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                   WYNTER AND CINNAMON
 
This is an erotic fantasy.  It is the second sequel to
"Wynter" and the sequel to "Wynter & Jimmy."  It is not
necessary to read the previous two stories to read this one,
as events are recapped within this story, but it would help
in order to better understand the background and to see the
growth in the characters as they age.
 
The characters and the situation are purely imaginary, and
this story is *NOT* intended to be a guide for actual
behavior.  Any similarities between this story and actual
people or actual events you should be ashamed of are purely
coincidental.  If it is illegal in your part of the world to
access and read erotic fiction, or if you are underage, or
if you don't like underage sex stories, then you should stop
now.
 
This story is copyright 2006 by Russell Hoisington.  Please
do not remove the author information or make any changes to
this story.  You may post freely to non-commercial (free)
sites, or in the *free* area of commercial sites.  That does
*not* mean that this stories is in the public domain, nor
does it mean that I give permission for you to use them in
spam advertising.  I reserve the right to determine what is
"spam advertising" by *my* definition, not yours or anyone
else's.
 
Thank you for your consideration.
 
My sincerest thanks to Uncle Sky, the Night Hawk, and Wizard
for editing this story and, along with Old Man Ted, for
their input and for keeping the characters in character. 
Special thanks to the Night Hawk for being my musical
advisor.
 
This story is dedicated to the memory of my close friend for
thirty-five years, Billy Forest, the Middle School Science
Teacher who was the inspiration for the character of Mister
Shelby.
 
************************************************************
 
                   WYNTER AND CINNAMON
                         Part One
                             
                    Russell Hoisington
                               
                           Five
 
   Wynter stood in the living room, her hand in its
customary position on Jimmy's back, and watched Huntly and
Josh talking to Cinnamon at the door.  All of the boys
except Jimmy and Kenny had found several opportunities to
kiss her before the party was over, and it was obvious that
these two wanted one final kiss.  Suzie scowled on one end
of the couch, ignoring Kenny as he stood head down at the
other end, putting on his coat.  Cinnamon was answering the
two boys, but her eyes were glued to Kenny and Suzie,
shifting between the two.
 
   Kenny made one last attempt to talk to Suzie.  She
stood up, her face so red that it made her hair seem blonde. 
"I gotta go pee."  She whirled like a small, violent tornado
through the dining room and kitchen to the family room steps
and stomped down them.  Seconds later Wynter heard the click
of the bathroom door.
 
   Kenny looked almost ready to cry.  He mumbled a
good-bye to Jimmy and ignored the opportunity to explain. 
Wynter gave him a good-bye kiss after he refused yet again
to tell her what was wrong.  Again his heart wasn't in the
kiss.  He looked at Cinnamon, as if expecting a kiss from
her, too.  She held out her hand instead.
 
   This time a tear did start down Kenny's cheek, but he
caught it with a swipe of his hand, knocking his glasses
askew.  As always, he left them that way and moped out the
door with the freshly-kissed other two boys.  Josh's dad was
giving Kenny a ride since Cinnamon was staying behind.
 
   Mister Middleton pulled into the driveway as the boys
piled into Mister Carter's truck.  Kenny waved at him. 
Mister Middleton ignored the wave.  Wynter wondered what
that meant.
 
   She opened the storm door as Mister Middleton stepped
onto the porch.  After he greeted Jimmy and her she
introduced him to Cinnamon.  "She moved into the old
Hamilton house, over by Kenny."
 
   Mister Middleton frowned a little and looked Cinnamon
up and down.  He turned to glare at Mister Carter's truck as
the chains on its tires rumbled down the packed-snow of the
street.
 
   Cinnamon nodded in thought.  Wynter wondered what she
had seen in that.
 
   "Suzie's powdering her nose," Wynter said.  That was
one of Grandpa Wolfe's expressions that she thought was
funny.
 
   Mister Middleton didn't laugh, though.  "Do you know
what Kenny did to her?" he asked.  Wynter thought his tone
was a little too harsh, but of course she didn't say so.
 
   "No, sir," Jimmy replied, his voice showing just how
helpless he felt.  "We've been trying to get either of them
to talk, but Suzie just glares at him, and Kenny just tags
along after her, trying to get her to speak to him.  We want
to fix the problem, but we don't know what it is."
 
   Mister Middleton turned hard eyes to Cinnamon.  "How
about you, young lady?  I suppose YOU can tell me what he's
done to her.  And WHY?"
 
