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My Niece Janelle, Chapter 8

  • Posted on January 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm

By Muffi

My alarm was beeping insistently in my ear. With enormous effort, I forced my eyelids to open and peered at the clock sitting on the coffee table. Oh, God… 5:30. That would be in the AM. I groaned, and made myself sit up.

My mouth tasted as though the entire Russian army had marched through it during the night, a sure sign that I’d had too much wine. My face was throbbing, and surprisingly — at least to me — I felt a dull ache throughout my entire body. I was stiff all over, joints reluctant to obey me. I wondered vaguely if this was how Colleen was used to feeling every day when she woke up. I didn’t get it. The guy had punched me in the face, once. Why did my whole body hurt like this?

I needed a shower, and I needed caffeine — lots of it. I dragged my protesting body to the kitchen and got some coffee brewing, adding an extra couple of scoops. I wanted it strong. Then I slowly made my way up the stairs, moving as quietly as could.

In my room, I found Sara and Janelle under the covers and snoozing peacefully, their heads touching. I quietly grabbed jeans, a t-shirt and underwear, then slipped back into the hall and into the bathroom. I cautiously closed the door behind me, hoping that I wouldn’t wake Colleen. But it couldn’t wait — I had to have a hot shower.

I looked in the mirror and gasped. My face was a mess. My cheekbone was swollen to double its normal size, the skin looking tight and strained. There was a variety of different colors there, ranging from dark purple to pale yellow, along with varying shades of red and blue. I looked like I’d gone one round too many with a prize fighter and lost the bout.

Appearances can be deceiving, though. After all, he was in jail, and I wasn’t.

I turned on the shower, fiddling with the knob until it was as hot as I could stand. I stepped in, wincing as the fiery needles struck my skin. Once I’d adjusted to the temperature, I let the steaming water pour over my sore body, sighing as my muscles began to relax. I stood there for a good ten minutes, just soaking in the heat and steam. Finally, I reached for the soap and began to wash, taking extra care with my face. It still hurt like hell.

I shampooed and conditioned my hair, stood motionless beneath the water for a few minutes more, then reluctantly turned off the shower and stepped out. The steam was so thick that I almost couldn’t see the mirror, so I switched on the exhaust fan, then dried off, moisturized and, feeling nearly human again, brushed my teeth. That did the trick. Now I was ready for caffeine, and a return to the land of the living.

I dressed quickly and, still barefoot, went downstairs. I had time for a quiet cup of coffee before I needed to wake the girls for school, so I pulled out my big mug, the one with the word BITCH printed on the side in gothic lettering. I was feeling pretty bitchy this morning, too, only in a good way. I’d helped put an abusive husband and father in jail. The fact that he was also a crystal meth dealer was just icing on the cake. I’d also helped his wife to rip him off.

I grinned. Yeah, that’s right. I’m one badass bitch. Don’t you forget it, either.

I sipped my coffee slowly, gratefully. I’m seriously addicted to caffeine. It really is my one true vice. Okay, that and sex. Two vices.

I heard footsteps on the stairs, and a moment later, Colleen cautiously peeped into the kitchen. I smiled at her, and she smiled back. I was again struck by how pretty she was. The change in her within the last eight hours had been nothing short of miraculous.

“Good morning,” I said. “You’re up so early… I thought you’d sleep in.”

“I thought so, too,” she replied. “But I just snapped awake. It took me a minute to realize that I didn’t dream what happened yesterday.”

I laughed quietly. “Nope, you sure didn’t. I have the colors to prove it, too,” I added, pointing at my swollen cheek. She winced.

“There’s coffee made, if you’d like some,” I said. “Or I have tea, if you’d rather.”

“No, coffee is exactly what I need right now,” she replied with a smile.

I pointed to the cupboard. “You’ll find a mug in there,” I said. “Sugar is on the table, and there’s cream in the fridge. Help yourself to what you need.”

“Black,” she said, “is the only way to drink coffee.”

“Oh, you and I will get along just fine,” I said with a snicker.

I watched as she poured herself a mug of coffee, then sat down with me at the table. For a few moments, we sat silently, sipping coffee and listening to the birds outside in the yard.

“Meagan,” she finally began, “I can’t begin to thank you…”

I cut her off. “Rule number one in my house from now on,” I said softly, “is that no one needs to offer any more thank yous to me, or to Michelle. We did what we thought was right, and that’s it. If you want to thank us, then just get that asshole out of your lives, start over again, and make Sara and yourself happy. That’s all the gratitude we need.”

