Coffee & Cigarettes: A Love Story – Smoking Fetish Story

Coffee and Cigarettes: A Love Story
By Varian Milagro

“There’s something strange going on at my work,” Brooke Paulson said to her sister, Ashley, as they sat across from each other at a downtown restaurant.

“What is it this time?” Ashley asked as she rolled her eyes. Her sister tended to see conspiracy everywhere.

“I think the coffee is making people smoke,” Brooke replied.

“I should have known that you didn’t invite me to lunch just to visit.”

Ashley loved her sister, really she did, but her sister tended to annoy the hell out of her. Besides the paranoia, there was the job itself. While Ashley had worked tirelessly to graduate at the head of her high school class and holding down a part time job to save money for college, Brooke had played video games and earned a 2.0 GPA in middle school. When Ashley graduated Magnum Cum Laude from her university, Brooke had barely earned her high school diploma, having spent all her time on Facebook and twitter. Once out of college, Ashley couldn’t find a job to save her life, while Brooke fell ass backward into a job as the Social Media liaison for a large accounting firm. So, while her sister has her own apartment and makes 50k a year while playing on Facebook and Twitter, Ashley is struggling to finish her masters while working as an intern and freelancing on the side.

“I’m serious. We started getting a new brand of coffee a couple months ago and, like a week later, people start smoking.”

“You know that correlation does not equal causation. Perhaps they were closet smokers or they just didn’t smoke at work.”

“I’m not talking about one or two people, everyone who drinks coffee at work is now a smoker. Before the new coffee there were only a couple smokers and now practically everyone smokes. ”

“Does seem weird, but there has to be a logical explanation.”

“Plus, just last week, Gregory, the IT guy I told you about, well he normally drinks Mountain Dew, but last week he decided to have the coffee instead and now he smokes too. I asked him about it and he said that he just decided to try it and he liked it a lot so he’s going to smoke all the time now.”

“You told me before that he tended to be a follower. Now that so many people are smoking at your work he probably thinks he’ll be part of the ‘in’ crowd if he smokes.”

“I know that you think I’m a conspiracy nut, but I think I’m right this time. Anyway, I thought that seeing as how you work for the Anti-Smoking League you might be able to find out if there is something strange with the coffee.”

“I’m just an intern,” Ashley said with some bitterness.

“There’s got to be someone there that could test it or something,” Brooke said.

“I would have to pull some strings to get it tested properly…I’d really be sticking my neck out,” Ashley said.

“What do you want?”

“Let’s just say that you’ll owe me one.”

“Fine. When do you think you can have it tested?”

“I’ll have the boys in the lab burn the midnight oil until they crack the case,” Ashley said.

“Be serious.”

“I’ll have to ask someone and then I’ll have to wait until they have time. It’s not like I can order people about, being only an intern. I’m lucky if people acknowledge my existence when I’m there. Just get me a sample and I’ll see what I can do.”

“I have some here,” Brooke replied as he pulled a small canister from her purse and handed it to her sister.

Ashley opened the canister and looked at its contents. “It looks and smells like regular coffee.” She set the coffee down on the table. “So, besides being surrounded by smokers at your office, how is everything else going? How are things going with Olivia?”

“The same, were the best of friends, but she’s still straight and always will be,” Brooke said with a heavy sigh.

“Why did you fall for a straight woman?”

“It’s not like you choose who you fall in love with, it just happens.”

After lunch Ashley tossed the canister of coffee onto the passenger seat of her beat up Audi and headed back to work.

“Hey Mom, I’m home,” Ashley called out as she entered her parent’s house five hours later.

It bothered Ashley that she still lived at home at age 24, but since she didn’t actually get paid at her internship, she could not live on her own. She made some money doing freelance graphic design, but that earned her little more than spending money. Plus, she was still in school. She still needed to complete two more trimesters of online courses and her master’s thesis before she’d earn her MBA. Once she had her Masters of Business Administration she could land a real job and get a downtown condo; until then it was living with her parents.

It wasn’t so bad living with her parents, they treated her like an adult and kept to themselves for the most part, plus the house was familiar and comfortable. It was just that it tended to embarrass her when a new acquaintance found out that she still lived with her mom and dad.

“How was work?” Elaine Paulson asked from the kitchen.

“Fine as usual,” Ashley replied as she gave her mother a hug. “Can I help with dinner?”

“No, I’m just about to throw it into the oven, but you’re sweet to offer.”

“Okay, I’ll be in my room doing some work, call me if you need anything.”

Once Ashley made it to her room she kicked off her pumps and removed her skirt and blouse. As was her custom, she stood in front of the mirror in her bra and panties and criticized her body. There were things she liked about her body; she wasn’t fat so that was a blessing. She had a slender waist and great skin for which she was grateful. She wished she had a bit more up top though. Her breasts weren’t small, but she had the smallest bust in her circle of friends. She felt invisible whenever she went out with her girlfriends. She did like her face. No one was going to launch any ships over it, but it was cute. She had pretty good hair too. It had a lot of body and was naturally blonde.

Ashley pulled on some sweats pants, a pink cami and a pair of bunny slippers before booting her laptop and logging into her online class.

Dinner was fairly normal. The food tasted great as usual, Ashley’s mom was an excellent cook, a definite perk to living at home. The sparse dinner conversation consisted of recounting the day’s activities and avoided real feelings for the most part.

After dinner her parents went their separate ways as did she. Her dad headed to the television in his den to watch baseball while her mom worked on her jigsaw puzzle in the family room. Sometimes she wondered if her parents ever really talked to each other anymore. Ashley bid them both goodnight before heading out with her books and laptop for her study group.

It wasn’t a study group in the sense that they actually studied together; none of them had any classes together. It was more of a “let’s motivate each other to spend time doing actual school work instead of procrastinating” group. They took turns hosting and met three times a week—Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays—and they had a couple rules to maintain regular attendance. If anyone missed a meeting without a good excuse they were in charge of refreshments at the next meeting. Miss two in a row and face expulsion from the group. There were nine of them in the group, four guys and five women and their ages ranged from 19 to 27. In addition to being a great study motivation, Ashley’s best friend, Emily, was also a member of the group.

Ashley never missed a meeting.

In the morning it was off to work at the Anti-Smoking League where she tried to be useful and learn as much as possible. Ashley had mixed feelings about her job. She liked having a job that benefited society; smoking was nasty and anything she could do to help curtail it was work well done. She hated working for free, volunteering was one thing, but internships were a scam and one step above slave labor in her opinion. The job was good experience and a stepping stone to something better. Plus, the job furthered her plan.

Since middle school Ashley had a vision for her future. It involved having a penthouse apartment in the city, a vacation home in Vale, season tickets to the opera, and invitations to the really swank party where she would rub shoulders with the power brokers of the city. And she didn’t want to do it alone. Once she’d obtained her MBA and was making six figures at a fortune 500 company, she’d meet the man of her dreams. He’d be perfect, of course, the kind of man who’d make all her girl friends insanely jealous. He’d be cultured, well read, tall, in shape, two years older than her, he’d be a professional—perhaps a lawyer—and he would love the opera and fine dining. She knew that it would happen; she’d been planning it since she was in middle school and she’d worked hard to set it in motion. Once she finished her MBA and got her boss’s recommendation her plan would be in full swing.

Her boss, Donna Hutchins, knew the hiring manager at a Fortune 500 company and she’d promised Ashley that she’d put in a good word for her. Ashley really hoped that Donna wasn’t bullshitting her, she’d be really pissed if she ended up working for free for the last two years and had nothing to show for it.

That night, after another quite dinner with her folks, she readied for her night out with her friends, Emily and Rachel. While weekdays were dedicated to her internship, weeknights to school, and weekends to family and her freelance jobs, Friday night was reserved for unwinding.

Ashley met Emily and Rachel at a local night club that was frequented, for the most part, by young professionals and professional wannabes. The three ladies sipped appletinis while gossiping about their other friends and hoping that a cute guy or two might pay them some attention. They weren’t out looking for a hook up, per se, but if the right kind of guy played his cards right they could be interested. Both Emily and Rachel had men in their lives, but Rachel and her guy had an open relationship and Emily’s guy, Tom, was a commitment-phobe and she’d just about had enough of him. Ashley was simply too busy for a relationship.

By the end of the evening Emily and Rachel were fairly tipsy so Ashley offered to drive them home. Since they were roommates and their apartment was on her way home it made it fairly convenient.

“What’s this?” Emily asked when she entered the car and saw the coffee canister on the front passenger seat.

“Some coffee my sister gave me,” Ashley said.

“Do you think I could borrow some? We’re out of coffee and I’m too drunk to get some tonight.”

“Take the whole thing,” Ashley said. “I’m not that much of a coffee drinker.”

“Why’d your sister give you coffee?”

“It’s a long story. You know Brooke; it’s always a long story with her.”

Ashley dropped her friends off at their downtown apartment and then drove herself home.

Saturday was spent working on a freelance job, followed by dinner with her sister and her parents. On Sunday morning it was off to study group.

“Hey, do you want to meet for lunch this week?” Emily asked. “I can come your way so we can eat at a place close to your work.”

“I’ll be out doing presentations at local schools for most of this week,” Ashley said. “We could have lunch on Friday.”

“How about we get some dinner tomorrow night?” Emily replied, sounding anxious.

“Yeah, I could do that.”

“Do you think you can get some more of that coffee from your sister?

“Umm, I guess. I’ll see her Wednesday night, I can see if she’ll bring some.”

“Do you think you could get some before dinner tomorrow night?” Emily asked, hesitantly.

“I suppose. Do you mind if I ask why?”

“That coffee is amazing. It’s better than any other coffee I’ve tasted and I ran out this morning.”

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” Ashley said.

After helping with an anti-smoking presentation on Monday, Ashley swung by her sister’s office for a surprise visit. Having visited a few times in the past the receptionist simply waved to her as she walked to her sister’s cubicle.

“Hey, Brooke how’s your day going?” she asked.

“Hey yourself, what brings you to this part of town?” Brooke asked as she stood and hugged her sister.

“I was doing a presentation at Lake Hawkins middle school. You have a few minutes to talk?”

“Sure,” she replied as she led Ashley back toward the office’s entrance.

“I’m hoping for more of the coffee,” Ashley whispered to her sister once they made it into the hall. “The guy at my work said he needs a lot more to test it properly.”

“That’s awesome,” Brooke whispered excitedly. “We store the coffee in the break room, just down this hall. Follow me”

That night, when Emily saw Ashley walk into the restaurant with nothing but a small purse, she couldn’t hide her disappointment.

“Weren’t you able to get the coffee from your sister?” she asked immediately.

“Hello to you, too,” Ashley said sarcastically as she hugged her friend. “I have the coffee, but it’s in my car. I didn’t think I needed to lug it into the restaurant. I mean it’s not like you can drink it here.” The way Emily was acting it wouldn’t have surprised Ashley if she’d brought a coffee maker with her. “I know you like your coffee, but you know—moderation.”

“Sorry, It’s been crazy at work and you know me and my love affair with caffeine,” Emily said with a laugh.

The ladies spent the next hour conversing while they ate their dinner. While they usually extended dinner by sharing a dessert, Emily made an excuse that she had to get some work done that night. They paid their bill and headed to Ashley’s car. When Ashley started digging in her purse for her keys, Emily began digging in her purse as well. When Ashley unlocked the car door to retrieve the canister of coffee, she heard the click of a lighter. She turned to see Emily blowing a cloud of cigarette smoke into the air.

“You started smoking again?” Ashley asked her friend, clearly disappointed.

“Yeah, I made it a lot longer this time, but work has been so stressful I finally caved just like every other time.”

“Well, you’ll just have to try quitting again,” Ashley said as she handed the coffee to Emily. “Studies say that every time you try to quit it makes it more likely that you will eventually succeed.”

“Yes, Miss Anti-smoking intern,” Emily said with a chuckle. “It’s going to be much harder to quit in the future now that Rachel is smoking, too.” Emily took a drag from her cigarette.

“Rachel is smoking now?” Ashley asked quickly. “When did she start?”

“Well, you know she’s been a drunk smoker for awhile,” Emily said before exhaling a cone of smoke into the night air. “Once she gets enough alcohol in her system she’ll bum them off me or any other smoker she happens to be around, but now she’s smoking sober, too.”

“But when did she start smoking sober, was it after I gave you the coffee?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Why?”

“I need to take some of that coffee back.”

“No take backs,” Emily said, holding the canister to her body possessively.

“I don’t want it all, just enough to make a couple pots. I can get you more you know.”

Ashley dug in her car and found a plastic bag. Emily reluctantly poured some of the coffee into the bag. After parting, Ashley sat in her car and stared at the bag holding the coffee. She still had a hard time believing that coffee would make someone smoke, but both of her friends were now smoking after they’d drank the stuff. Of course, Emily had been quitting and restarting the habit for years and Rachel had been flirting with smoking for over a year now. She’d told Rachel more than once that she should be more careful or she’d ended up getting hooked. It had to be a coincidence, but what if it wasn’t? Ashley drove home now determined to have someone at work test the stuff for her.

The next morning, while fixing herself a quick breakfast to eat on her commute to work, Ashley thought about Brooke’s coffee. She found herself much less inclined to tell anyone at work about it. She had a hard enough time being taken seriously at work, if she did a Chicken Little and made wild claims that coffee turned people into smokers, they’d never listen to her again. She decided to test it herself. She’d drink one cup and see what happened. She was so anti-smoking she just didn’t see how a caffeine drink could make her want to foul her body with poison.

Her mom had just brewed a pot of coffee in the automatic coffee maker, so she decided to use her press pot to make a single cup of coffee. She measured out some of her sister’s coffee and added it, and some boiling water, to the press pot. After letting it steep for a minute she pressed the grounds and then poured the coffee into her travel cup. She dumped the grounds into the garbage disposal and placed the press pot into the dish washer.

Ashley sipped the coffee while eating her toast and fighting traffic on her way to work. She had to admit that the coffee tasted pretty good, which surprised her. She normally did not care for the taste of coffee and opted for tea or a diet soda when she needed a caffeine boost. By the time she’d made it to work, and she’d finished the coffee, she understood why Emily had been desperate for more. The stuff was really good.

The next morning Ashley used her press pot to make herself another cup of Brooke’s coffee. While she hadn’t felt the desire to smoke she found that she did love the coffee. She was looking forward to her morning cup and even briefly entertained the idea of filling a thermos so she’d have some to drink while at work. While she did find it strange that she’d fallen in love with the coffee so quickly, at no time did she feel the need to smoke. Her sister had been wrong after all. Emily had simply picked up the habit once again and this time Rachel had joined her. There was no mystery there. The coffee was delicious and she would certainly be hitting Brooke up for more of the stuff.

On Friday night Ashley met up with Emily and Rachel for drinks again. This time though, their conversation was interrupted after an hour while her friends excused themselves so that they could go outside and indulge their smoking habit. Ashley busied herself on her phone while she waited for her friends to return.

“He’s a jerk,” said a male voice.

“What?” Ashley looked up to see a good looking, well dressed man around her age.

“The guy who left you alone. He’s a jerk and a fool.”

“I’m here with my girlfriends and they’re out smoking.”

“Then they won’t mind if I steal you away for a dance.” He held a hand out toward her.

“Umm, they could be back anytime.”

“Just one dance then.”

“Okay,” Ashley said with a smile as she took his hand and let him help her stand.

“I’m Ryan,” he said as they started dancing.

“I’m Ashley.”

They danced for three songs before she said she had to get back to her friends. He asked for her number and she gave it to him, gladly. On the way back to her table Ashley decided to visit the bathroom. As she approached the ladies room she passed the backdoor which lead to the club’s outdoor smoking area.

Ashley was busy thinking about Ryan, hoping that he would call her soon, and she didn’t notice as the backdoor opened to reveal a large man pulling the door open from the outside with one hand while he dragged on a cigarette with the other. The man dropped the cigarette to the ground, waved to someone in the smoking area before turning and exhaling as he walked into the club. He ran right into Ashley and blew his smoke right into her face.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy said as she held onto Ashley so that she wouldn’t fall.

Startled by the collision Ashley gasped and breathed in the smoke pouring from the man’s mouth. “I’m okay, you can let go of me now,” Ashley said after she’d finished coughing the guy’s smoke out of her lungs.

“I feel horrible; let me make it up to you.”

“It’s all right,” Ashley replied as she hurried away to the bathroom.

Ashley found a free stall and quickly did her business. Thoughts of Ryan had changed to her encounter with the man, particularly the smoke she’d inhaled from him. She’d breathed in so much that she’d actually seen some escape her own mouth while she’d coughed afterwards. It had tasted so horrible. It was even worse than the smell. Plus, if she was going to get knocked over by a guy he could at least be someone cute like Ryan. This guy looked to be 30 and had the kind of body that looked like he did manual labor, followed by copious amounts of beer. He wasn’t even dressed nice. He looked like he’d just come from working on a car.

“You going to stay in there all day?” a woman said from outside the stall.

“Chill,” Ashley snapped. “I’ll be done in a moment.”

Ashley finished her business in the ladies room and then headed out to find her friends. When she reached the door to the smoking area she paused. She thought of the man again. How rude of some people. He couldn’t just stay outside while polluting his own body he had to blow his foul smoke into the club, right into the face of unsuspecting non-smokers.

Ashley stood outside the door for a full minute. She stood and stared at it wondering if it was going to open again, if someone else would walk in and blow more smoke in her face. She stood there waiting for another minute. Finally she reached for the door knob.

“There you are,” Rachel called from down the hall. “Emily and I were wondering where you’d gone.”

“I was dancing with a guy and then I had to pee. I was just about to see if you were in the smoking area,” Ashley lied.

“We’ve been back at the table for ages.”

Ashley followed Rachel back to their table where Emily waited for them. Ashley recounted her encounter with Ryan and they all speculated on the likelihood of a call in the coming days. As they speculated what a first date might be like, Ashley looked up to see Ryan approaching their table. He was accompanied by two other men and each of them carried a beer and an appletini.

“It looked like you ladies could use a refill,” Ryan said as he handed an apple flavored martini to Ashley. “This is John and Mark.”

John handed a drink to Emily and Mark handed one to Rachel.

