(Next two days copied from the WordPress blog I set up. Don't follow any instructions here. I will explain my reasoning in today's entry, Sunday March 3).

So here it is: my new journal. It remains to be seen how well it will work out, but it was easy enough to set up. I love the look of this theme. It almost makes the change worthwhile by itself.

I've added a link to my old journal on the left. If you're working backwards, you can get to the last entry here.

There's no good way to separate my thoughts, unless a horizontal rule works. I'll try it here, but I doubt I'll like it. No, I don't. I'll have to look into other options. I'll leave it for now.

Update on the California Couple: Rob is spending all of today at follow-up meetings from his Monday interviews, and Clarice says that everyone at her old company is really excited at the prospect of having her back. She also confessed that although she found the job very stressful at times, she misses it.The big problem is that she used to do a lot of traveling. Now she can't do that, and she isn't sure how well she could work with a limited travel schedule. I've told her I'm available to watch after Mara in emergencies, but we both know that she can't rely on me, especially if she and Rob both have to travel. The company seems willing to work around her schedule, though.

I misjudged the twins this time. They really were on their best behavior last night. No (well, not much) innuendo, no propositioning Rob (or Clarice or myself), and they were just wonderful with Mara, acting out skits as animals and schoolkids which had Mara laughing. For her part, she insisted on reading to them.I didn't return Yolanda's book. I'm keeping that until my copy arrives. It's too much fun to part with so soon.I'm getting less positive vibes from Alex. I explained to him last week that this was my time with family, and I probably wouldn't be inviting him over, but I've had a couple of whiny phone calls this week. I guess it's time to cut the cord.

Please, use the comment form here. Let me know that someone reads these entries! I think you have to register to post, but I don't think you have to use your email address. Update: it's the other way around. You don't need to register, but you do need to leave your email address. I won't do anything with it, and the journal software doesn't seem to, so if you feel the need to lie about it, I won't know. Just remember what you used for later comments.

I finished the story I was working on. I haven't spent long polishing it, so I hope I haven't left too many mistakes in. I'll review it again after Clarice and Rob leave.

I think you'll like this one. It reminds me of some of my earlier stories more than what I've been writing more recently.

Please leave a comment here, one way or the other :)

(Added later: you'll find it at The Mouse. I couldn't create automatic links to stories from the blog; one other reason to stay with my tried-and-true scripts.)


I'm taking the WordPress blog down. I realize that I don't want my journal to be yet another web log. Yes, it's a diary, but it is also a progressive story. It needs to be experienced from the beginning, and read as a work of fiction. That was always my intention, and turning it into an everyday "read what's going on with me" page - well, there are an almost infinite number of those around now, many much better-written than mine.

My journal is about my life and my loves. It is a soap opera of a kind, and that just doesn't carry through to a blog format. Maybe no-one will read it these days. It had a large readership before the growth of blogs, and a lot of interaction (not all pleasant) between the journal, the BBS and my email. Now, it will seem to a casual visitor to be one among many, and few will see it for what it is.

I know that there were those who found my journalled encounters more erotic than my stories, because they were happening to someone they knew - after a fashion. That was always a consideration when I created it, and to be honest, knowing that made my exhibitionist side very happy. Now I've lost those readers, with my long absence, and I wonder if I'll be able to entice others, now that I am competing with blogs.

I guess that for now I'll just maintain the journal for myself, and see whether I can make it worthwhile. If you have any thoughts, or if you still do read my journal, please write to me and let me know.

For those who do still read my journal, here's a preview of what I'm currently working on: The Mouse in a different form. Feel free to try any of the stories linked there, and report bugs! Yes, the domain is mine, and I plan to move most of my site over to it soon. I'll keep the journal here, on my personal site.

(Added much later: obviously now that is the only form of the story, since I reworked the site scripts. So following the above link won't show you anything different.)

Rob and Clarice left at lunchtime today. Yesterday we found a realtor - a guy who Yolanda recommended - and spend the afternoon looking at houses in this neighborhood. That should tell you how the week went...

Well, nothing's definite yet. Both of them have to get written job offers in their hands before they'll commit, but Clarice's old company wants her back, and Rob's interview was very successful. In fact, he wouldn't be taking a pay cut at all - though they won't pay for his relocation. He's fine with that; he'd much prefer to pay a one-time moving fee than a long-term reduced income.

So they're leaving me to find them a house. Yesterday was a speculative trip, just to get an idea of what they're looking for. They've been away from here for so long that even my small place seems spacious to them. (It hasn't felt spacious this last week, with two adults and a child under my feet all the time :).

Dave, the realtor, has a good idea of what they would like. He seems very good. So he's going to show me what he finds, and I'll talk to them - if it's good enough, Clarice will probably come back here to see it before they make a commitment.

This morning, Clarice whispered to me that as soon as they move here, she's going off the pill. She mentioned the possibility of another baby to her company, and they don't have a problem with it. She took very little time off after Mara was born, and they claim to like the "insight" parents have - after all, their market space is kids and parents of the very young.

I took Rob and Clarice (and Mara, of course) out to eat before their flight. I'd have gone to the airport with them, but all you can do now is say goodbye at the security line, so I didn't see much point. I hugged all three of them and told them I hoped I'd see them soon.

When I got back home, I found an ominous message on my answering machine from Yolanda about a certain "rain check"... I'm not sure that I want to know more.

After keeping Alex at arms' length all week, I've invited him over this evening. I'm going to tell him we're through, but I'd like to give him something to remember me by.

Aw, hell, who am I kidding. I wanna get laid. With one thing and another, it hasn't happened since Valentine's day, and if I'm dumping Alex it isn't likely to happen for a while. And Alex is... well, Valentine's day was quite pleasant :)

Besides, it's entirely logical. (Riiight...) If I've been without for too long, God knows what I'll let Yolanda talk me into. (Maybe I could convince her that I've given up sex for Lent? Hah. She'd never buy into that.)

Problem is, if I tell him up-front that our time is up, he'll probably leave. If I don't, it will be dishonest. Honesty, or great sex? Much as I hate it, I'm going to have to go with honesty...


