Disclaimer: See Prologue.
Rating: A, E, R, ALT
Tears and Silence
Quest Compound/November 1, 1996
Jer pulled up to the garage and parked his car behind Jessie's red mustang. As he walked to the door Jonny opened it, in khaki slacks and a blue sports coat. He was holding a tie in one hand.
"Running a little late, I see?" Jer kidded, stepping inside. He himself wore a charcoal gray suit and a solid blue tie. Shifting the corsage box to his left hand, he shook hands with Race, who had been waiting inside the door. "Nice to meet you, sir. I'm Jeremy Whittacker." He felt his blood chill at the sight of the man he planned to kill. But outwardly he kept on smiling, and Race didn't notice a thing.
He sat down in the family room with Hadji, who wore a dark blue suit and a red tie. Hadji glanced at the clock, exasperated. "Isn't Jonny ready yet? I'm supposed to pick up Kayla in fifteen minutes."
Jer laughed. "Last I saw, he still hadn't tied his tie."
Hadji rolled his eyes. "He's probably forgotten how." He got up and walked up the stairs towards Jonny's room.
A minute later Jessie descended the stairs. Jer's jaw dropped when he saw her.
"You look absolutely magnificent," he told her, trying not to stare. She wore a sleeveless, emerald green dress with an empire waistline. It fit as though she'd had it specially made. Her fiery red hair was pulled back with green combs; her makeup was flawless.
"You don't look so bad yourself," she teased, pleased with his reaction.
He opened the little florist's box and pulled out a wrist corsage, made up of seven tiny white rosebuds. "Oh, Jer," she whispered when she saw it. "It's beautiful."
"Then you match," he said, slipping it onto her wrist.
Race watched from the hallway, unnoticed, and nodded approvingly.
Jer held the passenger door open for Jessie as she slid into the car. Once she was settled, he shut the door and walked around to his side. As he opened the door to get in, he saw Hadji push Jonny out the door and over to where his own car was parked. Jer snickered and got into the car.
RHS "Moonlight Ball"/November 1, 1996
The cafeteria was transformed. The tables were all gone. The walls were hung with tiny mirrors and silver streamers, reflecting the moonlight coming in through the east wall, which was made up almost entirely of windows. Jer led Jessie in through the silver streamers hanging over the doorway, and she drew in her breath in wonderment.
Jer listened to the music blaring in the background. "Come on!" he called, leading her into the crowd.
Later, they met up with Jonny and Hadji and their dates, Mary and Kayla. The six of them had their picture taken together. Jonny and Mary stayed to have their picture taken with Rick and Lyddie, who had come together. The other four made their way over to a table covered with a white tablecloth and silver glitter.
"My feet are just killing me," Kayla groaned, slipping off her shoes. Hadji picked up one of her feet and began to massage it. "Oh, that feels wonderful, Hadji," she sighed, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes. She looked ethereal in her long cream-colored dress, with her dark hair framing her face and cascading down her shoulders.
Rick and Lyddie pulled up chairs at the table. "Lyddie, you look adorable!" Jessie told her. Lyddie was wearing a white slip dress with a pale pink chiffon overlay. She also wore a pink and white beaded choker, and her short hair was held out of her eyes with pink butterfly clips.
"Thanks, Jess," she said, adding, in an awed voice, "You look like a goddess."
"I agree," Jer said quietly, leaning forward and taking her hand in both of his.
Jessie blushed, Lyddie giggled, and Rick rolled his eyes.
"Sentimental crap," he muttered. But when Lyddie leaned back against him, he blushed happily.
Jonny and Mary joined them a moment later. Mary wore a short white dress with a blue flower print. Her long brown hair hung loose on her shoulders. She smiled as Jonny introduced her to Jessie, Hadji, and Jer.
A few minutes later, the four girls decided to go "freshen up." Lyddie and Mary kept teasing each other.
"Hey Lyddie, did you see the look on Rick's face when you leaned up against him?" Mary giggled. "He blushed so hard I thought he was gonna explode!"
