Castle Roland

The Concord

by Sequoyah


Chapter 7

Published: 8 Apr 14

ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Seven--Michael

"You said 'Yes', Mary Kathryn!"

"Of course I said yes, Michael. Did you ever think I would say anything other than yes?"

"Well, I'll admit I was scared shitless there for a minute. To tell the truth, Mary Kathryn, I was really afraid you'd say no or say it was too far in the future to answer right now."

"But I said yes, Michael, and I meant it. Does it mean I can't change it later? No, it doesn't. Even if we get married while we're in college, that's three, four years from now and much could change. Look at Jacob and Paula. Who'd have thought their romance was just a flash in the pan? I would have sworn theirs was a love that would last forever and it's over in less than six months. So now my answer is yes and I mean it with all my heart."

"Man, Mary Kathryn, you sure know how to spoil a romantic moment."

"Yea, I guess I do. But I'm my father's daughter in a lot of ways, Michael, far more than Luke. I'm pretty much a realist--you know, debits on one side and credits on the other."

"Mary Kathryn, you not only spoil a romantic moment, you stomp the living shit out of it." I half-turned away from her.

"I'm sorry, Michael, I sometimes wish I could live in a fairytale world, but I can't. I'm just too damn practical, sometimes, for my own good." She reached out, placed her hands on my shoulders and turned me to face her. "Now are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who has a bookkeeper's mind?"

"Well, I thought I did."

Mary Kathryn laughed and said, "Would it help if she were a passionate bookkeeper?"

"That would depend on whether she was passionate about me or bookkeeping." As if in answer, Mary Kathryn caught me off guard again and, the first thing I knew, I was flat on my back with her sitting on my stomach. She laughed as she sank her hands in my hair and pulled my head off the blanket, bent forward and gave me a hot, hot kiss.

She then rolled off my body and, laying beside me once again, pulled my lips to hers. Her tongue started exploring my mouth and doing battle with mine. Her kiss went on and on. She started breathing through my mouth and it was really hot. When Mary Kathryn finally broke our kiss, I raised up on one elbow and looked into the eyes which opened into the soul of my world, my Mary Kathryn.

She reached up and started rubbing my chest, then with a finger started tracing the scar which stood out, whiter than even my fair skin. She was not looking at me as she drew her finger along the white line, but I could see her face and it was clear she was reliving moments I couldn't remember. Finally, still tracing the scar and without looking up, she said, "Michael, I was so afraid I was going to lose you and I just realized that I was playing with you when I said my answer might change. That day when they told me you might not live, I felt my whole world, my whole being, hung in the same balance as your life did. Had you died, Michael, I think I would have died too." Looking down at her face, I saw a tear running down her cheek.

"But I didn't die, Mary Kathryn. I didn't die and I am very much alive!" I said as I kissed her tears away.

Mary Kathryn's finger left the scar and started drawing circles around a nipple as she looked up at me, smiled, then pulled my lips to hers for a kiss than went on and on, getting hotter by the minute--and so was I. She gradually wormed herself under me and crushed her lips against mine. We had had some very hot make-out sessions, and I couldn't count the times that she had brought me to a climax, but it was never like this, never as passionate. I was streaming precum and as hot as I had ever been in my life. She was lying back on the blanket when I covered a breast and its hard nipple with my mouth. I kept flicking the nipple with my tongue as I gently sucked her breast. Mary Kathryn's hands were clutching my back, her nails digging in. It was not painful but very arousing--as if I needed arousing!

Finally, Mary Kathryn grasped my hard tool and guided it into herself. I was so hot and aroused that I wasn't doing a whole lot of thinking. I had always heard that teenaged males had their brains in their crotch and now I knew why! But Dad had pounded in my head the necessity of being gentle, especially the first time. It was a good thing because I was trembling, I was so hot and aroused. I moved my hips forward, entering Mary Kathryn slowly and, I hoped, gently. God, if I had known what being united with my woman would be like, I would never have held off as long as I did! She had given me pleasure, fantastic pleasure, before, but absolutely nothing compared with the feeling of just being inside her!

