"May I help you?" The paunchy older man asked as he waddled over to the bassist.

"I’m just browsing really." Laurel was drooling over an acoustic guitar. It was black with green roses painted on the front and sides. She refused to look at the price. She knew it was way out of her price range.

"For anything in particular?" She rolled her eyes. She hated pushy salesmen.

"Basses. I was looking for a new bass."

"Ah, do you play or is this for a present?"

"I play." She swallowed a groan. She also hated it when salespeople asked her if it was for someone else as if she could not play the bass.

"Need a lefty or a righty?" The man asked.

"Either. It doesn’t matter."

"Really? Forgive me, miss, but I doubt that." He scoffed as he stopped in front of the bass section.

"Allow me to show you. Do you have an amp set up?" Laurel loved a challenge, especially when the object was to prove someone wrong.

"Certainly." The man seemed smug. "Choose one of each and meet me over there." He pointed to a section of the store dedicated to testing the equipment.

"Not a problem." She grinned wickedly. She took her time looking over the selections. She chose a beautiful black left handed bass and a v-shaped headless bass in dark green for right-handers. She carried both by the neck over to the area the salesman had indicated.

As she plugged in the right-handed bass, she was treated to a trip down memory lane. Laurel was born left handed, though her teachers and parents had attempted to force her to use her right hand she had refused. Her first bass, the one she still played during practice and concerts, was built for a right-handed player. Somehow, she and Jon managed to reconfigure the antique bass for left handed use. Her parents had gotten her another bass as a bribe for good grades when she was in high school. It was also a right-handed bass. As a result, she could play either way. She could actually write with either hand as well. Though she chose to use her left hand more often, she did keep the other in shape. It saved her a lot of trouble when she had broken her arm several years ago.

"Now this should be a treat." Stan waved Michael and the others over to watch the show.

"It might be." Laurel commented as she rolled her wrists to warm them. She was not as proficient with her right hand as she was with her left, but she was better than average.

Slowly, she started with a few scales before playing a well known bass line. It was easy but impressive nonetheless. The salesman did not seem impressed, but the customers and her friends were. She began playing an original piece that she had composed with her brother. It was hard to play right handed, but it impressed the salesman.

"Now the other?" She asked. He nodded as she plugged the other bass into the amplifier.

If Laurel could be viewed as an average bass player when she played with her right hand, she was anything but average when using her left. Again she started with simple scales before moving to recognizable bass lines. Finally, she played a new composition inspired by a bad movie Sheryl made them watch two months ago. It was funk, and required her to literally almost slap the strings in parts. Laurel became so engrossed in her playing; she did not notice the crowd forming around her. She followed the song to its end and was startled out of her trance by a round of applause.

"Ladies and gentlemen, my sister-in-law." Michael shouted. "Way to go Laurel."

"Wooohoooo." Stan shouted. The only one that did not say anything was Nicole. The photographer did not look happy, though she sported a forced smile.

"Well, young lady. Seems you proved me wrong. How long have you been playing bass?"

"Playing? That was my first time." Laurel could not resist the smartass remark. "Seriously, I’ve been playing since I was fourteen, so eight years."

"Were you wanting to buy one?" He seemed more eager now that she had shown him what she could do with one.

"No thanks." She handed them back to him. "The action is a little slow on the black one. Are we ready?" She looked over at her friends and her lover.

"When you are." Michael was smirking. She guessed that he overheard the conversation that prompted the display.

"That was pure evil." Nicole commented as they left the store.

"Evil? That was great." Stan practically cheered.

"Did you find something for Jessie?" Laurel directed the conversation to a different topic. Nicole still seemed tense, and the bassist instinctively knew it had to do with the display.

"Nope. That fat bastard didn’t even ask if I wanted to look at anything. I’ll send her a gift certificate from one of those stores online." He answered.

"I guess that will work." Nicole shrugged. "I’m sure she could use books or something."

"There’s always movies and CD’s too." Michael suggested. "Now, shall we to the other interesting part of our day?"

"Yeah I haven’t been to the Aquarium since it opened." Nicole sounded a bit more cheerful. Laurel hoped it was not crowded. She planned on finally getting her lover to talk.

