Peeking Tuck
by Ellen Hayes
Chapter 40
Tuck ? .................... Copyright 1999 by Ellen Hayes

.................... No part of this work may be distributed as an original work by another person or group. Any resemblance between the writings in this work, and any actual persons or places, living or dead, are purely coincidental, except when used for satirical purposes.

.................... All rights reserved.

.................... Furthermore,
This work contains adult situations, adult language, adult concepts, and possibly sex. If you are legally not allowed to read materials containing such things, then you will be breaking the law by reading this. I am not responsible. Continuing to read this document, or storing it or reproducing it in any format means that you explicitly affirm that you are legally allowed to possess and read such materials in your city, county/parish, state, and country.

Peeking Tuck

***

02:39 1 Jun

I was sorely tempted to go home with Debbie and claim that I'd forgotten where I lived, but I knew I'd get grounded, and that would suck. It would suck even worse, because when Susan got grounded when she was working, Mom or Dad dropped her off and picked her up. This would cause me a lot more problems then just cutting off my social life.

"Can I come in?" Debbie asked, and of course I said yes.

***

02:44 1 Jun

We were all standing around in the kitchen, talking and drinking stuff that didn't cost us money, when the front door opened. "Hn," Mike commented, "I thought she'd be there longer."

"Well, everything was sort of breaking up when we left," Debbie commented. "After the 'band' left, anyway." It hadn't really been a band; more like a really good DJ with a synthesizer and a couple of computers. This was going to take some planning, but I could come up with equipment as good as he'd had.

Susan came into the kitchen, apparently looking for the same thing we'd been looking for, and stopped when she saw all of us.

"Hey Suze!" Amy commented. Susan looked at her, then looked at me, and her eyes got really big.

"What the hell do you think-" she started to say as she grabbed me. Debbie, however, was a little more possesive than I thought, or more protective, because she popped Susan's hold almost instantly.

The two of them stared at each other for a moment before Debbie commented, "He's mine."

Susan glared back at her, and she was about to start something I knew I was going to regret, so I stepped in front of Susan's face. "Let's be cool here," I said confidently.

"But," she protested, "but, but you, I mean..." She looked around at all of us, and shook her head. "What the hell were you doing tonight?"

"Same thing you were, dancing," Amy said. I had had a feeling she would do something like that.

***

03:02 1 Jun

"He said I looked like Marilyn Manson," I explained.

"You look- Oh!" she said, the lightbulb of clue coming on over her head. "That was YOU?"

I shrugged. "I guess..."

"Somebody said there was a Marilyn Manson clone wandering around all night," she explained.

"Not all night!" I protested.

***

09:28 1 Jun

"Uh huh," I lied into the phone, and Jill hung up. It took me several minutes to realize that, if I wasn't dressed when they got here, they probably wouldn't care, and they would take me out to breakfast anyway. So I staggered out of bed and into the closet to get dressed. At least I'd showered last night before I fell into a coma.

***

10:04 1 Jun

"So you're really going to California?" Kim asked.

"Yep," I nodded. "Deb's making all the arrangements."

"Huh," Jill commented, and when we both looked at her, she explained, "Debbie hates flying so much, I didn't think she'd do it voluntarily."

I shrugged. "Must be the money thing or something."

They both nodded.

***

10:48 1 Jun

My pager buzzed, but this time I knew what it was. When I pulled it out, it said FINALLY GOT UP WHAT R U DOING CALL ME XOXOX DEB.

"You realize," Kim mentioned, "that she's got you on a leash now, and you're never getting loose?"

I shrugged. "There's worse leashes," I grinned at her, and they both started hooting as I got up to call her.

***

10:50 1 Jun

"D and E Personal Services, this is Debbie?"

"Deb!"

"Hi! Whatsup?"

"It's me, Val," I grinned at her over the phone, "want to go do something? We're at the Gay Cafe?"

"We?"

"Yeah, me and Jill and Kim?"

"Oh, yeah, okay. Meet you there?"

"Sure!"

"Okay, kisskiss," and she hung up.

***

11:19 1 Jun

"So," Debbie asked, pulling a cinnamon roll apart, "did you want to do anything today, or just hang out?"

I shrugged at her. "Whatever you wanted?" She smiled at me. "But no shopping," I warned her.

***

12:04 1 Jun

I never would have considered a picnic, especially right after a late breakfast, but it was working out pretty well, except Mike was giving me weird looks again.

On the other hand, Debbie was snuggled against me as we lay on the blanket, even though we were both dressed as girls, and so I didn't care that much.

***

13:38 1 Jun

"I dunno," Mike replied, "did you want to continue the campaign over the summer?"

