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The Secret Life of Rica 3: Essential Research

by AmyAmy

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© Copyright 2015 - AmyAmy - Used by permission

Storycodes: Solo-F; F/f; online; chat; video; striptease; dance; camera; spy; voy; naked; mast; cons/reluct; X

(story continues from )

Chapter 3: Essential Research

The next morning, like the hungry caterpillar, Erica felt much better. She took the new pills Belling had prescribed on schedule and went down for breakfast. What a waste of time, they were probably placebos anyway.

Her cupboard was empty so she helped herself to Bea’s milk and cereals. Bea seemed to be in a hurry to push food onto her, so why not? As for Bea herself, mercifully there was no trace of her.

Erica went back up to her dodgy computer and logged on. She still hadn’t restored it to clean from backup, but it didn’t matter, she wouldn’t be typing any credit-card details into it.

She logged on to the forums with a fresh ID.

Ez was online. Erica sent her a private message.

Anon419: Hello Riotgrrl, how goes the cause? Ezgrrl123: Don’t mock my religion and I won’t mock your spelling. Anon419: Went for a job interview but was fail. Ezgrrl123: Sorry. Who is this? Anon419: I could have got the job ... well ... _a_ job ... but I ran out crying. Pathetic. Ezgrrl123: That you El-Rica? Anon419: Yeah. Still haven’t cleaned the pooter, so this is a one timer. Ezgrrl123: Are you ok? Anon419: Yeah. My housemate been behaving oddly tho. Dunno what’s up with her. Ezgrrl123: She being mean? Anon419: No, the opposite, but it’s some kind of prank. Moment I look like I believe it she’ll turn around with some put down and laugh in my face. It’s happened before. Ezgrrl123: Is she really like that? Anon419: I think so... Been thinking a lot what about work I could do, still got nothing. Ezgrrl123: Ok Anon419: Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t like guys, do you? Ezgrrl123: Now this? I didn’t share because you didn’t ask. I guess that goes both ways? Anon419: I’m sorry I held back what a sad case I am. Put it another way, if I’d told you it straight off you’d have thought I was just an attention seeker. Ezgrrl123: Maybe true. Same thing for me. Or you’d think I was hitting on you. Anon419: Yeah. I understand now. You weren’t. Still aren’t. Sorry. Ezgrrl123: Where’s this headed Rica? Is it you hitting on me now? Anon419: Maybe. Ezgrrl123: Shit. I was just kidding. Anon419: So was I, but... Anon419: Do you want to see what I look like? Ezgrrl123: In real? Anon419: I will meet you, if you can come here, but I mean a picture. Log onto fapchat and search for ‘MarySue642’ ok? Ezgrrl123: You sexting me baby? Anon419: Haha. I just want to be honest. But I will if you want. Ezgrrl123: Show me whatever you dare. I’m a big girl. I can take it.

Rica uploaded the picture she took earlier. It was her naked, shown from the crotch up. Her face was mostly covered over by hair. It was a cliché shot for an instagrab profile, but it would do.

Ezgrrl123: Cute. That really you? That is full on nakedness. You sure about this? You better be old enough. Anon419: I am 20. And the reason I sent it... To find out if I’d freak out. But I didn’t feel even a twinge of panic uploading it. It was fine. Liberating even. Ezgrrl123: I don’t get it. Anon419: I fall apart if I’m close to people, but I just found out that showing myself online doesn’t do it. I never thought about it before. Wasn’t sure how I’d handle it. Ezgrrl123: Oh. I see. Well. No, I don’t get it. I’m just a guinea pig? You’re a tease, you know that girl? Anon419: But we’re not flirting right? Ezgrrl123: Yeah. I’m just yyc. Anon419: YYC? I won’t ask. Yeah. Next step. Video. Ezgrrl123: Camera on this thing is broken. It got a bit dropped. The screen looks like it has a rip in it. Anon419: Would make it a better test if I could see your reaction, but I guess it’s fine to start just one way.

