Chapter Fourteen

    Angel sat in silence after Jessie left, letting the day's events wash over him. Jessie had no idea how much of a weight she was lifting off his shoulders, nobody knew, not really. Night after night, he had to fight the urge to sneak downstairs and drink himself into oblivion, to forget how helpless he felt without Suzanne, especially after the phone calls started. Martini had trailed him to Florida, and had made sure that his thugs made their presence known on almost a daily basis.

    His credit was over extended, the books were a mess, his friends were worried.. how much farther could I have fucked up? Angel thought. It ate at his gut that Mitch and now Jessie had gotten involved. It was bad enough that he himself was tangled up with organized crime, but his friends? Angel had never intended on pulling anyone else into it. He knew he was being watched, he could feel it, when he was out running errands for the club. Faceless voices told of his perilous fate if he didn't pay back the money, and make good to Martini and fast.

    Martini himself had called, and in his smooth sinister tone, had offered a way out. "Angel, don't be stupid.. you know how to make good, without havin' to go under in the process.." Yeah. He knew what Martini wanted - to turn the Dusk to Dawn into a drug den, just like his boutique had been in New York. Angel's blood ran cold when he realized he was actually considering Martini’s offer. The sooner he made a profit, the sooner he could pay them off. How much could a party pull in.. how much longer could he take the stress before he succumbed to the lure of his long time friend, Jack Daniels..

    It had been a long night, but when the alarm went off at nine, Jessie dragged herself out of bed. Brewing some expresso to jump start her lagging body, Jess hit the floor running. First came the call to Joe, at the university where he currently taught accounting.

    "Joey, hi, it's Jess.."

    "Hey stranger, long time no see.. that boyfriend of yours is working you too hard," Joe teased.

    "He's not my boyfriend anymore, he's my fiancé.."

    "Naw, you're jokin' right? Wow, it has been a while since we've talked. Guess Zach is smarter in love than he is in bookkeeping.."

    "I guess so," Jessie laughed, "but I'm not calling about Zach's taxes this time, Joe, I'm calling because I need a favor for a friend.."

    Jessie went on to fill Joe in on the details of Angel's predicament, hearing Joe groan as the details started to unfold. "You sure you wanna get wrapped up in this, Jess? The mob's all over the place down here, and they're really not people you wanna mess with.."

    "I know Joey, but Angel and Mitch are good friends of mine. Angel just hit a run of bad luck. All I wanna do is make the best of the ledger to this point, and then help him get back into the black. I know I'm asking a lot of you Joe, but you're the only guy I trust to help with this.."

    "Well, as always, your timing is great. I have one class to teach, then I'll be free for the rest of the day.."

    "Okay, why don't you come on over, and I'll make you some of my veal parmesian you like so much, and we'll work this out together."

    "A pretty lady and a great meal.. how could I turn that down?" Joe laughed. "Okay, Jess, you got a deal. You got all the paperwork right?"

    "Yeah, I even copied the computer files onto diskettes, so we can work on my computer here at the house.."

    "Okay, I'll see you in about two hours.."

    "Thanks, Joe.. bye."

    It would be another long day, but it would be more than worth it if they would be able to get the bar back on track. Besides, the quiet apartment was a constant reminder of Zach's absence. It felt good to know that, with a few days of hard work and collaboration with Joe, they would be able to undo a year's worth of bookkeeping blunders. Jess was just about to pull the veal out of the freezer when the phone rang.

    "Hey babe.."

    "Hi.. I was just thinking about you," Jessie smiled, shutting the freezer door.

    "Oh? I think about you all the time. I miss you Jess.."

    "I miss you too Zach. How are things going in the Big Apple?"

    "Okay," Zach sighed, "they do things here on their own terms. We're outsiders looking in, so the business meetings are harder to set up than I had anticipated."

    "Friday's Halloween," Jessie pouted, leaning against the edge of the counter. "Mitch is throwing a big costume party over at the bar.."

    It would be her first holiday as an engaged woman, and Jessie hadn't relished the idea of spending it alone. Maybe if she hinted hard enough, he'd invite her up to New York..