This is when I need Clarice back in my daily life. Though for my purposes, I need her single and unencumbered, which isn't going to happen, so...

Alex took the news very well. He arrived early, and it was such a fine day here we went down to the lake, bought some bags of corn and fed the geese and ducks. It was chilly, but still a pleasant place to be.

Then I told him I was feeling uncomfortable with the way he seemed to be looking for a commitment, and that I was beginning to feel confined. He argued, of course, but he admitted there was some truth to it, and if we were going to break up, he'd prefer it to be now rather than letting the attachment grow.

When we went back to my place, I invited him in, but he wouldn't stay. Even after a kiss long enough to have any concerned neighbors calling 911 he wouldn't change his mind.

I should have lied.

If Clarice had been around (and free, and single, as in the old days), I'd have called her up and had her take me out and get me drunk. Although that has had unintended consequences before now. But she was on a flight back to San José.

I have other friends, but never anyone I could pour my heart out to the way I could Clarice. The nearest to that is Laurel, with Yolanda coming very close. But they seem to think I made them a promise ... which I did, of course :).

Still, I decided I'd prefer to spend an evening fending off the twins than wishing I'd kept Alex for one more night, so I called to see what they were up to, and within a half-hour they were at my house to take me to a party they were heading to.

I never did find out whose it was, or why it was happening, but it was exactly what I needed. Yolanda kept plying me with wine, and introduced me to a couple of very eligible single guys. That wasn't what I was there for, though, and Yolanda talked them both into promising to call me in a few days, then shooed them away.

She made a comment about this obviously not being the night to collect on my debt, and I launched into my gravity theory, which I did a terrible job of explaining, and Yolanda found hilarious.

Around one o'clock she found Laurel, and the two of them took me home and invited themselves in. Laurel brewed us all coffee.

"Think you'll be okay?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said. "I feel much better now. This had been brewing for a while. I guess I just wasn't ready for it to end so suddenly. He's a guy. I didn't think he'd want to go without ..."

Laurel gave me a lascivious look. "Well, if that's the problem, we could hel... oww!" as Yolanda elbowed her in the ribs.

"What me friend means is, we can best 'elp yer by leavin' yer alone, right?" said Yolanda, as Laurel glowered at her. "But don't fink we forgot yer promise, 'cause we ain't."

She's great. They both are. A few minutes later they left, with hugs all round.

I missed the Monday status meeting for the first time in forever. My head was hurting this morning. I don't do much drinking these days, and Yolanda was definitely making sure my glass stayed full.

I've had problems with allergies this year. That's unusual for me, but this strange winter seems to have affected more people than usual, and the last couple of weeks I've been sneezing a lot and having stinging, watering eyes, so I blamed my absence on a bad night's sleep due to allergies. I'll head in to work soon.

I'm a bit worried about one thing, though. I dumped myself on the girls at short notice yesterday, and I didn't see much of Laurel - does that mean that I messed up their plans? I'm sure Yolanda had better things to do than hold my hand (figuratively) all night. I appreciate what she did - a lot - but I hope I wasn't badly in the way. I think I need to find a way to thank them.

Update: well, I hope they take this the right way...

I tried to order what I wanted online, but I guess the delivery fee becomes too significant for small quantities, or something. Instead, I found a florist close to both of their offices, and stopped by on my way to work at lunchtime.

I've sent them each a single long-stem rose, with a card reading "For a perfect lady," signed by Isaac. I'm sure they'll understand the reference.


Yesterday evening was just slightly too cool to drive with the top down. Disappointing - but probably for the best, because I spent most of the drive on the phone.

(Should I admit that? I hate inattentive drivers with cellphones, yet I use mine in the car. It isn't hands-free, either - though I think it's a mistake to believe that hands-free is much safer. Anyway, I try to be careful, though there are times when I've realized that I wasn't paying enough attention to the road while on the phone.)

First was an unfamiliar voice. He introduced himself as Barry. He was one of the two guys I met last night. I thought he might call, but the very next day... that showed a little too much enthusiasm for my tastes. Until he told me (apologetically) that he'd lost my number, so he'd had to get it from Yolanda. Then he figured he'd better call immediately to apologize, before I heard it from her.

Right about then, my phone beeped with another call, so I asked him to wait, poked the button and found myself talking to Yolanda.

"Can I call you back? I'm talking to a friend of yours."

"Oh? Who?" she asked.


"Ooh. Yes, call."

Back to Barry. It was short notice, but would I like to accompany him to a black tie dinner on Saturday?

There was something about the way he asked. Confident, but not condescending.

"I might," I said. "Let me call you back later this evening, okay?"

"Sounds good," he said.

Not that I really needed time to consider - I was already deciding what to wear. But I wanted to talk to Yolanda first, so I called her right back.

"So, tell me about this Barry guy," I said. "Didn't he say he worked at the hospital?"

"That sounds like how he'd say it. He's a doctor. A surgeon, I think."

"Oh. Really?"

"Uh-huh. Divorced. Low forties."

"Hmm. What's he like?"

"He seems like an okay guy," she said. "I was surprised to see him last night. Works hard. I don't think he spends a lot of time on the golf course."

"He's invited me to a black tie affair this weekend."

"You gonna go?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Well, for what it's worth," she said, "I don't know that he's been dating much since the divorce. He doesn't seem like a womanizer."

"You mean he hasn't asked you out?"

"No, dammit."

I laughed.

"Anyway, what's with the romantic gesture?" she asked.

"Romantic? Oh, the rose? I just wanted to thank you for last night. Both of you. I guess I'm feeling guilty that I took all your attention, when that was your evening out with Laurel."

"Oh, it wasn't," she said. "I'd have been bored if you hadn't been there. Laurel had people she wanted to see. That's why we were there."

"Oh," I said. "I figured that with Laurel not around, you should have been with her."

"Nope," she said. "In fact, Laurel was complaining about you being my date instead of hers."

"I didn't realize I was," I said.