"Me either. I heard they have albino alligators." Stan even sounded cheerful. "I can’t wait to see one of those."

"I’ve never seen a real alligator." Michael’s admission did not surprise them. It would be hard to see a live alligator loose in southern California.

"We had one living behind our house once. Jon and I named it Cain." Laurel smiled at the memory. "Of course our mother was a little less than thrilled, but our dad loved it. He even told us what to feed it. It would come right up to the docks when it was meal time."

"What happened to it?" Stan asked.

"Wildlife services and the Park Rangers relocated it when it got too big to keep. They actually put Cain in the Park and as far as I know, he’s still there."

"Did you ever go see him?" Nicole asked.

"Yeah, we’d ride our bikes down there until that got old. I went to pay my respects occasionally in high school. It was a great place to chill when I needed to be alone. I haven’t been there since I graduated high school." The last time she had been there had actually been the night of Jon’s funeral. She stayed almost the entire night talking to an alligator.

"I used to do that with the River." Stan commented. "It’s great at night watching the lights reflect off the water. I guess everyone has a place like that."

"Mine was surfing." Once again Michael’s answer did not surprise them. "There’s something about being alone on the surf that appeals to me. What about you Nicky?"

"The park down the road from Grandma’s. There’s this big tree there near the golf course but away from the walking track. It was a great safe haven." The photographer answered as they approached the ticket window at the Aquarium. They were all pleased that there was not a line.

"I know that tree. Great big oak?" Stan asked. At Nicole’s nod he continued. "I got my first kiss under that tree. Do we wanna see the IMAX too?"

"I don’t care." Laurel shrugged. The advertising posters did not look that appealing.

"We can come back and do that later if we want to." Michael did not look thrilled either.

"Yeah, I’m not interested either." Nicole had lapsed back into what Laurel termed a ‘not mood’. The photographer gave no evidence of being happy or sad; she was just there.

"Two adults please." Laurel handed the woman behind the glass money for two tickets.

"Just the Aquarium?" The woman asked. The bassist belatedly realized that they also sold tickets for the River Zoo Cruise, the IMAX, the Aquarium and combinations of all three.

"Yes please." She took a map of the building and a pamphlet as well as both tickets. "Thank you. Here ya go." She handed a ticket to Nicole as Stan stepped up to the window.

"Thanks. We ready?" The photographer asked as her brother and cousin joined them. Michael used a different ticket window, and finished about the same time Laurel did.

"Yep. Lay on McGruff." Stan held the double doors open for them.

"That’s MacDuff." Laurel corrected.



Nicole stood under the glass dome watching the scuba divers feed the fish. The glass dome was the entrance to the main part of the Aquarium. It stretched over and around one entire room, allowing an under-the-sea panorama of fish, coral, and other assorted marine life. The photographer smiled gently as a small stingray floated from the bottom of the tank to where the scuba diver waited. The ray’s white belly and mouth was easily visible, and Nicole thought for a moment that the creature was smiling at her. It was an amusing sight.

"This is great." Michael walked over and stood beside her. Laurel and Stan were on the other side of the room watching Angelfish compete for food. "It is a lot different from this perspective than what I see when I eat surf."

"Yeah. Look, that big stingray is showing off." She pointed to a larger ray. It was swimming in circles around the scuba diver. Its fins were rippling with the current it was creating as it waited for the smaller rays to depart.

"They’re kinda cute like this, but I wouldn’t wanna meet one up close." Her brother commented.

"Neither would I." Nicole agreed. She remembered tales of people that caught a stingray and got stabbed for their troubles. "Shall we to the next part?" She asked as the scuba divers began floating to the surface. Feeding time was over and so was the show.

"Yeah. This place really is great." He was still in awe.

They rounded up Stan and Laurel before exiting the domed room and entering the next part. The next room was a circular one. It had several glass tanks inside the walls, each with species found within the Gulf of Mexico. They took their time walking around, making sure that they saw each tank. They almost had the run of the Aquarium since not many other people were there. It was strange for a Saturday, but they did not want to question fate. Of course, it was lunchtime, and most of the tourists would either be eating or walking around before the real heat settled in for the day.