    "Sounds like fun," Zach answered, "I wish I could be down there in time, but I don't think it's gonna happen Jess. My dad's really riding me to establish some new business connections, not to mention get some big time advertising under our belts.."

    Guess that's a no, Jessie thought. Maybe it was for the best. Zach was busy, and she didn't wanna add to his load by pouting, plus she herself had a full plate helping Mitch and Angel at the bar. "I understand, sweetie, I just miss you."

    "I miss you too Jess, and I promise, I'll bring you back something nice to make up for missing our first holiday." Zach stopped, hearing Jessie chuckle at him over the phone. She was buying his story hook line and sinker. Damn, I'm good, he thought, patting himself on the back. "What?" he embellished, "you think that hasn't crossed my mind? You know I'd be there if I could Jess.."

    "I know.."

    "I'll probably be home by Sunday, latest, and we'll make up for lost time then. I want you to make sure to have fun and treat yourself to a few well deserved days of relaxation while I'm away. Go get a great costume, and knock their socks off at the party. Just make sure to take pictures so I can see what costume you chose.."

    "I don't even know what I'm gonna wear," Jessie stated, scribbling herself a note on the post it pad clipped onto the refrigerator door. 'Get costume,' she wrote, drawing a big star next to it.

    "I know just the costume I'd choose for you," Zach teased, his voice getting sultry.

    "Oh?" Jess giggled, "and what would that be?"

    "I see that hot bod poured into a skin tight leather catsuit.. you know like Cat Woman.."

    "Yeah right," Jess laughed.

    "You'd look so hot Jess, but you'd have to beat those bar flies off with a stick, and that bod's mine.."

    "Yeah, it is," Jessie smiled, twirling her hair around her finger.

    "Promise me you'll have a good time, and that you'll bundle up all that sexy energy til I get back.."

    "It's a deal.."

    "Okay, Jess, I gotta run and get some paperwork for a lunch meeting in an hour. If I don't get to talk to you today, I'll give you a call tomorrow, okay? I love you.."

    "I love you too, Zach."


   camaro1.jpg (99093 bytes)Nick pressed his sunglasses closer to his face, trying in vain to block the sun out of his eyes. Never one to be up before noon, he had made a special exception today, taking Lynn up on her offer to meet at her hotel. Pulling up to the posh hotel in his old black Camaro, he grunted, handing his keys to the disapproving valet.

    "Scratch it and you're dead," he warned, strutting proud as day into the lobby.

    Lynn it seemed, was rip for the picking, enthusiastically informing him on the phone earlier that she was alone since her daughter was at preschool. With the little girl out of the way, he could give Lynn the attention he knew she craved, without interruption. For underneath the tough facade she showed the world, Nick knew there lay the heart of a woman hungry for passion and excitement.

    They were two of a kind, she rich, he from a less fortunate upbringing. His childhood on the streets of Philadelphia had taught him better than any fancy school - you took what you wanted, for no one would be handing you anything. Nick's plan would bring him the much needed start up money he needed to get himself a decent place, a new car, and maybe a few more doors open in the process, leading to his next con. Lynn would get her path cleared to Mitch, and, he figured, to the bigger fish of Zachary Blair.

    Both would get their own form of payback on Jess, the poor unsuspecting common denominator, that would be the key to prizes both Nick and Lynn desired - money. Nick looked around him in the lavishly decorated hallway, as he exited the elevator. Play your cards right, Nicky, and maybe someday this life will be yours. Knocking firmly on the door, he waited, leaning arrogantly against the door frame for Lynn to answer.

    "Hello there handsome," Lynn said, clutching the edge of the door with both hands as she eyed Nick. One bare leg peeked out from behind the door, her blonde hair hanging seductively across her left eye. "Come on in," she smiled, pulling the door open just enough for Nick to slip through.

    "What's with the cloak and dagger routine?" Nick asked, crossing the threshold, hearing the door click behind him. "You ashamed to be seen with me or something?"

    "Me, ashamed? Never.."