She sat quietly for a moment, then gave me a smile. “Well, then,” she said, “I’ll thank Janelle instead. If she hadn’t made friends with Sara, none of this would have happened.” She hesitated. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“When Sara started school here, she really was kind of an outcast. I mean, I know she’s shy with people, but this time it seemed especially bad. She talked about the other kids always making fun of her, or just acting as if she wasn’t even there. She couldn’t make any friends. Then out of the blue, Janelle called, and invited Sara to her birthday party.” She fell silent.

“Go on,” I said softly, after a moment.

“Well, I guess I just wonder why she did that. I mean, Sara never mentioned Janelle, so I’m pretty sure they didn’t know each other very well when she invited her to the party. It seemed a little strange.”

“As near as I understand it,” I said, “it started one day at lunch. Janelle saw Sara sitting all by herself at a table, and decided to sit with her. She felt bad about of some of the names that the other kids were calling her.”

Colleen gave me a questioning look.

“Uhm… Well, frankly, they were calling her a little dyke. That was instigated by another girl named Sarah, only with an “H” at the end. Janelle doesn’t like that kind of thing.” I gazed steadily into Colleen’s eyes. “You see, she’s defensive about it, because of me.”

“Because of… Oh…” She hesitated, then smiled. “That would mean that Janelle doesn’t like it when people make assumptions about other people.”

“Yeah,” I said, nodding. “She’s an odd kid in some ways. A hyperactive little bundle of energy, it’s true… but she’s also the kindest, wisest little girl I’ve ever known. Basically, she’s just a damn good kid. I’m really proud of her.”

“You won’t get any argument from me,” said Colleen. “Sara has really come out of her shell in these last few days. Having a friend has meant so much to her.”

“Janelle genuinely likes Sara, too,” I said. “She kicked some of her friends to the curb because they were being mean to Sara at the party. Literally threw them out of the house.”

Colleen’s eyes went wide. “Are you serious?”

“It was pretty funny, actually. After she told them to leave, poor Sara looked like she wanted to sink into the ground. Janelle just went back to her, and within about five minutes, they’d become the best of friends.”

Colleen shook her head. “Well, I’m grateful to her. Sara’s been a different kid since she’s known Janelle.”

I laughed. “Janelle can do that to a person.” Then I glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall. “Time to wake the girls.”

“I’ll get them,” said Colleen, then hesitated. “Uhm…”

“What?”

“You said last night that I might be able to — to borrow some clothes today?”

I nodded. “Of course! Just rummage around in the closet and find something that fits. Take whatever you need. I doubt that my bras will fit you, but there’s clean panties in the top dresser drawer. I brought an outfit from your house for Sara yesterday, but I didn’t even think to grab anything for you.”

“Thanks,” she said softly. “I’ll go wake the girls, and get them ready for school.”

“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll get their breakfast ready.”

The next hour was a flurry of activity as the girls tumbled into the kitchen, inhaled breakfast, then dashed back upstairs to get dressed, returning with backpacks on their shoulders. Colleen offered to drive them to school, and I didn’t argue with her.

When she and the girls had left, I called Michelle, who told me that she would be at the police station swearing out a search warrant for the Davidson property, and that Colleen and I should meet her there, soon as we could.

Later at the station, we gave our statements separately, each of us filing a complaint against the lardass. Colleen was something of a star during this process; it’s not very often in our area that the cops have a chance to make a bust as huge as this one was going to be. Most of the drug arrests in our area consisted of teenagers getting nabbed with a little bit of pot. A meth lab was big-time crimebusting for the local constabulary.

We then had to go through the process of documenting Colleen’s injuries. Michelle took the pictures, and I stayed with Colleen the whole time. I winced as she removed her clothes. He’d been smart enough not to leave marks on her face, but her back and legs were a mass of old and new bruises, ranging from black to a dull, mottled red. Everything was photographed, and Michelle gave Colleen the name of a counsellor who works with abused women and children. I hoped that she’d make an appointment. She needed someone to help her take back her life.

Before we left, Michelle told us that because Colleen had been the one to turn the lardass in for his drug operation, the District Attorney had ordered that the house and any property other than drug money and the manufacturing equipment itself would not be seized. That was good; it meant that Colleen and Sara would still have a home. She also told us that the search was being conducted at that moment, and that the house wouldn’t be available until late that evening.

I figured the place was probably going to be a mess once the police were done combing through it, so I offered to let Colleen and Sara stay with me again that night. Colleen refused, though, saying she wanted to get her home into order, starting with clearing out everything that belonged to her husband. She did ask if Sara could spend the night, though. Of course, I agreed. I had a feeling that Janelle would just love to have Sara in bed with her again.

