tagRomanceThe Festival

The Festival

byDreamCloud©

Author's Note: I am making fewer mistakes. Tim413413's life as an editor is getting easier. Of course, he may just be fixing the blatant errors without telling me. I prefer to think I am growing as a writer, so keep it to yourself Tim. And my thanks as always.

*****

The Festival

I was already tipsy. The rum was well disguised in a slurry of tropical juices. We started with an orange-pineapple-coconut concoction a little before ten. Now, barely noon, everything was wonderful. I thought I would regret my girlfriends talking me into this trip. Now, I loved them both. We were the three amigos.

Sandra was the adventurous one. She dreamed up the kinky adventure, booked the airlines and ocean-side villa. She always wanted to push the envelope to see how far we could spread our wings. She wanted to fly, and I was an official member of her flock.

Kendra had a multiple personality disorder. When she was working, Kendra was a straight-laced accountant with starched underwear. She gave one word answers, and they were always correct. She looked more like an evil school teacher with a ruler always within reach. When she was off the clock, the mask was removed and a vamp emerged. It was an amazing transformation.

I was the shy one. Well, not shy, but more the follower. I didn't have Kendra's cleavage or Sandra's bubbly, driving force. If three men vied for our attentions, I was the consolation prize. It didn't bother me. I fed off their energy. Without the pulling and cajoling, I would have spent my vacation at home with a good book. It was so much nicer practicing to be an alcoholic on the beach.

Sandra had talked me into a bikini. I had never worn one before. My tummy wasn't the favorite part of my body. I had a small pooch, and was reluctant to share it with the world. Sandra enlisted Kendra to outvote me. I conceded to the peer pressure, finding a bright green two piece that at least covered most of my ass.

"It's sexy," Sandra said and smiled when I came out of the dressing room. I stood before the mirrors, shifting my hips to see my backside. The basics were covered, which was a good thing. I was glad I shaved before we flew down. My dark red hair would have looked nasty sprouting out of the green. My tummy protruded, but less than I imagined. I had envisioned it hanging over like walrus blubber. I actually did look sexy. Maybe it was the rum-filtered mirrors fooling me.

"It looks good; buy it," Kendra said. I always ignored her advice on clothes. She didn't need to worry about anything below her chest. Men never looked lower than that anyway. I straightened the top, tucking what little I had deeper into the cups. The fabric was thin. It was a good thing the temperature hung around the mid-eighties. The air conditioning was already doing a number on my nipples.

"Should I?" I asked Sandra. She smiled again and nodded enthusiastically. I felt her excitement. The rum was excited too. It would be the most naked I had ever been in public. The thought earned me my own smile. It felt so provocative. It was only for a week. Let loose - go for it; I deserved to be wanton. Key West had me in its thrall. I bought the bikini and a short, translucent wrap I could wear if my courage faded. Backup plans are important for brave chickens.

Lunch was a fun affair. We found a restaurant in an old house on Duval Street. It had most likely been someone's summer mansion at one time. It was a light grayish wooden structure with bright white trim and accents. It fit well with palm trees that surrounded it, almost as if it had grown there as well. I had the blackened shrimp wrap which I needed desperately to soak up some of the alcohol. Sandra bought a trio of rum runners to make sure we stayed well plied. She said she had a surprise of us. The look in her eyes meant I probably needed more liquid courage.

I loved sitting back with no work gnawing at my heels. The conversation was humorously racy and so much more enjoyable than the past year had been. I really needed this vacation. Work was basically hell. About a year ago, I made a decision I regretted. HR had asked me if I wanted to move up to a new position with better pay. I jumped from a general secretary in a pool that handled multiple account reps, to a personal assistant to a full partner. One of the most successful partners. I was told he was difficult, a warning I ignored when they offered a twenty-percent raise.

Timothy Griffin did not smile. I learned that the first day on the job. He burned through assistants at an incredible rate. I lasted the longest when I had my eight-month anniversary of service to his royal highness. He always frowned when he walked in and was frowning when he left. He worked a horrendous number of hours and generated large revenue for the brokerage house. Every dollar he earned cost me a small part of my happiness. Nothing I did was ever right. He was simply a nasty, unforgiving and exhausting man.