   Wynter gasped.  She'd NEVER heard Mister Middleton
sound this rude before.  He was always a polite, almost
meek, individual.  But, she guessed, it was because he loved
his daughter and was so worried about her that he forgot
about politeness.  He had to be at least as frustrated
everyone else combined, and she knew very well how that made
you feel.  Then she gasped again when Cinnamon answered him.
 
   "Do you make a habit of storming into other people's
houses and interrogating their invited guests in such an
uncouth and uncivilized manner?" Her round-cheeked smile
never wavered.  Wynter saw Cinnamon's mouth make the words,
but she heard Mrs. Brees' disdain in her voice.
 
   Mister Middleton looked like she'd slapped him.  He
started to say something, but then he slumped like one of
Aunt Diane's yucky souffles and looked very sad.  "You're
right.  I'm very sorry, young lady.  I'm sorry, Wynter. 
It's just that...."
 
   "It's okay," Wynter said, placing her free hand on his
forearm so he'd know she really and truly meant it.  "It's
just anxiety disorder.  You're concerned about Suzie because
you love her.  We are, too, and for the same reason.  We
want to try to help, but neither of them will tell us what's
wrong."
 
   Jimmy nodded and sighed.  "We're about as frustrated as
you are, sir.  I'm ready to kick his butt until he talks or
my foot wears out."
 
   Mister Middleton shrugged and nodded.  His eyes locked
on the floor as he quietly asked, "Do you think he hit her?"
 
   "Hit her?" Jimmy asked.
 
   "Kenny?"  Wynter asked at the same time.
 
   "No way," they said in unison.
 
   "It's just that Caroline said....  Well, she didn't say
it, actually.  She...."  He shrugged again.  "Will you tell
me if you find out what's wrong?"
 
   "If I can," Wynter said with a vigorous nod.  "But I
can't violate a confidence, 'cause that would be unethical. 
I'll let you know as much as I can without violating one,
though.  And I'll still do anything I can to help them.  I
promise."
 
   Wynter heard the flush from the lower bathroom.  Nobody
spoke until the door opened and Suzie stepped up into the
hall.  Her eyes showed that she'd been crying again.
 
   Jimmy helped her with her coat.  She hugged Wynter and
accepted thanks for the birthday present one more time. 
Then she hugged Cinnamon.  Wynter noticed that Mister
Middleton relaxed a little when he saw that.  She hugged
Jimmy, and he kissed her forehead.  Once again she said she
was sorry and then, eyes brimming, left with her dad.
 
   Wynter closed the door and turned to face them.
 
   "Why does she keep telling me she's sorry?" Jimmy asked
in a baffled almost-whine.
 
   Wynter shrugged.  She put one hand against Jimmy's back
and stroked Dragon's head with the other.  She felt totally
helpless.  She looked at Cinnamon.  She saw her staring at
Jimmy in that thoughtful manner that Wynter now recognized
as the new girl's version of Dragon's "curious pose."
 
   "I don't know," Cinnamon said in a slow, soft voice,
"but when you answer that question, you'll know what's wrong
with her."
 
   Wynter felt Jimmy's muscles tense, and he asked "Why?"
 
   "I don't know.  But it's obviously related."
 
   It didn't seem that obvious to Wynter at first, but it
sorta made sense after she thought about it.  Jimmy seemed
to reach the same conclusion a few seconds later.
 
   They moved down to the family room.  Jimmy sat in one
corner of the long couch.  Wynter leaned back against him,
and he wrapped his arms about her.  Dragon curled up at her
feet.  Cinnamon sat in the other corner of the couch and
looked wistfully at Dragon.  "He's a wonderful dog," she
sighed.  "I'd let you keep Jimmy if I could have him
instead.  Millie won't let me, of course."
 
   Jimmy cleared his throat.  "Um, can I ask a question?"
 
   The round-cheek smile reappeared.  "You're the one who
explained the rule about questions to me, remember?"
 
   "Yeah," he said with his grin-and-nod and a sigh of
relief.
 
