Tradition, part 4
by RSW

Chapter 13

Beth and Greg had spent the day in much the same way that Ben and Emily had, though without any of the inhibitions of the less experienced couple. Beth, too, was saddened to have such a great day end, but was looking forward to relating the events to Emily, and, more importantly, hearing exactly what she had been up to at Ben’s fishing camp. When Ben suggested to her that they meet at eight at a rest area just outside of town, she readily agreed. She also didn’t have a problem when he requested that she bring Greg. That just gave her more time with her new boyfriend.

“Any idea why Ben wants you to ride with him home?” Beth asked Greg just before they reached their destination.

“Not really, but, since he spent a whole day with Emily, he probably wants to talk about the relationship. He can be worse than a girl.”

Beth stuck out her tongue at him, knowing that he was kidding. They had spent a lot of time talking about and defining their relationship during the day, and she didn’t exactly have to rope him into the conversation.

As she pulled into the nearly deserted rest area parking lot, she saw Ben’s Charger parked in the back corner, the one farthest from the road. She drove over and parked near his car. As she did so, she saw Ben get out and walk over to the passenger side. Though the parking lot was lit, both hers and Ben’s cars were in the shadows, and the darkness didn’t allow her to see inside his vehicle.

“Isn’t that sweet,” she told Greg. “He’s being a gentleman and opening Emily’s door for her.”

She took her eyes off Ben for a while as Greg said goodbye with a long, sensual kiss. “I love you. See you later,” he said while getting out of the car.

“I love you, too, stud. See you soon,” she replied.

Greg turned away from her just as a very naked Emily stepped out from behind Ben. Beth couldn’t tell who was more shocked, Greg or Emily. He gawked at the naked blonde as she froze in her tracks. Emily then seemed to realize the display she was putting on. She let out a short scream, threw her arms across her breasts and bush, and sprinted to Beth’s car.

“What are you doing, bringing him here? You knew that I didn’t have any clothes!” Emily shouted at her.

“Calm down. I figured that you would have sense to wrap up in a towel or something. I’m not used to my shy cousin running around naked. Why aren’t you covered, anyway, and didn’t Ben tell you that he was picking up Greg?” Beth said.

“Ben knew that Greg was coming?”

“Ben is the one that requested it,” Beth answered.

“Ohhh. I am so going to kill him. He’s in for it now.”

“Care to explain what’s going on?” Beth asked.

The boys hadn’t gotten in the car yet, and she could see them laughing hysterically.

“I’ll catch you up later,” Emily replied.

“Okay, want to get dressed before we get on the highway? Your bag of clothes is in the backseat.”

“In a second,” Emily said. Instead of getting dressed immediately or going into a catatonic state due to humiliation, Emily got out of the car. With her hands by her side, she slowly walked up to Greg and gave him a friendly hug. “I’m sorry that I was rude to you a minute ago. Good to see you, Greg.”

Greg couldn’t find any words to reply.

Emily then strode to Ben and pulled his mouth to her. After a pressing her nude body fully against him and practically sucking his lips off his face, she broke off the kiss.

“Goodnight, lover,” she said and strutted back to the car exaggerating the movement of her hips as the boys’ eyes were glued to her departing butt. Beth would have laughed at the stunned expressions on their faces if her own face hadn’t mirrored theirs so well.

“What has gotten in to you?” Beth asked.

As Beth pulled away from their dumfounded boyfriends, Emily reached into the back seat and grabbed her clothes. “Do you realize that I’ve been completely naked for almost twenty four hours?” Emily said as she slipped on her panties. “Ah, those feel good.”

Emily finished getting dressed and told Beth all the details about her time with Ben. When she completed her tale, she asked, “anything new with you? How was the party?”

Beth told her about all that had happened at the cabin from the start of their performance through Julie’s one woman, four man, show. She told Emily about Kate going upstairs with Mike and about the other four cheerleaders promising to entertain the remaining players, then she said, “and sometime between the end of the party and me frantically calling Ben’s phone to find out your whereabouts, Greg and I officially started dating.”

Emily leaned over and hugged her cousin. “That’s great. It’s about time!”

Then, she stopped and began to look concerned. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry,” Emily said.

“For what?”

“For giving your boyfriend a naked hug. I wanted to make Ben a little jealous for playing that trick on me. I didn’t think about you and Greg’s relationship. I’m really sorry.”

Beth laughed. “Honey, I’m not worried about you trying to steal my boyfriend. It’s okay. The look on his face was priceless.” She laughed again. “I wonder how Greg is feeling right now; he’s always thought of you like a little sister.”

“He probably doesn’t think of me that way anymore. There was a distinct bulge in his pants when I hugged him.”