"Well, me and Jill did!" Kim insisted. "I haven't asked anyone else, though."

"George is gone," he mused, "but Dan's still here. And Tuck, of course," he glared at me. I made a face at him. He was getting way too worried about me.

***

16:12 1 Jun

"You know, Mike, I mean, I've got to now, with the babysitting job and everything."

He sighed. "Yeah, but it just seems like you KEEP doing it, even when you don't have to."

I shrugged. "Not all the time, I mean, look at last night."

"You ended up going home in makeup and Pam's dead bra, Tuck."

I pointed out, "And did you notice that people thought I was a guy when I did that?"

Mike shook his head. "What was up with that?"

"I don't know! I wish I did," I sighed.

***

18:31 1 Jun

"Glad you're joining us for supper," Dad commented.

I glared at him instead of replying, that being safer. "I'm not," Brian thought to throw in.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. I wondered if he would learn eventually.

***

18:37 1 Jun

"So," Dad asked as he sat back down on the couch, "you said you were planning to take some equipment on this trip?"

Time to dicker. I sort of wished I had Debbie there; she might be able to convince him to pay US to loan us the equipment.

***

20:18 1 Jun

"Lordy lordy lordy," I sighed as I looked at everything I was going to have to load on the plane. It was a lot. "Lordy." And Deb wasn't going to let me skip taking my own clothes in favor of computer hardware; I already knew that without asking.

***

07:32 2 Jun

"Good morning, Valerie," said Miz Parker as she let me in. "How are you this morning?"

"Not too bad," I said cautiously.

She sighed. "Good, because Ricky is in a mood today."

"Again?" She nodded.

We sighed at each other.

***

07:49 2 Jun

"But she YELLED at me, and all I was doing was trying to find a pair of shoes!" He looked at me for sympathy, which I wasn't really in the mood to give.

"I know," I lied, "but you know, I mean, she has to get up and feed Stella during the night, so she doesn't get a lot of sleep."

He sighed in disgust and flopped down on the couch.

"Hey," I offered, "I've got something to do, if you could help me with it..."

"What?"

"Wait 'til the other guys get here."

"What?" NOW he looked interested.

***

08:09 2 Jun

Two young boys started pounding on the door. I was familiar enough with them at this point that I didn't even need to get up. Especially since Ricky was flying through the air at the first knock.

***

08:15 2 Jun

"What IS this stuff?" Ricky huffed as he carried in the projection screen.

"You'll see," I said, knowing it would drive them crazy. Crazier.

***

08:53 2 Jun

The wires and equipment had them all entranced. I'd managed to convince them that helping me was a nice thought but a bad thing to do. Stella hadn't gotten the hint, but she was safely trapped in the baby carrier, so she couldn't run away with anything, or trip on a wire, or plug something in the wrong way by force, or anything else that the boys had tried.

I thought I had everything running, so I swivelled the camera to point at Davy, who was standing still, and hit capture. The image blanked, then rezzed down again. "Hey, c'mere, look," I told the guys as they all clustered around. I told it to save the picture as DAVY1.GIF, and then got a floppy out of the bag.

"Wait, that's wrong," Davy said.

"What?"

"My name's David," he protested.

"But, everyone calls you Davy!" Or I was having a stroke.

Gary put in, "He thinks 'Davy' is a baby's name."

"Ahhh, when did you decide this?"

"Last night," David nee Davy admitted.

I sighed. "Okay, just a second..." I changed the name of the file to DAVID1.GIF. "Is that okay?"

"I'm number one!" he yelled, and started to dance around. "I'm number one! I'm number one!"

***

11:22 2 Jun

The boys had gotten tired of watching me take pictures of them, so I moved everything into the kitchen where I could keep an eye on the little rugrats as they once again attempted to drown each other in the pool.

Actually the pool was looking kind of tempting.

But, it was time to go, ugh, try and torture out of them what they would eat for lunch.

***

12:04 2 Jun

Plain old sandwiches. And chips, and milk. Which was what they wanted. Again. I was still trying to figure out what kind of game they were playing. Stella was still trying to avoid peas, which I could understand completely. Strained peas, ugh.

***

13:08 2 Jun

The problem with the pool, I reflected as I washed dishes, was that I would have to get into that hybrid swimsuit.

Which was a problem, at least in my mind.

"Wwwwrrr," Stella said, and I got the idea that I had to do something first.

***

13:10 2 Jun

"Wouldn't you like to be toilet trained? Huh?" Stella didn't reply, she just sat there and wriggled to get me to drop her off the table.

***

13:19 2 Jun

"Can we go to the mall again?" Ricky asked.

"No. I have no more money!" I told them emphatically. "I barely have enough for gas!"

