Chapter 12D Part 1 – Blue Cottage

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Wilma didn’t know what to think. And our phone call only served to make matters a lot worse.

She stood by the large picture window in their living room waiting for us to arrive. Sometimes she strained to see the MG rocketing towards Chez Willowby. And when she wasn’t perfectly stationary she paced. She paced the exact width of the window. She wasn’t going to miss anything.

Dr. Willowby had learned over the years that when his wife was like this any meaningful conversation was all but impossible. He retired to a chair in the living room and read that days newspaper. From time to time he looked over the top of the newspaper to look at his wife. Wilma occasionally mumbled which only served to add an small element of humor to the proceedings.

“Cassie said there were three questions. The first one was a when question. The second and third questions dealt with “where”questions.

She turned and looked at her husband.

“Bill, do you think the when question referred to a baby?”

Dr. Willowby rolled his eyes then quietly muttered something in Latin. He lowered the paper to just below his eyes and glowered at his wife.

“You know perfectly well that I can’t answer your question. Doctor-patient yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Wilma tried to get an answer another way.

“Well, you didn’t say she wasn’t pregnant.”

Dr. Willowby let the paper fall to the floor and shook his hands at the ceiling. “Oh, for heaven’s sake. You know perfectly well I can’t stand it when you get like this. I’m going to go for a walk. With any luck, I’ll start worshiping trees or get abducted by gypsies.” Wilma heard the frustration in her husband’s voice.

“OK, I’ll stop.”

Dr. Willowby moved towards the coat cupboard and searched for his heavy down-filled winter jacket. He had had all he could stand. He turned and faced Wilma.

“That’s the problem. You don’t. You’re like a dog with a bone. You won’t let the questions go until you’ve got something resembling an answer. It doesn’t have to be logical and they’re rarely correct. I can’t stand idly by and watch you do this to yourself. I’m going out.”

After finishing putting his jacket on he stomped out the front door and slammed it.

***

“I think we made that travel agents day. This is going to be a helluva honeymoon. First Toronto and we stay at the airport Hilton. From Pearson International its first class all the way to Nassau. We stay overnight then we take Out Island Airways to Eleuthera. A whole week of wined and dined and generally spoiled rotten. Warm water, calm seas, and a beach where I can be warm and toasty all day. I thought I’d never stay at the Hilton.”

As Peter drove he smiled as he thought of Cassie lying in a chair roasting and boasting while slathered in suntan lotion and holding an ice cold drink called a Goom-Bay Smash. “Just be careful. A lot of sun in a short period of time can give you a really nasty sunburn. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want that.”

“I think you’ll like the Arawak Cove Club M’lady.” Cassie started hugging Peters arm tightly.

“Oh, I already do. I’m looking forward to learning how to Scuba dive during the day and more nocturnal pleasures at night.”

“I part I’m looking forward to the most is calling you my wife.” Cassie held up the water bottle. They had done a lot of talking at the travel agents and Peters’ voice was getting pretty raspy. “I know. I’m looking forward to hearing you call me that too.”

As the car went toward Lightening Point they passed Dr. Willowby walking in the opposite direction and suddenly all talking inside the car ceased. Peter looked at Cassie and Cassie looked at Peter.

“Was that who I think it was?” asked Cassie.

“I think it was. Sure picked lousy weather to go for a stroll. I’m reversing till we catch up. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Peter came to a full stop, slammed the MG into reverse and soon caught up to Dr. Willowby standing at the side of the road. When he did catch up to him he gave Dr. Willowby a tongue lashing.

“I don’t mean to sound nasty but what the hell are you doing?”. Dr. Willowby explained that he and Wilma had a fight and that he was trying to cool off. “In this weather, you’ll cool off fast. Cassie wants to know if you’re trying to give yourself pneumonia?. Get on the back and hang on to the luggage rack. Don’t worry, I’ll drive slowly.” Just then Cassie tugged on Peters jacket. “Cassie wants to add that you should know better and considered yourself told.”

As the MG moved slowly towards Chez Willowby Dr. Willowby tried to figure out just what it was he trying to accomplish. He wasn’t wearing a hat and sleet was coming down. He looked like a drowned rat. And if it was possible a foolish one at that. Cassie was right. He did know better. Why didn’t retreat into his study? One thing was certain. When Wilma saw him she’d chew his head off.