“May we join you?” Ryan asked.

The girls made room for the guys and soon they were talking animatedly and laughing at each other’s jokes. Ashley found that she and Ryan had a lot in common. He too had recently earned a degree, although his was in law. He had also worked as an intern. Once the internship finished he was able to leverage it into a coveted job with a prominent judge. Ashley was also taken with his clean, youthful looks.

Thirty minutes later when Rachel and Emily excused themselves for a cigarette, John and Mark joined them.

“Aren’t you going to join your friends?” Ashley asked when Ryan stayed behind.

“I don’t want to leave you alone,” Ryan replied.

“That’s very sweet of you, but I’m a big girl. You don’t need to babysit me.”

“Actually I don’t smoke.”

“Good,” Ashley said.

Ashley found Ryan charming, intelligent, funny and quite good looking. He was the type of guy she’d wanted to meet for some time. That was why she surprised herself when she lied to him and said that she had to pee. She walked toward the ladies room, but lingered once again by the backdoor. After a minute she continued her journey to the ladies room where she checked her makeup and then headed back to the bar’s backdoor. Unfortunately, the Neanderthal did not burst through, grab her with his strong arms, and blow smoke into her lungs.

Ashley shook her head. The guy who’d crashed into her was not the kind of guy she’d been wanting to meet. He struck her as a blue collar worker. A guy who liked to waste a Sunday afternoon by sitting on the couch watching football and drinking cheap beer. He probably drove a broken down pickup and lived in a mobile home. Not her kind of guy. Yet, when he didn’t burst through the backdoor once again she went searching for him.

“You’re a jerk, you know that?” she told him when she found him in the back of the club drinking beer with some buddies.

“I see you’re charming the ladies again, Jake,” one of the guys teased him.

“I feel real bad about earlier,” Jake said to Ashley as he stood and held his hand out. “I’m Jake.”

“Knock over any other women lately?” Ashley looked at his hand, but did not take it. “You should learn to look where you’re going.”

“I’d still like to make it up to you.

“Okay,” Ashley said as she handed him a card with her name and cell phone number on it. “Call me and let me know how you’re going to do that.” She turned and left before he could reply.

The others were back from their smoke break when she returned to the table; all four of them had that fresh smoky scent about them. Ashley found that she didn’t mind their smoky smell as much as she had in the past. Back before Emily had quit the last time, Ashley had had to wait for her many times while she’d maintained her smoking habit. When she’d return, reeking of cigarette smoke, Ashley would sit away from Emily so she wouldn’t have to smell the smoke on her friend’s breath and clothes. Tonight however she leaned in while her friends spoke. There was something almost comforting in the smell. Ashley told herself that it was just that the smell reminded her of all the great times she’d spent with her friends over the years.

All six shared each other’s company for another couple hours. When it came time to leave the, girls declined an invitation from the boys to extend the evening at John’s place, but they all exchanged numbers and the guys promised to call.

On Saturday morning Ashley made herself a cup of Brooke’s Ambrose, a nickname she and Emily had picked for the delicious coffee her sister had given her. She looked at the reaming grounds and figured she had one, maybe two cups left. Luckily, Brooke was coming over later for a family barbeque and she’d promised that she’d bring more. Ashley hoped that her sister brought a lot more, not only did she have to share with Emily and Rachel, but she also wanted to up her intake. A single cup simply wasn’t enough any longer. She found herself wishing for a second cup halfway through the day, but with her limited supply she’d stuck to the single cup each morning.

As she sat in the kitchen and sipped her coffee she thought back to Brooke’s assertions that the coffee made people want to smoke. It certainly made people want to drink more of the coffee, but it had not made her want to smoke. She still thought smoking was gross for the most part. When she’d inhaled Jake’s second hand smoke it had made her gag, not want to light one up herself.

She wondered what people saw in smoking. Everyone knew that it led to many horrible diseases, made the smoker stink, and these days even a social outcast. She wondered why anyone would smoke knowing all the downsides. It began to occur to Ashley that there must be a good side to smoking that she hadn’t considered. There must be something pretty great about it otherwise no one would put up with all the negatives.

When Brooke showed up for the family barbeque later that day she had bad news for Ashley.

“I won’t be able to get you any more coffee after this,” Brooke said as she handed Ashley a large bag of coffee. “I was lucky to get this. The office manager noticed the missing coffee and he’s locking the coffee cabinet now.”

“Fuck!” Ashley blurted.

“I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, surely you have enough to test now.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Ashley replied. “It’s just that I’d told my contact at work that I’d be able to get more.”

“Sorry, I wish I could help.”

“Do you know who the supplier is?”

“The office manager handles all of that. A few others at work have asked him where he gets it, but he’s really tight lipped about it.”

Ashley thanked her sister for the coffee and then headed into the house to stash it in her room. She had to figure out where she could acquire more of the coffee. She wasn’t sure how she’d be able to get any information out of the office manager seeing as how he wouldn’t tell anyone else. Since she’d need to give a sizable portion of her stash to her friends, Ashley figured that she had about a week to come up with a plan before she ran out and had to back to life without the amazing coffee.

Sunday’s study group was much like all the others, except that Emily stepped outside to take cigarette breaks every hour. Much like Friday night, Ashley found that the smoky smell that emanated from Emily upon her return no longer bothered her. Shortly after arriving home from study group Ashley received a call from Jake.

“So, have you decided how you’re going to make it up to me?” Ashley asked Jake.

“How about I take you out to dinner on Saturday night?” Jake said.


“How about Gloria’s?”

“I’ve never heard of that place,” Ashley replied.

“It’s a diner off Highway 17.”

“A diner at a truck stop, really?” Ashley asked. She did not try to hide her disgust.

“Hey, they’ve got great food there,” Jake said defensively. “Why, where do you want to go?”

“How about Matsuya’s? It’s on the west side.”

“That a Chinese place?”

“No, it’s just the best Sushi restaurant in the city.”

“I like my food cooked.”

“They have cooked food, too,” Ashley retorted.

“I’m not doing sushi. Gloria’s has great food; you’ll like it, I promise.”

“Fine, I’ll meet you there at seven,” she said and then hung up.

That evening she received a call from Ryan.

“I’d really like to see you,” Ryan said after thirty minutes of pleasant banter. “Would you have dinner with me on Saturday night?”

“I’m busy Saturday night,” Ashley replied. She wondered why she’d agreed to have dinner with Jake. He wasn’t her type and now it was interfering with her having dinner with Ryan. “How about Friday night?” she asked hopefully.

“I’ll be out of town on Friday, how about Wednesday?”

“That sounds great,” Ashley replied, hoping to sound casual when she agreed. Inside she was shrieking with excitement.

“Good, have you been to Les Nomades?”

“No, but I’ve always wanted to. Don’t they have a month long waiting list?”

“Normally, but I know the owner and he’ll get us a table. Shall I pick you up?”

“Um, I’d like to meet you there if you don’t mind,” Ashley said. “It’s a first date rule of mine.”

“Sounds like a good rule; I hope it wasn’t born out of experience. Let’s meet there at eight.”

After hanging up, Ashley called Emily and told her best friend all about her phone call with Ryan. They made plans to meet for lunch on Monday so they could talk face to face.

The following day during lunch Ashley and Emily talked about Ryan and shared their ideas about dream first dates while they ate lunch. Ashley did not tell Emily about her dinner plans with Jake. It was the only secret she’d kept from her best friend in over a year. They ate outside and after the meal Ashley noticed Emily’s eyes darting to her purse several times a minute.

“You can smoke if you want,” Ashley said finally.

“It’s okay, I can wait until later,” Emily replied as she looked at her purse longingly.

“It’s really fine. You know me; I would tell you if it wasn’t okay.”

“Thanks, I’m dying for one,” Emily said as she pulled a cigarette and lighter from her purse.

As Emily lit her long, white cigarette her cheeks hollowed. She sucked the smoke into her lungs as she removed the cigarette from her lips and then promptly took another drag without exhaling. When she finally exhaled, the thick cloud of smoke flowed in Ashley’s direction. When the smoke bathed her head, Ashley breathed normally, instead of turning her head and holding her breath as she’d have done just last week.

“I’m sorry,” Emily said. “My smoke is going right into your face. We can switch seats if you want.”

“It’s okay. I like this seat; it’s in the shade. That reminds me of something I wanted to ask you. What is it that you like about smoking?”

“You’re not thinking of starting are you?”


“Good. It’s just that every non-smoker who has ever asked me what I like about smoking seems to start smoking soon afterwards.”

“You know how I do those talks at the schools. Well, I was thinking that if I knew the appeal of smoking then I could come up with a counter dialog for the students. I’m hoping it’ll get me noticed at work. So, what led you to start smoking in the first place?”

Emily drew deeply on her cigarette as she pondered Ashley’s question. She blew out another lungful of smoke and Ashley let the smoke wash over her while she waited for her friend’s reply. “I guess I first started because I wanted to look cool. Then, when I did smoke, it made me feel like a ‘bad’ girl and that was kind of exciting. Once I started really smoking I started to enjoy how it relaxed me and then eventually I became addicted.”

They continued to talk for another thirty minutes. When Emily crushed out her first cigarette Ashley felt a little disappointed. Twenty minutes later, when she saw Emily reach into her purse for a second cigarette, she almost smiled. Brooke’s claims about the coffee resurfaced as she basked in Emily’s exhales. She did find it strange that cigarette smoke no longer seemed to bother her—she even enjoyed it a little—but she wasn’t smoking and she’d been drinking the coffee for a week now. She brushed off her new smoke tolerance to repeated exposure and nothing more.

Once back at the office Ashley got right to work. After a few minutes her boss, Donna Hutchins, approached her to ask a question. She sniffed the air a couple times and then asked Ashley to come to her office.

“Have you been smoking?” she asked Ashley once the office door closed.

“No, I don’t smoke. I had lunch with a friend who does and she smoked the whole time. The wind kept blowing her smoke into me no matter where I sat,” Ashley lied. “I asked her not to smoke, but she said that she was too addicted.”

“You should consider finding a new friend. You know the statistics about non-smokers trying cigarettes when they have a smoking friend, particularly if they imbibe in alcohol.”

“I know, but I’m hoping that she’ll quit again. She’s quit several times in the last couple years because of my influence. I really believe that she’ll quit for good one of these times.”

“Good for you, keep up the good work.” Donna turned away from Ashley and started using her computer.

“Mrs. Hutchins, have you talked to your friend yet?”

“My friend?” Donna asked, looking puzzled.

“Your friend at Aon Corporation. Have you talked to him yet?” Ashley said. “I’ll have my MBA in a couple months.”

“All in good time,” Donna said. “Just keep working hard.”

The next morning, while drinking coffee on her commute to work, Ashley’s thoughts turned to her lunch with Emily. She was tempted to invite her to lunch again, but it would be too weird asking her out two days in a row, especially when she’d be seeing her that night at study group. She then considered Rachel, but she worked in another town and it was too long of a drive for a lunch hour. She thought of some of her other friends, but none of them smoked. She suddenly realized what she’d just thought. She didn’t want to have lunch with Emily or Rachel; she wanted to breathe in their second hand smoke. It occurred to her that perhaps her sister had been right about the coffee.

That night while at study group Ashley’s reactions to Emily’s smoky smell continued to grow. The first time Emily left the table to go outside and smoke, Ashley barley even noticed, but when she came back and Ashley caught the scent of fresh cigarette smoke, she felt herself become tense. The second time Emily left the table Ashley could barely stop herself from following her outside, as it was she had a hard time keeping her mind of her studies. Before Emily took her third smoke break Ashley made a half hearted excuse and left for home early. She told herself that she was just tired, but she knew deep down that her growing desire to be around cigarette smoke bothered her to much to stay.

On Wednesday morning Ashley decided to skip her morning coffee. While she hadn’t joined Emily outside when she’d had her smoke breaks the previous night, Ashley’s desire to join her friend frightened her. Brooke said that others at her work had actually become smokers, not just observers, and Ashley did not want to become a smoker.

Ashley missed her coffee dearly on her morning commute. While the morning rush hour traffic wasn’t much worse than any other day, she had little patience with it and even cursed at a couple other drivers. By the time she arrived at work her nerves were frazzled and she had a hard time concentrating on her tasks. She tried drinking the coffee at work, but found it bitter. She tried her favorite tea, but it failed to calm her, as it had in the past.

At lunch time Ashley drove home and made herself a cup of Brooke’s coffee. As soon as she had a sip she felt herself begin to relax. She finished the cup quickly and promptly made a second cup which she poured into her travel cup and then headed back to work.

Thoughts of Jake’s and Emily’s second hand smoke came back in force as she drank her second cup of coffee. She knew now that Brooke’s assertion about the coffee was correct. She had a desire to inhale cigarette smoke. While it wasn’t an overwhelming desire, and she felt that she could manage it, she knew that it would be wise to stop drinking the coffee entirely. But, she enjoyed the drinking it and if it came with a minor impulse to smoke, so be it. She’d been telling others for years that they had to have willpower to avoid smoking. It was time for her to follow her own advice.

When Ashley arrived at the restaurant that night, she found Ryan waiting outside for her with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He offered her his elbow and then escorted her inside where they were greeted by an immaculately dressed maître d’ who promptly led them to their table. Before they could even sit, a waiter arrived carrying a silver ice bucket and a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

“Compliments of the house,” the maître d’ informed them.

As the waiter and maître d’ made their departure a large man in a white chef’s coat and hat approached the table.

“Ryan, it’s great to see you again,” the man said as he shook Ryan’s hand.

“William, I’d like to introduce you to Ashley Paulson. She’s currently finishing her master’s at the university.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ashley,” William said as he shook her hand gently. “You’re probably going to think Ryan set this up, but I have to tell you that Ryan here is a really great person.”

“Stop,” Ryan said good-naturedly. He looked a little embarrassed.

“Sorry, but it’s what you get when you make someone’s dream come true,” he said to Ryan. “If it wasn’t for Ryan I don’t know where I’d be, flipping burgers at McDonald’s probably. Ryan arranged the money that allowed me to open this restaurant. Without his assistance Les Nomdes would still be a pipe dream.” William took the menus from their hands. “You will have no need of menus tonight as I will be personally preparing you a five course meal.”

“Thank you William, this is extremely kind of you.”

“I’ve bored you two enough, I’ll get back to the kitchen to start on your first course.”

“I really did not set this up, I promise.”

“How were you able to help him open this restaurant?” Ashley asked.

“I was interning at a law firm while an undergrad at the university. When I heard that William needed money to open this restaurant I talked the partners into investing in his restaurant.”

“How did you convince them to invest? I’m interning and I can barely get anyone to listen to a word I have to say.”

“I had William cater a couple lunches gratis, after they tasted his food it was an easy sell.”

“Wow, I’m very impressed.”

“Thanks, I can help you to stand out as an intern. There is a certain freedom in working for free that others, who are a slave to their pay, lack. A couple bold ideas in the right ears and they’ll take notice.”

Before their food even arrived Ashley found herself hoping for a second date. Not only did Ryan graduate with a business degree, but he’d also passed the bar last year and was currently clerking for chief judge of the circuit court. He was well read, loved the opera, and volunteered every week at the local food bank. She was having a dinner date with a smart, sexy, intelligent, compassionate lawyer and he seemed totally into her. It was a better date than she could have ever wished for. Ryan was the embodiment of her dream guy.

After dinner they walked along the waterfront for nearly an hour while they talked about everything under the sun. Afterwards Ryan led her to an exclusive night club where they danced for hours. Neither wanted the night to end, but they both had to work in the morning.

When Ryan walked Ashley to her car she found herself wishing that she had let him drive her to the restaurant. She was sure that if they were in the same car together there was some way she could get him to take her to his place, without sounding too much like a slut. As it was, Ryan was too much of a gentleman to ask her to his place on a first date.

“I had a great time tonight,” Ryan said once they reached her car.

“I did too, the food was amazing and the company was even better,” she replied as she gazed up at him.

“Would you like to go sailing with me? I have a thirty foot sailboat and I’d love to show her off to you.”

“I’d love to,” Ashley replied. He could have asked her to the city dump and she would have said yes.

“Great, I know you’re busy on Saturday, so how about Sunday?”

“That sounds perfect.” Ashley did not really know if thirty feet was big for a sailboat or not, but she hoped it had a bed big enough for two.

They kissed for several minutes before they finally said goodnight and Ashley drove herself home. As she drove, Ashley wished that she had not setup a date with Jake. She’d much rather go sailing with Ryan than do anything with that lout. She did not know what had possessed her to track him down and give him her number and then say yes to a dinner date. She was half tempted to call Ryan and tell him that she was free on Saturday after all, but that would just make for an awkward conversation.

Ashley called Emily as soon as she got home and told her best friend all about her dream date and their plans for sailing on the weekend. Emily called Ashley a total slut when she confessed her plans for Ryan once she had him alone on the open water. Emily did admit that Ryan sounded like a total catch and she was happy for her friend and insanely jealous.

In the morning, Ashley made herself a thermos of Brooke’s coffee. Once again her thoughts turned to smoking while she consumed it. The desire to be around smokers was greater than the previous day, but was still manageable.

After work, as Ashley drove to her study group, she decided on a plan of attack for the evening. She knew that if she caught a whiff of Emily’s secondhand smoke she’d have a strong desire to breathe more of it, so she decided that she would sit as far away from Emily as possible that night, to minimize her exposure to the smoky smell.

Unfortunately, when Ashley arrived, Emily was standing outside the house smoking. Ashley told herself to stay in the car until Emily finished smoking the cigarette. But she then told herself that she couldn’t avoid smokers the rest of her life, she was going to be exposed to smoke, and she’d just have to deal with it. She’d make a quick dash to the front door and hold her breath the whole time.

“So, have you talked to Mr. Perfect since last night?” Emily asked as Ashley approached.

“It’s hasn’t even been 24 hours since I last saw him,” Ashley said as she hugged Emily.

“Yeah, but you wish he’d have called by now, don’t you,” Emily said with a knowing look.

“Yes. Of course,” Ashley said as she watched Emily draw deeply on her cigarette before dropping it on the ground and crushing it with her foot. “Have you heard from Tom lately?”