"You got paid," Gary mentioned. Brat.

"Yeah," I admitted, "but I had to rent all the stuff," I waved my hand over the pile of it, "for this trip, and so I just barely have enough money to last me until the end of the week." It was a lie; Dad was 'kind' enough to defer payment until I made some money with it, but I really didn't want to subsidize the kids' video game practice.

***

13:22 2 Jun

Debbie sounded distracted, and the cellphone was not transmitting well. I'd have to see about boosting the antenna power- "Um, yeah," she said, "I'll, just, uh, pick you up at work Thursday after you get off, okay?"

"Okay."

"And, you need to wear something nice, so we'll have to go by Rachel's to change before we go to my house."

"Um, your house?" Warning, problem detected. "Um, is your mom gonna be home?"

"Um, she's taking us to the airport..."

I sighed.

***

13:24 2 Jun

"Oh, by the way, before I go," Debbie said rapidly, "um, Kim's coming by the house, she's going to be sitting Friday, and it would be best if she met the kids and everyone first, okay?" There was a scream in her background. "Oh, sh- I gotta go, okay? Kisskiss," and she hung up.

"Um, bye," I said into the phone.

***

14:09 2 Jun

Stella's hamper was full, so I decided to throw all that in the washer while I was at it. And wash some of my stuff. I had a feeling Debbie would complain otherwise. Not like it was that bad or anything. She was just fastidious. Which is why I actually cleaned up my room when I started, well, a little after I started dating her. She wouldn't go inside, even with the door open.

***

15:21 2 Jun

Someone knocked on the door, and all five heads looked up at it. Then four of them turned and looked at me.

I sighed. "I guess I'll get it, huh?"

The boys followed me to the door, hiding in the front hallway. Stella came along in the baby carrier. I looked through the peephole, and it was a very familiar shape on the other side. "Kim!" I said as I opened the door.

"Hi Val!" she said happily, and waved like a lunatic. "Wow, what IS that thing?"

"It's a baby, Kim, haven't you seen one before?"

She rolled her eyes at me. "What's it IN?"

"The box. Don't you know this is what they ship them in?"

"Nuh uh!" came a voice from the hallway.

***

15:37 2 Jun

"You haven't even gone swimming yet?"

"No, I need to wear a bathing suit, and-"

Kim challenged, "Debbie said she got you one, when you went shopping."

I sighed. "Did she tell you what it looked like?"

She shook her head. "She just said it looked great on you."

"She did?"

***

15:41 2 Jun

Kim came out in a one-piece that looked great on her. Black was definitely her color. "Wow," I said.

"So if I put mine on, you have to put yours on," she said.

"YEAH!" chorused the boys.

***

15:46 2 Jun

I took a deep breath, and opened the door. Everyone was waiting for me.

"Hub-ba!" commented Gary.

Kim, knowing me better, caught the door before I could slam it shut on myself.

"Look!" yelled Ricky, pointing, "She's blushing!"

As if I really needed to have that announced.

***

15:49 2 Jun

"Val, come on," Kim called through the door. "Please?"

"I'm sorry!" Ricky yelled.

I blew my nose and looked sadly at the towel I'd been crying into. There were smears of makeup all over it. *Great,* I thought, *just what I need.*

***

15:52 2 Jun

"See?" Kim said, "I told you they'd be good." She glared at them, and Ricky looked down at his feet.

***

15:55 2 Jun

The pool was nice, after the heat of the day. And it made my face feel better.

"See?" Kim said knowingly, sitting with the baby carrier on and dangling her legs in the pool. "Not so bad, after all, huh?" She laughed, kind of bitterly. "I mean, hhh-heck, if I'll wear a swimsuit, then-"

"You look good in one," I told her. She snorted. "No, you do!" I stood up in the pool; it was hard to argue when you were floating on your back. "Kim," I said softly, walking closer, "you're the only one that thinks you have a weight problem, okay?"

She snorted again and shook her head. "Look, I know-"

"I asked Mike, and he thinks you look great, just like that."

"What?"

"He did!" And I had asked. Just to make sure he wasn't going to be dating one of Debbie's friends so he could keep me out of, hah, trouble. Not that any of us Boyz could pick and choose, really, but I'd wanted to check anyway. "I mean does. He did when I asked him." I sighed, and knelt down in the shallow end, up to my neck, before I said anything else dumb. "He really does think you look good."

"You're just saying that," she protested.

I locked eyes with her. "No. I'm not."

***

16:54 2 Jun

"You know," Kim commented as we folded clothes, "you looked pretty good too."

I sighed. "Just, don't remind me, okay?"

Unexpectedly, she hugged me from the side. "Sorry," she whispered in my ear. "Sometimes... sometimes I, I wish you were, like that."

