The Vacation (1996), Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 15 April 1996)


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    This story, a sequel to "Lisa's Quest," contains adult language and sexual
themes. If you find such language or themes offensive, please do not continue
to read.


    THE VACATION

    1. The Confrontation.

    Lisa Robinson was nervous. But now she realized the primary emotion she
felt was fear. Fear of her parents. Lisa was driving to their house in Tucson
to see her mom and dad for the first time since she'd started smoking. And she
was afraid.

    To calm her nerves, Lisa lit another cigarette. There was just enough time
to smoke one more before she arrived. As smoke from the Salem Light 100 soaked
into her lungs, Lisa felt a welcome feeling of relaxation. She tipped her head
back and slowly began to exhale the smoke in an upward stream to her left, in
the direction of the driver's side car window, which was cracked open a few
inches. The effect of nicotine on her body was immediate and pleasant. No,
Lisa decided, she was not sorry she'd started smoking. She enjoyed it. But she
was nervous about her parents' reaction.

    It had begun five months earlier. Lisa'd applied for a job as a secretary
at the law firm of Johnson & Myers. But she learned they only hired smokers.
Lisa wanted the job and was willing to do anything to get it. She started
smoking and was hired. To her surprise Lisa discovered she didn't mind
smoking; in fact, she liked it! Before long, cigarettes became part of her
everyday life. Patti, her best friend, smoked. Kristen, her roommate, started
smoking again, too. All Lisa's new work friends smoked. Even her new boyfriend
Brian was a smoker.

    Naturally Lisa began smoking more and more often, and soon found she no
longer liked being with her non-smoking friends. When she got together with
others, she now wanted to be able to smoke as much as she wanted. Lisa loved
her new life as a smoker. She loved the way cigarette smoke tasted, the
pleasant satisfaction of lighting up and inhaling a big drag into her lungs,
and how cool it looked as smoke escaped from her mouth and nose when she
exhaled. Smoking had become a normal part of her everyday routine. But this
would be the first time her parents would see the "new" Lisa!

    Lisa was in Tucson on vacation with her boss, Rene Williams. Rene was a
lawyer at Johnson & Myers who'd just won an important court battle against a
proposed city ordinance banning smoking in all "public places" in their
hometown. Rene'd argued that enforcement was unlawful because "public places"
was so broadly defined. Nobody thought the battle against the ordinance would
succeed. But Rene won the case. Her client was delighted. In reward they gave
her a week-long, all expenses paid vacation for two at the Conquistador Hotel
Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Lisa's parents lived in Tucson. Rene was single
and, during the brief time Lisa'd worked as Rene's secretary, they'd become
close friends. So Rene asked Lisa to come with her. They'd arrived in Tucson
by plane only a few hours ago. Now Lisa was going to see her parents for the
first time since becoming a smoker.

    Driving her rental car, Lisa thought about her habit. Cigarettes exercised
incredible power over her daily activities. Lisa put her cigarette between her
lips and took another hit. She told others she smoked by choice, but she knew
the truth. In reality, she no longer had freedom of choice when it came to
smoking. Each day she made dozens of choices. What to wear. What to have for
breakfast. Whether or not to eat breakfast. But one thing she no longer
decided was whether to smoke. Smoking had become a basic need, as basic as
breathing. Lisa's body now ached for nicotine when she went without smoking
for more than an hour or two. At those times, she'd do anything for a
cigarette. Smoking always made Lisa feel good; it calmed her nerves when she
was upset. She needed it.

    Well, Lisa mused as smoke poured slowly from her nostrils while she drove,
I don't mind needing to smoke. Even if it's an addiction, it feels so good to
fill my lungs with smoke over and over! I'll never quit, she said to herself
with a smile. Lisa sighed. Her parents home was now only one street away. She
threw her almost-finished cigarette out the window and popped a breath mint in
her mouth.

