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Only For You            by: Brandy Dewinter           2000, All rights reserved

 

Chapter 1 - "For Your Eyes Only"

Logan McDaniel was a highly successful businessman. The secret to his success was not unusual competence. He was competent - extremely - but that was no secret. His secret was that he was also memorable in a world where software consultants seemed to multiply like a clone experiment run wild. Among that panoply of competitors, McDaniel managed to make an impression that kept him in the minds of his customers when they were trying to select someone to help them. Of course, once he got the contract he had to deliver, but that was the easy part, at least in most cases.

He made that memorable impression in the minds of his customers by creating an image of controlled contrasts. His Armani suits were outlandishly expensive, much more so than most of his customers realized, but they made his slender form seem lean and as razor-sharp as the creases in his pants. His shoes were always polished mirror-bright, a noticeable care for details that offered confidence he would pay the same attention to his customer’s needs. But none of that was particularly unusual. What was unique about McDaniel was that he could also relate to the computer wizards in the companies - the wizards that were listened to by the decision makers despite a very . . . unique perspective.

McDaniel’s image comforted the computer gurus as well because above the crisp collar of his starched shirt, he had thick dark-red hair that hung to his shoulder blades in a neatly bound ponytail. That contrast, perfectly tailored clothes with a decidedly non-Wall Street haircut, could have been discordant and jarring. However, on McDaniel it sent a message of being able to play in both worlds, straight-laced corporate and cyber geekdom. And it was certainly memorable.

The real secret - the secret to his secret - was his wife Jayla. It was her appreciation for the opportunity to send a reassuring message through controlled contrasts that had created his so-successful image, which had in turn created the opportunities for him to apply his technical competence.

Jayla had started out as a model and her own trim figure, not much shorter than McDaniel’s 5’10", had displayed fashions and cosmetics that appealed to the dream in suburban women. Her image was never the self-satisfied arrogance of high-society. She was the girl next door who sold swimsuits and shampoo and sweaters. Her beauty was fresh and wholesome, just the image soccer moms wanted for themselves and for their daughters.

After establishing herself for the way she looked, Jayla had realized she had a talent for the way she *should* look. She started defining her own makeup and suggesting styles to the clothing designers. Her trademark was subtlety, especially in cosmetics, enhancing rather than hiding the beauty she possessed. This really captured the imagination of frustrated homemakers who were too busy to sustain outlandish refinements yet wanted to feel that they looked their best.

Then she showed a financial acumen as notable as her sense of style. She sold out, but not for a fixed sum. The price she received for her line of cosmetics was a continuing income based on total sales. The secret to her own financial success was in picking the right time to make that deal, just before her approach took off in every single-dwelling home in America. It wouldn’t last - no style ever lasted for very long - but it had made her a nest egg that *would* last, even without Logan’s substantial contributions to the family accounts.

That was, in fact, the fly in the creamy lotion of her life. Jayla had achieved the American dream, female version, and was not yet 25 years old. She had personal beauty, a loving husband, financial security - and no challenges. At first, she turned to the idea of children. She was a little afraid of what that might require - anyone who didn’t approach that challenge with a bit of concern didn’t even begin to understand it - but she had confidence in herself and in her husband. Unfortunately, this was one area where they were not to succeed. The tests showed it was ‘her’ fault, a blame only she applied to a biological impediment beyond her control. It was a long time before she truly believed that Logan loved her anyway, and an even longer time before she could once again love herself.

But that left the problem of what to do with her life unresolved. Jayla decided to get back into cosmetics development, still working on a combination of style and substance. The style: subtle, supported by the substance of her concoctions.

And every now and then, just for fun, she would tweak her husband.

"Oh, darling," she sang lightly one evening.

"Uh, oh," Logan replied, grinning. He knew he was about to be had.

But with Jayla, the compensations were . . . rewarding.

"Would you do something for me?" she asked sweetly.

"Probably," he said, a mock sigh making it seem like he was resigned to a fate worse than most kinds of death.

"Let me practice on you," Jayla asked.

"Practice what?"

"I need to try out this new set of colors on a redhead," she answered.

"You mean use some of your makeup? On me?"

"Sure. You’ve got the right coloring. That’s all that really matters for what I want to try out. I’ve done the raven-haired look on myself half a dozen different ways, and blondes are a dime a dozen so I can check that anytime. But green-eyed redheads are a bit harder to come by. Especially with really bright, bottle-green eyes like yours."

"Is this going to be another one of those things like that Brazilian swimsuit you got me?" he asked, challenging her with a frown that didn’t show in his laughing eyes.

"Um, no," Jayla said. "That was, ah, definitely not subtle. And this will be. Trust me. Actually, that’s the whole point. I want to see if I can work out a look where from ten feet away you don’t seem to be wearing any makeup at all, like an actor in a movie. In fact, I want it to be doubtful at two feet, unlike movie makeup. Yet, I want it to work, too, and more than just to compensate for harsh lighting. I want you to look healthy and alert, with bright shining eyes and a clear, smooth complexion, and . . ."