"Oh, now I'm hurt!" She laughed. "We fight over you, and you don't even notice..."

"Don't give me that," I said. "You were carefully avoiding any innuendo, or anything that would make me feel uncomfortable. Don't think I didn't notice. That's why I sent the roses instead of calling. I was touched."

"You were? Who by?" she yelled. "I'll strangle her, the vixen!"

"Well, it meant a lot to me," I said. "Thank you."


"Sorry?" I asked.

"What are you doing Wednesday?"

"Uh-oh," I said. "Umm, let me remember. Ah, yes. I'm fleeing to Mexico, entering the Witness Protection Program and joining the Peace Corps. Sorry."

"Fine," she said. "We'll expect you here at seven-thirty."

"Yes, ma'am," I said.

As I mentioned, I've been working on revamping the site. It has been fun. My work doesn't give me the opportunities for scripting, database development and all that I used to do, and reworking the site has given me the chance to relearn a few old tricks, and to practice some new ones.

I've imported all of the stories into a database, and written code to serve them directly. Having that, I thought it would be cool to add an RSS feed, so that you could subscribe to the stories and pick them up automatically.

Working through sample code, I managed to do that. Then, when I realized how simple RSS is (it stands for "really simple subscription," after all) I realized that I could apply what I'd learned to my journal. Even though it is not database driven.

I had to write a new script first that would display individual entries, rather than the half-month at a time that it usually shows. Since I've tweaked these scripts recently, that only took a couple of hours. Then generating the RSS feed was quite straightforward.

I'm going to have to refrain from updating entries, though. I'll have to remember to keep changes until the next day, because the feed won't register a change.

I've changed my mind (again). Since I'm going to make the switch to the new site soon, I'll just wait until that happens before making the RSS feed live. It's already in place and working over there...

Expect that switch on or before this weekend. Maybe even tonight.


I've made the big switch. I'm going to have to hope that everything works perfectly, or that I can find any problems quickly, because I'm going out of town. The customer called. They want me in Vancouver on Monday morning, early, so I'm flying out on Sunday afternoon.

I've found a few small errors so far, but it looks mostly smooth. I'd really love some feedback on how you're finding everything, and if you would be so kind as to log into the new forum, that would be even better...


The twins own a small two-story place not too far from me. Last night was a beautiful evening, and it's beginning to smell like spring here. Trees are greening up, and the ornamental pear in their yard is about to blossom.

I arrived at seven twenty-five. Laurel let me in. The smell inside was even better than spring outdoors. Garlic. Lots of. Other stuff that I couldn't recognize.

I don't really know why I was surprised to find that it was Yolanda cooking, rather than Laurel. I guess I always think of Laurel as being the more artistic one of the pair, but that really isn't true. They're both very creative.

Anyway, Yolanda is a hell of a cook. It was a lemony-garlicy chicken on rice with asparagus and raw spinach, and it was just wonderful. I don't remember when I last tasted anything so good.

My allergies were acting up, and I had to wipe my eyes. Laurel asked me what was wrong.

"The thought that I'll have to go back to ordinary meals after this," I said. "It's so tragic, it's making me cry."

Yolanda smirked.

The girls had combined their two roses into a single stem vase and used it as a centerpiece. I knew they were the roses I'd given them, because they had the small florists' cards attached. It seemed appropriate that they had paired them up. Laurel saw me looking at them.

"Oh, yes, thank you for the flower, 'Isaac.'"

"I explained your gravity theory to her," Yolanda said, "as much as I understood it."

"I don't think I explained it very well," I said, feeling my face flush.

"I like the idea of being a natural force," said Laurel.

I helped clean up. Laurel brewed coffee.

In their living room they have a bean bag chair, which she pulled up close to the couch. Instead of sitting on it, she curled up, her head below the coffee sitting on the end table, while Yolanda and I took the couch.

"You look very feline like that," I said.

Laurel stretched, looking even more cat-like. "That's me, the gravity cat," she said, twisting her head around and looking up at me.

"Hey, I really wasn't trying to be rude with the gravity comment," I said. "I was just trying to explain how I felt."

"I didn't think you were rude," said the gravity cat from her bean bag. "I like the concept."

"I just think you're being too serious," said Yolanda. "Which is fine. That's how you are. I think you've got this idea that we're predators," (the gravity cat yowled) "wanting to sink our claws into you."

"When we're really just playful kittens," said Laurel, batting her eyelids.

"I know you're not predators," I said. "On Sunday I was frustrated and tipsy. If you hadn't been perfect ladies, you could have talked me into anything. That's the main reason I sent you roses."

"We could?" squeaked Yolanda. "Laurel! Go get the tequila!"

"Aye aye, sir!" said Laurel, but didn't move.

I laughed. "You know I love you both, don't you?"

"She loves us... just not in that way," cried Yolanda, hiding her head in her hands.

"Speak for yourself," muttered the gravity cat. "She loves me in that way."

Yolanda turned serious. "I know you do, Helen," she said. She reached out and gave my wrist a quick squeeze. "I've got no intention of making you uncomfortable." Then she grinned. "Even though you do owe us."

"So we collect individually," offered Laurel, watching me through half-closed eyes. "Doubled, of course."

"Oh, God, I love you both," I said, "but I don't know what I see in you. I really don't."

"What did you tell Barry?" Yolanda asked a little later.

"I told him yes," I said.

"What are you going to wear?"

"I have a nice black cocktail dress... what's wrong with that?" I asked, as she frowned at me.

"Have you talked to him?"

"No," I said. "Do I need to?"

"You haven't done these major black tie events much, have you?" asked Laurel.

"No, I haven't."

"A black cocktail dress is perfectly okay," she said. "Good, in fact. Very safe... and I think I know what Yolanda's thinking."

"Aye, well, yer would, wuddent yer, luvvy?" said her partner. "'Av yer got 'is phone number, ducks?"

I was instantly suspicious. "Why?"

"Just give it 'ere," she said. "It's fer yer own good."