"What?!"

She sighed as I pulled away. "I just forget, sometimes, because, I mean, you're really cool and yet really..." She ran her fingers through her hair. "I don't know how to say this without making it sound worse."

"I'm not sure it can get any-"

"Okay, wait." She took a deep breath. "Don't tell Mike about this, okay?" She waited until I finally nodded. "I, I'm scared of guys. Just like Debbie was."

"Debbie?"

"Yeah. She'd date and stuff, but if they got the slightest bit committed or something, she'd break it off. Don't tell her I'm telling you this, either," she warned.

"Uh, okay..."

She sighed again, and started folding socks. She looked like she needed something to do with her hands. "Well, she could do that, but I was too scared of them to even do that. So, when she brought you, to that party, and it was like, you acted so, so..." She thought for a second. "So unlike the rest, you know? And then I was kind of mad at Debbie, because she'd found someone to do that with, you know? Like, I, we, we all knew that, that she was doing it..." She shook her head. "God, this is hard..."

"Wait, please... I think I need to hear this."

She nodded. "Well, she liked you, but she was scared of you at the same time, so when she started doing stuff with you like that," she pointed at me, "it was like she'd solved her problem, sort of. Or at least gotten around it. Because, like that, and acting like that, she wasn't afraid of you."

"Afraid of me? Why?"

Kim shrugged. "She's been hurt a lot. I mean, a LOT. And she liked you a lot, so you could hurt her a lot again. Remember Kevin?" I nodded. "It made her feel REALLY bad when the only guy she could be around was gay and not interested in her."

"Yeah, I remember... So what about you?"

She took a breath. "Well, I, I..." She started to flush. "I was jealous of Debbie, for finding someone like you, because you didn't scare me either. So, so it's kind of cool hanging with you, because it IS like you're halfway, sort of. Not enough to be really scary, you know?"

"What about Mike?"

She shrugged. "I like him, but I'm still scared to be alone with him any more."

"What about, about April, in that hotel?"

She stared at the pile of laundry for a long time. Finally, she said, "I had three Valiums before we went up. If I'd knocked on the wall, Debbie would have been in to kill him. And, and, I was sort of testing him. He passed, I guess," she said in a rush, "but I had nightmares about it for a month-"

"No way!" I gasped. "Mike?!"

"Yeah, well, yeah!" she said defensively. "Mike! Because he's a GUY, Val. And in some way that, that scares the HELL out of me, you're not. Ergo," and she said things like that too, "you don't scare me. I'm sorry... I know it hurts, but that's why I could hang around you all this year, and not date."

"But you were dating before-"

"Not anywhere alone, with someone. I always doubled with Jill or Pam or someone. And that was in public, too, like movies or whatever. I couldn't go to like someone's house, to like watch a movie or anything." She looked kind of embarrassed. "It was the only way I could keep from having panic attacks."

"No shit?"

"No, uh-" Both our ears heard the pitter-patter of tiny sneakers, and we shut up.

A head poked around the doorframe. "Are you gonna cook tonight?" Ricky asked.

Kim snorted, and pointed at me, and we both started to laugh.

***

18:19 2 Jun

"You're really gonna go?" Rachel confirmed. "All weekend?"

"Well, yeah! I mean, it's a chance to make some money, and I get to spend allllll weekend with Deb, no parents, no curfews..." I almost started salivating at the thought.

"Yeah, but, isn't she gonna be busy most of the time you two are there?"

I thought about it as I slid a T shirt over my head. "Yeah, I guess, but I'll be working with her the whole time, and I'd rather her be tired out from working in our hotel room, instead of her tired out from working and having to go home to her mom. I mean, her mom is cool and everything, but... it's still kind of hard."

"Yeah, I can see that..." Rachel mused. "So where is it again?"

***

21:21 2 Jun

I should have known better than to let Amy con me into a game of Scrabble. Even with Mom and Dad playing, I got stomped, big time.

"Well, that was fun!" Amy commented.

"Not," I shot back, and she grinned at me.

"Eugene," Mom warned, unfairly.

Dad sighed, and took off his glasses and polished them. "Well, how about a friendly game of cards?" he suggested. This was sort of like Debbie saying, 'I have a deal for you.' Except less friendly.

Amy thought about it for a minute, then nodded, proving that I wasn't the only dumb one in the house when it came to games.

***

23:09 2 Jun

I guess our family is weird. Dad met Mom playing bridge at school, and ever since, the competition in the family has been intense. I think the only reason Mom's family liked Dad as much as they did is because he was a whiz at odds. Cards, dice, horses, slot machines - didn't matter. Mom sometimes joked that he paid for college by tutoring freshmen in poker; Dad denied it, which made it sound more like it happened that way. And, of course, it wasn't a REAL poker game, even with the family, unless you were betting money. Or something. We normally played for pennies...

