An Ill-Advised KissbyNatureSuperal©
This is a twisted little fable, based on a twisted little nightmare. I definitely need to get my head examined.
Oh well, enjoy!
In general, Lena was able to control her temper, which was a good thing since she was an experienced practitioner of witchcraft. The talent for magic ran through the women in Lena's family, getting stronger with each generation. Lena was powerful and she had learned to control that power and use it for her benefit and those she cared for. Lena's friends thought of her as caring and generous, quick to help out and lavish with her gifts and hospitality.
It was rare to see Lena's temper really flare. In fact, it may have only really happened once.
Lena and her husband, Roger, lived in an affluent neighborhood in a large but not extravagant home. Roger was fully aware of Lena's abilities, but since Lena used them only for day-to-day conveniences and to maintain their comfortable lifestyle, he did not know just how powerful she was. Lena did not want to scare him so she was careful not to perform any overly dramatic acts of magic. On the rare occasion when Roger did something hurtful, Lena would be creative in showing her displeasure and Roger would behave himself, for a while. Roger was charming and attractive; tall, lean, well-muscled with emerald green eyes and wavy blond hair. Roger was not the sharpest tool in the shed, though, which may have been why Lena had a soft spot for him. Lena met the hapless Roger ten years earlier, an unambitious drifter who had no direction, earning a modest living as a bartender at a seaside restaurant, taking full advantage of his surfer-dude looks and attitude. Lena, smart and powerful as she was, was inexplicably smitten, so after a brief courtship during which time Lena slowly revealed her true nature and Roger mustered enough sense to recognize the advantages of living with a real-live spell-casting witch, they were wed.
They made a handsome couple. Lena was petite, with raven-black hair (which she would sometimes change to suit her mood), firm but small breasts, and violet eyes. She was alluring in a "girl-next-door" kind of way. She could have easily altered her appearance to look like a supermodel or porn-star – which on Roger's birthday she had done once or twice – but she preferred to live her life looking the way she was born.
Instead of simply living a lazy lavish lifestyle off of conjured wealth, Lena preferred to blend in with her surroundings; she owned and operated a small jewelry store. She made all the jewelry herself, combining her natural creativity with her magical skills, producing a rainbow of flawless gems whenever she needed them. For customers who she particularly liked, she would occasionally endow her wares with special powers, bestowing a boost of confidence or a dash of situational irresistibility on a deserving female trying to win the heart of a procrastinating beau. While Lena worked in her shop, Roger – who magically had developed world-class tennis skills overnight – worked as the tennis pro at a nearby country club. Between the money she made at her shop and the generous salary Roger earned, they lived comfortably and inconspicuously.
However, as often happens with dim-witted men, Roger began to take the truly miraculous life he had been given for granted. Even though Lena would indulge Roger's wild, and often indecorous, sexual fantasies, Roger's eyes would wander. Working as a tennis pro offered Roger many opportunities to cheat on Lena, with very little chance of getting caught. Roger managed to continue this disrespectful treatment of the lovely Lena for several years without her any wiser. And probably could have gone on indefinitely.
That is, until Cassandra and Brad moved in next door.
When Lena learned that she had new neighbors, she immediately invited the neighborhood over for a "welcome" party. With a wave of her hand, Lena converted her poolside patio into party central, each detail tastefully crafted, each morsel simple but delicious. The usual suspects arrived at the party and before long a good time was being had by all, a steady buzz of friendly conversation blending easily with the upbeat music. An hour passed, then two, and the guests of honor had not arrived. Lena began to get a bit irked; Cassandra and Brad had enthusiastically accepted the invite and a quick glance over the fence confirmed their car was in the driveway. Why were they not coming over?
The reason for their tardiness soon became clear. Cassandra liked to make an entrance. And so she did.
Wearing a clingy and all-too-revealing mini-dress, and red 6" high heels to match her blindingly shiny lips and exceptionally long fingernails, Cassandra pushed through the gate leading to the patio and posed, letting her new neighbors get a good long look at her. "Inappropriate" did not begin to describe Cassandra's attire, but that seemed to be the look she was going for. She drank in the attention, the slightly annoyed looks from the women present, and the leering lascivious looks from most of the men, several of whom self-consciously turned away or hastily hopped into the pool to hide their sudden erections.