I had two numbers for him, home and mobile. I gave Yolanda his home number, and she reached him immediately.

"You busy?" she asked, after introducing herself. Then "I'm going to push the speaker button, alright? Helen's here, and I have some questions for you."

"Okay," came a fairly puzzled voice from the phone.

"Am I right in thinking that Saturday is one of these major charity events?"

"Uh-huh," he said.

"How are you going to dress?"

"In black. It's a black tie."

Yolanda rolled her eyes. "I think you're two of a kind. There's black, and there's black. Ladies don't have to wear black."

"True," he said. "What does Helen want to wear?"

"Well, if she's going to do it right, she's going to want to coordinate with you."

"I am?" I said.

"Yeah," said Laurel, "I do know what she's thinking," and she left the room.

"Barry?" I said. "This is Helen. I don't know what this is about... how well do you know these two?"

"Well enough to know that I never understand them," he replied.

"Oh. Wow." I said, when Laurel returned. "Oh, my God. That is beautiful."

She was carrying a long wine-colored gown that was absolutely gorgeous. "I wish you could see this, Barry."

"Here's the thing," said Yolanda. "If she wears this, she'll look great. But I can get my hands on the matching bow and cummerbund. Then you'll be perfect."

"Charles," Yolanda whispered.

"I don't know..." came the voice.

"Try it on," said Laurel. I'd taken the dress, and was looking at it. "It's mine, but I don't think it will be too long for you."

"Jesus, just put it on," added Yolanda. "It isn't like we haven't both seen you naked."

"Uh, ladies..." came Barry's voice, while I felt myself turning red. But, yeah, modesty was pretty pointless around them. I stripped and Laurel helped me into the dress.

The long skirt blended into a gauzy lace, which reached my ankles, and seemed to flow as I moved. Behind, it was cut down to about the small of my back, rising to my shoulder-blades, held up by two thin crossover straps. Those were connected to rings, becoming four straps at the front.

With no sleeves, the fabric dipped slightly below my arms, rising to be supported by the two thin vertical straps, the other two crossing below my neck to draw the bodice closed. That left a wide diamond gap over my breasts, while still giving plenty of lift. Below my breasts were gentle horizontal pleats that rippled as I moved.

"Uhh... Barry..." I said. "Umm, they're right. I have to wear this."

"I can get the tie and sash tomorrow," Laurel said. "Trust me, Barry, you want it."

"Okay," came the resigned voice. "Hey, Helen... do they push you around, too?"

I laughed. "Not as much as they'd like."

So, now I'm really excited about this weekend. I haven't done this extra-fancy formal thing before, and I guess I'm still feeling a bit overwhelemed that what I thought started out as a casual date has turned into a huge production number, but it promises to be fun.

Saturday I'm going shopping with Laurel for shoes, and maybe a new clutch purse. And I guess I need to have my hair done - and my nails, and...


More site changes.

Given my intention late last year to close the site down, and my uncertainty even last month as to whether to do anything significant with it, I should probably say something about the changes.

Well, I've owned this domain for years, now. From back before 2004, when I updated the journal a little. I'd been intending to move everything to it, then perhaps sell or give away helen.org. But not doing anything with the site - it seemed a bit pointless.

Then, after all the email I received after saying that I'd be shuttering the site, I decided to continue it - but when I took the plunge and started writing again, I figured that I might as well go the whole hog and do what I'd intended in the first place.

It has given me the chance to learn, and to recover some of my nerdette skills before they atrophy. I know that I'll never be a web designer. I don't have the artistic flair. But I've learned all kinds of interesting things about CSS and PHP - and RSS feeds, for that matter - to add to my fairly good knowledge of SQL databases.

If I could work with a real artist, we could probably be a killer web design team. Hmm... I think Yolanda does some work with Photoshop.

That might be dangerous.

Anyway, it's only an idle thought - my mercenary instincts wouldn't allow me to quit project management for web work.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I wanted to fix some of the problems with the journal script that wouldn't allow it to pass W3C HTML validation. But I wrote the scripts without any understanding of CSS, and retrofitting it wouldn't have been fun. And if I switched to CSS, I thought could probably modify the journal in a way that would mostly keep its quirky, nineties look, while fitting into the rest of the site.

So that's what I've done, and it seems to work. If you have any comments about it, or find any problems, please head over to the forum and let me know.

(I see that we have a few forum users now, I wish someone would get the ball rolling with a message!)

Dave, the realtor, wants to show me some homes tonight. It's Friday, and I have a busy weekend planned, since I'm heading out of town. I do need to keep up with this task, though, for Clarice's sake, so I'm going to go. Tomorrow Laurel is taking me shopping.

Oh, and she called to say she's retrieved the dress clothing from Charles and will be taking it over to Barry this evening.


(Actually it's still Friday night, but I doubt I'll get chance to do any updating tomorrow before Laurel arrives.)

Didn't see any real must-have houses. One I liked - or at least, I liked the layout, a lot. What I didn't like was the awful green wallpaper, counter tops, shelves. If they were willing to put in a lot of redecorating effort, it might work out, but I don't think it's for them. I'll tell Clarice about it anyway.

Was this green once a popular fashion color or something? It was so very deliberate. I tried to look up the color at online paint companies, but they don't even seem to have it. The closest I can find is at Crayola, where it seems to match the crayon they call "yellow green".

The others didn't work out, though I might have liked them more if I hadn't liked everything else about the green house. Dave understood, and I guess liking the green house gives him a data point. Which is a strange thought, since I'm not Clarice, but in this, I think I can identify her tastes quite well.

I called Clarice to update her. She has heard from her old company in the form of a written offer. Now she just has to wait for Rob's confirmation.


Wow. I think this is going to take a while. Fortunately, my flight doesn't leave until this evening.

Yesterday, chronologically...

Laurel picked me up at ten for our shopping trip.

"You guys are turning this into such a big deal," I complained, while she drove us to the mall. "I mean, I appreciate everything you're doing, but it's just a date. I don't even know the guy."

