By Ellie Dauber © 2004
"Johnny, slow down. You're driving much too fast."
Johnny Crayne glanced at his wife in the rear view mirror of their SUV. "Paula, this is Arizona, nothing but flat, straight roads that go on for miles. There's no better place to see what this baby can do." He chuckled and patted the car's dashboard.
"Yeah, relax," Ray Preston said from the front passenger seat. "Johnny's a good driver, and there's not another car on the road."
The SUV came over a low rise that had hidden the road ahead. "Yes, there is," Lisa, Ray's wife said. She pointed over her husband's shoulder. "Do you see it?"
A black dot was on the road ahead of them, perhaps a half-mile away. "From the way we're closing on it, it can't be doing over 50," Johnny said in disgust.
As they came closer, the dot resolved itself into an old, gray-green pick-up truck. "No problem," Ray said. This is a two-lane road. We'll pass this guy like he's doing -- shit." A large sign loomed next to the road just ahead.
"What's the matter?" Lisa asked.
"Damned sign," Johnny answered. "Says the left lane's closed ahead for construction the next 15 miles." He gritted his teeth. "There's no way I'm gonna be stuck behind that truck for 15 miles." Everyone felt the back of their seats press against them as the vehicle raced ahead.
Paula leaned forward and looked at the speedometer over Johnny's shoulder. "What... 90! What are you doing? It's not that important if we pass this guy."
"Yeah," Lisa added. "We're on vacation. Vegas will still be there tomorrow."
"Women," Johnny said sarcastically. "They just _don't_ get it, do they?"
"Tell me about it," Ray said. "Look, Lisa... Paula. He's going slow, maybe even weaving a little, with a thick, black exhaust. Do you both really want to be stuck following that pick-up, breathing in that smoke, for twenty minutes, maybe more?"
Johnny answered. "They don't." There was another burst of speed. The van began to vibrate. It passed the pick-up and ducked back into the right lane just as the left lane disappeared behind the start of a very long line of orange highway cones. "I said we'd make it," He said as he raised his right hand and high-fived Ray.
"Way to go, old buddy," Ray said wildly.
Lisa looked out the rear window of the SUV. ""He's in a ditch, Pull over."
"He'll be okay in a minute," Johnny said. "Watch."
Now Paula looked back. "He's not moving, Pull over." Her voice grew firm. "Pull over, _now_."
Johnny shook his head, but he slowed down and pulled to a stop on the shoulder. They all turned their head and watched. The truck didn't move, nor did anyone get out of the cab.
"I'm calling 911," Paula said, reaching into her purse for her cell phone. She pushed the "emergency call" button and waited. "Hello," she finally said, "I'm Paula Crayne. I'm at the eastern end of the construction on Route 66 near Peach Springs. There's been an accident. A truck..." she looked at her husband's face. "A truck ran off the road into a ditch just where the construction starts. I think the driver's hurt."
* * * * *
Johnny glared at his wife. "You happy now, Paula? By the time we got finished talking to that two-bit sheriff, it was after dark, too late to drive on. We're stuck here -- beautiful, exotic Peach Springs -- till morning."
"At least they were nice enough to get these motel rooms for us," Paula replied, "and at a discount, too." The couple was in a room decorated in southwestern style. Pictures of desert landscapes hung on the walls, and the cover on the queen-sized bed was a blue and red Indian blanket. Ray and Lisa were in the next room, the connecting door between them open for now.
"And they bought our story of the old guy swerving into the ditch by himself." Ray walked in from the other room, "I think this is yours, Paula." He put a pale blue overnight bag down on the bed.
"But when that old man -- Mr. Swiftwater -- wakes up --" Paul started.
Johnny completed her thought. "It'll be his word against the four of us." He looked sharply at his wife. "Unless somebody says otherwise."
"I agree with Paula," Lisa said as she came through the open door. "It was just an accident. What's the worse that could happen if we tell the truth?"
"Tickets for speeding... reckless driving..." Johnny counted off on his fingers. "Enough pointed to raise our car insurance... maybe enough to get my license suspended for a while."