Roger just stared, slack-jawed and bug-eyed. And Lena saw the stare and was momentarily hurt, wishing she had never decided to throw the party. But she quickly looked around and reminded herself that just moments before everyone, including her, had been having a wonderful time, so she quickly rallied and snapped into "gracious host" mode.
"Hello, Cassandra, hello Brad, welcome!" Lena said as she walked over to the couple, arms stretched open. In response, Cassandra extended her hand and, avoiding the hug, giving Lena a limp-fish finger-shake, accompanied by a phony and condescending smile. Brad, clearly wary of accepting a hug from another woman, took Lena's hand in his and gave her a warm handshake and appreciative smile. He was clearly touched, and rather impressed, at the trouble Lena and Roger had gone to.
"We're sorry we're late ..." Brad began, but was cut off by Lena, who had been scanning the crowd, mentally sizing up the other women.
"Nonsense, Brad, the party is just getting started," Cassandra said dismissively. "Besides, I'm sure Lara knows that dressing to make a first impression takes time."
"Lena," Brad corrected.
"Yes. Right. Sorry," Cassandra said over her shoulder as she walked past him toward the rest of the party. "Where is the bar, Lena?" She emphasized Lena's name, sounding irritated that her husband had corrected her. Or that Lena's name wasn't Lara. Without waiting for an answer Cassandra walked away, leaving the scent of her perfume hanging in the air.
Brad smiled weakly at Lena then dutifully followed along in Cassandra's wake. Most of the eyes of the party-goers followed Cassandra's wiggling butt as she made her way to the bar. She ordered a Cosmo, which naturally matched her lipstick and nails, and continued to survey the patio as if she were shopping for shoes. When Cassandra's eye fell on Roger, she handed her drink off to Brad and purposefully swished her way over to where Roger was unabashedly staring back her.
"I'm beginning to like this neighborhood more and more," cooed Cassandra as she approached Roger. Lena was watching as Cassandra made her way over to her husband and quickly walked over to intercept. "And who are YOU?" Cassandra gushed.
Before he could answer, Lena arrived at Roger's side and said, "Cassandra, this is my husband Roger." Cassandra shot Lena another irritated look and then turned back to Roger.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Roger. You and your wife are too kind to throw us this little party." Unlike the weak handshake, Cassandra leaned in, placed a hand on Roger's shoulder and kissed him on both cheeks, leaving a wet red lip print on each side. "Oooops," she giggled, "I seem to have marked you." Roger blushed slightly, and Lena turned red. "Now where did I leave my drink?" Cassandra turned away, locked eyes with Lena for an instant and gave her the same haughty smile she had given upon her arrival, and then walked back toward the bar where Brad had been silently watching. When she reached Brad she wordlessly held her hand out, and Brad rummaged in his pockets, producing a small compact and a tube of lip gloss, which Cassandra made a show of re-applying slowly and sensuously.
Lena put a hand behind her back and materialized a wet-wipe, which she used to wipe the lip gloss off Roger's cheeks. Roger's eyes, however, had never left Cassandra.
The party proceeded for several hours. The guests enjoyed the food and drink, and a good time was had by all. Except for Lena. She threw herself into playing hostess because every time she stopped to mingle, she would hear Cassandra purring at one or another of the male guests, shamelessly flirting, while Brad stood by, quietly on the sidelines. And all too often the small pack of men with whom Cassandra was chatting (and laughing and touching and ...) included Roger.
Lena noticed that Brad's beer bottle was empty, so she reached into the cooler, popped the cap with a slight wave of her finger, and walked over to Brad. "Here," she offered, "You look empty." Her choice or words was innocent but Brad took it a different way.
"You have no idea," he replied softly, then realized that she had meant his beer bottle, and reached out to take the fresh bottle. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Lena said. "So, where did you move here from?" she went on, trying to make polite conversation. As Brad began to answer, Lena felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you hitting on my husband, Lena?" Cassandra said with a smug smile on her lips. "Careful, dear, or I might do the same with yours." She laughed as she took the beer bottle from Brad, wrapped her lips over the end and took a long swig, leaving a shiny red ring where her lips had been. She handed the bottle back to Brad and walked away.