   "The answer," she said before he could ask, "is yes,
the bitch's name is Gwendolyn.  Her mother is Millicent
Kennedy.  No, not THOSE Kennedys.  There's more than one
Kennedy family in Boston.  We're not related to The
Kennedys.  Grandmother Millicent is a lush.  She got a
snootful at a huge reception many years back and yanked the
top of her gown down in front of the Mayor and his wife. 
She told him he was so cute that she'd fuck his brains out
right there on the dais, and then she started yelling for
the cameras to gather around.  Papa Joe Kennedy was still
alive then.  He made damned sure everybody knew that
Grandmother Millicent was in no way a member of his family,
despite the name, and bribed people to hush up the incident. 
His reaction is just one of a great many reasons the bitch
hates the Irish."
 
   "Okay."  Jimmy dragged the word out as he fit the clues
together.  "You call her Millie because she embarrasses the
family the way your grandmother did."
 
   "Not exactly," Wynter said.  Cinnamon looked at her in
an expectant manner.  Wynter realized she was taking a
pass/fail test, and her next sentence would determine her
score.  "Your mother has a drinking problem, too."
 
   Cinnamon's eyes narrowed as her smile pushed her round
cheeks higher.  "Excellent!  Obviously your brain isn't
distracted by these."  She cupped her hands under the round
bulges in her blouse and bounced them.
 
   Wynter giggled.
 
   Jimmy sounded a little annoyed when he asked, "Aren't
you able to tell yet that I'm Wynter's boyfriend, and that
I'm not interested in anyone else?"
 
   Cinnamon's small hands dropped to her lap, but her
smile remained unchanged.  "I know THAT.  I'm trying to find
out what's wrong with Suzie."
 
   As Wynter straightened, she felt Jimmy do the same. 
"You are?" they asked, again in unison.
 
   "Sure.  That's why we're here, isn't it?  It's your
birthday, Jimmy wrote a melody just for you--a beautiful one
deserving of you, by the way--and you're dying to thank him
properly for it since nobody else is here right now except
the four of us."
 
   Dragon wagged his tail, as if acknowledging that he'd
been included.
 
   "But," Cinnamon continued, "here you are, talking to me
instead of molesting Jimmy the way you want so desperately
to do."
 
   Wynter had a giggle fit while Jimmy merely sat there,
eyes closed and shaking his head.
 
   "There are only two reasons you'd keep me here.  Since
I seriously doubt it's to invite me to the
orgy--unfortunately, 'cause the three of us could have a lot
of fun with each other--then it must be because of Suzie and
Kenny.  Or are my eyes really brown because I'm totally full
of shit?"
 
   Wynter knew by the way that Jimmy moved behind her that
he was uncomfortable hearing Cinnamon talking like Kenny. 
But she also knew that Cinnamon was still administering
tests.  She might have The Four figured out to 99.9999%
accuracy, but she was the kind who would not rest until she
understood the other 0.0001%.  Wynter really admired the
girl for her tenacity and hoped that she'd be that thorough
with her patients when she became an MD.
 
   "No, you're right as usual.  So, why is she sorry?  I
can't think of...."  She giggled and turned wide eyes to
Jimmy.  "Yes, I can."
 
   "It can't be that," he said, looking like an
embarrassed old sheep.
 
   Cinnamon's eyes ricocheted between the two of them. 
"Can't be what?"
 
   "You tell her," Jimmy said, responding to Wynter's
questioning look with his own uncomfortable one and a
shudder.  "I don't want to talk about it."
 
   Wynter nodded and kissed him before saying, "Before we
were kidnapped by Will and Dick at the mine, we had a run-in
with them in Otter Park.  They made Jimmy wreck his bike,
and he landed on the bar."
 
   Cinnamon winced.  "Ouch!  Crushed nuts?"
 
   Jimmy blushed and nodded.
 
   "Well, since I wasn't here it's a good thing you had
Wynter to kiss 'em and make 'em better, huh?"
 
   "Well, that's the point," Wynter said.  "We didn't kiss
at all until he was recovering from the accident later.  He
was just lying there in bed using ice packs to keep the
swelling and pain down.  Then Suzie," she stopped to giggle,
though it sure wasn't funny at the time, "decided that if
having her leg cramps massaged made them feel better, then
Jimmy would feel better if she massaged his testicles."
 
   Cinnamon doubled over in laughter.
 
   "It wasn't funny!" Jimmy snapped.
 
   "No," Cinnamon said, wiping her eyes.  "I'm sure it
wasn't.  Probably more like slamming a screen door on one of
your tits.  I don't recommend that," she added to Wynter. 
"It hurts."
 
   "I'll bet!  Anyway, she surprised Jimmy by grabbing
them and starting to massage them just before I got there. 
I'd brought him a get well present, and was supposed to sit
with him while his mom went grocery shopping."
 