The girls laughed together.

As soon as Beth dropped her off and she got to her own room, Emily picked up the phone to call Ben. She was confused both by her own reaction and by Ben’s reason for pulling the prank in the first place. “Ben, I can’t believe you did that!”

Ben burst out laughing. “You completely deserved it, refusing to get dressed, pretending that being seen nude didn’t bother you. You have to admit that I gave you every opportunity to wrap a towel or blanket around yourself before we left. Heck, I practically begged you to.”

“But you let Greg see me naked! I thought that you’d be too jealous to let another boy see me,” Emily said.

“Why’d you think that? I’m not really the possessive type.”

“The whole thing with the party. You agreed to let me dance for you so that all the other guys wouldn’t see me naked. Right?” she asked.

“No. I agreed to it because I didn’t think that you could handle undressing in front of all of them. I wanted to protect you, not save your body for myself.”

“What about at the gas station, then? You wouldn’t let me go inside. You pleaded with me not to,” she said.

“Em, honey, you’re a smart girl and a good debater. You need to work on your poker skills, though. It was obvious that you were bluffing. I had to decide whether to call you on it or just give in to whatever it was that you were wanting.”

He laughed. “I did imagine for a second what would happen if I would have handed you my wallet instead. I hadn’t realized before last night how stubborn you could be. I wondered for a moment if you might just actually go through with it. Whether you did it or whether you had to tell me that you couldn’t do it, I figured that it would be embarrassing to you either way. In the end, I guess that I decided that I would rather be humiliated than put you through it.”

With an explanation like that, it was hard to stay mad at him. “So, what did you think of my reaction?” she asked.


“Yes, please.”

“I wanted you so bad that it was hard to resist throwing you on the hood of my car and taking you right there.”

She laughed. “Ben Miller! I can’t believe you said that.”

He laughed too. “I can’t help it if I have a totally hot girlfriend.”

“I like the sound of that. Your girlfriend,” she said. “So, you gonna ask me out for next weekend or what?”

“We could do a traditional dinner and movie on Friday night?” he said.

“Sorry. No can do. Beth wants to do a cheerleading squad bonding night on Friday. I think that she wants to make sure that no one is seriously regretting their actions from last night.”

“Well, it looks like my Saturday is going to be completely booked, but I’ll probably be free by early evening. You up for something, then? We’d have to keep the time fairly flexible, though.”

“What are you going to be doing?” she asked.

“I have to fix the car. I don’t mind driving it for a week with the damage, but I need to get it dealt with as soon as I can. If the panel slips at all, it could start rubbing the tire. Anyway, it looks like it’s going to be an all day job, especially with the priming, painting, and all the waiting around for it to dry,” he said.

“Oh, Ben, I’m so sorry. Will it cost a lot? Is there anything that I can do to help?”

“Hey, I told you, it’s not your fault, and, no, it won’t cost hardly anything. I have plenty of paint, primer, and compound from when my dad and I painted it originally; the only thing that I have to buy is a couple of brackets that are too damaged to repair. I’ll get those from an auto salvage yard, though, so it won’t run me more than twenty dollars or so.”

“Can I help?” she asked again.

“It would be a long, boring day for you watching me pound out dents, but, sure, you can keep me company if you want.”

“Cool. What time do you want me to come over? I’ll have Beth drop me off.”

“Around ten or so? That will give me time to get a quick workout in before you get here,” he said.

“Sounds good.”


“What?” she asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I was just thinking. If we’re going to be painting, we wouldn’t want to get your clothes stained. You might just have to take them off.”


Chapter 14

On Monday morning, Roberta Wilson sent Carla Pederson a text message when she saw Emily exiting Ben’s Charger instead of her usual ride, Beth’s Civic. She sent another one when the two walked away from the parking lot holding hands with Ben carrying Emily’s book sack. Carla texted five of her closest friends, and, by the time the couple reached their lockers, the news was all over the school.

Bill Simon, who had been carrying a torch for Emily since the first day he had seen her at the start of their freshman year, clenched his fists when word of the new relationship reached him, but thought better of any action, though, when he visualized the size of the offensive tackle. Sam Turner took a more pragmatic view. The odds are that most teenage relationships don’t work out, and this turn of events meant the that delectable Emily was now officially a part of the school’s dating pool. Vince Thibodeaux, however, like most of the boys in the school, both liked and respected Ben and was happy that the shy senior was able to land such a major catch.

The reaction from the girls was vastly different from that of the boys. Beth nearly had to eviscerate one of the freshmen when she overheard the girl in the restroom talking about Emily. Beth understood that, though Emily was always as sweet as can be, a certain amount of jealousy permeated over her selection to the cheerleading squad at the end of just her freshman year, but those remarks were simply not called for!

