The Inside Out

by LA Tucker
Copyright ©  2002


Part V:  Pies, Thighs and Little White Lies

For disclaimers, see Part I

Marcy was trying mightily to fit into a dress that just wasn't fitting quite right any more. It had fit her only a month before, when her bulge wasn't quite as prominent, her feet not as swollen, her trips to the bathroom not so frequent. She sighed, and decided on wearing something she'd picked up for her later months instead. As she pulled it over her head, and then checked it out in the mirror, she was surprised to see that it fit just right, not too much give, not too little. I thought this wouldn't be for another month yet. She shook her head and looking closer, grimaced at her own face in the mirror. She was puffy, she had put on weight, not as much as Doris had mentioned, well, not yet. She'd put on 24 pounds so far, her doctor considered her quite healthy, and the extra baggage a natural occurrence.  Marcy squinted into the mirror, somehow knowing that a 40 pound weight gain, as predicted by Doris, would not be far off the mark by delivery day.

Dave came out of the bathroom, toweling his hair, and saw his wife-to-be apparently making faces at herself in the mirror.

"Hey, Sybil, you going to the restaurant barefoot?  We have to be there in twenty."

Marcy could see Dave standing behind her, with a goofy grin on his face, watching her reflection. She stuck out her tongue, and he repeated the gesture back. She did it again, this time with her hands on her hips, until he raised own his hands in defeat, and laughed as he pulled some clean boxers out of the drawer and slid them on.

"This dress look dressy enough for the Embers?" Marcy was still staring at the mirror, not recognizing the curly headed woman with the big belly staring back at her.

Dave was sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling on his socks. He barely looked up, and then went back to getting dressed. "Yeah, looks fine, Marse."

Marcy saw the quick glance, and her the corners of her mouth turned even farther down into a frown. He doesn't find me interesting anymore, I'm just this ... overblown shadow of my former self. "Like you'd know. You didn't even look."

Dave, from the bed, started to deny it, then saw the look on her face, and knew he'd been caught. "Well, uh, sure, you look good in everything, Marcy."  He looked up and smiled at her as she turned around to try and gauge his sincerity. "I'm sorry Marse. I just have other things on my mind is all. I wish this dinner was some other night, there's a lot that I need to attend to around here ..."

Marcy gave him a small, knowing smile in return. "Honey, I hope you haven't spent our last hundred bucks on a 'rainmaker'. You know those divining rods they wave around are just a sham ..."  She joined him on the edge of the bed, and laid her hand on his knee. He's been so worried ... I wish I could just tell him, but I promised.

He didn't look at her, but did place his hand over hers. "I know.  I was thinking of maybe backhoeing a small river from the lake up to the course is all. Hell, it's only a mile, I could get it done by November or so ... when the course is closed." His voice dropped even lower. "I can't blame Sara for wanting to get a job, I just thought things would be going better. I should have been paying her something all along, look at all the work she's done for me, and I can't give her anything at all for it ... this should be our busiest time, and people are staying away ... it's too damned hot. Last summer it was perfect right now, if this year would have been like last summer, well, we'd be rolling in it right now." He humphed. "Instead, we're just rolling in dead grass and dirt.  I think people could play the whole course with a putter."

Marcy leaned and laid her unruly head of curls on his shoulder. "World's largest miniature golf course?  You could build a windmill out on three, and maybe put a clown's head on six."  She felt a silent laugh shake his shoulders, and she smiled. Time to change the subject.  "You suppose anyone will wonder why I invited Doris to this little celebration tonight?"

Dave put on his other sock, careful not to disturb the head on his shoulder. "You won't even tell ME why you invited her, how am I supposed to know?"

"The less you know, the better off you are, Dave."

He laughed, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. "Which means I'm about the best off there is, Marcy, 'cause I don't have a clue. About anything. All I know is Sara got a job, we're going out to eat to celebrate, Sara and Chloe and ... you have a secret, and Doris and you are in cahoots about something."

Marcy lifted her head up, and gave his freshly shaved cheek a kiss. "And here I thought I was marrying Maxwell Smart. You're actually 007, aren't you?"

Dave laughed. "More like Austin Powers, but with better teeth, baby."