She’d never spoken live to Ez before, not even on the phone, and they’d never had a video chat. It was odd given she did it frequently with her mother, and sometimes her brothers. On rare occasions – if they were drunk – they had even called her up.

Probably Ez lied about her identity. Was the supposed broken camera confirmation? She’d started suspicious, but over time she’d become confident that at least Ez’s intentions were harmless. Erica hadn’t pushed too hard for a real meeting or even a telephone call. Yeah… Obvious reasons for that. Ez could be anyone, some creepy old guy, or a kid … anything. It didn’t matter, just made this a better test.

Erica turned on her camera feed. Her face was still mostly concealed or cut out of the shot.

Ezgrrl123: Shit. That really _was_ you. Anon419: Yeah, and now I am going to strip. Do you mind? Ezgrrl123: Well... I don’t mean anything by it, but sure, go ahead. Knock yourself out. I never figured you would look so photoshopped. Anon419: I am obviously not shopped. Ezgrrl123: Let me tell you girl, you look that way. Thin. Curvy. Proportioned. How do you even get a body like that? Even over the video feed you are on fire. Basically, I’m sick with envy. How do you even get skin like that without a Hollywood budget? Anon419: Rofl. As if.

Erica walked away from the camera and checked the lock on the door in case Bea was still being weird.

She’d expected to be afraid. She had expected to want to back down at the last minute. She was surprised that she didn’t feel like that at all. She was nervous but not afraid. She was about to do something really naughty that her mother would hate. She was about to do something that was considered really stupid. She might be shy in person, but she perhaps could be fearless on camera and she was about to find out.

She slipped her hand down inside her pants. It was squishy down there. Yes. She couldn’t believe it…

She was actually looking forward to this.

Bea’s Big Score

Bea pushed the chest of drawers into the corner and climbed up. A hole near the ceiling would be less likely to be noticed, wouldn’t it? The camera would be hidden in the old-fashioned moulding covering the edge between the wall and the ceiling.

She stopped and took a couple of slow deep breaths to calm herself. Could she really do this? What if Rica caught her? So naughty. Hopefully she’d be punished. Spankings. Mmmm.

She began to cut a square of plasterboard from the corner, slowly nibbling with the box-cutter. It came free, exposing the stud-work. White powder trickled as she cut.

After a couple of minutes the back of the wall in Rica’s room was accessible. She positioned the hand-drill as far into the corner as it would go. No. If she turned it now it would grate against the wall.

She adjusted the position an inch further out and started to drill.

The nice man at the home security store had been so helpful. He had all kinds of toys for spying on people. She had never imagined such things were available, or how tiny some of them were. They all seemed easy to use.

Bea had listened at first but had tuned out the explanation of the electronics behind the devices. Could she remember the specific advice she needed to do the installation? Could she pull it off? Had she missed some crucial piece of advice?

The store owner had seemed sympathetic when she’d told him that she’d come back if she needed anything more to keep tabs on her ‘filthy cheating boyfriend’. He’d thrown in the software to install on Rica’s phone for cheap after that.

The loud music coming through the wall ought to mask the sound of the drilling. Bea turned the drill very slowly.

It was slow progress. Her arms were aching. She’d have to rest soon, but she had to be almost done didn’t she?

A few more turns and the drill broke through. Her heart jumped into her mouth, but there was still no outcry from next door.

She tried to look through the hole. There was no way to get her eye to it. It was too small and too awkwardly positioned. Her breath hissed between her teeth. She hesitated, her hand shaking. She steadied herself against the plasterboard and pushed the camera in. The lens was no bigger than the tiny glass spot on a cheap mobile phone, though the rear part of the camera was larger. She secured it in place with a strip of duct tape.

The camera and microphone cables threaded down and out of the hole she’d made at the bottom of the wall.

Using more tape, she secured the panel microphone to the inside of the plaster panel. Her hands shaking, she replaced the piece of missing wall. She used some translucent masking tape to cover the cracks where she’d cut out the section.

She took a long deep breath. Her heart was racing, cold sweat frozen on her brow.