By then it was getting close to lunchtime, so we stopped and had sandwiches and coffee before heading back to my place. When we arrived, Colleen told me that she wanted to go to the mall and pick up a few things for herself and Sara. Before leaving, she called her boss and told him she wouldn’t be in that evening. When she explained why, he apparently decided not to give her a hard time about it. She told him she’d be in the following day.

After Colleen left to do her shopping, I flopped onto the couch and took a long, deep breath. It had been non-stop craziness since yesterday afternoon, and my face was still throbbing dully. I was just about to turn on the television for background noise to nap to when I remembered my laptop… and how I’d used its webcam to record Janelle and Sara after they’d turned in last night.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel the need for a nap any longer.

I bounded up the stairs to my room and grabbed the laptop from the dresser, flopping back on my bed with it in my hands. I powered it up, then brought up the video file from the webcam capture.

At first, there was a few moments of silence, my bed the only thing visible on the screen. Then I saw Janelle and Sara come into the room and pile into my bed, laughing and complaining about having to change rooms. I watched myself enter a few seconds later, getting a t-shirt and panties from the dresser.

“Good night, you two,” I heard myself say as I exited, followed by the girls’ sing-song chorus of “Good night!” to me.

I held my breath, staring at the screen and hoping that they had chosen to continue with the little game of mutual self-exploration they were engaged in earlier. I wasn’t disappointed.

With hushed giggles, I watched them throw off the covers, sit up and quickly strip out of their t-shirts and underpants. Good idea, I told myself… and with a moan of desire, I paused the video and quickly shed my jeans and panties, carelessly tossing them on the floor. I left the shirt on, though, just in case I heard Colleen returning sooner than expected and I needed to dress quickly.

I settled back on the bed, shoulders and head propped up on a pillow and the laptop placed next to me. With a hand already between my legs, lightly stroking myself, I started the video again.

On my computer, The two girls were now lying side by side, the soft light from the two bedside lamps illuminating their naked bodies. Janelle, still in her role as teacher, was in a pose that was almost identical to my own that first time that I’d laid beside her, watching as she pleasured herself. Her head was propped on one hand, and the other was between her legs. She had a knee raised, allowing her fingers easy access to the soft folds of her sex. I followed Janelle’s intent gaze as she stared at the beautiful little girl lying next to her.

“See how good it feels if you make little circles?” Janelle whispered.

I watched as Sara followed Janelle’s suggestion, her first two fingers sliding smoothly into the cleft formed by her labia. Her hand began to move, and she gasped in astonishment.

“See? It feels awesome, huh?” said Janelle.

Sara’s eyes slowly drifted shut as she nodded in response. As I watched, her legs parted, allowing me to see more of her pretty pink pussy. I felt a spasm of lust as I watched her hips begin to rise and fall to the rhythm of her flexing wrist.

Hungry for pleasure, I dug two fingers into my pussy. It was soaking wet.

I could see Janelle’s hand moving slowly between her own legs as she stimulated herself while watching her friend. The look on her face was at once both focused and dreamy. She obviously enjoyed playing instructor on Sara’s first voyage of sexual self-discovery.

Amazed, I watched Janelle draw her hand from between her thighs and reach out to gently brush Sara’s left nipple with her fingertips. She was imitating what I’d done with her! I groaned, firmly rubbing the heel of my hand against my clit as I probed deeper into my pussy.

Sara’s mouth fell open as she gasped at Janelle’s touch, her hips thrusting faster now. Her eyes were still closed, and it was then that I saw Janelle’s head turn until she was staring at the webcam. It was as though she was gazing right into my eyes. Stunned, I watched her smile, then wink.

She knew! The little minx knew that the camera was on! And she was making damn sure that I had plenty to see, too. My pussy fairly gushed, warm liquid oozing over my fingers. I felt another spasm, accompanied by a deep warmth spreading like wildfire through my belly.

Grinning, Janelle turned back to Sara. Her hand, still touching her friend’s breast, now trailed lazily downward until her fingers were resting atop Sara’s, helping her masturbate. She then bent down and gently kissed Sara on the mouth. There was no response for a moment, then with a happy sigh, Sara begin to shyly return Janelle’s kiss.

As I watched, Sara’s free arm curled around Janelle’s neck, their kissing growing increasingly passionate. My heart was thudding violently as I saw Sara take her hand away from her mound, giving Janelle direct access to the glistening treasure between her legs. As Janelle slid one finger through the smooth folds of flesh, Sara’s hand moved to cover hers — not helping, just resting on top of the fingers that were now manipulating her sex.