The Embers was packed for such a late evening meal.  It seemed everyone within a 15 mile radius was in there tonight, sucking up as much free air conditioning as they could, dawdling over their food, consuming plenty of cold beverages, not wanting to go home to their stifling houses. Very few of the local citizenry had air conditioners in their homes, very rarely did they remember needing one in this small town so close to the lake. Box and floor fans were taking up much of the flat spaces in their homes, and a few had even gone and bought a small window air conditioner for their bedroom, just so they could have a coolish night's worth of sleep before entering the heat of the oppressive day again. Even the tourists who came to spend a week in the small cabins that dotted some of the lakefront were peevish and unhappy, most of them thinking that traveling a few hundred miles farther north, to Canada, would have been a better way to spend their holiday money. Thankfully, the lake was calm, and most of the vacationers spent their time standing around it in, keeping a watchful eye on their children who doggy-paddled by, in the joyous oblivious manner that children seem to have in even hottest of weather.

Nelson had somewhat regretfully begged off from attending the dinner, instead borrowing Sara's car to go to the drive-in with his friends.  There was some lousy animated sci-fi flick playing, followed by an even more forgettable movie starring Sylvester Stallone.  Sara knew that somewhere in town, one of Nelson's friend's brothers was buying the young men a supply of some cheap, stinky beer, and Sara spoke a few words in warning to Nelson about the fact that the upholstery of her 1963 classic had better return in as pristine condition as when it left the driveway.  Nelson merely shrugged a tanned but surely red-faced acknowledgment, and made her promise to fill him in on the details of the dinner tomorrow.  Sara smiled, and thought that maybe she'd try to get Chloe to the drive-in herself very soon, to park in the darkened last rows where no one bothered to even put the car speaker on their rolled down window, and ravish the small redhead in the backseat with Dots, popcorn and hotdogs, and then ravish her with lascivious kisses.

But tonight she was sitting in the Embers with her love, who had a contented smile on her face while she was busily sucking ice cubes from her water glass with an innocent but sensuous sounding moans as she rolled them around on her tongue.  Sara leaned on a elbow, watching her with rapt fascination. Their late evening sessions of amour had been few and far between in the last several weeks, both laying in bed, naked, on top of the sheets, with the air of the fan caressing their bodies instead of each other's hands.  Chloe was most susceptible to the torture of the heat, and grumbled if Sara brought her naturally hot skin too close to hers. Instead, their love making sessions were reserved for the coolness of mornings, after the air had cooled overnight, and the sun hadn't climbed into a cloudless sky to inflame the new day yet again.

Sara sighed as she stared at Chloe, and watched her love's pink tongue snake out to capture another cube from her glass. "I think I'm jealous."

Chloe rolled the cube around and tucked it casually into a cheek before she replied. "Of what?" she said, before she began sensuously sucking on the cube again.

"Of that ice cube. God, I never wanted to be an ice cube before. What you're doing to it -"

Shifting the ice cube again, Chloe gave her girlfriend an evil grin. "I'd love it if you were an ice cube. Do you suppose we could stuff you into the freezer for a few hours tonight when we get home?"  The ice cube moved onto her tongue again, and Chloe opened her mouth just wide enough so Sara could see it rolling across the tip of her tongue. "I could lick an ice cube all night in this weather ..."

Sara's eyebrows rose, and she pondered the idea for a moment. "Pour some Kool-Aid into me, shove a stick up my ... and I'm yours, baby."

Chloe almost choked on the ever diminishing cube in her mouth. "Lemon-lime Kool-Aid? God, Sara, you're so kinky ... I love that about you. Demented, but kinky." Chloe's hand reached out for her glass again, aiming to fish out another one to torture Sara with.  She felt a warm hand on her thigh. "Yup, kinky alright." She smiled, and her hand forgot about the glass, and went under the table to touch the warm fingers stroking the soft flesh ever higher. "Now cut that out.  Geez, I put on a skirt, and you get like, uh  -"

"A horny girlfriend? Guilty. Now what's my punishment going to be? Hmm?"  She danced her fingers even higher yet, then felt the sharp swat and grinned as she backed off, and returned her hand to her own personal space.