Slow but surely the MG got to Chez Willowby. Wilma was standing on the porch all bundled up. “Evening Wilma. I think we found something of yours” said Peter. As Dr. Willowby climbed the stairs Wilma let him have it.

“William Barnabas Willowby! What in thunder do you think you were trying to do?. You gave me a fright. I’d expect this sort of behavior from Kenny but you’re a grown man. And a doctor at that. Get into that bedroom, strip, have a warm shower, and change this very instant.” A soon as Dr. Willowby entered the bedroom Wilma started foraging in the closet for large fluffy towels. After she found them she made her way towards the bedroom door. She knocked on it. “Bill, I’m coming in.” After she entered Peter started wondering aloud.

“I wonder what it means if she’s in there for more than ten minutes?”

I crossed my arms and scowled at Peter.

“I think it’s safe to say they aren’t playing cards.”

I walked into Dr. Willowbys study. Then I motioned for Peter to follow me. When Peter was close enough I started speaking softly.

“I’m going to say two words. And I’d like to suggest you think about them before you say another word. So rev up that brain of yours. They are. Now, for my own edification, I’d like to ask a question. What was all that guff in the car? You didn’t let me say anything!”

***

When Dr. And Mrs. Willowby surfaced they were both in tracksuits. His was blue with white stripes. Hers was Vanilla-yellow with brown stripes. Dr. Willowby wanted to shift the topic from him and his wife to the conversation he had with Peter and Cassie. But first, he wanted to get comfortable on the couch. Wilma sat in a chair and faced the younger couple. Dr. Willowby leaned forward and addressed Peter. “Peter, did I hear you correctly on the phone. Did you ask me to be your best man?” asked Dr. Willowby. Peter went into the study to get a yellow legal pad.

“Cassie and I are getting married a week this weekend. After that, we’re going to have a small reception. After the reception, Cassie and I will be at the Airport Hilton in Toronto. The day after the wedding we fly out of Toronto and fly first class to Nassau. We stay overnight in Nassau then fly from there to Eleuthera. Eleuthera is an out island south-east of Andros Island. We’ll be the Arawak Cove Club for one week. After that we fly back to Toronto. I’ll give you a more complete itinerary in a few days.” Peter wrote out the details in long hand on the legal pad and handed them to Dr. Willowby and Wilma. Peters’ voice started to get raspy. He nodded at me and that’s when I took over.

“We’d like your permission for something.”

Now Wilma became curious wondering what this request entailed.

“Peter and I were wondering if Kenny could be our ring bearer and you, Wilma, would you consent to being my matron of honor?”

Wilma was flushed by surprise at the request. “You really caught me by surprise. I’m honored you feel comfortable asking me but I’m old enough to be your mother! Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable with someone closer to your own age like Trina?” Wilma didn’t exactly decline but she tried to deflect the request. Now it was time for Cassie to say why she asked Wilma and not Trina.

“The reason I asked you is that I feel closer to you. Trina has a lot on her plate right now with university and trying to raise a small boy. Plus I don’t feel like we’ve really bonded, become friends the way you and I have. If this situation was normal I’d ask my own mother. But relations between us are as close to nonexistent as you can get.”

Wilma was listening intently. “How come I think there is a “but” coming?”

I continued. But first, I ran my fingers through my hair totally unprepared with what I was going to say next.

“Right now I feel closer to you and Dr. Willowby than I do my own parents. I feel like I could talk to either one of you about absolutely anything.” I could feel my face getting warmer and started to mutter. I cleared my throat and really concentrated. “The truth is I’ve sort of adopted the both of you as surrogate parents.”

Wilma started to get all misty-eyed. She stood up and walked over to me. I was sitting when she put her hands on my shoulders, and raised me up from the couch. Then she started hugging me. That’s when the dam burst. Tears flowed and smiles beamed. Wilma looked right at me. “Of course I’ll be your matron of honor. What kind of mother would I be if I declined.” I couldn’t take it any longer. I broke down and returned the hug. Just then Trina and Kenny arrived. Trina opened the front door and saw her mom and me  hugging each other and crying. Then she looked at her father and Peter and saw them trying valiantly not to cry. But their dams were starting to breach too. Not quite sure what was going on she asked the first question that popped into her head. “Who died?”