“Yes and I have to tell you about it,” Emily replied and then exhaled a large plume of smoke.

“And I so want to hear about it,” Ashley said, distractedly. She’d caught a decent amount of Emily’s second hand smoke and it was making her reel. “We should get inside or they’ll make us bring refreshments next week.”

Ashley had a hard time studying the next hour; thoughts of Emily’s smoke occupied her mind. It had smelt so good. She found herself wishing she’d arrived a few minutes earlier so that she could have caught a couple more exhales. When Emily rose from the table for her smoke break, Ashley tried to remind herself of her anti-smoking wisdom, but that voice was drowned out by a gnawing desire from within. Before Emily made it to the door Ashley rose from the table and followed her outside.

“What are you doing out here?” Emily asked as she fished a pack of cigarettes from her purse.

“I want to hear about you and Tom.”

Emily launched into a familiar bitch session about Tom. She loved the guy, but his lack of commitment to their relationship drove her crazy. At least that is what she assumed Emily was talking about. She barely heard a word Emily said; she was too focused on her exhales. Emily’s first exhale blew straight into Ashley’s face, but on every successive exhale Emily leaned her head back and exhaled straight into the sky. The smoke floated nearly a foot over Ashley’s head and she couldn’t get a good whiff of it. It was very frustrating. Damn Emily and her courtesy thought Ashley.

Once back inside Ashley sat and brainstormed. She needed to find a way to stop Emily from exhaling over her head. Perhaps she could convince Emily to sit while she smoked. Then when she exhaled Ashley could stand quickly and catch a bit of it. Or maybe she could tell Emily that she was cold and they could sit in her car with the windows up, except that it was 70 degrees out. Maybe, when she was exhaling, she could tell her that Ryan Gosling was behind her and then she’d whip around and blow smoke at head height. She was still brainstorming when Emily grabbed her purse and started to leave the table.

“You coming?” Emily asked she headed toward the door.

“Yeah,” Ashley replied.

“You smoke, too?” asked Kaitlin, a look of disgust on her face.

“I’m not smoking, I’m just going out to talk,” Ashley said, defensively.

Ashley grabbed her purse and followed Emily as she exited the house. Emily lit up just outside the front door and let out a large exhale as she walked along the home’s front walkway toward the driveway. Ashley sucked in as much second hand smoke as she could as she trailed behind Emily. Unfortunately for Ashley, Emily remained polite and exhaled her cigarette smoke away from her non-smoking friend. Ashley became more and more anxious as she watched Emily blow cloud after cloud of smoke away into the air. Finally as Emily neared the end of her cigarette, Ashley could take it no longer.

“Can I have a puff off that?”

“What?” Emily asked, a look of shock on her face. “You aren’t serious, are you?”

“I just want to try it,” Ashley said.

“You don’t want to start smoking, trust me,” Emily said as she pulled the cigarette away from Ashley’s outstretched hand.

“One puff won’t kill me, I just want to try it and see what people see in it.”

“I’m sorry, but no. I’m not about to have you on my conscience. I don’t want you becoming a smoker because I gave you a cigarette.” Emily dropped the cigarette on the ground and crushed it out with her foot.

“Well, that was rude,” Ashley snapped.

“Sorry if I’m being a bitch, but I hope that you’ll thank me for it eventually.”

Ashley watched Emily walk back into the house. After a few minutes she joined her. She did not follow Emily out on her next and final smoke break of the evening. She did get some studying done though.

Ashley was thankful of Emily the next morning. She could not believe that she’d actually asked for a puff off of a cigarette. Breathing in second hand smoke occasionally was one thing, but actually placing a burning cigarette into her mouth and sucking the poison directly into her lungs was just disgusting. She told herself that she’d have to do something special for Emily.

She still made herself a cup of Brooke’s coffee, but she restricted herself to a single cup. She blamed her extra consumption of the coffee on Thursday morning for her moment of weakness on Thursday night. A full thermos of the coffee was simply too much. She just needed to have a little will power and limit her coffee consumption and she’d be able to resist the smoking urges.

It was a bad day at work for Ashley. Within an hour of arriving she wanted a second cup of the coffee. By hour two she began considering leaving work to get a refill from home. When lunchtime came it was all she could do to resist the urge to drive home and make herself a pot of Brooke’s coffee. As it was, she found herself leaving work an hour early that day and driving not to her home, but to Brooke’s office.

“I can’t get you more coffee,” Brooke said when Ashley greeted her at her desk.

“Well, hello to you too,” Ashley replied. “I’m not here for coffee, I was in the neighborhood again and thought that I’d say hello.”

“All right, it is nice to see you, too.”

“There is something you can help me with though.”

“I knew it,” Brooke said with a mix of self-satisfaction and disappointment. “I knew you didn’t just come by to see how I’m doing. What do you want?”

“My boss wants me to build an org chart for the company. Do you have one I could see?”

“Why didn’t you just Google it?” Brooke eyed her sister with suspicion.

“I’m going to, when I get home, but I thought that since I was here, and you probably have one, I could look at yours.”

Brooke turned back to her computer and pulled up a copy of her company’s organizational chart.

“Wow, you report directly to the president of the company?” Ashley asked. “I would have thought you’d report to marketing.”

Brooke turned back toward her sister. She was beaming with pride. “Yeah, he said he wanted to feel connected to the ‘net and wanted to work with me directly.”

“That’s great, Brooke,” Ashley said. She scanned the org chart until she found the office manager. His name was Kirk Brown; he was balding, wore glasses, and looked to be in his 40s. She committed the man’s face to memory.

“Well, I should probably be going. I’m meeting Emily and Rachel at the club later tonight.” Ashley hugged her sister goodbye before departing.

While Ashley did leave the building and drive her car off the lot, she did not go home. She drove across the street and parked her car so that she could see the front door of Brooke’s office. She watched as the employees exited the building. She did not know what she would say if her sister spotted her, but she didn’t care. She’d come up with something semi-plausible. Luckily it did not come to that since the office manager left the building before Brooke. He climbed into a Nissan Sentra that looked like it was built in the 90s and drove out of the parking lot. Ashley followed Kirk, hoping that he would lead her to the coffee she so desperately craved.

After a stop at a gas station, and another at a liquor store, Kirk finally pulled into the driveway of, what Ashley hoped was, his house. She really hoped that he wasn’t stopping at a friend’s house. When Kirk used a key to open the front door Ashley was satisfied that it was indeed his house. She wrote down the address and then headed home to get ready for her night out with her friends.

A couple hours later Ashley joined Emily and Rachel at another hip downtown club where they spent the evening sipping appletinis, talking about their lives and hoping to be noticed. For the first hour Ashley recounted her dream date with Ryan once again. While it was Rachel’s first time hearing the story, Emily had heard it a couple times now and she was getting sick of hearing about Ryan, but Ashley didn’t care, she knew that she was just jealous; at least she hoped that she was. Eventually her two friends excused themselves for their first of many smoke breaks that evening. Rachel was quite shocked when Ashley followed them to the club’s outdoor smoking section.

“Where are you going?” Rachle asked.

“I’m tired of being left alone in the club all the time,” Ashley replied.

“I thought that you hated the smell of cigarette smoke,” Rachel said.

“A little second hand smoke won’t kill me. Plus I haven’t finished telling you about Ryan.”

“Yes you have,” Emily retorted. “I love you, Ashley, and I’m really happy for you, but I am sick of hearing about Mr. Perfect.”

“Okay, one of you talk,” Ashley said as she watched Rachel and Emily light their long, white cigarettes.

Ashley listened as Rachel launched into a bitch-fest about her boyfriend, Aaron. She empathized, she consoled, she encouraged, but mostly she breathed deeply. The smoking area in the back of the club was packed with young men and women blowing their second hand into the night air. As Ashley breathed in the smoky air she not only felt herself relax a tad, but also something within was partially satiated, an inner hunger that had been growing for the last week. As the ambient smoke entered her lungs she began to realize that it felt pretty good to feed that hunger. All too soon Emily and Rachel had finished their cigarettes and it was time to go back inside the club.

Ashley did not have to wait long before Emily and Rachel wanted another smoke break. In fact, as all three drank more alcohol, the interval between successive smoke breaks shrank significantly. At first this delighted Ashley. More smoke breaks meant being around more smoke which would help quell the hunger within. And it did—at first.

Unfortunately for Ashley, with each smoke break her need for smoke grew. By the third smoke break, breathing in the ambient smoke no longer satisfied. By the fourth, it was more frustrating than anything else. Her appetite for smoke had grown way beyond what simple second hand smoke could deliver. She felt like she was parched and only getting sprinkles of water tossed in her direction, while both her friends and everyone else were sucking water down by the gallon. Eventually she could take no more.

“You think I could have a puff?” she asked Rachel halfway through the fifth smoke break of the evening.

“Are you going to become a drunk smoker?” Emily asked as she watched Rachel hand Ashley a lit cigarette. “Look what happened to Rachel.”

“I just want to try it,” Ashley replied. She tried to look calm and casual on the outside as she brought the cigarette to her mouth. Inside she was screaming at herself to hand the cigarette back before she crossed a line she’d promised herself that she’d never cross. Her hand did not slow on its way to her mouth.

“You might want to take it easy and not inhale on your first puff,” Emily said.

Ashley ignored her. Inhaling is exactly what she intended to do. If she was going to smoke she was at least going to do it right. She wrapped her lips around the lipstick covered filter, drew in a small amount of smoke and then pulled the smoke into her lungs as she removed the cigarette from her mouth. After holding her breath for a couple moments she released a thin stream of smoke into the air. She liked it instantly.

“Careful, smoking can make you pretty light headed at first,” Rachel said as she held her hand out for her cigarette.

Ashley did not respond, nor did she give Rachel the cigarette, instead she raised it to her lips. She pulled the smoke into her lungs a second time, hoping that it would quench her thirst. And it did after a fashion. She felt a pleasant warmth in her lungs. She felt herself relax. But, there was still something missing, something still unanswered. She handed the cigarette back to Emily and released the smoke from her lungs.

“Wow, no one would guess that you haven’t smoked before,” Emily said. “That was you first cigarette, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was my first,” Ashley replied. She wanted to add “and my last”, but she knew that it would not be her last of her life. She doubted that it would be the last of the night.

Ashley tried to abstain on the next and last smoke break, but just before the girls finished their cigarettes Ashley took a puff of Emily’s cigarette. Later that night when she was dropping them off at their apartment, Emily offered her a cigarette for the road, but Ashley declined.

Ashley did not think much more about smoking that night or the next morning, not until she made herself a cup of coffee. As she sipped her morning cup she found herself wishing that she’d accepted the cigarette from Emily. She had a feeling that the coffee and cigarette would taste great together. Once she finished her coffee she headed to her room to work on customer projects. She became engrossed in her work and soon forgot about smoking.

Later in the day, while she sat on the back patio and shared lunch with her parents, her thoughts turned to sailing with Ryan. It was a beautiful day and she hoped that the weather held and did not spoil their date. Of course, if it was too nasty to venture outdoors they would have to stay inside and that would be nice, too. She didn’t really care what they did; she just wanted to do it together.

“What do you have planned tonight?” Elaine asked her daughter.

“I have a dinner date,” Ashley replied.

“A second date with Ryan?” her mother asked. “So, when do we get to meet this nice young man?”

“I’m having dinner with Jake tonight,” Ashley said.

“Oh?” Bob, her father, asked with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s not like that, Dad. I agreed to go out to dinner with Jake before Ryan asked me. I’d cancel on him, but I don’t want to be mean. I’ll be nice to him at dinner, but if he asks for another date I’ll tell him no.”

“It might be nicer to cancel now,” her mom said. “Otherwise you might get his hopes up. If you know that you don’t want to see him anymore it’s better to say something sooner rather than later.”

“I suppose,” Ashley said.

After lunch Ashley retreated to her room. Instead of resuming work right away she turned on some music and lay down on her bed. She knew that her mother was correct; she should call Jake and cancel the dinner date. Jake was probably a nice guy deep down, but he just wasn’t her type. She was sure that there were plenty of women who went for the brutish, blue collar types, women who were content to be the little woman and spend their days cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their man, women who thought a man who had more hair on their backs than on their heads were adorable. She wasn’t one of them. She wanted a man who was intelligent, cultured, well read, and knew how to dress, a man like Ryan.

Ashley looked at her phone. She knew that she should call Jake and cancel, but she didn’t make the call. Much like she knew the previous night that she shouldn’t have followed her friends into the smoking area, she knew that she should not go on the date with Jake, but just like last night she was going to do it anyway.

As Ashley pulled into Gloria’s parking lot that night she spied Jake standing out front smoking a cigarette. She decided to stay in her car until he finished his cigarette. She was afraid that if she exited the car while he was smoking she’d be joining him in moments. Just seeing him smoke increased her desire to smoke. If she smelled it too, her willpower would surely crumble.

Once Jake finished smoking and he’d crushed his cigarette out under his boot, Ashley exited her car, walked over to him, and said hello. He was wearing a pair of jeans paired with a sports coat over a simple dress shirt. She was in a pair of knee high, leather boots, black tights, and a grey sweater dress.

“Good news, they still have the chicken fried steak,” Jake said as she approached. “They always seem to run out on Saturday night, but don’t worry, I went ahead ordered us a couple.”

“Great,” Ashley replied without much enthusiasm. “Well, you look nice tonight.” She hoped that he would catch the hint and respond accordingly.

“No I don’t, I look like I just drove a big rig all day, which I did. You look like you’re just about to model clothing.”

“Thank you,” Ashley said as she felt herself blush. It was the highlight of the dinner.

Jake wasn’t a bad guy and the chicken fried steak was actually decent, so Ashley didn’t consider the evening a total loss. They just didn’t have much in common. Jake seemed fairly bright, but it seemed like most of his mental capacity was focused on big rig maintenance and his various sports teams, neither of which interested Ashley in the slightest. He loved country music, which she despised, and the last book he’d read was in high school.

As dinner came to a close Jake asked if he could see Ashley again, but she declined. He insisted on walking her to her car. Along the way he lit a cigarette. As they neared her car she caught a whiff of his exhale. She stopped in her tracks.

“Can I have a drag off that?” she asked quickly. She tried to hide her desperation from her voice.

“Aren’t you the one who teaches kids all about the evils of cigarette smoking?” Jake asked with a chuckle.

“Yeah, I want to know what it’s like,” Ashley replied as she held out her hand.

“Okay,” Jake said as he handed over the cigarette. “Go easy, that ain’t no light cigarette. It takes some getting used to.”

Ashley took the cigarette and drew deeply. The cigarette tasted good, but it wasn’t what she wanted—it was—but it wasn’t. She blew a tight stream of smoke into the air and handed the cigarette back to Jake. She watched him take a drag on the cigarette and her desire mounted. She knew what she really wanted. She wanted smoke, but not from the cigarette, she wanted it from Jake.

“What do you think?” Jake asked, looking at her uncertainly.

“It wasn’t bad, but I think I was expecting something else,” Ashley said. “I have a weird request.”

“What is it?”

“You know when you ran into me and you blew your smoke right into me? I mean your face was right next to mine and you were blowing smoke out while I was breathing in. Can we do that again?”

“Do you want me to run into you, too?” Jake said with a chuckle.

“Never mind, it was stupid,” Ashley said, feeling embarrassed.

“Sorry, I’m being a jerk. Yeah, sure, we can try it again. What the hell.”

He took a deep puff and then leaned down until his mouth was a couple inches from Ashley’s. As he exhaled she inhaled and her knees went weak. Jake put an arm around her back to steady her. Ashley gazed into Jake’s eyes as smoke slowly trickled from her mouth.

“Again please,” she whispered.

Jake smiled as he pulled more smoke into his lungs. This time his lips brushed hers as he fed Ashley his smoke. Before he’d finished his exhale Ashley grabbed the back of his head and pulled his lips into hers. His tongue entered her mouth and her free hand grabbed his crotch.

“I want you to do that again, but without clothes.”

Jake escorted Ashley to a beat up Ford pickup truck that looked like it had passed its prime before Ashley was born. Jake helped Ashley into the pickup, her high heeled boots making the task hard to manage alone, and then ran around the vehicle and jumped in. He started the truck and then left the parking lot with a cloud of dust and a spray of gravel.

Ashley slid over on the bench seat until her body was pressed tightly against Jakes. She ran one hand through his thinning hair and the other rubbed his cock through his jeans.

“Smoke some more for me,” she moaned into his ear.

Jake fumbled at the pack in his jacket pocket, his trembling hands making the task nearly impossible.

“Let me do that for you, tiger,” Ashley purred as she slipped her hand into his jacket pocket.

She pulled out the pack of Marlboro reds and a Zippo lighter. She removed a cigarette from the pack and placed it in her mouth. She lit the cigarette and pulled on it for several seconds before inhaling deeply and then placing the lit cigarette in Jake’s waiting lips. Ashley finally released a thick cloud of smoke from her lungs once she saw Jake taking a drag. Ashley emptied her lungs and once Jake removed the cigarette from his lips she locked her lips with his and sucked the smoke from his lungs. She held the smoke in her lungs while her body shuddered in pleasure.

“I need another,” Ashley said as she unzipped Jake’s jeans and fished out his growing erection.

She stroked him with her hand as she watched him take another monster drag from his cigarette. Jake tried his best to keep his eyes on the road as Ashley once again latched on to him and forcibly sucked the smoke from his lungs.

“Oh my fucking god that’s good,” Ashley said as she continued to stroke Jake with one hand and used the other to rub her pussy through her tights.

She leaned over until her mouth was an inch from the head of his cock and then bathed it with the smoke from her lungs. Her mouth followed the smoke and she engulfed his rigid tool. Her other hand had made its way past her tights and panties, to her sopping pussy.

Jake was in heaven. He couldn’t believe that a young woman as good looking as Ashley had ever agreed to have dinner with him in the first place. Then at dinner she looked like she wanted nothing more than leave as soon as possible. When she turned down a second date he figured that he’d never see her again. And yet here she was, in his truck giving him the blowjob of his life while finger fucking herself. He couldn’t believe his luck.

