(Author’s Note: Please be aware that this story deals with adult themes and situations. Reader discretion is advised.)
Roxanne Prize headed down the streets of Major City in her Volkswagen Beetle on her way to the Mann Estate outside the city limits. She normally got around via one of the Invincible Alliance’s Air Cars, but this particular…situation…seemed to call for a little more discretion than flying. So she broke out her old warhorse of a vehicle and set out to keep her appointment. At least, to a degree.
Shelly was yanking her chain, right? Had to be. She expected Roxanne to either chicken out or show up all raring to go, and then she’d play the “Psyche!” card. That was why she was letting this go as far as it had.
Well, Roxanne had started this foolishness, and she’d see it through to the end. She might end up looking bad, but she didn’t care. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time, would it?
The drive didn’t take as long as she’d anticipated (or hoped), but Roxanne soon found herself at 114 Alan Parrish Road – address of the Mann Estate. Paul had been in the process of setting up shop there during the last few months they had been together, but it had been years since she’d darkened its doors.
Her presence, however, had not been forgotten in at least one quarter. As she pulled up to the gate, a blinking light on the security system spoke to her. At first startled, she soon realized it was…familiar.
“Good evening, Miss Prize,” the voice greeted. “Mr. Mann told me to expect you.”
“Oh, hello Sparky,” Roxanne answered the estate’s computer system. “Yes, I’m supposed to...wait, Paul told you I was coming?”
“Indeed – though Mr. Mann warned me you might be delayed in your arrival,” the soothing voice said. “It’s a pleasure to have you joining us again.”
“Why…thank you,” Roxanne managed to choke out, feeling oddly comforted to be complimented by a computer.
The gate opened by Sparky’s automatic relay, and Roxanne drove up to the resplendent March Mansion that Paul had converted into his personal sanctuary. He knew she was going to be there? What exactly had Shelly told him? It sure sounded as if he anticipated her having second thoughts about even showing up.
Well, she was, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her, either. She parked in the circle in front on the sprawling three-story house, and navigated the steps that seemed to take an eternity. She attempted to ring the bell, but the doors opened for her before she had the opportunity.
“Come in, Roxanne,” Paul welcomed as she walked through the front living room. “We thought you might have skipped dinner, so we have food already prepared in the dining room.”
Paul…was there? Yikes. Roxanne hadn’t been expecting that twist in the evening. She had figured that Shelly would have found some excuse to get him out of the mansion – it wasn’t as if it took much. But no, there he was, and he was telling her they were going to feed her, too.
And what a meal it was. The dining room table might have seemed small for such an expansive house (unsurprising for Paul), but her hosts more than made up for it with their spread. Filet mignon and stuffed potatoes, served with a dry red wine. It looked scrumptious.
Roxanne was quite relieved to see the wine there, as she really needed some. She poured herself a glass as she joined Paul and Shelly at the table. “Really guys, this was totally unnecessary,” she quietly offered.
“Nonsense,” Paul insisted. “You’re our guest! And really, it’s been much too long since you stopped by for a visit.”
“P-P-Paul,” Roxanne stammered. “I--”
“I mean, I realize things were awkward for awhile,” Paul continued, as Shelly silently rested her elbow on the table and waited for him to finish. “But really, we’re all adults, and I like to think we’ve put the past behind us. After all, it’s…”
“Paul!” Roxanne interjected. Don’t you…don’t you know why I’m here?”
Paul paused. “Well, yes. Shelly and I discussed it, and I don’t have a problem with it. She’s heard about the crazy stuff we did when we were dating!”
Roxanne felt herself blush vividly. As a still-silent Shelly kicked Paul under the table, a look of realization came across his face.
“That was the wrong thing to say, wasn’t it?” Paul asked.
Shelly crossed her arms and scowled as she glared at him. “You think?”
Roxanne hastily poured herself another glass of wine as Paul tried to save face. “What I’m trying to say is, I love Shelly, and you’re one of my oldest friends. I trust both of you, and I like to think I’m pretty open-minded. Is that weird?”
Roxanne downed her glass of wine and poured a third. “Look Shelly, you really don’t have to go through with it. I was just being a smartass.”
Shelly bit her bottom lip. “I gave my word. It’s not up for debate. I have my pride.”