"Oh yeah? Like Jonny's such a smoothie! It took him twenty minutes to get his arm around your shoulders!" Lyddie chortled.
Kayla started to reapply her lipstick. "I don't know which one's worse," she told the sophomores. "It's like they've never been out with a girl before."
Lyddie replied in a pompous voice, "Maybe they've just never been out with two ladies of such beauty and poise." Lyddie and Mary left, still laughing. Jessie stared glumly at her own reflection in the mirror.
"Hey Kayla," she asked reluctantly, "can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, kiddo," Kayla responded, closing her lipstick and dropping it back into her purse. "What's up?"
"Well, it's… it's Jer," she said. "I really like him… a lot. And I think he likes me!" she added, confused. "But it's like… it's just that…"
"He never goes farther than holding your hand?" Kayla asked.
"Same thing happened to me with Hadji. Adorable guy, I love him to bits, but he's too shy to make the first move."
"Really? Hadji?" she questioned. "What did you do?"
"I made the first move myself." Kayla grinned. "Turns out he just didn't know if I wanted to be more than friends. Now he's fine about it." She laughed. "Guys don't want you to know it, but they're a lot more nervous than they look. Especially the guys who never look nervous." She put an arm around Jessie's shoulder. "Don't worry. I'm surprised he can even resist you. Lyddie was right, you look like a goddess."
Kayla led her out of the bathroom and they returned to the table, where Jer and Hadji were waiting. As the girls approached, they both stood and greeted their dates.
"So how was the bathroom, ladies?" Jer asked, looking back and forth from Jessie to Kayla. "Everything meet with your satisfaction? No, say, large alligators in the toilets, or anything like that?"
Kayla raised an eyebrow at him.
"It has been known to happen," Hadji put in, trying to hide a smile.
"They can be vicious," Jer added, straight-faced.
Jessie laughed. "Let's go dance, you weirdo. Before the Toilet Alligators come after you."
"Well, we wouldn't want that," he conceded, standing.
After the dance the eight of them went to McDonald's for a midnight snack. Munching on French fries and chicken nuggets, they laughed and teased each other until almost two a.m. Finally they all piled into the two cars: Jer and Jessie in Jer's car, and the other six in Hadji's.
"C'mon, Hadj! Jonny begged. "Let me drive!"
"No way, Jonny."
"Look, why don't you go sit with Mary?"
"Why don't you go sit with Kayla?"
"Because I'm driving."
Quest Compound/September 27, 1996
As Jer pulled into the driveway, Jessie put a hand on his shoulder. "Pull over a minute, OK?"
He dutifully pulled the car off to the side of the road and looked over at her. "You all right?" he asked, with obvious concern.
"I'm fine," she said, leaning over. "I just thought that in return for this wonderful night you at least deserved a good night kiss." She had butterflies in her stomach.
He hesitated as she kissed him once, softly, on the mouth. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, worried, when he didn't return the kiss. Then he made up his mind.
Reaching over to put his arm around her, he began to kiss her. God help us both, he thought.
E-mail to Csurd@hotmail.com/November 1, 1996
Subject: Moonlight Ball
Hey, Caroline; Jer here. Just spent one of the nicest nights of my life with the daughter of my sworn enemy… how's that for a way to start a letter?
Oh, God, Caroline, she's so beautiful! Her hair, her eyes, her skin, her lips…and I'm going to kill her father. I might as well just shoot myself. Oh, well. What a man's gotta do, a man's gotta do, and for Dad, I've gotta be a man. I just hope she's not there when I do it. I don't know if I could take that…
And speaking of what I've got to do, still no gun. Are you sure you sent it? Oh, never mind, I know you did. If I can get the blinking gun in time, I'll do it on November 4th. They've invited me up to see some new Questworld development Jonny's been programming. Well, it's almost four o'clock in the morning here and I'm going to go to bed before I keel over. Jer.
"Prodigious birth of love it is to me/ That I must love a loathéd enemy…" -Shakespeare's Juliet
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