Friday, April 26, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 14 (UNEDITED)

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-PART 2: Chapter 13 before proceeding to PART 2: Chapter 14.
 
Otherwise, read from the word go :)





CHAPTER 14

“Well then, what are we waiting for?  Let’s head on up!” Carl said.
Jimmy, Carl, Reginald, and Linda began to climb the stairs to the door that closed off the Fleming’s old quarters to the outside world.  Dorothy and Gail hesitated before following.  Carl pushed ahead to the top step and reached out to try the door.  He barely laid a hand on it when it opened to them with a loud creak, causing all of them to take a step backward.  They stood, staring into the dark void that lay beyond the doorway.  Jimmy shone his flashlight inside, revealing a hallway lined with rooms that led down to the dead end wall.  When nobdy made a move to enter first, Carl turned back to them and said, “Well, shall we?”
“Definitely,” Jimmy immediately answered.
“Of course,” Reginald added.
The boys sounded confident but the girls knew their boyfriends well enough to be able to tell that underneath it all, they were feeling just as unnerved as they were.  Linda also feigned the confidence as she smiled, grabbed Jimmy’s hand and stepped through the doorway with Jimmy.  Carl held out his hand to Dorothy.  She took it.  She and Carl followed Jimmy and Linda.  Then, in went Reginald and Gail.
Once everyone had stepped through, they stood for that first moment, taking in what was once the Fleming family’s place of residence.  The entrance had led them into a corridor with a high ceiling and wooden floors.  There was a kitchen to their right that was still equipped.  The wall to their left had a small table against it and, by the moonlight that filtered in through the kitchen window and into the hall, the kids were able to make out the outline of a large painting decorating the wall above the table. 
Jimmy cast the beam from his his flashlight onto the painting.  The painting reminded Dorothy of Monet’s 1903 painting, Water Lillies (The Clouds).  What a coincidence to have such similar paintings decades apart from one another.  It seemed innocent enough and was obviously put there by Cedric and Margaret in an attempt to create a cheerful and comfortable atmosphere for their living space.  But to Dorothy, there was more to the painting than the pretty colors blended together on a canvas.  The painting featured two different worlds, both reflecting off of the other.  The pond was a sort of looking glass that one could fall through and into another dimension or realm, much like the stories of Lewis Carroll.  In the glow of Jimmy’s flashlight, the painting seemed to come to life. The more Dorothy looked at it, the more the water seemed to ripple, taking on a glassy appearance, and the clouds above it began to slowly move.  Dorothy was taken away from the painting when Jimmy took his flashlight from the painting, casting the world that was withing the painting in darkness. 
Jimmy sent the beam from his light down the hall.  There was another room just a couple of feet down from the table and the painting. 
“Let’s check this out,” he suggested, pointing his light toward that second room.
The six of them traipsed wordlessly over to the room that was revealed to be a sitting room.  The pale glow from the moonlight lit the area enough for them to see where they were going without bumping into anything.  By that and the light from Jimmy’s flashlight, they were able to see that a couch, two armchairs, and a divan remained in the room around the fireplace.  There were bookshelves that still had books on them.  Dorothy’s fascination with the books took over her and she stepped into the room, heading straight for the bookshelves. 
“Dorothy…” she heard Carl say.  But she couldn’t help her curiosity over the books and how they could have been left here without at least being given over to the library or even a bookstore or museum.  There were many in the New York state.  Dorothy ran her hands over the dusty, hardback books that lined the shelves as her friends walked over to where she stood.  She felt Carl place a hand on her upper arm.
“Look at some of these!” Dorothy exclaimed, “don’t you think the library would love to have these?  I know I’d love to have them, myself!” 
Everything from Shakespeare to Leroux to the Brontes to Poe filled the shelves.  She noticed that the Flemings also had the Marlowe and the Geothe versions of Faust.  Dorothy took out both of the books.  Both copies were small enough to fit into her bag.