    Rene was still at the hotel. Lisa thought it wiser to see her parents
alone the first time. Rene was a vocal smokers' rights advocate, and
headstrong. So was Lisa's dad. Lisa knew Rene and her dad would wind up
fighting about smokers' rights if her dad was upset. And Lisa didn't know how
upset he'd be, seeing his daughter smoking for the first time. They knew she'd
started smoking, but she'd rarely talked with her mom or dad about it. She'd
be in Tucson an entire week. There'd be plenty of time for Rene to meet her
parents later, after Lisa broke the ice.

    Lisa pulled into her parents' driveway and got out of the car. The home
was a lovely, suburban, ranch-style house in north Tucson on the edge of the
Catalina Mountains. Cactus were everywhere. The desert-landscape was a
pleasant change from the one to which Lisa was accustomed in the northeast.

    Lisa's mother ran from the house to gave Lisa a big hug. "It's so good to
see you, Lisa," her mother exclaimed as they embraced in the driveway. "I'm so
glad you could come!"

    God, I wonder if she smells smoke on my clothes, Lisa worried But if her
mother did, she said nothing. They walked toward the house and Lisa's 17 year
old sister Cathy stood in the doorway. Cathy was frowning. Another fear
gripped Lisa. What will Cathy say about me smoking? Lisa took a deep breath
and followed her mother to the door. Suddenly, she felt that familiar longing;
already Lisa knew she wanted another cigarette. She consciously fought the
desire and greeted her sister. "Good to see you, Cath!" The three of them
walked into the house.

    As they engaged in some preliminary chit-chat, Lisa watched her mother
prepare tea for them in the kitchen. Her mother, Sharon Robinson, was an
attractive woman in her early forties. Like Lisa, she was a legal secretary.
Sharon worked for a firm in downtown Tucson where she'd been employed for many
years. Like both her daughters, Sharon had naturally blond hair and was quite
slender. Lisa knew her mom could easily pass as ten years younger.

    The three of them engaged in more small talk for several minutes. Cathy
seemed aloof. Lisa wasn't sure what to make of Cathy. At seventeen, Cathy was
a typical high school student. That is, she was interested in boys and eager
to spend as much time as possible with her girl friends talking about them.
Despite a five year age difference, Cathy and Lisa could almost pass for
twins. Cathy looked older than 17; most people thought Lisa was younger than
22. Lisa had no idea about Cathy's views on smoking. Perhaps, Lisa hoped,
she'll be open-minded. Lisa was certain her parents would not be accepting.

    "Now then, dear," Lisa's mom finally announced, "let's have tea on the
patio outside. It's not too warm, do you think?"

    "No, Mom," Lisa replied, "that'd be great. I love this weather. But
where's Dad?"

    Sharon carried the tea tray to the patio and asked Cathy to help with a
small plate of cookies. "Your father," Sharon announced with a trace of
disapproval in her voice, "is playing golf this afternoon." She opened the
door to the patio. "I told him it's not every day he gets to see his daughter.
But he was intent on playing anyway. You know, one of his client development
outings."

    Lisa nodded. Her dad played golf every weekend with clients. She wasn't
surprised her father was gone. Lisa looked at her watch. It was four in the
afternoon. It had been only twenty minutes since her last cigarette and
already she badly wanted another.

    The warm, late afternoon Tucson weather felt pleasant. A slight breeze
filled the air. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Lisa felt at home, good
except for the nagging desire to smoke. And the desire was growing stronger.

    Sharon poured tea for her daughters and asked Lisa about her new job. Lisa
was happy to talk about the job and about her boss, Rene. "I love being a
legal secretary, Mom," she admitted, "and I work with great people. I'm glad
you'll get to meet Rene this week. She's a great boss and a good friend. We
have lots of fun together!"

    Sharon took a sip of tea. "Why didn't you bring her with you this
afternoon, Lisa?"

    Lisa squirmed. "Oh," she lied, "Rene was tired after the plane flight.
She's resting at the hotel. You know, she finished a grueling schedule this
week. She just won a big case!"

    Sharon smiled politely. "Oh, tell us about the case, dear. What kind of
law does Rene practice?" As a legal secretary, Sharon knew quite a bit about
lawyers and the law.