Chloe grinned back and then reached for her glass again.  She had a quick thought of reaching under the table and pouring it on the hottest feeling place on her body, then nixed it, and decided to satisfy herself orally again. She was just lifting the glass to her lips when she noticed Dave, Marcy and ... Doris Raeburn entering the restaurant. She lifted the glass high over her head, Dave saw her beckoning, and he moved the threesome towards the table.

"Doris?  Did you invite Doris?" Sara frowned, not upset; just curious.

"Nope, but its OK with me. She's practically -" Chloe smiled, watching her pregnant friend Marcy try to navigate the tight spaces between chairs in the crowded restaurant.

"Family."  Finished Sara, and she shared a large grin with her lover before they turned their faces to greet their friends and family.

Dave made sure that Marcy was comfortably seated, then did the same for Doris, before he plopped down in a chair across from Sara and immediately loosened the knot in his tie. That tie was going to be history soon, although it was going to be a race between which item was removed first, the tie or his blazer.

  Doris wedged her purse under the table near her feet, and frowned a grumpy grin at Sara and Chloe, as was her way. Chloe, pleased to see the older woman joining them, did something unexpected; she popped up long enough to give Doris a quick kiss on the cheek. "Chloe." Doris greeted, a disgruntled but happy flush appearing in her cheeks. She saw Sara smirking, and couldn't let that pass. "Sara.  Get that smart-assed look off your face before I give you perpetual detention. I'll make these folks have you wash dishes here tonight. The kitchen isn't air conditioned, for some dumb reason.  On the other hand, I'll let you buy me a drink, if you want to get out of that kind of labor."

Sara propped her chin on her hands and winked at Doris, her dark hair and tanned skin catching the glow from the candle centerpiece in the center of the table. "How do, Doris. My God, I think this is the first time I've seen you without an umbrella in your hand. I'm not scared of you," she paused, "tonight."

Doris gave her a menacing look, and then chortled. "I haven't carried that umbrella in what, nearly three weeks now?  I kind of miss it."

Dave was waving at a waitress he knew. Before she approached, he said, "Doris, I'd love to see you carrying that umbrella again.  For other reasons than smacking my sister with it."  The whole group laughed, and everyone put in their drink orders, Chloe quite purposefully asking for extra ice in hers.

Marcy was the only person at the table who knew exactly what was going to happen tonight.  She had already been informed of Sara and Chloe's news, and she and Doris had worked out a plan to deliver their own agenda for the future.  So Marcy was in the catbird's seat, knowing all, but not knowing how it was going to play out by the end of the evening. At least I can forget about how uncomfortable I am for a while, and quit worrying about the future ... just for the evening. She listened as everyone discussed the weather forecast, or rather the lack of a change in one for a while, and then the waitress delivered their drinks and menus.  Doris was plying Dave with unsolicited advice about the golf course, and Marcy was pretty sure that although Chloe and Sara were listening, they were obviously engaged in playing some heavy duty footsie under the table across from her. She saw the relaxed smiles on their faces, and it was infectious, and she felt herself catching their good mood. She stretched in her chair, letting the weight of her personal world slide off her back and out into the heat of the night for a short while. The waitress came back, took their orders, and Sara gave the waitress a serious look, and her tone of voice when she asked that the check be delivered to her indicated that no arguments were going to be tolerated.

Dave growled, and took a sip of his beer. "So, how long are you going to keep us all, well, most of us, in suspense, Sara?"

Sara glanced questioningly at Chloe, as she usually deferred the explaining of all things of a social nature to her partner, even if some of it was her own personal news. Chloe declined with a shake of her head and nudged her, letting Sara know it was going to be her night to be the storyteller.

Sara took a sip of her beer, and then a deep breath, and felt a small bandaged hand rest itself upon her knee in silent encouragement. She smiled, rolled her eyes, and began. The group around her hushed, well aware of Sara's halting and 'woman of few words' manner of speaking, and they were all determined to remain patient, and not interrupt her until she'd gotten her news out. "Well ... I got a job today.  Not the kind of one I was looking for, actually, but it's a job, and ... well, it'll help. I went to see Roger Stevens today, and I thought he was going to offer me a job as a car sales person. But that's not quite what he offered me."  She stole a quick glance at Chloe, who mercifully had her mouth engaged with another ice cube , instead of adding her own comments. Another sip of beer smoothed out her tongue, and Sara continued, looking carefully around the table. "He offered me a job doing commercials for him. On TV and the radio. I have to stand there and point at Fords every week, and say stuff like ... I dunno ... no money down, this week only ... " She cleared her throat. "BANG for your buck."