My next surprise came when I saw Janelle place the tip of her index finger at the entrance of Sara’s slit, then carefully slide it inside the little girl… and a startled Sara gave a small whimper of fear, shaking her head from side to side as she pulled away. “D-don’t,” she stammered.

Janelle gazed down at her little lover. “Shhh… I won’t go in far, I promise,” she said soothingly. “Just the end of my finger, ‘kay? It’ll feel really good, you’ll see.”

After a moment, Sara nodded, though she still seemed uneasy. Janelle leaned down again to recapture Sara’s lips with her own as she gently stroked her friend’s labia, trying her best to rekindle the mood.

And as the intensity of their kiss rose, Janelle once again slid the tip of her finger into what must have been an amazingly tight little pussy. Sara gasped once, tensing momentarily; then slowly relaxed, sighing deeply as Janelle began to move that half-inch or so of her finger back and forth, penetrating her for what surely had to be the first time.

If Janelle was acting merely on instinct, she was doing an excellent job. As she continued to work her fingertip in and out of Sara’s pussy, her thumb began to toy with the tiny, budding clitoris. Sara’s hips were beginning to thrust almost violently; the muffled, mewling sounds of her arousal clearly audible even through the deep kiss the two were still locked in.

I felt yet another surge of heat shoot through my belly as Sara froze, her tiny ass raised up from the bed. Then, with a violent shudder, she locked her arms around Janelle’s neck, whimpering her way through what appeared to be an amazing orgasm.

When Sara finally relaxed, sinking down into the bed, her face was a study in wonder and amazement. She tried several times to speak, but couldn’t seem to get any words to come out. Janelle had moved up to lie next to her, cradling the small body to her own, stroking Sara’s hair and whispering something that I couldn’t quite catch. I saw her eyes shift to the camera again, that slow, almost insolent smile spreading across her face for an instant. The little wench knew exactly what she was doing, even if I wasn’t quite sure what her game was.

“Ohmygod, Janelle,” Sara finally managed, “that was crazy!”

“I told ya it was awesome,” Janelle replied, nuzzling Sara’s forehead.

Then Sara raised her head, staring into Janelle’s eyes with what I would have to call a penetrating gaze. “Where’d you learn how ta do that?”

I felt a little stab of fear at the base of my spine. Shit, I should have seen that one coming…

“I can’t tell ya,” Janelle said. “I promised I wouldn’t tell anybody.”

“Was it somebody at school? You can trust me, Janelle. Who was it? Pleeeease?”

“Nuh-uh,” said Janelle, shaking her head. “I can’t. I promised, and I don’t break promises.”

Sara gave Janelle a mock pout, then lay back down with a sigh. Her clasped hands were resting on her chest as Janelle held her close.

“Janelle?”

“Yeah?”

“Um… are we dykes now?”

I saw Janelle shrug her shoulders. “I dunno,” she said. “Even if we are, does it matter?”

“The kids at school will think so,” Sara replied.

“Yeah, kids like Sarah and her stupid friends,” scoffed Janelle. “Who cares what they think? Besides, it’s not like we’re gonna go ta school tomorrow an’ run around tellin’ everybody.”

Sara giggled. Janelle continued to stroke her skin and hair, gently kissing her face every now and then.

“Janelle?”

“Hmmm?”

“Can we do it again?”

Janelle smiled and bent down to kiss her briefly on the mouth. “Course we can, silly. If we ask, we’ll be able ta have sleepovers almost all the time, I bet.”

“No, that’s not… Well, yeah, I’d like that too. But, I mean…” Sara hesitated for a moment. “I mean, can we do it again right now?”

Janelle grinned. “Well, yeah, if you wanna.”

Sara pushed herself up onto her elbows so that she was staring deep into Janelle’s eyes. “Yeah,” she said softly. “I really wanna do it again.”

The two girls stared at each other for a moment, then, slowly, their lips came together in a tender kiss.

Janelle’s hand slid languidly down along Sara’s flank, making the girl shiver; I was certain that if the camera had been closer, I would have seen goosebumps on her skin.

Janelle broke the kiss first, brushing Sara’s hair back with one hand. “Want me ta show you somethin’ that’s even better than what we just did?” she asked.

“Better?” said Sara, her voice incredulous. “No way. Nothin’ could be better than that was.”

“You wanna bet?” said Janelle, grinning. “Lay back, and I’ll show ya.”