When I was all the way in, Mary Kathryn pulled me to herself and held me tightly against her body. I didn't move for the longest time, for fear that I would just lose it and it would all be over. Finally I started slowly moving in and out, in easy, gentle strokes. As I did, she sank her teeth in my shoulder and her nails buried themselves in my back. I knew that I was doomed to go over the edge long before I wanted to, so I moved very little. But as I moved in and out, Mary Kathryn started raising her hips to meet each thrust, giving me pleasure I had never known before. Then, as I thrust into her as deeply as possible, her breathing changed, coming in rapid pants and her body melted into mine as she slammed her hips against me. I stopped moving, then started moving in and out again, slowly, trying to keep control and not go over. A second time Mary Kathryn's breathing changed and she slammed her body against mine. That did it! I became rigid, my back arched and I exploded inside her. As my seed entered her body she had a third climax, then we both went limp. Resting on my elbows to keep my weight off of her, I kissed her and then laid my head over her rapidly beating heart.

In a very short time, I was completely limp and slipped out of my wild woman. We lay side-by-side, both silent for a long time, then she raised up, looked into my eyes and said, "Michael, we said our first time would be special and in this special place. And, Michael, it was, it is," and she kissed me with the softest, gentlest kiss she had ever given me.

"Future Mrs. Andrews, you have made me a doubly happy man. And, Mary Kathryn Larsen, if you ever think about changing your mind, remember you have a man who worships you."

"Same to you, Mr. Andrews, you have a woman who worships you." We lay in each other's arms as I enjoyed the fragrance of my wild woman and of our love-making. The sounds of the falls and the birds confirmed this special place and our first time making love without boundaries. We were silent, listening to the world around us--a world that was the same, yet very different from what it had been when I crossed the canes behind us.

We had another swim--the day was ending and it was getting chilly, so it was a short one. As we dried each other, Mary Kathryn once again pulled me to herself and started running a finger over my chest, circling one nipple, then the other. I didn't know why that was such a turn on for her or, for that matter, why it was for me, but it definitely was. We were standing, holding each other tight, when Mary Kathryn blew in my ear and then started nipping at its lobe. Her hands were now on my back, her nails causing shivers as they ran up and down my spine. I scooped her into my arms and carried her to the blanket. As I walked, she started flicking a nipple with her tongue and I was getting pretty hot again.

When we reached the blanket I knelt, with her still in my arms, then gently laid her down and covered her body with mine. She looked up at me and said, "Michael Andrews, do you know you put the Greek gods to shame? You are beautiful Michael--handsome, beautiful and mine, all mine." When she finished speaking, she wrapped her arms around me and pulled my body to hers as she buried her hands in my hair and pressed her lips to mine. Our kisses started out very gentle and there was a lot of looking into each other's eyes and smiling without words being spoken. Soon I realized I was getting very hard and hot again as our kisses became more passionate. As I felt my hardness pressing against Mary Kathryn, our kissing continued growing more and more intense. I knew I was again streaming precum and felt Mary Kathryn's wetness. I looked deeply into her eyes and smiled. She kissed me, her tongue sweeping around inside my mouth. I felt her hand as she once again guided me into herself. I had a feeling I had felt only once before and could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined.

My having had a magnificent, blinding climax only a short time before, and now not as consumed by lust, our love-making was slower, easier and downright playful. This time, Mary Kathryn and I nipped each other's ears and nipples. There was a lot of smiling as I moved in and out of my wild woman, the very reason for my living. Even at that, Mary Kathryn had several orgasms and--as before--after a much, much longer time than the first, my body became rigid and my back arched as my climax set off blinding stars and rainbows in my head. Another thing was different from our first time: this time I was sweating profusely from making love to my wild woman, even though the air was definitely cooler. I collapsed on top of Mary Kathryn, being careful to keep my full weight from her.

After we had rested in each other's arms, Mary Kathryn said, "Michael, I think we best take a quick dip in the river before we get dressed."

I got up, extended my hand and pulled my beautiful woman to her feet and we ran and dived into the basin. The water was definitely cold--cold enough to take our breath when we dived in. We only swam for a short time, got out and started drying each other. As she dried me, Mary Kathryn said, "You better keep your shirt on or everyone will know you've been having sex with a wild woman".

"Maybe I want to announce it."

"You do and you're dead, because gentlemen and dead men do not kiss and tell!" she laughed and kissed me, ending the kiss by biting my lip.

We got dressed and walked across the meadow to the Larsens', holding hands, stopping often for kisses, some long and passionate, others short but sweet.