    Lisa realized she'd made a mistake. Oh shit, she swore to herself. I
didn't want to have to explain about Rene's anti-smoking lawsuit. Not yet!

    But there was no substitute for the truth, Lisa decided. Plus, she
decided, maybe telling them about Rene's court case would move their
conversation to smoking in a natural way. Lisa suspected her mother would not
bring up the subject on her own. And God, Lisa sighed, I could really use a
cigarette!

    "Well," Lisa began slowly, "it was a case against a city ordinance banning
smoking." Her mom didn't react, but Cathy's eyes widened, obviously
anticipating controversy. Lisa ignored her sister's reaction and continued.
"Our firm believed the law was illegally broad. It could have been interpreted
to ban smoking in private residences. Nobody gave Rene a snowball's chance in
hell of winning, but she did."

    Oh no, thought Lisa, I didn't mean to swear in front of Mom! Lisa was not
averse to using strong language but knew it wasn't the best way to begin a
conversation with her mother. Neither her mother nor her father had ever sworn
or used strong language in her presence.

    Sharon picked up a cookie and took a bite. "That's interesting," she
replied calmly. "Most of the people who work in your firm smoke, don't they?"
Her face maintained a stoic smile.

    Lisa nodded. "Actually, Mom," she answered, "they all do." Cathy's eyes
opened wider. She was listening intently now. The look on her face suggested
an expectation of sudden fireworks.

    "And are you still smoking, Lisa?" Sharon inquired dryly.

    This was it: The moment of truth. "Yes, Mom," Lisa replied calmly, "I am."
Lisa paused. Then she added with firmness in her voice. "Actually, Mom, I'm
smoking almost two packs of cigarettes a day."

    Sharon slowly picked up her tea cup. She tried not to seem upset, but her
calm was too affected to be natural. Cathy silently watched the interaction
between her sister and her mother. Finally Sharon broke the silence. "Of
course I don't allow anyone to smoke in the house," she smiled sweetly. "But
do you want to smoke out here on the patio, Lisa?"

    From the tone of her voice, the statement was intended as a challenge.
Lisa knew it was a challenge she had to accept. Difficult or not, she had to
establish herself as a smoker in her parents' eyes. Plus, she wanted one! Lisa
smiled politely in return. "Yes, Mom," she replied, "thank you. I'd love to
have a cigarette. May I have one now?"

    Without blinking Sharon turned toward Cathy. "Cathy," Sharon said without
a hint of emotion in her voice, "you know where we keep that ashtray in the
bottom drawer in the kitchen?" Cathy nodded her head obediently. "Why don't
you get it out for your sister? She'd like to smoke."

    Under other circumstances Cathy wouldn't have fetched anything for her
older sister. But this unfolding drama intrigued her. So without objection
Cathy rose and disappeared into the kitchen. She returned in a few moments
with an old plastic ashtray. Cathy silently set it down on the table beside
Lisa.

    Sharon looked at Lisa and waited. She knew her mom was daring her to smoke
in her presence. Lisa now sensed disapproval in her mother's eyes, but
Sharon's voice didn't change when she spoke again. "If you want to smoke,
Lisa, dear, go right ahead."

    Lisa knew this moment would forever determine her relationship with her
mother. Lisa wanted a cigarette. But she also felt strangely embarrassed,
almost ashamed. However, she wanted to establish her independence, to be
accepted as an adult who made her own decisions. To do so, she knew she had to
light up a cigarette in front of her mother. And without hesitation. Along
with Sharon's, Cathy's eyes were fixed upon Lisa. She, too, wondered whether
Lisa would accept the implicit challenge to her mother's disapproval.

    Slowly Lisa opened her purse and removed her navy blue cigarette case. She
looked away from her mother and sister as she opened it and withdrew a long,
white Salem. Putting it between her lips, Lisa picked up her thin gold
lighter. She was nervous, and tried to keep her hand from shaking as she
flicked the lever. Just a moment longer, Lisa reassured herself, and I'll have
smoke in my lungs again! That will make me feel better!