"And you're just thinking about guys," she countered. "The date has nothing to do with it. You can leave him behind, for all I care. Your first big formal dinner-dance, that matters."

"Big deal," I muttered.

"Helen, you could have been ready for tonight in just a couple of hours. Your hair is fine. I know your black dress would be perfectly suitable. You don't need a manicure. You would go to the dinner and I know that you would look lovely."

She glanced over at me. "But so will everyone else. And I think I know you well enough to know that you're not happy with ordinary. Not when you can shine. And you, my love, are going to shine."

For Laurel, that was a long speech.

"You're going to so much trouble for me," I said. "It's your dress. You made the stylist appointment. You're spending your day with my shopping."

"I'm doing things I need to do, too," she said. "While you - you gave me a long-stemmed red rose for dumping you at a party and ignoring you all evening," she said. "Who exactly is going over the top?"

"Well, all I can say is... I wish you were taking me to the formal instead of this Barry."

She winked at me. "You and me both. But I think you'll like Barry just fine."

I found a lovely pair of shoes, silver, but I wasn't sure if the heels would be too high for dancing.

"Try them," said Laurel, and when I had them snugly fastened, she took my hand and led me through a cha-cha, ignoring the odd looks we were getting.

The shoes were more comfortable than they looked, and there was a purse that suited them perfectly. And I hadn't intended to buy a bracelet, but... by the time we arrived at the salon, I'd spent a lot more than I'd intended.

Since Laurel had made my appointment with her own stylist, she had to wait her turn, but she stayed with me until the manicurist took over. And - well, okay, he - the stylist - was also horribly expensive, but I think he has found a new customer.

"One more thing," I said to Laurel, after we were both done. There was something several stores back...

I showed her the brilliant crystal hair pin I'd seen, and she agreed with me that it worked, so I bought that and she pinned it in place.

We arrived back home still with plenty of time to spare, so Laurel insisted in giving me a massage.

"Okay," I said, "but no getting sidetracked."

She took away all of the day's stresses, and left me revitalized. Then she helped me into the dress, and left - though not without a lingering kiss. Well, she'd been very good about staying on task with the massage, so I had to forgive that, even though it left me fluttery.

Then makeup, pack the tiny purse, and wait for my date...

The look on Barry's face made the effort worthwhile. Though he looked pretty damn good in tux and the borrowed tie and sash. Better than I remembered from the party. He has dark eyes, short dark hair and gold-framed glasses. A squarish face, but without the weight that often seems to imply.

From the look of the tux, it was his own, not rented. It fit far too well, and looked (and felt, though I wouldn't know that until we reached the dance) like very high quality wool. The wine-colored tie and pleated shirt went well with his complexion.

Our destination was a fairly long drive from my place, but Barry's Infiniti got us there in comfort. As for the event itself, it was sparkly. Lots of diamonds and extravagance. Laurel was right - I wouldn't have been at all out of place in my black evening dress, but I'd have regretted not taking the opportunity to go a little overboard.

"So, this is how the other half lives?" I asked Barry.

"I wouldn't know," he replied. "Events like this are an occupational neccessity. No-one pressures us to attend, you understand, but it's a good idea to show your face occasionally."

I glared at him. "You brought me here, and you didn't even want to come?"

He shrugged. "No, I wanted to, but I wouldn't want to make a habit of it."

I recognized a few of the faces - and, during the many introductions over the course of the evening, a couple of names that were even more familiar.

Those dancing lessons I took from Charles, and the practice I've had with him and the twins over the years, showed their worth. Barry's an okay dancer, but some of my partners were amazingly good, maybe close to Charles's ability. And I found myself dancing with a couple of those "names" I mentioned, too.

God, I hope I don't make it into the society pages. I don't think I'd ever live that down.

Of course, I spent most of the evening with Barry, and found myself really enjoying his company. He does have a lot of confidence, and he reasons well, but he listens, too. I haven't felt as comfortable talking with a guy in a long time. Outside work, that is.

When he introduced me, he never made it sound like I was just his date - to hear some of the guys there, you'd think their wife / date was an accessory, not an individual.

I did manage to learn a little about him when we weren't mingling. He's from upstate New York; his family is scattered around the Northeast. None around here. He's an ear, nose and throat surgeon. He was fairly reticent when it came to his work, though, quizzing me instead about my career.

I found myself almost automatically taking his hand when we stood together, and feeling my face warm when his dark eyes met mine. And when they did, he didn't look away. He does have a lot of confidence, he just isn't overbearing with it.

I guess my strongest impression of him is this: he's used to getting his way, but he gets what he wants by understanding, reasoning, and being right, not by making demands. I think if I were a patient, that would be someone I would trust.

All in all, it was an exhilarating evening, and I think my feet will hurt for days.

Barry wasn't very talkative on the drive home, but then, I was pretty much zoning out to relax, too.

"Would you like to come in?" I asked, when we arrived at my place. After that evening, and the signals I'd gotten from him (and been giving, I'm sure), I was taking the next step for granted.

Barry frowned. "I think I'd better not," he said.

"Oh." I hadn't expected that. "Is something wrong?"

"No, I just... it's okay. I've had a wonderful evening."

I looked at him for a while. Then, "Why don't you at least come in, let me brew coffee, and tell me what's up. You can leave right afterwards. I promise I won't bite." He seemed indecisive. "Unless you really hated the evening, it seems a shame to cut it off too early."

"Okay," he said, "and no, I haven't hated the evening. To the contrary."

I nodded, and led him into the house. I brewed two shots of espresso, topping the mugs up with boiling water. When I returned to the living room, I found him looking at a painting on the wall - it's an abstract by a friend of Yolanda's.

Handing him his coffee, I rested against the back of the couch, not wanting to sit while he stood. "So, what's up?"

Barry studied the painting again. "You know I was married, right?" he said, eventually.

"Yolanda told me you were divorced, yes," I said.

"Yeah." He nodded, slowly. "I'm two years out of a pretty bad situation. You know," he mused, reflectively, "when I signed up for med school, I used to think how great it would be. The girls would be lining up to date a doctor. Even a student doctor."