When he pulled into his driveway she was still working at his cock. He’d been holding back on the drive from the diner. He was afraid that if he had cum while driving that he would have crashed for sure. He gazed at Ashley, her hand working its way under her dress and her head bobbing up and down on his cock. He stretched out his hand and pushed Ashley’s hand out of the way. As he worked two fingers in and out of her pussy he felt a familiar and welcome pressure build.

“I’m going to cum,” he shouted.

Ashley responded by attacking his cock with even more vigor. Jake let out a roar as he erupted in her mouth. Before he’d finished pumping his seed into her mouth he felt Ashley’s pussy constrict around his fingers. She grabbed his wrist and shoved his fingers deep into her pussy as she shuddered in orgasmic bliss.

“Let’s go inside and start round two,” Ashley said as she looked up from Jake’s cock.

Ashley woke the next morning in a strange bed, held by a strange arm, and covered in dried cum. After a moment or two she remembered the room and the arm and the activities that had led to all of the cum. She lifted the arm and slid off the bed. She quietly grabbed her clothes and headed toward the door, hoping that Jake would stay asleep. She looked at the clock. It was seven in the morning. She had enough time to get home, grab a shower, and still make it to study group on time.

Ashley lingered at the door and watched Jake sleep for a couple moments. This wasn’t her first time waking up in a strange room, she wasn’t some prude. She’d partied a bit in her first couple years of college and there had been a few mornings waking up in some guy’s bed she’d just met. A few times she’d woken up and could not remember the guy’s name, or the previous night’s activities. Other times she’d wished she couldn’t remember. She remembered everything from last night, every orgasm given and received.

Ashley didn’t really want to leave, what she wanted to do was to crawl back in bed with Jake and let him hold her for a bit longer, then maybe they’d take a shower together and fuck under the water. Then she’d make breakfast for him and then they’d share a cigarette and fuck some more. Ashley shook her head and tip toed into the hallway and dressed. She made her way into the kitchen where she found some unopened mail. With the address in hand she called a taxi cab. Ashley hoped that the taxi would arrive before she changed her mind and she crawled back into bed.

As Ashley waited for the taxi she looked around Jake’s small, two bedroom house. It was fairly clean, but lacked decor for the most part. Beside the bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms, it had a living room that lacked furniture all together, and a family room that held a large flat screen television, a beat up couch, and a giant overstuffed recliner with a built-in mini fridge. Out front, parked next to Jake’s beat up pickup truck was a large, cherry-red semi-truck.

The taxi was prompt and within twenty minutes it was dropping her off at her car outside the diner. As she drove home she kept reminding herself why she was driving to her parents house and not back to Jake’s. She had a plan for her life and a truck driver was not part of it. She still hoped that Ryan would be part of her future. She felt more than a little guilty that she’d fucked another guy all night long, but they’d only had one date so it wasn’t like they were married or anything, at least not yet. Ryan was her dream guy, and not barely-literate Jake. And yet, she could not deny how he’d made her feel last night and how much she wanted to be with him.

It had come on so suddenly. One moment she was giving him the brush off and the next she had her head buried in his lap. It was just after he’d fed her the cigarette smoke. She’d never heard of cigarette smoke making people fall for each other, but until a couple weeks ago she’d never heard of coffee turning people into smokers, either.

So, the plan for the day was simple. She’d shower, head to study group, then sailing with Ryan and she’d forget all about Jake. Her new plan worked well at first. She was able to enter the house without waking her parents. It’s not like she had a curfew or anything, but running into her parents first thing in the morning wearing yesterday’s clothes, and reeking of sex, would be just too embarrassing. After her shower she changed into casual clothing that would work well at study group and sailing. She also packed an overnight bag just in case things with Ryan went as she hoped. Before heading out for the day she made herself a cup of coffee. She tossed what little remained of her coffee supply into her overnight bag as she left the house.

As Ashley sipped her coffee her thoughts turned back to Jake. She wondered if he was up, she wondered if he was thinking of her, she wondered if he missed her. She hoped so. She kicked herself for not saying goodbye, or at least writing a note of some kind. He probably thought that she was rude now. She considered driving by Jake’s on the way to study group to say goodbye, perhaps she could pick up some breakfast on the way. He was probably hungry. Of course, if she did stop by, she would get him to feed her some of his wonderful smoke and then they’d be back in the bedroom and there would go her plan for the day. No, she would go to study group and then on to her date with Ryan. She would stay away from Jake and his magical smoke, which she wanted so badly.

Ashley pulled into the next gas station that she spotted along the road. Perhaps if she fed her desire for smoke her desire to return to Jake would diminish. She entered the store and walked directly to the counter. There was a small line which was a blessing. Ashley suddenly realized that she knew nothing about cigarettes. She tried to remember which brand Emily smoked. Jake’s were kind of short and were orange at one end. Emily’s were longer and all white. She looked at all the cigarette brands behind the counter until she finally spotted one that looked familiar.

“A pack of Virginia Slims,” Ashley said when it was her turn.

“Regular or menthol?” asked the twenty something guy behind the counter.

“Those.” Ashley pointed at a large cardboard display behind the guys head. It displayed a pack that looked exactly like the ones both Emily and Rachel smoked. “I’ll need a lighter too.”

The cashier pointed a lazy hand at a display of Bic lighters next to the cash register. Ashley grabbed a pack of three and paid for them and the cigarettes. Once in her car, she quickly removed the cellophane wrapper from her first pack of cigarettes. She flipped open the box and stripped the foil away to reveal a score of tightly packed cigarette butts. Her hand shook as she struggled to remove one. Once freed, she held the all white cigarette between her thumb and index finger and stared at it. She was about to light a cigarette with the intention of smoking the whole thing. She felt like she was at a crossroads. Sure, she’d smoked last night, but that had been different, it had been at night and in the heat of passion. This was in the light of day and a cigarette from a pack she’d bought for herself. If she smoked this one then she’d probably smoke another and then where would it end?

She thought back to her sister’s warning about the coffee. Why hadn’t she listened? Of course she hadn’t smoked the cigarette yet. She could throw it, and the rest of the cancer sticks, out of the window and drive on. She didn’t have to smoke. She could muster up the willpower—the same willpower she told school kids to use every week—to resist lighting the cigarette.

Ashley rolled down her car’s window with the intent of throwing the cigarettes away, but then she reminded herself that she wasn’t going to light the cigarette because she wanted to smoke, per se. She was going to light it so that she could avoid Jake. She was going to smoke so that she could stick to her plan and keep her date with Ryan.

Ashley ripped open the pack of lighters and lit her cigarette before she wasted anymore time trying to talk herself out of the inevitable. She let out the first puff without inhaling, but sucked in another mouthful of smoke before removing the cigarette from her mouth. She breathed deep and relished the smoke inside her lungs. She held it inside until she felt herself get a little dizzy, and then reluctantly blew out a thin stream of smoke. Smoke continued to escape from her mouth over the next few breaths. She brought the cigarette back to her mouth and pulled in another lungful of smoke. She did not hold the smoke as long this time and when she exhaled she blew a large cloud out the window of her car. Ashley smoked the cigarette quickly, hoping that it would satisfy her burning need to return to Jake. It satisfied her need for nicotine, but it made her miss Jake even more. With every puff she thought of his lips on hers as he gave her a smoky kiss. Every exhale reminded her of the many smoky blowjobs she’d given him the night before. Ashley crushed out her cigarette, started her car and headed to study group. After about a mile she lit a second cigarette, a mile after that she turned the car around and drove to Jake’s.

When Ashley arrived at Jake’s thirty minutes later he was still asleep. She stood in the doorway of his bedroom and watched him sleep while she finished smoking her third cigarette of the day. He looked so peaceful lying on his back with his eyes closed. His heavy, rhythmic breathing filled Ashley with a sense of contentment and safety. The blankets were half off the bed and Jake’s exposed hairy chest filled Ashley with several naughty thoughts. She walked to the bed, took a final puff off her cigarette and crushed it out in the ashtray stuffed with all of last night’s butts. Ashley slipped out of her clothes and slid into the bed. As she snuggled up against Jake, her head resting on his chest, his eyes opened.

“I woke up and you were gone,” he said. “Where’d you go?”

“I just needed a smoke,” Ashley said. She pulled herself up and kissed him on the lips. “I’m back now, baby.”

“Good, I missed you.”

Jake put his arm around Ashley and drew her close to his body. They quickly fell asleep.

When Ashley woke again she was alone. She sat up and caught the scent of bacon. She smiled at the thought of Jake cooking for her. As she looked for her clothes she spied the t-shirt that Jake had worn the night before. She pulled it over her head and it fell top her knees. She brought the collar up to her nose and inhaled Jake’s scent. It was heavenly. Dressed only in panties and Jake’s shirt, Ashley left the bedroom to find her lover. She found him in the kitchen stirring eggs in a frying pan. He was dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of sweats, with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

“Morning, sunshine,” Jake said around his cigarette. “I hope you like eggs.”

“I love eggs, but I could really use some smoke.”

Jake took a deep puff and then held the cigarette out to Ashley. She brushed his hand aside and moved directly to his mouth.

“I want your smoke,” she said lustily as she stood on tip-toes and pulled his head down toward hers for a smoky kiss. “Yummy,” Ashley said as she exhaled smoke across the kitchen.

“I’m going to make some coffee, want some?” Ashley asked.

“Nah, I don’t do coffee so much. I get my caffeine right here.” Jake held up a can of Redbull.

When Jake finished the eggs a few minutes later and he pulled two plates from the cupboard, Ashley asked him to put one back.

“Don’t you want to eat?” he asked, looking concerned.

“Yes I want to eat, but I want to eat together,” Ashley replied.

Jake looked confused, but piled the eggs, bacon and toast onto one plate. Ashley had him sit at the small kitchen table and then she sat on his lap. Jake caught onto her idea and gave her a big smile. Ashley picked up a fork and began feeding them both, squeezing in the occasional kiss between bites.

“Ever been tailgating before?” Jake asked after they finished eating. He reached over the table and grabbed his pack of cigarettes.

“What’s tailgating?” Ashley asked as she waved off the offered cigarette.

“Me and some buddies hang out at Soldier’s field whenever the Bears are playing in town.” Jake paused to light his cigarette. “We drink and barbeque in the parking lot outside the stadium before the game. It would be great if you could come too. Do you have any plans today?”

“Nothing important,” Ashley replied. She felt herself grow damp as she watched Jake exhale a cloud of smoke. “I’d love to join you.”

“Great, we’ll leave in a couple hours.” Jake raised his cigarette back to his lips.

Ashley gazed lustfully at Jake as he sucked in the smoke. When he pulled the cigarette away from his mouth she placed her hands on his cheeks and turned his face toward hers and then kissed him. They continued to kiss after he fed her the smoke.

“I see you like the smoky kisses as much as I do,” Ashley said when they finally stopped kissing a few minutes later. She massaged his erection through his sweats.

“You are the sexiest woman I have ever met,” Jake said. He dangled his cigarette from his lips while he caressed Ashley’s breasts. “I’ve had constant wood since last night.”

“God, that feels so good,” Ashley said. She lay against Jake’s body, her head against his strong shoulder. She slipped her hand into his sweats and stroked his cock while luxuriating in the electric sensation his hands were causing in her nipples.

After a minute, Jake moved one hand away from her breast and made a slow sensual journey down to her lap. He rubbed the inside of her thigh for a couple moments before grabbing her panties and pulling them down her legs. He removed his hand from her breasts and used it to violently clear the table, their breakfast plate shattering on the linoleum floor. He grabbed Ashley around the waist and sat her on the table. He stood, dropped his sweats and then pulled her onto his erection. He pulled a massive amount of smoke into his lungs, tossed the spent cigarette onto the floor next to the remains of their breakfast, and then fed Ashley his smoke.

Ashley threw her arms around Jake’s neck and held his lips to hers as she sucked in his smoke. She held the smoke inside her lungs as long as she could while Jake slammed into her. While still kissing, she finally released the smoke through her nose. She wrapped her legs around Jake’s waist and tried to pull his cock deeper into her throbbing sex. Her whole body was on fire from their passion and soon she was screaming in the throes of an orgasm. Jake continued to pummel her while she writhed beneath him. When Ashley began groping her own tits, Jake began to feel an orgasm coming on. When she lifted her tit and tried to lick her own nipple he lost it and began gushing into her.

Jake lay spent on top of Ashley for several minutes. He tried to catch his breath while he enjoyed the feeling of her soft body. Ashley held onto Jake, her arms and legs still wrapped tightly around his body, her pussy still clenching his shrinking cock; she wanted to keep him inside her for as long as she could. Jake began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Ashley asked.

“We really made a mess,” Jake said as he looked at the eggs, pieces of broken plate, and still smoldering cigarette strewn about the floor of the kitchen.

“Don’t blame me; I’m not the one who cleared the table.”

“You’re the one that drove me to do it, and I’m not blaming you, I’m thanking you. You get me so hot.”

“You get me pretty hot too, big guy,” Ashley said and then kissed him.

A few minutes later they left the kitchen and took a shower together. After the shower they dried each other and then Jake found a Bear’s jersey for each of them.

Jake’s jersey fit him pretty well, but Ashley’s was so large it looked like a baggy dress on her. She asked Jake to retrieve her overnight bag from her car while she appraised herself in the bathroom’s mirror. When Jake returned with her overnight bag she was busy working on her makeup, so he headed into the kitchen to clean up the mess.

Jake was nearly finished packing his pickup truck with a couple of camp chairs, tables, his barbeque, and a large cooler packed with beer and meat, when Ashley made her appearance. He nearly dropped the cooler when he saw her. In addition to the jersey she’d added large hoop earrings and high heels. From mid thigh, where the jersey ended, to the red strappy heels it was all smooth, tanned legs. Her lips and nails matched the heels; her eyes had a dark smoky eye shadow and thick eyeliner. She’d teased her hair, which gave it a wild, sexy look. A long, white, unlit cigarette hung from her lips. She sauntered over to him, her heels clicking on the concrete.

Jake stared dumbly.

“Got a light, tiger?” she asked in a husky voice.

Jake fumbled for his lighter. “You look fucking hot,” he said.

“Thank you,” Ashley replied with a smile. After a moment her smile turned to a look of concern. “I don’t look trampy, do I?”

“No, you look amazing,” he said as he lit her cigarette. “My friends are gonna eat their hearts out. Their all gonna wish they could have you.”

“Good,” she said as she raised her cigarette for a puff. “They may want me, but they can’t have me.” Ashley moved her body against Jake’s and reached an arm around his waist. “I’m all yours.”

Once Jake finished loading his pickup truck, he introduced Ashley to his real truck, his Peterbilt 389. The rig’s paint job gleamed like it was brand new, even though Jake said he’d had the truck for several years. As she approached she caught a strong whiff of Turtle Wax; when Jake opened the cab door it was replaced with the heavy scent of Armor All. Everything shined; every piece of chrome, plastic and vinyl. Ashley had never been in the cab of a semi-truck and was suitably impressed. In addition to a pair of comfortable looking bucket seats, and an instrument panel that looked like an airliner’s, it also had a bed, TV, and microwave oven in a small section behind the seats. She was even more impressed when she found out that he owned it, free and clear.

While Jake was bragging about his pride and joy Ashley’s phone began to ring. She pulled it out of her purse and saw that the call was from Ryan. She declined the call, sent him a quick text telling him that she wouldn’t be able to make it sailing and then turned off her phone. Once the tour was finished, Jake said that it was time to head to the stadium for the tailgating party.

When Jake had first mentioned tailgating at breakfast, Ashley had feigned ignorance. She’d heard of tailgating, but never in a positive light. None of her friends tailgated, nor knew anyone who participated in the activity. She and her friends used the term not as a verb, but as an adjective to describe an ignorant, uncultured person. Of course, that did not matter to her, not anymore. She did not care that she was about to spend the day swilling beer and eating charred meat in a parking lot with a bunch of yokels. She’d spend it lying on a bed of nails if it meant spending it with Jake.

As they pulled out of the driveway in Jake’s pickup truck, he lit a cigarette and turned on the radio. Country music filled the air as Ashley slid next to Jake.

“I hope you like country music,” Jake said. He exhaled a large cloud of smoke into the cab.

“I’m fine with whatever you want to listen to,” Ashley said as she laid her head on his shoulder and breathed in his second hand smoke.

Tailgating was pretty much what Ashley expected it to be, but she enjoyed herself nonetheless. She was not used to drinking beer, much less domestic beer. Nor, was she used to listening to a bunch of vulgar men recite football stats. Luckily a few of Jake’s friends had brought their significant others, so Ashley was not the only woman present, although, to Ashley’s great satisfaction, she was the prettiest. The ladies huddled together, sipping beer, smoking cigarettes, and talking amongst themselves, while the men had pissing contests on who knew more about the Bears.

Ashley found that she liked the ladies. While they were a little rough around the edges—one of them stripped as a side job—they were friendly and easy to talk to. Jake did not leave her totally alone. He checked in on her frequently, asking if she needed anything, or refreshing her drink, or giving her a neck message , or lighting one of the few cigarettes she allowed herself that day. Ashley basked in his attention and the other ladies thought the whole thing rather romantic.

Once the game started, the party moved across the street to a bar with outdoor seating, where they could smoke and watch the game on a giant screen, which had been setup for the occasion. One of Jake’s friends started buying shots and made everyone drink every time the Bears did anything cheer-worthy. By the time halftime rolled around Ashley was fairly tipsy and by time the game ended she was asleep against Jake. She woke as he carried her to his truck.

“Did we win?” she asked when he laid her on the truck’s bench seat.

“Yeah, honey, we won,” Jake said before he closed the passenger door. He lit a cigarette as he walked around the truck to the driver’s door. Once inside he started the truck.

Ashley sat up and moved her lips to his for a smoky kiss.

“Oh no you don’t,” Jake said as he turned his head away from her to exhale. “Let’s wait till we get to my place.”

“Oh my god, you’re so mean,” Ashley said as she slapped his arm. “You haven’t given me a smoky kiss since breakfast.”

“Yeah, and look what happened to the rest of the meal. If I’d given you a smoky kiss at the bar then we would have been all over each other again and I didn’t want to spend the night in jail for public indecency,” Jake said with a smile. “Do you want a drag?”