***

Talk of the wedding continued into dinner. When Kenny learned Peter and I were going to be married he roared a gigantic “Yay” and showered us with peas that had been destined for his mouth. Then Trina got up from the table and gave her son a motherly stare that said a million different things. After glowering at Kenny she went to her mothers chair and whispered in her mother’s ear.

“Excellent idea. Why don’t you ask her” said Wilma

Trina sat down at the dinner table opposite me.

“Do you have a wedding dress picked out yet?”

I put my fork down . “No. Not yet. This entire wedding idea just sort of happened in the last few days.”

Trina looked at her mother and winked. “Mom has this really gorgeous wedding dress she wore and we were wondering if you’d be interested in taking a look at it.”.

“Try and stop me!”.

Just after I got up I heard Peters chair squeak.

“You stay seated buster! It’s bad luck for the groom to see the wedding dress before the wedding day.”

Peters’ looked frustrated. “I don’t think I’ve heard this much…” Trina had a pretty good idea what Peter was going to say and gently kicked him underneath the table. Then she nodded towards Kenny who was totally oblivious to his mothers actions.  “…fertilizer in all my life.” Then Dr. Willowby put his hand on Peters’ arm.

“Down lad. You don’t want to ruin a perfectly good ritual. It may be totally illogical and absolutely without merit but I have to admit there is something to be said for not seeing the dress. It make that second you do see it just a little more special ” Then Peter responded with a perfectly valid question. “She gets to see what I’m wearing so why can’t I take a look at what she’s going to wear? This ritual is sexist!”

Then Trina got into the act. “You and mom take a look. I’ll sit in Peters lap to way sure he stays put.”

Peters now looked like he was sulking. He leaned his head against Tina’s back and pretended to cry.

“Cry all you want. This sweater needs a good washing. I’m not getting up till Cassie gets back.” After about twenty minutes I returned to the table.

“Well, got my dress! I’ll tell you more at home” I said to Peter.

That’s when Trina asked who was giving me away. “Who is going to give you away. Both my parents have other jobs?”

“I’m thinking of asking my ex-boss. But he may be on his honeymoon right now-” That’s when Dr. Willowby interrupted me. “That’s what step-fathers are for. There’s no time like the present. Let’s ask him right now.” He placed his phone on the dining room table and dialed Buddha’s phone. A woman with a Texas twang answered.

“Stone Residence.”

“Bill Willowby here. Is Buddha around or is he still at the office?”

“Just minute Dr. Willowby, he’s just finishing the dishes. He’ll be with you in a second.”

When I heard that I almost fainted. That was a image that would have been unheard of just one year ago. My former boss, the meanest son of a bitch in the valley, elbow deep in water with white suds all around him. It was an image I simply couldn’t deal with. Buddha Stone had been domesticated.

Dr. Willowby pointed at me then the phone. The stage was set. Now I had to make my entrance.

“Ah, Mr. Stone, I have a little favor to ask. I’m getting married a week from this weekend and I was wondering if you would give me away.”

There was a pause and some talk that was muffled. I had no idea getting married was going to be so difficult.

….The vows are exchanged in Chapter 12D Part 2…or are they?  Find out next week!

“Mike Lik” Chapter 11c in the Panooksa Saga

I’m having some dental surgery done, and I’m not quite sure what shape I’ll be in next week so I’m posting this weeks chapter and next weeks chapter this week. The meds are already making me a bit loopy. – Tom

Idea by Tom Austin                                                       Written by Tom Austin

Revised by Tom Austin

Brad quietly entered the garage. He saw a pair of legs sticking out from beneath a car. For a moment he thought that sight was typical Mike. He leaned against a wall, and remembered how he met Mike.

Mike Lik was not his real name. It was Michael Morton Likowsky.  Brad had known Mike since he was in the seventh grade. At first Brad didn’t know what to make of Mike. Mike wasn’t wasn’t the best student. He was barely an average student. But he was a genius when it came to cars. During the seventh grade one class was called Shop. And for three months students got a chance to take apart a Volkswagen Bug. And for three more months students that were specially selected were given a chance to rebuild it, and if they were really good, to get it going. Mike Lik got the chance to take it apart. And he was one of only five students allowed to try and put the car back together again. The teacher couldn’t get the car running. Only Mike could.