Mr. Griffin, to call him Tim or Timothy would generate a trip to the unemployment line, had a way of criticizing that would tear at your soul. It wasn't just a mistake - it was an error that only the lowest form of imbecile would make. He corrected my wardrobe, making me spend that raise on clothes that he approved of. Skirts of certain length, blouses closed with a scarf and shoes of an exact heel height. He had approved color schemes I could not deviate from. Image was everything to him. I was made part of that.

I never met anyone who would call Griffin a friend and he certainly had no romantic entanglements. I scheduled all his appointments and booked many dinner reservations for one. He didn't seem to care about the rest of the world. It was all beneath him. I was lower than that, the part of the world he could control. The rest of the office took pity on me. At least that brought me the cooperation I needed to avoid many of Griffin's scoldings. This sunny intermission was a necessary breather. No stiff black pinstriped suit to set my nerves on end.

"So what's the surprise?" Kendra asked Sandra.

"You'll see." Sandra smiled. "And no chickening out." She meant that for me. I took another sip of my rum runner.

"You do it, and I'll do it," I said boldly. In another week I would be back playing slave to an asshole. This week, I was going to absorb Sandra and become fun. Rum was a good motivator - so pliable with its sweet, racy promises.

We were looking forward to the Fantasy Fest parade that night. People-watching at its best. I had never been to anything like it. Sandra had tried to talk me into Mardi Gras a few years back, but I chickened out. Not this time. Not after a year of Timothy Griffin. Deep inside I wanted to let loose, throw my inhibitions to the wind, grab my inner strength and enjoy everything.

The sun was magnificent. We walked down the street looking in windows and absorbing the warmth. It was getting cold back home, but not here. This was shorts weather. The sun's rays lightly baked my arms and legs, almost a caress and not strong enough to generate sweat. A wonderful, comfortable warmth.

Sandra knew where she was going. We followed at a leisurely pace. We talked about Kendra's lost love, Kenny. He had almost been perfect. Her eyes swooned as she hinted about his prowess in bed. He was a really good looking guy, not that you would expect anything less for Kendra. I harbored dreams about him that I kept to myself. Kenny's big mistake was not knowing when to turn off the charm. He flirted constantly, which Kendra initially tolerated. She was secure enough to survive the flirting and even enjoyed the envious eyes of Kenny's targets. He just overstepped when he flirted with someone at Kendra's office. He never understood her dual personality. Kendra laid down the law and Kenny bailed.

I had no such lost love. My affairs had always been brief things, none lasting more than a month or two. The men I attracted seemed to never understand me. What made it so difficult was that I also didn't understand me. I never felt truly comfortable in a relationship. The boundaries were undefined, my shyness always interfering with how I thought things should be. I would follow along at first, quickly tiring of the man's lead and not knowing how to grasp it for myself. It was all one-sided, tilting the wrong way.

It wasn't that I didn't like the sex. It was pleasurable. It just wasn't everything. I listened to Kendra talk of her dalliances, the way she almost shivers as she describes the feelings. I found sex enjoyable, just not exceptional. I was sure I was doing it wrong. Kendra certainly knew how to do it right. At least she talked a good game, and her partners were always smiling.

Sandra pointed down the street to the left when we reached a corner. We headed west, past an ugly light-blue building, dodging the crowds the festival attracted. Key West seemed to have a lot of dropouts. People who looked like they didn't reside on planet earth. We had to split up for a man, dressed in an old poncho, who was straddling the whole sidewalk as he walked. Shifting his weight left and right in a most inefficient manner. Kendra laughed when we met back up behind him.

"That's your next conquest," Sandra said to Kendra. That brought an inebriated smile to my lips.

"I thought you had the poncho fetish," Kendra joked at Sandra.

"I think he was naked under there," I added. They both looked at me like I was a perv. Then started laughing when my face flushed. Sandra's eyes became serious as she read the address of the pink building we were passing.

"Here we are," Sandra said excitedly. She grabbed the door and opened it for us. At first I thought it was a tattoo parlor. I was about to renege on my you-do-it, I'll-do-it statement. I looked closer at the pictures lining the walls. It wasn't tattoos - it was paint. Body paint. The artist was very good. There were cat faces, eyes that looked like sunrises and other carnival-like art. A whole section was devoted to super heroes, a Green Lantern with good abs looking especially nice.

What I thought were costumes, at first glance, were not. A lot of the pictures showed people painted from head to toe. The pictures were more shocking than I had first thought. Wonder Woman cast a whole new impression.

