The Making of a Gigolo (11) - Renee Zimmerman

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Chapter Eight

Bobby bounced up the steps of Prudence and Constance's home. He didn't knock this time, either. Constance was in the kitchen, packing the picnic basket.

They hugged. It was a long hug, something they'd gotten used to in the weeks since Constance had begun her journey back amongst the living. It was a clinging kind of hug, and tight, that conveyed a lot of unspoken emotion, going both ways.

Then they were off to spend some time sitting under a tree, eating, and talking. Bobby tried to spend at least an hour or two with Constance each week, doing simple things, and getting her to go places. When she had awakened on the morning of July fifth, in her bed, and still clothed, with Bobby sleeping in the chair next to the bed, she had cried again, but this time it was the kind of crying that releases repressed emotion, and is a catharsis, if only a little one. He had stayed only long enough to see that she prepared breakfast, and promised to return later.

In the middle of July, Bobby parked his mother's pickup in front of Renee's house, and knocked on the door, to take her on their second date. It was a Friday night, and the Big Chief drive-in was showing three horror movies in a row that night. The Big Chief was on the south side of Hutchinson, which made it only about a twenty minute drive for them.

Renee had been worrying about this date for days, ever since Bobby had called her to arrange it. The biggest worry she had was not knowing what to expect. She'd heard all kinds of stories, such as one, when she was in high school, about how drive-ins were responsible for a quarter of all babies born in the United States in 1968. She kept telling herself that Bobby was trustworthy, but a continual flutter in her stomach bothered her all week. Their conversation, setting up the date, hadn't helped.

"I'm really looking forward to this," he'd said on the phone.

"Why?" she'd asked, instinctively.

"You're fun to be with," he said.

"Why?" she asked again. He hadn't been quite so excited after the last time.

"Can't a guy just enjoy being with a good looking woman?" he asked.

"You're flirting with me again," she warned him.

"Can't help it," he said. "It's a date. I'm supposed to flirt with you on a date." There was a pause, as she tried to think of something to say. "Besides," he went on. "It will be our second date. I might get to kiss you good night."

"I don't know about that," she said automatically. She felt a glow, though, at his desire for her. Then she shook her head. He wasn't supposed to desire her! "I don't think kissing is the kind of date I had in mind."

"We'll see," he said, his voice light. "A guy can hope, can't he?"

Now, as she stepped out of the house, and saw the truck, she stopped.

"We're going in that?" she asked. "You're taking me out in a rusty old truck?"

"I have a devious plan," he said casually. "A pickup is the best vehicle in the world to go to a drive-in in."

"Why?" she asked, staring at the truck.

"I'll show you," he said, taking her hand and pulling her toward the truck.

A large tarp was rolled up, in the front of the bed. There were two sleeping bags lying in the bed too, and a cooler.

"I'll park the truck backwards and roll out the bags when we get there," he said. "We can lie up against the tarp, and relax. We have snacks and drinks in the cooler. It'll be great."

"It'll be like a bed!" she pointed out.

"True," he said. "But I'll be on my best behavior."

"Uh huh," she said, doubtfully.

"Come on," he wheedled. "We'll be comfortable. People will be parked next to us. What could I possibly do in a situation like that? Besides, you're calling the shots, remember?"

She stood there, uncertainly.

"And remember, we can leave if you don't like it," he reminded her.

It was that ... at least she wanted to believe it was that ... that tipped the scales in his favor.

"Okay," she said.

It was the middle of the second movie, and Renee was both having fun, and mystified. She didn't think she'd do well with scary movies, especially movies like "High School Zombies", "The Killer Trees of Calhoun County" and "Pod Terror".

What saved the night for her was that the movies were so bad that they were funny, rather than scary. Well, there were scary parts, which seemed strange, because thirty minutes into "High School Zombies" she knew what was going to happen before it happened. Still, the tension of waiting for it to happen seeped into her, and the gore, even though patently fake, was enough to make her shudder.

Things had gone exactly as Bobby had predicted, with a couple of exceptions. When he backed over the hump and got the truck the way he'd wanted it, they were about two thirds of the way back from the screen. They did have one car beside them, but the space he'd chosen was right next to the trees that encircled the drive-in.