Which is why I now had no chores to do the weekend I would be gone; Brian would be doing them all, once I gave him fifteen dollars in addition. Heh.

***

06:18 3 Jun

"You look like hell," Amy commented.

"Oh, thanks," I told her back. "Too many late nights, I guess."

"You ought to take a night off and rest, or something."

I stretched out, feeling things burble inside my body. "Yeah, I guess, but there's so much to do..."

Mom came downstairs, looking a lot like I felt. "Eugene, remind me never to get into a game of cards on a night I have to go to work."

"Sure thing, Mom." Not. I'd lost eighty-one cents to her, AND I had to promise to do her hair when I got certified. For free.

***

07:03 3 Jun

I looked a lot better when I had some makeup on, that was for sure. Maybe that was why all the girls wore it; so when they spent five hours talking on the phone every night, they didn't look it the next day. "Works for me," I told myself in the mirror, and Rachel flinched in her bed.

***

07:29 3 Jun

"Well, you look well rested this morning," Miz Parker commented as she let me in. I snickered, and she turned around. "What?"

"Did I, or anyone, ever mention that Debbie sells some really awesome makeup?" I asked.

It took her a moment, but then she snickered too.

***

10:19 3 Jun

I was not at all pleased when I tried to burp Stella and all the peas came right back up, all over the back of my shirt, and everywhere else the little wretched larva could spray.

***

10:21 3 Jun

"Ricky," I told him seriously, "if anything happens that is gonna get me yelled at, while I am showering this stuff off, I am going to hurt you. Badly."

His eyes got wide, and he was thinking about saying something, I could see it in his eyes, but his survival instincts took over, and he just nodded. I was NOT pleased to have to wash pea vomit out of my hair this morning.

***

10:40 3 Jun

I was still rubbing my hair dry when I made it downstairs, because I just KNEW something bad was going to happen, leaving them alone like that.

Amazingly, though, the only thing that had happened was, the furniture in the front room had been disassembled again, and the TV set was on.

But, no Stella. "Guys! Where's the baby?"

"Right here," came an indistinct voice from inside the hive.

"Bring her out right this instant!" For all I knew, they were using her as a structural assembly.

It turned out not to be the case, or she wasn't a load-bearing member, or something, because Ricky popped right out with her. I checked her over and didn't find any strange marks. And she still had all her original pieces. "Okay, go back to whatever you were..." I stopped talking when he disappeared back into the hive.

***

14:39 3 Jun

The guys had disappeared back into the hive after lunch, so I was alone with Stella. She was 'helping' me with some re-configuring on the laptop when someone asked, "Valerie?"

I turned around, and it was Gary. "Yeah?"

"Can we go swimming?"

"Is that... thing, taken apart?" He nodded. "Are you serious?" I got up to look; this had to be a first. Sure enough, it was gone like it had never been there, and the other two were on the couch arguing about something. "Wow, way cool guys!"

"It was Ricky's idea," David commented.

"Well, good job, Ricky!" I said sincerely. "So, get in your swimsuits!"

"WAHOOOoooo..."*slam* they all went to Ricky's room to change.

***

14:44 3 Jun

"Aren't you going swimming?" Davy- I mean, David asked me.

"Ah... no."

All three boys pouted. Even Stella looked mildly upset.

***

14:57 3 Jun

"Jerks," I muttered under my breath. The water was nice, though.

***

17:09 3 Jun

"Come on, guys, I HAVE to change before Ricky's mom gets home!"

Ricky commented, "Oh. Yeah, she does."

"And that means you guys have to get out of the pool, too. Now, come on and stop arguing!" They protested anyway, and I yelled over them, "Unless you don't ever want me to go swimming with you again?" That shut them up.

***

20:19 3 Jun

Amy looked at me funny during the commercial break. "Tuck, aren't you going to pack?"

"Not-" Not until I get to Rachel's and pick up my girl clothes, Thursday morning, or maybe Wednesday night. Not really something I really wanted to tell the family. "Oh. Yeah, I guess I'd better, huh?" She laughed at me as I went upstairs to pack a decoy bag.

***

06:04 4 Jun

I was beginning to really understand, deep down in my bones, why Dad spent so much time setting up his own business. It was so he wouldn't have to get up at this horrid time of day, five times a week.

***

07:31 4 Jun

"I was wondering," Miz Parker said as we watched Ricky and she fed Stella, "were you planning on fixing breakfast this morning?"

"Well, yeah, I do every morning..." Ding! "What would you like?"