    The lighter came to life. For a brief moment, Lisa glanced at her mother.
Their eyes met. A slightly wicked smile crept across Lisa's face. Her eyes
then returned to the flame burning before her. She touched the flame to the
tip of the cigarette which waited in her mouth and applied suction with her
lips. Immediately the cigarette ignited and Lisa pulled hard, hollowing her
cheeks to obtain smoke from the burning cylinder. Setting her lighter down,
Lisa pumped again and then inhaled smoke into her lungs. Despite the tension
in the air, the smoke felt exceptionally good to Lisa as it soaked into her
lungs. Removing the cigarette from her lips, Lisa turned her head away from
her mother, tipped it back, and exhaled a steady stream of smoke into the air.
Holding her cigarette straight up between the index and middle fingers of her
left hand, Lisa picked up her tea cup with her right. Only then did she look
directly at her mother. "Thank you, Mom," she said simply and with a smile.
This was Lisa the smoker!

    For the first time Sharon looked shaken. She'd expected Lisa to back down,
not to smoke in front of her. Seeing her daughter smoke upset her. Sharon set
down her teacup and frowned. "You're welcome, dear," she replied dryly. "But
you know, it's really a nasty habit. I understand why you started smoking, to
get the job. But why on earth don't you quit now that you have it?"

    Lisa took another, longer drag on her cigarette and inhaled deeply.
Cathy's eyes were wide as saucers watching Lisa smoke. Cathy understood the
significance of Lisa refusal to knuckle under. Lisa exhaled a cloud of smoke,
and then grinned. She felt better already.

    "Do you want to know the truth?" Lisa asked. Her mother nodded.

    "Well," she continued, "I'll tell you. Until I tried it, I had no interest
in smoking. I never liked the smell and I thought smoking was stupid. It
seemed gross. But I had to try it. Otherwise I knew I'd never get the job at
Johnson & Myers, and I really wanted that job."

    Lisa paused to puff again on her cigarette. This time she pulled the smoke
more deeply into her lungs. She no longer worried what her mother would think.
With each additional drag, which increased the nicotine level in her system,
Lisa more comfortable smoking in front of her mother.

    "Once I tried smoking," Lisa went on, "I quickly got used to the smell. It
didn't bother me at all. And I liked the way tobacco tasted and the way
smoking made me feel." Lisa smiled again. "Since you've never smoked, Mom, you
couldn't possibly understand. But inhaling smoke into my lungs makes me feel
really good, really calm. It's wonderful! And," Lisa added, "I like the whole
process; you know, lighting up, inhaling, exhaling, and so on. It's a sociable
thing to do with other smokers. It's fun to get together with my roommate
Kristen and my friend Patti.. We smoke constantly while we talk. I don't
know," she concluded with a shrug, "I just enjoy it."

    Her mother and sister stared. Suddenly Lisa felt embarrassed. She hadn't
intended to provide a long apologetic. But she enjoyed smoking cigarettes and
didn't mind saying so.

    Sharon listened intently. Her look of disapproval hadn't completely
disappeared. But she almost seemed to understand what Lisa was saying. "Well,"
she finally responded, "that's fine, I guess. But what about health risks?
Smoking's bad for you. You do know that, don't you Lisa?"

    Lisa nodded while exhaling. The breeze had died down and smoke hung in the
air above her head. "Mom," she replied, "give me a break! Every smoker knows
cigarettes aren't good for them. We're not stupid. But we enjoy smoking so
much we don't care." Sharon looked surprised by this candid answer, but Lisa
continued. "I mean, lots of things you and Dad like have dangers, too. Like
alcohol, caffeine, red meat, fatty foods. But you overlook the risks because
you don't want to give them up. Dad rides a motorcycle for fun. He doesn't
wear a helmet, either. Look," Lisa continued with increased passion, "smoking
cigarettes is my one vice. I like it. I don't care about the risks. I'm not
going to give it up."