    Nick tossed his sunglasses on the chair by the door, and turned to face Lynn. She leaned back, palms pressed against the door, head cocked seductively to the side, as she gazed at him. Dressed in silk robe, that was open almost to her waist. If it weren't for the loosely tied sash, Nick was sure the robe would fall off her.

    "Good," he answered, feeling his blood begin to stir again. "We're gonna be spending enough time together over the next few days," stated Nick, pulling Lynn roughly to him, "we won't have time for any of that.."

    "Any time for what?" Lynn giggled, as she rolled over onto the bed, tugging at Nick's T-shirt.

    Nick was straddling Lynn's body, one hand planted on either side of her shoulders. The robe had come loose when Lynn had rolled over onto the bed, exposing her naked breasts. "Being ashamed you tease," Nick moaned, feeling Lynn grabbing at his crotch. "We'll be way too busy for any crap," Nick continued, yanking at the sash at Lynn's waist.

    "Busy as a beaver," Lynn purred, feeling Nick cup her breast in his hand, and lean down to suckle on it.

    Nick grinned wickedly. He'd never be a true part of Lynn's world, but his cunning and hunger for money would serve him well as they always had. How many little rich girls had he mesmerized with his bad boy image and rough good looks? Being a drummer was only icing on the cake. Nick had been parting thighs, and rich daddies from their money since he was fourteen.. Having Lynn as his partner in crime would be a pleasure. Just the mention of Jessie's name made her see red. They would make quite a team, in bed and out..

    "I'll get to that," he said, pulling away, "but first we have to talk about Friday.."

    Lynn pouted momentarily, resting her chin on her hand. But her mood soon changed when he saw Nick's eyes light up. "Ooh, what's Friday?" she said, drawing little circles on his chest with her fingernail.

    "Halloween for one," Nick replied, "but it gets better.. didn't you hear Mitch's announcement last night?"

    "Nope, I'm afraid not," Lynn grinned, undoing Nick's jeans, "I must have been otherwise occupied.."

    "Well put your libido in neutral for a sec, babe, you're gonna like this," he said, playfully, pushing her hands away.

    "I KNOW I like this," Lynn answered. In one smooth movement, she was on top of Nick, her robe discarded on the carpet. She yanked and tugged til Nick's jeans were around his ankles.

    It was hard, but Nick somehow managed to keep his mind on the topic at hand. "Listen up, okay?" Nick said, grabbing Lynn's wrists roughly. "This is big news.." He could see Lynn's chest heaving with desire. Lynn nodded, flipping her hair out of her face, as she looked down at him. "Mitch is throwing a costume party at the bar Friday night.."

    "THAT'S the big news?" Lynn asked, hands on her hips.

    "You don't get it do you?" Nick answered, getting annoyed. "We spring our little plan during the party. I had a buddy of mine get me some rufies. Friday night, when everyone is wrapped up in the craziness of Halloween, I'll slip some of them into her drink."

    Lynn settled down on Nick's chest, smiling in delight. "Not bad.. not bad at all. The Miss Goody Two Shoes Jessie is headed for a fall from grace. Wait til her fiancé sees those pictures," Lynn laughed, pounding on Nick's chest with her fists in delight.

    "I'm glad you like my plan," Nick laughed, running his fingers through Lynn's hair.

    Never before had he come across a woman that was so similar to himself, so conniving, and ruthless in the attainment of her goals. He had come to her hotel room fancying himself the world class con, and yet.. Feeling Lynn's body squirm on top of his, in sheer, unadulterated glee over the fall of their mutual nemesis, Jessica Reynolds, told him otherwise. Lynn was as driven as he was.

    "I was thinking of video taping our little encounter, but, now that I think about it, I think still photographs would be much better." Nick shifted his position under Lynn, as his arousal began to grow.

    "Definitely," she agreed, leaning down to give Nick a playful kiss on the lips. "We'll have the negatives.. who knows.. maybe we can blow up some of the juicier shots and slip them under the seat of her car.."

    "You got a camera, right?"

    "Sure do.. one of those new fancy ones with the built in flash and kick ass zooms.. we won't even need lighting.. don't worry your gorgeous little.. err.. head about it," Lynn purred, wrapping her legs around Nick's waist, and guiding him inside her. "I got it covered.."