"The way you were driving back there, maybe it should be suspended," Lisa said.
"Before you get off of that high horse of yours, Lisa," Ray said, "you might want to consider this: Swiftwater is a local; we're outsiders, maybe rich outsiders if you look at what we're driving. They could decide to tack a mother big fine onto those tickets."
"They... they wouldn't?" Lisa said.
"Sure they would," Johnny added. "A big enough fine that we have to sell my SUV and use our vacation money -- if they leave us enough of that -- to take the damned bus home."
"And we'd be on that bus with them, Lisa," Ray added. "Even if I wanted to keep going when Johnny and Lisa had to go home, we really don't have the money to rent a car of our own for the week."
"All right," Paula said with a deep sigh. "You've made your point. We'll back up your story."
"But if either of you two pull another hare-brained stunt like that," Lisa warned, "_we'll_ do the driving for the rest of the trip."
"And _I'll_ sell that thing as soon as we get home." Paula added.
* * * * *
"I think we have heard enough, my brothers," the spirit form of Malcolm Swiftwater said. The six other spirit forms, invisible to all but themselves, nodded in agreement.
The seven forms drifted upwards, passing through the ceiling of the motel room. "The punishment shall be as they themselves have pronounced it," one of the others said.
"They will begin by bringing your grandson to us for his consecration," a third said. The forms moved through the night sky towards the hospital where their bodies waited.
* * * * *
The buzz of his travel alarm -- Johnny never trusted motel wake-up service -- woke him at exactly... 'Eight o'clock,' he thought. 'Maybe enough time for some morning fun.' His body felt... odd as he rolled over, as if his center of gravity had shifted. There was some kind of weight on his chest, too.
"Paula, hon --" Johnny froze. That wasn't Paula next to him. It was a _guy_! "What the hell?" He rolled back and jumped out of the bed.
The noise and motion woke the stranger. "Morning -- hey, who the hell are you?" The man scrambled out his side of the bed. He grabbed the blanket and held it in front of him.
"I'm Johnny -- never mind that. Who the hell are you, and where's my wife." And why did his voice sound so high-pitched?
"I'm..." the man touched his throat. He looked down at himself and let out a scream. "Johnny... what... what's happened to us?"
"What do you mean 'us', buddy?" Johnny stopped. His voice was higher... and soft, like a girl's voice. He looked down and saw that he was wearing some kind of blue nightie. His body looked a lot thinner with no trace of body hair. Worst of all, he seemed to have grown a pair of breasts.
He looked at the stranger, realizing for the first time that this meant looking _up_ at him. 'Eyes are the same,' he thought, 'so's the hair color. Round out the jaw -- and get rid of the stubble on it -- and this guy could be..." He said the name aloud, "Paula?"
The man nodded, still staring at him. "Johnny? Is that you?"
"In the flesh." He pointed to himself, accidentally touching his breast. He pulled his hand away, as if he'd touched a hot stove. "Sort of, anyway. Paula?"
The man nodded. "This is crazy." They both hurried to the mirrored door to the closet. "I'm a kid," Johnny said in disgust. "G-damned jailbait." He looked about 15, cuddly, his new teen queen curves revealed in a short, sleeveless, blue night shirt that hung down to his hips, just revealing a ruffled matching panty. His razor-cut brown hair was now black, the same color as Paula's and hung down to his shoulders in a mass of curls.
His face was different yet familiar. "I... I look like you... like you did when we met in high school."
Paula rubbed her jaw. 'Need a shave,' she thought. "I... I look like my brother, Harry. She was tall now, just over six foot, and ruggedly built. Her old self ran and cross-trained with five-pound weights. Her new body, clad in a t-shirt and boxers, looked like she used much heavier ones.
She looked over at Johnny. "It's like you were my daughter or something," she said in agreement with Johnny's assessment of his new form.
"What the hell are we going to tell Ray and Lisa?"
As if on cue, there was a knock on the connecting door. "Open up, you two," Lisa called from the other side.
The transformed pair looked at each other. Johnny shrugged. "Might as well get it over with."