The little group followed the signs to the escalators and discovered the crowd. The second story contained the Amazon River exhibit and the famed white alligators. They stayed there for almost half an hour watching the owls, alligators and piranha. Unfortunately, they missed feeding time for this floor as it was at the same time as the main tank’s feeding time.

"Hey Stan, ready to move along?" Nicole asked. He was enraptured with the piranha. The photographer did not think he noticed anything else in the room.

"Yeah. Where do you think I can get some of these?"

"You want one?" She asked. She knew her cousin was strange, but she would never have guessed he would want to own such dangerous fish.

"Several. I want several. Imagine how cool that would be." He finally tore his gaze away from the simulated river and looked at her. "They would scare people faster than my snake does."

"Stan, when was the last time I told you that you are one twisted individual?" She asked. "You can’t own piranha. It’s highly illegal."

"Yeah, and?"

"Come on." She pulled him by the arm over to where Laurel and Michael were waiting. The two of them had been discussing the alligators. Nicole was certain she was the only person that saw the entire exhibit. "Move along, move along." She waved them to the next part.

It was easier for the four of them to make it through the Artic exhibit. Though the Polar Bears and penguins were interesting, the room was kept a bit too cold for comfort. It was the sea otters next door that caught their attention. The otters had been rescued in California and brought to New Orleans. After they healed, it was decided that they had grown too tame to release back into the wild. The trainer was with the otters and made each one perform tricks before feeding them. Even Laurel and Stan, the two more ‘macho’ members of their group, were charmed by the otters’ antics. They watched the show until the trainer ended the session.

"What’s next?" Stan asked as the crowd around the otter tank dispersed.

"Says here sharks." Laurel took the map from her pocket and examined it.

"Great." This was the part Nicole was dreading. She hated sharks. "Do we want to eat first?" She could smell the fast food from where she was standing.

"I thought we could go somewhere for lunch a bit more upscale than flat burgers and preheated pizza." Michael looked over at the food section.

"Sounds good to me. Let’s go see the sharks." Stan bounced on his toes.

"Yeah." Laurel grinned. Nicole groaned. She was discovering that her lover and her cousin had more in common than anyone would have expected.

They walked past the food court section and gift shop to the shark tank. The tank was really an exhibit of sharks found within the Gulf of Mexico. Nicole thought that was what scared her. These sharks were local. The tank was designed to show two levels. They would see the bottom level as they left the Aquarium. A replica of an oilrig with real barnacles provided the setting. The walls surrounding the tank were actually painted to show how the Gulf appeared at dusk. The room was dark and most of the light came from the tank and the oilrig. It was no wonder that the photographer found the display eerie.

She stood watching one of the large hammerheads glide around the outside of the tank. For a moment she felt like that: ugly, alone and searching for a different way. Before Laurel’s display of talent in the music store, she was ready to disregard her plan. After seeing what her lover could do on the bass, Nicole decided to stick to it. She could not deprive her lover of the opportunity, or the music community of such a great talent. She could also see a joy in the bassist that she never saw anywhere else. Laurel glowed when there was a bass in her hands.

"You ok?" Laurel used the opportunity to slip her arm around the photographer’s waist.

"Yeah. Sharks just kinda flip me out a little." Nicole searched the room, but no one else was there. The four of them were alone with the sharks.

"Ah, a victim of the Jaws generation."

"Yeah. Phil made us watch that one night when he was babysitting. I had nightmares for weeks after that my bed was a boat and sharks were circling it."

"That’s understandable. I know a lot of people that movie terrified."

"It didn’t scare you did it?" She already knew the answer. Not much scared the bassist. It was one thing she admired about her lover.

"Nope. You wanna know what scared me from my fascination of sharks?" The bassist asked.