Everyone grinned delightedly, and stayed mum, not entirely sure if Sara was done telling her news yet. Marcy knew that there was much more than this. She let out a small guffaw; she couldn't resist repeating "bang for your buck" just to tease Sara a little. She gave her a smile to reinforce that she was just teasing her future sister-in-law, and she saw Sara relax a little before the dark haired woman continued.

Sara caught the pleased looks on everyone's faces, and grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I know, but it's easy work, and might lead to other commercial work for me, what with Chloe's new job ... it looks like we can buy Marcy's house soon. Real soon. Like, maybe put in for a loan week?"  She eyed Chloe again, and Chloe's eyes widened, and then she quickly nodded.

Doris couldn't hold her tongue any longer. "Chloe's new job?"  She gave an almost imperceptible look of inquiry towards Marcy, and Marcy simply shrugged her shoulders. Doris understood, and immediately shifted her plan to a different approach.

"Yeah, Chloe's new job. Maybe I should let her tell you about it?"  Sara said hopefully, not wanting to overshadow Chloe's moment.

Chloe cleared her throat and rubbed her lover's shoulder.  "Nope, you're doing just fine. Proceed."

Sara was glad to finally be the bearer of good news again. It had been too long a time since she'd been able to tell anyone, especially her loved ones this kind of news, and in such abundance. "Chloe will, well, we think so, after Friday's interview, be teaching part time at Glenhurst College in Erie this fall.  She has the job sewn up, she doesn't think so, I do, and it's in the evenings, so it won't interfere with her library duties, and I'm thinking that ... well, they can't help but see how good she is and want to offer her something more permanent in the future, and well ... things are just looking up for us, that's all."  She grinned big, and lifted her beer bottle.  Many hands, with glasses and bottles, lifted and touched glasses all around.

Dave's tie won, or lost the battle first. He tugged it off as he grinned at both his sister and her lover. "Well, hot damn, you two! New jobs all around, a new house, next thing you know you two will be announcing the impending arrival of rugrats, just like me and Marcy."

Everyone at the table's eyes widened at that statement, but no one could comment because the waitress arrived at the table with their salads. Marcy snickered to herself, and felt the life in her give a little kick of amusement, too.

Dinner stretched out, with much joking and clinking of glasses and snitching of bites from each other's plates.  The arid conditions had taken much out of these folks in the past weeks, but the lack of a financial future had taken even more out of most of the people seated around the table.  Tonight was a night for celebration and hope, for planning and wishing, and sometime after desert, deceit and manipulation.  Marcy and Doris, at opposite ends of the table, were both mentally gauging when the time was going to be right for their plan to be set in motion.  Doris was in charge here, and Marcy kept watching her to see if she had any inclination to begin yet.  Doris tossed her a few almost imperceptible shakes of her head, and finally Marcy relaxed and enjoyed her meal, knowing full well that Doris was perfectly capable of initiating the process. All Marcy really had to do was work as the Lou Costello straight man once Doris got started.

Sara was feeling especially joyful tonight, and in her happiness, she was extremely accommodating to her lover. When Chloe's stuffed pork chop was delivered,  Sara pulled Chloe's plate over to her, and without a word, cut it into bite size pieces. Chloe's hand was still bothering her,  and it made working with utensils a little awkward.  Sara even buttered Chloe's bread for her, not making a big deal out of it, not putting on a show.  She kept a careful eye to make sure that her lover could enjoy the evening pain free and as effortlessly as possible.  Chloe nearly had tears in her eyes from the gentle displays of love Sara was showing her, and several times, she reached under the table, and stroked Sara's leg in gratitude, even though that hand was still covered with an intricately wrapped Ace bandage.