“Dorothy, you know this makes you a thief like Carl, Reginald and I,” Jimmy said with a teasing grin.
Dorothy smiled.  “Well as Carl said, it’s not as though anyone’s using them.  Besides, I don’t think anyone will be missing them.  Apparently not if they were left here.”
Linda and Gail looked at one another and raised their eyebrows.  They were both impressed with how much more nerve Dorothy had since she began seeing Carl.  Jimmy chuckled and shone his flashlight around the room until he came to a large rectangular object that was tucked away in a far corner.  It stuck out from behind another shelf across the room.  Unlike the first shelf, this one had been stripped empty.  Jimmy walked over toward the object.
“Jimmy, where are you going?” Linda asked.
“I’m seeing what’s behind this other shelf, honey,” Jimmy answered.
Everyone followed Jimmy to the other shelf as he inspected the rectangular object that was shoved behind it. 
“What is that?” Linda asked.
“I think it’s a frame,” Jimmy answered, “a framed painting, maybe…here, someone take my flashlight.”
Reginald held Jimmy’s flashlight as Jimmy moved the shelf out a couple inches in order to have easier access to the large, heavy object.  Dorothy could see Linda’s look of neverending admiration for Jimmy, especially when he would move objects that were on the large and/or heavy side.  Dorothy smiled and shook her head.  Jimmy could never do any wrong in Linda’s eyes.
When Jimmy had a grasp on the object, he turned it around, resting it against the wall.  It was, indeed, a framed picture or painting that was covered in dust and cobwebs. 
“Carl, rip a piece of that sheet off,” Jimmy said pointing over to the couch that Carl was near to.  Carl tore a piece of cloth from the sheet who handed it to Jimmy who wiped the thick layer of dust and cobwebs.
“Jimmy, be careful!” Linda cried, “What if there are poisonous spiders living in there?!”
Gail rolled her eyes.  “Linda, spiders don’t live in cobwebs.”
Before Linda could respond, Jimmy said, “Check this out!”
They crowded around the painting as Reginald shone Jimmy’s flashlight onto the painting.
“I’ll be damned,” Carl said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Fleming Family,” Reginald said.
The six of them stared as Cedric, Margaret, Nathaniel, and Maxine Fleming looked back at them from the canvas their likenesses were painted on.  Cedric and Margaret stood behind their two young children.  Reginald, Gail, and Dorothy had seen photos of the Flemings in several old periodicals at the library, but seeing an almost life-sized painting of them was an entirely different experience.  Dorothy guessed that the painting of the Flemings had been done by the same artist who had done the portrait of James Livingston that was hanging in the library as both paintings the same life-like appearance (almost as though the portrait subject or subjects could step right out from the painting and into the room with you).
At the time the painting was done, Cedric had been a man who appeared to be in his early forties and Margaret a couple years younger.  And although Nathaniel and Maxine had both been adopted, the two children looked as though they could very well pass for being the biological children of Cedric and Margaret.  Nathaniel had a mid-tone hue of brown hair that looked as though it could have been a combination of Cedric’s light brown hair and Margaret’s dark brown.  Maxine’s hair was strawberry blonde, but she and Margaret had blue eyes.  But Maxine’s eyes were lighter, icy blue to Margaret’s darker, almost violet, eye coloring.  The painting had obviously been done prior to Nathaniel’s bout with scarlet fever and the boy looked to be about ten and his sister five or six. 
“Why do think it was stuck behind the shelf?” Carl asked.
“Well, remember that Jared Fleming moved in here after his aunt and uncle had passed away,” Gail said, “maybe it was too painful for him to look at.”
“Or too painful for Maxine to look at,” Dorothy said.
“That could be,” Reginald said, “she did allegedly stayed with him up here almost every night during the week.  Although Maxine would stay in her room, the one we were just in, a couple nights during the week to avoid gossip.  But, of course, that didn’t stop it.  And it didn’t help matters when Jared would come to her room on some of those nights.”