Emily’s cheerleading friends tried their best to shield her from the remarks, but they couldn’t keep it a secret forever. She finally borrowed Beth’s phone from her purse and gasped as she looked through the text messages. ‘So, Marci is planning on stealing Ben out from under me, huh? And, Tracy thinks that Ben and I are too shy to do anything more than hold hands? We’ll see about that!’ she thought.

Even seated, Ben towered above most of the people in the cafeteria seating area, so she spotted him easily. He started to wave at her when he saw her approaching but cut the motion short, apparently puzzled by the expression on her face. She marched right up to him and, in front of practically the whole school, pulled his mouth down to hers and gave him a slow, smoldering kiss before walking away without saying a word.

The students burst out in applause.

‘The only thing that would have made that better,’ she thought, ‘was if I had been wearing my cheerleader outfit.’ It was the first time that she had ever actually wanted to seen wearing it.

By the end of the week, the newness of their relationship had worn out for the rumormongers, and Emily and Ben were left pretty much alone.

As promised, Emily had Beth drop her off at Ben’s house at around 10am Saturday morning. She found him out in the garage already under the car. She was glad that she had worn sweats, as it was a bit chilly in the unconditioned space. They weren’t much to look at, but they were warm. Plus, she had brought along a bag with a cute outfit that she could wear if they went out later. It was the best of both worlds.

“Hey, Loverboy, what are you doing?”

Ben grunted. “Hey Em. Just taking off some bolts. I soaked it with PB Blaster, but they’re still a bit tight.” He pushed himself out from under the Charger and stood up to embrace and kiss her. “Good morning.”

“Ummm. Good morning to you too. What’s PB Blaster?”

“Have you ever heard of WD-40?”

“I think I’m seen my dad use that. It comes in a blue can, right?”

“That’s the one,” Ben said. “One of the uses of WD-40 is to help loosen bolts. PB Blaster does the same thing, only better. Have to be careful with it, though; it has a lot harsher fumes.”

“Okay. What can I do to help?” she asked.

“Not much really. Just keep me company.”

He climbed back under the car. It didn’t take too long for Ben to finish disconnecting the brackets holding the quarter panel on. He wore a white tank, and she liked the way that his muscles bulged as he worked. She marveled at how easily he picked up the big piece of metal and carried it to a work table.

‘I wonder how much that thing weighs?’ She pictured those huge hands manhandling her and sighed.

Ben set the panel down and picked up a small sledge hammer. He looked like he was just about to strike the metal when he abruptly stopped. “This is going to be really loud. Did you want to go inside for a while?”

“No,” Emily replied, “I’d rather watch you.” It was amazing how quickly she could go from barely noticing him being around to looking at him like he was a piece of meat. She stuck her fingers in her ears. He smiled and began pounding out the dent. ‘Look at his attention to detail. Every little part has to be perfect,’ she thought.

Breaking only to eat sandwiches for lunch. Ben worked relentlessly. After the metalwork was completed to his satisfaction, he stripped off the old paint and applied primer. As he waited for it to be ready, he waxed the rest of the car and then buffed it off while the paint dried.

‘Look at the way that he caressed the car’s body. Should I be jealous?’ Emily thought.

By sundown, the panel was back on the car and looked as good as new. He and Emily cleaned up and got dressed in time to eat dinner and catch a movie.

The next weekend, Beth got a job house-sitting for neighbors who were going out of town. She invited Greg, Ben, and Emily over on Friday night. When Ben and Emily pulled up to the house after dinner, Greg and Beth had just started watching “Step It Up 2” on DVD. Greg looked like he was being tortured and tried to take the opportunity provided by the other couple’s arrival as an excuse to stop the movie. Emily hadn’t seen it yet, however, and wanted to watch it. Ben, of course, supported her fully. With Greg outvoted three to one, the foursome got comfortable in the living room.

“Well, that was fun,” Greg said when the closing credits started to roll.

“Oh, come on. It wasn’t that bad,” Beth said. “Besides, it gave me some ideas for some new dance moves. Maybe I’ll show them to you later. In the bedroom.”

“Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Emily smiled at their banter. The movie hadn’t exactly been a cinematic masterpiece, but it did have a lot of dancing. She loved dance movies.

“So, what should we do now?” she asked.

Beth smiled slyly. “There’s a pool out back.”

“A pool? It’s freezing outside,” Emily said.

“It’s heated. I put my foot in earlier. It feels heavenly.”

“Too bad I didn’t bring my swimsuit then,” Emily replied.