“Sure,” Ashley said as she accepted the cigarette. “I guess it will have to do until we get to your place and I can have my way with you.” Ashley took a drag and then gave Jake his cigarette.

Jake put his arm around Ashley and she laid her head on his shoulder as they drove to his place.

Once they arrived, they headed straight to the bedroom, shedding clothing along the way, both naked before they reached Jake’s queen sized bed. And there they stayed for the next 34 hours, both having Monday off from work. Occasionally one or the other would leave the bed to use the bathroom or retrieve a beverage from the kitchen, but then it was a mad dash back to their lover’s arms. The longest period either of them stayed out of bed was to pay the two take-out drivers who delivered their food. They slept for part of the time, and they talked and cuddled for a portion as well, but mostly it was fucking and smoking.

Tuesday morning came very early for both Ashley and Jake. Ashley had to rise early in order to make it home to shower and change before work and Jake had several tons of diapers to haul to Florida. Jake had tried to talk Ashley into joining him on the road, but she had work and school. She wanted to go—she would miss him terribly over the next four days—but she could not abandon work at the last minute. Plus, she needed more coffee.

As Ashley drove home, she found that she really wanted to turn around and tell Jake that she’d go with him to Florida. She’d only been away from him for ten minutes and she already missed him; she did not know how she was going to make it until Saturday without him. She’d fallen hard for the man and it had something to do with the coffee and cigarettes, of that she was sure. Not that it really mattered. She was totally smitten with him and she did not care how it had come about.

Ashley eyed her purse. She really wanted a cigarette at the moment, but she would be home in a couple minutes and she did not want her mother to find out that she was smoking just yet. She wasn’t really sure when she’d be able to smoke next. She couldn’t smoke at work and she was nervous about smoking at home. There weren’t a lot of other places. Perhaps she’d call Emily and see if she wanted to go out after work.

A few minutes later Ashley pulled into her parent’s driveway. It was still pretty early in the morning, so she was hoping that her parents weren’t up yet, barring that, she hoped that she could make it upstairs undetected. She felt a little silly trying to sneak into the house—she was in her mid-twenties—but her mother knew that she hadn’t been dating anyone recently and she’d just spent two nights sleeping elsewhere. She was hoping to avoid the “look”, the look that said “I thought we raised you better”. She was going to have to deal with the “look” when she came out as smoker, but she was hoping to deal with it when she was a bit more rested.

Ashley ran into her mother as soon as she opened the front door.

“Well, look who the cat dragged in,” her mother said. She was giving Ashley the “look”.

“Hi, Mom,” Ashley said. “Sorry I wasn’t home last night, I was over at Emily’s.”

The look on her mother’s face changed from disappointed to annoyed. “Have you listened to your messages lately? I believe you will find you have a number of them from both Emily and me. Emily called me Sunday night, very worried about you. I’ve left you many messages since Sunday night, including one a few minutes ago.” Her mother turned to leave, but turned back around after a second. “You don’t have to tell me where you go, and you don’t have to check in, but please don’t lie to me. I thought that we raised you better than that.”

“Sorry, Mom.”

“Would you like some breakfast?”

“Yes, I’m really hungry, but I don’t have a ton of time. I’m going to take a quick shower. Can you start the kettle for me?”

“Yes, and a shower would be a good idea,” Elaine said. As she entered the kitchen she turned her head and continued, “I’m not sure what you were doing, but you don’t want to show up at the Anti-Smoking League smelling like an ashtray.”

Ashley showered quickly and dressed even quicker. She skipped makeup, figuring that she could do it on the commute. She grabbed her meager supply of coffee from her overnight bag and raced downstairs. A plate of poached eggs and toast sat on the kitchen counter; it smelled heavenly, and although she was starving, she walked past breakfast and used her press pot to make some coffee first. After an interminable three minutes, the coffee was ready and she began to relax with her first sip. Relaxation was short lived though. Now she really wanted a cigarette.

“Hey, Mom, where’s Dad?” Ashley yelled from the kitchen. “Did he leave for work early?”

“Yes, he left all right,” Elaine replied as she entered the kitchen.

“Is everything okay?”

“It’s fine, dear. We can talk tonight when you’re not racing out the door.” Elaine pulled a coffee cup from the cupboard. She lifted the press pot and began to pour.

“Stop!” Ashley jumped out of her seat and ran to her mother.

“What?” Elaine whipped around, a look of panic on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“You wouldn’t like this coffee, it’s a dark roast,” Ashley said as she took the coffee cup and press pot from her mother’s hands.

“Is that all? You scared me half to death.”

“Sorry I scared you. Why aren’t you drinking your coffee?” Ashley poured the coffee from her mother’s coffee cup and the press pot into her travel cup.

“I don’t want to brew a full pot, since it’s just me. I’m okay with a dark roast; I’ll just add some extra cream.”

“I’d give you some, but I need this for my morning commute. You really don’t want this coffee, trust me. I’ve got to run. Love You.” Ashley hugged her mother, grabbed her purse, and headed toward the door.

“Bye, angel. Have a nice day.” Elaine said as her daughter left the house.

Ashley’s day did not start out very nice. She started craving a cigarette before she’d made it out of her neighborhood; by time she was half way to work she wanted a cigarette: bad. But, she could not let work know that she was a smoker. If word got out, she could kiss her boss’s recommendation goodbye, and that was the main reason she’d interned—while earning no pay—for the Anti-Smoking League for the last two years.

Ashley pulled her car off the road and flipped on her hazard lights. She’d just thought of herself as a smoker, and the thought floored her. Sure, she’d smoked with Jake over the last few days, and enjoyed it immensely, but did that make her a smoker? For years Rachel had smoked when drinking, but Ashley had not thought of her as a smoker, not until recently. She’d known others that smoked upon occasion whom she wouldn’t call smokers. Then there were those like Jake and Emily who were definite smokers. She surmised that the difference lie in the reason one smoked. The social or occasional smoker tended to need a special reason to smoke. They smoked because they were drinking or it was a party or they were around smokers. True smokers smoked for smoking’s sake.

Ashley did not want to be a smoker. She wanted to smoke and knew that she’d light up the moment that she was around Jake again, but she wouldn’t smoke until then. She’d smoke occasionally, but not be a smoker. She’d be like Rachael had been, but instead of smoking when she drank, she’d smoke when she was with Jake. How she was going to make it until Saturday without smoking was beyond her, she was finding it hard enough to resist smoking on the way to work, but she’d just have to find a way. Being a smoker was not part of her plan. Ashley turned the hazards off and resumed her drive to work. While she fought traffic she called Emily and apologized for not returning her calls.

Ashley was very happy that she did not have a presentation at a school that day. She didn’t think she could stand in front of a bunch of tweens and tell them the horrors of smoking, when all she could think about was her next smoke.

When lunchtime finally rolled around, Ashley drove straight to Kirk Brown’s house. When she arrived, she sat in her car, across the street from his house, trying to build up her courage to perform her first, and hopefully last, home burglary. After about ten minutes she finally bolstered enough courage to exit the car. As she walked up the driveway she picked up a large rock that lined a nearby flower bed. She was about to throw the rock through the large plate glass window next to the front door when it occurred to her that it might make a bit more sense to break in from the back yard, where there were less prying eyes.

It was as she entered the back yard that she caught the scent of her quarry. The smell emanated from a large shed near the back of the property. As she approached the building she hefted the rock, fully intending to smash her way into the building, when the door opened and a middle aged man appeared in the doorway.

“Can I help you?” he asked, pleasantly.

“Um…” Ashley faltered.

“Let me guess, you’re here for the coffee.”

“Well, yes, actually.”

“I knew it was only a matter of time before someone tracked us down,” he said with a sigh. “How much do you need?”

“How much is it?”

“If you promise not to tell anyone where you got it, you can have the coffee for free.”

“You have my word.”

“Well, I have a batch cooling right now. Why don’t you come inside and I’ll make you a cup while we wait,” he said. “You can leave the rock outside.”

Ashley dropped the rock and held out her hand. “I’m Ashley.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Ashley,” he said as he shook her hand. “I’m Barry.”

Barry led Ashley into the house and offered her a seat at the kitchen table. After starting the coffee maker he took a seat opposite her.

“So, do you work in Kirk’s office?” Barry asked after a couple minutes of awkward silence.

“No, I know someone who works there.”

“Ah.” Barry smiled, looked at the coffee maker, which still brewing the coffee, and then back at Ashley. He stood suddenly and left the room in a hurry. He returned a moment later carrying an ashtray. “You are welcome to smoke in here.” He placed the ashtray on the table next to Ashley. “You are a smoker, correct?” He searched her face for confirmation.

“I smoke sometimes, but I don’t want to smoke, thank you,” Ashley said as she pushed the ashtray away from her. Ashley desperately wanted to smoke, but she was determined to fight the urge.

“You’ve been drinking the coffee, correct? And, you’ve smoked since you first started drinking the coffee? And you’re still turning down an offer to smoke?” He seemed to be calculating something in his head. “How long have you been drinking the coffee?”

“A couple weeks.”

“You must have amazing will power.”

“Wait a minute, you know that the coffee makes people smoke, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, I developed it.”


“Ah, the coffee has finished.” Barry walked over to the coffee maker and poured a cup.

As soon as Ashley had a sip of the coffee her eyes darted to the ashtray. “You sure it’s okay for me to smoke in here?” she asked while fishing in her purse for her cigarettes.

“Absolutely,” Barry said with a satisfied smile. “Do you mind if I film you?”

“What?” Ashley set her cigarette pack on the table. “Why do you want to film me?” It occurred to Ashley that she was alone in a strange house, with a strange man, who was becoming stranger by the moment. Who invented coffee that made people smoke? Barry could be insane and want to rape or murder her.

“I intend you no harm, Ashley,” Barry said gently. “My brother, Kirk, has an overpowering smoking fetish. It’s the reason I developed the coffee, to get women at his office to smoke, so he wouldn’t have to smoke alone all the time. Anyway, I’m hoping you’ll let me film you, so I can let Kirk watch you smoke later.”

“Okay, but I want a lot more coffee and I want answers, like why I’m totally hard up for a guy I thought was disgusting a week ago.”

“I’ll give you over twenty pounds of coffee and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability if you smoke for the camera.”

“Fine, get your camera,” Ashley said as she pulled a cigarette from her pack.

Barry dashed out of the room and returned a minute later with a digital video camera and a large tripod. Once he finished setting up, he gave Ashley a thumbs up, and hit the record button. Ashley looked directly into the camera and lit her cigarette.

“Oh, fuck that’s good,” she said after she’d double pumped the cigarette to life. She exhaled to the side and took another drag on her cigarette. After she exhaled she took a gulp of coffee and then another puff on her cigarette. “Jesus, these taste great together.”

“You mean you haven’t smoked and drank the coffee together yet?”

“No, this is the first time, but it sure as hell won’t be the last. I was hoping to keep smoking as a side thing, you know, be a social smoker, but now that I’ve tasted these two together, I’m going to be smoking all the time.” Ashley laughed to herself as she trimmed the ash off her cigarette. She knew now that she was a smoker. Ashley raised her cigarette to her mouth and sucked on it for several seconds, relishing her first puff as a self-confirmed smoker. “So, how does the coffee make people smoke?”

“I am a chemist by trade and I developed the coffee as a way to pay my brother back for all that he has done for me. Our parents died when we were young and Kirk helped raise me. When we were bustled from one shitty foster home to another, he protected me. When I wanted to go to college, he worked two jobs to pay for my tuition and books. I’ve always wanted to pay him back, but the only thing he wants is to see beautiful women smoke. It used to be so easy years ago, smoking was everywhere and it seemed like everyone did it, but these days so few smoke and those who do hide it in fear of being ostracized. So, I used my knowledge in chemistry to make a coffee that instills a nicotine addiction.”

“It certainly does that,” Ashley said after she exhaled a particularly thick cloud of smoke toward the camera. “It seems like it affects people differently. Two of my friends drank the coffee and they started smoking the next day, but it was nearly two weeks before I started.”

“It may help if I explain how the coffee works. To put it simply, the coffee alters the brain slightly, the first effect being a near instant, although temporary, addition to the coffee itself. After about five days the addictive effects of the coffee fades significantly. If an individual is exposed to sufficient quantities of nicotine inside of those five days they will become addicted to nicotine. While the speed with which the nicotine addiction takes hold is determined by a number of factors—the primary being past and future exposure to nicotine—the addiction is quite permanent.”

“What would happen if the person received their first bit of smoke from another person? I mean, if they blew their smoke directly into the lungs of a non-smoker?”

“Interesting question, I hadn’t considered the possibility of someone ingesting their first smoke filtered through another human being. I’m guessing you have experienced this, please tell me what happened.”

“Well, I went from thinking this guy was totally gross, then he breathes smoke into me and now I can’t stand being away from him.” Ashley told Barry about her time with Jake since Saturday night. She left out the x-rated bits, which meant skipping over large blocks of time. He seemed to get the gist of it though.

“Intriguing, I’ll be right back.” Barry stood, left the room.

Ashley pulled another cigarette from her pack and lit it with her first, and then rose and refilled her coffee cup. Barry returned carrying a couple journals, one of which he was reading. He poured over the journals for several minutes while Ashley drank coffee and smoked for the camera.

“One unforeseen side effect of the coffee has been brand preference. Individuals have a significant affinity for the brand of cigarette they first smoked after ingesting the coffee. Smoking other brands is still enjoyable and satisfying, but pales in comparison to the original brand. My theory is that when the brain bonds with the nicotine it also bonds with any other chemicals introduced simultaneously.”

“So, what does that have to do with me?”

“I would need to do more study to be certain, but my guess would be that you have bonded with this man chemically, and are now, in effect, addicted to him.”

Ashley sat silently for a moment. She looked at the cigarette burning in her hand. She thought of her last night of passion with Jake and how desperately she wanted to be with him again. She raised the cigarette to her lips for a puff. She figured that she should be mad at Barry for creating the diabolical coffee, but she enjoyed smoking and she loved her time with Jake. Ashley exhaled and crushed out her cigarette in the ashtray.

“Well, I should be going; I have to get back to work.” She realized that she would need to come up with an excuse for smelling like cigarette smoke as well.

Ashley headed to her car, followed by Barry who was carrying a large burlap sack full of coffee beans. He told her to come back anytime she needed more. Once she made it to work she went straight to her desk. No one made a comment about how she smelled.

Once Ashley arrived home from work that night she tracked down her mother. Her father’s car was not in the driveway and he always beat her home.

“Spill the beans, Mom. Where’s dad?” Ashley said as she hugged her mom hello.

“We can talk over dinner, which will be ready in a few minutes,” Elaine said.

“Is everything all right?”

“It’s fine, dear,” Elaine said. “Oh, before I forget, a Jake stopped by and left something for you. It’s in the dining room.”

Ashley walked into the dining room. A dozen roses in a glass vase sat in the center of the table. A dozen, colorful, latex balloons surrounded the vase on the table. Ashley picked up a white card she found laying beneath one of the balloons.

“So, who is this Jake? A new boyfriend?” Elaine asked from the kitchen.

“I’ll tell you about him during diner,” Ashley replied.

She opened the card. It read, “I had a great weekend with you! I can’t wait until Saturday. I hope you enjoy the balloons.”

Ashley’s mom went all out on dinner that night, in addition to an arugula salad and linguine with clams, she’d made fresh baked, garlic bread.

“So, tell me about this Jake,” Elaine said as they ate their salads.

“You first, Mom,” Ashley demanded. “Where’s Dad?”

“I’ll get to your father. First, who is this Jake and when did you start smoking?”

“I met Jake a couple weeks ago and he’s a really great guy.”

“He’s not the one you were going sailing with, was he?”

“No, that’s Ryan,” Ashley said. “Jake is the guy I had the date with on Saturday, I was going to cancel, but I’m really glad I kept the date.”

“I’m glad that you’re happy. As for your smoking, you are old enough to make your own decisions, but I do hope you reconsider and quit before you get too addicted. In the meantime, I’d rather you did not smoke in the house, but if you must, please confine it to your room.”

“Okay, Mom. Now tell me about Dad.”

Elaine let out a sigh. “I don’t know an easy way to say this. Your father moved out.”

“Oh my god. Why?”

“It’s been a long time coming.”

“Don’t bullshit me, Mom,” Ashley snapped. “Tell me what happened. You do everything for him; he doesn’t have to lift a finger. Why did he move out? Did you kick him out?”

“He left on his own.”

“Who is she?”

“Gail, from his office.”

“Damn him.”

Ashley continued to drill her mother for details, but she was reluctant to talk poorly about her husband. Ashley finally dropped the subject and they lapsed into silence through the rest of the meal. After the meal, Ashley cleaned up the dinner dishes and then the kitchen. Elaine tried to help, but Ashley told her to go work on her puzzle. Ashley lost track of the time and was late leaving for study group as a result.

Ashley sped the entire way to study group, trying to make it there on time. She probably would have made it, but she was low on gas so she stopped to fill her tank and buy a couple packs of smokes. She missed the start time by five minutes.

“Look who finally decided to show,” Kaitlin said when Ashley entered the house. “So, where are our refreshments?”

“What are you talking about?” Ashley asked.

“You missed Sunday. You’re supposed to bring refreshments, remember. Wow, you skip a meeting and then come late and empty handed. I guess someone doesn’t want to be part of our group.”

“You’d really kick me out?” Ashley looked at the other members of the study group, hoping that someone would come to her defense. No one spoke. She looked directly at Emily.

“You know I wouldn’t kick you out, but it looks like I’m overruled,” Emily said.

“I’ve never missed a meeting in over two years and I’ve hosted more than anyone else,” Ashley said to the rest of the group.

“You know the rules,” Kaitlin said.

“Fine, I’ll be right back.” Ashley made her way to her car. She considered driving to the gas station and buying a case of soda and a couple bags of chips, but she was pissed. She poured some coffee beans into a plastic bag and headed back into the house.

“Coffee, really?” Kaitlin said. “I don’t think that will cut it.”

“I tell you what, try the coffee and if you think it’s lame you can kick me out, but I think you’ll really like it.”