“What do you mean?” Linda asked.
“Well,” Reginald continued slowly, “according to some of the other instructors who stayed on the property…Jared and Maxine weren’t exactly…you know…quiet.”
“Oh, you mean they were like Jimmy and Linda,” Carl cracked.
“You’re hilarious, Carl,” Jimmy said.
“There is nothing scandalous about Jimmy and I!” Linda cried.
“I didn’t say you were scandalous.  You two are practically married.  I just said you were loud,” Carl said.  “We could hear you all the way down the hall at George’s End of Summer party.”
“Carl…” Dorothy said, hoping her boyfriend would take a hint to not push it any further.  She could see Linda’s eyes darting up toward Jimmy.
“Can we change the subject from Linda and I, please?” Jimmy asked through gritted teeth.
“Actually, I don’t see how it was so scandalous,” Dorothy said thoughtfully, “Jared and Maxine, I mean.”
All eyes turned to Dorothy.
“Really?” Reginald inquired.  He was obviously interested in hearing Dorothy’s viewpoint on what many did view with much disdain.
“I think that the only thing that could pass as scandalous was the fact that they were unmarried,” Dorothy said, “but even with that, it’s not as though they were the only ones to ever have such a relationship.  History is loaded with stories like theirs, some of them far more scandalous.  I think they just drew too much attention to themselves and that was their big mistake.  Otherwise, I don’t think anyone would have noticed or cared.  At least not as much.”
“What about the fact that they were also cousins?” Carl asked.
“Back in those days, it wasn’t all that uncommon for cousins to marry one another,” Gail said.”
“That is true,” Reginald said, “especially if they were upper class.  Which the Flemings were.  In some parts of the world, such a thing is still sometimes practiced.”
“That would just be way too close to home for me,” Jimmy said grimacing.
“Well Jimmy, if it makes you feel better, Nathaniel and Maxine were adopted.  She and Jared weren’t even blood-related,” Gail said.
Jimmy shook his head.  “Still…I’d feel like I was necking with my sister.”
“If you and Amanda were from a royal family, centuries ago in Europe or ancient Egypt, that would have also been perfectly acceptable,” Reginald stated with a matter-of-fact tone. 
“How’s that?” Jimmy asked.
“Incestual marriage was a fairly common practice for some royalty.  They saw it as a way of keeping their bloodline pure,” Dorothy said.
“Well I could care less if my bloodline is kept pristine,” Jimmy said.  “Thank God I had the foresight to sleep through History class.”
“Me too,” Carl said, “I think I’d rather remain blissfully ignorant to the King of England being married to his sister.”
“Actually, England hasn’t had a king since the early 18th century.  Only queens since then, smart guy,” Reginald said.
“Haha.  Alright, asshole,” Carl said grinning,“besides, that’s not true.  What about George the Fifth?  Isn’t he there now?”
“Yeah,” Reginald said,” but William the Third was the last to hold the title, reigning jointly with his wife.”
“How do you have time to memorize all this stuff?” Carl asked.
Reginald shrugged. "George the Fifth isn't married to his sister, either."
The group returned to a good-natured conversation while Dorothy looked back to the painting, focusing on little Maxine before turning her attention back to the rest of the family.  The happy contentment in the eyes of Cedric and Margaret was almost heartbreaking to behold.  The parents of the two beautiful children had been blissfully unaware of what fate awaited their young son within only a year or two years’ time.  Blissfully unaware of what the future held for all four of them. 
Dorothy felt a chill pierce through her body and she glanced at Gail, who looked back at her.  Gail had also returned to looking at the painting and Dorothy could tell by Gail’s eyes that her friend had been contemplating the same thing.  How circumstances could change so much in such a short time and how nobody can truly tell how anything will really turn out.  Dorothy felt the urge to reach out and grasp Carl’s hand at the thought.
“Are you alright?” Carl asked as Dorothy squeezed his hand.
“Yeah,” Dorothy replied, “just a little chilly.”