As we drew near the house, Mary Kathryn stepped in front of me, took both my hands and said, "Michael, It was very special for you too, wasn't it?"

I looked at her as if she had lost her mind. "Mary Kathryn, how could you even ask that? Wild Woman, it was beyond special. It was absolute heaven. And you know what?" I stood, looking into her eyes, and started singing! I started singing!!! "More than the greatest love..." As I continued, Mary Kathryn joined me and we stood in the meadow, just yards from her house, and sang to each other. "Damn," I thought, "this is like that frigging 'Sound of Music' with this singing in the meadow bit." When we finished our song, the Family's song, we embraced and enjoyed a very playful kiss.

Breaking the kiss, Mary Kathryn said, "You know what, Mr. Andrews?"

"No. What, Mrs. Andrews-to-be?"

"Our parents are going to have to be blind not to realize something is different and why."

"Think they would buy that I had proposed to you and that's what it's all about?"

"If you could downgrade that grin on your face, they just might."

We went inside and found Jens and Gabrielle in the kitchen preparing dinner. Gabrielle seemed distracted as she walked over, kissed both of us on the cheek and said, "Michael, your dad called and asked if you could have dinner with us tonight. He took your mom to the hospital earlier. SHE thought everything was ok, but she was having some labor pains. SHE was sure it was Braxton hicks--false labor--but HE said maybe so, maybe not, but HE was not taking no for an answer when HE decided they should go to the hospital. Nothing to worry about, I am positive. Men are like that. They panic easily when babies are involved. Margaret's a doctor, but nurse David decided they would go to the hospital and Margaret went along with him. I am sure they will be back in time for dinner which will be ready in half an hour or so. Did you have a nice time at the falls? I would have thought it was too cold for swimming."

"We had a great time, Mom. I guess we're just two hot-blooded teenagers. The water was chilly, but very refreshing. Michael and I have school work we need to get on tonight so we won't have too much to do tomorrow after the picnic. Give a call when dinner's ready. We'll be in my room."

Believe it or not, we actually got out our books and stuff, but I couldn't concentrate. I know Gabrielle had said Mom was ok, but they had told me that when Mom Elizabeth got sick. Besides, it was a month or less before the twins were due and I had seen how tired Mom had been lately. I sat, staring into space, my mind racing a mile a minute, conjuring up all sorts of scenarios--none good. I didn't realize I had tears running down my face until Mary Kathryn started gently wiping them away. "Mary Kathryn, I have lost one mom and I don't think I can take losing another one."

Mary Kathryn wiped the tears from my eyes, then drew my head to her breast. She held me, stroking my hair as she said, "Michael, Michael, Baby, your dad is just as on edge as you are, more so if that's possible. He's very concerned about Margaret and the children she bears. He is going to make sure they take no chances."

She still held me close as I nodded. I knew she was right. I hoped she was right. I wasn't being logical, rational. But my second mom had gone to the hospital and that touched emotions and anxieties I had thought were long past. Gradually I became calm and when I did, Mary Kathryn whispered, "Michael, you know one reason I love you is because, in spite of how you usually appear, you care. You care so deeply. My loving man, you will feel a lot of pain because of that, but I will love you only the more." She then lifted my face, looked into my eyes, and gave me an angel kiss.

Of course we had gotten no work done when Gabrielle called us to supper. As we walked down the stairs, Mom and Dad walked through the front door. As soon as I saw Mom I lost it again. I ran, put my arms around her and started bawling like a baby. "Michael, what in the world is wrong? What has happened?" She was holding me close and I couldn't speak for crying.

Mary Kathryn put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Margaret, when he heard you had gone to the hospital it opened old wounds. He was convinced he was about to lose a second mom."

"Michael, Baby, I am perfectly all right. I told your dad I was but I guess he, too, had similar thoughts so I went to the hospital knowing full well they would think I, a doctor, should have sense enough to know the difference between labor and Braxton hicks. Anyway, I am perfectly all right but if you two men are going to be so upset, I guess Monday will be my last day at the office until after the girls arrive. It's ok, Michael. It's ok."

I had finally stopped crying again and, when I looked up, Margaret said, "It's really foolish of you two to be so concerned but, I'll admit, I appreciate knowing you care so much. So how was the afternoon at the falls? Seemed a bit cool to me." When Mom asked, I felt my face growing red and hot. I was blushing! "That good, was it?" she smiled.