Lena was not happy about what she did next but considering all that was to come it was a comparatively small sin. Cassandra was shimmying her way back toward a group of men that were gathered at the far side of the pool. As Cassandra reached the corner of the pool, a thought popped uninvited into Lena's head, a thought which instantly and involuntarily became reality. One of Cassandra's heels suddenly broke away from the shoe, causing Cassandra to lose her balance, flail her arms momentarily, and then plunge into the pool. The few gasps of surprise were quickly drowned out by the laughter and sarcastic applause.
Cassandra sputtered to the surface and let out a banshee's wail. "AHHHHHHHHIIIIIHHHHHHAAAA! My dress! It's ruined. I can't believe this." Her eyes scanned the crowd, looking for a sympathetic face. The women looked mildly amused while the men were enjoying the way the now-wet clingy dress was hugging her breasts and hips even tighter than before. Brad and Roger both arrived poolside at the same moment and extended their hands to Cassandra. She looked briefly at Brad then took Roger's hand and let him pull her out of the pool. Cassandra's teased hair had flattened out and her elaborate eye makeup had started to run. Lena ducked inside the house, produced a large bathsheet and ran over to the pool, feeling guilty about the embarrassment she had caused. Roger grabbed the bathsheet and wrapped it – and his arms momentarily – around Cassandra. Lena took Cassandra by the arm and said, "Come on, let's get you inside and dried off."
"My heel caught on something on your pool deck. I'm totally sending you the bill for this dress," Cassandra wailed as Lena led her into the house, with Roger following behind and Brad bringing up the rear. Lena guided Cassandra to the master bedroom and kicked the door shut before Roger could follow. Despite her bedraggled condition, Cassandra's shallow competitive mind quickly surveyed the room, decided what items in Lena's bedroom were better than hers, which of course Brad would have to pay to upgrade in her own home. Lena directed her to the bathroom; Cassandra stopped in the door way and roared, "Brad! Go home and get me my pink beach wrap and my travel bag. NOW!!!!" No doubt everyone at the party could hear her instructions, and with a resigned shrug Brad exited the house to fetch his wife's clothing. Cassandra slammed the bathroom door shut and Lena waited patiently on the bed. After a few minutes, a knock came on the bedroom door. Brad. Lena opened the door and took the small bag from him and brought it to the bathroom.
"Brad brought your clothing," Lena said softly. The door opened and a hand with long red fingernails emerged, took the bag, and then retreated behind the rapidly closing door. Another few minutes passed, during most of which Lena's blow dryer howled, when finally the door reopened and Cassandra walked out, wearing a pink bikini bottom and gauzy pink wrap, which barely hid her breasts. Lena could see that a variety of her cleansing and hair products had been used and left strewn carelessly across the bathroom vanity. Cassandra had reapplied her makeup, much less dramatically than before, but still rather liberally by most people's standards. She had left her soggy dress draped over the toilet, a small puddle of pool water accumulating on the tile below.
Cassandra brushed by Lena and said, "Clean it or replace it, I don't care which. Just get it to me by next weekend." Cassandra continued to the door but stopped short when her gaze fell on Lena's dresser. A large glass-topped jewelry box sat in plain view, and Cassandra backed up to get a closer look, her eyes wide like a child in a toy store. Without asking permission she opened the glass top and began examining the glittering necklaces and rings inside. "Are they real?" she snarked not even bothering to look up.
Lena fumed at the inappropriate and totally bitchy question, but took a deep breath and replied sweetly. "Yes, none of my jewelry is costume."
Cassandra looked up and said, "Well someone must be great in bed to have earned all this." Bitch.
"Oh no, you misunderstand," Lena continued, trying to ignore the rude observation. "That is MY jewelry. I make it. I own a jewelry shop and I make everything I sell."
"Wow," Cassandra muttered, grudgingly impressed. "These must be worth a fortune." She continued fondling the baubles. "If they really ARE real," she added.
"All real," Lena replied. "You should come by the store sometime," she added and then instantly regretted.
"Yeah. Maybe." Cassandra finally closed the jewelry box and checked herself in the dresser mirror. She reached into her travel bag and pulled out a tube of lipstick and one of gloss. She made quite a show of carefully and slowly reapplying a coat of lipstick – pink, this time to match her outfit – and then slathering on several layers of gloss. She puckered and pouted in the mirror and, once satisfied that her lips and face were perfect, she turned and headed to the door. She opened the door, then paused and said to Lena, in a voice loud enough for the husbands to hear, "You know, maybe if you took a little more time with YOUR makeup and clothes, your husband would spend more time looking at you." And then she left, Brad bustling behind her.