“Well, I happen to be quite good at keeping pretty young women warm,” Carl said wrapping his arms around Dorothy.
“Women?” Dorothy asked with a teasing smile.
“Well, only one in particular,” Carl said tightening his embrace around Dorothy.
“Hey you guys, it’s starting to get late,” Linda said, “what do you say we find a place for the séance now?”
“How about instead of a séance, we could play a game?” Gail said.
“A game?” Jimmy asked with an eyebrow raised.
“Yeah.  Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” Gail said.
“You, Dorothy, and I tried that last summer,” Linda said, “it didn’t work.”
“Maybe we’ll have more luck here,” Gail said.
“Well you’ve certainly had a change of heart from before, Gail,” Carl said.
“Yeah,” Gail said, “I don’t know what it is about this place…”
“Well whatever we’re doing, let’s get moving,” Linda said.
“A kid’s game?” Jimmy asked with a grimace as they filed out of the sitting room.
The next room down from the sitting room was a study with the desk, chair, and cabinets still in place.  The six imagined that this had been used for business affairs and official paperwork for the orphanage.  Dorothy, Reginald, and Gail each held a curiosity for whether or not there may be a lingering document.  But their thoughts were interrupted by Linda.  “Look! This must have been Maxine’s room when she lived here with her parents!” she exclaimed.
The room was across the hall from the study.  The study and Maxine’s old room were slightly diagonal to one another with Maxine’s bedroom slightly further toward the end of the hall.  The bedroom had been done in all white.
“Look at this bedspread,” Linda said stepping in to expect what was once a pure white, lacy bed cover, “if it wasn’t so aged I’d steal it for my room!”
There was also a white, wooden chair in the far corner of the room near the foot of the bed and next to the closet.   The moon peeked through the lacy window curtains that had once been white to match the bedspread.  The dresser had also been painted white and was against the wall by the door. 
“Hey, I wonder if they left behind and of Maxine’s old clothes,” Linda said.  She was visibly disappointed when she opened the closet and drawers to find them empty.
“I guess the family took them,” Dorothy said with a shrug, “they did take some things with them when they closed the place up.  Maxine’s clothes must have been among those items.”
“They apparently missed the painting back in the sitting room,” Reginald said.
“That’s an awfully large object to just miss,” Jimmy observed.
“They also left the painting at the beginning of the hallway,” Dorothy said.
“Yeah, but you would think they would take the family portrait with them,” Jimmy said, “at least I would think.”
Jimmy did have a point no one could disagree with.  Of course, it could have been an oversite on the family’s part when they set to closing the establishment as quickly as they could.  But it still seemed an odd thing to miss, especially since most of the walls had been stripped bare of any décor.
“Alright people,” Carl said breaking through the silence, “what do you say we move on from here and into the master bedroom.  The room where all the action took place.”
“How morbid,” Reginald said.
Carl shrugged and the group left Maxine’s room and began heading to the room where Cedric, Margaret, and Jared Fleming had met their end.  As she was exiting through the doorway, Dorothy felt a draft as though someone were breathing close to her head.  She turned her head to look behind her.  But she was the last to leave the room and it appeared to be empty.  Dorothy’s eyes roamed the room and stopped at the window when thought she saw a shadow move by from the outside.
Or was it outside?  Dorothy couldn’t tell.
Dorothy took a cautiouse step back into the room and nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a voice next to her. 
“Dorothy…”
She whirled around to see Carl, who was looking at her bewildered.
“Baby, are you sure you’re alright?” Carl asked her.
Dorothy let out a breath, recollected herself, and said, “Yes.  Yes, Carl.  I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine,” Carl said as he gently placed his hands on her elbows, “you like you had quite a scare.  I’m sorry if I startled you.”
“It’s alright,” Dorothy said, “I just thought I saw…”  Her voice trailed off as she looked back toward the window.
“You thought you saw something out the window?”  Carl asked.
“I don’t know.  Maybe.  A shadow, I think.  But it was probably the dark playing tricks on me.”