Emily expected Beth to offer one of her bikinis. She was already thinking that maybe it would be okay to parade around in a skimpy two piece. She wasn’t prepared for Beth’s suggestion.

“Who’s up for skinny dipping?”

The two guys agreed immediately and, along with Beth, were halfway to the back door before Emily was able to process the information.

“Last one in has to do a dare!” Greg shouted.

Emily hurried after them. She walked out to see her friends rapidly shucking their clothes. By the time first Greg’s, then Beth’s, and finally Ben’s bare butts had dived into the pool, she had removed her shoes and socks and unzipped her jeans. All three sets of eyes were glued to her as she pushed them down her legs. ‘I can do this. They’ve all seen me naked, anyway.’

She and Ben had slowed down since their first night together, deciding that they needed to get to know each other better as girlfriend and boyfriend rather than let their raging teenage hormones drive their relationship. Even Ben hadn’t seen her in her birthday suit for the last two weeks.

It seemed different, too, taking off her clothes in front of them. When Greg had seen her last time, she had been irritated at Ben for tricking her and was still awash in a glow of the day’s sexual activity. Those emotions weren’t present now. With no preparation, she was going from sitting in the living room watching a movie to stripping outside for the entertainment of her friends.

She stepped out of the pants revealing cute, pale pink panties and then pulled her shirt over her head. Her lacy bra matched the panties. ‘Am I really going to do it, strip with them watching me?’

She kept her gaze on Ben as she unhooked her bra and let it fall to the ground. It was easier that way, concentrating on her boyfriend. She pushed down the panties and stood there naked. She was about to jump in the pool when Greg stopped her.

“Not so fast,” he said. “You still owe us a dare.”

“He did clearly say that the last one in owed a dare,” Beth said.

Emily, feeling really stupid just standing there with everything exposed, turned to Ben.

“Hey,” he said, “if you really don’t want to…”

“No, it’s okay.”

She turned back to Greg.

“What did you have in mind?”

“Nothing major. How about you go down the slide?”

Emily could feel their gaze on her naked butt as she walked over to the ladder. The pool area was well lit, and she knew that the thin metal struts weren’t doing much to cover her as she started climbing.

Ben had seen much more of her than this and a lot closer up, and Beth was a girl. She didn’t really worry too much about them. Greg was a different story. ‘He’s seeing more of me than he ever wanted,’ she thought. ‘Wait, he’s a guy. He’s probably not seeing as much as he wants!’ She blushed..

It wasn’t too bad until the height took her above the privacy fence. ‘Anyone at all can see me now!’ In her haste to get out of the potential view of the public, she didn’t even bother to try to preserve her modesty as she separated her legs to bring them from the ladder to the slide. She quickly launched her bare backside down the slippery surface.

Instead of submerging like she expected when she hit the water, she landed right in Ben’s waiting arms. With his height, he had no problem standing even in the six-foot water of the deep end.

He gave her a long kiss, and their tongues intertwined. “Lay your head back and relax,” he told her.

Demonstrating her complete trust in him, she immediately did so.

He used his hands to caress her entire body. He teased her all over as she floated on the calm water. With one hand submerged and one hand over her, he traced his fingers lightly over her feet and legs. He stroked the inside of her thighs and massaged her behind.

She felt her body react to his touches. Her nipples grew erect, and she knew she was wet from more than just the water. Still he teased her. He gently squeezed her breasts and rubbed her clitoris from the outside. He gave her ethereal kisses on her neck and, underwater, behind her ears. His hands were everywhere, never staying where she wanted, needed, them for long.

Her growing arousal made relaxing and, therefore, floating impossible, and she began to sink. She felt only the briefest sense of alarm before his arms caught her. He drew her body to him, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. They kissed, long and deep.

Somewhere she felt the movement but could concentrate only on her desire, her craving. Her lips were torn from his as she was lifted out of the water, and her butt made contact with the rough concrete. She gasped as his tongue entered her. She spread her legs and let him have his way. Finally, her back arched with release, and she uncontrollably raked her long fingernails across his shoulders. She couldn’t help but moan.

Dimly, she was aware of Greg and Beth looking at them, at her, but, at the moment, she was so lost in the afterglow that she didn’t care. Ben climbed out of the water, his enormous love muscle extended and dripping water. He picked her up and carried her inside. She knew that he wanted to take her, to have his penis inside her. After he dried both of their soaking bodies, he laid her in bed and climbed in next to her. She was ready. She lay on her back and spread her legs, waiting. Instead, he pulled her close to him and embraced her. Holding and caressing her, whispering his love for her in her ear, until they both fell asleep.

Emily woke the next morning still in his arms. Once again, he had woken before her and was watching her as she slept.

“Ummm, good morning,” she said as he kissed her.


