Things progressed quickly. I'm sure she felt that she was constantly being bombarded with new things that stretched her in ways, and places, that she never expected. But I had to hurry her a bit. I had a plan with a deadline, and the most delicate part of it required a stretch of downtime on her part, and I couldn't rush that or control how long it might be. She was an apt student, I'll give her that. We went from handjobs after the Opera, to fellatio after a jazz festival, to 69 after a day at the beach. Each new technique was still being justified under the heading of "avoiding intercourse." Each date involved a complete review of all the previously-learned skills, with refinements, coaching, and extensions. So it came about that, on a weekend as July turned into August, after "As You Like It," we were in my bed, spooned, me buried to the hilt in her rectum. And yes, anal was pushing the "avoiding intercourse" justification as far as it could be pushed. She had waddled around all week with a butt plug in one end, and a pained expression on the other. The build-up had begun in the middle of July, when I started playing with her asshole, running a finger around the rim, then into it, then two fingers. When she got beyond the revulsion, the squeamishness, when she admitted that she liked it, a little, then a lot, I took her along slowly, to wind up where we were now. The butt plug lay glistening on the side table next to the bed. I was pleased with her: she had come without any clitoral stimulation after the foreplay. She had fully learned "relaxed going in, grip coming out." I waited for the sweat to dry. "Allison, baby." "Mmmm, so full." "Allison, honey, it's time." "Nnnnn, a little longer?" "No honey, off you go to bed," and I pulled out, gently, got a hot washcloth, and cleaned us both up. She rolled over in my arms for a last kiss. "Jack, I keep saying this, but I never knew, so much pleasure.... I can't wait to see the lesson for next week!" And she gathered up her robe and made her way with careful steps to the door. She'd be a little sore for a few days, in spite of the preparation. And she'd be surprised at next week's lesson. Monday came and went with making a living. I shut down at five and found her on the back porch, wearing a little halter number, and handed her her drink. She had developed a taste for Scotch-and-soda. She sat in my lap, a big smile on her face, careless of the amount of thigh she showed. Her kiss tasted of Scotch-and- soda. She put her arms around my neck and asked, "What's the new 'skill' for this week, teach?" "Nothing." She sat up, her face blank. "You're done. You passed. You've mastered the 'essential skills.' You can go to Central High in the fall if you want, and date, if you want. There's one more thing you could learn, but I can't teach it to you." A little chuckle from her. "I'd sort of forgotten about Central. And high school boys. Why would I want to date one of those?" Another kiss. She used the same disparaging tone I had used on the words "boys" and "those." The kiss lingered. After a long while she came up for air and looked up. "What about the 'one more thing,' and why can't you teach it to me?" Here we go, I thought. Show time. Everything on one throw of the dice. "You remember when we talked about relationships? Permissions and assumptions? Changing relationships? Flexibility in defining what's permitted?" A nod. "The stepfather-stepdaughter relationship isn't really well defined, but whatever it is, you and I have been pushing the envelope of what society permits, really hard. The 'one more thing' would be the skills of actual intercourse, and that, baby, is /not/ permitted to us in this relationship." I shut up. Now I'd learn whether the seed I'd planted a month earlier would sprout. Her hand crept under her skirt. Having spent two months playing with herself in front of me, she no longer had any shame on that score. That was unfortunate, but it was the price that had to be paid. Perhaps I could fix that over time. "And actual screwing, it's even better yet?" I nodded. "I can't imagine anyone I want to give my virginity to more.... But we can't?" I shook my head, not saying anything. "If it's better than what we've done, God, just the idea. I mean, I've been reading all those naughty stories all summer, but it's just words. But if I can't do it with you, Jack...." The silence stretched on. Had I been too subtle? I had to keep my peace though, because she had to think that this was her idea. "Waaait." She drew out the word. "You said 'in this relationship.' Do /we/ get to change the type of relationship we're in?" I barely resisted the impulse to pump my fist in the air in victory. "Well, doll, I haven't really thought about it." Like hell, I hadn't. "I mean, parent-child is forever, but like I said, the stepparent role sort of loosely defined, and it's by ceremony, not by blood. Are you thinking...." "Well, if we can't 'do it' as stepfather-stepdaughter, and God, do I want to 'do it' with you, then maybe we should choose another relationship." My little seed had become a beautiful little sprout. "Honey, my legs are going to sleep with you sitting on me like that." She dismounted, still deep in thought. Now for the next step. "It's an interesting idea." I made a show of giving it some consideration. "Look, if you're thinking about changing the type of relationship we have, we need to go at this carefully. I think both of us want something more permanent than 'boyfriend-girlfriend,' and I don't want to marry again: Jane was my first and last wife." I stopped, and let the silence stretch out. "You remember the 'What's the point?' discussion?" A nod. "Any thoughts on what kind of relationship you want? Do your folders of stories tell you anything?" "Yes, daddy." She blushed, "I..." "Wait." I stopped her. "Here's what I want you to do. Think it through. You're going to be making a decision that will affect your happiness for a long time to come. When you're ready, when you're sure, write me a love letter. In the letter, seduce me into the relationship you've chosen. Sell it to me. Make me want it, too. Anticipate my doubts and objections, and overcome them. Draw me a picture of how we'd live. Writing the letter should make you want to play with yourself. When I read it, I should have the same reaction. Understand?" "Hmm, interesting. Yes. When do you want to see the letter?" "When you're really ready, and really sure." And that closed the discussion. We finished our drinks and went in to start dinner. Two weeks passed. I didn't touch her, not once. I told her she no longer needed to play with herself, certainly not in front of me. After all, all those things had been "training," and the course was over. I was her stepfather. I was not her lover, never had been. Yeah, right. Nothing was said about the letter. But I could see that she was spending a lot of time in her room, on her computer at all hours, and no, she wasn't on the Internet. The way her wastebasket was filling up, she was going through a lot of drafts of something. No, I didn't dig through her trash. I didn't think I needed to, because I knew what stories wound up in her "Oh, wow!" folder.