee nodded. "I'll try."

    "Not so fast. Listen. The smoke may catch in your throat," Paige warned.
"And you might feel like coughing. If so, don't stop. Just relax. Try not to
cough."

    Aimee pulled on the cigarette. She was accustomed to this part. The smoke
rested in her mouth. She removed the cigarette. Like Paige, she opened her
mouth and breathed in.

    When she did, a strange, burning sensation gripped her throat. Cognizant
of Paige's warnings, Aimee fought the urge to cough. She continued to inhale,
letting the smoke enter her lungs. Her chest tightened, filling with the
thick, rich cigarette smoke. It was strange, but not unpleasant. It was not
bad at all. In fact, it was  very nice!

    Aimee waited, analyzing a growing feeling of euphoria. After a moment, she
pursed her lips and exhaled. The smoke escaped from her lips in a tight
spiral. The smoke was under her control! She directed the stream from side to
side it as it poured from her mouth.

    "Wow," she exclaimed. "That was cool!"

    "How do you feel?" Paige asked.

    "Okay," Aimee said. "At first it was uncomfortable, but once the smoke got
inside my lungs, I felt fine." She giggled. "No, better than okay. Great. I
liked it."

    "Do you feel dizzy?"

    "I feel a little head rush, but not bad." Aimee grinned. "It felt damn
good." She looked in amazement at the burning cigarette. "Does smoking always
feel this way?" she asked.

    "Unfortunately, no," Paige replied. "Once your body gets used to nicotine,
the rush goes away. Don't get me wrong. It's still great, but it's not always
this good."

    Aimee squealed. "I'm going to try again. Okay?"

    Paige smiled. "Sure. Be my guest."

    Aimee puffed again, harder this time, filling her mouth with smoke.
Looking at Paige, Aimee opened her mouth and pulled the smoke down her throat.
Like the first time, she felt a catch in her throat followed by pressure in
her lungs. But she experienced even more euphoria as nicotine entered her
system. It was easier the second time. "Oh, Jesus," she muttered, without
exhaling. The look of delight in Aimee's eyes told the story. She'd discovered
nicotine's power.

    Aimee pursed her lips and breathed out. She watched the smoke - it was her
smoke, she realized - shoot out in a long, thin, tightly controlled stream.
The exhale seemed to last forever. Aimee loved the way she felt, and she loved
how the smoke looked billowing from her lips.

    "God, you weren't shitting me. Smoking is fuckin' great," she sighed.

    "I wasn't shitting you," Paige grinned. Seeing Aimee enjoy it made Paige
want another drag, too. She took a long hit, inhaled deeply, and exhaled a
virtual torrent of smoke into her friend's face.

    The exhaled smoke lingered in the air around Aimee's face, suspended in
slowly swirling streams. Aimee didn't even think about brushing it away. In
the past cigarette smoke in the face bothered her. Now it seemed  intimate,
as if she and Paige shared something important.

    Paige broke the silence. "Isn't smoking fun?" she laughed. "I've been
telling you for years. You just wouldn't listen."

    Aimee put her cigarette in the ashtray. She closed her eyes and rubbed her
head. "I feel a little dizzy," she admitted. "But I still like it." She picked
up the cigarette, preparing for another drag. "I'm going to work on this," she
said. "I want to learn to smoke."

    Paige held up her hand. "Be careful. Don't overdo it. You can't tolerate
too much nicotine at first."

    "Fuck you," Aimee replied. She had no intention of stopping. She took
another drag. She smiled like the Cheshire cat, letting the nicotine in the
smoke soak into her waiting lungs. Then she again pursed her lips and exhaled
another endless stream of blue-gray smoke.

    "God, I feel great," Aimee sighed. "A little dizzy, but great." Residual
smoke continued to escape from her lips. This excited her. "That's the point,
isn't it?" she asked.

    Paige shrugged. "Yeah, but I'm surprised," she admitted. "Most people get
sick after the first few inhales, especially deep inhales like yours. Aren't
you running out of gas?"

    "No, I'm doing fine," Aimee replied calmly after a repeat performance of
holding smoke in her lungs. "God, I love this," she laughed, eventually
exhaling in three intermittent bursts. "Maybe I was born to smoke after all."

    "You must have unusual body chemistry, Aimee. You're tolerating the
nicotine very well. You're smoking like a pro already. I'm almost envious."

    "Thanks," Aimee purred. "God, I never expected smoking to be so nice!" She
returned to her rapidly shrinking cigarette for another hit. This would be her
last puff; at least from this cigarette.

    Paige gave a sly grin. "Tell me, Aimee. Do you still only want to smoke
for Brandi's sake? You look like you might want to keep smoking for your own
pleasure."