***

08:19 4 Jun

"You let them go swimming so soon after eating?" Miz Parker asked.

"Uh, well, usually they don't want to go swimming until later in the day, and I always keep an eye on them. Just in case." She handed me the last of the dishes, and I dunked it in the soapy water and started scrubbing.

"Hmmm..." she said to herself. She was still thinking when I handed her the platter, and she didn't say anything as I turned the water off and unplugged the drain.

I was debating going out to the poolside table and reading, figuring she would be there for a long time, when she turned to me and asked, "Do you ever go swimming? You know it's alright..."

"Huh? Yeah, sometimes, why?"

"Ricky said last week that you wouldn't," she replied.

"Oh. Well, I went twice this week, does that count?"

She chuckled. "I guess so..." She stared out the window at the three boys.

***

08:44 4 Jun

"That's an interesting suit," Miz Parker commented when I came out of the bathroom.

I shrugged, feeling kind of embarrassed. "Well, Debbie helped pick it out, she said it looked good on me..."

"Oh, it does," she assured me. "It just seems a little... dangerous?"

I snorted. "Yeah, well..." I thought about telling her why Debbie liked seeing me in racy stuff, but decided against it. "At least the zipper pins in place."

"Good idea," she commented.

"Yours looks good on you," I thought to say after a few moments. It did, too. She looked amazingly trim for a mother of two. I was glad Debbie already had me, or I might have been tempted to do something stupid like stare or something.

***

09:55 4 Jun

"See?" I mentioned to the boys as they waited their turn for sunblock. "Even your mom gets a fresh coat every hour."

Ricky stuck his tongue out at me, but I ignored it.

***

09:58 4 Jun

I hadn't thought Miz Parker would insist on coating me in return, but she did. It was sort of like Mom doing it when I was younger, before I decided I didn't want Mom doing that to me in front of people any more. I might have argued, but she already had me half coated before I really thought about objecting, and then it would have been silly.

***

11:04 4 Jun

"I really should go to work today," she sighed as I pulled food out of the refrigerator.

"Well, I guess..." I snuck a peek as I carried a pile of stuff to the counter. She looked depressed at the thought. I could completely understand that.

Before I could decide what to say, my pager started buzzing in my purse. Miz Parker said something really crass and looked at her own, then got confused. "Uh, I think it was me," I told her as I got mine out.

KIMS COMING OVER TO PRACTICE SOME MORE OK CALL ME IF THATS A PORBLEM XOXOX DEBBIE. I almost laughed; she could spell with a pen in her hand, but not with a keyboard-

"When did you get a pager?" she asked, from over my shoulder, and I almost dropped it.

"Um, Deb said I needed one," I told her. "Um..." Well, she wanted to be talked into staying home anyway. "It was Debbie, she said there's this other girl, Kim, that'll be sitting Friday, and she's coming over this afternoon. Kim is, I mean. So, maybe you ought to stay and see if you like her?"

"Oh, okay," she said, like she as doing me a favor, but she sort of relaxed and smiled. "So, what were you going to fix for lunch?"

"Oh, well, the guys didn't have an opinion, so I had this idea..."

***

12:14 4 Jun

The boys looked at me like I was trying to poison them. "What, IS this stuff?" Gary finally worked up the courage to ask.

"Rice, and sausage, and cheese, and some other things," like vegetables I wasn't going to mention, "and garlic and spices and stuff. What, you don't want any?"

Before any of them could decide, Miz Parker came into the kitchen, dressed in shorts and a T shirt and rubbing her hair dry with a towel. "MMmmmm, that smells GREAT, Valerie!"

I smirked at the boys.

***

12:50 4 Jun

As usual, once one of them had actually had the courage to taste something I cooked, they started gobbling it down like it was going to disappear. Which it did, quickly. I was glad I had saved myself a plate before I served them, because they went through what I thought would be more than enough, and both Gary and Miz Parker were eyeing the pot like they were thinking about licking it. And this was before I finished my first serving. I was glad I wasn't that hungry, because it was apparent that this was all I was going to get.

Unless they made me cook more, which was looking likely.

***

13:07 4 Jun

Apparently, whatever combination of spices I'd put into it, acted like a sleeping pill in large enough doses, because Miz Parker just barely managed to help me clean up, and when we were finished, the boys had passed out in the living room. "That looks like a good idea," she told me, and staggered upstairs, I guess to take a nap.

***

13:09 4 Jun

Out like a light bulb, she was. I shut the door to her bedroom quietly, glad that Stella had also been quiet, and went downstairs to wait for Kim to show up. And to explain to her that this was the last time it would be this easy.