While everyone else got busy with their studies, Julie, that week’s host, took the bag of coffee from Ashley and brewed a pot. Once the coffee finished brewing she set the coffee pot and seven cups in the center of the table. Ashley poured herself a cup, as did Emily, but no one else made a move for the coffee, which was just as well for Ashley. Now that she’d cooled down a bit she began to feel a little guilty. Turning the group into smokers just because they threatened to kick her out was a little extreme.

“Oh god, this is your sister’s coffee, isn’t it?” Emily said after she’d taken a sip. “You guys have to try this stuff, it’s the best.”

“It’s kind of late for coffee,” Ashley said.

“Then why are you drinking it?” Kaitlin asked as she poured herself a cup.

When Kaitlin told everyone how great the coffee tasted they all poured themselves a cup. Ashley sighed and refilled her cup.

An hour later, Emily excused herself to go outside for a cigarette break. Ashley joined her.

“So, are you finally going to tell me what happened over the weekend?” Emily asked and then lit a cigarette.

“I don’t really know where to start,” Ashley said and then lit her own.

“You can start with that,” Emily said, pointing to Ashley’s cigarette. “When did you start smoking?”

As the ladies smoked, Ashley told Emily about the last three days. She told her all about her whirlwind romance with Jake, her father leaving her mother, and all about the coffee and her encounter with Barry. They were on their second cigarettes when she finished.

“You’re telling me that the coffee makes people smoke and you just served it to everyone in the house?” Emily asked, dumbfounded.

“No one would have drunk it if you hadn’t gone on about how great it tastes.”

“Don’t you dare blame me,” Emily snapped.

“If it’s any consolation, they’re going to love smoking. I know I do.” She took a drag off her cigarette as if to prove her point.

“I don’t know about you sometimes,” Emily said as she shook her head.

“Well, I think that there is one more person who needs to drink the coffee. I think you should get Tom to drink the coffee and then feed him some smoke. He’ll fall for you like I did for Jake.”

“You’re crazy, you know that?” Emily said and then walked back into the house.

As soon as Ashley entered her car on Wednesday she lit her first cigarette of the day. She sucked hard on the cigarette and then held the smoke for several seconds before exhaling out the car’s window. She really loved the first cigarette of the day. She took another deep drag and then started the car. She knew that she’d smell like cigarettes at work, but she hoped that a couple breath mints and a few white lies would keep her secret safe.

Once she finished her cigarette she called Emily.

“So, did you do it?” Ashley asked.

“Yes and I can’t believe I let you talk me into it,” Emily replied.

“So, don’t keep me in suspense, how did it go?”

“Fine, I guess. I mean he already smoked occasionally, so no big change there. He was really sweet all night long, but he’s always sweet when he wants sex.”

“Damn,” Ashley muttered.

“The real test will be tonight,” Emily said. “Tonight’s his poker night and last night, before we had sex, I asked if he would make dinner for me tonight. Well, of course he said yes. If he’s his normal self tonight he’ll make some lame excuse and go play poker anyway.”

That night, after dinner, Ashley helped her mom with her puzzle for an hour and then headed up to her room to study. Before she could even open her laptop her phone started ringing. It was Ryan. She considered letting the call go to voicemail, like all the others, but she knew that she need to deal with it eventually.

“Hello,” Ashley said.

“Hi, how are you?” Jake said.

“I’m fine,” Ashley said.

“Um, is everything okay? You haven’t returned any of my calls.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t called you back. Listen, I won’t be able to see you again.”

“What?” Ryan sounded shocked. “I though that we had a great time last week. I thought that we really hit it off. What happened?”

“We did, it’s just that I met someone else. I’m sorry, but please don’t call me anymore.”

Ashley ended the call and promptly called Jake.

“Hey, baby,” Ashley said. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too,” Jake said. “I’ve been on the road most of my adult life and I’ve never been lonely, but I’ve been lonely without you these last two days.”

“Oh, you’re so sweet,” Ashley said as she lay on her bed and played with her hair. “Where are you right now?”

“I’m an hour from Houston.”

“I thought you were going to Florida,” Ashley said.

“I dropped that load off and now I’m on my way to Albuquerque. After that it’s on to Denver,” Jake said.

“I hope you’re getting some sleep, too.”

“I slept six hours last night and I’ll grab another six hours later tonight. Did you get my present?”

“Yes, the flowers are beautiful. I’m looking at them right now.”

“And the balloons? Did you like the balloons?” Jake asked, sounding eager.

“They are lovely balloons.”

“You haven’t tried them have you? They have something very special inside. Call me tomorrow and tell me how you like them.”

After ending the call Ashley grabbed one of Jake’s balloons and sat on her bed again. She opened the small clamp that held the balloon closed and released a bit of its contents. Smoke squirted out of the balloon. She sniffed it and shuddered; it was Jake’s smoke. She refastened the clamp.

After opening her window and placing a blanket at the bottom of her bedroom door, Ashley removed her clothes, slipped into her silk negligee and sat at her vanity and worked on her hair and makeup. Once she felt sufficiently pretty, she lit several candles, turned out the lights, and then retrieved her vibrator from the bottom drawer of her nightstand.

Ashley crawled into bed, picked up the balloon again, removed its clamp and sucked in as much smoke as her lungs would hold. She tried to hold the smoke inside, to savor it, but a wave of pleasure washed over her and she moaned the smoke out of her lungs. She trembled as she brought the balloon back to her lips. Again she sucked her lover’s smoke into her lungs and again she tried to hold it, but she couldn’t stifle the loud groan. She exhaled across the room and brought her vibrator to life. She wanted to get off sucking the smoke from the balloons, but she feared that she would not be able to stop herself from screaming if she did it again. Her mother was still awake and almost directly below her.

Ashley worked her clit with the vibrator, trying to bring herself to orgasm, and while her special friend hand never let her down in the past, it was not doing the job tonight. After a frustrating several minutes she grabbed the balloon once again. She released all of the air from her lungs, sucked on the balloon until it was nearly spent, and then let it fly. She held her breathe as she watched the balloon dance above her, Jake’s precious smoke filling the air. Ashley’s eyes began to water and her vision blurred, but she held the smoke in her lungs. As the room began to spin she slammed the vibrator deep inside her sopping pussy. She thrashed and screamed as her orgasm overtook her.

Ashley tried to catch her breath as she heard her mother running up the stairs, her ears still ringing from her own screams.

“Are you all right,” her mother shrieked as she pounded on Ashley’s bedroom door.

“I’m fine, Mom. I saw a spider.”

Ashley struggled to rise on Thursday morning. After her first smoky orgasm she’d told herself to go to sleep, but Jake’s balloons called to her. During her subsequent orgasms she managed to mute her screams by burying her face in her pillow, so she spared her mother from once again racing up the stairs in a panic. A rainbow of spent latex littered her bedroom floor. She looked at the six remaining balloons. She had definite plans for them that night.

As Ashley readied for work she received a text from Emily. It was a picture of what looked like Eggs Benedict sitting on a wooden tray, along with a cup of coffee and a single, red rose. A second text from Emily quickly followed the first. It read, “Coffee worked. Tom made dinner last night and served me breakfast in bed this morning. Thank you!!!!”

“Mom, do you want Dad back?” Ashley asked once she’d dressed and joined her in the kitchen.

“Of course, dear. I love your father,” her mother said with a rote reply.

“Tell me the truth. He cheated on you and he’s taken you for granted for years. Do you really want him back?”

Elaine paused and reflected for a moment. “Yes, Ashley. Your father is far from perfect, but I do love him and I would do anything to have him back.”

“Okay,” Ashley said. “Listen, I’m going to make some coffee, would you like some?”

“That would be lovely,” her mother said. “When should I expect your school friends tonight?”

“They’ll probably start arriving a little before seven.”

Ashley used her mother’s coffee maker to make a full pot of Brooke’s coffee. Once it finished brewing she poured a cup for her mother and watched while she took a drink.

“You’re right, this is pretty strong, but I like it. Have a good day at work.”

Ashley lit up as soon as she exited the house and then smoked a couple more cigarettes on her commute to work. She knew it was risky and someone at work was bound to figure out that she was smoking if she kept being so reckless, but she found that she cared less and less each day. Once she arrived at work she called her father and used her best “sweet, innocent daughter” voice to get him to make her a promise.

That night Emily arrived thirty minutes early to help Ashley setup for that night’s study group.

“How are things going with Tom?” Ashley asked as she filled a carafe with coffee.

“Better than ever,” Emily replied as she pulled coffee cups from the kitchen cabinet. “It’s been a dream since I fed him the smoke. He’s become everything I’ve always wanted him to be. He had a bouquet of roses sent to my work and he showed up as soon as I arrived home with take-out. He said he wanted to make sure that I had a good dinner before my study group. He’s so sweet now.”

“I’m so happy for you,” Ashley said.

“Where do you want me to put the carafes and coffee cups?”

“Put one carafe on the table with my mom’s puzzle, another on the table near the sliding glass door and another on the back deck. Oh, and put these ashtrays on the back deck, too.”

“You’ve been giving your mom the coffee?” Emily asked.

“Yes, I’m going to save my parent’s marriage.”

The members of the study group began arriving a few minutes later. They were all quite happy to see that she was serving the coffee that evening. Once everyone was situated and her mother was busy working on her puzzle, Ashley and Emily relocated to the back deck so that they could smoke while studying. Before they could even light their cigarettes, they were joined by Julie, who produced a pack of Salems from her purse. Emily gave Ashley a scowl. Ashley returned a guilty shrug. Once all three women had their cigarettes going, Ashley set hers in one of the ashtrays and headed into the house. She didn’t really need anything in the house, but she was planning on making many such trips in and out of the house. Her mother was working on her puzzle near the sliding glass door and she wanted her mother exposed to as much second hand smoke as possible.

After an hour of studying the smoker’s ranks grew by one. Peter grabbed his books and joined the women on the back deck.

“Can I bum a cigarette off one of you lovely ladies?” Peter asked as he set his books on the table.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” Julie said.

“I don’t normally. I haven’t smoked since high school, but I feel like I could really go for one tonight,” he said.

“I know what you mean. I quit over two years ago, but today it was all I could think about,” Julie said as she handed Peter one of her cigarettes. “And, now that I’ve tasted how well it goes with this coffee, I don’t think I’ll be quitting anytime soon.” She took a cheek hollowing puff, as if to solidify her point. “Speaking of which, do you know where I can get more of this coffee, Ashley?”

“You can’t buy it in the store, but I can give you some before you leave tonight.”

“Can I get some too?” Jeremy said after accepting a light from Emily. “I’ll pay you for it.”

As the evening drew to a close and her mother had not yet joined them on the deck, Ashley realized that she would need to up her game. She needed to immerse her mom in cigarette smoke and she needed to do it soon.

“Emily, do you know anywhere you can smoke while having dinner?”

“I don’t think you can smoke indoors at restaurants anymore,” Emily replied as she trimmed the ash off her cigarette.

When neither of the other smokers could think of a place, Ashley excused herself from the table and called Jake.

“So, where are you now?” Ashley asked.

“I’m two hours out of Denver on my way to Seattle.”

“Do you if there is any place where you can smoke and have dinner and drinks?”

“Sure, you can go to a casino, its Indian land so they don’t have to follow the anti-smoking laws. I’m surprised an employee of The Anti-Smoking League doesn’t know that,” Jake said with a chuckle.

“Well, I’m not a very good employee,” Ashley said and then took a drag off her cigarette.

When Ashley returned to the table she noticed that there was a new smoker at the table. Randy was happily puffing away, too. Ashley pulled Emily off to the side. She told her about Jake’s casino idea. Emily said that they should get the others to come out as well and make it a real party. Ashley waited until her mother left the room for a potty break and then she made an announcement.

“I know that you are all interested in obtaining some coffee for yourselves. I will give everyone a half pound tonight and an additional half pound if you join Emily and me at the casino tomorrow night. Plus I’ll throw in extra if you bring outgoing friends. I want to have a real party tomorrow night.”

Once everyone went home that evening, Ashley got busy cleaning up. After a couple minutes her mother started helping.

“Thanks for letting me host the study group again, Mom,” Ashley said as the filled the dishwasher. “As a thank you, I’d like to take you out to dinner tomorrow night.”

“That’s very sweet of you, Ashley, but isn’t Friday your night out with Emily and Rachel?”

“Yes, but I talked to them and they would love for you to join us,” Ashley said. “Don’t stay at home. Come out with us and take your mind off things.”

“That sounds nice, then.”

Friday started like any other. There was an extra bounce in Ashley’s step since it was the last day of the work week and she had the weekend to look forward to. Plus, she’d see Jake again on Saturday and if everything went according to plan her parents wouldn’t be filing for divorce. She still had her life plan, too. Sure it now included a trucker as a lover instead of a sophisticated lawyer. So what if they’d eat at diners instead of at fine French restaurants. So what if they’d be tailgating instead of attending the opera. There were worse things. She still had the rest of her plan. Her plan took a bit of a hit later in the day.

Just as Ashley was preparing to leave for the day, Donna, her boss, asked to see Ashley in her office.

“I’ll come right to the point,” Donna said once Ashley had closed the door and taken a seat. “Are you smoking?”


“You have a bright career ahead of you, Ashley. Don’t start it by being fired for dishonesty.”

“Who said that I’m smoking?” Ashley said, standing.

“Just answer the question,” Donna said, forcefully.

“Yes, I smoke now.” Ashley sat back down.

“Do you know how bad it looks for the Anti-Smoking League to have an employee who smokes?” Donna asked, her voice rising. “We’re trying to stamp out smoking, not promote it.”

“I won’t let anyone know that I smoke.”

“A great job you’ve done with that so far. No, you will quit all together. As it is, I don’t see how I can recommend you for the job at Aon corp.”

“You can’t do that to me,” Ashley said as she stood again, her voice now rising. “I’ve slaved here for the last two years without being paid a dime. I may as well quit now.”

“Sit down and lower your voice,” Donna said through clenched teeth. “You will continue to work her and you will continue to do a good job or I will fire you. If you think finding a job in this economy is hard, wait until you see how hard it is to get a job after you’ve been accused of stealing from a non-profit.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Try me,” Donna said with a smug smile. “Have a good weekend.

Ashley fumed over the conversation with her boss as she drove home that night. It was one more nail in the coffin that held her plans for her future. The coffee had turned her life upside down. First it was Jake, then she becomes a smoker, and now she wouldn’t be getting the six figure job that she’d been counting on. She looked at the cigarette in her hand. She did love smoking now, so that wasn’t such a burden. As she took a puff, she thought about Jake. She couldn’t wait to see him again, to be held in his arms, to kiss his lips. Sure, he hadn’t been her type a week ago, but he was totally her type now, or more accurately, her type was him. Perhaps losing the job recommendation would turn out to be a blessing in disguise as well.

“You look so nice, Mom,” Ashley said as she greeted her mom at home that night. “That dress really brings out your eyes.”

“Thank you, Ashley,” her mom said with a smile on her face. “When do you want to leave for dinner?”

“I’m going to go change and then we can go. Can you make us some coffee?”

“Isn’t it a little late for coffee?”

“We may be out late tonight and I don’t know about you, but I could use the boost,” Ashley said.

“I don’t want to stay up too late, how late do you want to stay out?”

“Only as long as it needs,” Ashley said under her breath.

“As what needs,” Elaine asked, a slight frown on her face.

“For you to have a good time, Mom,” Ashley said.

Less than an hour later they were in Ashley’s car and headed to the casino. After driving for about ten minutes Ashley felt a now familiar urge.

“Do you mind if I smoke in the car?” Ashley asked as she dug in her purse with one hand and steered the car with the other.

“I wish you wouldn’t.”

“Okay, Mom.” Ashley tried to hide her disappointment. She’d hoped her mother would be further along by now, plus she really wanted to smoke. “Have some coffee, Mom. It looks like we have a long night ahead of us.”

When they arrived at the casino Ashley smiled and her mother scowled. The place reeked of cigarette smoke.

“Why don’t we have dinner somewhere else,” Elaine said as they made their way across the casino floor. “There was a Denny’s a couple miles back.”

“Emily and Rachel are meeting us here later,” Ashley said. “You’ll get used to the smell in a little bit.”

As soon as they were seated in the casino’s restaurant Ashley pulled one of her cigarette packs from her purse. She’d brought three of them with her. She planned on smoking constantly around her mother tonight, plus she had a feeling that a few more people from her study group would be bumming off her tonight.

“I have a confession to make, Mom,” Ashley said once she’d lit a cigarette. “I set up a date between you and Dad.”

“What?” Elaine snapped. “Do not get in the middle of this, Ashley. Your father and I will work this out on our own.”

“I asked him to come over tomorrow night for dinner. If you don’t want to be there I’ll have dinner with him, but I’m hoping that you will.” Ashley took a long puff on her cigarette and then set it in the ashtray. As she exhaled the smoke from her lungs she watched her cigarette’s smoke waft in her mother’s direction.

“I’ll think about it,” Elaine said.

The next ninety minutes were a mixed bag for Ashley. She enjoyed dinner with her mother and they had fun playing slots while they waited for her friends to arrive, but her mother’s tolerance of cigarette smoke did not increase one bit.

Once Ashley’s friends began to arrive they relocated to the casino’s lounge. The place was mostly deserted, but the members of the study group really came through and soon the place was packed with scores of college students, many of whom smoked. The place was hopping and very smoke filled.

“So, do you have my coffee?” Kaitlin asked Ashley as soon as she saw her that evening. “I brought five people.”

“I don’t have it on me,” Ashley said as she exhaled. A bit of her smoke hit Kaitlin in the face and she didn’t even flinch. “I’ll bring it to study group on Sunday.”

“It’s just that I’m out,” Kaitlin said, looking at Ashley’s cigarette.

“Already? I gave you half a pound yesterday.”

“I know, but I sold it. I let my mom’s boyfriend try it and he paid me fifty bucks for the half pound.”

“Holy shit.”

“I know, right? Well, anyway, I could really use some more. I’ll split the fifty with you, if you want.”

“I have some coffee in my car. I’ll get it for you before we leave tonight.”

“Thanks, you’re the best,” Kaitlin said. “Um, can you do me another favor?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Can I have a cigarette?”

“Of course, Kaitlin. As many as you would like.”