   "That's it?" Cinnamon asked when Wynter said nothing
else.
 
   "Well, yeah.  That's all I can think of."  She wrinkled
her brow in thought for a moment and then shook her head.
 
   Cinnamon frowned and chewed her upper lip.  "Well,
there's gotta be more to it than that, or it's something
else entirely."
 
   The garage door rumbled upward, making the pictures on
the garage wall of the family room vibrate.  Mother and
Daddy had returned from McKeown's Hardware.
 
   "Why would she massage your balls?  Wouldn't Kenny
object?  Or was Kenny hoping to get Wynter to massage his?"
 
   "She wasn't going with Kenny then," Wynter explained. 
"She had a bad case of the hots for Jimmy, and was trying to
get him to spend time with her instead of me."  Cinnamon's
eyes changed in a way that Wynter couldn't describe, but her
expression stayed the same.  "She sorta used Kenny to try to
make Jimmy jealous so that he'd want her.  She had some
weird ideas about men then."
 
   "Where'd she get them."
 
   Wynter thought that was a curious question.  "From her
sister, I guess," she said as the door from the garage
opened and her parents entered.  She jumped up and gave her
mother a big hug, and then gave her father a hug and a big,
but still father-daughter, kiss.  When she turned back
toward the couch, Cinnamon was looking at her in diagnosis
mode.
 
   Wynter felt really and truly sorry for Cinnamon because
she didn't have a mother she could love and who could love
her in return.  She hoped that Cinnamon and Mother could
become good friends, and that Mother could give the new girl
some of the motherly love that she needed.  She was ever so
glad that Cinnamon and Mother had seemed to like each other
from the moment they met.  Wynter thought for a moment about
how lucky she really and truly was.
 
   "Honey?"
 
   Wynter blinked.  Daddy was leaning down, staring at her
face.
 
   "I think you went someplace else for a moment," he
said.
 
   "She's worried about Suzie and Kenny," Jimmy said.  She
was startled to realize that Jimmy was standing beside her. 
His hand was resting warmly between her shoulder blades! 
When did he put it there?
 
   Her father nodded, looking understanding.  "I said,
have you shown Cinnamon the house?"
 
   She hadn't.  She offered the new girl a quick tour. 
Daddy would take her home, since he was going near there
anyway to drop off a box of documents at Mister Chang's.
 
   When they got to her bedroom door, Cinnamon said, "I
can wait out here for a moment if you'd like.  You still
have to thank Jimmy.  He's actually a better kisser than
Huntly, you know."
 
   "Yeah, I know," Wynter said, grinning up at Jimmy.
 
   "He won't be for long."  It was a "Water is wet and the
sky is blue" kind of statement.
 
   "You didn't ask how she knew," Jimmy said, ignoring
Cinnamon's words.  He sounded really worried.
 
   "_Earth to Jimmy!_" she said, imitating Kenny's weird
voice but not making his glasses with her fingers and thumbs
this time.  "She doesn't use third-hand data when she
performs a diagnosis; she runs experiments and makes her own
independent scientific observations.  Had you forgotten that
I knew she did that?"
 
   He looked so relieved that she glued her mouth to his
and went somewhere else again.
 
   They eventually broke and gazed into each other's eyes. 
As one they suddenly remembered Cinnamon.  She had leaned
back against the wall between the doors to Daddy's office
and the guest bedroom, folded her arms under her breasts,
and crossed one ankle over the other.  She straightened when
they looked at her.
 
   "Damn!" Cinnamon said, a tinge of awe in her voice.  "I
got so wet watching you that I actually soaked my panties. 
Are my jeans stained?"  She bent forward, looked at her
crotch, and sighed in relief.  "Wynter, you are ever so
lucky!"
 
   "I know!"
 
   Jimmy chuckled.  "Actually, I think I'm the lucky one,"
he said, flashing a big smile at Wynter.
 
   Cinnamon beckoned him with a crooked finger and
whispered, "Come here."
 
   Jimmy bent forward and turned his ear toward her. 
Wynter grinned and shook her head.  Sometimes--not often,
but sometimes--Jimmy could be as slow to learn as Kenny. 
She leaned back against the wall next to her door, scratched
behind Dragon's ears, and waited for it.
 