"And what?" Logan asked, rising to her obvious bait.

"And you’ll just have to see," she replied. "If it works the way I hope, you’ll be, um, impressed. At least."

Her enthusiasm was more important than the words she said, at least to Logan. He would do just about anything he could for his beautiful bride, and if she got that excited at the idea of playing with his face, then it was a small enough price to pay.

"What do I have to do?" he asked.

"That’s the best part," she said cheerfully. "You don’t have to do anything. Just sit over here and let me do all the work. We’ll start by . . . "

The rest of her directions were swept up in the bright energy of her chatter. Logan followed her back into the spare bedroom that was her "work" room and sat in front of a table laden with containers of every imaginable shape and size.

"Let me clean this up just a bit," she said, reaching for a tweezers. The first yank caused Logan to twitch, but he didn’t say anything as Jayla shaped his eyebrows. In truth, she didn’t do much to them, mostly cleaning up outlying hairs to leave a clearer line, and trimming the longer hairs to a more uniform length. At the question in his eyes when she stood back, she laughed.

"Oh, trust me, darling. This will be fine, better in fact." She proved her point by handing him a mirror. At first he wasn’t sure what she had done - there had been a lot of tugs for no more apparent change, but after a moment he saw what had happened and nodded.

"It’ll actually help with your business image," she claimed. "The clean look goes well with your suit and sort of, oh, reinforces the idea that you pay attention to detail."

"Whatever you say, love," Logan replied, but he relaxed and nodded to her again.

This time her ministrations were much more comfortable for him. She spread soothing creams and dusted lightly with softly scented powder while he slouched in the chair with his eyes closed. He might even have fallen asleep if she had continued with the gentle caresses of her technique, but before he reached that happy state she started giving new orders. Looking up, down, opening and closing his eyes, one at a time then together, pursing his lips, other facial exercises made his relaxation vanish.

"If I look like Bozo the clown, I’m going to make you pay," he threatened, but as always his grin negated any real danger.

"Would I do that to you?" she teased, grinning back at him with unrepentant glee. "Actually, you are going to be flat amazed. I already am, and I’m the one doing this."

"Yeah, and you’re doing it TO me," Logan replied, but his interest was piqued.

With a final flourish, she capped the lipstick that had been her final tool and stood back. "Yessss," she hissed, pleased in a way that demonstrated her amazement even in the absence of a confirming comment.

Logan stood up and turned around to look in the oversized mirror behind her work counter. His first reaction was a slight frown. He had expected either something so subtle - after all that was Jayla’s trademark - that he couldn’t tell there was any makeup at all like the already-mentioned actor in a movie, or something so . . . well, he didn’t know what the other extreme might have been. Tasteful for a woman, of course, but obviously inappropriate for a man. Instead, he saw something that was both subtle and obvious at the same time.

"I look, goodness, ten years younger," he said. "Like a kid, only with no acne."

"Exactly," Jayla agreed. "The point of this is to make you look better, but not due to paints and potions, just because you really are good looking. At least, that’s what I was trying for. It actually worked pretty well."

"Uh, yeah," he said, reaching up to touch his cheek. He half expected her to tell him not to screw anything up, but she said nothing. "There’s more to this than just looking younger, though I’m not sure just what."

To his fingers, there was a slightly creamy feel, but when he looked at his hand he couldn’t see any evidence of what he had sensed.

"It’s almost transparent," Jayla explained, "except that it fills in a little, making your skin seem smoother."

"What else did you do?" Logan asked, pursing his lips a little at the slightly tacky feel of the lipstick.

"I spent a long time trying to get just the right shade for your lips, she claimed. "It needs to be within the range of your natural colors, just a bit darker than the average tones so it fills in smoothly. Then, I drew your lips just a little larger than your real contours to make them seem fuller and more prominent - an eye magnet to make people pay attention when you speak."

"If you say so," Logan said. "I guess I don’t know enough to say one way or the other on the details, but there is something . . . something more."

"Well," Jayla said, grinning proudly, "at least one part of my goal has been achieved. If you can’t tell, even looking at your own face, then it must not be, what did you say? Bozo the clown?"

Logan winced at her jab, accepting that he should have trusted her, and nodded. She continued, "The best part, if I do say so myself, is that I shaped your eyes with the liner and shadow and worked on your cheekbones - they’re pretty good, actually, a lot of girls would kill for your cheekbones - so that you appear more exotic than normal for men, actually just a bit androgynous, which is eyecatching without being obvious. It’ll make people notice you without realizing *why* they’re noticing you. At least, that’s what I think."

Logan smacked his lips ostentatiously, laughing as he puckered up to kiss his smug bride. "I wonder if this stuff, ah, wears off."

"If it does, I’ll make you fix it up yourself," she said, but she made no real effort to escape his embrace.