    Nick was gone, swept away in thoughts of how sweet their revenge would be. Poor Jessie would get a taste of what it felt like to be on the receiving end of being used. Lynn rode him, grinding her hips, her hair swinging about her shoulders, as she moaned her delight. Closing his eyes, Nick imagined how he would take Jessie, of how pleasurable it would be to make the photographs look as authentic as possible, having his way with that body of hers. He grabbed Lynn tightly, massaging his way down her back to grip her ass. Yes, this would be his best con yet..

    "Ooh baby," he groaned, feeling Lynn's body responding to his touch, "we'll have the time of our lives.."

    Lynn took Nick's face in her hands, intent on devouring the devil in him, feeding off the excitement of their mutual goal. She began her assault on his lips, plunging her tongue into his mouth stifling his moans, as she tilted her pelvis, taking him deep inside her, bearing down hungrily. Socially, Nick was a commoner, with no money or culture to speak of. And yet, when it came to desire, Nick had a boundless supply. Even now, as she straddled him, milking his cock for all she was worth, Lynn felt more alive than she had ever felt, knowing that for the moment she was the possessor of all his sexual power.

    "Yes," she moaned into his ear, "give me that cock.."

    Nick's own passion was mounting, as he felt Lynn bite him on the ear. "Kinky whore.." he laughed, the unexpected pain kicking his adrenaline into high gear. He reached up, grabbing for Lynn’s hair, aggressively yanking her hair back. "All you rich bitches are alike," he said, pinching her nipples hard between his fingers. "You like to get fucked - on three hundred thread count sheets of course.."

    "I get what I want," Lynn grinned, throwing Nick back onto his back roughly, establishing her domination of him. Pressing down, she dug her nails into Nick’s shoulders, bearing down on him - hard - all those hours doing pelvic tilts and crunches at the gym paying off. "Ripe for the taking.." she moaned, feeling him buck beneath her, "just how I like it.."

    But it was Jessie’s voice in his head that Nick was responding to, the fantasy of screwing Jess into submission causing his sac to tighten. "Jessssss.." he hissed.

   "Hey gang," Jessie said, stumbling into the bar with her arms full of stuff.

    "Hey Sugar," Angel waved, "good to see ya." Angel smiled, as he watched Jess set her bundles down on the bar. He couldn't help but notice the look of joy on his friend's face. Maybe Jessie's face marked a change in the tide, a change for the better, for all of them. "I thought I'd never see you again after the other night," Angel teased, pulling Jessie into his arms for a warm hug. Gratitude took over, and he found himself lifting her off the ground, her peels of laughter echoing in his ears.

    "You can't get rid of me that easily," Jess laughed, "especially when I have such good news.."

    Mitch was coming out of the stock room when he caught sight of Angel holding Jessie like a weightless rag doll, both friends laughing in delight. "Hey! Don't manhandle the customers," he chuckled, putting away the bottles he was carrying behind the bar. Mitch shook his head. What a boob, he thought, realizing how silly he must have sounded. Anything to take his mind off what he was really trying to deny. Even now, dressed in faded Jean overalls, Jess could take his breath away..

    "Hi Mitch," Jess beamed, "just in time for the good news.."

    "There can never be enough of that," Mitch said. "Well? Don't keep us in suspense.."

Diskettes1.gif (2079 bytes) Angel set Jess down on the bartop, and she reached for the ledger, and the rubber banded pile of computer disks. "It took us a while, but we did it," Jessie beamed, "three coladas and some Samsonite luggage under my eyes later, but these books," she said, handing them to Angel, "are as patched up as their gonna be. Just load up the files on these disks into the computer, and keep the entries on the up and up from here on in, and you should be fine.."

    "You're an angel!" Angel said, amazed. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

    Jess looked at Mitch, and Mitch looked at Jess at the exact same moment. "No," they giggled in unison, "YOU'RE Angel!"

    "You brats.. you know what I mean.."

    "I know," Jess said, settling down. "You're welcome."