Mike got it running and as a reward the school gave him the car. Some of the staff members of the school asked Mike to look after their cars. At that time Mike didn’t know that the VW Bug wasn’t supposed to run. It was a hunk of useless junk given to the school for students to tinker with.

Mike wasn’t your typical student. He was a pathetic student. But put a wrench in his hand and he was a maestro. When he left high school he went straight to work at Ralphs Garage. He was as happy as a clam. During his second year on the job a car jack slipped, and a car crashed on top of Ralph pinning him to the ground. Mike raced to save Ralph. Using superhuman strength he lift the car a few inches off the ground so paramedics could rescue Ralph. Ralph could no longer be a mechanic. One arm had been crushed. While he was still recovering he willed the garage to Mike. On his first day back at work he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Mike learned from his employers lawyer the garage was now his.

This is when Brad came back into Mikes life. Brad was driving a Gremlin at that time. Brad was driving back from the hospital when it just stopped working completely. He pushed the car to Liks Garage.

Mike eyed Brad with suspicion.

“Are you Brad Peters”

“Yes”

“I’m Mike Lik, but you knew me as Mike Likowsky”

They shook hands, and hugged.

“Brad, are you aware this car of yours is used? And its frame is bent. Not badly, but damaged”

Brad swore quietly.

“It is? I thought it was brand new.”

“My friend, you got taken to the cleaners.”

Brad swore some more.

“Get it out your system. Why don’t you drive a mans car?”

“Ok, you’ve got me interested. What do you mean?”

“I can fix your Gremlin, but it’ll cost you more to repair it than it will to buy a brand new Gremlin. I can also do a half assed job that’ll get your car going. The engine will die in a few months. After which you’ll have a two ton paperweight. What I’ve got in mind is this. A lady asked me to try and sell her late husbands 1965 Mustang.”

“What color is it?”

“It’s fire engine red. It looks like a real honey. I can spruce it up or you can over time. All I’m trying to say is your car is a piece of junk. A doctor like you should have a good car. Interested?”

Brad paced all over the garage mulling over his options. He walks around the Gremlin and curses silently.

“One last question Mike. How much for a half assed job, and will the Mustang be ready by the time the Gremlin dies”

“Since we went to school together a half assed job will cost you about five hundred dollars. Normally it’ll be around eight hundred dollars. The Mustang is ready right now. It could do with a tune up but nothing more than that. I’ll sell you the Mustang for a thousand bucks for a total of fifteen hundred bucks.”

“Let’s do it Mike” said Brad and they shook hands.


“Hey Mike. How about surfacing I need to talk to you” said Brad

Mike recognized the voice. “Where the hell have you been you old Gremlin driver.”

“Will you ever forget that?”

“Don’t hold your breath.”

Mike continued to work on the car.

Brad kneels and is almost level with the bottom of the car.

“Will you please come up for air. I’m getting married.”

“I knew it, I knew it! There was something about your voice. I’ll bet you got some poor girl pregnant”

“Milly is not expecting.”

Suddenly Mike slides out from out from under the car.

“Gawd Damn, you’re on the level.. You really are getting married! This calls for a drink.”

“I’m driving so I better not. But I’ll join you for a cup of that sludge you laughing call coffee.”

“Ok. You have some sludge. I’m having a real drink. Scotch. You dirty dog, I just can’t believe you’re about to take the plunge. What is her name?” 

“I already told you Mike. Her name is Milly.”

“Getting married. I just can’t believe it. Have you decided who your best man is going to be?”

“Decided yes. Have I asked him?. No”

“Well what are waiting for ya dope. Ask the guy.”

“Well I’d sure like too, but he just won’t shut up.”

Mike starting speaking then stopped. He stuttered a bit

“You planning on asking me to be your best man?”

Brad was now smiling. 

“Finally. Some silence. I would like know if you Mr. Likowsky will be my best man?”

“You betcha you dirty dog. How much time do I have? I have to arrange your bachelor party.”

“Oh no. I don’t want one of those. Those are nothing but grief. Every wedding that I went to that had a bachelor party all ended in a messy divorce. You trying to jinx things for me?”

“Hell no.”

Brad knew Mike well. Mike had a mischievous grin on his face.

