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Subject: {ASSM} Prudence, TX Population 1276 23 (mff ff)
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Standard disclaimers apply; this story may or may not contain, in any
given part, graphic depictions of lesbianism, homosexuality, group sex,
bdsm, underage (teen) sex, magic, occultism, violence, and biting 
sarcasm.  If you're underage, or if for any other reason it's illegal 
for you to read this, or you're disturbed by the content, please don't 
read it.

Archived at http://prudence.pele.cx, and we've got a web-forum at
http://playground.pele.cx/forums as well, for discussion of both
Prudence and our other stories. Send an email to velvet@pele.cx and
I'll add you to the mailing list to be notified when Prudence
updates. 

Comments *greatly* appreciated.

Enjoy,

Velvet
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kristen was sleeping soundly, without the slightest sign of unrest. Mark
leaned over and kissed her gently. She smiled in her sleep and cuddled
closer to Kayla.

He deepened the kiss, trying to wake her gently. "Mmmm?" she murmured,
cracking one eye open.

"Hey love," he said. "I've got to take Kayla home. Do you want to stay
here, or go with us?"

Her eyes flew open all the way. "Don't leave me by myself!"

He nodded, smoothing a strand of hair back from her cheek. "It's okay. We
won't. You can come with us," he said soothingly.

She relaxed, then smiled impishly. "Do I have to get dressed?"

He smiled, and nodded again. "Yes."

"Spoilsport." Kayla sighed. "_I_ wouldn't make her get dressed."

Kristen giggled.

"_You_ wouldn't go to jail if they caught her with you nude," Mark said,
then grinned evilly and suggested, "You could take her in when you get home
for one last quickie, though."

Kayla blushed. "Um. No. They'd eat her alive."

Kristen nodded, surprising Mark, and asked "Does your dad still have that
freezer?" eliciting a deep sigh and a nod from Kayla. 

Mark leaned over and kissed Kristen. "I love you."

"Love you, too. If I _must_ wear clothes, toss me my snuggly sweater and
that wrap around skirt, honey, please?" she asked him.

He kissed her nose and headed for the closet. As her father had mentioned,
her closet was surprisingly bare. Compared to those of his female friends
in college, it was practically empty. A pair of jeans, three or four
skirts, two dresses and two sweaters. One pair of heels, one pair of flats
and one pair of very worn, ragged cowboy boots. That was it. Mark frowned
as he pulled out the clothes she wanted and brought them to her. "You know,
we should drive up to Dallas this weekend and go clothes shopping, love."

"Why?" Kristen asked, pulling on the sweater. "I've got enough for a full
week."

Mark looked at her a little oddly. "You are the _only_ female I've ever
known who didn't jump at the idea of shopping for clothes."

She shrugged. "Seems like a waste of money, really, Mark. Yeah, I'd like
some pretty things, and more sweaters would be nice, since it's getting
chilly, but it's no big deal. Clothes cost lots of money."

"Not _that_ much, love," he said. "Especially since we aren't paying rent
anymore."

"There's still property taxes," she pointed out. "You _don't_ have to buy
me things. I'm fine."

"But I _like_ buying you things, love."

"Honey, you're a _teacher_," she said. "Teachers don't _make_ any money.
They all say so!"

"I don't make that much, yeah," he said, "but we've got almost no expenses,
either."

She hugged him impulsively. "I love you," she said, with an exasperated
little sigh. "If you really want to buy me clothes, you can."

He grinned. "Wonderful."

Kayla snorted. "I'd prefer to _burn_ the ones you have, myself, so that you
_have_ to go naked. Men have no imagination." Kristen giggled at her and
fastened her skirt.
 
Mark looked thoughtful. "Hmm... naked. I could live with that."

"You do," Kristen pointed out. "I don't have a robe or anything."

"Oh yeah," he said, leering at her.

She raised her nose in the air. "Course, it _is_ getting cooler these days.
I could start wearing pajamas."

Mark feigned a look of horror. "I guess I'll have to keep you warm. Pajamas
are evil."

She smiled and held up her arms. "Done now. Carry me?" Obligingly, he
picked her up and she sighed happily and snuggled against him. "I shoulda
broke my ankle a long time ago," she murmured.

He shook his head. "All you had to do was ask me to carry you, love," he
said, bending to kiss her hair. "You're a lot closer to me this way than
when you're walking."

Kayla laughed. "Lifting heavy objects. So _that's_ why we need men."

Kristen's eyes got wide. "_I'm_ a heavy object?" she asked, chin quivering.