The evening wore on, and the restaurant began to empty out, but the extended D'Amico clan showed no inclination to leave. David, Chloe and Doris were a little tipsy, and running up quite a bar tab.  Chloe had been sampling a wide variety of fruity flavored alcohol concoctions at a moderate rate, offering her stemmed cherry to Sara with each fresh drink.  Sara had her usual first and only beer, and had switched over to iced tea.  Doris was sipping Manhattans, and showing no signs of inebriation whatsoever. She talked as nonstop as she usually did; the only difference was she stopped to laugh at her own jokes here and there.  Dave was feeling fine on his third or fourth beer, and found himself laughing at Doris' somewhat dirty jokes. She swore on a stack of Bibles that she'd originally heard every filthy one of them from Naomi Fuller, the Methodist minister's wife.

Dave saw the waitress approaching yet again. "What say we get a little dessert, huh?  We've only been here ... ", and he checked his watch, "... a little over three hours now. It's nearly 11:30, I think Sheila here wants to give Sara the check and head on home."  Sheila, the waitress, gave Dave an appreciative grin. Dave turned his attention to Chloe, whose cheeks were glowing a faint shade of cherry red. "How about you, Chloe, some pie for you?"

Chloe, who had been a pie-free zone for nearly two months now, was once again fitting into the majority of her wardrobe. She threw caution to the wind and declared, "What the hell, bring it on!  Besides, Sara likes me with a little belly ..."

The whole table laughed, including Sheila, the waitress.

Chloe blushed an even deeper shade of red. "Oh my God, I can't believe I said that."  She buried her nose into Sara's shoulder, and squeezed her eyes shut in embarrassment.

Dave reached across the table, and picked up the fruity beverage that Chloe was drinking, and sniffed it. He grinned at Sheila, and said, "The hell with pie, bring me one of these."

Marcy looked heavenward, and let go a mighty sigh. Dave would surely be a very unhappy golf course owner in the morning, for it was his turn to get up at 5 A.M. to take care of the course before it opened at 6:30.  She snorted in Sara's direction, and crossed her eyes at her.

Sara grinned back at her, and as everyone put in their dessert order, she pulled a little closer to Chloe, and snuck her hand under the table, and softly laid it onto Chloe's bare knee, and began a slow stroking of it.  She felt Chloe's leg move towards  hers, an invitation to continue if Sara had ever felt one. So she ran her finger tips a little more towards the interior, ever higher, until she was just under the hem of Chloe's short skirt.  Sara kept her eyes glued to whomever was running the conversation around the table, but her mind was where her hand was traveling. Ever onward, with light, non tickling caresses, until her hand reached an area that, in her mind, should have been covered in some sort of soft material. But instead of silky material, her fingertips touched something warm and moist, and very feminine indeed.  So startled was Sara, that she stole a quick, wide-eyed glance at Chloe, who treated her to a coy, smirking grin in return. Sara's hand rechecked the terrain, and yup, her eyebrows rose as she found that her original assessment was correct. She bit her lower lip, thought a moment, and decided that now would be a very good time to visit the ladies room, right before Sheila came back with their desserts.  Chloe can always get a doggy bag.

Chloe must have been clairvoyant, for she pushed her chair back, and stood up, giving Sara a meaningful look. "I'm off to the ladies room."  Sara returned the glance, and pulled her chair closer to the table so Chloe could maneuver past her.   Chloe was gone only a minute before Sara casually pushed her own chair back, and excused herself from the table.  Marcy, Dave and Doris were still trading terrible jokes, but Marcy gave Sara's back a knowing grin as she watched her depart for the back of the restaurant.  That's a one person ladies room.

Sara got to the old brown varnished door, and tapped on it before she tried to open it. The door was unlocked when she turned the knob, so she took a quick look around, and found the restaurant was nearly deserted except for the bar area, and everyone there was talking or watching the Letterman show. She pulled on the door, and entered.

Chloe was leaned up against the wall between the sink and the porcelain facilities. She smiled a slow, inviting smile as Sara pulled the latch tight on the door, locking them in.

The room couldn't have been much larger than four feet by four feet, illuminated by an ancient light fixture over the tiny mirror above the sink. Sara didn't need much room to do what she had in mind, and the space between her and her target diminished in one long step.  Both women eyed each other, saying nothing, listening only to the sounds of each other's breathing, to the sounds of their own hearts.