“Don’t you dare get me into trouble. If you get hookers or strippers I’ll never hear the end of it, plus Milly will have my guts for garters.”

“Alright, no hookers or strippers.”

“Come on, she wants to meet you. I lied through my teeth and said you were a very honorable guy.”

“Thanks a lot Brad, thanks a lot.”


Milly got the apartment ready for guests. BB and Mike were coming for dinner. They were the first guests, discounting the time when Brad first crashed on the couch.

Milly was fussing over everything. She and Brad had straightened up the apartment as best they could. Even things they would never ever see were dusted, cleaned, and straightened some more.

“I don’t want BB or Mike to think we’re slobs” she said.

“They won’t think that. This place is so clean Martha Stewart would be hard pressed to find a microbe – living or dead. Try to relax Milly. They’re coming for dinner so we can discuss preparations for the wedding. They’re not going to show up wearing white gloves looking for grime or dust.”

Suddenly there was a look of sheer panic on Milly’s face.

“I made roast beef. What if they’re not meat eaters”

“Then we order Chinese food.” All that did was solicit an ill timed comment from Milly.

“Thanks. You’re a great help. You male!”

Brad put his hands in the air and looked at the ceiling. He quietly recited a quote from Shakespeare. “Angels and ministers of grace defend us.”

Within seconds of Brad reciting the quote there was a knock at the door. BB and Mike were out in the hall, each cradling a bottle of wine. Luckily BB brought white wine, and Mike brought red.

Brad got up from the couch to answer the door, but was cut off by Milly who charged through the living room and looked through the peep hole.

“Not bad. Mike actually looks human.” said Milly

“Say it any louder and he just might hear you” said Brad.

As Milly opened the door Mike said hello as only he could.

“There they are. They’re the lovebirds. I told ya BB they wouldn’t be neckin’ so that’s twenty bucks you owe me”

BB defended herself. “I’ll have you know I made no such bet. Now what’s that I smell?”

“Dinner” – Chapter 11D

Idea by Tom Austin                                                         Written by Tom Austin

                                              Revised by Tom Austin

After the Dinner

As they finished the roast beef Mike paid Milly a compliment, although it didn’t quite sound like one.

“Milly that was a lot better than what I had planned had I eaten alone. BB, you are still you ravishing. Bet you didn’t know I had a crush on you in high school.”

BB was really caught off guard. So were Brad and Milly.

“Why thank you, Mike. I didn’t know you were in the same high school.”

“I wasn’t. The Bradster and I were one school district over. But you always took the same route home. Sometimes we met each other at the crosswalk nearest your school. You always looked fantastic.”

BB was trouble now. She had no recollection of Mike at all. Milly whispered to Brad if he knew any of this. He replied that it was all news to him. Milly felt it was her duty as hostess to rescue BB.

“Now if you gentlemen are finished, I’d like to discuss my dress with my bridesmaid.” They adjourned to separate rooms. Milly and BB in one, Mike and Brad in the other.

BB thanked Milly for saving her. “Thanks for the save. I don’t remember Mike at all. And to be perfectly honest I’m wondering if he wasn’t hitting on me.” Milly said she was beginning to wonder that too, and she’d ask Brad what he thought.

The bride-to-be went to the den to get some bridal magazines. When she returned, she addressed BB. “I’ve looked in Bride Magazine and I think I’ve narrowed down my choice for dresses to these two.” She showed BB her two choices.

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BB’s jaw dropped and her eyes went as wide as saucers. “These are gorgeous. If I was getting married, I’d want one of these. But as your maid of honor, I feel duty-bound to remind you of the cost. These look very expensive.”

I know. And I know City Hall isn’t a very glamorous venue. Neither of us goes to church, and we don’t want to get a tied up in the religious aspect of things. We just want to get married. We want a small venue for just a few close friends, nothing elaborate. Plus, as you said, we have to be careful about the cost of things.”

BB wanted to know the details for after the wedding.

“One thing I simply must know. Where are you and Brad going on your honeymoon? Someplace exotic and romantic?”

What came next was almost the whole truth.

“After the wedding, we’re just going to toss some bags into the car, and disappear into someplace nobodies ever heard of.”

BB just about exploded.

“Are you nuts? You and that wonderful hunk of man are just going to simply “disappear”.?”

Milly knew she had to sell the idea to BB, really sell it.