“So, why didn’t you take me up on my offer last night?” she asked.

“That’s not the kind of decision that you should make on the spur of the moment. If, or when, it happens for us, I want it to be because we’ve both decided in advance that the time is right.”

Chapter 15

Christmas and New Year’s Day came and went, and the green buds of spring replaced the barrenness of winter. It was late March, after cheerleading practice, when Julie struck up a conversation with Emily.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Julie said, “how’s the sex with Ben? I had the opportunity to feel him up once while he was hard. He’s huge. I bet with just a little bit of experience, he’d be awesome in bed.”

Emily stared at her in horror.

“What? Is the sex awesome?” Julie asked again.

Coming from anyone else, Emily would have been surprised or angry. With Julie, she couldn’t help but be amused. Instead of running away like she should have, she answered.

“We haven’t actually gotten that far.”

“What? Em, is there something wrong with him?”

“No, there definitely nothing wrong. We’ve played around; we just haven’t gone all the way.”

“Why ever not? He’s a stud. How can you play around with him and not want him in you?” Julie asked.

Emily blushed. “I do, sometimes. When we play around, I’ve begged him to put it inside me, but he won’t. He says that we can’t make that decision in the heat of the moment. I have to tell him in advance.”

“That’s easy enough,” Julie said. “Go up to him now and tell him that you want him tonight. Sex is great! You’ll love it.”

“I’m not sure that I’m ready.”

Julie looked at her like Emily should be wearing a straightjacket. “Would it help you if you had company? We could do a three-way.”

Emily blushed and shook her head emphatically. “NO!”

“Hon, does he go down on you?” Julie asked.

Emily hesitated, but answered yes.

“Does he finger you?”


“Then what’s the big deal. Well, in Ben’s case, I guess it is a BIG deal. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt much,” Julie said.

“I’m not really worried about it hurting,” Emily said. “It’s just… I don’t know…”

“Girl, if you want to keep him, you’ve got to do it.”

Emily’s shoulders tensed and her eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”

“I know that Ben is a nice guy,” Julie said, “but he is a guy. Guys want sex. If he doesn’t get it from you, he’ll get it somewhere.”

“Ben isn’t like that!”

“Em, honey, all guys are like that.”

Emily tried another approach.

“Ben wasn’t exactly getting a lot of experience before he started dating me, was he? He turned you down.”

“That’s because he had eyes only for you. Now that you’re dating, the newness will wear off. And, think about this: next year, he’ll be away at college around all those mature coeds. Do you really think that you can hold onto him without sex?”

Emily was mad at Julie but had to concede that she made a good point. She hadn’t wanted to think about Ben, and Beth for that matter, leaving her. How did she feel about Ben going off to school? Would he still want to date a virgin high school girl, practically a child, while surrounded by all those women so much more experienced than her? She thought hard about it for a few days before broaching the subject with Ben.

“So, prom?” she asked him.

“Yes? What is it?”

“It’s a big dance where people get all dressed up, but that’s not important right now,” she said.

He laughed so hard that she thought he was going to suffocate. Before being around Ben, she hadn’t known that people really do slap their knees in response to a joke, and it amazed her that, no matter how many times she made a similar “Airplane” reference, it always cracked him up. She couldn’t help but smile, he was such a lovable geek.

“Seriously, you haven’t asked me yet,” she said after he had regained his breath.

“We’ve still got a month, and I didn’t know if you’d want to go.”

“It’s only the biggest event of the year, and I’ll probably be the only sophomore invited. Why wouldn’t I want to go?”

He looked chagrined. “Remember when we started dating, and I told you that I don’t have a lot of qualities that a teenage girl looks for in a boyfriend? Truth is, I don’t dance.”

“You have a lot of qualities that this teenage girl is looking for.” She smiled at him, and his face lit up. “I can teach you all that you need to know to get by. Besides,” she said, ”I was reading this romance novel…”

This was the hard part. Should she do it? Was she ready?

“And?” he prompted.

“Well, I’ve decided. I want you to ravish me.”

“Ravish, huh?”

“Yes. Ravish. I know that it’s a cliché, having sex after the prom, but it sounds nice.”

“I guess I’ll be renting a tux.”

It was a Friday night, just shy of two weeks before prom, when her dad called out to her.


“Yes, Dad,” she said, walking into the living room.

“You know what tomorrow is, right?” he asked.

She looked at the date on the calendar.

“Oh! I had forgotten. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t feel bad. It’s good that you’re moving on. Still, though, are you going with me?” he asked.

She gave him a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. This was one of the few things that they still shared, and he had been so nice about giving her what money he could to buy a prom dress.