Sara quickly positioned herself on her back, head and shoulders resting on the pillow. Janelle rose to her knees, flashing a quick look at the camera and raising her eyebrows for an instant. That little witch! She scooted forward so that she was kneeling between Sara’s thighs. Leaning over to place a hand on either side of her wide-eyed lover, Janelle bent down to hover above Sara, their faces about an inch apart.

“Just stay like that,” she whispered. “This is gonna be awesome.” And she claimed Sara’s mouth with hers.

As Sara’s arms snaked around Janelle’s neck, I gazed in a lust-filled agony at the sight on the screen: Sara, flat on her back and legs spread wide, the pale pink folds of her pussy exposed and waiting for Janelle’s loving attention. As for Janelle, she was on her hands and knees, thighs parted slightly so that I could see her plump labia and, just above, the tightly crinkled rosebud of her anus.

I couldn’t wait a second longer. I was nearly mad with desire, desperate for release. I hit pause, and with that image frozen on the screen, I rampaged through my first orgasm of the day, vibrating from head to foot in sweet ecstasy. I was so turned on that it happened in a matter of seconds.

When the room had stopped spinning, I took a deep breath and started the video again. The realization that Janelle had known she was being recorded gave this entire scene a whole new significance. My little lover had been performing for me. She knew that I would be watching this, and she knew what I’d be doing while I watched.

Enraptured, fingers still roaming through the dripping folds of my pussy, I drank in the sight of my niece — my lover — as she began to kiss Sara’s neck, gradually moving downwards until she was nuzzling the pale pink nipples. She might have been a little awkward at first, but she’d clearly been paying attention to what I’d done with her. Janelle took her time, pleasuring Sara with her fingers, lips, tongue… and little Sara was beginning to move to the rhythm of an ages-old dance on my bed as she responded to her partner’s caresses.

I moaned in anticipation as Janelle kissed a path down Sara’s body until she lay between her thin legs, inches from the girl’s baby-smooth vulva, moistening her lips before moving in to take that first taste of pussy. And even though Janelle’s head blocked me from getting a more explicit view of the action, Sara’s response to what could only have been a warm, wet tongue on her sensitive folds more than made up for that. The little girl’s head rolled from side to side as her panting grew increasingly heated.

I felt another climax building quickly, hot tendrils of electricity spreading through my lower belly. The slippery walls of my pussy contracted around my busy fingers, and my hips fell naturally into a rhythm that matched Sara’s on the computer screen. Together, she and I were working our way to a mutual orgasm, and I was pretty sure that mine was going to be of epic proportions.

Janelle had wrapped her arms under and around Sara’s thighs, hands resting flat on her lover’s hips. I gaped as her strawberry blonde head bobbed up and down, my imagination supplying the image of her little pink tongue lapping eagerly at Sara’s bare pussy.

Sara suddenly stuffed a knuckle into her mouth, telling me without words that Janelle had found her clitoris. And as the child’s muffled wail rose, I attacked my own clit with renewed abandon. Her body suddenly went rigid along with mine, the two of us uniting across time in a shattering orgasm, my choked cry of pleasure mingling with her disbelieving gasps of ecstasy as they crackled through the tiny speakers of the computer.

Shivering and twitching in the aftershocks of my rapture, I struggled to catch my breath as I watched Sara gradually drift back to earth. Her mouth loosened its grip on her hand, then she slowly relaxed, sinking into the bed’s comforting embrace as her chest heaved.

Janelle rested her head on Sara’s upper thigh, one hand gently stroking the glistening petals of her young lover’s pussy.

“I did it… I really did it!” an awed Janelle quietly exclaimed.

“What d’you mean?” asked Sara breathlessly.

Janelle was actually blushing. “Well… I never really did that before,” she said. “I mean, I had it done ta me, but I never actually did it ta someone else before.”

Sara was silent for a moment, then gave her friend a shy grin. “Well, it was pretty awesome anyway.”

“Really?” Janelle lifted her head to look at Sara. “Did you really like it?”

“Ohmygod, yes! That was the most awesome thing I ever felt!”

Janelle giggled. “See? I told ya it was gonna be even better.”

“Boy, it sure was,” said Sara, sighing contentedly.

Janelle squirmed her way up to the head of the bed until she was lying next to Sara. The two girls wrapped their arms around one another, kissing and nuzzling, whispered giggles issuing from the speakers. They looked so utterly adorable, yet so incredibly erotic at the same time.

Finally, they lay back, looking up at the ceiling, hands clasped together between them.

“Do I taste weird?” asked Sara, suddenly curious. “Y’know… down there?”

Janelle shook her head. “Nuh-uh. It tastes kinda nice. Strange, but in a nice way.”