She wiped her face, stood back and examined her handiwork. Looking carefully, something had obviously been done to the wall, but it wasn’t clear what. She could put up a poster and it would be invisible.

At least there was no trace of the camera or microphone, and the tell-tale cables could be hidden behind her laundry basket when not in use.

She connected up her ultra-thin laptop and threw herself onto the bed.

At first the software showed nothing. Had it failed? An image of Rica’s room flickered then stabilised on the screen. The colours weren’t good and it was a bit contrasty but she could see that Rica was lying on her bed, her flies open and her hand in her panties.

Bea swallowed.

She’d been so close to being discovered.

On the table a few feet from the bed, Rica’s computer was turned on but there were no interesting images. The camera couldn’t resolve the screen of text sufficiently to read any of it. From the colours it looked like crapchat.

It was hard to control her excitement.

At last… Now she could watch Rica whenever she wanted.

Rica jumped up unexpectedly. Was Rica about to come over and accuse her of spying?

Instead, she scurried over to her own computer and began typing rapidly. She reached over and adjusted the aim of her webcam, fiddling with it two or three times. What was she about to do?

The little preview rectangle of the picture from Rica’s webcam was too small to make out. Where was the camera pointed?

“Are you ready bitch?” Rica said.

The laptop speakers were too loud. If Rica heard it, she’d be found out. It might be too late already. She stabbed at the volume down button, overdoing it and muting the sound entirely. She turned the volume back up to minimum as quickly as she could, but she’d missed several precious seconds of sound.

Who was Rica chatting with on crapchat? Did she do this often? If Bea had started spying on her sooner she’d know these important things. She should have started the day she moved in.

 “…do as your told,” Rica said.

Bea waited, reluctant to breathe in case it obscured a subtle sound. When would Rica issue further instructions? Was she giving orders to an online sub?

Bea gasped. She clamped her hands over her mouth to silence herself. She wanted to scream with excitement.

Rica slowly and seductively unbuttoned her baggy plaid shirt. She was such a tease, dressing like that so that nobody could see how beautiful she really was. What was her logic in that? A body like hers ought to be seen.

Bea put her hand to her crotch, but her tight skirt wouldn’t admit a hand under the waistband. She reached down and pulled the bottom of the skirt up around her waist, tugging her thong-panties down with one hand, the other holding the wobbling laptop upright on the bed while she completed the operation.

On screen, Rica slid her shirt off her shoulders to reveal a white sports bra. It was so cute with its illusion of purity. Was she trying to minimize her breasts? It would fit the butch theory. Why else would she wear a bra like that unless she was running or going to the gym?

Bea stuck her fingers in her mouth, sucking on them, getting them wet and slippery. She moved her wet fingers to her clit. On screen, Rica stood up and wiggled out of her baggy jeans. Her naked legs were tight and muscular.

Legs like that didn’t just happen. They were carefully crafted by hours of hard work. Why put in that effort and then hide the results?

Yes… With her shirt and jeans missing, Rica was definitely lean and mean. Sizzling hot. Bea double checked that her computer was recording it all. The file was getting bigger with every refresh.

The time that Rica spent away from the house must have been exercise. So, somewhere Rica went to a gym, a gym that Bea could join.

Bea imagined herself at the mercy of those strong arms and muscular legs as she gently worked her fingers up and down.

Rica peeled off the stretch-fit sports bra and Bea felt a pang of frustration that she couldn’t get a proper view of her breasts. She had to bite her lip to stop a whoop of delight as her object of desire did a slow turn in front of the camera, her arms held up in the air. Her hair hung down, partly obscuring her face. Oh yes, come on.

Bea gave her clit a rough squeeze. Rica’s nipples stood out hard and erect from her jutting breasts. Not a B after all … more like a D. The sports bra was deceptive.

“Come on Rica, drop those panties,” Bea whispered aloud.

Her twirl completed, Rica hooked her thumbs into the waistband of the hipster panties and edged them down just a little at a time. Somebody on the other end of the camera was getting a different version of the show. Rica was smiling in a hot and crazy way that Bea had never seen from her before.