“That’s the plan. I know it’s not what’s you expected. But it is what we want to do. You probably wanted to hear we were going to someplace tropical, and like you said exotic and romantic. And I’m sure that’s what a lot of brides want. But it’s not what I want, or what Brad wants. Getting married is really stressful. We want ours to start in a quiet, sleepy, town. Life is going to get crazy fast enough. I don’t want to come back from my honeymoon, be up to my armpits in debt, and then spend hours on the phone letting credit card companies know I’m changing my name.”

Tradition and logic crashed head-on. Tradition said the bride and groom should go to a place they want. And Milly did have a point. Getting married was stressful so there was a certain logic to what Milly said.

“So are you taking his last name, or are you going have one of those hyphenated names?” asked BB

“I’ve given that a lot of thought. I’ve never liked Mildred. It sounds like should belong to a junior school librarian with horn-rimmed glasses and a beehive hairdo. Plus it sounds old. So I’ve decided to stay with Milly which I think sounds younger. As for the last name, Milly Peters sounds boring to me. It sounds like one of us should be selling insurance. So I decided to become Milly Shine-Peters, which I think sounds more sophisticated. At parties, I won’t mind being called Mrs. Peters, but my credit cards will read Milly Shine-Peters.”

Mike wandered over, mildly inebriated, and tried to explain things to Milly.

“That man of your is one stubborn son of a buck. Do you know he doesn’t want a bachelor party, doesn’t want any hookers, doesn’t want any strippers? Do you think he wants a normal tux? Hell no! He says if you’re going be in white then he is too!”

Mike started to become more inebriated. He brought a small flask of scotch with him. He soon became more annoying than he was entertaining. Brad called him a cab and poured Mike in the backseat. As Brad handed the driver thirty dollars for the short fare Mike started to harangue the driver about white tuxedos. BB started to help clean up before Milly ushered her out the door too.

The Question

Brads desire to have a white tux started Milly thinking. It was time to clear the air. She called Brad into the kitchen where she was dealing with the dishes.

“We think we need to talk. And I need some really some honest answers. Have I done something that I’m not aware of to make you unhappy?. Because in the whole time you’ve known me you’ve never once made a pass at me, never tried to get in my pants, nothing. And right now you really have me wondering. Am I that unattractive to you?”

“Quite the opposite.I find you the most attractive woman in the world. If I didn’t I wouldn’t want to marry you. I just didn’t want you to think I was some knuckle-dragging Neanderthal whose only interest was having sex.”

“OK. But that doesn’t answer why you’ve never made a pass at me. I’m a woman with wants, needs, and desires. And one thing a woman wants and really needs to hear is that she’s needed and desired.” She had her back to Brad when she said this. Brad thought it was the proper occasion to make up for lost time. He stood right behind Milly and slowly undid her blouse.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” asked Milly.

“I’m trying not to be a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal whose only interest is sex. I’m a guy who has behaved like a fool and needs to make it up to the woman he loves.”

He continued unbuttoning Milly’s blouse. Milly pretended not to look but secretly watched his progress. When he had undone four buttons he slowly slipped his hands inside her blouse, taking care not to startle her. His hands cupped her soft satin bra. Then with his index finger, he slowly circled her nipples till they were erect.

“I hope you know where this could end up.”

He kissed her neck gently with soft feather-like kisses.

“Oh, I know where this could go.”

She felt him gently squeeze her breasts. She could sense him becoming more and more aroused. His breathing quickened. His pulse quickened. What he was doing was slowly getting her aroused too. His hands came out of her blouse, and he resumed unbuttoning only this time with more purpose. Once he had undone all the buttons he gently pulled the blouse out of her jeans. His hands soothed and caressed her tummy. She let out a slight shiver.

“Why are you doing this to me. You’re making me crazy.” she moaned.

“You asked me to wait till our wedding night. I respect that request. You asked me if you had done anything to make me unhappy. The only way to answer your question was to get you hot and bothered. Because you get me that way every time I look at you. You may not see it, but I assure you it really happens. And that white tux thing, well I’m a virgin too.”

There was a smile on Milly’s face, and a gleam in her eyes that was never there before. She finally knew she could trust Brad fully.

“Care to join me for a shower? You got me all hot and bothered.” asked Milly.