Carl gave Dorothy a small smile, headed to the window, and pulled back the curtain.  He stepped aside to reveal a tree branch just outside of the window to Dorothy.
“Was this your shadow?” Carl asked.
“I suppose so,” Dorothy said feeling heat creep up to her face, “I can’t believe how jumpy I am.”
Carl shrugged and said, “It’s understandable.  Places like this will do that to you.” 
Dorothy gave Carl a small smile as he went back over to her.
“But don’t worry.  You have me to protect you,” he said putting his arms around Dorothy and pulling her close.
Dorothy returned Carl’s embrace and put her head against his chest.  Being with Carl did make her feel safe.  She felt his lips lightly brush the top of her head and closed her eyes.
“You know,” Carl said lowering his tone, “my house is empty for the night.”
Dorothy opened her eyes as she anticipated what Carl was suggesting.  “What are you saying?”
“You know how all of our parents are at the Millers’ party.  Probably all night.  And Emily and Mark are both staying with friends tonight.  It’s going to be awful lonely going back to an empty house.”
Dorothy looked up at Carl with her heartrate picking up speed.  Carl was right.  The majority of everyone’s parents in town were at a party over at the Miller’s house on Main Street.  And Carl’s two younger siblings were at friends’ houses for the evening.  Dorothy knew that it would be quite some time before both her and Carl’s parents would even be starting to come home.  The very thought of being alone with Carl in an empty house thrilled and frightened her. 
“My parents aren’t home either,” Dorothy stammered.  She tried to control her body from trembling and Carl tightened his embrace around her.
“Dorothy, I know we haven’t been seeing each other very long,” Carl said.
“I am very fond of you, Carl,” Dorothy said.  Even in the dark, there was enough moonlight to reveal the nervousness in Carl’s hazel-green eyes to her.
“I know this isn’t the ideal setting for telling one another about our feelings, but…Dorothy…I…I’m really falling for you.  I mean…I have fallen for you.”
Dorothy stared at Carl as a variety of emotions began to stir inside her core.  “I love you, Dorothy,” she heard him say.
“What…?”  Dorothy choked out. 
Carl’s face fell.  “That wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for,” he said.
“No, no.  Carl…I just wasn’t expecting it,” Dorothy said.  She stood, clutching Carl and still in a small state of shock.  Dorothy had read of love and confessions of love in literature but was never prepared for it actually happen to her.  Wuthering Heights was among her favorite books and one she had read through three or four times.  She had first read it at the age of thirteen and was more than familiar with the story when her eleventh grade literature class was assigned to read it.  Even at thirteen, she was taken by the tragedy that befell Heathcliff and Catherine.  She felt for the intense passion that burned inside of Heathcliff when he lost Catherine to another man and set out for his revenge on the family that had ruined his life.  The literature instructor of her junior year had asked those in the class to each write an essay on the story and the part of it that had the greatest effect on them, whether it was good or bad. 
Even at the young age of thirteen, Dorothy didn’t care much for the idea of arranged marriages, especially for women and that’s what she wrote for her essay.  In addition, she wrote about how she found that the greatest tragedy of not only the story, but also of the time in which it was written, was people having to marry according to class instead of just allowing relationships to naturally develop and for people to choose the person he or she would spend the rest of their lives with.  And while she didn’t agree with all of Heathcliff’s actions, she understood the reasoning behind them.  Each time Dorothy had read the book, she found Catherine’s actions more and more frustrating, regardless of how good her intentions were of raising Heathcliff’s status in the process.    
Although Dorothy had spent much of high school acting as though she didn’t care much for boys and dating, she would get lost in books like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Persuasion.  In each of those stories, the female leads all had men who were very much in love with them.  But those women would end up rejecting them due to principles or social norms, regardless of how the women themselves really felt.  This would often raise the question in Dorothy of how long could a person go, bowing to what was considered virtuous and socially “normal” before they would pass over happiness and only end causing themselves and those around them more pain and misery.  This usually ended up being the case in such stories. 