“Of course. Let me call Ben and tell him that I won’t be available until the evening. We had been planning a picnic.”

Emily and her dad drove in silence, and she wondered what was going through his mind as they passed through the gates of the cemetery. Five years ago today, they had laid her mom to rest. Emily found it hard, sometimes, to even remember her face, her voice. What would things have been like if she had lived?

Her dad parked near the grave and grabbed flowers and a small book sack from the back seat. As had become their ritual, she walked with him until they reached a bench near the grave. She sat, allowing her dad some private time. As he approached on the way back, she could tell how emotionally draining this was for him. She looked away so that she wouldn’t see the tears still fresh on his face. Without a word, he sat next to her. She got up and trudged to the tombstone.

Emily hated crying, the loss of emotional control, and fought hard against it. She summoned up the anger she felt at her mom for leaving her. Why did she have to work so late on a Friday night? If she had come home earlier, the drunk wouldn’t have been on the road yet. Because her mom had to complete some stupid, meaningless assignment for a deadline, Emily had to grow up not knowing her mom and with a dad so devastated that he couldn’t make himself deal with the world.

She stared at the epitaph, “Beloved Wife and Mother.” ‘Did you love me, Mom? Did you? If so, why did you leave me?’ She struggled to keep the anger. She needed it. She wanted to hate. Hate would fuel the anger.

All Emily could think about was the summer before the accident when her parents had taken her to the beach. They had laughed so much. Though the images were fuzzy, she couldn’t help but see the love that her mom had had for both her and her dad. Despite her best efforts, Emily couldn’t hate. Before the sadness could completely overcome her, she went back to her dad.

“I haven’t done right by you, kid,” he said.

“What do you mean, Dad?”

She could see tears forming in his eyes again. “After your mom died, I knew that I needed to pull myself together for your sake, but I couldn’t. I tried my best, but I couldn’t.”

He reached out to hug her, and she embraced him. She had seen her dad upset but never like this, never so demonstrative. “I love you, girl, and I’m sorry that I haven’t been a better dad for you. You’re turning into a fine young woman. You’re smart, beautiful, and, most of all, you have a good heart. Your mom would be so proud of you.”

It was all Emily could do to choke back the tears.

“I’ve been debating something for a long time, and I’ve finally come to a decision,” he said. “Your mom kept diaries from the time that she was in junior high until shortly before she graduated college. I’ve always thought that it would be an invasion of her privacy to read them, so I never have.”

He paused. “I think that, under these circumstances, she would have wanted you to read them so that you could get know her better. You’re so grown up, taking care of me and with a boyfriend of your own, that I think you’re old enough now. I want to give these to you.” He handed her the book sack.

She started with the first one, and read all the way home. She dimly registered her father’s goodbye as he dropped her off at the house and left again saying something about a bar. She retired to her bedroom and pored through the journals, not even bothering to eat lunch and barely remembering to call Ben to cancel their date.

It was close to midnight when she finished. After stretching, the first thing that she realized was that she was starved. The second thing was that her dad was not home. Her dad never stayed out late, and he absolutely had not once in the last five years left her alone and not knowing where he was. He knew how her mom’s accident had affected her, how much she worried if he was even a little late. She cursed the fact that he was too stubborn to buy a cell phone for himself.

She did the only thing that she could think of. She called Beth.

Chapter 16

Beth could tell that something was wrong as soon as she heard the tremble in Emily’s voice. She got in the Civic and rushed over.

“Do you think he’s been in an accident? What should we do?” Emily asked as she intercepted Beth on the doorstep.

“I’m sure he’s fine. If he had been in an accident, the police would have called you. Your best bet is to go to bed, and, hopefully, we’ll know something in the morning.”

“I couldn’t possibly sleep with the day that I’ve had and Dad missing…” Emily told her about the trip to the graveyard and the journals. “I’m marked some passages that you just have to read,” Emily concluded.

“They’ll be time for that later. First, you get cleaned up and ready for bed.”

Beth knew that she was treating her cousin like she was a child but felt that Emily needed Beth the surrogate mother now, not Beth the friend. When Emily returned from the bathroom wearing her nightgown, Beth escorted her to bed.

“We’ll just lay down for a few minutes,” Beth told her.

Beth turned out the lights and crawled under the covers with the younger girl. She held her tight and lightly rubbed her forehead. In less than five minutes, Emily was sleeping soundly.

‘That has worked like a charm ever since she was a baby,’ Beth thought.