    "NO," Mitch cackled, "he's ANGEL!"

    Jessie balled up a napkin and tossed it at Mitch. "GOOFBALL!" she laughed. "Besides, without Joe, none of this would have been possible.."

    "Make sure to bring him over Jess," Angel nodded, "as far as I'm concerned, Joe is a VIP in this bar. Mitch, make sure to tell everybody, anything the man drinks or eats when he comes in here is on the house."

garment1.jpg (3430 bytes)"You got it," stated Mitch. Tossing the balled up napkin in the garbage, he noticed the wardrobe bag laying across the bar. "Ooh.. what's this?"

    Jess leaned over and smacked his hand away. "Nuh uh!" she scolded, "that's a surprise.."

    "Surprise? I love surprises.." Mitch teased, sneaking his hand towards the bag to take a tug at the zipper.

    "Angeeeeeeel," Jessie whined, pulling the bag roughly off the bar, "tell him to quit it. This is my costume for the party tomorrow, and I don't want anyone seeing it til then.."

    "Play nice," Angel chuckled, taking the garment bag, "I'll hide this away upstairs."

    "You're no fun," Mitch pouted.

    Jessie stuck her tongue out at Mitch. "You big baby. Here," she said, pushing an overstuffed shopping bag at Mitch, "I still have some surprises up my sleeve. Help me with this.."

    Mitch's jaw dropped open, as he started to pull out the contents of the bag, laying them on the bartop. "Jess.. what in the world have you done?"

    "Just call it my contribution to makin' tomorrow fun," she smiled. "I know we're cutting it close, but I just wanted the place to look nice.."

spiderweb2.gif (2025 bytes) Jessie had gone all out, grabbing every possible decoration she could find at the costume shop. Spider webs, lights, orange and black streamers, cardboard cut outs for the walls.. it went on and on..

    "You're nuts, you know that?" Mitch said, still stunned at just how much Jessie was doing to help them out.

    "I know.. I'm even nuttier to have forgotten the pumpkins. We definitely have to get some of those to set the mood tomorrow night. That is if there's any left this late.."

    "Why don't we do this. I need to go get Kelly from preschool anyway. Come with me and we'll go check out Publix for pumpkins."

    "Okay. Sounds like a plan. Do you know if Lynn has gotten Kelly a costume for trick or treating?"

    "Who knows.." Mitch shrugged, sadly, "with Lynn you never know what'll happen next."

pumpkin4.gif (4193 bytes) "Look daddy!" Kelly squealed, wrapping her arms about the most ginormous pumpkin Mitch had ever seen. "Why don't we get this one?"

    "WOW!" Mitch said, crouching down next to his daughter. "That's the best pumpkin ever! Now use that expert eye to find us some smaller ones sweetie," Mitch said, motioning to Jess to bring over the shopping cart. "How in the world am I even gonna lift this thing?" he chuckled.

    "Very carefully," Jessie laughed, rounding the cart to help him. "Okay, on three. One, two, THREE!"

    Even with the two of them lifting it, the huge pumpkin took some maneuvering to get into the cart. "Now THAT'S a pumpkin," Mitch laughed.

    "You realize we're gonna be scooping this out for hours," Jessie giggled.

    "But it'll be worth it.. did you see her face?"

    "Yeah, I did," Jessie smiled. And I saw yours too, Jessie thought. "Okay, let's get a few medium sized one to place around the bar and get our hineys back to the bar and get to work.."

    "Yes ma'am."

    They searched around the perimeter of the parking lot, eyeing the pumpkins, before settling on four and placing them in the already full cart. Looking at Kelly, a thought came into Jessie's mind.

    "Here.. take my phone and call Lynn.. see if she's gotten Kelly a costume yet or not, while I raid the candy aisle for treats.."

    Mitch smiled, watching Jessie disappear into the store, shoving the incredibly heavy cart ahead of her. "Lynn Stevens’ room please.. thanks.." Keeping a watchful eye on Kelly, he waited to be patched through to Lynn.


    "Lynn? Is that you? It's Mitch.."