Paula strode over and unlocked the door. "It's open." The knob turned, and Lisa walked into the room. She stopped in surprise and stared at the two of them. "There's... umm, been some changes," Paula said.
"Tell me about it." A girl about Johnny's new age and size walked through the open door. She looked like Johnny as well, wearing the same nightclothes, except hers were turquoise. Her hair was shorter and the same strawberry blonde as Lisa's own hair. Her face looked a bit like Lisa's, as well.
"Ray?" Johnny and Paula said in unison. The new girl nodded.
"Anybody have any idea how this happened?" Ray asked.
"And why?" Lisa added.
Johnny scratched his head, tangling his fingers in his new, longer hair. "We passed an Army base on the way here. Maybe this is some kind of crazy, secret, military experiment."
"Then why isn't Lisa changed?" Paula asked. "And why are you two teenagers, while I'm still an adult?"
"Maybe it's some kind of hallucination," Lisa suggested. "And we're just imagining this."
Ray's hands moved across his breasts. "Feels real -- too damn real -- to me."
"Then what..." Paula's eyes shifted. "Hey, the message light's blinking." She reached over and picked up the phone, tapping the button next to the blinking light.
It was as if the phone went into conference call mode. "The answers you seek are at the hospital with Malcolm Swiftwater," a deep voice said, one that they all could hear. There was a click, and the message light stopped blinking.
"Let's go," Johnny said, heading for the door to the parking lot. Ray was right behind him.
"Not dressed like that," Lisa said, pointing at their clothes.
The pair stopped and looked down at themselves. "Then what the hell do we wear?" Johnny asked. "I don't think any of my old clothes will fit me now."
"No, but I'll bet that your _new_ clothes will." Paula pointed at Johnny's suitcase, next to the folding luggage rack in the corner. Its size and shape hadn't changed, but what had been a mahogany-colored leather case was now a green, blue, and yellow paisley cloth bag.
Johnny walked over and tried to put the bag on the rack. "Damn... heavy." It took two hands to lift it now. He grunted as he put it on the rack. He opened it and found... "Girl's clothes? Now how in the hell..." He looked through the case. "Panties... bras... and a bunch of damned dress."
"Pick something pretty to wear," Paula said wryly. She picked up her own suitcase. 'Light as a feather,' she thought. 'Amazing." She flipped the latch. "Just what I expected," she said, holding up a pair of boxers and a man's denim shirt." She looked through the clothes. "Even a jock strap to go with these swim trunks."
She pulled out a few things and started to pull off her t-shirt.
"Maybe I should leave," Lisa said softly.
Paula stopped with the t-shirt over her head. Lisa and the newly female Ray were looking at her oddly. So, she realized, was Johnny. She put her arms down, letting the shirt settle back onto her. "I'll change in the bathroom," she said feeling somehow embarrassed. She grabbed a set of men's clothes from her suitcase and walked into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind her.
"I think the weirdness is just starting," Lisa said. She walked over and took a blue cotton bra and matching panty from the paisley suitcase. She tossed them to Johnny. "Put these on, then pick something nice to wear over them."
Johnny was holding the bra by one strap, looking as if he expected it to turn into a snake and bite him. "I... I can't wear this. I'm a guy for Pete's sake."
Lisa reached out and gently cupped his breasts in her hands. Johnny's eyes went wide at the sensation. "Not according to these, you're not," Lisa said firmly.
"Looks like your cups runneth over," Ray said sarcastically.
"So do yours," Lisa told him. She turned back to Johnny. "I want you dressed when we come back." She grabbed her husband's hand and started walking towards the connecting door, pulling him along. "Come on, dearie, and let's see what sort of pretty frillies are in your suitcase now."
* * * * *
Twenty-seven minutes later, the SUV pulled into the hospital's visitors' parking lot. Paula was driving, with Lisa sitting next to her. The "girls" were in the back seat.
Lisa wore a stylish green skirt and short-sleeved yellow top. Her make-up was suited for a woman on a family vacation, just lip gloss and a bit of blusher. Paula still needed a shave, not having wanted to risk her neck with Johnny's straight razor. She wore a pair of jeans and a short-sleeved denim shirt that showed off her hairy arms and muscular build.
