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

 

Chapter 11 - "Because I Know You’re Mine"

"That concludes our progress report to date. As you can see, we are substantially ahead of schedule in the critical areas of defining interfaces and partitioning responsibilities. I know I speak for the team when I say that is due in no small part to Mr. McDaniel, who has shown us things we wouldn’t have invented on our own in a dozen years of flailing around," said Tyler Andrews, pointing at McDaniel where he sat along the side of the long conference room. The other members of the software team were nodding in agreement, though McDaniel himself gave no sign he had even heard the praise.

"I should hope so," grumbled Harrison, but his gruff words were contradicted by his pleased smile. "As much money as we’re paying you, we ought to get some help, right Logan?"

"Hmm?" McDaniel murmured, then jerked his head. "I’m sorry, what did you say?"

"Geez," Harrison snorted. "You guys are ALL from another planet."

"Most of the time," McDaniel said, trying to recover a bit of his lost ground with humor.

"*I* know," declared Constance Spencer, the woman who dressed so much like McDaniel. Once again in fact, since for this formal status report he had worn his pinstriped suit as had the redheaded woman VP. She ostentatiously straightened her own tie, then smoothed her lapels and said, "He’s just thinking about his costume for the charity ball. After all, he has such *excellent* taste in clothes."

McDaniel smiled good-naturedly at the laughter, even though it was at his expense. He had a perplexed look, though, not understanding the basic reference.

"Of course," Harrison seconded Spencer’s comment. "You will come, won’t you?"

"Um, sure," McDaniel said, backed into a corner. The smiles around the room, including one from his friend Tyler Andrews, showed he wasn’t really getting into any trouble by agreeing, though they all enjoyed his confusion.

"Let him know what he’s getting into, will you Tyler?" Harrison asked as he stood. "And all of you, thanks. Good report. I’ll look forward to the next one."

"What *did* I just agree to?" asked McDaniel as soon as the room had cleared.

Andrews laughed and said, "Oh, just that you’ll participate in our annual charity costume ball."

"I figured out *that* much on my own."

Andrews laughed again and offered a real explanation. "Each year we hold this costume ball. Entry in the contest costs a hundred bucks, with prizes for the top costumes in several categories. It benefits the local Children’s Hospital."

By this time they had gathered up their things and were making their way to the work area. Andrew’s comments were interrupted by the congratulations of a few co-workers on his well-received presentation and McDaniel had to hold his questions until they were out of the main halls.

"What sort of costumes?"

"Any sort. No real restrictions. Actually, the prizes are almost always donated too, so basically everyone just shows up to give a hundred bucks to the charity. Harrison pays attention to those who do a good costume, though. The best ones get coverage on the local TV - they always send a camera crew - and if we look committed to the community it’s good publicity."

"I can see that," McDaniel nodded. Then he dropped his voice to a whisper and said, "But I can’t see anyone besides Tylara winning. Who could top that?"

Andrews’ face transformed into a pixie grin, but he shook his head. "No, actually Tylara never wins. Her costume is just a high school cheerleader outfit she, um, ‘drags’ out of her closet every year - not very creative at all. Mostly she helps with punch and, oh, nametags and things."

"I can’t believe she doesn’t win!" McDaniel said.

Now Andrews dropped his voice to a whisper and said, "No, you don’t understand. People don’t see me in a great costume masquerading as a pretty girl. They see a pretty girl in a rather unimaginative costume as a cheerleader. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Harrison knows, of course. But he’s agreed not to point out who the ‘babe’ in the tight sweater really is."

The light dawned in McDaniel’s eyes as he realized just how important it was to Andrews that no one gave his most basic ‘costume’ a second thought, focusing only on the obvious one. He nodded, then grinned.

"I can understand that, better than I would have even before last weekend," he said.

"What happened?" Andrews asked with a conspiratorial grin. "Is that what you were thinking about in there?"

"Yes," admitted McDaniel. "I expect you can just about guess what happened."

"Probably," Andrews said. "I can still remember my first time, once I moved into this area and could try to pass. It was panic and pride all at the same time, all at maximum intensity."

"You can say that again," McDaniel agreed. "I wasn’t sure whether to throw up or cry or just run and hide."

"And so you did none of the above, and just had a great time," Andrews concluded.

"Close enough," McDaniel said.