"It didn't work out like that?"

"Yeah, it did," he said. "That's how I ended up married. Some women will go a long way to snag a doctor. Since my divorce - well, same thing. It's hard to avoid the word 'relationship'."

"I'm beginning to see where you're heading, I think," I said. "You think I've got my sights on you."

"I don't know that," he replied, "but I guess... look, I thought we hit it off well enough last weekend, until Yolanda stole you away. I thought it would be fun to see you, to take you to the dance, then I turned up here to find Cinderella in all her glory."

"Waiting for her prince," I finished. "I see the problem. Damn the twins. this isn't a consequence I'd have guessed at."


"Oh," I grinned, sheepishly. "My fiancé and I called them that." He raised his eyebrows at mention of a fiancé. "Yolanda and Laurel. Think Schwarzenegger and De Vito."

"I see." He was grinning at the reference.

"It's ironic, but I had almost the same argument with Laurel this morning. Yesterday morning, I guess. She said they weren't encouraging me for my date, but for me, because this a great opportunity to... well..." I waved my hand to mean my outfit. "To be like this. They were right, it was. You know what I said to her?"

He looked at me with a curious half-smile.

"I said I wished she was taking me, instead. Because it really wasn't about you."

"Oh?" His eyes widened a little at that.

"That was before," I said, quickly, "and I really wasn't serious. Well, only a little. I've been looking forward to this, and I'm very glad you invited me. But you're wrong about me." I lifted a finger and touched the back of his hand briefly. "Let me tell you something about me."

He nodded.

"I've never been married, but I was been engaged. For over two years, though some of the time we weren't... He was the love of my life. I believed it then, and I guess... I still love him, I think, but not in the same way, and not as the one and only. I finally figured out that I don't work that way. That was the cause of the worst of our problems, and I didn't even see it until after he was gone.

"I guess what I'm saying is this. I've done 'forever' once, and it wasn't. I'm not looking to try again. I don't think I ever will."

I ran my hand along his sleeve. "You know, I've been wondering if maybe you were looking for long-term, and I'd have to disappoint you." Then I stroked his hand, and slipped mine into it. He returned my squeeze, and I leaned over and kissed his lips briefly. "But I'm not a considerate person like you. I wasn't going to tell you that until... well, not yet." I brushed my lips against his. "Now, are you really needing to head home?"

His arms around me was all the answer I needed.

A few minutes later, I came up for air. My belly was tingling with excitement.

"Barry?" I said, quietly, "there are two thoughts I'd like to share with you. First, I know exactly where you're coming from. I've got a great job. I'm almost finished with my MBA. But if I were to call my mother and tell her I was dating a doctor, she'd think it was the only worthwhile thing I've done in twenty years."

He nodded, and I kissed him again. A moment later, he drew back, and asked "What was the second thing?"

"Oh, yeah," I said, nuzzling his cheek. "That this gown comes off a whole lot more easily than it goes on."

In fact it wasn't as easy as I thought. Those crossed chest straps mean that it doesn't just slip off. It takes some easing and wriggling. After I'd wriggled, I draped it over a chair.

Other clothes were - well, about like usual, but with enthusiasm.

I wish first times could always be like my stories. I think Barry had been too long without a partner, and I was too eager to get him inside me. He came almost immediately, and had to withdraw before I'd had my turn. But his deft fingers gave me some wonderful sensations before he let me tumble into a delicious orgasm.

I nuzzled his neck as he played with my boobs.

"Would you really go out dancing with Laurel?" he asked.

"I dance with her often," I said. "She leads better than you do."

He laughed at that. "Just dancing, or... ?"

I propped myself up on my elbow. "You know, there are some things you maybe shouldn't ask on a first date."

"Ah," he said. "I see. What else shouldn't I ask?"

"That, probably." I laughed and ran my fingers down his stomach, then over his shaft, gently using my fingernails, and was pretty sure I could feel him respond. I slid down the bed and lightly tongued the head of his cock, which immediately started to expand. "And I guess you shouldn't ask me not to do this. You can, but if you do, I'll make you regret it."

It wasn't long before he was completely hard and breathing heavily. I unrolled a condom onto him.

This time he was on top, and I could tell that I was going to be ready well before him, so I didn't try to wait. I wrapped my legs behind him and shook myself against him. Barry pinched my nipple, and the the sensation gave me the impetus I needed. I crested again, gasping.

When that subsided, I relaxed, moving with him, trying to sense and feed his excitement. After a while he began to move faster, slapping himself into me, and I felt myself responding strongly to him. Grabbing his head in my hands, I fastened my lips to his, ramming my pelvis into him. I released his head and clawed his back, sucking his tongue hungrily.

Then I had to break from his lips, and cried out as I felt the tsunami approach. Gripping his back to hug myself stil closer to him, I matched his unrestrained motion with my own, and felt his muscles tense. I pressed myself against him, and groaned as the wave overwhelmed my senses, vaguely registering Barry's sighs of pleasure as I kept pushing against him, matching his movements.

The glorious throbbing within me seemed to last a long time. I think I started fading into sleep before it waned, waking suddenly when he started to withdraw. I kissed him on the lips. "Now, that was worth waiting for."

"No shit," he said, sliding off me.

He dressed soon after that, leaving the sash and tie on the chair.


"Yes, Helen?"

"We're neither of us looking for anything long term - but I do want to see you again."

He leaned over and gave me a long, long kiss on the lips, running his fingertips around my breast. Then, "When?"

"I'm leaving town this evening. Next weekend, maybe?"

"I'd like that. I'll call."

Alex was fun, but I haven't had a night like that in far too long. Not just the sex, of course. I really enjoyed Barry's company at the formal, and he mine, I think. I liked the way he treated me as a partner rather than "just" a date.

I think I'm going to have to tread carefully here.

This morning - almost noon, really - after I remade the bed, I picked Laurel's dress up carefully from the chair - while I hadn't let it lie in a crumpled heap last night, I hadn't been very careful about setting it down - hunted down my errant hose and underwear and carefully folded the tie and cummerbund. The twins had promised to come over to recover it, and I was feeling a little embarrassed at how obvious we'd been.

