Today he turns 26. But he doesn't get his gift until tonight. After all the effort that Clarice put into it, it wouldn't be fair to omit her from the giving.

Speaking of whom, Rob says she has been throwing up every morning. She should over the worst of any morning sickness by now, but it doesn't seem to show any sign of letting up. Her doctor isn't concerned; the timing and intensity of morning sickness varies greatly.


I might have guessed that I wouldn't have a chance to write and upload a journal entry yesterday.

Clarice and Rob came over. I'd refused to give Brian his gift before evening, and when they came I wouldn't give him it until after dinner. Just pasta, and an ice-cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. Then we moved to the living room, where Rob and Clarice took the couch, and I sat on the arm of Brian's chair.

After that, I gave him his gift. It was a fairly small, heavy box. He unwrapped it...

"Helen, this is great! Thank you!" He hugged me quickly, then turned his attention back to his gift... a Canon digital camera.

Of course, an engineer never looks at instructions. He started pushing buttons immediately, and his eyes became very wide.

"I think he found the rest of the gift," said Clarice.

The small image viewer showed me, nude.

I was lying on my side in the classic models' pose, head propped on my left arm. Clarice is very good at that kind of thing, and she had cropped the image just above my belly button, giving more attention to my face, breasts and slightly disarrayed hair. (She had spent ten minutes getting exactly the right amount of untidiness, so it looked natural.)

None of the other photos were nudes. I wanted to surprise him, but we hadn't left any of the racier images on the camera; the first was the least conservative. For the rest of them I wore my negligée or underwear, except for the one where Clarice had artfully arranged a sheet over me.

Clarice is very good at this. She has an eye for the human form. I paint - though I haven't done so in well over a year, I guess - and I think I have a good eye for composition, but I don't see things in a personal way like Clarice does. Sometimes she seems so quick and passionate that it's hard to remember how intense a person she can be. She really gets involved with her subject when she's taking photos. She seems to know not only how to capture an emotion, but how to bring it out.

I didn't know I could do sultry until I saw the photos.

The result was a very sexy set of photos, that Brian was taking far too long with.

When he was through, he passed the camera to Clarice, who could select which pictures Rob could see. I think in the end he saw them all, including the nude, but what the heck, he's seen his little sister in the hot tub now.

I leaned close to Brian, kissed his ear, and whispered - loud enough for everyone to hear - "The other photos we already downloaded to my notebook."


"The... ones where I'm not so overdressed."

"Oh." He grinned. Then, to Clarice, "Did you take these?"

"Yes," she said.

"They're really good," said Brian.

"I only did it because she said you'd model for me next," she said.

"I did not!" I objected.

Clarice smirked. "She hasn't told you what else is on her notebook."

"What's that," asked Brian.

"Not what," she said, "who." She rested her chin on her hand and fluttered her eyes at him outrageously.

"Clarice," I chided, "he's not going to see those."

"But I was going to give them to him for his birthday!"

"Clarice, you said they were for Rob!"

"Awww," she pouted.

"You photographed Clarice too?" asked Brian.

"Yes," I replied. "I don't think I did as well as she did, but they're okay." Okay, that is, largely as a result of a mirror for Clarice to see herself, and looking at the result in the viewer. Digital cameras make retaking a shot so easy... "We took them first, downloaded them, and started on me."

"Well, then, they'd be the first pictures taken on my camera," said Brian. "I think I should have copies, for quality assurance purposes."

"She's rubbing off on you," I told him.

"Ooh, now that sounds like fun," she said.

I threw my hands up and screamed.

Clarice did have a gift for Brian, of course. It's a very nice silk shirt. And Rob had brought Quake 3, guaranteed to keep him out of mischief (and out of my bed... though perhaps there isn't too much difference between the two) for several hours a week.