At Andrews’ encouraging nod McDaniel sat down and recounted his weekend as Lauren. There wasn’t much to tell, and at the same time there was way *too* much to tell, at least in a working conference room.

"So I guess it’s like you said," McDaniel concluded. "The most special part is when nothing special happens. Jayla and I just went shopping together, no big deal except for spending *way* too much money."

"Don’t I know it," Andrews laughed. "So, tell me. Do you like dressing now?"

"Um," McDaniel hesitated, not willing to undermine his friend’s enjoyment. "It was fun. But mostly because Jayla was having such a good time. Frankly, getting all dressed up instead of just throwing on some jeans and a polo shirt was a lot of plain old bother for me. If it weren’t so, um, unusual, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal."

"Are you going to do it again?" asked Andrews.

"Sure!" McDaniel replied without hesitation. "Jayla had a *great* time, and that’s all I need to know."

"Good," Andrews said. "I can’t wait to meet - what did you say her name was? Lauren?"

"Huh, not likely," snorted McDaniel.

"Why not? She sounds like a natural for the costume ball."

"Not on a bet! Harrison may cut you some slack, but I’m not taking the chance he won’t let Lauren fade into the woodwork. Besides . . ." McDaniel’s voice faded off as a wicked little grin settled on his features.

"Besides what?" asked Andrews.

Now McDaniel dropped his voice to a very faint whisper, though even those soft tones carried a sudden animation as Lauren’s voice was heard. "Besides, I look a *lot* prettier than Connie Spencer, and I do NOT think that would be a good idea."

Andrews erupted into laughter, nodding his head frantically in agreement both that it was eminently possible, and that it would be a *very* bad idea to show up the female executive.

"Hold still!" hissed Jayla. "If I poke your eye out, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself."

"Well, don’t blame me for being distracted when you’re leaning over me showing everything from your neck to your navel - and beyond."

Jayla laughed and straightened up from her position bending over his face. "Uncross your eyes, buster. You wouldn’t want them to freeze that way."

"Might be worth it, if the view stayed as lovely," Logan claimed with a leer.

In response, Jayla tugged at the admittedly daring bodice of her dress. "You won’t be able to see so far down it when you get the corset tight."

"True," Logan admitted. "So I was, um, storing up memories for later."

Jayla gave him a stripper shimmy, almost slipping right out of the bosom of her gown, then giggled and caught at it again. "Let me get you finished, or we’ll have to start all over again."

"Promise?" asked Logan quickly, leaping at an implication of her warning."

"From the time I started on your makeup, you idiot!" Jayla said, laughing. "Not from the time we arrived in this hotel room."

Logan’s face fell, tugging with it an artificially full lip into a pout that would have done Jayla herself proud. She just laughed at him again and bent back to her task. It wasn’t much longer before she was finished though, and stepping back.

"Very good, if I do say so myself," she said proudly.

Logan looked at his face in the mirror, surprised once again at the artistry she could create with cosmetics. It was so perfectly done it looked undone, as though it were natural - only better. He studied what he saw for a few minutes, trying to understand the 90% that he had felt yet which was now hidden like an iceberg under the surface, when his wife poked him in his own armored ribs.

"Corset time, first squeezing," she declared.

Her partially costumed spouse sighed and stood up, reaching for the laces that dangled down the back of her corset. "How tight do you want it?"

"Pretty snug," she said. "And we’ll have to do it again if I’m going to get into that monster you got for me."

"Monster that *I* got for *you*?" Logan said incredulously. "As *I* remember it, *you* picked out both costumes."

"Don’t get lost in the details," Jayla said. "I may have picked out the styles, but you picked out the specific gown."

Logan started tugging firmly on the laces to her corset, grunting almost as obviously as Jayla did when the air was squeezed from her lungs. She gasped out, "I still say we should have worn the powdered wigs."

"No way," Logan declared implacably. "You have the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen, and I’ve worked too damn hard on mine to cover it all up under a bloody horsehair wig."

"Thank you, darling," gasped Jayla, "but that’s what goes with 17th century formal court clothes. But I do have to admit, curling the ends of your hair under in that lovely page boy is just too pretty for words. Ah ... that’s ... enough ... for now."

Logan tied off her laces, then took one last, longingly deep breath before turning to present his own laces to her. If either of them could have laughed at their mutual, self-imposed distress, they would have.