"When I was fourteen, my father took us all out deep sea fishing. We left right after dawn that morning. It was my parents, Jon, a few of Jon’s friends and me. We parked first off one the islands that separate the Mississippi Sound from the Gulf of Mexico. We were going to catch baitfish there. Anyway, Jon’s friend Dude, I don’t remember his real name, hooked something. This ‘something’ pulled a thirty-foot boot fifteen feet across the water contrary to the anchor line, bent Dude’s pole past a ninety degree angle, and broke fifty pound test. We never did figure out what it was, but we named it a demon fish. I’ve always thought it was a hammerhead."

"Wow. What did ya’ll do?"

"Nothing we could do. The line broke; we caught more fish and later went out to the rigs. However, we did not go swimming as we had planned." Laurel smiled. "It makes for a great story."

"That would have scared me to death." Nicole suppressed a shiver.

"So, what’s wrong?" Laurel changed the subject. She had one hand in her pocket and the other wrapped around the photographer’s waist.

"Nothing. I just still don’t feel well." Nicole kept her eyes straight ahead. She knew that even in the dim light, Laurel would see through her.

"You know, there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now." The bassist sounded a bit nervous. "If I were to…if we were to…would you maybe?"

"Can we talk about this when we get home?" Nicole stopped the bassist before Laurel could form a sentence. The photographer instinctively knew what her lover wanted to say. She did not know if she would have the strength to say no if she let Laurel ask the question.

"Yeah. We can wait and talk about it later." The bassist sounded crestfallen. She eased her arm from Nicole’s waist and turned to find the others.

"Will you look at that one?" Michael pointed out a large black tipped shark. "Remind me never to go surfing around here."

"You can’t. The surf isn’t large enough. The only thing you could do is to use a body board." Stan told him. "And even then you have to go out to the Gulf or to Florida."

"That sucks. Guess when I transfer out here I’ll be spending weekends in Florida."

"Are ya’ll ready?" Laurel sounded impatient. Nicole wondered how much she pain she just inflicted on the bassist. It did not make her feel any better.

"Yeah." She agreed to move on.

The bassist kept her distance throughout the rest of the Aquarium. The only time Nicole saw her smile was when they encountered the sea horses. She remembered then that Laurel’s mom loved sea horses. She guessed it was one nice memory the bassist had of her mother. She knew it was also something the two had in common. Laurel’s one contribution to the décor in Hattiesburg was a print of a sea horse. It hung over the loveseat in the living room. Nicole almost hoped the bassist would leave it when she left. It would be a great way to remember their time together since the bassist purchased it at an art festival the two once explored together several months ago.

"I’m getting kinda hungry. Wanna go get something to eat?" Stan interrupted her thoughts.

"Yeah. I think we’ve seen everything."

"Good. I’ll go get the others." He pointed at the other two. Michael and Laurel were exploring the gift shop.

Nicole waited near the doors as her cousin went to collect her lover and brother. Each one returned with a bag from the gift shop. Laurel had a mischievous look about her. The photographer wondered what Michael said to her. She shrugged it off, knowing that she would find out sooner or later.

"Let’s eat." The surfer called out.


A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist

Lunch had been a quiet affair. Laurel was content to let Stan and Michael carry the conversation over their food. Fortunately both were excellent conversationalists. Stan regaled the table with impressions of some of his more eccentric customers. His stories were more humorous than Michael’s since the surfer did not deal with the regular public. Michael did have several stories to entertain them with, mostly about college life in California. The bassist could tell that while he loved growing up out West, he could not wait to move back near his father’s family.

They separated after the meal was over. Stan took Michael to the store to show him around and finish up some last minute inventory. Laurel escorted Nicole back to the Warehouse and upstairs. She was currently sitting in the courtyard watching the clouds.

"What the fuck has happened?" She asked herself. Suddenly her life had changed again. This time, she knew it would be for the worse. She could feel an emotional storm approaching.

Laurel had never been the type to sit and think. She needed to move. She tossed her cigarette into the bucket they used as an ashtray and ventured back inside to find something to do. Luckily, the game room provided plenty of activities. Instead of the basketball game, the bassist chose a recent addition to the room. It was a full-sized pinball machine based on one of her favorite comedic movies, The Addams Family.