The photos I took of Clarice show her pregnancy. At least, I think they do, and Rob agrees, but Clarice isn't so sure. There's a subtle aspect to her shape that seems unusual. Her stomach... it isn't that it isn't flat, it's that it doesn't seem flat in the right places. And I'm certain her breasts have grown. Not that I've really paid a lot of attention... but the image I have of her curled up with Rob on that first morning together... and recalling our evenings in the hot tub... they seem slightly bigger, and slightly darker.

Now I'm... this is weird, but... I'm jealous. Just a little. Because I wouldn't want to do what she's doing. Not even after we marry, I think, not for a year or two. But still...

And if I'm right about the changes being visible, if subtle, I'd have to say pregnancy suits her. I don't think my composition skills contributed much to the photos, and Clarice's were necessarily restricted, but she looked so seductive that I think the pictures of her are every bit as good as the ones of me, even if they're not quite as professionally composed.

Brian might disagree, of course, but I'm not giving him the chance to compare :-)

After Clarice and Rob left, we took over the sofa, and I let Brian look over the other photos Clarice took, that I'd downloaded to my notebook. It's easier to see how very good the image quality is... but I don't think image quality was at the forefront of his mind.

I had intended to suggest we take the camera to the bedroom, and have us photograph each other undressing... I knew that would turn him on. But when I kissed him, after he'd been looking at the photos, our priorities changed. Within moments I had lost my panties and was positioning myself in his lap. I didn't even try to finish undressing, but did at least get my top and bra unsnapped so that he could suckle my breast as we came.

I kissed his ear, and wished him a Happy Birthday.


I did not want to go into work this morning. I fought with the alarm clock for about a half hour. Fortunately it won...

Somehow the place seems different. I guess I expected it a little, but not for it to feel so empty. I drive to work in the morning, and I feel so alone in my little car. Which is silly, because I often drove in to work without Brian, but just like I often didn't see him all day at work, knowing that I can't see him is depressing. Disappointing, at the very least.

I'll probably get used to it.

In three days it will be the anniversary of my first journal entry. Sunday, that will be... I wish I could celebrate the occasion, but only Brian knows about the journal. "Hey, I'm having a party for something I can't tell you about."

Well, y'all celebrate it for me, okay?


364 days today since the journal went online. A year ago Jay and I were about to spend our last night together. And we knew it was to be our last... I don't know if I ever really made that clear. We'd drifted too far apart, we knew it wasn't going to last much longer, and we wanted to end it before we came to hurting each other. We haven't seen each other since, but we have traded email, cordial enough. He has a new girlfriend, and I'm happy for him.

But that night I was at least as concerned about putting my life on the web as I was about saying goodbye to Jay. And it certainly has made the last year very strange... but not in the ways I was thinking when I started. I was concerned that I'd bore y'all with my mundane lot, and drive you away from my stories. I hadn't considered the feedback potential. And if I could go back to a year ago...

I'd do the same thing again. Because I'm still convinced that if I hadn't spent the time putting my thoughts down here, Brian would have never become more than a passing acquaintance. I wouldn't have played the exhibitionist with Larry, and although that came to a welcome and necessary end, I still think about him, and those few evenings... and find that I'm missing what we had a little.

Not that there's anything lacking between Brian and me. But the illicit has an exciting edge that's erotic in a different way. What we have is infinitely better, but sometimes I wish we could pretend we were strangers, or were being unfaithful to other spouses, or were making love in a public place...

We've tried, of course. Not making love in a public place, that is :-) ... but tried pretending that we're other than we are. It doesn't seem to work. For a time after his almost-affair with Clarice we were so nervous with each other that it added the same kind of excitement, but we're back to comfortable now. Wonderful, but comfortable.

I'm not complaining. Really.

The goldfinches are back in force now. Swarming the thistle feeder. They can get through a gallon of thistle seed in a little over a week.

Brian was dressed before me this morning. Since the finches had almost drained the feeder again, I asked him to "feed up the fill fincher". I didn't realize until I'd asked that it didn't sound right.


My ISP is celebrating my journal's first anniversary with a long-term outage. So I don't know if I'll be able to upload the last couple of days' entries.