Chloe's mouth changed from smiling to serious, as she quickly licked her lips in anticipation.  Sara moved closer to her, body to body in a flash, her gaze blazing a slow, hot path from Chloe's eyes, down to the hem of her short denim skirt. Sara propped a hand on the wall beside Chloe's head, and leaned in the remaining inches to capture her lips in a deep, luxurious kiss.  Chloe moaned into her mouth, and Sara felt her tremble. As the kiss continued, and their tongues dove and swirled, Sara dragged her free hand down from Chloe's shoulder, roughly rubbing both breasts until she felt both nipples hardening in response. The was no delicacy here, no playfulness, no time for finesse or foreplay, only the desire for one thing in both women.

Sara's hand trailed down farther, and grabbed the hem of Chloe's skirt and pulled upwards, and Chloe helped Sara along with her free hands, grabbing the skirt and holding it up high enough to give Sara access.  Sara stopped kissing Chloe, to take a glance down at glistening red curls, and then met Chloe's eyes briefly before she urged Chloe's legs apart with long, determined fingers.  Without further warning, she used two fingers and deftly entered her.  Chloe broke the kiss, panting into Sara's lowered shoulder, then lifted her head to look into Sara's eyes.  There she saw a roaring  fire that would be impossible to extinguish until Sara got exactly what she wanted from the smaller woman.  Sara's firm stroking began, slowly building into a quicker rhythm as Chloe's back slid up and down the wall, in time with the movements of her lover's hand.  Sara pressed her body even tighter against Chloe's, and they rocked in tandem, Chloe no longer holding onto her skirt, but wrapping her arms around her lover's waist, letting Sara control the ride, the tempo, the moment.

Sara's need for the smaller woman was consuming her, pushing her on, emboldening her strokes. She felt Chloe's teeth scraping into her shoulder, and she shifted her head so her mouth was next Chloe's ear. She bit down on her earlobe as she probed deeper into Chloe's core, and Chloe's grip around her waist became even tighter, her soft moans turning into heated, encouraging grunts as Sara continued, mixing her strokes inside deeper, then shallower, harder then twisting, until Chloe was lost in all the sensations, she didn't know what was coming next, she was gone, she was with Sara, Sara was in her, they were one body quickly rising to a higher plain. Soon Chloe was trembling without cessation, her teeth gouging deeper into Sara's shoulder, only hearing one word in her ear, "Chloe."  One final penetrating motion, and Chloe capitulated to the desire of her lover's touch, all control obliterated as everything tightened then let loose with a heart stopping tremor.  She threw her head back, Sara's searching mouth covering and swallowing her moans. Her eyelids tightly shut , she trembled again into Sara's body, and then felt Sara slowly sliding out of her. And then both arms were around her, crushing Chloe into Sara's embrace. Sara stroked the smaller woman's hair, whispering to her, the sounds of their labored breathing slowing until Chloe was earthbound again, and she pulled away from Sara just far enough to give her a small incredulous, rapturously satiated smile.

Sara couldn't help but laugh, watching the blush cover Chloe's face anew.

Chloe averted her eyes from her lover's, suddenly shy. "Whew." she breathed, and bit her lower lip, a grin overtaking her face.

Sara leaned in and gave her a soft and tender kiss. " 'Whew' is right." Another kiss.  "Since when don't you wear underwear? Hmm?"

Chloe giggled softly. "Since I knew we were going out for dinner. I wanted us to celebrate on our own." She pulled Sara closer again, burying her face into the soft fabric of her shirt. "I didn't figure it was going to be ... here." She tugged on Sara's shirtsleeve. "I was planning on jumping you in the car ... later."

"Well, wherever you do it, I like the way you celebrate, Chloe.  We need to celebrate like this more often."  Sara squeezed her love, and rubbed her back.

"We'll just have to find more reasons to get out of the house," teased Chloe.

Sara pulled back and grinned at her, dazzled as always by the beguiling green eyes looking so sweetly up at her. They regretfully disengaged, knowing their time was over, and they needed to get back to their family and friends.  With soft and satisfied laughter, they quickly straightened each other's clothing, washed up, and headed for the exit.

Chloe unlocked the door slowly, and then shared one more sly smile with her lover.  Sara smacked her lightly on the butt.

"Hey!" Chloe protested, and they both exited the small room together. "What was that for?"

Sara chuckled as they made their way back to their table. "I was just thinking. That  'Kissing Bandit' title just isn't going to quite describe you anymore, is it?"