Jayla’s costume was tailored just a bit more snugly than the one Logan wore, so it was possible for him to don the rest of his outfit while they waited for her ribs to settle a little. It would take another set of good pulls before she could put on the gleaming mountain of silks and satins she had termed ‘the monster’. His own corset was stiff enough that he needed help of his own, despite having already donned the silk stockings that would, in the end, be completely hidden anyway. Other parts of his fanciful costume would show only too clearly, though.

"Good thing I practiced on those high-heeled cowboy boots for so long," he grumbled as he donned a new, even-higher pair of heels.

"Quit complaining," ordered Jayla with a snicker. "You’ll be beautiful."

"If you can talk that clearly, you need another tightening," laughed Logan, menacing her with threatening fingers, about the only parts of his encumbered body he could move easily.

She sighed, almost, and turned once more to his not-too-tender mercies. Then he was helping her into the voluminous petticoats and heavy skirts of her gown.

"Did we ever figure out who was wearing the most gold?" she asked.

"Gotta be me," Logan claimed.

"I’m not so sure," she countered, pulling her wide skirts out to show seemingly acres of braid.

"I’d bet, but I don’t have any idea what stakes we might use," Logan offered slyly.

"I’m sure you’d think of something," Jayla said offhandedly as she tugged and pulled her dress into position. Then it was a long, slow process of doing up dozens of tiny buttons on the back of her gown, only possible because they had closed her corset completely.

"Lordy, lordy, you are gorgeous," he said as he walked around in front of her. "But if you take a deep breath, you’re going to come right out of the top of that thing."

"No risk of that," Jayla claimed. "I think I’ve already had my last real breath for the night."

"So, you’re ready to go?" asked Logan, fighting to hide a smile.

"I think so, except for my gloves," she said.

"Let me help you with them," he offered. Instead of going to the trunk they had used to transport her gown though, he went to his own bags. She didn’t pay much attention since he drew out snowy white gloves just as she had expected. Then it turned out they were not quite as she had expected.

"What’s wrong with these gloves?" she asked as he slipped the first one onto her fingers.

"What do you think is wrong?" Logan replied without really answering while he tugged the second into position. His smile showed he knew exactly what the problem was, though.

"These fingers are so stiff I can hardly bend them."

"Really?" he asked innocently. Maybe it’s just that they’re tight."

As he spoke he fastened the tiny buttons on the wrists of the gloves, making them impossible to remove until they were undone.

"These fingers are stiff as boards," Jayla repeated. "And a couple of them are stuck together."

"Indeed," Logan said, now confirming rather than questioning what she had said.

"Have you ever heard of samarium-cobalt?" he asked in a seemingly irrelevant question.

"No," Jayla said distractedly, still trying to work her fingers.

"It’s used in about the most powerful magnets in the world," Logan explained, showing her disks of black metal about the size of half dollar coins.

Reaching out to her gloved arms, he slipped the disks in slim pockets at each elbow. Then, casually, he pushed her arms to her sides.

"What did you do?" Jayla demanded, straining to move her arms.

"Just a little something to add to your magnetic personality," said Logan with a grin. He reached for her left hand, pulling the thumb away from the index finger where it had apparently been stuck. He had to use both hands to lever the fingers apart, then holding them carefully separate, he moved her hand down to the folds of her wide skirt. When he released her fingers, they were drawn inexorably together, this time separated by a thick fold of all the many layers of her gown.

"What did you do?" Jayla asked again, a smile beginning to show as she began to realize even without being told.

"Just gave you a little, um, challenge for the evening," Logan declared with his own grin. "Two things, or three actually. First, I found this interesting story on the web about glove stiffeners. The guy in the story used titanium or stainless steel or something that would be completely overkill. I just put some graphite-epoxy laminate, like they use on fighter airplane wings, molded to the shape of your hands. You might be able to flex them a little, but I doubt you can move them enough to pick anything up."

He took her right hand in his and manipulated the stiffened digits. Even with his strength, the fingers did not seem to move at all. Perhaps Jayla could feel a little motion, but perhaps she just imagined it.

"The second thing, or things, are magnets. I had magnets put into your gown at the waist, and put others, poles carefully aligned of course, into your gloves. I think you will be keeping your elbows close to your waist tonight."

"And my fingers?" Jayla asked, eyes twinkling.