Then a shower, then start packing...

So much for hiding the evidence. The twins didn't arrive until 1pm. Yolanda waltzed into the room, took a look at the couch, then gave me a wide-eyed stare. "I know what you were doing last night!"

I looked at the couch in a panic. "What?" I couldn't see anything.

Yolanda cackled. Literally. Cackled! "Now I know what you were doing last night."

Laurel stroked my cheek. "This scarlet shade is so you she said."

"Oh, God. You two." I had to laugh. "Hell, it isn't really a big a secret. Yes, it was a very good night all around, and I can't tell you how happy I am to have two such conniving, sexy, scheming, manipulative, gorgeous, wonderful friends as you."

"'Ere, Marge," said Laurel, "I think she just gev us one o' them condiments."

"I dunno, Flo," said Yolanda. "mebbe she's taking the mickey."

"She said we wuz sexy."

"Well, she's right summa tha time, Flo."

"How much d'yer think she owes us now, Marge?"

"Dunno, luv," said Yolanda. "I can't count that 'igh."

"Oh, God," I said. "You're not adding this to my so-called debt, are you?"

Yolanda bristled. "So called? Girl, we are going to collect from you, one day."

"With interest," added Laurel. "Lots of luscious, interesting interest."

The twins reminded me that today was the day that Daylight Savings Time takes effect. I knew that a few days ago, but it slipped my mind. I had an hour less to get ready and get to the airport. If they hadn't told me, I'd have had trouble making my flight.

I finished packing after they left, and entered a little more of this before I had to run. Now I'm heading to Vancouver. Maybe I'll be able to upload the entry from the hotel tonight.


Very full day at the customer site today. Review meetings; acceptance issues from some recent tests. A little placating needed, and they do have some legitimate concerns. They're issues I talked with Mary about last week, and they're being handled. I think I need for her to spend a couple of days here. She won't want to, but I'm sure she'll do it.

I dropped her an email earlier. I haven't committed her yet, but I've suggested two weeks from today for a couple of days.

Dinner with the customer. When I got back to the hotel, I found I had email from Yolanda. Laurel picked up a speeding ticket today, and she's fuming. She does drive too fast - not recklessly, but she does speed - but she has avoided getting tickets. (I think she has talked her way out of a couple, too.)

Yolanda recalled that I'd mentioned having done a video defensive driving class, and wondered if I could talk Laurel through the process, so I called her.

The first step is to go to the court and request a defensive driving class. Unless she was travelling dangerously fast (I think it's more than twenty over the limit) then approval is automatic.

After that, you go to Blockbuster - probably any major rental chain, but I know Blockbuster carries them - and rent the videos. Then you watch them, and answer questions. In my day they were VHS, but now they'll be DVD - and I think they even have DVD-based online tests now. None of the phoning around that I had to do.

The main thing she needed to know is that it's an easy process once she starts it off at the courthouse. Then she can get the DVDs, go to one of the many defensive driving dinner classes or comedy evenings, or whatever. They should both do the class, and get insurance premium deductions...

Nothing to do afterwards, so I fooled around a little with the site - found a bug in the layout of one of my old journal pages. Then re-read a couple of stories, to see how well they're holding up.

As many years as it took to finally get to writing, I find I'm still very pleased with The End of Summer. I haven't read it since I posted it, which was almost three years ago. For a basic teen-sex-first-time story, it's quite moving (in my opinion, at least :), which is exactly what I wanted for it. I did find a typo, which has been around forever, of course. I guess I should go re-proof all of my stories from the beginning. <sigh>

I also discovered that Cousins is mis-titled. The second section / chapter heading refers to the events of the third chapter. Oops. I must have realized that the sections were unbalanced, moved text from the second to the third, and not renamed it. I have no idea what I should call the second chapter, now.

I've been procrastinating about something. There's a guy - a friend of mine, here in Vancouver, named Jacques. We met a couple of years ago at the customer site. He's with a bank in the central business district, and was working with them on an entirely different project to me.

We got together away from the customer's facility, and he gave me something of a grand tour. I saw him on several trips here before one of our occasional evenings out continued in my hotel room instead of ending at my car, and by then we both had a pretty good idea of what we wanted.

He has at least one regular girlfriend - and I'm fairly sure she knows about me, though I've never met her. For my part, I wasn't dating anyone else when we first slipped between the sheets, but I didn't call a halt when Alex came along.

I always let him know when I'm in town. Sometimes we get together, sometimes we don't. This time, though - I haven't called him or emailed him. If he learns I'm here and ignoring him, that probably will upset him, though I could call him right now and tell him I don't have any time this week, and he'd be perfectly fine.

But after Saturday - I'm feeling a bit on edge. I'm not sure where things are going to go with Barry, but I'm feeling some aftershocks from our time together. I think of him and get these excited, anticipatory tingles in my belly. I don't want an eternity, but for a while, I think we could be good together. And I don't want to jepoardize that for the sake of what has been a very casual slightly-more-than friendship.

I know I've hinted to Barry - maybe strongly enough that he won't be interested in seeing me again - that my libido needs some freedom. But saying that and testing it just a couple of days later - well, there is a difference between free and fickle.

So I'm procrastinating. I want to call Jacques, because I don't like to ignore him, but I really would prefer to avoid seeing him this week.

Relationships can be such a chore.


I can be pretty wool-headed at times, I guess. My thinking gets sidetracked, and I assume everyone else is on my narrow wavelength. Like with Laurel on our shopping trip. She was thinking about how I'd feel about the dance, and the only thought in my mind was that it was a date.

Well, Jacques was a good friend for a long time before I first invited him to my hotel room. Why would I think he wouldn't be now?

I called him this afternoon. I figured it was unfair not to - and he was pleased to hear from me, and invited me to join him with a few friends this evening. We talked, and he had no problem at all with me making it clear that there wouldn't be any after-hours activities. And no trace of jealousy when I told him about Barry. Not that he'd ever been jealous of Alex, for that matter.