Kaitlin wasn’t the only one to pick up the smoking habit that night. Brent, Nick and Wendy also started smoking before night’s end. Ashley’s mom stood resolute, however. Ashley did not know why her mother had not at least asked for a puff yet; she’d had lots of the coffee and been surrounded by smoke all night long. Ashley feared that her mother might be immune. When they left the casino and her mother was no closer to smoking than when they’d started that night, Ashley was ready to admit defeat.

“You can smoke in the car if you’d like,” Elaine said as they pulled out of the parking lot.

“Are you sure, Mom?” Ashley asked as she whipped a cigarette from her purse.

“Go ahead, the smell doesn’t seem to bother me anymore.”

Ashley smiled as she lit her cigarette. Perhaps her plan had worked better than she’d thought. Ashley happily chain smoked the entire ride home.

The next morning Ashley made it downstairs before her mother, but she could hear the shower running, so she knew that her mother would be joining her soon. Ashley brewed a pot of coffee and made some strawberry crepes.

“You made breakfast. You are so sweet,” Elaine said when she joined her daughter in the kitchen twenty minutes later. “How can I help?”

“Everything is done, just take a seat,” Ashley said as she carried two plates to the kitchen table.

They kept their talk light as they ate. While they conversed Ashley formulated a plan for the day. Jake would be arriving home and she wanted to be ready for him, but at the same time she needed to get her mother ready for the date with her dad.

“So, will I be having dinner with Dad tonight, or will you have the honor?”

“I’ll have dinner with him, but please do not setup anymore dates for me, especially with your father.”

“Okay, Mom,” Ashley said as she stood. “Don’t worry about the dishes I’ll take care of them once I get done smoking.”

“You don’t have to go outside. Smoke here and we can continue to talk.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Ashley lit her cigarette.

“You live here, too. It’s silly to make you smoke outside.”

As Ashley smoked, she noticed her mom’s gaze follow her cigarette. When Ashley inhaled, after drawing smoke into her mouth, she saw her mother inhale at the same time. And when Ashley exhaled the look of yearning on her mother’s face was unmistakable.

“Would you like to try it?” Ashley asked as she held the cigarette out to her mother.

“Of course not,” her mother protested. She did not sound very convincing.

“It’s okay, Mom. It tastes great.” Ashley hollowed her cheeks on the cigarette and then performed a snap inhale. She exhaled a thick cloud across the room as she once again held the cigarette out to her mom. “Go on and try it.”

Elaine reached out for the cigarette, but then drew her hand back. “I’m too old to start smoking.”

“You’re never too old to try something new, Mom.”

Elaine reached for the cigarette again, this time taking it from her daughter. She stared at the cigarette smoldering between her fingers half a minute. She looked up at her daughter, then back to the cigarette. She brought the cigarette to her mouth and sucked a tiny bit of smoke into her mouth.

“I can’t believe I’m smoking,” Elaine said with a smile on her face after she’d released the uninhaled smoke from her mouth. “I feel so naughty.”

“You aren’t really smoking yet, Mom,” Ashley said with an unlit cigarette bobbing in her mouth. “You need to inhale to smoke.” Ashley demonstrated by lighting her cigarette and filling her mouth with smoke. She opened her mouth, displaying the smoke to her mother, before sucking it into her lungs. She held the smoke for barely a second before blowing an enormous cloud toward the ceiling. “That’s smoking.”

Her mother looked hesitant.

“I’ll walk you through it,” Ashley said gently. “Take a small drag on your cigarette and then hold the smoke in your mouth.” Ashley watched as her mother followed her instructions. “Now, breathe in like normal, but hold your breath for a couple seconds and then let it out.” She watched her mother exhale a faint stream of smoke. “Now, how was that?”

“Nice, actually,” Elaine said. “It’s much better when you breathe it in.” She brought her cigarette back to her mouth and took a slightly longer drag.

“It gets even better as you get used to it. Just wait until you’ve been smoking for awhile and have the first cigarette of the day, now that tastes awesome.”

After finishing their cigarettes, Ashley headed to her room to study. She still needed to fill her mom in on the next part of her plan, but she wanted her to get a little more comfortable with her new life as a smoker before she let her mom know that she’d tricked her into becoming one.

As she prepared to study she thought about her study group friends. She owed them quite a bit of coffee now. Ashley opened a spreadsheet on her laptop and added up the numbers. Between what she and her mother had consumed, what she’d already given Emily and Kaitlin, plus what she owed the other study group members, she was down to less than five pounds and she had plans for that coffee. She’d need to get more from Barry, a lot more. She dug her phone and cigarettes out of her purse. Once she had a cigarette going she made a call.

“Mr. Brown, this is Ashley. We met on Tuesday and you told me to call when I needed more coffee,” Ashley said. “Well, I need more.”

“You’ve gone through twenty pounds already?” Barry asked. He sounded shocked.

“I’m not the only one who is drinking it. How much would you charge me for a hundred pounds?”

“Why would you need so much coffee?”

“I want to sell it,” Ashley said. Barry did not respond at once. She was suddenly nervous. What if he cut her off? What would she do without the coffee? She took a deep drag off her cigarette to steady her nerves.

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. This coffee is not exactly FDA approved.”

“If I can come up with a plan that keeps you safe, will you sell it to me?”

“If you can guarantee Kirk’s and my safety, then yes, I’ll sell it to you for ten dollars a pound.”

Ashley was silent for a few moments. “I don’t have a thousand dollars. I can come up with enough for fifty pounds.”

“Tell you what. You make a few smoking videos for Kirk and I’ll give you a hundred pounds for the price of fifty. But, you need to smoke sexier for the camera this time. Kirk liked the last video since you were obviously new to smoking and he likes that. But now he wants to see you with an improved smoking style.”

“You’ve got a deal.”

Ashley ended the call and threw her phone on the bed. She hadn’t really considered her smoking style up to this point. How the cigarette tasted and how it made her feel had been her focus, not how she looked when she smoked. She crushed out her cigarette and then pulled a new one from her pack. She sat opposite her mirror and watched herself as she lit a cigarette. She wasn’t really sure what Kirk considered sexy, but she knew how to flirt, so she pretended her reflection was a cute guy. She gave off all of her “I’m available” signals while she smoked her cigarette. She’d smoked about half the cigarette when she realized that she was not alone. She turned to see her mom standing in the doorway with a smile on her face.

“Practicing your technique?” Elaine asked.

“Yeah, I guess,” Ashley said.

“Perhaps I can help,” Elaine said as she sat on the bed next to Ashley. “What exactly are you trying to do?”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“You don’t need to be embarrassed with me, you know that, Ashley.”

“I’m trying to smoke sexy.”

A knowing smile spread across Elaine’s face. “I think I can help you with this,” she said and then lit a cigarette. She removed the cigarette from her mouth and held it by her face between two outstretched fingers. She kept her eyes on Ashley as she brought the cigarette to her mouth slowly, sensuously, making a V with her fingers as she sucked on the cigarette for several seconds. A look of sultry pleasure washed over her face as she breathed the smoke into her lungs. She pursed her lips, looking like she was about to blow a kiss, and blew a cone of smoke toward her daughter. “Something like that?”

“Jesus, Mom. Where did you learn to smoke like that?” Ashley asked.

“I may not have smoked myself, but your grandmother smoked for years and she was an elegant smoker.”

“Can you teach me to smoke like that?”

“Of course, angel.”

After a smoking lesson from her Mom, Ashley finally started studying. Forty minutes later her mother appeared with a couple cups of coffee and a couple cigarettes in her hand. They drank coffee and smoked together in Ashley’s room. Every forty minutes of so, her mother would show up again, wanting to smoke together. It was on the forth occasion that Ashley decided to let her mother know the truth.

“Well, how do you like smoking now?”

“It’s wonderful, Ashley. If I’d known how good it is, I would have started years ago.”

“I’m glad to hear that, since I have another confession to make. I turned you into a smoker, intentionally.”

“What are you talking about?” Elaine asked; smoke escaping her mouth as she spoke.

“It’s the coffee. It turns people into smokers.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Elaine looked at the cigarette burning in her hands. She looked up at her daughter and started to speak, but said nothing. She took a drag from her cigarette instead. “Is that why so many of your school friends started smoking last night at the casino?”

“Yes, I hope you’re not mad at me.”

“I should be. I should be furious, but, strangely, I’m not.” Elaine took a particularly long drag on her cigarette and held it. After many seconds she slowly released the smoke. “I love smoking and I bet your friends do, too.”

“There’s something else about the coffee. If you get your first inhale of smoke from another person it makes you fall for them. It makes you feel about them the way you feel about smoking right now.”

“Is that what happened between you and Jake?”

“Yes. The reason I turned you into a smoker is because I want you to do it to Daddy tonight. I want you to make him drink the coffee and then feed him a bunch of smoke. He’ll leave that slut and come back to you.”

“Do you think it will work?” Elaine asked.

“I know it will work; I’m not sure how you’ll get him to breathe in your smoke. Do you think you can pull it off?”

“Getting him to drink coffee will be easy. As for the other part, once I bring your father to erection, he’ll do whatever I want.”

“Oh my god. TMI, Mom!” Ashley said. “I wanted to know if you could do it, not how!”

Ashley helped prepare the house for the dinner date while her mother started prepping dinner, their work being interrupted by many smoke breaks. Ashley loved smoking with her mom. They conversed more during the smoke breaks that day then they’d had in the prior six months as non-smokers. Ashley, like her mother, wished that she’d started smoking years ago.

With a couple hours before her father was due to arrive; Ashley received a call from Jake, letting her know that he’d be home in less than an hour. She raced upstairs, threw some things into an overnight bag, and changed into her favorite dress. She had one last cigarette with her mother, wished her good luck, and then sped to Jake’s.

When she pulled into his driveway she saw him working on his rig. Her heart fluttered and her pussy moistened at the sight. Her hand shook as she turned off the engine and exited the car. Jake looked up and smiled at her. Ashley felt tears on her cheeks as she ran to him.

“I don’t want to be away from you ever again,” Ashley said in between kisses. “Can I go with you next time?”

“Of course, babe. I’d love to have you.” Jake picked her up. “Now, let me show you just how much I missed you,” he said as he carried her into the house.

They spent the night in each other’s arms. In between making love, they cuddled and smoked, and Ashley told Jake all about the coffee and her plans for her parents.

“You really turned your friends and mom into smokers? Jake asked with a laugh.

“Yeah, and tomorrow I’m going to get a hundred pounds of the coffee and start selling it to every diner we stop at on our trip. There’s going to be a whole lot of new smokers in the country.” Ashley sat up and looked at Jake. Worry painted her face. “Is that too evil?

“Hell no, I think that the world needs a few new smokers. It’s been getting downright lonely being a smoker these days. Besides, hasn’t everyone who’s started smoking with the coffee loved it?”

“Yeah, I guess they have.” A smile replaced the worry on Ashley’s face. She lay back down, her head resting on Jake’s chest. “So, where are we driving to next week?”

“You’re serious about coming with me? What about your school? What about work?”

“I don’t care about that anymore.”

“What about your plan?” Jake asked.

“Being with you is my plan.”

Sunday morning they headed out after breakfast. Their first stop was at Ashley’s study group, which was being held at Kaitlin’s home. When Ashley entered the house she saw that everyone had already arrived and that they were all smoking.

“I just stopped by to tell you guys that I won’t be coming to study group anymore,” Ashley said after she’d lit her own cigarette.

“What about your masters?” Kaitlin asked before taking a drag on her cigarette.

“I’m going to finish it, but I’ll be doing it from the road,” Ashley replied.

“I’m going to miss you,” Emily said.

“I’ll miss you too, but I’ll be back in a week,” Ashley said to Emily. She addressed the rest of the group when she said, “This does not have to be goodbye. I’d like to offer each of you a job at the ground floor of a company I’ll be starting in the coming weeks. I’ll have more details soon, but suffice to say that each of you will become rich and get all the coffee you want.”

When they left the study group they drove to Ashley’s parent’s house for a family barbeque. They were arriving a little early so that Ashley could pack and help her mother prepare the meal. Plus, she was dying to find out how the date had gone.

When they entered the house the first thing that greeted them was sound of laughter followed by the smell of fresh cigarette smoke. They found Ashley’s parents sitting in the family room, working on her mother’s puzzle. They were dressed in bathrobes, drinking coffee and smoking. They had definite bed-head. Her father stood and walked over to them.

“You must be Jake, nice to meet you,” Ashley’s dad said as she shook Jakes hand.

“Nice to meet you, sir.”

“Call me Bob.” He turned to his daughter. “I don’t know how to thank you. You’ve rekindled our love for each other. It is like we’re on our honeymoon again.”

“You’re not made about becoming a smoker?” Ashley asked as she pulled a cigarette from her purse.

“Hardly,” Bob said as he lit his daughter’s cigarette. “I used to smoke, long before you were born. I quit for the beautiful woman working on the puzzle over there. I loved smoking and I never wanted to quit, but I wanted your mother more. Being able to smoke again—and having your mother join me—is a dream come true.”

“Well, I’m glad to have you back and I’m happy that you love smoking as much as I do,” Elaine said as she came up behind her husband. She took a drag on her cigarette and blew it in his face. They began kissing, passionately.

“Perhaps we should postpone the barbeque. You two look like you have other things on your mind,” Ashley said.

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Elaine said. “We’ll get changed and be back down in a flash.”

Ashley’s parents headed upstairs to get dressed. She led Jake to the television so he could watch football while she packed a couple suitcases for their road trip. When she finished packing, Ashley met her mother in the kitchen to help with the food. They were both surprised when Bob offered his help.

“Why don’t you keep Jake company?” Elaine said.

“You work too hard, why don’t you work on your puzzle and I’ll cook,” Bob said.

“You can help me by entertaining Jake, now get out of my kitchen,” Elaine swatted his butt as he departed.

“Wow,” Ashley said.

“You don’t know the half of it. Ever since I fed him the smoke he’s been doting on me non-stop,” Elaine said as she produced two cigarettes and handed one to her daughter. “The last eighteen hours have been a dream come true.”

Ashley lit her mom’s cigarette and then her own. “I know what you mean, Mom. Being in love is pretty great.”

Elaine exhaled smoke across the kitchen. “Thank you for this. Thank you for giving me back my husband, Ashley.” She pulled her daughter into a hug.

“You’re welcome, Mom.”

Once the food was ready for the barbeque, Ashley and Elaine joined the guys in the family room. They snuggled up against their men, enjoying their closeness. The Bears were winning, which made Ashley happy.

“When is the next home game?” she asked Jake during a commercial break.

“Next Sunday.”

“Will we be back in time to tailgate?” Ashley asked.


“Awesome,” she said and then kissed him.

When the game resumed they all stopped talking, the only sound coming from the TV or their cheers when the Bears made a good play. Brooke added her own sounds when she arrived a bit later in the day.

“What the fuck is going on?” Brooke demanded from the doorway to the family room.

Ashley could barely see Brooke for all of the haze in the room. All four had been smoking incessantly for the last hour and they all had lit cigarettes in their hands at the moment.

“Now, calm down, Brooke,” Elaine said. “You need an explanation, but please don’t curse. Honey, why don’t you and Jake start the barbeque while Ashley and I talk to Brooke?”

The guys headed outside while the ladies headed into the kitchen. Ashley and Brooke sat at the table while their mother pulled some coffee cups from the cupboard.

“I know it is weird to see us all smoking, Brooke, but it’s something that we do now and you do not need make a big deal out of it,” Elaine said as she poured coffee into the three cups.

“Not make a big deal out of it? First everyone at work starts smoking and now everyone at home,” Brooke said. She turned to Ashley. “Did you get the coffee tested?”

“I tested it myself,” Ashley said as she accepted a cup of coffee from her mom. “You were right, it does make people smoke.” Ashley sipped the coffee. “And it tastes great.

“This is that coffee?” Ashley shouted as she stood. “You serve me coffee that turns people into smokers? Are you crazy, Mom?”

“No, I’m not crazy; I just want you to be happy.”

“I’m happy,” Brooke said quietly as she sat back down.

“Don’t lie to your mother.”

“Well, how is smoking going to make me happy?” Brooke asked.

“You’ll have to trust me.”

“I’m not drinking the coffee, Mom,” Brooke said.

“Brooke Felicity Paulson! You will do as I say,” Elaine snapped.

“Mom, are you sure about…” Ashley began.

“Butt out, Ashley,” Elaine said.

Brooke stared at her mother, tears brimming in her eyes. She lifted the coffee and, with a look of utter disgust on her face, she took a sip. She set the coffee cup on the table

“Keep going,” Elaine said.

Brooke took another drink of coffee. “Well, at least it tastes good.”

Ashley removed two cigarettes from her pack and held one out to her mother.

“You’d better grab one more,” Elaine said. “Your sister will need one, too.”

“You really want me to smoke?” Brooke asked as she watched her sister remove another long, white cigarette from the pack.

“Yes, but first finish your coffee.”

Ashley and her mother watched silently as Brooke finished her coffee, neither lighting the cigarettes in their hands. Once they all finished their coffee, Elaine rose and refilled their cups. She lit Ashley’s cigarette and then her own. She kept the lighter’s flame going and held it out to Brooke while Ashley held out the unlit cigarette. Brooke looked at her mother’s determined face and then took the cigarette from Ashley.

“Mom, please tell me why you want me to smoke,” Brooke begged as she held the cigarette in her hand and gazed at the lighter’s flame.

“Have I ever led you astray, Brooke?” Elaine asked gently.

“No,” Brooke admitted.

“Then put the cigarette in your mouth and let me light it.”

“But, Mom.”

“Don’t ‘but mom’ me,” Elaine said. “Now do as you’re told and smoke a cigarette with us.”

Brooke put the cigarette in her mouth and leaned forward to accept a light from her mother. The tip of the cigarette glowed for a second before Brooke removed the cigarette from her mouth, breathed in and then exhaled quickly.

“That’s really gross,” Brooke said. “I thought you said it would be pleasurable.”

“It will be. Drink more coffee,” her mother said.

Brooke took a gulp of coffee.

“Now, take another puff, but draw in a little more smoke this time.”

Brooke raised the cigarette back to her mouth and did as instructed. Her exhale was noticeably thicker.