   Cinnamon grabbed Jimmy's face in both hands, turning it
toward hers, and then crushed her mouth to his.  He gasped,
making it easy for her tongue to slide into his mouth as she
locked her arms around his neck.  Wynter was amazed to
discover that the girl's arm strength was almost equal to
Suzie's.  She wondered if Cinnamon was a swimmer, too.
 
   Meanwhile, Jimmy was struggling, trying to push
Cinnamon's arms away.  After several seconds his hands
suddenly slid off the cashmere sleeves and landed
dead-center on her shapely breasts.  Wynter heard a muffled
"Oof" sound from the girl.  That was followed by a mixed
moan of intense pleasure by Cinnamon and squeal of terror by
Jimmy as he jerked his hands back.
 
   Wynter wanted to double over laughing, but she forced
herself to stay upright so that she wouldn't miss any of the
featured attraction.  A comfortable chair and some popcorn
were all she needed.  She wondered how much money she could
make if she sold tickets.  She might be able to pay for her
first semester at medical school.
 
   Cinnamon was gasping and shuddering, hunched slightly
as she pulled back.  "Holy fuckin' shit!  That was much
better than the screen door," she murmured.  She slowly
straightened and looked directly at the flustered, and
slightly angry, Jimmy.  "How many girls have you made cum?"
 
   He glanced at Wynter.  Instead of help, she tried to
give him Mother's best "I'd like to know that myself" look,
even though she already knew the answer.
 
   "Just one," he snapped in an irritated voice.
 
   "Unh uh," Cinnamon said with another shudder.  "Two. 
If she ever throws you out, I want dibs on being your next
girl.  You're TERRIFIC!"
 
   Jimmy grew more flustered and gave Wynter an apologetic
look mixed with panic.  She grinned back and shrugged. 
"See?  Didn't I tell you that you were?  Now you have
independent and unbiased confirmation."  Her words, which
he'd used against her at her party, had come back to haunt
him again.  The look on his face made her feel sorry for
him, but if he couldn't even cope with the idea of himself
kissing another girl, how could he ever cope with the idea
of her having sex with her father?  "So, is Cinnamon a good
kisser, too?"
 
   The panicked look on his face told her he just knew
that was a question with no right answer.
 
   Cinnamon tenderly placed her fingers on his cheek. 
"Yeah, stud, how was I?"
 
   The third time he started to speak but then hesitated,
the two girls spoke in unison:  "Well?"
 
   He glanced at Dragon.  All he received was a tail wag. 
He lifted his hands helplessly.  "Well... she... um... yes. 
I mean, well... she...."
 
   "Good," Wynter said.  She pulled away from the wall and
straightened, then placed her hand in its place on his back. 
She felt some of the tension drain from his muscles as
Cinnamon stepped back and said with a smile, "Thank you."
 
   "You did all that just to learn something, did you?"
Jimmy asked.
 
   Wynter wished he hadn't sounded so irritated.  She
smiled and said, "No, Cinnamon did that 'all that' because
she was horny.  She had her answers before you grabbed her
tits."
 
   "I DIDN'T...."  Jimmy looked around the corner and
glanced at the upper end of the stairs.  He drew a calming
breath and spoke in a methodical and quieter voice.  "I
didn't grab her tits.  Her... her breasts."
 
   "Want to?" Cinnamon asked in a bright, expectant voice. 
"I don't mind if you do it again.  Wynter can help.  You can
have one each and then swap.  Or you can...."
 
   "NO!  My hands slipped, that's all."  He looked at
Wynter. "Honest!"
 
   Wynter chuckled and motioned the others into her room. 
She turned mostly serious.  "And what did you learn from all
that, besides the fact that Jimmy's a fantastic kisser?"
 
   "Quite a bit, actually."  A small chill rippled down
Wynter's spine at the odd way Cinnamon's voice sounded.  The
smaller girl was answering several questions in addition to
the intended one.
 
   Cinnamon glanced around the room, though Wynter knew
the girl had seen more on entering than most people would
have seen after a fifteen minute examination.  She
complimented Wynter on the decor and then asked, "Do you
think her sister... um, Carolyn?"
 
   "Caroline," Jimmy said.  "Carolyn is their mother's
name."
 
   "Caroline.  Do you think Caroline told Suzie to massage
your nuts for you?
 
   Wynter and Jimmy blinked at each other in confusion. 
"Why would she do that?" Jimmy asked.  "I've never done
anything to p... uh, to upset her."
 
   Cinnamon changed direction again.  "You said she was
the town slut."
 