The girls were in what would best be called "grunge." Their hair was uncombed, and they both wore loose jeans and sweatshirts that all but hid their new figures. Both had put up more than enough fight to make sure that neither wore any make-up.
"Why bother?" Johnny had argued. "We're gonna make whoever did this change us back as soon as we get there."
Johnny jumped out of the van, as soon as it stopped moving, and ran towards the hospital, the others close behind.
An older woman with a "Volunteer" pin on her pale yellow blouse was sitting at a desk in the middle of the lobby. A large sign on the front of the desk said, "Information." Johnny ran over to her. "Swiftwater... umm, Malcolm Swiftwater, where the hell is he?"
The woman looked up at him and frowned. "Well, aren't we the rude little girl? Try asking me again... _politely_."
"But this is _important_, dammit," Johnny whined.
"I'm sure that _you_ think it is, young lady, but that's no excuse for bad manners... or profanity."
Lisa stepped up next to Johnny. "How about if I asked?" she said, smiling at the woman. "Could you please tell me where Mr. Swiftwater... Malcolm Swiftwater's room is?"
"That's better." The woman looked at Johnny. "You should try to act like your mother here." She glanced at the terminal on her desk. "Mr. Swiftwater is in 301, that's the ICU... the intensive care unit. No visitors but immediate family, which I don't think you are." She looked at the screen again. "That's odd. There's a note that anybody else asking about him should be sent to the family conference room." She pointed off to the right. That's room 122, down that hallway. The note says to tell you that they're waiting for you."
"Who's waiting?" Lisa asked cautiously.
The woman shook her head. "It doesn't say, but the word 'they' is underlined." She shrugged. "Must be some one important. You better go."
* * * * *
The blinds were closed on the door and windows to room 122, but Johnny, Paula, Ray, and Lisa could hear voices as they came close. "Let me go in first," Paula whispered. She opened the door quickly and walked in. The rest of the group followed, bunched up behind her.
Six old men, all Native American, sat around a table looking at them. They were all in work shirts and jeans, two of them wearing old-style trooper hats with a feather in each. Their craggy features -- they could have been chiseled in granite -- and silver-white hair seemed to radiate dignity and wisdom.
And power. The door closed of its own accord behind them.
One of them, a tall, slender man in a red and blue plaid shirt spoke. "I see that the Hartman family has finally arrived." He gestured. "Welcome and do come in."
Johnny shook his head. "No, we're the Craynes and the Prestons... or, at least, we used to be."
"Who you _were_ is of no concern to us." The man looked at Paula. "What was your birth name?"
Paula pointed at herself in surprise. "Me?" The old man nodded. "My maiden name was Paula Louise... Hartman."
A second, shorter man in a brown shirt spoke. "We sort of tweaked reality. Right now, you're in a world where you were born a man, _Paul_ Hartman. That's your wife, Lisa, and your twin daughters, Jenny and Rachel." He pointed to each of the others in turn.
Johnny and Ray stepped forward. "That's crazy," Johnny said.
"Is it?" Brown Shirt and other five men each raised a hand, palm upward, and blew, as if blowing some sort of dust, towards the transformed group. "Now, what's your name, missy?" He asked.
Johnny -- was it Johnny? -- shook her head, as a wave of dizziness ran through her. "Jenny... Jenny Hart... man." She realized what she was saying and looked at the others. "I... I just called myself 'Jenny', didn't I?"
"You did, Jen," her fellow teen said.
"Gosh, Rachel," Jenny said, her eyes wide. "What am I gonna do?"
The old men, Plaid Shirt, laughed. "You ain't gonna curse, like you did to that poor lady outside," a third elder, this one in a hat with an eagle feather, said. "It ain't ladylike." He chuckled at his own joke. "You all still know who you were, but you'll only call yourselves -- and each other -- by your new names."
"For how long?" Paul asked, stepping forward.
The tall elder -- Paul thought of him as "Plaid Shirt" -- smiled. "Well, now. That all depends on you. We've got a little errand for you all to run. You do it for us, and we'll talk about changing you back."