The bold moves she made, the calculated teasing, Rica couldn’t be the passive party in the exchange. The one at the other end was the receiver, taking whatever Rica threw at her … him?

Rica’s panties dropped to her ankles.

She stepped out of them. Bea bit her lip.

“Oh, cruel gods of porn that tease every unrequited lover, voyeur and subbie, please let her turn around again. If you make her do it I’ll sacrifice my undies to you. I won’t wear any panties for a week,” Bea whispered.

Rica pivoted on her toes, quicker than before but enough to get a clear view of her smooth, hairless mound. Bea’s head span. Rica waxed her pussy? It was a lot to handle on top of the other revelations and delights.

“Oh, thank you Gods. Yes…” she said. She sighed. Catching herself she pushed her face into the bedclothes to stifle an unstoppable moan of delight.

The laptop fell over and she lost sight of what was happening.

Fumbling, she rebalanced the laptop so that she could redeploy her hand to work on a nipple, teasing it softly then squeezing it hard. Meanwhile, Rica was doing another twirl, almost dancing, her hips swaying provocatively from side to side in a seductive, slow motion samba.

She paused to wiggle her butt. Happy chance, it was pointed directly at the camera. Her pussy was centre frame. If only the resolution were better! She would have to get a better camera, never mind the expense. Afterwards she could break into Rica’s room to disguise the hole properly

Bea tensed. Was she about to cum? The laptop tipped over again. She sank her face into the pillow and bit down to silence herself.

Bathroom Scheduling Clash

Erica lay on her bed, still naked, not even bothering to masturbate. Her time in front of the camera was a revelation. Years of frustration and despair had simply lifted off her. A weight had been removed, such a heavy burden she’d been carrying so long she’d forgotten it was there.

If she willed it, she could simply float up and off the bed. Well, not really, but she hadn’t felt so relieved since the end of the latest Tolkien epic. She’d drunk a large coke at the beginning and then there’d been a huge queue for the toilets at the end. There ought to be a law against selling drinks at the start of a movie that long. It had been worth it to see Gondolin burning like that though… Her mind was wandering. None of that mattered now.

She’d been able to act so licentiously in front of the camera. What had come over her? Had all the bottled up desire to be noticed by others come pouring out of her? She’d had doubts about doing it. It hadn’t felt like it was going to trigger her phobia but things had snuck up on her in the past.

There was no certainty that Ez was the person she claimed to be. There was no guarantee she wouldn’t somehow capture the video and show it to others. She shouldn’t dwell too much on that, there was only stress and depression in thoughts like that. Really, what if she did? Who would even believe it was her?

If it were a real online performance the audience could be anybody. Even her mother could be watching. This time it had been easy. It had been good to be seen. There was no limit to what she could do now. No. That was an illusion. Back in the real world of solid people, the possibility of contact was still too much.

A better test was needed. A real display. Something that was definitely public. The only problem was that something like that could end her employment future and leave her stigmatised forever as a porn slut. Even, Ez could still do her a bit of damage if she had found some way to subvert crapchat.

It would be dumb to take that risk in future. She needed protection. She needed a disguise.

Or was it too late? Had been a big mistake. Was the damage already done? Had Ez recorded everything with a second phone or something like that? There would still be a measure of deniability, wouldn’t there? Things went two ways, nobody on earth would believe she could do that on camera. Not anybody that had met her, except maybe Belling.

She was worrying again. Maybe she wasn’t cut out for this? Would she ever be able to make videos that people would want to pay for?

The logistics of it all would be complex. There would have to be some sort of screen or partition to keep the rest of her room hidden. She would need masks, nice and sexy ones that men wouldn’t think were weird. She would need clothes to take off, and fancy underwear, and maybe even toys to play with.


Yes. There would definitely have to be toys.

Mmmm. On consideration, this idea was definitely a good one after all.