He raised an eyebrow, looking at Kayla. "Damn. I thought we _men_ were
supposed to be the ones to stick our feet in our mouths like that."

The little brunette looked horrified. "Oops. Shit. _No_ sweetie!" she
hurried to say. "You're a tiny little bit of a thing. Delicate. Fragile.
Ethereally beautiful. It's the _responsibility_ of carrying something so
precious that's heavy."

Mark gave a low whistle. "Good save."

Kristen giggled again. "Well, that's okay, then I guess."

Their drive to Kayla's house encountered no difficulties, however, as was
standard, every light in the house was one when they pulled up. The
previously multi-colored grass was now dead, and there were some _very_ odd
looking mushrooms growing it its place.

"Do I want to ask about the mushrooms?" Mark asked.

"No. Definitely not," Kayla said emphatically. "_I_ haven't even asked
about the mushrooms yet."

He chuckled. "I see."

Kayla gave Kristen a quick kiss and ran into the house. Mark shook his
head, smiling as he watched her jog up the walk.

Kristen sighed. "We need a time machine."

"Oh?"

"So we could just _skip_ the next three and a half years," she said.

He shook his head. "No. I don't want to miss a single moment with you... or
her."

"We wouldn't miss any," she said, "we'd just hop from one to the other,
being totally absent in between. We'd stay the same, but since our
birth-dates wouldn't change, _legally_ we'd be seventeen."

"Hmm... interesting idea," he admitted. "On the other hand, that'd mean
you'd still be in high school at twenty."

"Nope," she said, with a smug little smile. "Both of us could easily get
our GEDs and just start college. Be a bit more work, but doable."

"Well then, why don't you get us a time machine for Christmas?" he teased.

She grinned. "Wish I could, love, I really, really do."

He kept his eyes on the road, paying careful attention to his driving...
perhaps a bit more careful than was actually needed as he asked, in a voice
that tried hard for casual but didn't quite make it, "I take it you've
decided you want her around indefinitely, then?"

"Um," she said nervously. "Unless you have a problem with it. Or develop
one."

He shook his head. "No, not at all. Just the opposite, in fact. She's...
good with you. I like seeing you two together."

She smiled. "I'm glad, Mark. I've been really, truly happy. But I couldn't
stand it if it hurt you."

He glanced over at her. "So, have you figured out how you feel about her
yet?"

Kristen hesitated. "Maybe. But I'm just really not ready to talk about it
yet. Not... in words, y'know?"

He reached over and squeezed her leg. "I understand, love, but... you know
you can talk to me about _anything_, right? If you just need to talk, to
work it out. I love you."

"I know, Mark. It's _not_ you. It's just me. I just can't talk about it,
not yet."

He nodded, then asked hesitantly, "Could... could I talk to _you_ about
something?"

She smiled. "Always, Mark."

"Remember when I told you I could fall in love with her very easily?"

There was a pause, then she answered quietly, "Yes, I remember."

He stared at the road, afraid to look at her. "I think... I think 
maybe..."

She waited silently. Finally, he finished, "I think I might be."

A quiet, "Oh," was the only response.

He swallowed hard, still afraid to look at her. "I still love you, as much
as -- maybe more than I did before, if that's possible. And you are _still_
number one for me, you know that, don't you?" he asked anxiously.

"I... I'm not sure what to say."

He swallowed again, his hand clenching the steering wheel convulsively.
"Say you still love me?" he pleaded quietly, "And don't hate me?"

"Oh, love, I could _never hate you," she said. "No matter what. Even if you
hated me, I would still love you."

"Are you mad?" he asked.

"I'm not sure," she said. "I don't think so. I honestly expected this, I
really did, it's just..." She shrugged awkwardly.

"What?" he prompted gently.

She looked away. "I hoped it wouldn't scare me so much."

He squeezed her leg. "I love you, Kristen Hasseran."

She swallowed hard around the lump in her throat. "I know, Mark. I love you
too."  She wiped at her eyes, then whispered, "I feel so selfish."

"Why?" he asked, puzzled.

"Because I want you to love me more," she said. "Just loving me isn't
enough, and it should be."

Mark glanced over at her for the first time since he'd made his confession.
"I _do_ love you more. Just like if she falls in love with me, she'll love
you more." He paused, then added, "I haven't told her. I'm not going to."

It was Kristen's turn to sound puzzled. "Why not?"

He shook his head. "I won't until you know how you feel, so you can decide
whether you want me to tell her or not."

"But it's not any of my business, really, is it?" she asked.

He looked at her again, trying to read her expression. "Er, yeah, it is.
You come first. I'm not going to do anything with another woman that you
don't want me to."