I gave her a sheepish grin in return and replied, "We had a wonderful time, Mom. Perfect afternoon."

She hugged me to herself and with her lips at my ear whispered, "I thought you must". I felt myself blushing again.

ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Seven--Christopher

Once I got home from the hospital, I had nothing to do--not that I could have done much, I was so weak. Later I did do my school assignments that Michael and Mary Kathryn brought. When I found something I couldn't do, they helped me. Fortunately, the one thing that came naturally to me was reading. I missed out on a lot of things I should have learned in the past, but reading was not one of them. I mostly read to get away from the life I had with my old lady. Usually not high-class stuff, but reading is reading and I had no problem with stuff that required reading and answering questions. Math was something else and so was the chemistry class I was taking.

I guess Demetri wondered what had happened to me. I managed to get home before I completely lost it. I grabbed him around the neck and it seemed I couldn't stop crying. I think I had several years of tears which should have been shed but hadn't, and now, knowing I was safe in Demetri's embrace, they all poured out. Demetri kept patting me on the back like he was burping a baby--and I guess he was! When I finally was able to stop I said, "Granddad, I am so sorry I have been such an asshole. I really don't know how to behave when people treat me nice. I am so sorry."

"Christopher, you have been an asshole and that's the truth. I should have turned you in ages ago but I thought, somewhere, down inside, you must have some good in you. Son, you have had a rotten life. No-one should be allowed to bring a child into the world and treat him as Diana treated you. I, long ago, gave up trying to figure out why she turned out so bad. I have had to forgive myself for anything I did to make her the rotten person and mother she is. But, Christopher, you have a new start and I know that what you do with it will make us both proud. Something else, Christopher: for anything I have done to hurt you I am sorry, and I certainly forgive you anything you have done to me." That did it. I started blubbering all over, and Granddad started patting my back again.

This time when I had stopped, Granddad said, "Good to get that out of your system. Now you have a new start, Christopher, so let's have a bit of a celebration." Granddad made metrios--sweet Greek coffee--and brought out a plate of kolouria--Greek cookies. I loved them so much he practically had to hide 'em when he baked, to keep me from eating them as fast as they came out of the oven. We sat at the kitchen table, drinking our coffee and eating cookies. "Granddad, why do you think my old lady turned out so rotten?"

"Christopher, as I said, I long ago stopped trying to figure that out. Nevertheless, I have asked myself that question a hundred thousand times. She was always a handful, but no more so than any really active child. Then, when she turned thirteen, your grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She really went wild. I guess I neglected her. I was so busy keeping the place open and caring for your grandmother. She decided she was in love with a senior and nothing we could do could keep her from meeting him. She managed to get out of the house one way or another. Of course, after a few months, he got tired of having a teenybopper for a girlfriend and dropped her for a senior. Then she really went wild, taking up with any guy who would have her. Finally your grandmother and I were at a loss as to what to do, and talked with a social worker who suggested we put her in a residential treatment program. She was there for a year, the year your grandmother died, and seemed to be doing great."

"She came back and the next couple years she stayed in school, dated and did the things her classmates did. Then, the summer before her senior year, she ran away with a man twice her age. Occasionally I got a postcard telling me she was ok and not to try to find her. Two years later, she showed up on my doorstep, pregnant with you, rundown, a real wreck. I took care of her, saw that she had medical care and ate what she should. I couldn't get her to stop smoking but she did cut down and, so far as I know, she drank no alcohol while she was carrying you."

"You were born and she was gone again, leaving you with me when you were three months old. I heard from her occasionally for the next three or four years. I guess you don't remember living with me then, do you?"

"No, I really don't. The first time I remember being with you was one summer when the old lady got sick and shipped me here for you to take care of. I was glad when I came because she was a regular hooker and doing a lot of drugs. Anytime something didn't go to suit her, I caught it. I was twelve then, I think. She came back after she got well, hung around for a couple months then took off. I stayed for... I'm not sure how long. Do you remember?"

"Yes, I do. You were with me for six months. One day she showed up, screamed at me for spoiling you, took you and left. I heard little from her until she called and said she was sending you to live here last spring."