The teenagers in the car that parked next to them immediately got out and drifted off to find friends. The car sat empty through the first movie, leaving Bobby and Renee more or less alone, next to the trees.

The bed Bobby had made had, in fact, been quite comfortable, and there was plenty of room for both of them to lie there without touching each other. He had even put the cooler between their legs, saying it would be easily accessible to both of them that way.

His snacks were good too, much better than what she'd have thought to bring. He had pieces of pie and cake, and celery and carrots with some kind of delicious homemade dip. Bottles of pop were in the bottom, nestled amidst ice cubes. There was also cold meatloaf and fried chicken.

What was puzzling to Renee, halfway through "The Killer Trees of Calhoun County", where sentient trees snatched up unwary teenagers and somehow sucked the blood from their bodies, leaving them hanging in the branches, lifeless and pale, was how she had come to be pressed up against Bobby, with his arm around her. Maybe it was the fact that a tree branch was hanging over them.

She lay there, quite comfortable, enjoying the feel of his body against hers, and his arm around her, and tried to remember when the cooler had been moved down, and why she had moved over against him.

He smelled good, with the faint aroma of some kind of after shave, or cologne that she couldn't identify. A tree tore the head off of an unlucky teenage boy, and waved the headless body in the air on the screen. She found her face pressed into Bobby's chest, avoiding the sight of blood spurting, even though she knew it was fake blood.

"You okay?" his voice asked. She could feel the rumble of it in his chest.

"It's just so gory," she moaned.

"That's why nobody but us is watching it," he said.

"Why aren't they watching it?" she asked.

"They're too busy making out," he said, laughing.

She looked up at his face, flickering in the dark, as the light from the screen reflected off of it.

"Is that part of your nefarious plan?" she asked. "Did you bring me here to make out with me?"

"Like I said," he chuckled. "A man can hope."

She had been nervous, when they’d first arrived. But his easy manner, and banter, as they watched the ridiculous first movie, had made her lose all trace of that nervousness. And, though she couldn't remember if she'd moved up against him, or he'd tugged her there, his arm around her didn't feel threatening at all. In fact, she liked it. She hadn't snuggled with a man in a long time. Daniel wasn't the snuggling type.

"We're not supposed to make out," she said.

"That's why we haven't," he answered.

"Do you really want to kiss me?" she asked, wondering why she was asking. He'd already said he wanted to kiss her.

"Desperately," he said.

"Like your other women?" she asked, wondering why she was bringing this up now.

"I'm not thinking of any of them," he said. "I'm here with you. I'm thinking of you."

She couldn't resist looking at his lap. There was the same bulge there that had always been there ... no bigger ... no smaller. She was surprised to feel some resentment that it wasn't bigger now.

"Do you want to leave?" he asked.

She thought about that.

"No," she said. "Are you just trying to get rid of me so you can kiss me good night?"

"Not even close," he said, squeezing her with his arm.

"I haven't kissed a man good night on a date for years," she said.

"It's like riding a bike. It will come back to you," he chuckled. "Perhaps we could practice a little ... just so you won't be nervous when the time comes."

She punched him in the stomach, which was hard as a board, even though he went, "Ooof!"

"You just want to make out with me," she accused.

"Desperately," he said again.

"Why?" she asked, doggedly.

"I like you," he said. "Isn't that enough?"

"That's not what we're supposed to do," she insisted.

"Okay," he said. "Oh look, a tree just ripped a girl's arm off!" He laughed. "You can still see that she's got both arms. I hope they didn't pay these people a lot to make this film."

Renee, later, would decide that it was only because he was paying attention to the stupid movie, instead of her, that she lifted her head and kissed him. She didn't intend to kiss him. She knew that ... later. She would forever be firm in her mind that she hadn't intended to kiss him that first time, and that all she had been trying to do was take his attention away from that stupid movie. Years later, she would go to considerable expense to find and buy a copy of that movie. It would be one of her favorites.

What Renee would also try to remember, later, was the incredible rush of emotion that washed over her like a tidal wave, when Bobby kissed her back. She would decide that the reason it was so powerful, was because, suddenly, his attention was undeniably centered on her ... and not the stupid movie.

Somehow, that kiss turned into another one ... and another one, longer and stronger than the first, until they were lying down, ignoring the movie and everything around them ... making out.