More like stubbornness, Roxanne observed silently as she lingered over her wine. The trio kept their thoughts private through the remainder of the dinner. Finally, the food was gone, the wine bottle was empty, and all that was left was three people who weren’t sure what to say next.
“Well, I guess I should be going,” Paul finally said as he stood up. “I have an appointment with some computer code at the office.”
“Uh, Paul,” Roxanne ventured. “What about…um…?”
“What, what?” he asked.
“Sparky?” Roxanne replied. “I don’t know how comfortable I feel knowing he’s everywhere.”
“Oh,” Paul realized absent-mindedly. “Oh, right. I hadn’t thought of that. I just take it for granted that he’s always around.”
“Sparky!” Paul commanded as Shelly fidgeted self-consciously in her chair.
“Yes sir, Mr. Mann?”
“Please confine your functions to the computer labs and the estate perimeter until 8 AM tomorrow morning.”
“Very good, sir. Will there be any further instructions?”
“No, that will be all.”
“Good night all,” Sparky signed off as his presence left the vast majority of the mansion.
“Thanks,” Roxanne said simply.
“No problem,” Paul replied as he leaned down to kiss Shelly good-bye. Roxanne watched as Paul’s hand reassuringly rubbed the back of Shelly’s head as their lips brushed ever so briefly. He was comforting her, and she couldn’t tell if either of them even realized it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Paul reassured Shelly as he prepared to leave.
“Just be careful,” Shelly answered. “Remember, I won’t be around to save your bacon if you get in trouble.”
Paul smiled as he activated his Wrist Changer and the costume of Captain Satellite formed around him. He floated into the air effortlessly and then zipped out the door and into the sky.
“Sure knows how to make a memorable exit,” Roxanne mused as she toyed with her wine glass, wishing it was proper to raid the liquor cabinet for more.
“Yeah,” Shelly replied with a hint of resignation in her voice. “Would you…ah…like to go upstairs?”
Roxanne died a little inside, but heard herself respond with “Sure.” As she followed Shelly up the staircase, she couldn’t help but think what an enormous mistake they were making. Still, it could always be worse. At least it sounded like Paul would still be speaking to her when it was over. But as far as Shelly went…
Roxanne peered into the master bedroom with some trepidation as Shelly turned on the lights and closed the door behind them. Suddenly, with no warning, Shelly tackled Roxanne. Before she knew what was happening, Roxanne found herself pinned down on the bed.
“Ah-ha, how do you like that?!” Shelly exclaimed as she sat atop Roxanne and held her wrists firmly on either side of her head.
“What are you doing?” Roxanne gasped, a slight note of panic in her voice.
“…Don’t you like it?” a clearly crestfallen Shelly asked innocently.
“Um, it’s kind of terrifying,” Roxanne admitted.
“Oh,” Shelly said, releasing Roxanne’s wrists and climbing off her. “It’s just that guys have always…never mind.”
Roxanne stifled a laugh as it was Shelly’s turn to (finally!) blush. “We both need to relax. Start slow. Like…maybe I could rub your shoulders for you?”
Shelly nodded, and Roxanne laid her hands on Shelly’s shoulders. Wow, talk about tense. Shelly squirmed a little under Roxanne’s touch at first, but gradually loosened up just a tad. All it took was ten minutes or so.
“Now, you do me,” Roxanne said, instantly regretting her choice of words. Undeterred, she began to unbutton the first few buttons on her blouse. Shelly watched with some puzzlement, unsure what she was supposed to do next.
Roxanne realized how it looked. “I’m just making it easier for you,” she responded as she tugged the blouse down a bit to leave her bare shoulders exposed. Well, except for the noticeable purple and red bra straps. Roxanne almost expected Shelly to comment on the fact that her underwear matched her Firegirl costume.
But Shelly didn’t. As Roxanne turned her back to her, Shelly tentatively reached out and put her fingers on Roxanne’s skin for the first time. Roxanne settled in, expecting a shoulder massage similar to the one she’d administered. Instead…
“AHHHHH GEEZ OW!” Roxanne howled as Shelly’s grip proved to be a lot more forceful than either of them anticipated.