I guess this is the day I have to make the official decision, whether the journal ends or continues for a time. And I'm finding that, as I've mentioned a few times recently, I really don't want to give it up. I seem to have survived the worst, and there are things I still want to write. Personal things, not just the ongoing saga of Clarice and Rob, or my wedding plans. About the stories that I am (or am not, currently) writing. The cool suggestions from my email. Other interesting sites (like Rose's) that I find that I want to share.

So I'll be around for a little longer. How long, that I don't know, but I'd think another six months to a year.


I haven't mentioned how Brian's work is going. He's thrilled with his new job. More responsibility, more control over the design process... and more hours :-( Well, we expected that, and really it isn't any worse than when we worked together. Over the next few months, though, he expects to be in California for at least twenty percent of the time as they firm up their design goals.

I wish they could teleconference, but apparently engineers prefer pen, paper and whiteboards. Rob will probably be with him for most of the trips, so at least Clarice and I can commiserate together. (In a sober fashion, of course, given Clarice's new-found abstinence.)

What he's not thrilled with is his beard. He's had it almost nine months now, and he says it hasn't stopped itching from the day he started to grow it. He was willing to suffer for a while, expecting it to diminish, but he's had enough. He wants to shave. Obviously, I'm disappointed, but if it is irritating him that much, then I guess it has to go. I asked him to give it until this weekend.

On the subject of Brian...

We were looking through the box of papers that Brian's grandmother gave him, personal papers mainly from his time in college. Party invitations, notes from other students, programs from plays and events.

Brian took up with Carol during his last year at college. Prior to that, he said, no-one had been interested in him. That he was shy, so he didn't try hard to find a girlfriend, but that the few dates he'd had didn't lead anywhere, and he was more often rebuffed.

Well, the letters tell a different story. Not in what happened, in how girls saw him. Personal little comments on party invitations, the note that one girl had written after he'd loaned her some notes... all kinds of things. Subtle, but clear if you know what you're looking for.

One in particular, Sara, wrote so often and dropped so many heavy hints that she obviously was looking for more than saying "Hi!" in the hallway.

"What was wrong with Sara?" I asked him.

"Wrong? Nothing, she was a good friend."

"She obviously wanted to be more than that. I wondered why you'd never taken her up on her offers. I thought she must have been really horrible for you to ignore her."

"No, she wasn't horrible," he said. "She was beautiful, actually, always had guys chasing her. I don't know if they got anywhere, she had a boyfriend at home she talked about. She was majoring in math, and was brilliant, so maybe she had no time for the guys."

"What did she look like?"

"Taller than you, my height, perhaps. Blonde, long hair. Big boobs."

I shook my head. "For having been so clueless, you certainly noticed enough about her."

"Clueless? I don't know what you're getting at, Helen."

"If you'd given her the slightest encouragement, she'd have jumped you."

"Jesus. Helen, you're wrong," he said.

"Look at this stuff." I handed him the pile of notes and letters I'd collected from her. She'd written to him during vacations, for God's sake.

He spent a few minutes leafing through them, then looked at me, confused. "Helen, I don't recall any of this. I mean, I vaguely remember receiving the notes, but they didn't mean anything. She was just one of my group of friends. Why shouldn't she send me notes?"

"Notes like that?"

"That's what I don't recall. I didn't see any extra meaning in them."

"You do now?"

He nodded ruefully. "I do. Jeez, how could I have missed it?"

"From the way you describe her, she would have been quite a catch. Maybe you were intimidated by her, and didn't want to see it."

"I guess."

"What an opportunity you missed, lover," I said. "Are you disappointed?"

"Hey, we might have stayed together. And I wouldn't have met you."

"You didn't answer my question. Are you disappointed?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, a little. It looks like I missed the boat with Sara."

I grinned. "She wasn't the only one, just the most overt. Look at these."

He looked at the stack of other papers I'd kept separate, occasionally grinning, sometimes shaking his head in disbelief.