“This time, let all the air out of your lungs and then suck on the cigarette for the count of three and then, after you breathe the smoke into your lungs, hold it for five full seconds.”

Brooke slammed the rest of her coffee and then took a couple deep breathes, looking like she was trying to psyche herself up. She looked at the cigarette and sighed. She puffed on the cigarette just as her mother had asked, when she finally exhaled the smoke was very faint at first, but grew in volume as she sent it toward her sister and mother.

“Woah, head rush,” Brooke said. “Oh, wow. Smoke is still coming out of my mouth. That’s so trippy.”

“Starting to taste a little better?” her mother asked with a knowing smile.

“Yeah, it’s not that bad, but how is smoking going to make me happy?”

“It’s Olivia who needs to become the smoker. You smoking is just a necessary evil.”

“How is Olivia smoking going to make me happy? It won’t change things between us. It’s not like Olivia is going to switch teams.” She took another drag off her cigarette.

“You want Brooke to feed Olivia smoke so that she’ll become gay and date Brooke?” Ashley asked her mother with a look of bewilderment on her face.

“What are you two talking about?” Brooke asked, clearly confused.

“Jesus, Mom!” Ashley snapped. “No one said the coffee would make straight people gay or gay people straight.”

“But it’s possible, isn’t it?”

“Will you please explain what you are talking about?” Brooke said.

Ashley explained the properties of the coffee to her sister. “I don’t know if it will turn Olivia into a lesbian, but she will be your literal BFF if not.”

While Brooke mulled over her sister’s words, she took a drag off her cigarette. When she exhaled she said, “It’s worth a shot. Olivia and I love all the same things and she’s even said that sometimes she has wished that she were into women since she’d never find a guy who treated her like I do.” Brooke took another drag, her deepest one yet. “Well, if nothing else, I think I’m going to like being a smoker.”

After they finished their cigarettes they joined the men on the back deck. When it came time to eat, Bob and Elaine sat next to each other, instead of on opposite ends as had been their custom. Jake sat next to Bob and talked sports, while Ashley and Brooke sat opposite each other and talked with their mother. As soon as they finished their meal they all promptly lit up cigarettes, including Brooke.

After clearing the table the guys headed back to the TV to watch football while Ashley led her mother and sister to her bedroom.

“I need your help,” Ashley said as she handed her mother and sister a cigarette each. “I talked to the guy who makes the coffee and he’ll get me more, a lot more coffee, but he wants to video of women smoking. So, how would you two like to star in your own video?”

Elaine and Brooke agreed to do the video. Ashley used her phone to record a video of her mother teaching Brooke how to smoke sexily. Ashley marveled at how fast Brooke took to smoking. At the start of the lessons she looked nervous and took shallow, hesitant drags on her cigarette. By the time the lessons were over she’d smoked three cigarettes and all hesitation was gone and she was taking cheek hollowing drags like her mother and sister. Ashley switched places with her mother so that Elaine could record Ashley and Brooke smoking together. They had a lot of fun smoking for the camera. They tried to out vamp each other and spent half the time breaking into giggling fits.

With the videos out the way, Ashley and Jake bid everyone farewell. They both wished Brooke good luck with Olivia.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I invited your dad to our tailgate next Sunday,” Jake said as they drove to his place.

“I don’t mind at all, I think that he will enjoy it.”

“He said that he’s going to get your mother to come, too.”

“Now that I’d like to see,” Ashley said with a laugh.

Ashley rose very early on Monday morning, wrote Jake a quick note, and then slipped out of the house without waking him. She had a lot to accomplish before she and Jake left town for the week later that day. Her first stop was at work. Her shift, and everyone else’s, did not start for another hour, so the place was deserted, which fitted her plan perfectly. She headed straight to the break room and switched out all of the coffee. This wiped out her entire stash, but that was okay since her next stop was at Barry’s, who loaded her up with a hundred pounds of coffee.

With her trunk loaded down with coffee beans, she headed to her wireless carrier to buy a roaming modem for her laptop, one that would allow her to connect to the internet while on the road. The next stop was local coffee shop. She bought a bottled water and then took a seat one of the café’s outdoor tables where she could smoke while she tested out her new modem. The modem worked fine and she was able to use it to buy a domain name and a business license.

Her final stop, before heading back to work, was a self serve copy-print shop where she whipped up a few hundred business cards.

“I hope you a good excuse for being late, Ashley,” Donna said when she finally arrived at work. She looked angry.

“Sorry, got tied up in traffic” Ashley said. “Can we talk in your office for a minute?” Ashley followed Donna to her office. Once they were both seated, Ashley continued, “Is there any chance you’ll reconsider the job recommendation?”

“I don’t think so, Ashley.”

“That’s what I thought,” Ashley said. She watched her boss take a sip of coffee. “Enjoying the coffee?”

“Yes, actually. It’s really good, you should have some.”

“Maybe another time.” Ashley pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it.

“What the hell are you doing?” Donna snapped.

“Smoking,” Ashley replied casually as she put her feet up on Donna’s desk. She exhaled toward Donna.

“Put that out. There is no smoking in this building. This is the Anti-Smoking League for goodness sake.”

“Not for long,” Ashley said with a big grin. She drew in a lungful of smoke, held it for a second and then launched a torrent of smoke at Donna.

“Get out of my office with that thing!”

“Just a second I have something I want to give you.” Ashley blew another lungful of smoke at her boss and tossed her a pack of Virginia Slims. “You’ll be wanting those later.”

“Get the fuck out! You’re fired!”

“I was going to quit anyway.” Ashley took one last drag on her cigarette and then crushed it out on the carpet. Ashley could still hear Donna cursing when she exited the building a minute later.

With her errands out the way, Ashley drove back to Jake’s. He was out front when she arrived and after greeting her with a kiss, he helped her unload her car.

“Well, the rig is all set,” Jake said once the coffee was loaded onto the truck. “Are you ready to leave?”

“I’m totally ready.”

“Good, but before we go there’s something I want to do first.” He held her hands in his. “Ashley, this last week with you has been the best week of my life. I have never known anyone like you and I never want to lose you.”

“And you never will,” Ashley said. “I’ll never leave you.”

“I know you won’t, but I will. I won’t want too, but I get wandering feet after awhile. It’s happened with every woman I’ve ever been with and I don’t want it to happen with you. So, I made a decision. I’ve been drinking the coffee all morning, but I haven’t had a cigarette yet.”

“You don’t mean…” Ashley faltered.

Jake dropped to one knee. “Ashley, will you feed me your smoke? I want to love you like you love me.”

“Yes, yes, yes!” Ashley flung her arms around Jake. She pulled back, took a deep drag off her cigarette. She locked lips with Jake and fed him her smoke.

“I love you, Ashley,” Jake said as he blew out her smoke.

“I love you, Jake,” Ashley said.

Jake stood, pulled her into a tight embrace and swept her up into his arms. He carried her to the big, red semi-truck.

“Let’s break in the rig’s bed before we hit the road for the next week,” Jake said.

“I go where you go,” Ashley said and laid her head on his shoulder.


Two years later

Ashley put her cigarette in her mouth and used both hands on the steering wheel to navigate the big rig and its 50 foot trailer into the diner’s parking lot. She took a deep drag as she set the parking brake and exhaled into the already smoky cab. Neither she, nor Jake, liked to roll down the windows when they smoked. They loved the smell of each other’s exhales and hated to waste a bit of it. She turned and looked into the back of the rig where Jake was sleeping. She was tempted to shut off the engine so that she could listen to him. She loved the sound of his deep rhythmic breathing and the truck’s engine made it impossible to hear it. Unfortunately, they would not be here long enough to warrant shutting the truck down.

She pulled her iPad off its mount on the dash and opened her delivery app. She hummed along with the Carrie Underwood song playing on the radio while she checked the diner’s order. She flipped down the driver’s sun visor and checked her reflection in its mirror. Her hair was a mess and she looked tired. Of course she’d been driving for over six hours, so it was to be expected. She grabbed her Peterbilt ball cap and slapped it on her head, pulling her pony tail out the back of the hat as she did so. She touched up her lips, dropped the lipstick into her purse, along with the iPad, and then slung its strap over her shoulder. She opened the driver’s door and was blasted with hot, Indian summer air. It made her glad that she was dressed in cutoffs and a halter top.

“Want some help?” Jake called from the back of the rig.

“Go back to sleep, baby. I’ve got this one.”

“Okay, get us something to eat, okay?”

As Ashley climbed out of the cab and made her way to the back of the trailer. She lowered the trailer’s hydraulic loading ramp and then rode it up back up. After unlocking and opening the trailer’s rear doors, she grabbed the power assist pallet jack. Jake had already prepped the next several deliveries so all she needed to do was slide the jack’s forks into the pallet holding the diner’s order and then let the jack do all the work. She just needed to steer the thing. As she was relocking the doors, she looked at the towers of boxes that filled the giant trailer and smiled. Each were marked “BK Coffee” and held twenty pounds of Barry’s coffee. They sold at a premium and by the time she and Jake finished their trip around the southeastern states, the trailer would be empty, and their bank account that much fatter.

“Where do you want it, Irene?” Ashley asked when she entered the diner with the coffee a few minutes later.

“Just leave it there; I’ll have one of the dishwashers unload it,” the tall redhead said. She looked to be in her late thirties, wore a pink waitress uniform, held a coffee pot in one hand, and had the other on her cocked hip. A cigarette dangled from the corner of her mouth. “Are you staying?”

“I just need to get a couple chicken fried steaks to go and some coffee for my travel cup and then it’s back on the road.”

“Grab a seat and I’ll put in your order.”

As she walked through the diner to find an empty table, Ashley surveyed the customers. They were all drinking the coffee and they were all smoking. As she took her seat she noticed large signs around the diner stating, “Regular coffee $1 with free refills. BK Coffee $10 per 8 ounces, payment in advance. Absolutely no free refills on BK coffee!” She pulled a cigarette and a ten dollar bill from her purse. She lit the cigarette and laid the money on the table next to the coffee cup. She loved this diner. She loved that Irene was the owner-operator. She loved working with fellow women entrepreneurs. She also loved that she could smoke inside. When she’d first visited this diner two years ago it had been a no smoking establishment, even though it was located in one of the states that allowed smoking in restaurants. Irene had been one of Ashley’s first customers and before she’d made her third coffee delivery the diner had reversed its no smoking rule.

Well, technically Irene was a customer of BK Coffee Wholesalers. Ashley and Jake just delivered the coffee. They had an exclusive contract and were paid an insane amount of money to deliver it, but they were not tied directly to the coffee manufacturers. If fact no one was tied directly to BK Coffee Wholesalers, not even Barry and Kirk Brown, who acted as business consultants to the coffee company.
Neither was Kaitlin’s company that handled the accounting for BK Coffee Wholesalers, nor Emily’s company that handled its marketing, nor Julie’s company that handled all of its staffing. Every member of her study group ran a company that subcontracted for BK Coffee Wholesalers. They were all paid huge sums of money for their services and since they had no direct connection to the coffee company they were all insulated against its inevitable collapse.

Ashley knew that it was only a matter of time before someone figured out that the coffee made people smoke, something her sister had realized over two years ago. In fact, she was surprised that no one had figured it out yet. But it suited her just fine that they hadn’t. The longer it took, the longer her money in the Cayman Islands collected interest. Once the coffee company went under she and Jake would retire. Or maybe they’d continue driving the truck. They’d make that decision when the time came.

“Your money’s no good here,” Irene said as she pushed the ten dollar bill back toward Ashley. She filled Ashley’s travel cup and then poured coffee into the two ceramic cups sitting on the table. “Mind if I join you?” she asked as she sat down opposite Ashley.

“I would love your company,” Ashley said.

“Where’s Jake?” Irene asked as she pulled a pack of cigarettes from her apron.

“He’s sleeping in the rig,” Ashley said, pointing to the rig in the parking lot with the hand holding her cigarette.

“Is that a new truck?” Irene asked and then lit her cigarette. “It’s a monster.”

“Yes,” Ashley said with a smile. “We had it customer built and took delivery last month. It’s basically an RV with a Peterbilt 587 front end. We can stay on the road as long as we like now.”

“It’s beautiful. So, how have you been? What’s it been, three months?”

Ashley looked at her iPad. “Three months and six days. Can I have you sign here?” Ashley slid the tablet over to Irene and handed her a stylus. “Everything is going great. Jake and I now have six trucks delivering coffee across the country. We’re coming up on our second anniversary and we love each other just as much as we did on the day we married. And, I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding last month. Things couldn’t be better.”

“With six trucks, why are you still driving? Couldn’t you hire someone to drive for you?”

“Jake loves driving a truck and I love being with Jake. Plus, if I was sitting in some office running the business I wouldn’t get to see you and all of my other friends.”

“You mean your customers?”

“Well, you started out as customers, but you’re my friends now,” Ashley said. She took a deep drag, savoring the smoke. After she exhaled she said, “So, did you try out my suggestion?”

“Yes, I gave Phil a smoky kiss after he drank the coffee, just like you said.”


“I found a receipt in his pants from a jewelry store and he’s taking me to a fancy restaurant on Friday. I think he’s going to propose.”

Ashley squealed as she ran around the table to hug her friend. “I’m so happy for you. We should go on a double date sometime.”

“I’d love that, Ashley.”

Ashley tapped on her iPad for a few seconds and then said, “We’ve got a couple more days of deliveries before we’re empty and then we’ve got tickets to see the Bears play in Charlotte. How about the four of us hit the town next Tuesday night?”

“Sounds like a plan. Well, I should stop ignoring the rest of my customers; give me a call once you’re in town.”

Ashley sat drinking coffee and smoking while she waited for her order. Once it finished she dropped a hundred dollar bill on the table, grabbed the pallet jack and headed back to her rig.

With the pallet jack and her load once again secure in the trailer, Ashley climbed into the cab. She tossed her ball cap on the passenger seat as she squeezed between the seats and made her way into the back of the rig. She dropped her purse and take-out onto the counter next to the small stove and untied the knot in her halter top. She gazed at Jake’s sleeping form as she removed her top and bra. Their queen size bed ate up a lot of real estate in their home on wheels, but since they used it for a lot more than just sleeping they both wanted a decent sized bed.
Ashley opened a door near the bed and pulled out a small nasal oxygen mask which was attached to several feet of clear tubing. She slid the mask over nose and then lit a cigarette.

Ashley smiled when she pulled back the blanket covering Jake’s sleeping body; he was sleeping in the nude again. He probably figured she’d wake him up this way. She was getting too predictable. She told herself that she would have to come up with a new way to wake him, but not tonight. Tonight she wanted his cock in her mouth. She wanted to taste him as he unloaded in her mouth. She felt herself get wet at the thought.

Ashley took a drag off her cigarette and exhaled into Jake’s face. He slept on, but his cock began to rise. She inhaled another lungful of smoke. She leaned close to his face and blew the smoke at his mouth as he breathed in. He rose to full mast. Ashley slid down his body and took his tip into her mouth. As she swirled her tongue around the head of his cock, she felt him stir beneath her. She released his cock, took a drag and then bathed it in her smoke. When she took him in her mouth again, she heard him moan.

“I love it when you wake me like this,” Jake said. He stroked Ashley’s hair as she bobbed up and down on his cock.

Ashley pulled away from his cock, took a deep drag off her cigarette and then handed it to him. “I love it too,” she said. She took him in her mouth again, smoke pouring out of her mouth and nose as she engulfed his cock.

Jake took a drag off the cigarette and blew into the hose attached to Ashley’s mask. Once his smoke hit her, she quickened her pace, smoke escaping her mouth as her nose repeatedly brushed against his pubic hair. He blew another load of smoke into the tube and she redoubled her pace.

“I’m going to come, baby,” Jake announced.

Ashley grabbed Jake’s ass and slammed his cock deep into her throat.

“Fuck!” Jake roared as he came. She slid back to the top of his cock and sucked the last of the cum from him.

“Come here, baby,” he said as he pulled at her shoulders with one hand and took a drag with the other.

She released his cock and let him pull her to his lips. They kissed, swapping smoke back and forth over several breaths. When they finally broke the kiss, Ashley removed the mask, rolled onto her side and pulled Jake’s arm around her body. He snuggled up against her and kissed her neck while he cupped her breast. They lay together for several minutes, neither talking, simply enjoying their closeness. Eventually Ashley heard the sound she’d wanted to hear earlier in the evening, Jake’s rhythmic breathing of sleep.

Ashley lay in Jake’s arms and listened to him sleep for several minutes, basking in his closeness. She looked at the clock and sighed. She really wanted to stay in bed and join her husband in a snooze, but she still had many more miles to drive before she could sleep. She raised Jake’s arm and slid out of bed. She grabbed her bra and halter top and put them on. She thought about waking Jake so that he could eat his dinner while it was still reasonably warm, but he needed his sleep and there were many more diners along their route and they all served chicken fried steak.

She threw the food into the refrigerator and grabbed her purse and coffee cup off the counter. As she made her way to the driver’s seat she looked around her new home. It wasn’t a condo in downtown Chicago or a vacation home in Vale, but she loved it just the same. She had more than enough money to buy both of those, but they no longer held the same allure as they had before the coffee and cigarettes had led her to the love of her life. The coffee and cigarettes had made so many people happy. Emily and Tom had married shortly after she and Jake had tied the knot. Her parents had renewed their vows on the big island in Hawaii just last year and she’d been the maid of honor at her sister’s wedding. Both her sister and her wife Olivia had been so beautiful in their white wedding dresses.

Ashley pulled both her cigarettes and iPad from her purse before dropping it on the passenger seat. She set the iPad in its holder and clicked on the next stop in her delivery app, which launched the GPS app. While her iPad calculated the optimum route, she buckled in, flipped on the headlights, released the parking brake, and lit a cigarette. She kept her cigarette in her mouth, taking small drags every few seconds, as she used both hands to steer the truck out of the diner’s parking lot. Once on the road and headed to the interstate, she sucked deeply on her cigarette and finally removed it from her mouth. She grabbed her coffee cup and took a gulp as she exhaled through her nose. Ashley loved her life. She loved the coffee, she loved her cigarettes and most of all she loved Jake.

Story by Varian Milagro

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