I could see their eyelids beginning to grow heavy. They’d apparently worn themselves out.

“Janelle?”

“Yeah?”

“Next time,” Sara said, “would it be okay if I do it ta you?”

Janelle smiled as she turned to face Sara. “Yeah,” she whispered. “If you really want to, I’d like that.”

“I really want to,” said Sara. She paused. “Ya know what?”

“What?”

“If this makes us dykes,” Sara said, “then I don’t care. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done!”

“Yeah, I think so too,” Janelle said, grinning.

The two settled in, pulling the covers over themselves and cuddling together. A few moments later, I could tell that they were fast asleep. Janelle was even snoring lightly. I smiled at that.

There was about fifteen minutes left of the recording, a steady view of the two girls cuddled in one another’s arms as they slept. Then I came into the room to get Colleen a pair of pajamas, pausing before I left to turn off the webcam.

I closed the viewer, powered down the laptop, and lay back on my bed, mind whirling. Janelle had been into what they were doing, that was obvious. But she’d also seemed to take a mischievous delight in letting me know she was aware that I was spying on them.

Suddenly I wondered if she’d like the idea of using the webcam to capture the two of us making love some time, so she could watch it later. Something told me that she would. Hell, I’d probably be into that myself.

Much as I hated to, I needed to get up and put some clothes on before Colleen returned. What I really wanted to do was start the video over again. I couldn’t risk that, though. After all, it wouldn’t do to have Colleen walk in on me masturbating as I watched Janelle bring her daughter to orgasm. Try explaining something like that to a parent…

Quickly dressing, I went downstairs to my office, taking the laptop with me. I quickly copied the video over to my desktop machine, then encrypted the file.

That taken care of, I went to the garage and pulled two rats from the freezer to feed Ellie and Nellie later in the evening. Maybe Sara would like to do that. I also made a mental note to stop by Janelle’s tomorrow so that we could feed her boa.

That’s when it hit me. I’d told Colleen that Sara could spend the night, but Janelle and I had to leave at about five in the morning for the trip to see her grandfather. I’d have to tell Colleen that I wouldn’t be able to take Sara after all.

I pulled a package of ground beef from the freezer for dinner. I figured that I’d make burgers tonight, since Janelle doesn’t like the onions in my meatloaf recipe. Wanting to give the kids something besides meat and bread, I decided to make potato salad as well. I’d charbroil the burgers on the grill, and we’d have ourselves a real summertime meal. Quick, easy and delicious.

I was draining the potatoes when Colleen made her triumphant return, several large bags heavier and a wide grin on her face.

“Well, hi there!” I greeted her, as she came into the kitchen. “You look pretty happy.”

“I had a blast today!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t go crazy, but I got a couple of new outfits for me and Sara. It felt so good to finally buy something decent for her to wear.”

I grinned. “Yeah, it’s amazing what a new outfit can do to lift your spirits, isn’t it?”

Colleen laughed. “Oh, Meagan, you have no idea.”

“Sara will be overjoyed, I’m sure,” I said.

Colleen took in what I was doing. “Potato salad?” she asked. I nodded. Then she spotted the rats, in their vacuum-sealed packages, lying on the counter.

“Uhm… What are those?” she asked, her eyes suddenly huge.

“That’s right,” I said, laughing as I rinsed my hands and dried them. “With all the excitement yesterday, you didn’t get to see Ellie and Nellie.” She looked at me curiously. “Come on,” I said. “Sara’s already met them, and she thinks they’re just too cool.”

I led the way into the living room and pointed out the two large glass terrariums. Colleen gasped at the sight. “That one is Ellie,” I said, pointing, “and that’s Nellie.” Colleen just stood and stared. “Uhm, you aren’t afraid of snakes, are you?”

“No, not at all,” said Colleen. “They’re just so… so big!”

“Yeah, I kind of spoil them,” I said. “They eat more than a lot of pet snakes do.”

“You said Sara has… met them?”

I nodded. “Yes, she has. She’s even held them for a little while.”

Colleen stared at me in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding! She wasn’t afraid?”

“She didn’t seem to be,” I replied. “Janelle was with her, so she might have been trying not to let it show that she was scared, but I don’t think so. She seemed to think that holding snakes was pretty cool, actually.”

“Well, I’m not afraid,” Colleen said, “but I’ll leave holding them to someone else.”

“Don’t worry. Most people feel that way,” I laughed.

As we walked back to the kitchen, I remembered about the trip the next day. “Colleen, I’m really sorry, but I’m not going to able to keep Sara tonight.”