"And if we don't?" Rachel asked.
"In that case," Eagle Feather said, "you and your sister get to start 10th grade in a couple weeks. A couple of cute girls like you, there'll be all sorts of boys after you."
"Hope you two know about birth control," Plaid Shirt added.
Jenny sighed deeply. "What do we have to do?"
"Not much," Brown Shirt said. "Mal was on his way to Santa Fe to pick up his grandson, when you almost killed him. You go get the boy -- his name's Tony Swiftwater, by the way -- and bring him back here."
"That's a day's drive each way," Rachel protested. Ray had been "navigator" for the trip. "I don't want to be a girl that long."
Brown Shirt slapped the table loudly with his palm. "You ran Mal off the road so you wouldn't have the inconvenience of following him for fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes. Two days as a girl don't seem like too much of a punishment." The other elders muttered words of agreement.
"We'll do it; we'll do it," Lisa said hurriedly. The old men were getting angry, and who knew what else they could do. "But we'll need more than his name to find him."
Eagle Feather tossed a thick envelop onto the table near Paul. "There's his address and phone number. There's a couple of maps in there, too, with a set of directions straight to his house." He paused a beat, then added, "and we'll tell him to be packed and watching for you tomorrow morning."
"More of your Injun magic, I suppose," Rachel said sarcastically.
The man ignored the ethnic slur and showed his teeth in a feral sort of grin. "Nope, e-mail."
* * * * *
"Paul," Jenny called from the back seat of the SUV, "could you... uhh, find a place to pull over?"
"What's the matter?" Lisa asked. "Do you have to... you know?"
"No," Jenny said, sounding embarrassed. "We... me and Rachel... want to --"
"You hungry?" Paul asked. He looked at the dashboard clock. "It is getting kind of late. I'll look for a restaurant."
"Okay," Rachel said. "I am getting kind of hungry, but what we... umm, what we want is a place to change clothes."
Lisa turned to look at the pair. "Change?" She tried not to smile. "What's wrong with what you're wearing?"
"It's too warm," Jenny whined.
"Yeah," Rachel added. "A sweatshirt and these heavy jeans are just _too much_."
Paul smiled now. "You didn't seem to think so this morning."
"That was this morning," Jenny complained. "Now they're just too uncomfortable, even with the van's air conditioning."
"Okay," Paul said. "I'll look for something." About ten minutes later, he saw a sign. "McDonald's ahead. We'll have some lunch, and you two can change after we eat. Is that okay?"
"Coo-ul," Jenny said happily.
* * * * *
"Paul Hartman, don't you dare!" Lisa warned.
Paul froze, his hand inches from the door to the ladies' room at the McDonalds where they had all had lunch. "I wasn't going to go in," he said. "I was just going to knock and tell them to hurry."
"Be patient. This isn't something that they're used to."
"I know. It's just... frustrating, being a man, the only man in the group, no less, all of a sudden. I feel... I don't know _how_ I feel."
"You need to relax for a bit." She waited a moment for him to react. When he didn't, she continued. "How about if I drive for a while?"
Somehow, the suggestion bothered him. "No, I'm fine. I'll drive."
"You're sure? You've been driving since we left the motel this morning."
"I said, 'I'll drive.' Don't worry about it."
"Umm... okay." She knocked on the door. "How are you two doing in there? Need any help?"
The bathroom door opened about three inches, and they saw part of Jenny's face. "I... we're done, I think. You guys promise... promise not to laugh?"
"We won't laugh," Lisa said. "Will we?" She looked at Paul.
He raised his hand, palm outward. "No laughing, I promise."
"You... you better not," Jenny said. She turned her head and looked behind her. "C'mon, Rachel."
"You first," a second voice hissed.
"Together," Jenny said firmly. The door opened wide and the pair of them walked out. Jenny had her hand tightly around Rachel's wrist. They walked out, then turned around slowly to show what they were wearing. "Well?" Jenny asked, trying hard not to look nervous.
"You both look... lovely," Lisa said, her voice full of surprise.