With Emily resting peacefully, it was time for Beth to get to work. She had a suspicion that she knew exactly where her Uncle Joe was spending the night, especially this being the 5th anniversary of his beloved wife’s death. She also felt sure that, like she had told Emily earlier, the police would have called if he were in the hospital but not if he had been arrested. It didn’t hurt to check, though. She dug out the phone book and called each of the town’s three hospitals. However positive she was that he was fine, it was still a relief when her search turned up no one matching her uncle’s description.

‘Nothing for it but to wait,’ she thought and picked up the diaries. Turning to the first page that Emily had marked with a Post It note, she began to read.

March 23, 1988

Dear Diary,

Dan Morton asked me to go to prom with him today! He’s only the dreamiest senior on the entire football team, and he picked me. I’m the only sophomore that’s been invited. This is so exciting! Dad pretended that he was going to say no, but, instead, he gave me $300 for a dress! This is the best day EVER!

Beth had a hard time picturing Aunt Carol as a boy-crazy teenager. Though her aunt had always been fun loving and had a great sense of humor, she seemed so shy and reserved. Beth had assumed that she would have been more like her daughter in high school and be more reticent around boys. She turned to the next marked passage.

April 9, 1988

Dear Diary,

I thought that last night would have been the best night of my life. My dress was beautiful, and Dan looked so handsome in his tux. I thought that I was the luckiest girl alive. Now, I don’t know.

Dinner and the prom were great. He took me to Chez Mouton! I don’t know how he could afford that, and he twirled me around the dance floor all night. I’m surprised that I don’t have holes in my head from all the jealous stares from the other girls.

After we left, though, he took me to a hotel room. At first, it was really romantic. He made me stay in the car while he lit candles and turned on really nice music. Then he picked me up and carried me in the room! Talk about sweeping me off my feet. Though it was only our first date, I felt a connection with him, and he was so gorgeous. I mean, DAN MORTON!

As we sat on the bed, he leaned in and kissed me. It was divine! My first real kiss!

Then he moved down to my neck, gently caressing me with his lips. I started to feel all tingly, especially down there! It was only our first date, though, and I began to think that I should make him stop. He had spent so much money on me, and the prom was so nice! Didn’t I owe him something?

I didn’t stop him as he unzipped the back of my dress, not even when the top part fell down to my waist and my boobies were exposed. He went for them immediately, but he wasn’t rough. He stroked them really gently, and it felt really good! I was really embarrassed when my nipples hardened. He just smiled, though, and started licking them! Oh, it was heavenly. It felt so good!

I knew that I should stop him; sloppy second was well far enough for a first date. When I tried to speak, though, he kissed me on the mouth again. It’s hard to object with his tongue in my mouth!

He stood and pulled me up after him. With nothing holding it any longer, my dress fell to my ankles. I’m sure that my face turned red with me standing in front of him wearing only my panties, a garter belt, stockings, and high heels. I didn’t have long to dwell on it, as he drew me to him and kissed me again. I could feel that he was aroused too!

Before I knew it, his hands were on the waistband of panties. I tried to grab them to hold them up, but I was too late! He had them down around my ankles in a flash. I was naked!

As I tried to cover myself, he pushed me onto the bed. I tried to object as he took off his pants and underwear, but no words would come out of my mouth. Then he was on top of me! And then inside of me!

I laid there as he finished. Afterwards, he got me a washrag and handed me my clothes. I got cleaned and dressed silently, and he escorted me to the car. He dropped me off at my house with barely a word and no goodnight kiss.

I still don’t know what to think. He hasn’t called. Does he still like me? Does he think I’m a slut? I need to talk to him about last night.

Beth couldn’t believe it. Aunt Carol had been a victim of date rape. Did anyone know about this? She turned to the next section that Emily had selected for her.

April 25, 1988

Dear Diary,

It’s been over two weeks since prom, and Dan still hasn’t called me. He seems to be avoiding me in the halls. Fran says that she heard that he was talking about what happened to the other football players. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to show my face again.

I’m also starting to get a little worried. I should have started my period last Friday. It’s probably stupid; it’s not like it’s never a few days late.

‘Oh no!’ Beth thought. ‘Surely that hadn’t happened to Aunt Carol…’

She skipped to the last passage with a Post It note.

May 28, 1988

Dear Diary,

I went to the clinic to have it taken care of today. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I had no other real choice. My parents would have killed me. It’s lucky that I was able to hide it from them. I’m so glad that Samantha understood and helped me with the money. I can’t believe that Dan wouldn’t even help with that! I hope that God will forgive me for what I did.

‘Aunt Carol had an abortion and my mom paid for it?’ Beth thought. ‘Between it being the anniversary of the accident, her dad being missing, and finding out that her mom was raped and had an abortion, Emily must be a wreck.’ She ended up sleeping on the couch with the phone close by.