Dorothy also remembered the story of her own great-granparents, Jonathan and Kimimela.  To her, they were an example of two people who had taken the risk of not being accepted by the society of their time (and possibly even their families) in order to be with the person they loved.  Jonathan had passed away in 1896, seventeen years prior to Dorothy’s birth.  His wife, Kimimela, followed him in death a year later.  Dorothy had been to the gravesites of her great grandparents and great great grandparents along with the other deceased members of the Blake Family.  Most of them had been buried on a patch of the land that Charles Blake had purchased on the border of Iowa and Illinois and it still remained property of the Blakes to this day (part of which was thanks to James Livingston).  While she had heard stories from those who had known Jonathan and Kimimela, there so much she would have loved to have spoken with them about and hear their story directly from them, in their own words.
Dorothy looked up into Carl’s eyes.  His confession burned into her, branding his words forever in her mind.  While the story of her and Carl paled in comparison to that of Jonathan and Kimimela (and even the words of the Brontes and Austen), it reminded her of how she close she came to missing out on Carl and this moment with him. 
When she and Carl had begun dating, Dorothy had read a few articles from some of Linda’s magazines that were meant to be advice to how a lady was supposed to behave on a date.  Almost all of them advised against the female making a move and to only allow men to take the lead.  The woman’s place was simply to be charming and appealing.  Like many girls her age, Dorothy had tried to adhere to the advice of the articles the first couple of times she had gone out with Carl.  But the times when she would try that advice, it never felt right with her.  It wasn’t long before she was finding those articles to be complete nonsense.  It was when she started relaxing and being herself with Carl that their times together became more enjoyable.  Carl would listen as Dorothy would talk about a new book she was reading, despite some of the dating advice articles stating for the woman to not “emasculate” the man by appearing smarter than him.  But Dorothy quickly noticed that Carl never seemed threatened by her expressing any knowledge or insights she had.  And now, here he was; telling her that he loved her.  The real Dorothy.  Not some phony piece of arm candy some magazine columnist dreamed up.  She was falling in love with Carl as he was with her, and this made Dorothy fall in love with him even more.
Without giving it (or some silly magazine article) any thought, Dorothy rose up on her toes and pressed a passionate kiss onto Carl’s lips.  Carl’s initial reaction was that of surprise, but then returned the kiss with the same amount of fire that Dorothy was giving him.  Dorothy parted her lips from Carl’s briefly to tell him, “I love you too, Carl,” before returning her mouth to his. 
They were lost in one another and, for a moment, had forgotten that they were at the old Fleming Orphanage and their reason for being there.  They had forgotten about their friends waiting for them in the master bedroom. 
The tip of Carl’s tongue darted from his mouth and explored inside of Dorothy’s lips.  Dorothy could feel Carl’s pants growing tighter in his groin area as his arousal began to grow against her lower abdomen.  It startled her and caused her body to tense a little, but she soon forgot any reservations when Carl brought his lips down just below her jawline.  Dorothy was beginning to relax again when Jimmy’s voice was heard bellowing in the hallway near the door.
“Hey you guys!  What’s keeping…”Jimmy’s voice trailed off when he saw what had actually been keeping Carl and Dorothy.
“Woah!  Sorry…” Jimmy said, rather sheepishly.  Dorothy and Carl parted from one another.  Carl stood behind Dorothy (and it wouldn’t be long before she would understand why).
“Um…Linda has the candles set in the master bedroom,” Jimmy said, “and we also found something else…”
The three of them stood in an awkward silence before Carl said, “Alright.  Just give us a minute.”
Jimmy nodded and quietly turned to head back to the master bedroom.
“And yes, I really do need a minute,” Carl said after Jimmy had left.
Dorothy turned around to hold Carl and was met with the reason why he needed a minute. 
“I see,” Dorothy said pulling away from him.