It was true. Jenny was wearing a pair of dark green capri pants that hugged her curves and a lighter green blouse cut short to show a bit of her narrow waist and just tight enough to draw attention to her perky breasts.
Rachel was actually wearing a dress, a pink mini that showed off her excellent legs and nubile figure. It was sleeveless and cut low enough to show a bit at her cleavage.
Both girls carried the clothes they had been wearing balled up under one arm. Their hair was combed and looked like they'd both worked with it a little.
"Very pretty," Paul said, feeling a bit of pride somehow. "But those clothes are a bit... umm, unexpected."
"Girly, you mean," Jenny said. "These were the only pants in my suitcase."
Rachel nodded. "All I had besides dresses and skirts were a couple of pairs of shorts that were practically denim bikini bottoms."
"They're called 'Daisy Dukes'," Lisa said, "after that old TV show. I think you both look very nice, but you need a bit of --"
Jenny shook her head. "Make-up? No... no way." She said it rather quickly.
"Yeah," Rachel added. "I... uhh, I don't think so... umm, either."
"Maybe later," Lisa said.
"Maybe," Rachel answered under her breath.
* * * * *
It was almost 6 when the group pulled into a Motel 6 next to a park along the Santa Fe River on the western side of town. As they checked in, they could hear rock music playing in the park through the screened windows. "What's going on over there," Paul asked.
"It's a party for teens," the desk clerk said. "The city council runs it to thank the kids who worked in various programs over the summer." She handed back Paul's credit card, one in his new name, Paul Hartman. He'd been surprised to it find in his wallet when they had stopped for gas that afternoon.
"Can anybody go?" Jenny asked.
"It's supposed to only be for the teens who worked for the city," the clerk said, "but that's mostly boys. I don't think that they'd keep out a couple of pretty girls like you and your sister."
"Umm, thank you, ma'am," Jenny said. She wasn't sure why she'd even asked.
"Do you want to go there?" Lisa asked, surprised at how eager Jenny had sounded.
"No... certainly not," Jenny said too quickly. "It's just that, well, after sitting in the van all day, I'd just kind of like to stretch my legs some." The idea of going to a teen party sounded like fun, too, but she didn't want to admit it to herself, let alone say it aloud.
"Me, too," Rachel added, smiling. She felt almost giddy at the thought of the party nearby.
"I guess a little wait before supper wouldn't hurt," Paul said, kneading the muscles in the small of his back. "I wouldn't mind stretching out in a bed for a bit, myself."
"The party's very well chaperoned, if the young ladies do decide to go," the clerk said, trying to be helpful, "and there's plenty of food, burgers, pizza, and such. My cousin works for the parks department. He's on the committee that runs it." As a final argument, she added, "It ends at ten o'clock; the kids still have to go to work in the morning."
"Do you two want to go?" Lisa asked them. "It sounds like fun."
"Well..." Jenny said, trying to sound like she needed to be convinced. "I guess it would be okay."
Rachel nodded. "Be something different to do." She was looking in the direction of the music, her body swaying gently to the beat.
"Come back in an hour if you decide that you don't like it, and we'll all go out to dinner together," Paul said. "And you'd _better_ be back here by 10:10." He pointed at his wristwatch.
"Thanks," the two girls said together. "We will." They grabbed the purses that they'd found in the van in mid-afternoon and walked quickly out the front door of the motel.
"Now that we've settled _that_," Paul said with a wry smile. "Let's get a cart for the bags and go find the rooms."
* * * * *
Paul kicked off his shoes and lay down on the queen-sized bed. "Aahh! Wake me in about a week,"
"Not likely," Lisa said, coming in from the adjoining room, where the girls' baggage had been left. "How about I let you rest there for an hour. Then you can take me out for dinner."
"How exotic do you want to go for dinner?"
"Exotic? What do you mean?"
"McDonalds again or Taco Bell, or we could split the difference and send out for some pizza."
"I don't care. You think the... the girls will be joining us?"
Paul shrugged. "Who knows. The clerk said there was dinner-type food. I guess it'll depend on how comfortable they are being 'the girls.' If they aren't back, and we do go out, we'll leave them a message at the front desk."