"Yea, I tried everything to get out from under her. I skipped school, drank, smoked dope, stole--everything I could think of. I stayed in trouble but she didn't care so long as I caused her no trouble and, since she ignored anything I did, I was no trouble to her. Granddad, I hate that woman and what she did to me--and you--and what she let others do to me."

"What do you mean, Christopher?"

That did it. Again I dissolved into tears. "Granddad, the reason she sent me to you was because one of her customers moved in with us and raped me. Then, after raping me--I don't know the polite way to say this--he fucked my ass whenever he wanted to. Then he stole from the old lady and she kicked him out. But it wasn't long before she had another man living with her--her pimp, were the truth known--and I heard him telling her that I could command a good price and she agreed to put me on the street. She laughed and said 'The little fucker can pay his way with his ass'. I took a knife from the kitchen and put it in my jacket sleeve. He asked if I would like to go out for a burger and fries. I knew what he was up to, so when he got me to the red light district and told me not to expect to have a place to stay unless I sold my ass, yes, I definitely knew what was up. 'You're young, you're good looking, so don't sell your ass cheap. Twenty-five dollars for a blow job, fifty for a fuck and two hundred fifty for an all-night--that's what I get. Any above that, you can keep. Now get out and hustle.' When he opened the door and started to shove me out, I used the knife on him. Didn't do a lot of damage--well he had to have fifty or sixty stitches I heard."

"Anyway, when I was picked up and arrested, the judge knew about my old lady and when I told him why I had done what I did, he asked if there was any place I could be safe and I said here. I was angry that he put me on probation and, when I got here, I hooked up with a bunch of assholes--still, I guess, thinking I was punishing my old lady. Foolish, huh? She didn't and doesn't give a shit."

Granddad was silent for a long time and then he said, "Christopher, you have a new start. You have to put all that behind you and move on with your new life."

"Granddad, that's a lot easier said than done--leaving the past behind I mean. Dan has said he knows where I have been and that he and Buddy are still seeing a counselor, working through all that shit. I made an appointment to see one Tuesday."

"Good, Christopher, I stand behind you. I'm ready to do anything I can. If you need to see a counselor, I'll see that there's money for that."

"Granddad, I found out it will cost me very little because of my situation. I want to earn that. I owe you a lot too. I mean the money I stole from you."

"Well... I started to say, 'Never mind', but I think you'll feel better if you do repay some of what you took. So you can work for me or get another job. I won't insist you work for me."

"Granddad, I want to work for you."

"Good. We'll work out a schedule so it won't interfere with your school work and you'll need some time for yourself."

"Thanks, Granddad." I hugged him to myself and this time I didn't cry.

Sheriff Putnam came by to see me the day I came home. He told me the four who had attacked me had an arraignment hearing while I was in the hospital. They copped a plea. "Your three buddies turned against their supplier in exchange for boot camp and three years probation. By the way, they are prohibited from being with you and, aside from school, they are not to come within five hundred feet of you. When he saw what the three had done, the supplier, who had been under investigation by the Lexington police already, turned against his supplier for a lighter sentence. Seems the Lexington police cleaned up a pretty good-sized dope ring as a result. Thought you would like to know that. Hope you keep your nose clean from now on."

"You can depend on that, Sheriff, you can depend on that," I replied.

When Michael and Mary Kathryn came each day, they helped me where I was stuck. I really appreciated their help and struggled with how they could help me after what I had done. When they brought my school assignments, after the sherriff had gone, I told them what had happened to those who attacked me. We also talked about school, my turn-around, and what lay ahead.

Friday I tried to call Michael, but he was out with Mary Kathryn. His mom said I should call back later. When I did, I wasn't sure the phone even rang before he picked it up. I asked about the possible celebration we had discussed, and he said they had talked about it and asked if Sunday afternoon at the falls would be ok. I said it would be great.

I called Dan and told him, and asked that he invite Buddy and Gloria. "You can invite someone special too," I said. He laughed and said he thought his someone special would already be there, but refused to say any more. We talked for over an hour then. I'm not sure we said anything really, I just wanted to keep hearing his voice. When I hung up, I had a very strange feeling and wasn't sure what it was.

ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Seven--Michael

Saturday night when we all got home, Dad and I had a real talk with Margaret. We both told her in no uncertain terms that she could go to the office Monday to get things squared away for not returning until well after the girls arrived. She protested that she was fine, but it did her no good. As we sat in the kitchen talking, the phone rang, and when Dad answered it he said, "Great to hear your voice... Yes, she's doing ok... You're right, that just wouldn't be very smart... Yea, he's right here. Michael."

Dad handed me the phone without telling me who was calling. "Michael here," I said.

"Michael, my man. Douglas. How's it hangin' these days?"

I laughed and said, "Only occasionally, Douglas. Usually it's at least at half mast. What's up?"

Douglas told me about a Halloween party in Ohio and I asked, "You mean we all are going?".

"Sure, all except your mom and dad. Think they have other plans. Can you find out who can leave Thursday? If there are some who can, we'll make a stop in Lexington on our way up. We could come by after school."

"Sure. Everyone will probably be at the falls tomorrow afternoon. We're having a little celebration." I then told Douglas about Christopher.

"Invite him and anyone else you'd like to go. I'll call back next week to see how things stand. By the way, the Ohio bunch are doing great. Say, did you know about Jacob and Paula?"

I told him Mary Kathryn said they were no longer an item, but Jacob had said nothing.

"I suspect he will when he has to decide whether or not to go to Ohio, and whether or not the new girlfriend goes."

"Maybe, but she's a part of this year's Fellowship, so maybe not. We'll see."

When I hung up I said, "How do you like that? Invited to a Halloween party in Ohio by Douglas in Florida."

"What do you mean?" Mom asked.

I told them about the party. "Think you could see fit to allow me to miss school Friday through Wednesday?"

"I'm not sure about that Michael," Dad said. "You have missed several days already. Have you caught up?"

"Yea, Mary Kathryn and I are in good shape."

"I think we better talk to the Larsens before we decide. You know I don't like you missing school."

"I know, Dad, but we have been doing well with classes and have worked like dogs getting the peer counseling program and the new student government off the ground. I'll talk to Ms. Jones if you like."

"Good idea, Son. I hope you can go because it will be a great event. Sorry we'll miss it," Dad said.

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and even warmer than Saturday had been. The St. Mary's crew were really up for an afternoon at the falls. At coffee hour, Fr. Tom walked over to where we were and said, "Sounds like a jolly crowd here and I hate to rain on your parade but we've got a bit of a problem. Seems someone has heard that your teen club is open to everyone," he chuckled, "by that they mean blacks. Don't know what they will think when they find out what 'everyone' means. Anyway, they didn't like the idea of an integrated club, according to the scuttlebutt. I don't know who did it, but someone called the fire marshal and the health department, and demanded they do an inspection of our facilities in light of the club's planned opening. Both inspectors told me they were all for the club and hoped that everything was ok but, since there had been a report, they had to do an inspection. Well everything was not ok. Nothing major, but we are going to have to do some work before the basement can be used. Sorry, kids, but it looks like it will take almost a month. To be on the safe side, I think you best plan to open after Thanksgiving. I'm really sorry about the hold-up and while there was nothing really unsafe, rules are rules."

"That does put a damper on things, but we need to be sure everything is as near perfect as possible because I know there will be some problems once we open," Mary Kathryn said. "We'll just have to make a 'postponed' sticker for the signs. By the way, are you coming to the picnic this afternoon?"

"I was invited and would like to have come, especially since it's celebrating Christopher's rebirth. That's right, isn't it, Christopher?"

"Absolutely," he replied.

"But I have a long-standing dinner engagement in Lexington. A seminary classmate became rector of the church there two, three months ago and we have been trying to get together. I was invited to dinner this evening a couple weeks ago. But have a good time for me!"

"We promise," Linda said.

After church, we went home, got the food and everything we needed, and went to the falls. We had barely gotten things there when people started showing up. When everyone was present, I got them all together for an announcement. "Folks, Douglas called last night and he and Janet are hosting a Halloween party at the gang's place in Ohio and you are all invited. I need to know who all will be going and who can be out of school Friday, as well as Monday through Wednesday. If there are enough who can leave Thursday, after school, the plane will pick us up in Lexington on the way up from Florida."

"What plane?" Jacob asked.

"Did I forget to tell you about the plane?" I asked as innocently as I could. "I guess I did. Douglas has a friend whose father is allowing him to use his private jet to pick people up and bring them back. You adults who work will be picked up Saturday morning and brought back Wednesday. Those of us who can miss school Friday school will leave Thursday night. He's determined the airstrip in Lexington can handle the jet. Up to a dozen people per trip."

