Disclaimer: See Prologue.
Rating: A, E, R, ALT
Tears and Silence
Quest Compound/ September 16, 1996
Jessie grabbed the keys to her car and was about to leave when her father called to her from the living room.
"Hey Ponchita, what're you up to?"
"Nothing, Dad," she called back. "Gotta run, I've got a study date. Math."
"All right, but remember, call in if you're gonna be later than six thirty."
"Sure thing, Dad," she yelled as she shut the garage door. Lucky for me he didn't ask who I was studying with, she thought. She had a nagging feeling that her father would disapprove. But there was nothing to worry about, right? She trusted Jer. He was just a nice guy, he'd never try to take advantage of her.
Jer's Apartment/September 16, 1996
Jessie knocked on the door to Jer's apartment and looked around the hallway nervously. It was a perfectly nice building, in a good neighborhood, and the hallway was clean and well lit. But it seemed to Jessie that no matter where you went, the moment before a locked door was opened for you was the moment you chose to get nervous.
Jer opened the door and smiled. He was wearing black corduroy pants and a dark gray long-sleeved Henley. "Just let me get my shoes," he said, ushering her in.
"What do you mean?" she asked. "Aren't we staying here?" She looked around at the apartment. It was sparsely furnished and very contemporary, but with a big overstuffed couch and two armchairs. She sat down on the couch and put her backpack down next to her.
Jer sat in an armchair and started pulling on one of his shoes. "Well, I didn't think your father would approve," he told her, lacing up his shoe. "His teenage daughter, alone, unsupervised, in some guy's apartment? And a guy he's never met, no less," he added, pulling on his other shoe. "I thought we'd go to the park or something."
"Oh." Jessie thought to herself for a moment. "I think my father would approve of you," she said, toying with one of the zippers on her backpack. "If he got to know you, that is."
Like hell he would, Jer thought. And from what I've heard of Race Bannon, he'd be after me with a shotgun if he knew where you were right now, kiddo. Lucky for me you obviously didn't tell him. "It's up to you," Jer said. "Whatever you want to do is fine with me."
The matter was settled by a sharp crack of thunder outside the window.
"Guess we'll study here," Jessie said.
"So if you take the cosine curve…" Jessie said, "And then square it…"
"Then it's equal to one minus sine squared!" Jer cried, solving the trig identity they'd been working on for the last half-hour. He looked at Jessie, who was still bent over her notebook. They were sitting on the couch together, after Jessie had protested that she couldn't very well show him the problem if they didn't sit together. "Thanks a lot, Jessie," he told her. "I think I get it now." He looked out the window. "Hey, the rain's all cleared up," he said. "Wanna go grab something to eat? It's almost six."
Jessie looked at her watch. "I'd love to. But can I use your phone first? I'm supposed to call in if I'm gonna be later than six-thirty."
"Sure," he said, handing her a tiny, folded up cell phone. "I haven't got a real phone hooked up yet," he apologized. "Only one phone jack in here, and I used that for my modem. I'm addicted to the 'net."
Jessie unfolded the tiny phone and dialed the Quest Compound. After explaining that she was going out for dinner, she hung up and handed the phone back to Jer. Jessie picked up her coat and pulled it on. "Okay, I'm all ready to go."
Apartment Building Garage/September 16, 1996
"Do you mind if I drive?" Jer asked, holding up his key ring.
"Ah, typical male, I see," Jessie teased, stepping out of the elevator.
He grinned. "Actually, I made us reservations for six o'clock at that nice Italian place on Fifth Street. They've got great ravioli."
Jessie looked at him in shock. "You made formal dinner reservations?"
Jer shrugged. "If there's one thing my uncle taught me, it's how to impress a girl. He says Italian food is the way to every woman's heart."
Jessie was flattered. "Well, I guess you deserve to drive," she told him as she slid into the passenger seat of his car. "I think I like your uncle. He sounds like a smart guy." Jer laughed, closed her door and walked around to the driver's seat.
"You can drive us back, how's that?" he asked, starting up the ignition.
E-mail to Csurd@hotmail.com/September 16, 1996
Subject: Uncle Lorenzo's Advice
Yeah, well, I never thought I'd admit it, but Uncle Lorenzo was right: fettuccini tastes better when you eat it with a pretty girl. Even if her father's your mortal enemy. I gotta admit, Car, she's something. Really something. I'm not looking forward to making her a fatherless child. But what must be done must be done, eh? After all, he made us fatherless children.
How are you and Mom? And how's Lorenzo? I'm doing well. Jessie came to my apartment to "help me with my math." You know how I've struggled with Trig… but we had a great time at dinner. I thought for sure we'd be studying in the park or even the library, but she practically insisted we stay at my place. I think she'd trust me completely now, but I'll spend a little longer to be sure. Say, a month.
After I took JB home I went out and checked on my mail. Hasn't Lorenzo mailed the little package yet? I can't very well kill Bannon with a cell phone. I suppose I could run him down, but I really like my car. Thanks again to you and Mom. Jer.
"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore." -Lady and the Tramp
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