Carl looked at the floor and sat down on the edge of Maxine’s former bed, glad that Dorothy couldn’t see his face turning red in the dark.  Dorothy slowly approached him, sitting next to him on the bed and taking his hand in hers.  He looked up, giving her a bashful smile.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Dorothy frowned. “For what?”
“For being so forward,” Carl said.  There was an awkward giggle in his voice that Dorothy found very endearing.
Finally she said, “Don’t be.  I’m actually glad you said what you did.”
“Really?” Carl asked.
Dorothy nodded and leaned in to kiss the side of Carl’s mouth.  Carl turned to Dorothy, putting his arms around her and resting his chin on the top of her head. 
“My invitation still stands after we leave here,” he said.
Dorothy couldn’t help tensing up again at the thought.  She had been alone with Carl before, but they hadn’t been in a situation yet where they had the possibility of a house to themselves for possibly the entire night.  Dorothy thought of the times Linda had been candide with her and Gail about the intimate times she had with Jimmy.  She was certain that Jimmy and Linda would be taking advantage of the time with their parents out of the house and at the Millers’ once they all left the Fleming property.  The idea of being with Carl in the same way…
Am I ready for that?  Even Jimmy and Linda had been together for a year before they did that.
As if to answer her, Carl said, “You know…we don’t need to be with eachother that way if you’re not ready.  Like I said, I know we haven’t been together that long.  But I can’t help how I feel.”
Dorothy adjusted her sitting so she would be able to look at Carl.  She could see the warm tenderness in his eyes, which was something he reserved only for her.
Carl continued, “If all you want to do is hang out on the couch and listen to radio all night, I’m fine with that.  I swear.  It’s just hearing Jimmy talk about him and Linda all the time…”
Dorothy couldn’t help letting out a small laugh.
“What?” Carl asked.
“Jimmy talks to you and Reginald about him and Linda?”
“Well, yeah,” Carl said, “you know.  Locker room conversations.”
“I just thought it was funny because Linda tells Gail and I everything.  And she’s not exactly subtle, so I can only imagine how Jimmy is.”
“I guess boys and girls both tend to talk.”
The two of them sat in a brief silence before Dorothy said, “Well, I suppose we should head over to the master bedroom.”
“Yeah,” Carl said.
“Oh, but wait a minute,” Dorothy said as she reached into her bag and pulled out her mirror and headed over to the window.  “Can you pull the curtain back for me Carl?”
Carl did as Dorothy used the light from the moon to make sure she didn’t look too disheveled after her passionate embrace with Carl.  She felt her blood beginning to race at the memory of what took place on a couple minutes ago.  Dorothy also remembered how ‘fixing oneself in front of her date’ was also considered a big no-no in some of the dating advice in the periodicals. 
Well sorry, I’m not about to go into the washroom across the hall by myself, Dorothy thought.  And she wasn’t about to bother Linda or Gail to go with her into that washroom either.  I’m sure the dating advice experts won’t lose sleep over this one time.
Dorothy finished and replaced her mirror in her bag.
“Thank you,” she murmered. “Sorry.”
Carl smiled at her, replacing the curtain in it’s place.  “Not a problem.”
Carl placed a hand on the small of Dorothy’s back as she walked ahead of him toward the hallway. 
“Dorothy,” Carl said when they had reached the doorway.
“Yes?” Dorothy asked, pausing and turning to face Carl.
“I…I really meant what I said.  I do love you.”
Dorothy reached a hand up to touch the side of Carl’s face.  “I know you did.  So did I.  I love you too.”
They leaned into one another at the same time to a soft, but full, kiss.  After they parted, Dorothy said, “I’d like to be with you for the night.  I don’t know if it will in the way that Linda and Jimmy are, but I would like to be with you.”
“I would love to be with you.  Any way I can,” Carl answered.
After another quick, chaste, kiss, Carl and Dorothy walked hand in hand to the master bedroom where the rest of the group waited for them.

Read on to CHAPTER 15.

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