***

13:38 4 Jun

"Wow, what did you do," Kim asked as she surveyed the living room, "drug them?" Even Stella had decided to take a nap.

"Maybe," I said, and her head snapped around. I almost burst out laughing at the expression on her face, and then I had to explain about lunch.

***

14:28 4 Jun

"Just, I dunno..." Kim paused to fold a towel. "Guys are scary."

I shrugged, but had to agree with her. "But, Mike?"

She shrugged back, looking kind of embarrassed. "I know, he's a good guy and everything, but he's still a guy. Right?"

"As far as I know," I said, and she giggled.

***

14:51 4 Jun

"So," I continued, "he was tired of getting picked on, and when he saw the SAME jerks picking on ME, making fun of me 'cause I couldn't talk right, he got mad and started hitting them, and then when I saw one of them start crying just 'cause he'd got punched in the nose, I hit one, and before the teachers could come over, we were the only ones left."

"Wow," she said, sounding impressed.

"Yeah," I sighed, "and that was the last time that happened, too, that it was so easy. But we got meaner, the more we got picked on. Eventually they stopped picking on us." Like, last year, mostly.

"I think that's what happened to Debbie and Lisa," she mused, but the dryer buzzed before she could explain.

***

15:08 4 Jun

Kim and I were playing quietly with Stella, since all the laundry was done and we were kind of tired, when Miz Parker came downstairs. Kim nudged me, but I'd already heard it, and so we were both smiling when she appeared in the doorway. The boys were still asleep, and Stella was being nice, and when she saw us all in the living room, she stopped.

I waved, and after a moment, so did Kim.

"Wow," said Miz Parker, real quietly.

***

15:17 4 Jun

"You realize, of course," Miz Parker mentioned to Kim, "that it's never this quiet?"

I snickered, and said, "I already told her that, and she knew it already. We're just enjoying it while it lasts," and Miz Parker and Kim both nodded seriously.

***

17:04 4 Jun

Miz Parker had let us go early, and after Kim called Debbie and reported success, she asked me, "So what are you doing?"

"Uh, I was thinking about packing for the trip?"

"Oh. And, all your stuff is at Rachel's right?" I nodded. "Want some help?"

"Sure!"

***

17:46 4 Jun

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I mean, she liked it when we all went out, remember?"

Kim giggled. "Yeah, I thought she was going to kiss you, right in front of the restaurant!" She sobered up a little, and added, "But you're right, you did look good in that dress."

I nodded and started folding the sundress. "Deb has good taste, I guess."

"And I don't?" she said, putting an eyebrow up.

"Hey! I didn't say you didn't," I insisted, "I just said she did. Besides," I grinned back at her, "you're too chicken to try on the really nice stuff."

"I am not!" she almost shrieked. But she ruined the effect by giggling.

***

19:41 4 Jun

I made it home in time to have dinner with the whole family, joy joy. Actually, it wasn't that bad. At least Brian was being subdued tonight. And Susan talked a lot about her job, and it was really cool, for once. Amy kept asking questions, and Susan actually had a clue, which impressed me and Dad. I would have thought that she would have picked up enough radio tech, being around me and Dad all her life, but apparently not.

***

20:18 4 Jun

Debbie had showed up at my place for once, and so we were locked in my bedroom with the anti-surveillance jammers going full blast. I had a feeling this was not something I wanted anyone to know about, and I guess we should have left, but I did NOT feel like leaving the house tonight.

"Anyway, we get to the airport at eight, and then arrive in California about the same time, if we get lucky and there aren't any delays. Sorry about it being so late, but it was cheaper that way," she apologized.

"No, it's okay, cheaper is good," I assured her, and she hugged me closer.

Finally, she sighed. "I really hate flying, Tuck, so if I get kind of freaky, it's nothing to do with you, okay? You can ask my mom if you don't believe me."

"Are you gonna be okay?"

She nodded. "Lisa's gonna make sure I get tanked on Valium beforehand, which is one reason I'm not driving us to the airport. Plus, Mom wants to see us off."

I sighed.

***

21:12 4 Jun

"Oh, God, we gotta take ALL that?" Debbie whined.

"Well, yeah, if we want to make sure everything goes we-" Uh oh.

"What did you forget?"

I sighed. "CD's. We could get some from Dad, but he overcharges for them, and I don't think he has enough cases."

She sighed back. "Tell me what to get, tomorrow, and I'll pick some up."

Mike spoke up, "I know what to get," and she looked at him sideways for several seconds before she nodded. "Can I use the credit card?" he asked, and ducked before she actually swung at him.

***

21:38 4 Jun

"You're not coming home tomorrow?" Susan confirmed.