    Aimee crushed our her cigarette. Smoke trickled from her lips. "Brandi's
the important reason. But you're right. It is fun! God, convincing Brandi to
smoke should be easy."

    Other than dizziness, Aimee felt no ill effects. Every nerve in her body
felt alive. She enjoyed the tingling in her body and the buzz in her head. It
was almost  sexual.

    Aimee wanted to smoke another cigarette. "But I should go," she sighed.
"You're going out and need to get ready." She started for the door. "If I
stay, I'll want to keep smoking."

    Paige followed her. "Hey, thanks for letting me be a part of this," she
said softly, as they reached the front door. "I loved seeing you smoke, Aimee.
I'm _so_ glad you liked it."

    "Thanks, Paige," Aimee replied. "You've been awfully nice. I appreciate
you teaching me. I liked it. I think I can convince Brandi that I really
smoke. Maybe I'll be ready to talk to her about it later sooner rather than
later."

    In the narrow entranceway to the apartment, the two girls stood side by
side, close enough to touch. "Tell me," Paige asked breathlessly, while
absent-mindedly playing with her own blond hair. "What are your plans in that
regard?"

    Aimee thought. "I'll buy some cigarettes. I'll find a restaurant and sit
in the smoking section awhile so I can smoke some more before I go home. Then
maybe I'll talk to Brandi. I'm a little scared. I'm not sure what she'll say.
But I'm definitely going to keep practicing."

    Paige put her hands on Aimee's shoulders. "Wait," she said. She gently
moved Aimee out of the way, stepped past her, and ran into the kitchen. She
returned with an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights 100's and a disposable
lighter. "Consider these a birthday present," she smiled.

    "But it's not my birthday," Aimee objected. Undaunted, Paige opened her
friends long, delicate fingers and wrapped them around the cigarettes and the
lighter.

    "Yes, it is," Paige explained. "This is your smoking birthday. I still
remember the day I smoked my first cigarette. You'll remember today for the
rest of your life, Aimee. I guarantee it." She paused. "This is a birthday
present from the girl who got you started."

    Aimee looked at the unopened pack, then at Paige. Paige was still dressed
in her tight halter top and shorts, her blond hair frizzed all over her pretty
head. The two of them stood together in the tight hallway. Their eyes met. The
moment was full of emotion. Impulsively, Aimee hugged Paige. Her friend
responded forcefully, pulling hard against Aimee's body, bringing them
together in an embrace. Being taller, Aimee's face pressed against Paige's
head.

    While they held each other, Aimee smelled Paige's hair. It smelled of
smoke and hair-spray and perfume. It smelled so good! Mesmerized, Aimee buried
her face in the blond softness. As they embraced, Aimee found herself thinking
about Paige's tits, which were pressed against her own. They were so big and
round. They felt so firm. And they felt so hard pushing up against her own
breasts. Aimee felt  strangely excited.

    Paige moved her hands and placed them on Aimee's ass. Aimee involuntarily
jumped, but Paige didn't waver. Instead, she squeezed and pulled Aimee closer.
Then she turned her around and forcefully pressed Aimee against the wall.
Paige's fingers were now deeply pressed into Aimee's ass, and her groin was
now directly upon her as well. Instinctively and without thinking, Aimee's
body responded. Her arms pulled Paige tight, and her lower abdomen and her
inner thigh pushed hard against Paige's. Aimee again smelled the sweetness of
stale smoke in Paige's hair. Aimee sighed. Without a word, Paige kissed Aimee
on the cheek - the first time lightly, then a second time, and finally a third
time, harder and longer. Then Paige let go. Aimee backed away.

    Aimee was out of breath. Her face was flush. She felt hot. Something more
than the excitement of smoking was going on here. But Aimee was afraid to
admit what it might be.

    Paige broke the silence. "I'm so happy, Aimee," she whispered. "You'll be
a great smoker. You're tall, thin, young, good-looking and blond. Smoking
looks _so_ good on you. You look great holding a cigarette in your lovely long
fingers. All of us female smokers will be proud to claim you as a fellow
nicotine addict."

    Aimee blushed. She was touched by the sincerity of these sentiments,
although she still wasn't sure she had become a real smoker yet. . "Thanks,"
she whispered. Aimee leaned in and gently kissed Paige on the cheek. Paige
closed her eyes, savoring the moment. Something inside begged Aimee to stay.
But instead, with one last hug, she left.

    Aimee was happy. She felt closer to Paige than she'd ever felt to another
woman. Smoking together was a highly emotional experience. But most
importantly, she had cigarettes and a lighter in her purse. Maybe she wasn't a
real smoker yet, but she'd find someplace tonight to work on it some more
before going home to Brandi.

   
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