    Lynn raised her finger to her lips so that Nick would be quiet, taking a few deep breaths to calm her breathing down. "Yes Mitch, it's me.. who else would it be?" she said, annoyed.

    "Well, it doesn't sound like you for some reason.."

    "Uhh.. you're on a cell phone, right? That's probably why. What's up Mitch? Is Kelly okay?"

    "Yeah, we're out buying pumpkins for the party tomorrow.."

    "How middle class of you," Lynn laughed.

    "Yeah, whatever Lynn, put your claws away for a sec so I can ask you something.." Mitch sighed, trying not to let Lynn's flippant attitude rattle him. "Have you gotten Kelly a costume for Halloween?"

    "Oh shit," Lynn cursed, covering the receiver. "Damn, I knew I forgot something.."

    "What's wrong?" Nick yawned, rolling over onto his side.

    "Lynn?" Mitch asked.

    "Well OF COURSE I got Kelly a costume. What kind of mother do you take me for? Geez," she answered, getting overly defensive.

    "Okay, geez, I just wanted to know so if you hadn't me we could go out and get her one now.."

    "Stop trying for Father of the Year, Mitch, I got it covered already," Lynn said, hanging up.

    "Come on," Lynn said, getting out of bed, "we got some shopping to do.."

    "NOW?!" Nick groaned.

    "Yes, now!" Lynn shouted, annoyed that Mitch was threatening to one up her with Kelly. "I need to get Kelly a costume for tomorrow, not to mention one for myself.."

    "I see you in an Elvira get up," Nick chuckled.

    "And I see you in a black eye if you don't get your butt moving.."

   Sally grumbled as she scooped the millionth spoonful of seeds and pulp out of the mug pumpkin. There she goes again, she thought, watching Jessie delegate tasks to the other employees. Little bitch..

    "Let's see what you have in the stock room," she told Mitch, "there has to be decorations left over from last year."

    "Good idea," he smiled. "Sweetie, stay here with Angel, and make sure he does a good job hollowing out that pumpkin.."

    "Okay daddy," Kelly beamed.

    By the time he got back to the storage closet, Jess was already up on the ladder, rummaging through the boxes tucked away on the higher shelves. Plodding away, like a busy worker bee, she hadn't even noticed that her hair was a mess, wisps floating free from the confines of her ponytail, pumpkin guts and spider webbing intermingling on the bib of her overalls, one side hanging unhooked and loose, the strap dangling behind her. She was impervious to it all, including the sniffling she was doing, from all the dust on the boxes.

    "Why don't you let me do that," urged Mitch, hearing her sniffling increasing.

    "Found it!" she called back over her shoulder. "I knew I remembered some candles and bowls and stuff from last year. They're right here.." The box was heavier than she thought, causing her to wobble off balance for a moment.

ladder.gif (4015 bytes) "Jess.. you're making me nervous. Get down from there," Mitch said, bracing the ladder against his chest to stabilize it, holding onto Jessie's calves to hold her steady.

    "Nag, nag, nag, you sound like my mother.." Jessie laughed, handing the box down to Mitch. "There, see? The box is down.. no problem. Lemme just see if there's anything else in this box," she said, reaching for a box in the far corner.

    Mitch could barely bring himself to watch, setting the box down just outside the closet door, and out of the way. Moving back to the ladder and Jess, he shook his head, watching Jessie contort herself to be able to reach the box. "Never knew you were part monkey," he teased.

    "There’s lotsa things about me you don’t know," Jess giggled, leaning way forward, and grasping at the open flap of the box. "Almost got it," she said, getting her fingertips onto the box. She tipped the box over, just enough to look inside. "Nope.. this looks like Christmas stuff," she added, letting the box drop back into place on the shelf. An unexpected puff of dust puffed up and into her face. "Eek.."


    "I'm fine.. just a little dust," she giggled, sniffling some more, as she started to step down onto the lower step of the ladder. But as she giggled, she inhaled some of the musty dust, and started to sneeze. "Achoo!"

    "Wo! Jess.. careful.. JESS!"