Marcy, the only guest back at the table with her wits truly about her, watched as the couple approached, and saw the fading flush on Chloe's face, and immediately came to the conclusion that mischief had been committed in that small ladies room. Ah. I wish I could be that young and slender and restless again. She gave her belly a rueful smile and sighed as Sara and Chloe settled back into their seats. Chloe's eyes widened at the large piece of cherry pie in front of her, with melting vanilla ice cream crowning the top of it. She chewed her cheek, and then reached out, grabbed an empty bread plate, cut the portion in two, placing one half on the bread plate, and without further fanfare, pushed the portion in front of Sara, who hadn't ordered any dessert.

Marcy recognized the ultimate sacrifice for exactly what is was: pure, true and unselfish love. Marcy glanced at Sara's eyes, to see if she was astute enough to realize the meaning of Chloe giving up half of her beloved pie. The tiny, delighted grin that appeared on Sara's face, and the shy, thanking glance she stole over at Chloe, proved to Marcy that Sara did indeed appreciate the depth of meaning behind the gesture. Good, Sara is wising up. Finally.  With these two Chloe groupies moving into town, Sara's going to need every bit of patience, love and pie she can muster.

Doris, who had requested black coffee for dessert, was sipping on her second cup. She cleared her throat, and dove right in, saying the magic words that Marcy had been waiting to hear all night long.

"Well, Chloe, that's fine about you getting the part time job teaching at Glenhurst, what, Debate? No, Public Speaking, that's right. That's just dandy. Good thing to have, maybe it will develop into teaching other classes there, maybe you could get your Masters, oh, I don't know, but it all sounds like a lot of time spent away from home, doesn't it?  You're going to be having a full plate, not like your pie there, you should chew, dear, I know you've been dieting, but the way you're putting away that pie, I'm afraid one of us is going to be having to try out our Heimlich training on you soon. Sara, give her a sip of water, she's coughing, see, I told you!  Pat her on the back.  God, you sound like a smoker, dear, you aren't supposed to inhale the pie like that ... look, Sara was chewing hers. Where was I? Oh yes, the library, or the lack of it ..."

Chloe was still choking on bits of pie crust, and sipping slowly on a glass of water, trying not to swallow an ice cube whole. She put her glass down, cleared her throat several times, and stared at Doris. "What have you heard about the library, Doris?" she croaked, and coughed several more times.

  Sara leaned towards Doris, as did the rest of the bunch, especially Marcy, who knew her time was coming soon. But for now, it was all up to Doris.

"Well, you know I have my sources about things.  Sometimes they're as trustworthy as the bursitis in my left arm  is in predicting thunderstorms. No, Dave, it hasn't been bothering me a bit in weeks.  I'll call you and let you know from now on, OK, dear? But where was I, oh yes, Chloe ... it seems the very dependable contacts I have about our library are certain that ... " And with an undeniable aura of drama about her, she paused to sip at her coffee, " ... that it's between Elgin and Stonecreek."  She paused for effect again.

Chloe slumped back into her seat. "I knew it. Bookmobile."  Sara turned and patted her lightly on the arm, and then all faces turned towards Doris again, waiting for her to continue.

"Well, they supposedly are going to make their decision during their county budget meetings during November and December of this fall. So, my friends and I were thinking, since what the hell does Elgin need their library for, they only lend out Dr. Seuss books and the Joy of Sex on any kind of a regular basis anyways ...  that we need to save our own little library from extinction.  And in the process, save our dear little librarian her job. So we came up with a kind of plan, but it depends on you, dear, I mean,  on your participation, how far you're willing to go, Chloe."

Chloe leaned forward, and with a dead serious look in her eye, stared at Doris, and said, "All right. Who do I have to sleep with?"

The shocked look on Sara's face was priceless, as Dave, Marcy and Doris looked from the serious little redhead over to her chagrined girlfriend.  Dave and Marcy burst out in surprised laughter, Doris soon followed, and Sara took the long road in her pursuit to catch up, before a big grin crossed her face, too.

"Good one, honey."  Sara rolled her eyes, embarrassed at being 'gotcha-ed' that easily.

Chloe snorted, and nudged Sara under the table.