It was nearly ten when Emily woke. Her first thought was to rush to her father’s room to see if he made it home during the night. Her heart sank when she found the empty bed. She tried to shut out all the possible tragedies that might have befallen him as she made her way to the living room. Hearing Beth snoring lightly on the couch, she tiptoed through to begin breakfast preparations. She hadn’t even finished getting out all the ingredients when the phone rang.

“Hello?” she answered, picking up the extension in the kitchen.

“This is a collect call from the Springfield Jail from – Joe Taylor. Will you accept the charges?” the automated voice at the other end of the line said.

She recognized the recorded snippet of her father’s voice. The sense of relief so overwhelmed her that she didn’t even register the “jail” part of the message.

“Yes. Please, yes,” she said.

“Emily, I’m so sorry to worry you. I did a very stupid thing last night,” Joe said.

Emily glanced up to see Beth enter the room. “What happened, Daddy? Where are you?”

“I’m in jail, honey. I went to a bar last night and tried to drive home after having a few too many.”

“Daddy! How could you? After what happened to Mom…”

“I know. Believe me, I know. It was incredibly stupid. Can you forgive me?”

Emily was so relieved that he was okay that she couldn’t maintain her anger, even for him being idiotic enough to drive drunk. “Of course. I love you. What happens now?”

“I’ve arranged to post bail tomorrow and to get a ride home. Can you stay with Beth until then? I’m sure that Samantha won’t mind,” he said.

Beth could hear the conversation and nodded without hesitation.

“Beth’s here now; she stayed over last night. She says her parents won’t mind.”

Something that her dad said registered.

“Why do you need a ride home?” she asked.

“I’m sorry to tell you this, but I was in a bit of an accident.”

Emily’s hand that was holding the phone started shaking.

“An accident? Are you okay? Was anyone hurt?”

“I’m fine. Just a few cuts and bruises, and I didn’t hit anyone else. The car is totaled, though, and there was some property damage. I was damn lucky; I can’t believe that I was so stupid,” he said.

She wanted to yell at him for risking his life like that, for taking a chance of leaving her orphaned. She could tell that he was beating himself up, though, so she held her tongue. He needed her support, not her anger. “It’s okay, Daddy. The important thing is that you’re okay. I love you.”

“Thank you, Em. You’re a special girl.” There was a pause on the line. “Honey? The officer is telling me that my time is up. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye.”

“Bye, Daddy.”

As she hung up, Beth walked over and gave her a hug. “See, girl. It’s going to be okay.”

“I can’t believe that he was so stupid, though,” Emily said. “My faith in men isn’t all that high right now. Did you read about what happened to Mom when she was my age?”

“I did. But not all guys are like that. Ben and Greg certainly aren’t.”

“Greg, maybe. I’m not so sure about Ben,” Emily said.

“Emily! What are you talking about? Did Ben do something?”

“No, not really, but I was talking to Julie the other day…”

“About boys?” Beth interrupted.

Emily nodded.

“That’s a really bad idea. If you need advice on how to improve performance in bed, talk to her. Any other advice concerning men, stay far away,” Beth said.

“But she made some good points. She told me that guys all really like sex. That’s true, right? Is Ben going to stay with me next year when he’s away at college if I refuse to do it with him?”

“Em, I chose Ben to witness your dance because he was literally the only guy that I trusted with you and that was before I saw how he treats you since you started dating. I’ve never seen a guy so head over heals, except maybe the way your dad was for your mom.”

“Well, he wasn’t planning on taking me to the prom until I promised to have sex with him afterwards.”

Beth looked shocked. “He made you promise to have sex with him before he would agree to take you to prom?”

“It wasn’t exactly like that, but sort of…”

“Emily! How was it exactly?”

“We were talking about the dance and whether he was going to take me, and I told him that I wanted him to ravish me after the dance. It wasn’t until I told him about the sex that he said he’d take me.”

“I see,” Beth said. “And this was very serious conversation?”

“No,” Emily admitted, “it was kind of joking.”

“Do you really think that he’s only taking you because you agreed to have sex? Do you think that, if you called him right now and said that you changed your mind, he’d refuse to take you?”

Emily knew in her heart that Ben wasn’t like the guy who had slept with her mom, but, between learning about the abortion and her dad’s incredibly moronic actions, she was feeling mad at all men. “No,” she said softly.

“Emily, only you can decide when you’re ready. If you love Ben and want to share this with him, go ahead. If you’re not ready, just tell him; he’ll understand. And, don’t project your anger at others onto him. He deserves better from you.”

“You’re right.”

It didn’t ease her anger much, however, and she was fairly short with Ben when she called to tell him that she’d be staying with Beth and riding to school with her on Monday.

End of part 4