"So does a nap. What are you going to do while I take one?" He patted the bed next to him and leered -- sort of. "You could always join me."
Lisa cocked an eyebrow. More surprises. "No, thanks. I napped some in the van. I think I'll... umm, take a shower. We were kind of rushed this morning." She began to unbutton her blouse.
Paul lay in the bed, eyes half closed, watching Lisa undress. He liked it that her firm breasts didn't sag when she unhooked her bra and tossed it onto a chair. When she bent over to step out of her skirt, he smiled to himself at the sight of her rounded butt and the soft curve of her legs.
He wasn't sleepy anymore; he was _hard_, achingly hard, and he found that he enjoyed the sensation.
Lisa didn't seem to notice. She picked up her toiletry case and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
'Well, we _are_ supposed to be married,' he thought, as he climbed out of bed. He heard the shower start as he quickly undressed.
Lisa had just stepped into the shower, when she heard his voice by the door. "Can I wash your back?"
"Paul," Lisa said. "What are you doing?" She turned to look at him. He was standing next to the shower, naked, smiling, and _very_ ready." She found herself smiling back.
"Once -- _before_ -- you confided to me that you had this elaborate fantasy about being made love to in a shower. This isn't exactly the Left Bank in Paris, and candles would probably set off the smoke alarm, but..." He gently took her hand and placed it on his erection. "...I'm ready to do my part."
Lisa felt her face flush. Her nipples felt hard enough to cut glass. "Then get in here and let's see just how _ready_ you are."
* * * * *
Jenny and Rachel followed the sound of the music into the park. They walked along a well-lit pathway, coming eventually to the entrance to a fenced-in picnic area. A metal archway at the entrance to the area said, "Madison Picnic Grove" Hanging down from the archway, a second sign read, "Park Department Thank-You Bash." A thin, Hispanic man in a white shirt and tie and a darkly tanned boy in a RETURN OF THE KING t-shirt were sitting behind a table handing out name tags.
'Here goes nothing,' Jenny thought and she walked over to the table. Both she and Rachel had stopped to put on lip gloss after they left the motel.
"Hi," the man said. "Which program are you two with?"
Jenny bit her lip nervously. "We're... umm, not with any program. We're staying over at the Motel 6. The guy behind the desk said we should come and ask to get into the party."
"I'm sorry," the man said with a frown. "This really is just for our summer workers."
"And their dates, Joe," the boy said, interrupting. "And their dates."
"Yeah, but these girls aren't anybody's dates, Marco," the man replied.
The boy took a good look at Jenny and Rachel, his gaze roaming over their shapely bodies. "No, but hot as they are, they will be somebody's dates real quick." He handed them each a tag that said, "Guest."
"Thanks," Jenny said, pinning the tag to her t-shirt.
"Yeah," Rachel said, "Thanks." She looked down at the ground, feeling a bit shy.
The boy smiled and kept looking at Rachel. "You're very welcome. Just save me a dance for when I get off gate duty, okay."
"O-okay." Rachel looked up at the boy, smiling, then quickly turning away again.
* * * * *
The food area, a "U" of long tables surrounding a portable pizza oven and three large, smoking, barrel-shaped grills, wasn't far inside the grove. A balding man wearing a "Kiss Me I'm the Cook" apron over a white shirt and tie, was standing behind one table opening a bag of burger buns. "What'll you young ladies have?" he asked.
"Burger and fries," Jenny said. Rachel asked for the same, and the man shouted their order to a second man working at the nearest grill.
The man pointed down to a long tray, next to a couple of large coolers at the end of the table. "Drinks are down there, fixings, too. Help yourselves." Jenny and Rachel looked. An metal tray held two kinds of relish, shredded lettuce and slices of pickle, tomato, and onion in different compartments, along with a row of squeeze bottles holding mustard, ketchup, and horseradish sauce. A small heated pot at the end was full of melted cheese.
"Here you go," the man said. He handed them each a paper plate with a burger and a small cardboard container of fries. A paper napkin was wrapped around a plastic knife and fork.