Someone had rigged the machine to keep a full cache of credits. Laurel pressed the start button and watched as the small steel ball was released. She pulled the spring back and traced the ball’s track with her eyes. It pinged back and forth through the tumblers before rolling down to the paddles. She hit the buttons a little harder than intended and sent the ball shooting back up to one of the special bonus targets. A loud mechanical voice commended her as the video screen announced a bonus round.

She used the exertion to clear her head. She almost proposed at the shark tank. She had been so close to asking Nicole to be hers forever. Somehow the photographer knew that and asked for a delay. Laurel wondered why. She knew now that something in their relationship changed when she graduated college. At first, she thought it was just an adjustment period. All couples had those. The honeymoon stage was over and it was time to finalize the commitments. Laurel was ready for that. She knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life waking up to Nicole’s blue eyes. The question she was pondering now was did the photographer want the same thing. A week ago she would have said yes. Now she was not sure.

"Damn." She cursed. The game had progressed to a multi-ball bonus round. Four little steel balls were roaming all over the table. She was having a hard time watching all four of them. Finally, she cheated, letting three sink into the void, which ended the round. Unfortunately, the fourth one followed. That ended the game.

"I told you that you were competitive." Nicole’s voice came from behind her. She turned to see her lover standing in the doorway. The photographer’s hair was slightly damp.

"What gave you that idea?" Laurel decided to pretend that nothing was wrong. If the photographer could do so, then for the moment so could she.

"You just kicked the pinball machine."

"Ah, yeah that. Um, I was just stretching my leg and it got in the way?"

"Good one. Wanna tell me another?"

"I lost all four instead of just the three I was hoping to lose." Laurel did not want to tell her the truth. She had kicked the machine to jar her mind from her thoughts.

"Ok, I have no idea what you just said." The photographer grinned.

"I can show you. Have you ever played pinball?" Though she decided to play along, Laurel was not going to make this easy. She recognized the crossroads they were at, and refused to let her lover make an easy turn.

"A few times. I’ve been told I suck."

"Well, allow me to show you then." The bassist waved her lover over to the machine. "Come on."

"Alright, if you insist." Nicole took a stance in front of the machine. Laurel stood off to the side and watched.

The photographer was constantly a split second behind the ball. Laurel watched for a full game before taking a stance behind her lover and placing her hand’s over Nicole’s. The photographer hit the start button and they played a full game that way. The bassist whispered pointers and encouragements in her lover’s ear throughout the game. She revealed in the sent of the shampoo Nicole used. It was a light, almost floral scent.

"I bet I can do it this time." Nicole told her. "Matter of fact, I’ll bet that I can beat your high score."

"What are the terms of the bet?" Laurel asked. She could not tell if she was about to get snookered or if she were about to win a bet.

"Winner takes all?" The photographer grinned. "Either way you’ll win."

"True." She pretended to think it over. "Alright, I accept." She returned to her previous position beside the machine so she could watch easier.

Five minutes later, Nicole was still on the first ball. Laurel knew for a fact she had been suckered. The photographer was a wizard at pinball. Before her lover lost the second ball, Laurel watched her high score become history. A new record was set before the final ball disappeared into the void. Nicole turned and faced her lover with a look of triumph on her face.

"Pay up loser." Nicole demanded.

"I protest on the grounds that I’ve been had." Laurel was still staring in awe at the scoreboard.

"Did you really expect me to bad at everything?"

"No. I don’t think you’re bad at anything except drinking. I just took you at your word."

"Well, I thought it was time to pay you back for throwing that baseball game the other night." The photographer laughed.

"Touché." Laurel mock bowed. "I am at your service, madam. What do you wish your lowly and humble servant to do for you?"

"Like you’re ever humble."

"I can be on occasion. Now, what would you like?" She grinned. She had a feeling things were about to get very interesting.

"Well, I can think of several things." Nicole leaned back against the machine and pulled Laurel closer.

"Isn’t there a movie like this?"

"Like what?"

"Two people having sex on a pinball machine." Laurel leaned in and nibbled a very delectable looking ear.

"There’s a difference." Nicole gasped as the bassist hit a sensitive spot. "I’m consenting."