"More magnets," Logan confirmed. "I figured you’d need to be able to gather up your dress for stairs or dancing or whatever. Now you can’t really do anything else."

"What if I have to go to the bathroom?"

"Well, nothing is actually *locked* on. You might be able to get some help. But I think you’d better plan on, ah, watching what you drink tonight."

"You are devious," she said reaching with her free hand for his waist. She couldn’t get very far, though, since her elbow was locked to her own waist. Her hand might as well have been a board on the end of a stiff wrist, so she couldn’t even caress the parts she could touch, but her smile showed the affection she was prevented from physically demonstrating.

"Took this long to figure that out?" asked Logan with a snicker.

"I just *thought* I had you figured out," she said trying to snuggle up to him and finding the corset took away even that pleasure.

"You’ll have to be good tonight, or, um, nice anyway," he said.

"I’ll remind you of that later," she threatened.

"The good part, or the nice part?"

"That depends on how good - or nice - you are," she said, accenting her words with a purring leer that did interesting things to his body temperature.

Logan reached for her, but even in her huge skirt she was nimble enough to stay just out of his reach. "We better go," they said simultaneously, laughing together as well as they realized how closely they had become attuned through the strange things they had so recently discovered about each other.

Despite his own encumbrances, Logan was better able to handle doors and other impediments than his secretly constrained wife. He managed what had to be done, taking advantage of the fact they were staying in the same hotel that hosted the Harrison ball. Between them, they filled up an elevator completely; a fact accepted by the other hotel patrons who turned away to wait for the next car at three separate floors.

When they finally arrived at their destination, Logan looked around for Tylara. She was there, looking like she had just stepped from a Norman Rockwell painting - or maybe Antonio Vargas. Logan had found out that they weren’t really expected to give their real names, just present the tickets that he had already purchased so he pulled them from where he had tucked them in his own gloves and handed them, along with a computer-generated personal card to the major d’omo.

The liveried servitor pounded his staff formally on the floor and announced in a booming voice, "St. John Warwick-Bellevois, Count Bellevois, Colonel of Her Majesty’s Own Royal Lancers, and Guineviere, Countess Bellevois."

"I must say, Colonel, or do you prefer Count Bellevois? You and your lovely wife the Countess grace us with your presence," said a somewhat-portly Dracula - a near-sighted Dracula wearing glasses exactly like those favored by James Harrison, the officially unrecognized host of the party.

"Thank you, Count. I think titles could be confusing among so much nobility. Perhaps you would be so kind as to call me Sinjin."

"As you wish, and how might I address your lovely wife? Perhaps ‘Angel’ would be appropriate, if Guineviere is too familiar?"

"Milord Count," ‘Guineviere’ said, trying to curtsy without moving her arms from her sides.

"Please, Milady, call me Vlad," the vampire said with an artificially blatant accent. "As long as you call me."

Guineviere giggled dutifully at their host’s attempt at flattery. Before she could say anything more, though, the caped nightmare swirled off with a passing, "Pardon me, I have to go suck some more blood out of these hard-working peasants."

They watched him greet yet another pair of partygoers, Dorothy and a very large Toto, before turning once again to look for Tylara. They found her passing out drinks and flirtatious smiles at anyone brave enough to attempt the punch.

"Hello, Tylara," Sinjin said pleasantly as they walked up. Instead of a greeting in return, though, the pert little blonde turned as though to look for someone behind her.

"Are you talking to me, mister?" she asked. "I don’t know any, what did you say? Tylara? I’m just Buffy."

Guineviere smiled and said, "Ah, and off duty tonight?"

"Excuse me?"

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Count Dracula in the same room? One or the other of you must be off duty tonight."

"Oh, yeah," Buffy giggled. "I never thought of that. Hey, maybe this costume isn’t so bad after all."

"Very fetching," Sinjin said pontifically.

"Oops, that did it," giggled Buffy again.

"Excuse me?" Sinjin echoed her earlier question.

"Now I know who you are," the cheerful blonde explained. "I was truly expecting Lauren, but, well, wow!"

"Thanks, I think."

"So this must be the most beautiful, wonderful, loving, creative, smart, vivacious, inventive, wild, gorgeous - did I mention pretty? - woman in the world," Buffy said to Guineviere.

"Don’t believe a word of it," the statuesque brunette replied with her own giggle.