They were undeniably making out. She was aware of that while they were doing it. His lips were hungry in a way that told her she was the most important thing in the world right then. Her lips returned the passion ... passion that had built up inside her, unbeknownst to her, and which broke out of her in a wave that was impossible to control.

It got completely out of hand, from her perspective.

First, his hand slid up inside her shirt, and moved all around her stomach and sides. Somehow her bra got pushed up, and his hands were on her breasts, causing streaks of sharp pleasure as he teased her nipples. Her nipples got stiff, almost painful, making her moan into his mouth as they performed another of those amazing kisses. Somehow her shirt got unbuttoned, and the warm night air caressed her skin, where his hands were not.

It was remarkably like the movie, in that she knew what was going to happen as he kissed down her jaw, to her throat, and across her upper chest, skipping over the bra she suddenly wished she hadn't worn, because it made him have to miss kissing some skin that it covered. She knew she should make him stop but, like the movie, letting the tension build was a kind of ecstasy she didn't want to resist. Her nipples also screamed for what she knew was coming.

She heard the groan wrench from her lungs as his lips finally captured a nipple, and she felt his hand, outside her jeans, pressing between her legs. That hand seemed to vibrate, and within a minute she knew she was cumming, astonished that she could do so from just this little stimulation.

It didn't feel like "little" stimulation, though, as he switched nipples, and continued to rub her. She tried to feel revulsion for herself, letting him do these things to her, but it was washed away by more exquisite feelings as he gave her nipple love, and rubbed her to another orgasm.

Then, as if he knew, somehow, the torment she was feeling, he stopped, and pulled her against him, just holding her.

"It's okay," he whispered into her hair, as she almost cried. "It's okay."

Just as suddenly as the passion had taken control of her body, she got that control back. Again, his arms around her just felt good, and not threatening. Her passion cooled to a dim glow in her belly. She thought about her unbuttoned shirt, and became aware of her naked breasts, against the fabric of his shirt. She felt embarrassment, because she had lost control, and because she wanted it to happen again.

"Can we go now?" she whispered.

"Sure," he answered. "Let me do you back up."

"No," she said. "I'll do it." She was suddenly embarrassed.

"Let me," he said softly. "I undid you. I should repair the damage."

She rolled away from him, and his fingers replaced her bra, and slowly re-buttoned her shirt.

"Thank you," he said, as he did it. She wasn't sure if he was thanking her for letting him touch her naked breasts, or letting him button her shirt.

She didn't want anything to eat. She didn't want to ride around or talk. She just wanted to go home. He walked her to the door. He didn't ask to kiss her good night. He just did it, with his hands on her face. It was an astonishingly soft and quick kiss, nothing like the kisses before. When he said, "Thank you," again, she believed him ... he really was thankful for what had happened.

She went to bed, her emotions still roiling inside her. Then, a thought broke through that would change everything for her. She had done nothing for him. He had asked her for nothing for him, in return. He hadn't asked her to touch him. It was perfectly clear, as they writhed on those sleeping bags, that he was erect. Gone was that gentle lump in his pants. She had felt that lump grow insistent as they kissed.

Yet, he had left without being satisfied. He had said "Thank you," and meant it. In that moment, she knew he had given her what she seemed to need, without knowing she needed it, and put his own desires on the back burner.

It was at that moment, when Renee Harqart-Zimmerman realized that Bobby cared at least as much about her, maybe even more than he did for his own needs, that she realized why all those other women looked at him the way they did ... and the way she would probably look at him from now on.

On the 20th of July, Suzie heard a knock at her door and looked up from the book she had been reading while lying in bed.

"Come in," she called out. It was Bobby.

"When are you going to go see the Chumleys?" he asked. He'd told her about Felicity's offer of scholarship money a week ago and she hadn't done anything about it yet.

"I feel so weird about that," said Suzie. "I don't know them. Why would they offer me a scholarship?"

"That's something you should ask them," said Bobby, pointedly.

"I don't have a ride," she said.

"I'll give you a ride," he responded.

"You said you'd help me," she countered.

"I can help you a little," said Bobby. "I won't be able to pay the whole thing."

"I can get some other scholarships," she said.

"Why are you so set against this?" he asked.