    Cathy smiled, but her mother still looked troubled. "Well," Sharon finally
answered, "I guess you'll make your own decisions. You can smoke here on the
patio if you must." She watched Lisa take a final hit on her Salem. "And it
looks like you must. You're an adult, Lisa, and I can't stop you. But don't
let me catch you smoking in my house while you're here. Understood?"

    Lisa grinned and nodded. "Thanks, Mom, for treating me like an adult. I
promise I won't smoke inside. While Rene and I are here, we'll both smoke only
on the patio."

    "Oh," said Sharon with disdain, "that's right. Rene must be a smoker,
too." She stood and picked up the tea tray. "I'm going to work on dinner," she
sighed. "You two can visit out here if you like." She paused. "Where you can
smoke, Lisa." With that Sharon re-entered the house and disappeared into the
kitchen.

    When her mom had gone inside, Cathy turned toward Lisa. "Sis," she said
with admiration, "I can't believe how you stood up to Mom! You may be stupid,"
Cathy said with a grin as she pointed to Lisa's cigarette case, "but you're
not afraid to take a stand and fight. I wish I had your courage when it comes
to dealing with Mom and Dad. They can be awfully strict."

    Lisa nodded her head. "Hey, I know," she answered, "I grew up with Mom and
Dad too, remember?"

    Relieved that the initial confrontation was over, Lisa now wanted another
cigarette. To hell with Cathy's opinions, she told herself. Lisa got out
another Salem and immediately lit up again. She took a drag and without
hesitation inhaled the smoke deep down into her lungs. After a moment she
exhaled a plume of smoke into the air.

    Lisa smiled at Cathy who had watched the whole ritual. "Do you really
think I'm stupid because I smoke, Cathy?" she asked, with wisps of smoke
continuing to dribble from her nostrils.

    Cathy looked uncomfortable. "No, I guess not," she admitted hesitantly. "I
mean, you look like you really enjoy it, Lisa. Do you? Is smoking that great?"

    Lisa nodded as she took another drag. "Do you want to know the truth?"
Lisa whispered with an evil grin on her face. "I love it." She giggled as she
exhaled once again. "I enjoy smoking all day long. Sometimes I can't wait to
light up the next cigarette." She looked at her sister. "You should try it
sometime, Cath," Lisa teased.

    Cathy said nothing. Lisa sensed her discomfort. She decided to change the
subject. "Now tell me, Cathy," Lisa said, "what's it like being a senior in
high school these days?"

    Over the next hour Cathy and Lisa shared girl-talk. Cathy looked up to
Lisa and her sister's approval meant a lot to her. She told Lisa about dating,
friends, school, and plans for college next year. By dinner time Lisa looked
at the plastic ashtray. Seven cigarette butts! She'd smoked as much talking
with Cathy as she did with Patti or Kristen at home. Cathy commented on it as
she and Lisa walked into the house. "Lisa," Cathy teased, "you smoke like a
chimney!" But Cathy smiled and gave Lisa a hug as she said it. Lisa was
relieved. Her smoking didn't seem to give Cathy a serious problem. They walked
into the kitchen to check on their mother's progress with dinner.

    Lisa's father arrived home right before dinner was ready. In his early
forties, Don Robinson was of medium build with light brown hair and a great
tan. He'd obviously been golfing and appeared quite tired. After preliminary
greetings he followed Lisa out to the patio. He saw the ashtray full of
cigarette butts next to Lisa's chair as she sat down. "Oh my," he said
irritably, "don't tell me your mother let you smoke here?"

    Lisa screwed up her courage again. "Look Daddy," she answered firmly, "I
smoke! You don't have to like it, but there's nothing you can do about it.
You'll just have to get used to it!" Surprised by her own boldness, Lisa
picked up her cigarette case and pulled out another cigarette. "Mom said I
could smoke out here," she said defiantly, "and I'm going to. Whether you like
it or not!" With that, Lisa lit up a Salem and exhaled a stream of smoke
forcefully into the air.

    Don looked surprised, then disgusted. "I can't believe you're so stupid,"
he said crisply. "I thought we raised you smarter!" His temper was sharper
than her mother's and Lisa knew it well. They'd always been close, but Lisa
knew it was risky to cross her father when he was upset.