"Oh, I do," insisted Buffy. "Except, old mundane Logan would need to be a lot better poet than he is to capture your beauty in mere words."

"My, I can see why you like her," laughed Guineviere to her gallant escort.

"Those are some costumes," Buffy said in awe, stepping back to once again regard their bright display.

Guineviere was in her ‘monster’ gown, yards and yards of golden silk and satin, accented by intricate lace. Her waist was tucked down to a size she had never thought she’d achieve, made even smaller in comparison to her voluminous skirts.

St. John Warwick-Bellevois just might have been even more gorgeous, though. Gleaming golden spurs jingled on high-heeled cavalry boots that reached up above his knees. Above the brightly polished black boots, skin-hugging silk tights led into a tunic that was tailored to show his own narrow waist. Only a purist would recognize that his military posture was due as much to the authentic corset as to his intrinsic bearing. Golden tassels and frogs and braid and any other excuse for shine danced around his black tunic, setting off artfully styled red hair and a face as carefully made up as Guineviere herself displayed.

"Costumes," Singin said pontifically. "I’ll have you know this is the official dress uniform of Her Majesty’s Own Royal Lancers, of whom I have the honor to be the Colonel."

"Yeah, right," Buffy laughed. "But you shore do look purty."

The band struck up a number that was just slightly too fast for the gown Guineviere wore, so of course the Colonel had to take his lady out there straightaway. If there were any sense that she was not as fluid as perhaps a woman of her youth and energy might be expected to be, it was put down to the obvious corset. Still, she was visibly flushed when her dashing cavalry Colonel led her back off the floor.

"Here, Milady, have a drink," Buffy offered, holding out to her a cup of punch.

"Um, no thank you," Guineviere replied.

"Why not? You look hot on that gown, and this isn’t spiked. I don’t drink."

"I’m, ah, sure it’s fine, but no thank you," the tall brunette repeated, though she looked at the glass with longing.

"Should I tell her?" Sinjin asked.

"If you want," Guineviere replied.

"I don’t want to embarrass you," he said, offering her a chance to keep things just between them.

"I am yours, my hero," she said, indicating a curtsy with just a dip of her head and hips.

"And I am yours," he said.

"Because I know you’re mine," Guineviere said, "I am not worried about your judgment on telling others. I think you once offered to me the same sort of confidence."

"Indeed I did," the elegantly-dressed officer replied.

"Um, sorry if I’m butting in," Buffy interjected. "But do I need to arrange a *room* for you two?"

"What? Oh, sorry," Sinjin said.

"I’m not," Guineviere said, leaning over to blow in his ear.

"Geez, guys. Don’t melt the ice sculpture," Buffy laughed. "Do you want some punch or not?"

"Yes, and no," Guineviere said, looking at her dashing escort for further explanation.

"I don’t think I ever told you about some of the things that Jayla does for me," Logan explained, dropping out of character. "She enjoys, for some strange reason I don’t really understand, being just a bit helpless when she’s with me."

"I can understand that," Tylara replied.

"Really?" asked Jayla. "I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain it to him."

"I don’t know if I could do that," Tylara said. "But I do think I understand it, at least a bit. Though, I don’t think I understand what that has to do with anything. You don’t look helpless to me."

"Shake hands with her, love," Logan ordered.

Jayla let her hand come up from here it had rested on the shelf of petticoats that surrounded her. In response, Tylara reached her own hand out, only to find that Jayla’s offer was not extended very far.

"If I get any closer, I’m going to be stepping on your gown," warned Tylara.

"Can’t be helped," Jayla said, smiling. "I guess you could say my elbow is sort of attached to me - at the waist."

"Ooh, that’s . . . interesting," cooed Tylara.

"That’s not all of it, as I found out just before we came down," explained Jayla. "Please, take my hand."

Tylara reached out and shook hands with the sparkling glove Jayla held only inches from the folds of her dress. To her credit, the short blonde didn’t ask what it was she felt. When she dropped the taller woman’s hand, all three fell back into their costumed roles.

"Now *that* is kinky," Buffy giggled. "I can see why drinking would be sort of . . . challenging."

"My words exactly," Sinjin declared.

"Come with me," Buffy ordered the countess. "I’ll work something out."

They disappeared behind a service area leaving the ornate Colonel standing all alone.

 

 


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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.