"Face painting?" I asked with a hopeful smile. Sandra's eyelids flickered high.

"You dirty girl," Kendra said with one of her vamp smiles.

"You must be the Peterson party," a man said as he walked through a curtained doorway from the back. He was older, his brown hair speckled with gray. His skin was leathery from years in the sun.

"Yes," Sandra answered.

"Come on back," the man smiled. Laugh lines burst on the outside of his eyes. "I have another appointment right after yours, so we have to move quickly." I obviously hadn't had enough rum. I was scared to death. Sandra grabbed my hand and pulled me into the back. Kendra followed willingly.

The paint studio was an organized mess. A long canvas had been hung from the ceiling in one corner and continued folded along the floor. It was dusted with many different colors, like it had been backstopping paint for years. A compressor was under a table next to the canvas. The table held a myriad of white, plastic containers. Paint, I suspected. The man flipped a switch, and a series of bright lights illuminated the canvas. I took a deep breath.

"Did you have anything particular in mind?" the man asked Sandra. Sandra, without hesitation, moved onto the canvas and removed her t-shirt.

"I heard you were the best, Carlos," Sandra complimented, "I leave it to you." She unclasped her bra and handed both items to me. My eyes were wide, my hands shaking as I accepted her clothes. Carlos walked up, without reservations, and examined Sandra. Sandra was smiling at me. She knew this would be pushing my limits. I jumped a bit as Carlos reached up, and tested one of Sandra's breasts. It wasn't sensual, just clinical. I assumed he was checking firmness, and how it would take the paint.

"Flowers," Carlos smiled and turned to the table and pulled some of the paint containers forward. I looked back at Sandra's chest and didn't see anything flower-like. Her breasts were bigger than mine, but nothing like Kendra's. I was nervous for Sandra since she didn't seem bothered at all. Carlos tied an apron around Sandra's waist to keep paint off her shorts.

"Do you have any pictures or samples?" Kendra asked Carlos. There was excitement in her voice. She harbored none of my inhibitions.

"Those books over there," Carlos said, pointing over his shoulder. "The green folders contain chest and face. We don't have time for the full body, so skip the red books." Kendra moved quickly. I stood, still shocked, holding Sandra's bra and t-shirt. Sandra's eyes were laughing at me.

Carlos went to work. His hands moved with practiced precision, never seeming to waste a single gesture. The compressor was louder than I had expected, eliminating comfortable conversation. Quickly, both of Sandra's breasts became red roses. Carlos switched between paints constantly, rarely touching Sandra's skin. Below the roses, he sprayed stems, then grew them up through her cleavage to add accent flowers above her breasts. He painted a red ribbon below her breasts to hold the stems together. Carlos smiled when he added a small white tag hanging off the ribbon. A note card that simply said 'Love.' It was a beautiful bouquet. I wanted that. I should have gone first.

"Let that set for a moment," Carlos said after he turned off the compressor. "I'll apply a clear coat later to make it more durable." He untied the apron from around Sandra.

"It's beautiful," I said, sounding more awestruck than I intended. Carlos smiled.

"He's the best," Sandra repeated. She stepped away and walked to a full-length mirror in the front corner of the studio. "Can I touch it?"

"It's best to wait for the final coat," Carlos said. "It's durable, but why take chances?" Sandra nodded as she admired his work.

"Who's next?" Carlos asked, looking at me. Kendra jumped ahead with one of the photo books.

"This," Kendra said, pointing at one of the pictures. Carlos looked from the picture to Kendra's chest.

"I'll have to modify it a bit, but it should work," Carlos said, as he pulled the album away and set it on the worktable. He gestured for Kendra to disrobe. Kendra handed me her t-shirt, followed by her bra. It was amazing how much her bra shrank her chest. It was a wonder she didn't have constant backaches. Carlos reached out and examined her breasts briefly, then loaded one of the paints in the sprayer. He put the apron around Kendra and fired the compressor back up.

I watched Carlos go back to work. It was amazing how unerringly he created art. He had Kendra raise her breasts so he could paint underneath, making sure no breaks in the paint would exist to detract from his art. He examined the beginning of his work with a thoughtful pause. I saw him smile and reach for the compressor off switch.