    "Daddy," Lisa replied, "I know you don't like me smoking. I acknowledge
that. All I'm asking is that you'll acknowledge my right to make my own
mistakes ... I mean, my own decisions, as an adult."

    "Mistakes is the right word," Don replied. He sighed. "But you are an
adult and I guess there's nothing I can do." Slowly, he smiled. "I'm sorry,
kitten," he went on, "it's just upsetting to me. You know how I feel about
smoking! But I guess I can learn to accept you as a smoker if I have to." Don
grinned a bit wider. "However, don't let me hear that you've become a
registered Democrat as well!"

    Lisa laughed. Her dad was a staunch Republican. They disagreed often about
politics. This meant he was backing off into familiar territory, territory in
which they'd traditionally agreed to disagree. If smoking became the same kind
of friendly disagreement as their political beliefs, Lisa knew she could live
with that. "Dad," she said, "I know how you feel about smoking and Democrats.
And I promise we'll never discuss either of those subjects if you don't want
to."

    "Good," Don replied. "Now why don't you finish your fool cigarette and
come in for dinner. I'm starved."

    As her dad walked back into the house, Cathy appeared in the doorway. Once
again she had a big smile on her face. "God, Lisa," Cathy bubbled, "I don't
know where you got the courage! I can't believe the way you stood up to Dad!
Congratulations! It looks like you established yourself as a smoker around
here! I wasn't sure you'd be able to do it!"

    Lisa took another drag on her cigarette and crushed it in the ashtray. She
felt good about the afternoon's events. "Cathy," she answered with a smile,
exhaling from her mouth and nose while she talked, "maybe my new courage comes
from being a smoker! And maybe you ought to try a cigarette sometime!" Lisa
checked herself. Shit! It was the second time she'd mentioned it to her sister
this afternoon. She hadn't meant to put Cathy on the spot. At least not right
away.

    Cathy made a face. "In your dreams," she said with a smile. Then she gave
Lisa another hug. "But you've given me new hope, Sis," Cathy went on. "I mean,
if you can stand up to Mom and Dad on an issue that's as important to you as
smoking, maybe I can learn a few things!"

    Together they walked in to dinner. "I'm sure you can, Cathy," Lisa
grinned, "I'm sure you can."

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

    After dinner, Lisa returned to the hotel. She was pleased and relieved.
The parental confrontation went better than Lisa expected. Entering the hotel
room, Lisa saw Rene reading a book. Rene held a freshly lit Marlboro Light
100. Her ashtray was full of cigarette butts. She'd been chain smoking.

    At 28, Rene was almost six years older than Lisa. She had a striking
appearance, an unassuming manner, and an outgoing nature which were very
attractive. Rene's chestnut brown hair, worn in a modified pageboy, was always
in place. She was tall, almost five ten, slender but shapely. When she stood,
she stood tall and erect. Rene dressed professionally but stylishly. She could
be tough when needed, but usually her face had an angelic quality. She
projected serenity and charm. And she smoked constantly, at least two packs a
day!

    As Lisa approached, Rene took a quick drag on her Marlboro before saying
hello. Like everything else about her, Rene's smoking style exuded class.

    "Well, how'd it go?" Rene asked. Smoke escaped from her mouth and nose in
bursts while she talked. Her voice was pleasant, but deep and rough, the
result of years of smoking. "Did they draw and quarter you?" There was a smile
on Rene's face.

    Lisa smiled back and reached into her purse. As always, Lisa was eager for
another cigarette of her own. She quickly lit a Salem and took a big drag
before answering Rene's question. "Well," Lisa grinned, "I'm still smoking!"

    Rene tapped some ashes into the ashtray. She brushed her attractive brown
hair away from her eyes. "I can see that," she acknowledged, her voice raspy
but sensuous, "and that doesn't surprise me. But seriously, how'd it go?"

    Lisa told her about the confrontation, how both parents (even her father)
reluctantly accepted her smoking. "They let me smoke on the patio," Lisa
concluded, "so we'll have no problem smoking there tomorrow."