    Her sneeze had knocked her off balance, sending her tilting over. With only her right foot firmly planted on the prong of the ladder, she started to fall. "Mitch..!"

    Mitch repositioned himself so that he was just under Jessie, as she started to fall, dropping right into his waiting arms. "Told you you're no monkey. You ARE nuts, you know that?"

    It took a few seconds for Jessie to adjust to her new position in Mitch's arms. "Well, if there wasn't so much dust up there, I wouldn't have lost my balance," she whined, looking up into Mitch's face, only inches from her own. She rubbed her eyes, pushing a stray strand of hair out of her face, brushing Mitch's cheek with her hand..

    Mitch could feel Jessie’s warm breath, smell the scent of candy corn she had grabbed from the candy laden cauldron. "Sweet," Mitch said quickly, pressing a spontaneous kiss on Jessie’s lips. "You’re a sweetheart to help us this way.."

    "No need to get all mushy," she smiled, "I’m glad to do it. Besides.. what better way to have access to free candy?" she grinned.

    Just then, Betty called back into the stockroom. "Mitch! Phone!"

    Setting Jess on her feet, Mitch raised his hand. "Wait right here.. don’t do any more climbing just yet. I’ll be right back."

    Grabbing the nearest phone in the employee lounge, Mitch hit the hold button, stopping its rhythmic blinkity blink. "Mitch here. Can I help you?"

    "I think in this case it’s the other way around.."

    "Krys.. hey.. how are ya?"

    "I’m great, but I bet you and Kelly will be even greater. Her little surprise is here.."

    "Awesome!" Mitch beamed. "Lemme tie up some loose ends over here, and we’ll be right over."

    "Okay.. see ya in a few.. bye."

    Jessie smiled, glad that Mitch was back to acting normal around her. What a relief she thought. That last few days had been a whirlwind, and yet things had worked, and wonderfully at that. Zach had proposed to her, Mitch had found someone new to get his mind off everything, and she and Mitch were friends again. Things were definitely back to normal between them, Jessie thought, happy that they could laugh and joke again. Her mind was on Zach, and Mitch was now wrapped up in Krystal.

    Kelly looked like a little doll, kneeling on the chair dressed in an adorable blue dress, watching Sally draw the face on the pumpkin. "Okay sweetie, what type of eyes do you want on the pumpkin?" Sally asked.

    "Big," she said, opening her arms out wide, "and round," she laughed.

    "Okay," Sally said, smiling, as she drew the eyes on the pumpkin with the large black marker.

    Ignoring Sally, Jessie leaned down to Kelly. "Having fun, hun'?"

    "Uh huh!" Kelly answered, nodding enthusiastically.

    Mitch could hardly contain his excitement as he walked up to Kelly. "Okay sweetie, go get Dolly. All three of us are goin’ on a little adventure."

    "Ooh, someone sounds like he has a surprise planned," Jessie smiled, seeing the happy look on both Mitch and Kelly's face.

    "A big surprise, and just for Kelly," Mitch said, "at Krystal's ranch.."

    "But what about all this work?" Sally sighed.

    "Consider it overtime," answered Mitch, as he shifted Kelly onto his hip, "maybe even double."

    "Guess that'll cover dealing with all this pumpkin guts," Sally said, as she continued to carve the pumpkin.

    "And me?" Jessie asked.

    Mitch thought about it for a second, then shrugged his shoulders coyly at Jess. "The satisfaction of helping a friend in need?" he laughed.

    "Thanks.." Jessie said, looking back towards the storeroom, where she knew a closet full of decorations lay waiting.

    "Do whatever you want Jessie," Mitch said, "we still have time to finish up. No need to go nuts."

    "Come on Daddy, let's go.. I wanna get my surprise.."

    Mitch knew that there was still quite a lot of work to be done, but, one look at his little girl's face and he knew he had more important things to do. "Thanks guys," he beamed, smooching Kelly on the cheek. We're off on my daughter's adventure.."

    Great, Sally thought, watching Mitch leave, and I'm left with the slut..

* * * * *

Copyright © 1998 Susana Audrain and Richard Tingle All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this novel or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law.


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