"I could do it like Minnie with hands like Mickey's," Carlos said to Kendra.

"Oh, that would be wonderful," Kendra said, her smile matching his. The compressor went back on, Carlos switched colors and went to work. His confident talent continued to amaze me. Sandra relieved me of the t-shirts and bras I was holding.

"What are you going to have done?" Sandra said into my ear, over the noise of the compressor. My turn was coming up. Carlos's work was excellent. My apprehension was replaced with anticipation.

"I don't know," I mouthed through the compressor whine. I moved to the table with the samples. A lot of the samples seemed to demand fuller breasts. I had to find something that would fit my chest. I quickly scanned some of the designs on male bodies, and discounted them as too manly. I wanted something akin to the flowers. My face warmed as I realized I was excited about spending the evening topless. It was so not me.

There were a lot of designs that were, well, designs. Psychedelic patterns with funky blending of colors. They were interesting, but not lovely like the flowers. There were comical ones, tits painted into headlights attached to a Volkswagen beetle. There was one where the breasts were painted like many - faceted dice, the number twenty at the nipples, with the words 'All Natural' painted below. I didn't understand that at all. Many superhero, lacy bra, bikini and torn t-shirt types. Nothing that really jumped out at me. I wish I would have gone first and gotten the flowers.

I turned from my fruitless search when Carlos shut off the compressor. Sandra was laughing, and Kendra was all smiles. Carlos had painted a red shelf bra with white polka dots on Kendra. He added some sexy lace trim and an large bow of the same color scheme. The shading made the bow look almost real, the ribbons floating above her tummy. Her breasts had two comical white cartoon hands, one grasping each breast. Three fingers with the thumbs covering the nipples. I was sure Walt was rolling over in his grave. It was scandalously adorable.

"Did you find anything?" Carlos asked. Kendra moved over to the mirrors, admiring his work.

"Um, not yet," I responded hesitantly and went back to the books. Nothing looked like me, or the me I wanted.

"You could always trust me," Carlos stated. He sounded like he was in a hurry. I wasn't sure if I wanted a drive-thru paint job.

"I trusted him," Sandra added, moving toward me. She leaned into me. "He is the best." I sighed. There was nothing in the books that came close to the flowers.

"Okay," I capitulated softly. Carlos smiled again, obviously trying to sooth my apprehension. I removed my shirt. Hesitated, then removed my bra. Goose bumps rose on my arms as Carlos examined his canvas. His head tilted this way and that; I could almost see his brain churning. Finally, he looked up from my breasts, deep into my eyes and smiled. I was suddenly uncomfortable. I was naked from the waist up, and it was his look that bothered me.

Carlos covered my hips with the apron and pulled forward a bunch of different colors. He sporadically looked back to my eyes. His intense gaze was nerve-wracking. If Sandra and Kendra weren't there, I would have run. Not that I could accurately define my perfect mate, I just knew Carlos wasn't close to it.

"Put your arms behind your back," Carlos commanded. I did. More exposed. His eyes kept digging into mine. The compressor started and he began. The paint slightly tickled at first, before I got used to the sensation. He was spraying quickly, his hands moving in practiced motions, his eyes moving rapidly between my chest and eyes.

I closed my eyes to avoid Carlos's eyes. He stopped painting. I opened my eyes to see if he was done. His eyes were waiting for mine, more intense than before, with a smile added. I was running dialog through my head, kind ways to put a man off. He was too old to begin with. I had no interest in moving to Key West and becoming a body painter groupie. I wished he would stop looking at me.

I sucked in my tummy when Carlos's spray hit it. It surprised me. He paused a moment to let me relax and then continued. He continued his brief flirting, eyes on mine matched with a little smile. I knew Sandra saw it. She was watching Carlos like I was her little sister. Strength from her would make leaving quickly easier.

A woman walked in, more Carlos's age. Her tanned face had the wrinkles of a sun worshiper. Her eyes were carefree, little balls of happiness. She moved like this was her place, not like his next appointment. She stood behind Carlos, looking intently at my chest then lingered on my eyes and then back to my chest. She bent down. Carlos noticed her and they shared a quick smile and a brief kiss. She held up the a bag of take out, obviously used to not fighting the compressor with words. Carlos nodded and she left after taking a quick look at Sandra's and Kendra's art work. Wife was my guess. So why was he back in my eyes?

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