Doris smirked, she delighted in seeing Sara looking so flummoxed. "Well, I can get back to you on that, dear, I can get a list made up, and you can nail each board member one by one.  But  in the meanwhile, my friends and I were thinking that a great big display of community support for the library might make a good impression.  Show how invaluable it is to this little town, and how having a bookmobile parking in the Quickie Mart lot just isn't the kind of service we need here in Stonecreek."

Marcy took that as her cue. "What, like a bake sale or something?  A car wash?"

Doris played the rest of her cards perfectly, and from here on out, until the final card was played, it was going to be her and Marcy's game.

"Well, yes, I believe those things would be helpful, marginally, at best, but they won't really have the kind of impact we're looking for, to get us really noticed, to show the board we really care ..."

Chloe grumbled. "So it's back to me sleeping with all of them, huh?"  I hope a few of them are cute. Uck. Nevermind.

Sara squinted her eyes at her glum girlfriend. "Not on your life, there, toots."

Dave snuck his hand up. "I'll volunteer my services, too!"

Marcy's elbow found it's way into his stomach. "Dave, don't interrupt Doris. And besides, most of the people on the board are men."

Dave grinned and leaned and tapped his own coffee cup against Chloe's water glass. "Hey, I figure if the Chloester here is up for making the big sacrifice by sleeping with a few idiot male politicians, so can I."

Funny as it seems, Chloe really appreciated his show of solidarity. "That's my boy, Dave, we'll do 'em all round robin."  She clinked her glass against his raised coffee cup.

Doris sighed. "Remind me not to try and have these kind of conversations after the two of you have been drinking fermented fruit squeezings all night long."  She tapped her spoon on her coffee cup to call her meeting back to order. "No, we need a big event, something that includes the whole town, something everyone can get involved with if they want to, or don't want to. We need to make a statement."

Dave jumped in. "Bingo!  We could have a bingo!"

Doris glared at him, and then at Marcy, for not reining him in. "No, something bigger. We were thinking that maybe we could, since we have so many talented people in our midst, even right here, right at this very table ... " She eyed them all, suckering them in for her next words. "A big community ... event ... something that would draw everyone ... we could-"

Marcy hit her cue, if a bit awkwardly. "Put on a SHOW?", she exclaimed, entirely too enthusiastically.  God, I feel like I'm playing Mickey Rooney to Doris'  Judy Garland.

Doris smiled, not at all offended by the planned interruption from the overacting Marcy. "Exactly! Just the ticket, Marcy!" She pretended to think about it for a moment, and then continued, "That would get plenty of folks from the community involved, plus, all of Stonecreek would come, and since we have a well known drama and musical expert right in our midst, maybe she could come up with something ... entertaining and spectacular for the folks to participate in, and we'll invite those bastards from the budget board to come see it. They couldn't ignore us then!"

Chloe liked the idea, it rather tickled her dramatic sensibilities, and she immediately saw the broader possibilities in it. But then a frown tightened her lips. "But Doris, I just won't have the time, what, I'll be working at the library, teaching at the school on Thursday afternoons, and, knock wood, teaching at Glenhurst two weeknights, and even maybe Saturdays, too. That's just too much."

Doris smiled a slow, knowing grin at the worried little librarian. "Well, actually, Chloe, come to think of it,  you're not the only experienced theatrical talent we have here in town."

Everyone frowned at this statement, and studied their beverage glasses.  Then their lights went on, one by one, all forming a brilliantly lit arrow pointing in the direction of the woman whose bulb appeared to be shorted out. Their eyes all rose, and then settled on ....

Her bulb finally sputtered into light. "Oh, no, not ME!!"  blurted Sara, her voice an odd mixture of a gasp and a whine.

Marcy ended the act, playing her trump card. "And why not you, well, with Chloe all tied up with her projects, and you having some free time, why not you?"

Sara's mind instantly formed a million reasons to say why not , and then she looked over at Chloe, and saw the curious expression that had formed on her face. Their eyes met. Sara blinked, and that damned fireplace and bearskin rug invaded her thoughts again.

Sara turned away from those inquiring eyes of green, and looked at Doris, and sighed. "OK, Madam Raeburn. When do you think this award winning spectacle ought to hit the stage?"  She felt a bandaged hand gently stroke her knee.

Game well in hand, Doris and Marcy didn't even have the decency to feel guilty, even for a moment.

Continued in Part VI

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