I told her what was going on… how Janelle and I would be leaving early in the morning, much too early to take Sara to school. Then I added, “Of course, if you don’t mind her taking a day off from school, she could just go with us. We’ll be coming back pretty late tomorrow night, but I could always let her stay here with Janelle again.”

Colleen hesitated. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?” she asked. “I mean, this is really family time, isn’t it?”

“Actually, it would be a good thing if she did come,” I replied. “He’s my brother-in-law’s dad, so I’m not immediate family. I like him, and I’ll want to visit for a few minutes, but Janelle’s the one who needs to be there with her parents and grandparents. To be honest, I’d appreciate having Sara along to keep me company. We could go hang out at the mall or something.”

Colleen nodded soberly. “It would be a huge help to me, if you’re sure it’s okay. I’m not off work again until Sunday, so it would be nice if Sara has someone to be with her while I’m at the diner.”

“Okay, then, that’s settled,” I said. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll just bring her here tomorrow night, and then take her home Saturday morning, so you can spend some time with her. If you want, you can drop her off here on your way to work Saturday, and if it’s okay for her to wait up, just pick her up on your way home. After that…” I paused to think. “After that, we’ll work on finding a regular sitter for her at your house. Until then, though, we’ll wing it, and she can stay with me when you’re working.”

Colleen nodded. “Thanks, Meagan. And don’t you dare tell me not to thank you! I don’t know if I’d be able to manage all of this without your help.”

I could see the sincerity in her eyes. “You’re very welcome, Colleen,” I said. “Seriously, I like Sara. She’s fun to have around, and she helps keep Janelle out of my hair when she’s here.”

She smiled shyly at me. “I’m glad we’re becoming friends, Meagan,” she said. “It means so much to me.”

“I’m glad, too,” I replied. I meant it, too. I had really come to care about this woman.

No, not like that. I know what you’re thinking, but I was in love… and my heart’s desire was a third-grade girl who hadn’t come home from school yet.

While it was still on my mind, I excused myself to phone my sister Kate. I filled her in on everything that had happened, and told her that Sara would be coming along with myself and Janelle. She asked me if I was okay. When I told her that I wouldn’t be winning any beauty contests, she wanted to know what else was new. The bitch.

By then, it was almost time to pick the girls up from school. Once again, Colleen volunteered for taxi duty, so I told her that she could eat with us before going home to start cleaning up whatever mess the cops had left behind.

While she was gone, I finished the potato salad and made hamburger patties. I started a fresh pot of coffee, and was just about to kick back and relax when the two girls came tearing into the house, shrieking with laughter. Well, so much for relaxation, I thought, rolling my eyes.

Colleen was a few steps behind them, a grin on her face. “Watch out!” she giggled, “they’re both pretty wound up.”

Janelle went straight to the refrigerator, rummaging for a snack. She turned around with two apples, handing one to Sara before taking a huge bite out of hers. “Hi, Aunt Meagan!” she cried, around a mouthful of half-chewed apple.

I shook my head, giving her a look of grave concern. “Janelle, I don’t know how you survive the school day,” I said. “You have to go, what, three whole hours without eating? Two times a day, even — before and after lunch!”

Janelle grinned. “That’s why I eat so much when I get home,” she said.

“Sara,” Colleen said, barely able to contain her excitement, “why don’t you come with me? I have a couple of surprises for you.”

“Surprises?” Sara gasped. “What kinda surprises?”

“Oh, I did some shopping today,” Colleen replied. “Not a lot, but I got some things for you. Come on, let’s take a look.”

The two of them left the kitchen. I heard the rustle of plastic bags, and a delighted squeal from Sara. I guess she must have peeked.

I turned back to Janelle, giving her “the look.”

“All right, young lady,” I said quietly, but with an expression of mock-severity. “You have some explaining to do.”

She gave me a surprised look. “What?” she said.

“Do you have any idea what you did to me today?”

She stared at me for a moment longer. Then I saw her struggle to keep from smiling as her eyes widened innocently. “What’d I do?” she asked, with an guileless blink.

I took a step closer to her. “You know very well what you did, you sexy little witch,” I said in a stage whisper.

Her face transformed, a sly smile spreading across her features. “Did you like what you saw?” she asked, her eyes intent.

I leaned down and kissed her, giving her lips a quick swipe with my tongue. “I came twice watching you,” I breathed into her ear.

“I was wishin’ it was you I was doin’ it to,” she said softly.

“Soon, Sweetie, I promise. I can’t wait.” I nuzzled the side of her neck, then straightened. “But I’m a little hurt, too,” I said, pouting at her. “I wanted to be the first pussy you kissed.”