Her hand reached for her crotch. She touched herself, then froze. For the last two years she’d been completely free to buy any sex toy or outfit she wanted and she hadn’t. Why was it so appealing now? Dammit, I’m slow. Should have thought of this ages ago, back when I had some spare cash.

Anything could be obtained online, couldn’t it? Almost anything. It would cost money and she only had a little left. Doctor Belling’s fees were mostly covered by insurance that her parents paid for, but if she couldn’t make her rent it was all over.

She laughed. If Bea kept on being so unusually friendly, perhaps she could borrow her stuff? A joke of course. Bea was up to something. Besides, Bea was two or three inches taller. She tried to remember a clear image of Bea. She was leggy and the height difference might be all in the legs.

Was there any real chance she could squeeze into some of Bea’s clothes? If they were a little on the tight side, the audience wouldn’t mind. What did it matter? She was dreaming. She’d never have the guts and she’d never get the chance …although it would be intriguing to find out if they weren’t really so far apart in size after all.

She ought to lie around naked more often. She felt around her sex with both hands. It certainly made it easier to get at things. Oh yes.

When she came, it happened sooner than she’d expected.

Afterwards, she smelled dirty. A shower was definitely needed. She put on her dressing gown and headed for the bathroom.

Erica sauntered into the unlocked upstairs bathroom as usual.

She almost squealed, silencing herself with her hand.

The guys never came up the stairs, so she and Bea had the upstairs bathroom to themselves. Bea had about twenty times as much stuff in there as she did, but she was rarely ever around. Erica had forgotten that other people used it sometimes.

Bea was already there – completely naked – bending over the edge of the bath, bum in the air, reaching for the plug.

Erica froze mid-squeal. She waited for the tell-tale prickling to begin in her cheeks and spread down to her chest. The foreknowledge that she turned red as a tomato during every personal encounter never stopped it happening, or made it any less humiliating when it did.

It was going to happen now. Bea would turn and laugh at her. Erica would choke up, and then maybe once she was humiliated enough she’d run and make it worse. Or maybe she’d curl up into a ball and sit there quivering. That was worst of all.

But there was something different this time.


Her mind was still working.

Bea was naked, and in a rather revealing – embarrassing – position. Erica was the one wrapped up safe and modest in her robe.

Bea looked funny, with her bum in the air like that. Not scary at all, but she was a person, warm, solid, real and alarmingly close. The heat started to gather in Erica’s cheeks but it came slower than usual and not as much… She was used to this wasn’t she? Embarrassment was just a part of her daily routine wasn’t it?

Bea let out a noise. A sort of squawk. She tried to stand and almost tumbled into the bath. A hand jerked out and grabbed the shower curtail, ripping it partly off the rail. Still, it was enough to save her. Just. She didn’t fall. Wobbling, she span to face Erica.

Erica let her gaze drift downwards and Bea made a tiny squeak and crushed her legs tight together. Her face flooded right red.

She chewed her lip at one side.

Erica’s mouth fell open. Bea was the one blushing. The tables were turned, the roles reversed. Day was night, up was down. It never happened this way. Never.


But today, it seemed impossible things were happening repeatedly.

Bea moved her arms back and forth, trying to cover her breasts with one arm and her mound with the other. Erica made a point of not looking at the other woman’s sex, but the way Bea was squirming was drawing her attention to it anyway.

“Um… Sorry. Door. Not locked… I’ll come back later,” Erica said.

Bea produced a nervous giggle in response. The red flush was spreading downwards from her face and lighting up her breasts. “The lock doesn’t work. Guess we’ve been unlucky up until now…”

Erica didn’t say anything. What did she look like? Was she gawping?

“I mean… Lucky…I mean lucky,” Bea said, correcting herself.

Erica edged backwards out of the door without another word.

A year gone by and hardly an encounter, and now she seemed to be bumping into Bea in all the wrong ways. It had to be deliberate, didn’t it? Bea was definitely up to something. Even the embarrassment could be fake. Bea was probably a great actress. Maybe she even studied acting.

What did she study? Erica didn’t even know. Something to ask at the next unwanted meeting.

