Lady in Red Ch. 10byHarddaysknight©
Steve felt his face get heat up as he listened to Paula admonish Gwen for not having her phone close at hand. She all but stated that she suspected what he and Gwen had been doing. He struggled for words to relieve the tension he felt. Before he could speak, Paula came around the pool table and stood before him.
"Don't get so nervous, Steve. I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I'm sure you two had a wonderful time, playing pool," stated Paula with a smile. "Please consider the consequences of your 'games' in the future and place Gwen's welfare before your own. Gwen's 18, and I remember being that age. I understand more than you may think. I'm asking you as a mother, and as your friend, to be cautious and go slow. I think the world of you. You know that."
After Paula left the room, Steve managed to begin breathing again. "Your mom knows! What do we do to now?"
"Yes, I think she has an idea. That's why she texted me and then Kate. She was worried about what she and Dad might walk in on. He'd be forced to thrash you again," smiled Gwen. "How cool is my Mom?"
Steve hung around to play a couple games of pool, but his mind wasn't on the game and he lost both games badly. "I think I'd better go. It's after nine and I'm a little nervous about your Dad. I'll see you in school tomorrow. Do you dare walk me to the door?"
Gwen grabbed his hand and led him to the front door. Ted and Paula were sitting in the living room watching TV as the couple walked past them. "I'm walking Steve to the door and kissing him good night, okay?"
Paula and Ted both looked up. Paula smiled and Ted shrugged as Gwen stepped outside with Steve. "Tonight was wonderful. I hope you haven't lost respect for me or think you can do those things anytime you feel like it. I reserve the right to decide how much we do and when we do it. Maybe that isn't fair, but that's the way it has to be."
"Gwen, if I respected you any more, or held you in any higher esteem, I'd explode. You're the most beautiful girl I've ever known and I'm fine with you calling the shots in our romantic activities. I do reserve the right to be an equal in everything else, okay?"
Gwen nodded as Steve pulled her to him and gave her a long kiss. "I think you're working out to be a very good boyfriend. I'm going to do my best to keep you around."
"You couldn't drive me away," declared Steve as he turned and headed for his car.
Gwen found Kate sitting on the bed in Gwen's room. "I didn't mean to interrupt you guys, but I knew Dad was coming home. I don't know what would have happened if he found you like I did. Are you and Steve lovers now? Are you on the pill? How does it feel to have a lover, especially one like Steve? I bet he's awesome!"
"Kate, I want to thank you for saving me earlier. I appreciate that you realized the need to let me know that Dad was coming home. Steve and I are not 'lovers' but I think I'm in love with the guy. We did do some serious petting tonight, but nothing below the waist. I am not on the pill, and I'm sure he'd be an incredible lover.
"Now that I answered your questions, I want to ask you one? Will you promise to never ask me about my personal love life again? I will never lie to you, but I won't answer questions like that again. That was pretty embarrassing for Steve and for me. You're a great sister, but they're some things a girl tries to keep private. It was my fault for doing it in the living room where you have every right to go. Don't mention what you saw to anyone."
"Okay, you know I won't. Mom must have suspected something because she wanted me to hurry home to tell you that she and Dad were on their way. You looked beautiful sitting on Steve's lap with him holding your breasts. I'm sorry, but I watched for a little while. He really loves you a lot. I could see it in how he held you and kissed you. I hope I find a guy like him pretty soon."
"Now, that is really embarrassing! I was almost 18 when I finally got a boyfriend, and I've been with him for over four months. These things don't happen fast. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend when I met Steve. You should just look to make friends and see what develops. I'm scared to death that I'll do something wrong with him. I'm falling in love with him. I know that, but I don't want our relationship to be about sex. I want him to love me for the person I am, but the physical part is so exciting. He's got me in his web. I just hope it all works out."
"It looks to me like you have him in your web. He's jelly in your hands, Sis. I see how he looks at you. I saw it that first day at the mall. When he looks at you his eyes get all soft and he glows. If you keep loving him, he'll never leave you. You guys are amazing when you're together. He told me that he'd love me like a sister and that makes me feel special, and obligated to never let him down. I can't imagine what it must be like for you."