"Thanks," Jenny said. She put lettuce, a tomato slice, and some horseradish sauce on her burger and sprinkled some salt on her fries. Rachel just put ketchup and salt on her burger, but she used a ladle to pour melted cheese on her fries. They fished a pepsi and a can of pink lemonade out of the iced cooler, and sat at a nearby table.
Rachel popped one of her fries into her mouth. "Eeeww, all that grease," she said, spitting it out. "What was I thinking of?"
"I thought you liked cheese fries," Jenny said.
"I did... before. I guess I don't now." She picked up another fry and began scraping off the melted cheese with her knife.
Jenny nodded, looking unhappy. "I know what you mean. This pepsi is way too sweet. I need a diet pepsi." She frowned. "I guess our tastes are changing."
"I hope that doesn't include your taste in guys," a voice said. They looked up to see the boy from the gate. "Remember me... Marco... Marco Delgato... from when you came in?" He spun a chair around and sat down, both his arms resting on the chair back. "I traded shifts with a buddy of mine, so I could get that dance."
Rachel saw that he was looking straight at her. "Ummm... I remember. I'm Rachel... Rachel Hartman. This is my sister, Jenny."
"Hi, Jenny," Marco said and turned back to look at Rachel. "About that dance..."
Jenny felt slighted by all the attention he was paying Rachel. "Do you mind if we finish our supper first?"
"Whoa." Marco held up his hands. "I was gonna ask if I could join you two for some supper first."
"Sure, you can," Rachel said happily, "If it's okay with Jenny, I mean."
Jenny shrugged. "Why not?" She started to stand up. "I have to go get another pepsi, but I'll be right back."
"What's the matter with that one?" He pointed at the soda on the table next to her.
"I... uhh, I grabbed a pepsi instead of a diet pepsi." Jenny felt foolish even as she said it.
Marco stood quickly. "I have to get some food anyway. Why don't I drink that one..." he pointed to Jenny's soda on the table, "...and bring you a diet pepsi back for you?"
"Okay, I guess that'd work, too," Jenny said, deciding to cut the boy some slack for trying to get on her good side.
The boy bowed slightly. "Very well, then, my lady. I shall return anon... a-ten, even." He turned and walked over to the food table.
Rachel giggled as he left.
"Rachel," Jenny said, "what's got into you?"
Rachel put her hand in front of her mouth. "I... I'm sorry, Jenny, but he's funny, and he's nice, and he's _soo_ cute."
"Oh, Lord, what's happened to you?" Jenny said, looking concerned.
"I... I don't know, Jen, but -- to tell the truth -- I-I kind of like it."
"Just keep it under control. Okay?"
Rachel nodded her head quickly up and down, a wide grin on her face. "I will."
"Better get started, then." Jenny glanced over at the food tables. "He's coming back over." She sighed. "At least, he remembered my diet pepsi."
* * * * *
"Leave to you, Marco, to find the two prettiest girls at the party."
Marco looked up. "Hey, Coop. Ladies, this is Coop, Jefferson Coopersmith to the rest of the world. Coop, this is Rachel... and Jenny... Hartman." Marco shifted closer to Rachel as he spoke.
"Hi." He nodded at Rachel and stuck out his hand towards Jenny. He was tall, over six foot, and slender, with café au lait skin and an unruly shock of blonde, almost white, hair. "Can I join you?" He was carrying a slice of pizza with a bite out of it and a can of root beer.
Jenny shook his hand. 'Nice eyes,' she thought to herself. Aloud, she said, "Su-sure, sit down." He did. Next to her, but she didn't move away.
"So where do you girls work?" Coop asked, taking a swig of his soda.
"They don't," Marco answered for them. "They're a couple of tourists crashing the party."
Coop let out a soft whistle. "Does Harris know?"
"Yeah," Marco said. "I was working the gate with him, when they showed up. He wasn't gonna let them in"
Coop shook his head. "The man had no heart."
"Yeah, but I talked him into it," Marco said, gently putting his hand on Rachel's. "A party can't have too many pretty girls."
Rachel felt her face warm. "Or cute guys." She saw a surprised look flit across Jenny's face when she said it.