"I'm not set against it," she said. "It's just weird. Why would they pay my way through school?"

"They have their reasons," said Bobby. "Like I said, you should ask them that. Besides, it may not be a full scholarship. She didn't say how much they were willing to offer you."

"She's one of those women ... isn't she?" asked Suzie, finally. They both knew what she meant.

"Why would that matter?" asked her brother.

"That's what makes it so weird," said Suzie.

"I want you to at least go tell them you're not interested," he said firmly.

"I didn't say I'm not interested," she said. "I just don't understand why they'd do this."

"For the last time," said Bobby, sternly. "You'll have to ask them why."

"You know why ... don't you?" she said, her intelligence showing through.

"Yes," he admitted. "But I'm not going to tell you."

"I figured that out, genius," she said, frowning.

"Get up and get some shoes on," said Bobby. "I'll take you over there right now."

"Okay, okay, don't have a cow!" complained Suzie. "Get out, I need to change my clothes."

"No you don't," he said, suspecting that she intended to climb out her window. "They're not interested in your clothes. They're interested in your mind."

Suzie finally gave up. She had in fact been planning to escape. She felt extremely uncomfortable at the idea of actually talking to one of Bobby's women. It was different with the ones who came to the house. She was comfortable with Prudence, and a couple of the others. But while everybody in town knew who the Chumleys were, she didn't know anybody ... other than Bobby ... who was on friendly terms with them. To Suzie, they were big, important, rich people ... people who wouldn't care about her ... or would have to have some kind of reason for caring.

Two hours later, a very stunned, but very happy Suzie walked back out to her brother's car. He was sitting in the driver's seat, his head back on the back rest. Suzie had no way of knowing that Annie had pulled him into a guest bedroom for a quickie while his sister was being interviewed by Chester Chumley.

And an interview is what it had been. There was no doubt about that. Suzie had been asked question after question about why she wanted to go into medicine and how she had prepared for that. The old man wanted to know about her grades, and she'd had to sign a release form that would allow him to examine her school records. She'd felt like she was being grilled, at first, and her natural combative nature, which she had just displayed to Bobby an hour before, came out, until she felt like justifying herself to Chester Chumley was important, for some reason.

Then he had simply smiled, and made her an offer. If she would return to Granger or, perhaps Hutchinson, and be in general practice there for at least eight years - one year for each that he would pay for her schooling - she would owe him nothing. His offer included a stipend, for room and board. He stipulated that he didn't want her trying to work full time while she went to school. Her job, as his "employee" of sorts, was to do well in school. If she wanted to work a few hours a week, just for spending money, or "mad money" as he called it, that was fine. She was to supply him with transcripts, at the end of each year. If she had a cumulative three point grade average, he'd pay for the next year.

Suzie had done her homework. She informed Chester that when she was in her residency, she'd be paid for that. Chester said that money should be saved, and that the stipend would be intact then too.

"You'll need a nest egg when you open a practice here," he said. "You won't be making much money, at first."

"What if I want to specialize?" she asked.

"Then you probably won't do that here, in Granger and you can pay me back when you get established," he said. "But if you don't specialize you'll still have to practice here, in Grangerl, to settle the debt."

When all had been said and done, Chester had stood, shaken her hand, and said he'd have a contract prepared that would spell out everything. She was eighteen already, and could either sign it, or turn him down then.

She had no intention of turning him down. This would allow her to live her dream. She hadn't really thought about where she would go after med school. Coming back to Granger seemed like a wonderful thing to her. She would already know people, and they would become her patients. There was a small hospital in town that might have a ready-made vacancy for her. If not, like Chester had suggested, she could open her own family practice.

The first thing she did, when she got in the car, was kiss her brother, full on the lips.

"I know you had something to do with this," she said, pulling back, somewhat shocked at how ... good ... that kiss had felt.

"I take it things went okay?" he asked, grinning.

"I love you," she said.

"I know," he said, smiling. "I love you too."

Renee sat and looked at the official looking document in her hands. It had been placed there by the priest, who was sitting across his desk from her.

"I can't believe this," she sighed.

"Believe it," said the priest. "This one was so cut and dried that it only took half the time these things usually take."

"What now?" she asked.