Christmas Day once again saw Steve and his Uncle Joe dining at the Anderson home. Steve was pleased that his uncle had been much more receptive to visiting the Andersons this time around than he had been for Thanksgiving.
Steve sat next to Gwen on the couch as gifts were passed around. He enjoyed watching the girls open his gifts to them. It took him back to when his mother was alive and how much he had enjoyed the holiday season. His father and he had always made the effort to celebrate Christmas, but since the death of his mother, it just didn't seem the same.
"Oh, Steve! This is too much! I can't believe you gave me an I Pad! This is so cool. You're the best big brother ever!" proclaimed Kate as she forced herself onto Steve's lap and gave him kisses all over his face. "Sorry, Sis, but I've just got to thank this hunk of yours."
Ted was touched when he opened his gift and found a monogrammed pen set. He thanked Steve as he shook his hand. Paula was next. She slowly unwrapped her present to find a small box. Inside the box was an elegant silver necklace.
"Oh! This is beautiful. Lisa, help me put it on so I can see how it looks. I'm probably going to be the only Anderson woman that doesn't wind up on your lap today, Steve. Thanks so much for the beautiful necklace!"
"You have more will power than I do, Mom!" laughed Lisa as she opened her gift. "I'm kissing that guy regardless of what he gives me. Oh my! These earrings are perfect!"
Lisa threw herself at Steve and he had to reach up to catch her as she flew through the air. Somehow he let Lisa settle into his lap so she could reach up and kiss him hard on the lips.
"Thanks! And thank you, Gwen, for letting me enjoy your boyfriend so much. He's a great guy!"
Steve was nervous as he watched Gwen open her gift. It was much larger than the gifts he had given the others and he held his breath as Gwen tore the wrapping away.
"Now we'll see if bigger is better," laughed Gwen as she uncovered a large box and lifted the lid. "I'm speechless! Mom, girls, look at this! Have you ever seen anything like it? It's amazing!"
As she spoke Gwen lifted a framed oil painting and held it so the others could view it. It was a painting of Gwen from her first date as she danced in Steve's arms. His back was three-quarters toward the viewer and Gwen was facing foreward. She was the obvious focus of the painting and it was incredibly beautiful. Her mother and sisters let out the appropriate gasps as they admired the work. Gwen had tears in her eyes as she dropped down on Steve's lap and gave him a lingering kiss.
"That painting has to be the best gift I've ever received! It's so thoughtful, so personal, yet so beautiful. Whoever painted it made me look better than I really do. It's perfect, Steve. I know this took a long time to do and you must have planned this a while ago. You're the best boyfriend ever!"
Then the family watched as Steve opened his gifts. He thanked Kate with a hug when he opened her gift to find several designer shirts. "They're made of stretchy material and they'll look awesome on your muscles!"
Paula and Ted gave him a monogrammed billfold and he shook Ted's hand and gave Paula a hug. Lisa's gift was a very nice black leather jacket that fit perfectly. Steve slipped it on and then tried to hug Lisa.
"That jacket's worth another kiss!" insisted Lisa as he once again gave Steve a smoldering kiss. "Sis, we'll make this guy a clothes horse yet. Look how that jacket looks on him. If he had one of the shirts Kate gave him on under it, he'd be even more amazing."
Finally, Gwen handed Steve a small box and he looked around the room at every one as he unwrapped it. All eyes were on him. Even Uncle Joe seemed interested. Inside was a small box and Steve opened it and pulled out a heavy silver locket on a silver chain. Curious, Steve opened the locket to see a picture of him with The Lady in Red in his arms.
Suddenly Steve felt very emotional. The prior Christmas he had been alone in Germany as the Navy searched for his relatives because he was 17 and recently orphaned. He remembered the Christmases with his mother and father and other family members. Once again he felt like he was part of a real family. Unable to speak, Steve mumbled something and hurried from the room as his eyes began to water.
Gwen watched in shock as Steve quickly left the room with no acknowledgement of her gift. Stunned, she turned to her mother with an unspoken question in her eyes.
"Go to him, Gwen. I think he's overcome with emotion. He's been alone a lot and being with a loving family at Christmas may have dredged up some memories," suggested Paula.
Gwen found him on the back deck. He was staring out over the yard but didn't appear to be looking at anything. She walked up beside Steve, wrapped her arm around his waist, and laid her head against his shoulder. She waited as Steve wiped his eyes and slowed his breathing.