"You wouldn't love me for very long if I were to be cruel enough to tell
you to hurt someone else you love," she pointed out.

"Not telling her is not the same thing as hurting her, love," he said, "and
telling her when it might hurt you _would_ hurt her."

She shook her head. "Pretending not to love someone when you do would hurt
them."

"Not as much as hurting you would."

"Forget about me for a minute!" she said, exasperated. "I'm not the most
important thing in the freaking universe. Just think of _people_ and what
hurts them. Wouldn't it hurt _you_?"

He reached over and took her hand. "Yes, you _are_ the most important thing
in my universe. And I'd rather have her not tell me she loved me than have
her hurt you."

"But it already hurts me that either of you would not do something you want
to just because of me!"

He sighed. "But I don't... which would hurt you _more_, love?"

"It doesn't matter," she insisted, "because what I _want_ most is for you
to be happy, even if it hurts me."

He smiled. "But, you see, I'm not happy if you're hurt."

"Oooooooh! This is so aggravatingly complex!" She shook her head. "Love
should be simple."

Mark laughed. "Love is _never_ simple. But do you see why I'm going to wait
to say anything until you know how you feel?

"Yes." She sighed. "But... it makes me feel like a monster."

"You aren't a monster, love, just my primary. If I had to choose... well,
frankly, I could never choose -- because it wouldn't even be a choice. You,
always and forever," he said with quiet conviction.

"Oh Mark... how could you possibly feel that way if I were so... so cruel
as to say you had to choose?"

"You don't understand, love," Mark said. "I'm falling in love with her, but
_only_ insofar as it doesn't interfere with _us_."

She looked at him skeptically. "Mark, I'm naive, not stupid. You just can't
say to your heart, 'okay, we can go this far and no further.' Your body,
yeah. Your heart... it just doesn't work that way."

He sighed. "Maybe not. But that's sure how it feels to me."

She sighed, too. "Alright. All I can really tell you is that, as horrible
as it sounds, as long as you love me more, I'm okay."

"I do," he said, smiling over at her. "But I'm still going to wait a couple
of days. I want you to have time to digest this."

"Yeah, well, after having to take care of me like a stupid baby for a week,
you might change your mind about a lot of things," she said.

He shook his head. "Nope. Besides, I like doing things for you."

"I can't believe I broke my stupid ankle. I've never broken anything
before."

"Yeah, Kayla mentioned you never even fell on the playground," he said.
"That makes me suspicious about what happened."

"Everybody has bad luck sometimes," she said.

"Yes, but _never_, and then happening now?"

She laughed. "Mark, I was a cowardly kid. A girly girl. I wasn't at all a
tomboy. Books and dolls rarely injure you."

"Well, okay then," he said. "But still... I don't like it."

"Horseback riding and gymnastics were the most dangerous things I did," she
said, "and the horses were tame as bunnies and the gymnastics I was just
naturally good at."

"Yes, but _everyone_ hurts themselves doing gymnastics at one point or
another," he argued.

"Not if they're actually careful and _listen_ to the instructor," she
insisted. "I wasn't a show-off back then. And I wasn't in it long, anyway.
Dancing turned out to be more fun."

"Mmm," he said, smiling in remembrance. "I won't argue with that -- I've
_seen_ you dance."

Kristen smiled at him. "When my ankle is well, I'd like to dance for you.
Privately."

His eyes lit up. "I'd _love_ that."

She grinned. "And you can come with me when I take my horses out, too. I
bet they wonder what happened to their mummy."

He smiled weakly. "Probably."

"Daddy has a boy who comes in and feeds and exercises them, but... well,
before you, they were my best friends."

He squeezed her hand again. "I love you."

"Even if I make you ride a horse?" she asked with a giggle.

"Even then."

"Amazing," she said, still grinning. "Kayla said she'd rather have bamboo
skewers under her toenails."

"Really." He chuckled. "I bet if you asked her at the right time, she'd say
yes."

She giggled again. "That'd be cheating."

"True."

She cuddled up to him as best the seat-belt would allow, and closed her
eyes with a happy little sigh. By the time they got home, she was sound
asleep. Carefully, he carried her in, then gently undressed her and slid
into bed beside her, falling asleep himself almost instantly.

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

If you like this, you might want to take a look at Strange Love, an
e-zine of sf/fantasy/paranormal erotica. The first issue is on sale
now for $2 at:

http://strangelove.pele.cx

Take a look!

-- 
Pursuant to the Berne Convention, this work is copyright with all rights
reserved by its author unless explicitly indicated.
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