"Take the decree of annulment ... I suppose you could mail a notarized copy ... to the State of Nevada. They'll dissolve the marriage, based on this, and issue their own annulment decree. I have no idea how long that will take, but since no court appearance is necessary, it shouldn't be more than a few months."

"I'm not married." Her voice had relief in it.

"You never were married, in the eyes of the church," said the man. "I'll expect to see you at mass a little more often, Renee."

"Of course," she said, automatically.

"And at confession too?" he prompted.

"How about now?" she said.

"I have time," said the priest.

Renee sat in the close confines of the dark confession booth.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned," she started. "The other night I let a man kiss me."

"Kissing isn't normally considered a sin, my child," came the voice through the grille. "What was in your heart during this kiss?"

"Lust, Father," she sighed.

"Perhaps you should go on after all," said the voice of the man who had helped her.

Confession had been painful ... but then it always was. She remembered a time that seemed far in the past, when she'd been impatient at this priest's urging for her to confess, and had told herself she had nothing to confess. Now she wondered if she'd ever be able to go into that booth and be unable to think of anything she'd done wrong. Still, also as usual, she felt better after it was done. She had no idea what she was going to do about Bobby, but she felt better.

She knew she'd have to see him again. She didn't even try to analyze why now. Her sleep, after the drive-in, had been deep and dreamless, and she had awakened refreshed, feeling energy that demanded that she get up and do something useful.

She had thrown herself into her plans to expand the pre-school. As if someone had heard her thoughts, a woman called. She was named Rhonda Wilson, and she was looking for full time work with babies and toddlers. She told the woman to come over for an interview, and thirty minutes later, there she was, with her own child, a darling little girl about a year and a half old.

Renee liked the woman immediately, and she hired her on the spot. Only as an afterthought had she asked, "How did you find out about this job?"

"I have a friend, Bobby Dalton, who told me you might need some help," said Rhonda.

Renee looked at the woman, and then at her little girl. The hair was straw colored ... not black, but she could see Bobby's jaw in the face. She wanted to laugh, but kept it in.

"I know him too," said Renee, carefully. "He helped me turn this place into what it is now."

"He's a wonderful man," said Rhonda, not in the least bit embarrassed to say it to her new employer.

As her new employee left, Renee wondered if there were any women in town who didn't think Bobby was a ... wonderful man.

To be truthful, Renee didn't plan on hiring Bobby for a third date. It wasn't that she didn't want to. She wanted to very much. But she knew, deep in her heart, that, if they went out again, he could do anything with her that he wanted to and she wouldn't be able to stop him.

No ... it wasn't that really either. She wouldn't want him to stop. That taste of sweet ecstasy that he had given her with just his mouth and hands, had been so satisfying ... so electric ... she knew she would want that again ... and more.

She saw him twice, in the last week of July, almost two weeks after the drive-in. The first time was just on the street, as she drove past. He was standing, talking to a man on the sidewalk, and her heart fluttered. He didn't see her and she didn't stop. The second time, he dropped in, as was his habit. She was thankful that it was during the work-day when she was busy, because being close to him, while he acted completely normally, made her knees weak.

He didn't leer at her, or remind her of what had happened. He simply asked her how things were going, like he always did, and spent a few minutes being a horse for a line of children, who waited patiently for their turn. Rhonda's face lit up when she saw him, and she thanked him for suggesting she take the job, telling him she loved it. He didn't leer at Rhonda either, but he did pick up her little girl, who seemed to be familiar with him and smiled.

He was about to leave, having paid almost no attention to Renee at all, when he turned.

"By the way, Chester Chumley and his wife have some extra tickets to the Starlight Theater in Kansas City. They offered them to me, but I hate to go alone."

Renee felt her heart sink, as her voice said, "When?"

"The thirtieth," he said. "I believe they said Man of La Mancha> is playing."

"Starlight Theater?" she asked.

"It's an outdoor amphitheater. I got to see Peter Pan there when I was in high school. The drama club went on a field trip. It was a big deal, back then. I still remember it as one of the highlights of my life."

"You were in drama club?" she asked, and then felt stupid for sounding like she didn't believe him.

"Just that one year," he said. "It took too much time away from the farm, so I had to drop out."

A ray of hope shone at her. "We'll be going with them?" she asked. It would be like a double date ... safe.