I shook my head. "As soon as I get off work, we go to the airport and get on the plane. That's why we packed her car tonight." Actually, it was her mom's car, but I wasn't going to complain.

"Wow," Amy commented, and hugged me. "Good luck, eh? Be careful."

Susan hugged me too, as soon as Amy let go, which surprised me so much, I let her. "Yeah, bro, be careful, okay? Don't let Debbie talk you into anything," she warned me. *A little too late there,* I thought.

***

21:46 4 Jun

I shook hands with Dad, which made me feel kind of weird, like I was grown up and enlisting or something weird. "Be careful, son," he said solemnly, and then added, "Do you need any emergency money?"

"Um, I dunno?" That sounded stupid, but I'd never taken a trip like this by myself. "How much do I need?"

***

22:06 4 Jun

"Hey, Mike, can you give me a ride tomorrow morning?"

He nodded. "What time?"

"You're gonna hate it," I warned him.

"Who said I'm going to sleep?" he lied, and we both laughed.

***

07:06 5 Jun

Amy handed me a mug of coffee, and then there was nothing left to do but go to work.

I thought. Until she hugged me, really tight, and whispered in my ear, "Look, be careful, okay?"

"I will!" I insisted.

***

07:27 5 Jun

"Dude, call me when you get back," Mike told me, and I nodded. Then he held up his hands, and we locked.

***

07:34 5 Jun

"Well, good luck," Miz Parker told me, "and be careful, okay?" I was getting a little tired of hearing that.

***

09:03 5 Jun

"All by yourself?" Gary gasped.

"No, Debbie's coming with me. She's my boss, remember?" Also my girlfriend, but that was something I did NOT want them to remember.

"And your parents are letting you?" David said, sounding completely scandalized.

I had to laugh.

***

17:39 5 Jun

"Well, good luck, and be careful," Mister Parker told me. I forced a smile on my face and nodded.

***

17:42 5 Jun

"If I hear one more person tell me to be careful," I told Debbie as we got into her car, "I think I'm gonna scream."

"Don't scream at my mom," she warned me, "she will tell us that, and she doesn't like being screamed at." She started the car, and chuckled. "I tried it once, and it didn't work out real well."

I laughed with her on that, and after she pulled out of the Parker's driveway and started forward, I said, "Did I mention you look great tonight?" She did, too; she was wearing this knit dress that made her look several years older, that and her makeup.

"Thanks," she smiled at me, and patted me on my knee. "I figured we'd have less hassle if we look like 'grown-ups' instead of teenagers. Plus, we have to get the van from Hertz, and they're not supposed to rent to people under twenty-five. I cleared it with the manager," she explained before I could say something, "but it would save us some hassle if the clerk thought we were old enough to rent it by ourselves."

That sounded great, until I noticed something. "Uh, Deb? 'Us' and 'we'?" She glanced over at me and nodded. "So, this means we're gonna run by Rachel's and change me into something nice?" I guessed, and she nodded again.

"Remember? I mentioned it earlier this week."

"Um." I thought about it. "No, not really, but I trust you."

She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

***

18:03 5 Jun

"Hi, girls," Helen said as we came in the door. "You look nice, Valerie."

"Thanks. Debbie said I should dress nice for the flight, so I look professional." Which is why I had changed into something Debbie called a shirt-dress, and heels and hose and stuff. It looked really nice in the mirror, and Debbie had done the same thing with my makeup that she had done with hers, so I looked older than Susan.

***

19:39 5 Jun

Helen hugged me and then Debbie. "You two be very careful, understand?" she told us. It sounded like the same words, but she said it differently than anyone else had, like she was telling us to be careful or else. I took her completely seriously.

***

20:04 5 Jun

Debbie grabbed my hand so hard I thought I might lose fingers, as the engines roared and we started to really MOVE down the runway. "S'okay, Deb, it's cool, everything's normal," I reassured her over the noise.

***

22:19 5 Jun

The flaps groaned out, and I almost screamed when Debbie grabbed my hand again, like she'd been doing every time something made a noise. I should have been used to it by then, but she took me by surprise. "Deb, it's okay, we're coming in for a landing, and the flaps are down to slow us down some," I explained. "Perfectly normal, and everything is cool." She nodded, staring straight ahead.

*She took three Valiums before the flight, another one five minutes ago, and she's STILL like this?* I was amazed she hadn't passed out yet.

***

The End... for Now!!!


That's all Ellen has written so far in the main Tuck story-line! When she writes more, I'll offer it to you right here on Sapphire's Channel.

But until them, with Ellen's Permission, I will be offering you the on-going chapters of "Tucky Season". Our favorate hero Tuck vs the infamous Aunt Jane! Who will win? No bets here...the odds are EVEN!