So I feel a little less uneasy. I do wish Barry would call, though.

The phone did ring, but it was Yolanda. There's a new dance studio that opened a few weeks ago, and they're having a Grand Opening night this Saturday. Did I want to join them? Charles would be there - if I didn't bring my own partner.

So when - if - Barry does call, I have a suggestion for what should be a fun date - one that would be a lot less demanding than last weekend's.

And speaking of phones - I had a long talk with Mary this afternoon. She's not at all happy about coming up here, but she understands the importance. So she'll be here in two weeks, even though that will probably mean working weekends between now and then to stay on schedule.


Still no call. Still endless meetings at the customer. Some hints at a new project that I may need to pursue.

I called Clarice. They're still waiting on Rob's offer, and she has to decide on hers in a couple of days. So she's on edge.


Damn, why is the lack of a phone call upsetting me so much? If I never hear from him again, it's not like I'm losing anything I already had. Any future options that are closed to me are ones I wouldn't have expected to last for long, anyway.

It's just - I really did think he was going to call. I thought we were good together. I thought we were enjoying each other's company. And it's ironic, but that's what he said when he thought I was trying to tie him to me - that we'd hit it off well the previous weekend.

If I were looking for Mr. Right, I might even be less anxious about this than I am, because I'd be expecting for everything to take a long time, and I'd be justifying him not calling with "it wasn't meant to be." But he said we'd get together this weekend, and there's no way he could expect me to make plans at one to two days' notice.

Ah well, it was a nice idea :)

I spent a little more time fooling around with the site last night. helen.org is now just a placeholder. I'm going to use it as a "gateway". Some of the things I can't do from this site directly I'll do from there. Specifically, I'd like to use referrals to offset some of my costs, and most referral programs may have trouble with the content here. It isn't clear whether I would be okay or not - but by having no content at helen.org which could be judged objectionable, I can't see that I would have any conflict.

I changed the journal RSS feed, too, after only having written the original script a week or so ago :). Now the entire site uses the same kind of scripting. I can test changes on my own notebook now, instead of uploading them - although I'm not planning on there being any major changes from this point on. I need to write more stories, not more web pages!

I'm going to use that as an excuse to write something that I've been thinking about for a long time. Since before I stopped maintaining the journal in 2001.

That is, the kinds of stories I try to write, and why (one reason) that I write fewer than I once did.

Over the years, I've gotten tired with "X and Y are in situation A, and decide to have sex." Situation A being, perhaps, the office, or a business trip, or a dorm party, or whatever. You can write that story for any situation you can imagine, and I have done, for many.

They can make good reading. It isn't that I don't like them, it's that I'm finding that I'm a lot more interested in the why. And that, really, makes a story challenging to write. You're with a guy you like, and the situation is amenable - why wouldn't you sleep with him?

Umm, that didn't come out quite right, but I can't think of a more suitable way to phrase it. I'm not suggesting that every couple should be screwing like rabbits at every opportunity - contrary to how this journal must read at times, that isn't how I feel. What I mean is: when I write a story, I set it up in a way that the couple will have sex, or it wouldn't belong here. So, having that situation already established, there has to be a reason they're not already going at it, and that there is some seducing to be done.

So there's The Danger Zone, where Caitlin isn't ready for her first sexual encounter, but does want the feelings along the way, The Mouse, where Ryan wants to make love to Nicole, but for reasons that make it impossible, or The End of Summer, where teenage love is part of a picture that's unseen until the end.

On the other hand, Roomies, is really much more the X-Y situation A type of story; its only distinction from earlier writing being that X and Y were always a guy and a girl (in some combination) before now. What would be far more interesting to me would be girl meets girl, girl likes girl but frets over reciprocity (although we know better, or it wouldn't be a seduction story), etc. That's unlikely to be a story I'd write, because I don't think I could express the feelings with enough credibility, so I'll leave it to others. But comparing Roomies to that would be about the same as comparing Susan to what I'd really like to write. I still get positive feedback on Susan, and I still like it as a story, but I wouldn't see much point in trying to recreate it now.

The emotional twist that I'm looking for - that's much harder to find than what I started writing, and so I always have far fewer stories in mind than in those early days.

This was brought home to me in early 2000. I'd written a multi-part story called Neighbors. (No, don't go looking for it, it isn't here. That's why there's no link.) I alluded to this story in the thread on the forum named "Welcome back and thanks." I wrote it, but it wasn't working for me. I sent a copy to Jill, and one to another regular correspondent, and their response was, basically, "ummm...". I'd tried consciously to make it more erotic, and had nothing but a catalog of sex acts involving the woman protagonist. It was entirely based on the situation, and had no emotional reason to exist.

It didn't work for me, it didn't work for my two reviewers, and I began to realize that it wasn't the situation or the sex that made me like a story. It was emotion that led to arousal, not vice-versa. When I realized that, I tossed several predictable ideas, and new ones became harder to find. So when I quit updating the journal, I didn't have much to give to the site, and it languished.

Now that I'm back, I want to seek those kinds of stories, even at the risk of writing very little. And I honestly think that The End of Summer and The Mouse are about as close to what I'd like to write from now on as I can imagine.

I have been daydreaming of a new concept-type story for the last couple of weeks, whether I can make it work... that's a challenge. It may never see the light of day, so I won't say any more yet.

... He called! Oh my god, after all that. He called while I was finishing up the last section. I was fretting like the above-mentioned girl, worried whether her feelings would be returned - maybe that's what brought the idea to mind.

He hasn't been able to able to firm up his schedule for this weekend yet. He wanted to be sure before he called me, but it's getting too late, so he called anyway. He likes the idea of the studio Grand Opening, but he won't know until Saturday if and when he can join us.

I just realized it must have been one o'clock his time when he called, and we talked for a half-hour. I hope I didn't make him too tired to work tomorrow.

If I'm going to tire him out, I can think of much more enjoyable ways to do it.