"I think the Fellowship deserves a break, Michael. Think we need to talk to Jonesy Monday," Bill said.

"On my schedule already," I replied.

Monday, Bill and I made an appointment to see Ms. Jones. After we told her about the party, she said she thought we should go and enjoy ourselves. "I'll see that you get an administrative excuse so you won't be counted absent, so long as you get your assignments in and you can make up any tests you might have. I think you all deserve that. Wish I could go."

"You're invited," Bill said.

"Sorry, can't get away. But enjoy it for me too."

We thanked her and left.

At lunch, Christopher walked over to our table and asked, "Can a reformed outlaw join this bunch?".

"Sure," Keith said. "We're just making up the party plane list. Can you make it Thursday after school?"

"Yea, if I can get help to stay caught up with school. Man, I am so dumb."

"Not dumb, Christopher. You're just under-educated. You need to work your ass off and get up to speed," Jack said. "Anyway, we'll have to get a tutoring schedule to help you out. I'll help with chemistry."

"I'll take math," Bill said. "Where else do you need help?"

"Just those two, actually. Social studies and English are easy because I love to read. Computer science I like, and everyone pretty much starts out on an even basis there. I don't think you can do my PE for me and I definitely need to work on that. I'm a physical disaster area."

"Ok, let's look at this plane thing," Linda said. "Is it a dozen with or without Douglas and Janet? Do you know, Michael?"

"Yea. It's twelve in all, not counting the crew, so we can have ten going."

"Ok, where are we?" Linda asked. "For Thursday evening we have Bill and me, Michael and Mary Kathryn, Jacob and Susan"... I looked at Jacob when Linda coupled them. He looked at Susan and smiled. I needed to do something about this situation. "Jack, Christopher and Keith."

"That's only nine and I talked to Dan, Danny, last night and he said he could get the time off as well. He must be something to be able to do that. I mean he has two jobs and school."

"Glad he can make it," Bill said. "There's our Thursday flight. What about Friday night when we were planning for school kids to go? If we all go up Thursday, the parents could come Friday when Douglas planned on picking us up."

"Ok, there's the Larsens, the Greywolfs, Mr. Stevenson and Uncle Michael--have you heard about all the shit they've been through?" Linda asked.

"Hey, it's not just them," Keith said. "Mr. Stevenson has been accused of sexually abusing me. My dad is fit to be tied."

"Zack told me there was a nice fingerprint on the sign in Uncle Michael's and Mr. Stevenson's yard. He didn't know whether or not it had been identified."

"I hope they catch the bastards!" Keith said, in a tone that was very uncharacteristic of him.

"Where was I?" Linda asked. "Yea, the Larsens, the Greywolfs, Uncle Michael and Mr. Stevenson, Bill's parents and mine, Paula's and Larry's moms. That's a dozen already. Then there's Millie. What do we do about Millie?"

"When I told her about the party yesterday, she said never mind her because she would arrive on her own broomstick," I laughed.

"Ok, gang, we have a problem we need to deal with. Maybe it's none of our business, Jacob, but..."

"I guess it is your business since it seems that any of our business--well, most any of it--is all of our business. I meant to tell you before, but we weren't sure. Paula and I both came to the same conclusion. We were the two left feet in the Fellowship so we got together. Neither of us regret a single minute we spent together. We had a great time and thought we had a great love. But after a few weeks, our letters stopped being love letters and became letters to a friend. Paula is still the best friend--well, the second-best friend--I have, but we both realize we just fell into a relationship and thought we were madly in love. But after we were separated, we both found out we were just good friends, and we still are, but that's it. She has found someone else and, from what she writes about him, he is a great guy. She says they are taking it slow and easy because both want to be sure this time, same as Susan and me."

"I am really glad that you and Paula are still friends. I was afraid that after a while one of you would find someone else and hurt the other one deeply," Linda said. "So you and Susan are..."

"Special friends right now. I don't know where it will end up," Susan said. "And I am dying to get to know Paula. She must be one special person."

"She sure is," Jacob said.

"So," I said, "we're having a PARTY!"

There were high fives all around and we left the cafeteria chanting, "We're having a party".

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