“Chester said he'd take care of all the arrangements," said Bobby.

Communication is the key to all successful relationships, even when the relationship is a temporary one thrown together for the purpose of enabling four people to go to a musical.

There was communication in this case: Felicity asked Bobby if he'd like to ask a woman to go to the theater with them. Bobby said he knew of a woman who might enjoy that. Bobby asked that woman if she'd like to go, and then called Felicity back and said he had a date. All of that was communication.

There was, however, room for error, when assumptions were thrown into the mix.

We already know that Renee's assumptions were that she'd be on a double date, which was comforting to her, because the memory of Bobby's lips and fingers on her body was still bright in her mind. Those orgasms had been delightfully crushing, since she had been without sex for over four months at the time she’d had them.

Felicity made some assumptions of her own. Having grown up in Kansas City, and having gone to the Starlight Theater on a number of occasions, she knew that the show wouldn't start until after dark and that it would end very late. She assumed no one would want to have to hurry back to Granger, to arrive, exhausted, in the early morning. It would be much better to simply stay the night in Kansas City, and get a fresh start in the morning.

And, Felicity, drawing on her own passionate relationship with Bobby, made some further assumptions. She knew that Bobby supplied the same "service" he had graced her with to other women. She can be forgiven, at least by everyone except Renee, for assuming that Bobby would just naturally ask one of those women on this outing. Assuming that, she booked only two rooms at the Crown Hotel. Remembering her own experience with Bobby in a hotel room, she assumed that this woman, Renee, would be happy with that arrangement.

Chester assumed that his young bride, always efficient, had everything under control.

Bobby, for his part, assumed only that he was taking Renee to a musical, after which they'd return home. Who knew what would happen then?

Assumptions, by their very nature, are rarely communicated to others. Why tell someone what everyone allegedly already knows?

Felicity got close when she called Renee and told her to pack a change of clothes, since they were also planning on taking in the Swope Park Zoo before the show. The word "pack" in that conversation, was an unexplained assumption that there would be an overnight bag in the first place. Renee missed the importance of that one little word though. She just assumed there would be a place to change clothes, since Felicity was planning everything.

The deficit in good communication might have been resolved, had Bobby picked Renee up and taken her to the Chumley mansion earlier, at which time they would have seen Felicity's and Chester's suitcases and overnight bags being loaded into the back of the Bentley. But Bobby got them there just in time for them to leave. Felicity, on a time schedule, did not invite Renee in for a tour, something Renee would have loved to do once she saw the place. Felicity, after kissing Bobby hello, assumed he had already put his and Renee's bags in the trunk, when, in fact, Bobby hadn't brought anything at all.

As Renee sat in the back of the Chumley's 1965 Bentley flying Spur, as it purred down the interstate, she finally relaxed a little. Part of that was the luxurious nature of the car, which Felicity Chumley was driving, and the obvious opulance of the Chumnley mansion. Renee's privileged upbringing would have made her quite comfortable in the Chumley's home and, while the car was even fancier than her father's cars, she still felt at ease in the presence of wealth.

Felicity had been chatting since they picked her up. The easy chatter from this obviously wealthy and intelligent woman set Renee at ease. The conversation was light. Felicity used the time to "get to know" Renee, asking her where she had gone to school, and being appropriately impressed with Renee's background. Renee expected nothing less from a woman of such high station as Felicity obviously was, and had no clue that Felicity had been dirt poor and was educated in a secretary mill. They talked about clothes, and shopping, and all kinds of things that two women of the same basic social stature were familiar with.

Neither Bobby nor Chester said much. Chester just sat, humming softly to himself. Renee was so relaxed that she noticed only momentarily when Bobby reached for her hand, and held it lightly in his own between them on the seat. It felt good to have her hand held.

They went straight to the zoo, which was both vast and impressive. It just seemed natural as they strolled between enclosures, examining the animals, for both women to hold the hand of the man they were with. Renee particularly loved the huge ape exhibit, which had more than fifty monkeys in it, jumping and swinging and chasing each other, performing funny looking antics, and even interacting, to some degree, with the observers who threw them peanuts or marshmallows. She sighed at the beauty of the dolphins, so sleek in their large pool, and so friendly, chittering at the people leaning over the rail of the pool.