"What can I say?" he said, when he was through. "I guess I wasn't very aware of what was going on around me."

"It makes me think," I said, "that you'd have been the perfect candidate for Carol's manipulation. It's my fortune that you outgrew being oblivious."

"Maybe that was her doing," he said, thoughtfully. "When I started recognizing her games for what they were, maybe I started to see things differently."

"So, do you want to call Sara and tell her you're cured?"

He laughed. "You call her for me."

I kissed him. "I might just do that."

The exchange gave me an idea for a story, and I realize it's one that has been at the back of my mind for a while. I've started work on it... again, it has nothing to do with what gave me the idea, but it was suggested by it. I'm writing about a couple of Kollidge Kidz discovering each other at the same time they discover their sexuality.

I'm sorry to yet again write about college, but it's an ideal time for exploring, when you're first away from your parents, surrounded by kids in the same situation, responsible only for yourself. So this probably won't be the last story I write in that setting :-)


Looks like Brian will be spending the whole of March in San José. No dates confirmed yet... I'd like to see if I can fly out for a weekend with him. Of course, we have our revised, closer deadline to deal with.

I've spent the last few days getting my newest story together. Valentine's Day (2000) is now online. And I've sold a story... to a new webzine. I'm not going to give any more details until they're ready to go live, but I'll have a link to it when it's online, and I'll be able to publish it here a couple of months later.

I wonder sometimes when I read entries like the last one whether I seem pretentious when I describe the way I put a story together. After all, they're "only sex stories", right?

The problem is, if I start looking at a story that way, it doesn't work. It becomes as wooden as the stories I read that motivated me to put the site together in the first place.

I'm thinking about a possible story now. It's one that's more sex than seduction. I like the idea, it's hot. But unless I can place it in a workable setting, I can't make it interesting. Can't make it something that would interest *me*.

No more beard :-( Brian shaved yesterday. He has little cuts all over his chin...


After he gave me a Valentine's card and the flowers that he'd hidden, I'm afraid I made Brian late for work. But I don't think he minded :-)

He called this morning. Rob was taking their team out for lunch, and suggested that he invite me to meet them. They were eating at a Mexican restaurant, and I arrived a few minutes after they did.

They'd saved me the seat on the end, next to Brian. Rob was across from me, and a girl named Julie beside him. She must be about Brian's age, maybe younger, and she is sharp. At least, I think she is, most of the conversation was over my head, but Brian and Rob seemed convinced by it. She has short, straight red hair, grey-green eyes, and a nostril stud.

It was pretty obvious to me from the way that she was watching Brian that it isn't just his technical knowledge that she's interested in. And equally so that he likes paying attention to her. I think we need to talk :-)

It was nice to see Brian for lunch, we really haven't done that since he started his new job. And Rob, too. I haven't seen him since Brian's birthday. He tells me that Clarice seems finally to have gotten over her morning sickness, though she still has a hard time getting started in the morning.

Tom Landry died Saturday. Probably every one of you in the States knows who that is, but for those outside, Landry was the coach of the Dallas Cowboys from their founding until 1988. He was something of an institution around here, and even at eighteen, and not a big football fan, I felt betrayed by the way he was pushed out when the new team owner replaced him.

We've had all kinds of tributes to him in the local media, it would be hard to imagine from the current coverage that there has been hardly a word said about him in eleven years.

I was at a church one time where he preached the sermon. All I remember about it is hoping he coached better than he preached :-) But I guess he did. I think he still has the best coaching record in professional football.


Last night. We were watching "Law and Order", and it was one we'd seen before.

"What's Julie?"

"What's Julie?" said Brian. "She's a new-hire, like me. An engineer. Why?"

"She seems very smart."

"She is. She's been working in fab since she graduated. I've been out for a couple of years, so she's closer to what we're doing, while I'm more in tune with applications. Gary assigned her to my team, and I think she's gonna work out well."

"Yeah, I'm sure," I said, sourly.