Spending Spree

Erica’s bank must have noticed she wasn’t paying off the balance on her credit card because they’d increased her credit limit. She shouldn’t have let them do it. They only put the limits up for people who didn’t pay off their cards. She could struggle by for a couple of months on the extra limit but it would be worse in the end. The last thing she needed was a bankruptcy on top of her other problems.

Cash wasn’t coming in, only going out. Investing in her new business would make trouble in the short term and there was no certainty she’d ever make a cent. She couldn’t afford to fail, but could she really make money?

Only one way to find out.

She ordered a pair of cheap folding screens with a Japanese look to them. They were a common enough an item that they couldn’t be used to identify her – the low price and the name of the store she got from them from were enough to tell her that.

The search for masks didn’t go so easily. The right mask was essential. If she looked creepy she would turn the viewers off. A Venetian-style masquerade mask might do to start with. They were made in endless variations.

Which one would be best? She got the short-list down to five. She put them all in her cart: a white full-face mask with an enigmatic expression, a gold full-face mask, a fancy three-quarters mask and two regular masks that would leave her mouth visible. She looked at the price again. Was she serious about this or not? She might as well commit. No good chickening out now.

She clicked ‘buy’ and purchased all five. It wasn’t like they were expensive.

The masquerade masks were a novel look but not the typical thing for a porn video. She’d seen pictures of women in glossy black outfits with masks that only showed their eyes and mouth. Rubber, or some kind of shiny plastic. What about something like that? Would it be hard to find?

It was easy. Dozens of online stores came up when she submitted the search. Wow. There were more than she’d imagined. So much variation in price. She looked to see what sort of things they had. There were so many surprising things. She blushed at the dildo pants even though nobody was watching.

Some things looked nice, but were they comfortable to wear? They looked really tight. Would it hurt?

After a maiden voyage through a dozen online stores she ended up with a naughty nurse costume in rubber, a fashion catsuit in rubber, and several rubber hoods. Toys included a large and rather scary looking pink vibrator that she couldn’t possibly fit inside her. Could any human being contain it? A large and even scarier black rubber dildo. It was smaller than the pink one but still looked intimidating; clearly not sized for real women either.

The list went on: clover clamps, metal wrist and ankle cuffs, a leather corset – a proper corset but finished on the outside with leather – and a white leather bondage hood with a zip on the mouth similar to one she’d seen in a Hollywood movie. She ordered some other things she needed from a hardware store: light chain and a saw to cut it – she had wanted bolt cutters but they were too expensive – along with various clips and padlocks.

She wouldn’t make any further rubber purchases for a while. Rubber items weren’t cheap and she had to get the right things. The masks would do for now. Catsuits were clearly the staple item, but they ranged from merely pricy to astronomical. The one she’d bought was a cheap generic item, not made to measure and it had still been her most expensive single purchase.

Gloves, stockings and suspenders would look the part and fully displayed her to the viewers, but with the price it made sense to learn more about rubber before buying lots of things. She had more than enough to get started.

Putting herself on display like that, framing her most private parts in glistening fetishwear and showing them to an army of unseen netizens – total strangers – was making her wet.

These new thoughts were opening up an abyss in her head. She’d looked into it and she couldn’t look away. The things she’d seen online recently couldn’t be unseen. That stuff was going to be stuck in her head forever.

The things she’d shown couldn’t be unshown either.

She couldn’t wait for the items to arrive. She couldn’t wait to try them. The possibility of exposing herself like that couldn’t come soon enough. Was this even remotely normal? Was she some kind of closet exhibitionist?

Maybe, if you blocked up an urge long enough it would grow like tree-roots into odd places? Was that what they meant by repression? Did blocking something up make you crazy? People already called her The Flake. What would they call her if they found out about this? Given her history, she’d seem completely mental: afraid of talking to people, then stripping on the internet. That was not consistent behaviour.

It would be nice if all she had to overcome was herself. She had so much technical work to do before she could open her site properly.

The competition in the webcam business was daunting. She’d warned herself she’d have to do anything and everything to get people to her site.