“I’m sorry!” Shelly apologized as she jerked away abruptly. “I didn’t mean…!”
“Girl, your hands are like a VISE!” Roxanne muttered. “You really don’t know your own strength, do you?”
Shelly was too busy punching the wall in frustration to listen. “Dammit!” she cried. “Why can’t I do this right? Why can’t I be more like you?!”
Roxanne shook her head, disbelieving her ears. “Huh? More like me?”
“Well, that was this was about, wasn’t it?” Shelly said as she whirled to face Roxanne. “You were flaunting how much more experienced you were compared to me!”
Roxanne felt a twinge of guilt over that accusation. “But you…you had no respect for me! I had to get back at you somehow!”
“Mission accomplished,” Shelly noted glumly as she flopped back down on the bed and hung her head.
“I didn’t know,” Roxanne said. “I don’t know why Paul would tell you about all that stuff we did when we were together.”
“Because I asked him,” Shelly whispered.
“I made him tell me everything,” Shelly confessed. “I was curious –I’ve never dared do things like the two of you did. And I’ve always wondered if I make him happy because I can’t.”
“I had something to prove when you challenged me,” Shelly continued. “I wanted to prove that I could be like you. And I failed.”
“Alright, first, no one’s failed, except maybe to understand,” Roxanne said. “Second, what is this crazy talk? You’re jealous of me?”
Roxanne sidled up next to Shelly. “Look, Paul went along with my partying because it was what I wanted, not what he wanted. He would have been just as happy to stick with me alone. Paul loves YOU now, and I’ve gotten over my wild child days.”
“Even after all this time, there’s just so much about him I don’t understand,” Shelly said.
“Yeah, join the club,” Roxanne replied. “But hey, you want to know a secret?”
“If I’m jealous of anyone, it’s him, not you,” Roxanne admitted.
Shelly’s face contorted into a mask of confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Well, Paul and I are done, and there’s no going back,” Roxanne explained. “But he not only met someone who really loves him, but she is one hot woman, too.”
“Oh God,” Shelly said as she covered her eyes with the back of her hand.
“I’m serious!” Roxanne protested. “I might have been joking about this whole thing, but…well, I wouldn’t mind hitting it.”
There was a pregnant pause that seemed to last an eternity. Then, without explanation, Shelly scurried over to the nightstand. She giggled as she retrieved something Roxanne couldn’t quite make out.
“I have to show someone this!” Shelly exclaimed. “It’s one of Paul’s ‘secret projects’ that he does here!”
Shelly tossed a foil packet into Roxanne’s hands. Roxanne examined it closely. It looked remarkably familiar.
“Is this…what I think it is?” Roxanne queried.
“Yep,” Shelly confirmed. “Paul says it is, and I quote, ‘much more efficient than standard prophylactics. Just tough to formulate in mass quantities.’”
“It’s blue and white,” Roxanne noticed as she tore open the packet. “He made it in the colors of Captain Satellite?”
“Oh, that’s not even the worst of it,” Shelly snickered.
“Are these LED lights?” Roxanne asked. “But why? You can’t even see them when you’re using it!”
“Press the center of it,” Shelly instructed.
Roxanne did as she was told and was greeted by…
“YES!” Shelly shouted. “It plays music when it comes in contact with an external object! Or maybe that should be ‘internal’, I dunno.”
“AHHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!” Roxanne laughed. “What is he thinking sometimes?!?!”
“Please notice it’s the theme from the Cat-Man TV show,” Shelly stressed. “Appropriate choice? I’m not sure myself.”
At that point, Shelly and Roxanne both erupted into a gale of hysterical laughter. They were both in tears by the time it subsided minutes later. Roxanne scooted off the bed as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Shelly, you are really something else,” Roxanne said. “Look, I might as well get going while it’s still early.”
Shelly leaned back on the bed and smiled shyly. “You know, you were planning on spending the night. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t.”
Roxanne arched an eyebrow. “What are you saying?”
Shelly shrugged noncommittally. “I’m saying that whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – here tonight is just between the two of us. That’s all.”
Roxanne stood in the doorway and grinned broadly. She adjusted the wall control for the lights to dim. She really was pretty tired after a draining day, and didn’t look forward to another drive anyway. So a sleepover it was.