"I guess I made a bit of an ass of myself. I love your gift, Gwen. Almost as much as the ones I unwrapped the other night. I think I love you. Everyone in your family has been so good to me that I can't begin to express how I feel. I was totally alone last Christmas. It was a bad time. Now I'm with the most wonderful family I've ever known and I just feel so humbled. I'm afraid it'll end and I don't know if I could stand being alone again. I have all these fears and no idea how to handle them."
"You're the strongest, bravest, sweetest boy I've ever met. You aren't alone now and I hope to never let you be alone again. You have to look to the future. You've got to trust me not to ever leave you alone, even when we're apart. You're stuck with me, at least until you tell me differently."
"I'll never let you go!" insisted Steve as he pulled Gwen into his arms and kissed her gently on the lips as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"I don't know what the problem was," reported Kate to the family as she hurried back into the room and took her seat. "But Gwen seems to have found the cure for whatever it was. They'll be in pretty soon. We still have to give Uncle Joe his gift!"
Gwen led Steve back into the room and made him sit back down on the sofa. Then she sat next to him and smiled. "We're fine now. Let's give Uncle Joe his gift and then eat dinner!"
After dinner, there was a constant parade of family and friends stopping in to visit the Andersons. Gwen grandparents along with Diane's family arrived in the afternoon. Steve was once again sitting on the couch holding Gwen's hand when Stephanie came into the room. She looked at Gwen questioningly and Gwen nodded. Smiling, Stephanie dropped into Steve's lap and hugged him.
"I have something for you, Steve. It isn't much, but I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you," stated Stephanie as she handed a small wrapped box to him.
Steve wrapped his arms around Stephanie and took the box in his hands as she giggled at being trapped on his lap. Her grandmother beamed at Diane as they both watched Steve and Stephanie interact.
"A sports watch? Thanks, Steph! Now I get to hug you," laughed Steve as he pulled Stephanie tight to his chest.
To his surprise, Stephanie wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him quickly on the lips. Then she looked around at her mother and grandmother with a smile. "It's okay. Gwen doesn't mind, and I don't think Steve does either. Do you, Steve?"
"Well, I'm a little worried about Gwen getting jealous when I have her beautiful cousin on my lap kissing me. I'd be even more worried if Gwen wasn't around because then your dad would be after me. Pretty girls like you can be dangerous to the average guy. It isn't easy to control myself. Fear is the only thing that stops me from kissing you a lot more, Steph," admitted Steve as he released Stephanie.
"See how he calls me 'Steph', Grandma?" asked Stephanie as she remained perched on Steve's lap. "He's the only person that does. I like it that way."
"You've done a wonderful job drawing Stephanie out," praised Gwen's grandmother when she managed to be alone with Steve in the kitchen. "On the down side, I have another granddaughter in love with you, but so far that doesn't seem to be a problem for any of them. Gwen has really grown and matured into an amazing woman and part of that is to your credit. She's a very happy young woman and I'm sure you're doing your best to keep her that way.
"Paula told me about that dreadful incident in the parking lot. I can't tell you how relieved I am to know that the girls, and Paula, have such a capable protector around. It's a real comfort. You're aces high in this family!"
Monday morning saw the Anderson women, along with Steve, driving back to Amber O'Leary's home. They were using the Christmas break to try their new wardrobes. They were scheduled to spend the afternoon in a photo shoot for the line of gowns and swim suits Amber had designed.
"I'm going to be marketing this idea to a national department store chain later this week," stated Amber. "I know that they often break their markets down and feature different products in different areas, depending on what is popular in that area. I'm going to try to convince them the 'Lady in Red' line will be very popular in this area. If we can generate enough interest in a few states close to us, it may expand. At least, that's my goal.
"Right now, I want everyone to try on the swimsuits and formal wear to be sure we have everything is fitted properly. Ann will be able to make any minor adjustments immediately, and there shouldn't be any major changes needed."
Steve was shown a bedroom where his outfits were hanging. It required very little time for him to put on a swimsuit or even a tuxedo and show Amber and Ann how they fit. There was a small adjustment needed in the chest of one jacket, but other than that, his clothes fit like they were made for him. He settled in watch TV in the living room while the girls spent a couple hours getting their clothes perfect.