Cassandra made the round of the pool one more time, careful to show off her bulging braless breasts and skimpy bikini before saying a perfunctory goodbye and leaving. The party soon began to wind down and before long Lena and Roger were alone poolside. "Some party, huh?" Roger dully quipped.
"Yes. No good deed goes unpunished," Lena replied. Roger gave her an uncomprehending look. Lena sighed. "You go to bed, Roger, I'll clean up." Not having to be asked twice, Roger turned and headed off to the bedroom. Lena gave a quick look around, over the fences and up and down the side yards, and then waved her hand. The mess of plates and glasses quickly vanished, stains and crumbs disappeared, and the remaining liquor and food reappeared in the liquor cabinet and fridge respectively.
Lena entered the bedroom without turning on the light and walked to the bathroom. She cleaned up the mess of bottles and jars that Cassandra had left out, washed her face, brushed her teeth, and softly slipped into bed.
"You know, it wouldn't be a terrible idea," Roger said, his face half buried in a pillow.
"What wouldn't?" Lena asked.
"What Cassandra said," Roger replied. "About your appearance. You could jazz things up a bit from time to time."
Lena felt like she had been stabbed. After all the mean words and rude behavior from that woman, for Roger to agree with any of it was deeply hurtful. A tear welled up and ran down her cheek, making a faint noise as it hit the pillow.
"You know, I'm just saying, it couldn't hurt," he added.
Lena waved a hand and every light in the bedroom turned on. She grabbed Roger and rolled him over onto his back, his eyes squinting from the sudden light. "You mean, like this?" Lena hissed, and she waved her hand in front of her face, instantly recreating the makeup look that Cassandra had worn. "And this?" She then waved a hand and was enrobed in the same dress that Cassandra had worn. "Does this turn you on?"
Roger's eyes went wide for a moment, looking his tarted-up wife up and down. There really was no right thing to say, but, sadly, of all the wrong things he could have said next, he picked the worst one. "No, I guess you're right. It doesn't work for you." And then he rolled over. Lena looked at him sadly for a moment, then with a barely noticeable flick of her finger the lights went back out, her dress dissolved, and the makeup faded from her face. She lay awake for an hour or so, replaying the events of the day, then finally fell asleep.
Roger had an early lesson to teach the next morning, so when Lena awoke, he was gone. She showered, dressed and headed off to the store. A day of working with her hands and the beautiful gems always brightened her mood. Which lasted for about an hour until Cassandra strolled into the store.
"Well, isn't this a quaint little shop," Cassandra announced as she walked in. Lena forced the grimace that had crossed her face into a smile and extended a hand to Cassandra, which was once again greeted with a quick and unenthusiastic finger-shake.
"Hi Cassandra," Lena said simply.
"I was so taken by the jewels in your bedroom that I just had to come and see what you had here." She spent the next five minutes silently perusing the display cabinets. Secretly Cassandra was awestruck by the beauty and variety, but she assumed a look on her face like a chef perusing a pile of rotten fish at market. If all the gems were real, she thought, this place would be worth a fortune. Finally, Cassandra looked up and said, "Well, these are very ... nice ... but my taste is a bit more, shall we say, upscale. Do you have any really high-end pieces?"
Lena wanted to stuff a handful of diamonds down Cassandra's throat but thought better of it and waved her to the back of the store. "Here, let me show you some of the pieces I don't usually put on display." In a room behind the main showroom, where Lena did her hand-crafting, a huge safe sat with a door slightly ajar. Lena never worried about theft or damage to the store – she could replace anything that went missing and her personal safety was covered by protection spells – so it was not unusual for the safe to be open and unattended. But, of course, Cassandra didn't know that, misinterpreting it as Lena's carelessness.
Lena pulled a stool over for Cassandra and then pulled the safe door wide open. Cassandra's eyes widened when she saw the fortune in stones, gold, platinum and pearls that sat neatly organized in the safe, along with a dozen or so necklaces and bracelets that would have caused a celebrity fistfight on an award show red carpet. Remaining cool, Cassandra said, "Ah yes, much more my style." Without waiting for permission, she reached in and picked up an elaborate necklace that looked like a lace mesh, made of finely woven platinum, studded with diamonds. She held it up to her neck and turned to look at herself in the mirror. "I do make this look good, don't I?" she said.