"Good. Is this what you wanted?" Laurel let her hands roam as she searched the room for a clear spot. She really did not have a desire to make love against a pinball table. She was actually contemplating utilizing the ping-pong table. At least it was flat.

"Oh yeah. Nice and primal." Nicole’s voice dropped an octave.

"I can do that." Laurel answered. She pushed her lover away from the pinball machine and against the brick wall.

In almost two years, Laurel had never made primal love to Nicole. She preferred to take it nice and slow. The closest they got to rough sex was when Laurel took charge, letting a little of her past history show through. Those instances were rare. However, the bassist was well versed in primal movements. Most of her previous relationships had been one night stands and the majority of them had been rough encounters. She never would have guessed that Nicole would want that side of herself to show.

Though she was scared of terrifying her lover, Laurel let herself go for the first time in their relationship. She roughly pulled her lover’s shirt from her waistband. Using pure muscle, she ripped the buttons off, causing the shirt to fall open. Nicole gasped as the bassist began sucking the long neck beneath her lips. Her calloused fingers pushed the photographer’s bra out of the way, attacking an already erect nipple.

Nicole straddled the thigh Laurel pushed between her legs as the bassist trailed hot kisses down her chest. The bassist found herself blocked by the brassier until she reached around and unhooked it. As soon as she had slack in the material, Laurel pushed it out of the way. She kissed her way down, taking a dark, erect nipple in her mouth. She bit it lightly, covering her teeth with her lips. Her lover’s moans were of passion. She kept one ear tuned to those. She wanted to be ready to stop at the slightest indication of pain or discomfort.

"Oh, god." Nicole threw her head back against the wall. "C’mere." She pulled Laurel away from her breast. The bassist looked into her lover’s eyes for a long moment before claiming her lips in a fierce kiss. It left them both breathless.

"What do you want?" Laurel could tell her voice was harsh. Pushing the words through her panting was almost painful.

"You. To. Take. Me. Now." Nicole seemed to have the same problem.

Instead of answering, Laurel dropped to her knees. She unbuckled her lover’s belt before she pulled the khaki shorts down. They pooled around the photographer’s ankles. The bassist raised an eyebrow at the lack of underwear but did not question her good fortune. The sight of a freshly shaved section instead of the familiar dark curls almost caused her to swallow her tongue. Thankfully she managed to catch her breath and recover herself. She did not even have to spread her lover’s legs. Nicole took the hint and threw a long leg over the bassist’s shoulder. They both believed they were in heaven.

Laurel hesitated for a brief instant. She wondered at the change in her lover, but pushed that thought aside. She was glad Nicole was finally overcoming her shyness. With that thought in mind, she leaned in for a taste of her lover. Despite the recent changes in the photographer’s character, that taste was uniquely Nicole. It was the essence of the photographer and reflected her personality, light and smoky with the tiniest bit of salt for flavor.

Nicole’s hand snaked around and kept the bassist’s head in place. Laurel ignored her shaking knee. Somehow she ended up supporting the photographer’s weight as well as her own. Her knee was protesting. She pushed the pain away and concentrated on blowing her lover’s mind. She succeeded better than she could have imagined.

"Holy shit." Nicole bucked against her lover. Laurel had to strain to keep them both upright. She placed her left hand against the photographer’s ribs in an effort to keep her pinned to the wall. She thought it worked until she felt herself falling backwards.

"Ouch." Laurel tried to sit up but she was pinned to the floor. Nicole landed on top of her. All she could do was stretch her legs out, giving relief to her abused knee. "Are you alright?" She thought her lover was crying. She rolled them both over and slid up to check.

"Jesus that was hilarious." Nicole was crying, but it was through laughter. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah." Laurel was able to laugh as soon as she realized they were both fine. "That was one for the books."

"In more ways than one." Nicole leaned over and kissed her. "Thank you, sweetheart. That was defiantly one I’ll never forget."

"Maybe next time we won’t fall over. I think we’ll have to practice that." The bassist put an arm under her head, content for the moment to lie there. She soon found that Nicole had other ideas.