    Lisa picked up an ashtray for herself and sat down on one of the two beds.
"What about you, Rene," she asked, "what did you do while I was gone?"

    Rene's eyes sparkled. "I went to the hotel bar for awhile to check it
out," she began eagerly, "and met a couple of guys!" Lisa rolled her eyes.
Rene worked six days and several nights a week. She rarely had time for social
life. But on vacation, with time on her hands, Lisa wondered what trouble Rene
had gotten herself into.

    Rene continued her story after another drag on her cigarette. "I went to
have a drink and these two guys, both of them real cute by the way, started
talking to me." With smoke still escaping while she spoke, Rene paused to puff
and inhale again. "Their names were Don and Phil," she went on. "You know,
like the Everly Brothers?" She giggled and smoke burst forth as she did.

    Lisa rolled her eyes again as Rene finished her exhale through the nose.
"You got picked up by two brothers?" Lisa asked incredulously.

    This time Rene laughed aloud. "Shit, no," she answered, her deep voice
full of mischief. "They're not brothers and I didn't exactly get picked up. I
was sitting at the bar. I noticed them several seats away. I was smoking, of
course. They both seemed to be watching me. So I tried an experiment. I began
to french-inhale; you know, to try to look sexier. Well, they were watching!
The more I french-inhaled, the more they couldn't take their eyes off me!
After I finished my cigarette they came over, introduced themselves and sat
with me. We started talking. They were really nice. At one point I apologized
for smoking so much, but they told me I looked good smoking!" Rene stopped to
brush some stray ashes off her clothes. "And they were right," Rene said with
a confident smile, "I did!"

    "So, what happened?" Lisa asked. "Are you going to go out with one of
'em?"

    Rene grinned mischievously and nodded. "Yes, I am," she sighed. "With
Phil. On Thursday. He's 41 years old, divorced and a real estate developer
here in Tucson. The only thing is," she went on with a frown, "I'm not sure he
smokes. I never really asked him." Rene crushed her cigarette and immediately
picked up her pack of Marlboros. She shook out another and placed a fresh,
long, white cigarette between her lips. Lisa took a last drag on her cigarette
while Rene lit up again.

    "What are you thinking, Rene?" Lisa asked before exhaling. "Why go out
with a guy who doesn't smoke?"

    "I don't know," Rene shrugged. Smoke from her first drag escaped from her
nostrils. Before her exhale was finished she'd already started another drag.
"I know I swore I'd never go out with a non-smoker again. But this guy's
different. He's cute. Maybe it's 'cause he seems to like seeing me smoke."
With a wicked smile Rene took another long drag, french-inhaled and pulled the
smoke deep into her lungs. "You should have seen their eyes when I showed them
this."

    Rene held the smoke inside her for several moments. Then bits of smoke
slowly began to dribble from her nose. Her almost supernatural control over
her exhale was impressive. The smoke obeyed Rene's every command as it
continued from her mouth and nose. "So," she concluded with a teasing smile,
"I'm going to dinner with Phil. You shouldn't care. Go visit your parents
without me. Unless you want to cheat on Brian," she giggled.. "I can find out
whether Phil's friend is single. Maybe Don will go out with you!"

    Lisa shook her head. "No such luck, Rene," she said, tapping ashes into
the ashtray. "Anyway, they're too old for me. But of course," she added slyly,
"somebody in his forties certainly isn't too old for you!"

    Rene laughed again. "Fuck off, Lisa," she snapped in mock disgust. "I'm on
vacation. I can afford to take a few risks and run around a little. Besides,
it'll be fun to go out with a guy who gets turned on watching me smoke. Who
knows? Maybe I'll entice him to start smoking with me!" Rene gave an evil
grin. "In any case, I'll give him a show. You know me; I'll smoke for him all
night long!"

    Lisa and Rene changed topics. They planned activities for the balance of
the week and then went to bed. From Lisa's point of view it had been a very
successful first day of vacation. She wondered whether the rest of the week
could possibly be as interesting.


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