She gave me a rather seductive smile. “I was practicin’ for ya,” she said softly. “Now I know what I’m doin’ a lot better.”

“From the way Sara was reacting, I’d say that’s true,” I replied. She actually blushed. “Tell me… how did you know I was recording you?”

She grinned. “I didn’t, not for sure. But I ‘membered how you got that picture of Sara’s back, an’ I saw the little blue light was on, so I kinda hoped you were gonna watch us.”

I reached out and tapped the tip of Janelle’s nose with my finger. “You have an evil little mind,” I said. “I like that about you.”

A muffled shout came from upstairs. “Janelle! Come see what my Mom got for me!”

Janelle gave me a quick apple-flavored kiss and bounded from the kitchen. I watched her go, staring appreciatively at that perfect little butt until she was out of sight, then sighing deeply.

I was hopelessly, helplessly, head-over-heels in love. It was wonderful.

Sara came skipping into the kitchen a few minutes later, grinning from ear to ear. She did a rather awkward pirouette for me, showing off new blue jeans, a pretty pink sleeveless top with a scalloped neckline, and brand new sneakers.

“Look at you,” I said excitedly. “You look hot, girl!”

She blushed prettily, suddenly returning to her shy demeanor with me. Quietly, though, she said, “And there’s four more outfits, too. My Mom got ‘em for me today.” She hesitated for a moment, her pretty face suddenly touched by worry. “I just hope…”

“What, Sweetheart?”

“My Dad.” She spoke in a near-whisper.

I dropped to my knees before Sara, wrapping my arms around her. Stroking the back of her head, I said quietly, right next to her ear, “Sara, you listen to me, okay, Sweetie? I mean it — listen to me. He is not going to get out of jail, not for a long, long time. And even when he does get released, you and your Mom are going to be long gone from here. He’s not going to be able to find you. You and your Mom are safe now, Baby. You’re safe, and he can’t hurt you anymore.”

Sara pulled back to search my eyes. “You promise?”

“I do,” I replied. “And I don’t break promises.”

Sara looked at me strangely for a moment, then nodded, seemingly satisfied. I released her from the hug and stood as Colleen came into view, following Janelle into the kitchen. Colleen looked at me curiously, but I gave a quick shake of my head.

Janelle wanted to know if she and Sara could watch a movie; and I agreed, watching the two of them head into the living room. When they were gone, Colleen looked at me.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“Just a little nervousness,” I replied. “She was worried her father might get out. I promised her that was not going to happen.”

“You know,” she said with a sigh, “I’m actually beginning to believe that.”

“Honey, Michelle is going to make sure that not only will they throw the book at him, but the entire library. Trust me on that. She’s one formidable cop.”

“I can believe that,” Colleen sighed. “She looks like someone you don’t want to mess with.”

“That’s Michelle,” I laughed. “Just ask your husband.”

“I would have paid good money to see him taken down by a woman,” she said, suddenly giggling.

“I wish I could describe it for you, but I was down, too, and all I saw was stars. I heard the gun go off, though. I thought she shot him for a minute there.” Her eyes widened. “It was a warning shot. He wouldn’t listen when she told him to stop. He was going to keep coming for me. She fired in the air, and I guess that stopped him dead in his tracks.”

“Wow,” she breathed. “Now I’m even more impressed with her. She’s quite a woman.”

“Anyway,” I said, “enough about the lardass. Why don’t we skip doing dinner here, and go to McMurphy’s and have burgers for dinner, and then you can head over to your place to start getting things back in order. The girls will love going out to eat. Then we can come back here, and you can head out to your place.”

“That works for me,” Colleen replied. “Sara will love going out in her new clothes. God, five little outfits, and you’d think I was a goddess.”

“Yeah, well, she’s not used to being allowed to have nice things,” I said. “Something tells me that’s about to change, though.”

“Oh, you bet it is,” she said vehemently. “The sooner the better, too. Nice things for herself, and a nice home, too. Speaking of which, I’m going to need to pick your brain on who I can hire around here to do a few fix-up and remodeling jobs for me.”

I grinned. “I just happen to have a brother-in-law who is very good at that kind of thing. And he won’t gouge you on the price. In fact, if he knows you’re my friend, he’ll cut you a deal.”

“Excellent! We’ll talk about that later, then. Let’s round up the girls. I’m starving!”

“Me, too,” I said. “Let’s get going.”

And as Colleen and I left the house, one question preyed on my mind: Should I let the girls sleep with me tonight?

Come what may, it promised to be a very interesting evening…

Continue on to Chapter 9