The first clue Renee had that something was terribly wrong, was when they got back in the car and drove to the Crown.

Felicity looked at the watch on her wrist.

"Excellent!" she exclaimed as she parked the car in front of the big revolving doors of the hotel. "No need to hurry changing clothes. We have plenty of time to do that and then have a leisurely dinner before the Starlight."

"We're changing here?" asked Renee.

"Of course," said Felicity. "Where else?"

"But this is a hotel," said Renee, confused.

"One of the best," said Felicity. "I assure you, your room will be satisfactory."

Renee didn't have time to ask questions, as Felicity opened the trunk of the car and started instructing a bell hop which bags would go with which room.

"Bobby?" she said, looking up at him. "Where's your luggage?"

"I didn't bring any," said Bobby. "I didn't know we were staying the night."

"Of course we're staying the night," said Felicity, impatiently. “We're going to the Starlight ..." She blinked. "Theater," she added weakly.

Felicity turned to Renee, who was standing there, with a frown on her face.

"I just assumed everybody knew ..." she said, faltering. "The show won't be over until very late, and ..."

She looked into the trunk.

"I told Renee, but I forgot to tell you!" she yipped.

Renee got it then. She looked at her suitcase, which had only a dress in it, then at the four other bags obviously belonging to the Chumleys.

Renee Harqart, as she now thought of herself, was faced with a dilemma. She could admit that she had misunderstood, and confess to what was in her suitcase, but she'd also have to confess that she had no idea they were spending the night. That went against the grain of a Harqart. You didn't look ignorant or foolish in front of your peers, unless there was no other option. Rather unkindly, she dismissed Bobby's predicament. He was, after all, just a handyman from Granger, Kansas. One must understand, too, that Renee had fallen quite far from what had been her station in life, when she had been married to a wealthy man, and had a new home, and all the dreams of a young woman starting a family. She had dragged herself back up a few notches, though, and did not want to backslide in front of the Chumleys. Had she taken the time to think about it, she'd have realized that those notches she'd climbed back up had been with significant help from Bobby Dalton, and that she owed it to him ... and herself ... to be true to the new woman she had become ... independent ... in control of her own destiny again ... and at least on the way to being happy again.

For the rest of us, it could have been turned into a humorous little error ... just a silly misunderstanding to be laughed about in later years. The ride in the Bentley, however, had brought back old habits, and Renee Harqart had no intention of appearing to be either silly or ignorant.

"We'll just have to make do," she said, her voice much tighter than she'd have wished it to be.

"Yes!" said Felicity, obviously relieved. "We have time to go shopping for Bobby. Yes! That won't be a problem. The rest of us will get changed, and then we'll go get Bobby something to wear, and then dinner, and everything will work out fine!"

"Can't I just wear this to the theater?" asked Bobby, looking down at his slacks and shirt, both of which Felicity had purchased for him more than a year ago.

Both women sniffed, at the same time. It would have been humorous, had the situation allowed it to be.

"You'll also need something to travel in tomorrow," said Felicity, frowning a little.

"Oh, of course," said Bobby, recognizing that his opinion didn't matter in this situation. "Why didn't I think of that?" he added, with a tinge of sarcasm.

They went inside and Renee was in the process of relaxing again, thinking she had dodged a bullet, when Felicity turned around and handed Bobby a key. She had another one in her hand, which Renee almost reached for, thinking it was the key to her room. Her world jerked sideways a little when Felicity dropped that hand and walked toward the elevator.

It became blindingly obvious there were only two rooms.

Renee looked at Bobby, who was looking at her. He raised one eyebrow, as if to say, "Well lookee there!" and then shrugged, as if to say, "This is none of my doing - you're on your own."

Renee lagged behind, pulling at Bobby's elbow.

"There are only two rooms!" she hissed, under her breath.

"Looks that way," said Bobby. "You want me to stop her and get things straightened out?"

Renee was right back where she'd been, standing by the trunk of the car. There were streams of people all around them. Most were nicely dressed. This was, indeed, a high class establishment. She envisioned the scene that would be made, in front of all those people, as she objected to the accommodations, and embarrassed Felicity ... and herself.

"No," she said tightly. "We'll talk about this in the room."

"Okay," said Bobby, who wasn't ruffled at all.

<< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>