Normally the worry would drag her down and immobilise her. That hadn’t happened. For now, she was energised. The more she dwelled on it the more turned-on she got. There was a pressure in her chest she couldn’t describe. She closed her eyes and let herself sink into the fantasy.

Was it delusion? Would she fail at the final hurdle? Could a girl crippled by shyness in the real world turn into a demon on camera? The more humiliating or shocking the things that came to mind, the more she had to know.

The camera didn’t bother her. What threat was a silent little lens? After what she’d been through in her day-to-day life of failures, it was nothing, wasn’t it? So what if she had to do things that might hurt? It would be nothing compared to the stress of facing strangers in some low-paid service job.

The weird stuff was the easy part.

It started to get difficult when she first tried to shop for regular lingerie and cosmetics.

She’d never really worn either before. How could she have got through twenty years and avoided that world so completely?

It was supposed to be impossible for a female her age not to know about the tools of beauty. Every billboard, every magazine, every celebrity was a vehicle for them. They were part of the substrate in which her existence was embedded.

How had she maintained herself in a bubble? Easy if you don’t make any friends at school and your mother is a crazy bitch.

Yes, she could have asked her mother. That would have been a hoot. What cynical twist would she have brought to it? Probably a good thing it never occurred to mother-dearest that it would be useful knowledge for an upwardly mobile dental receptionist.

Erica might have been forced to complete beauty school before being allowed to start a degree if good ol’ mom had cottoned onto that one a couple of years ago.

The cosmetics would be tricky. She had no idea how to use them but she’d seen the magazine covers. There were probably tutorials online…

Erica felt a chill comer over when she saw the first GooTube search.


Thousands of them. Video after video. So many products. So many brands. So many approaches. So many solutions to problems she hadn’t even considered she might have. So many fixes for things she had – in fact – been a bit embarrassed about in the past.

Three hours of surfing later she’d bombarded herself with the latest fads in foundation, concealer, lip-liner, false eyelashes, eye-shadow and the other tools of illusion. Some of those models had looked sodull before they were painted up. Maybe it could work for her too?

She laughed to herself. Couldextreme eye makeup form part of a disguise? Nobody was used to seeing her with sparkling eyes, crazy eyelashes and a Hollywood gaze. Could she really pull it off? What would she look like in the obligatory porno wet-look lipstick?

For a normal girl, crafting her appearance would be something learned at puberty. Had she avoided it as part of a Peter Pan complex? Did the thrill she felt at starting to experiment with the forbidden represent an urge to grow up? Questions for Belling. Who had forbidden those things from her?  Even a shy girl could dress herself up, couldn’t she?

But then she’d be noticed. People would try and talk to her.

Better to remain safe, frumpy, ignored.

Well, it was only for online. She’d never go out tarted up like that in real life.

Would she?

How could she enter a fantasy world made real with nothing of herself to bring to it? For her ordinary things were the unattainable, impossible; like friends she could talk to, or parents who didn’t see her as a piece of defective baggage. How could she create a saleable porn persona?

She ought to be used to her situation by now but she still winced at the thought when she laid it out so plainly. Erica was nothing. Erica was nobody. Erica was completely alone.

Ez wasn’t real, not in any way she could trust. She was just words in a computer. She could be a sock puppet, an AI, a scam, even the composite identity of an entire house of bored students.

It was likely no coincidence that Ez hadn’t made any attempt to make any part of their relationship concrete. Wait a minute though… Didn’t it work both ways? Ez had no idea she was real until a few hours ago. Well, Ez knew she was real now. Probably had a pretty distorted idea given what she’d done. The way she’d been acting – the way she’d performed for the camera – had she been trying to seduce her? That was how she’d have to act on the site, so it was logical, wasn’t it?

Could she even bring herself to shop for make-up?

Even looking at it online started the awful spider-footprint tingle in her skin.

The sweat was cold on her forehead.

Maybe this wasn’t for her after all? She should stop before she did something irreversible.

She should give up. This was all an awful mistake.


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