After a late lunch, Amber took them to a very large old home that looked more like a mansion.
"This is the home of a friend of Dad's. He gave his okay for us to use it for our photographs today. One reason we want to use it is his indoor pool. It's incredible and will make a great backdrop for the swimsuit pictures. It also has an amazing foyer with two stairways. Naomi is probably setting her equipment up there now, so let's go meet her," suggested Amber.
Naomi was an unusual looking woman about Amber's age. She had tattoos on her arms and legs. She wore her hair very short and colored it a dull orange. If it weren't for her obvious breasts, Steve felt she could pass for a man, at least from the back. He soon gained respect for her knowledge of her craft as she was a no nonsense, do as I say, sort of person. She gave instructions with the expectation that they would be followed.
She started everyone out in the evening wear that Amber had designed. "I want to get the glamour shots before we go by the pool and somebody gets wet or their hair comes undone."
Naomi told everyone what they needed to wear for the first pictures and where to get changed. Steve had his tux on and was back by Naomi in a few minutes, waiting for the girls. "Damn, Amber! You're making this too easy. I don't think I could get a bad picture of this guy. With all those pretty sisters, this should be one hell of a shoot!" declared Naomi.
Under the watchful eye of Paula, Steve and the girls posed for hundreds of shots. Usually, Steve's wardrobe would somehow blend with, or match the clothes that Gwen wore. Now and then, he would match up with Kate or Lisa. His poses with Kate were carefully planned to be age appropriate. They were directed through various activities to prevent the pictures from looking stiff or posed.
Then everyone changed in swimsuits. Again, Steve's poses with Kate were always age appropriate, which caused Kate to grumble a few times. In the situations where Steve's trunks matched with Lisa's suits, Naomi was much more sexual and suggestive. She took a lot of pictures of Steve with Lisa standing by him, leaning against him and quite a few with Steve holding Lisa in some way. Near the end, Naomi had Lisa stand behind a seated Steve and lean over his back so her breasts were pressed against him and her ample cleavage was on display. Naomi experimented with numerous poses where Lisa was draped over Steve with her breasts against some part of his body.
There was a short break while Steve changed for his session with Gwen only. These started out pretty intimate and Naomi pushed for more. "We don't know when we'll be able to do this again, so let's get some pictures for round two. We'll need them if this takes off like we think it will."
Gwen and Steve changed suits numerous times, and each time, Gwen appeared in a smaller, sexier suit. Steve was going over the Periodic Table in his mind to avoid another embarrassing erection. Even that failed to be effective when Naomi pulled Steve and Gwen to the side and revealed her next request.
"I want to get some pictures of you guys together, but with Gwen topless. At no time will I take any photos showing any nipple, but I want her tits pressed against your chest and arms. You'll be covering her most private parts, but the viewer will know she's topless. These may never be used, but if we ever go international, they'll be needed. France, Italy, and Germany in particular lack our hang-ups about topless beaches and sunbathing."
Steve couldn't even form a response. Gwen looked at him, and then at her mother. "I'll have to talk to Mom. She needs to see every picture you take. I don't want to find out later on that there are topless pictures of me floating around the internet. If Mom will go along with it, we'll do it."
Paula was summoned over and Gwen explained what Naomi wanted and how Gwen wanted Paula to oversee the actual photography. "So, what do you think, Mom? Will you keep an eye on the camera for me and be sure I'm not compromising myself or my future?"
Paula was more than a little uncomfortable with the situation. Gwen had always been so conservative and now she was willing to do a topless photo shoot with a boy! How did it come to this?
Paula remembered how she felt when Steve saved her from the thugs intent of robbing and raping her. She thought about the river rescue that Gwen and Steve pulled off. She thought about Diane remarking about the amazing and special things that happen when Steve and Gwen are together. Paula recognized that she had total confidence in Gwen and Steve. To try to prevent these things from occurring was like trying to stop the "cosmic force" to which Diane had alluded.
"A few months ago I was worried that you'd never have a date. Now you're going to take your top off for pictures with a boy? I don't know which extreme is worse. Do you really feel comfortable with this? What about Steve?"