"So, do you like it?" she asked, some time later.

"Like it? What’s not to like? When you, you know, I mean I just about levitated off the bed!"

Jayla slapped his arm, but she was laughing almost too much to speak. "No, dummy! I mean the makeup. Do you like it?"

Logan shrugged and said, "It’s okay, I guess."

His lovely wife’s face creased in a frown, "So you don’t really like it."

"I didn’t say that."

"You might as well have said it," she pouted.

"Look," he said, pausing to find the right words, "it’s not, um, something I might do for myself. I can see the artistry and I have to admit I like looking younger and, well, better, but . . . But I’m not sure it’s, uh, worth the effort. At least, not for me."

Logan tried to resurrect their recent closeness with an overdone leer. "Of course, if it, ah, interests you like that, I *could* be persuaded . . ."

Jayla smiled, accepting his tactful explanation. Then a light came on in her eyes that was magnified by a wicked little grin of her own.

"Um, darling," Jayla cooed, obviously mimicking the tone from her previous request.

"Uh, oh," Logan said, playing along. "What now?"

"Oh, I’m just wondering if I could ‘persuade’ you to . . . "

Logan let her have her moment of suspense, smiling to show he was prepared to outwait her.

She stuck her tongue out at him, quickly pulling it back to avoid his snatching fingers, and said, "Okay. After I get you fixed up again, let’s go out to a movie or something. If you let me do your face, you can pick the film."

"Oh, boy. Set myself up to be laughed at, and for that privilege I get to see a movie we’d eventually see anyway. Such a deal."

"Do you really think you’d be laughed at?" Jayla asked, concern in her tone. "I never meant for that to happen."

"I don’t know," Logan answered. "I imagine it’s like you said, it would depend on how close we get to anyone. And even if someone did notice, I’m not sure what they would do. It’s not, um, blatant or anything."

"Thank you, love, but we don’t need to take the chance. Let me clean off the rest of what’s left, and we’ll go out anyway."

"Oh, I’ll let you do me up," Logan said, laughing. "It doesn’t matter if someone *does* laugh at me, as long as it’s not you. But you owe me."

"So what else is new?" Jayla said, laughing herself. But the look of love in her eyes was more than enough payment for Logan.

And, in the manner of married couples who are totally focused on each other, Jayla immediately recognized his acceptance of her whim. It made her wonder about his protests.

"Does it really not bother you, the idea of getting laughed at?"

"Oh, it bothers me, I guess," he replied, "but not too much. I don’t suppose I’d want a close friend of business associate to laugh at me, but there are only two people whose opinions truly matter to me, you and me. If I let myself be driven by someone else’s attitudes, that would mean I’m not paying enough attention to *your* feelings. So, if it would make you happy, have at it. I’ll survive."

She let her love show in her smile again, and said, "It’s just that there are some variations I sort of wanted to try, since we’re doing this anyway. And, um, if you’re willing to take the chance, I truly would like to see how people react."

Logan wrapped his slender bride in his arms and just snuggled her close for a moment. "Love of my life, I already told you. If it would make you happy, have at it."

"We’ll mostly be in a dark theater anyway," she promised, but she was once again leading him to sit before her pots of potions and powders.

This time Logan paid a bit more attention to her explanation, swept along by her enthusiasm now less impeded by his own uncertainty. This second ‘variation’ as she had called it, was like yet unlike the first.

"What do you think?" she asked when she stepped back.

"It’s, um, a little more noticeable," Logan replied. She had thinned and lifted his eyebrows a little more, and the eyeshadow was more noticeable, darker and blended a bit wider toward the tip of his brow.

"Too much?"

He shrugged, then shook his head. "Not if it’s what you want. Like you said, it’ll be dark. And it is, ah, striking." He stood and moved closer to his wife where they could both be seen in the mirror. "For once, people might notice me even though you’re in the room."

"Oh, speaking of which . . . " Jayla said, sitting down at the array of cosmetics. "I’ll need to get myself ready, too. You go pick a movie and time and whatever."

It was early evening when they arrived at the theater. Logan found a parking place that was coincidentally halfway between two light poles and rather dimly lit. Even so, it was bright enough, especially as they moved closer to the doors, to make the anonymity of a dark theater only a distant promise.

"Let me get the tickets," Jayla offered.

Once they were inside, though, there wasn’t really much chance to hide away from the crowd. People were milling around and they had to join a line waiting to get into their theater within the megaplex of screens. Logan could see a few people looking a second and even a third time at him, and feels the eyes of others behind him, but no one did anything particularly obnoxious and after a few minutes he relaxed.

"You doing okay?" Jayla asked.

"Fine," he said. "I don’t think your, um, ten foot rule is working but I can handle a few curious glances."

"Good," she said, then leaned up to whisper I his ear, "and thank you, my best beloved."

"Anything for you, love," he promised.

 

(continued)

 

 


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Only For You 2001 by Brandy Dewinter. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.