"Yes, well, methinks I owe you something for that." The photographer quickly sat up and pulled her shorts back on before laying back and undressing her lover.

"What are you doing?"

"Paying you back." The photographer pushed Laurel’s t-shirt up above her breasts. "I’m sure you don’t mind."

"Not in the least. Can I at least help?" She asked when her lover placed her hands above her head.

"Nope. I know you too well. If you don’t keep your hands behind your head, then I’ll stop. Knowing you, you’ll try to take over." Nicole watched as Laurel pillowed her head on her arms.

"Well, they do say it is better to give than receive." She pointed out.

"True. This time you’ll receive and you’ll like it, Lakky."

"Yes ma’am." She was too intrigued to argue.

As it was, it was a struggle. Laurel had to force herself to keep her hands behind her head as Nicole teased, tortured and ravished her breasts. The bassist was still so keyed up from making love to the photographer that she was more than ready to explode. If Nicole were aware of that, she did not seem to care. She took her time, making the bassist squirm before finally releasing her. Laurel felt as if her soul were set free for a single instant before it came crashing back down to her.

"Definitely one for the books." She managed to pant the words out.

"I’ll say." Nicole rested her head on the bassist’s shoulder.

"We might should get out of here." Laurel heard the door from the garage open.

"Yeah. I think we should." The photographer agreed. She sat up and attempted to hold her shirt together. "And you called me a wild animal woman."

"You’re the one who asked for primal." Laurel grinned as she pulled her clothes back around her.

"That I did. I don’t think I’ll forget that even with Alzheimer’s." Nicole was only able to fasten three buttons on her shirt. The rest were scattered around the pinball machine.

"Don’t worry. I’ll be around to remind you." Laurel pulled up her jeans. She rarely wore shorts.

"So what do you two have planned for…. oh my god." Stan stopped in the doorway. He took one look at his cousin and her lover in various states of sated disarray and covered his eyes.

"Hey, what’s going? I didn’t see a thing." Michael quickly covered his eyes as well. Laurel could not take it anymore and started laughing.

"You know, this really would be funny if I weren’t about to die of embarrassment." Nicole crossed her arms over her chest in a futile effort to keep her shirt closed.

"Since I have no shame, I’m finding it quite humorous." Laurel was still laughing as she finished buttoning her jeans. She straightened her bra, finding it a bit difficult to do so with the end of her shirt tucked into it. "Alright, we’re almost presentable."

"Seriously?" Stan peeked around from behind his hand. Seeing them more presentable relaxed him somewhat. "It’s alright Michael. You can look now."

"I was going to suggest we go out clubbing or something, but it looks as if you two may have other plans." Michael took his hand away from his face but refused to look at either woman.

"Are you going to be ok?" Laurel asked him. The tall surfer still looked uncomfortable.

"It is not everyday that you walk in on something like that. It was not a nice thing to do to your poor brother, Nicky."

"Or your poor, involuntarily celibate cousin."

"We didn’t exactly plan on this or you two getting back so soon." Laurel defended their actions. Rather she defended her own as she could not speak for the photographer.

"You were supposed to be gone for the rest of the afternoon." Nicole told them. She apparently was not enjoying the humor of the situation.

"We were gone for the rest of the afternoon. In case you’re wondering, it’s dinner time." Stan pointed at the clock over the bar. It was indeed early evening.

"So are you guys up for dinner and a few clubs?" Michael returned to the question he had previously asked.

"Well, I just ate, but clubbing sounds good." Laurel could not resist the comment. At least Stan laughed. The two Herberts turned various shades of red.

"I could do with some Bourbon Street entertainment." Nicole agreed. She was refusing to look at anything but her own feet.

"We need to um, get cleaned up and stuff. So we’ll meet you on the courtyard." Laurel placed her hand on her lover’s back, gently guiding Nicole to the stairs. "We’ll be down in a few."

"We’ll wait." Michael promised.

They made it to the stairs before the sounds of laughter reached their ears. It added speed to their steps as they raced to Nicole’s apartment. Upon reflection, it was a rather embarrassing situation.

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