"Why? What's going on?" he asked.

"She wants your body."

"Be serious," he objected.

"I am," I retorted. "I recognize that look."

"You're reading something in that just isn't there, Helen," he complained. "Last week it was the college letters. This week it's Julie."

"Was I right about the letters?"

"Well... yeah, I think you were. Maybe."

"Trust me, I'm right," I said. "And I'm right about this, Brian. I know where she's coming from."

"I think you're overreacting," he said. "She's a very intelligent co-worker, nothing more. What's making you so jealous?"

"I'm not jealous. Just concerned. I don't want you getting into something you can't handle."

"A few weeks ago, you told me that you trusted me. Even, if I remember right, even if I were to get involved with someone else, which I have no intention of doing. Now you're acting like I shouldn't even work with a woman. It sounds like jealousy to me."

I realized I was getting angry with him. I turned off the TV and thought for a moment.

"Maybe I am, a little," I said, "but I'm not trying to be. I guess if I'm jealous, it's because I see you - I imagine you - walking into trouble because your eyes are closed. If you know what you're doing, if you know what's happening, then I do trust you to work through the situation. Even if it goes beyond what I guess are normal boundaries. Because I know that you'd be thinking of us, and that what you do wouldn't hurt us."

"There's nothing there, Helen."

"You're wrong, Brian, and that's what concerns me. Not that she wants you, as far as I'm concerned, it would be strange if she didn't. Just that you won't see it. Listen, just keep your eyes open, okay?"

"Sure," he said. "I will. I promise."

"She doesn't have her tongue pierced as well as her nose, does she?" I asked.

He frowned. "I don't know. I haven't noticed anything."

"Good. If she gets a tongue stud I'm tying you to the bed and not letting you out of the house."

He chuckled, but looked puzzled. "Okay. Why?"

"Think about it."

It took him about thirty seconds, then his eyes grew wide. "Oh."

I grinned at him. "Exactly. And no, before you ask, I'm not going to get one."

"You don't need one, Helen, we do quite okay as we are."


"Well, not bad," he said.

"Not bad?" I wailed.

"All things considered."

"I'm gonna give you all things considered, mister. You're in trouble now."

I started undressing him, but refused to kiss him until I had his shirt and pants off. Then I pounced.

"Helen?" he said later, quietly.

"Yeah?" I was half-asleep, and feeling very content.

"I have seen it."

"Seen what?"

"Julie. I've been trying to ignore it, and it doesn't get in the way, but I do know she's interested."

"And you don't want to admit to me that you like the feeling, right?"

He laughed. "You're scary, you know that?"

"It's okay," I said. "Don't ignore it. Not internally, at least... don't respond to it if you don't want to, but don't pretend it isn't there."

"Yeah," he acknowledged.

"Then, if you do respond, you'll know what you're doing. She's grown up, if you rebuff her politely, she'll be fine. And if you decide not to rebuff her, I'm sure she'll be fine with that, too."

"Would you be, though, Helen, really? Not that I'm thinking of it. Not much," he amended. "But I still don't think I can believe that you wouldn't mind."

"Did I say I wouldn't?" I asked. "I don't think so. But if you ever feel that I'm constraining you, or that your perceptions of me are constraining you, it's going to hurt our love, and I'd mind that much more than a fling with the office floozy. No," I amended, "I shouldn't say that. It was supposed to be humor and it sounded bitchy. I would mind a fling with a floozy, because that would be beneath you. Julie's no floozy."

"Unless she has her tongue pierced," he joked.

"You know, all this talk has woken me up," I said, "including the parts which were feeling perfectly well fulfilled a few minutes ago."

"You wore me out already," he countered, "so waking up won't do you any good."

"Bullshit. You're perfectly capable of giving your floozy all the selfish gratification she can handle." I slid out from under the sheets, then lifting them to crawl back in head-first, I added, "And while you're doing it, she'll demonstrate just how little she needs a tongue ring."