   "Unh uh."  Wynter shook her head.  "Suzie said that."
 
   Cinnamon's face said that Wynter had scored more points
on the examination.  Wynter sure as heck wished she knew
what test she was taking and why, but this was too important
for her to waste time with questions about herself.
 
   "She also said Caroline was 'helping' her with Kenny. 
What does that mean?"
 
   "What she said, I guess," Wynter said as Jimmy nodded
agreement.
 
   "Hmmm.  I'll have to think about it some more.  I need
to talk to Caroline.  Maybe....  Well, anyway, you two need
some time alone."
 
   "We'll have plenty," Jimmy said.  "Her parents are
going out tonight."
 
   Cinnamon frowned at Wynter.  "Without you?  On your
birthday."
 
   She giggled and rubbed her head against Jimmy's
shoulder.  "They're giving me some time with Jimmy," she
said.  "It's another present.  Oh!  Jimmy, look what they
gave me!"
 
   She showed Cinnamon and Jimmy her new keyboard and her
oil painting materials.  Cinnamon asked a few direct
questions about each, especially her keyboard and her
musical ability.  Jimmy pointed out the different drawings
hanging around the room and said, "I can't wait to see what
she can do in oils."
 
   "These are good!" Cinnamon said with just a hint of
awe.  "I wish I could draw half as good as this."
 
   "These are merely excellent," Jimmy said.  "When you
come to my house, I'll show you the picture of the deer and
her baby she did for me after my bike accident.  It's
hanging in my room right where I can see it when I get up
every morning.  And there's a great _Star Wars_ cartoon she
did, too, next to my door."
 
   "So!" Cinnamon said in an excited voice.  "You want to
get me up to your room and show me your drawings, huh?  You
just can't wait to grab my tits again, can you?"
 
   "I...."  And that was all.  Like Kenny, he could
eventually learn to shut up while he was behind.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   "I appreciate the ride," Cinnamon said with a big smile
that rounded the cheeks beneath her steady eyes.
 
   Mister King shrugged as he adjusted the truck's heater
fan.  "Why should your dad have to leave the hospital to
take you home when I'm going just a few blocks away from
there."
 
   "I notice you didn't bother mentioning my mother coming
to get me."
 
   She saw the familiar panicked look of indecision. 
"It's okay.  I know you and Wynter are very close.  I would
be worried if she hadn't told you."
 
   She watched his face as he said, "Yeah, we are.  And
I'm sorry you don't get along with your mother the way
Wynter does with Angie.  We'd love to invite your family
over after Christmas."
 
   She put on her best cheerful smile.  "Go ahead," she
said.  "Mother won't come, of course, but Daddy and I would
have a wonderful time.  He's really taken with Wynter.  He's
really happy that she's everything Doctor Taylor said she
was.  I think he's hoping she becomes a gynecologist, too,
so he can work with her."
 
   "At the moment she's thinking about either surgery or
general medicine and working at the hospital with Kevin. 
But who knows what she'll decide on once she gets to medical
school."
 
   The angle was wrong to get a good look at his eyes, but
she thought she could see enough.
 
   "She's really upset about Kenny and Suzie."
 
   He glanced at her and smiled.  "I know.  She's a loving
person and doesn't like to see anyone in pain, physical or
emotional.  Suzie's dad doesn't appear to know anything. 
Kevin acts like he might know something, but if he does,
he's not talking.
 
   "She told me about her sister."
 
   "Caroline?"  He waved at the driver of an oncoming
vehicle.  "She has quite the reputation around town, all
right."
 
   "Does Caroline have a boyfriend?  A real one, I mean?"
 
   He seemed to think about that one.  "Not really.  Ray
Simons is the closest thing, but I think their relationship
is, well, just an on-and-off physical one."
 
   She giggled a little-girl-giggle.  "You mean it's off
when he gets off, and stays off until he's horny again."
 
   He looked down at her with a curious expression, then
grinned.  "I'd not argue with that analysis."
 
   "Do Suzie and Caroline get along okay?"
 
   "Well," he said, and left it hanging for several
seconds.  "No worse than Angie and her sister when they were
growing up.  Maybe even better lately.  No worse than most
sisters, I guess."
 
   "I wouldn't know from experience," she said in a sad
voice.
 
   "I'm sorry," he said.  "And I'm sorry Wynter doesn't
either.  You two seem to have hit it off very nicely.  Maybe
you could be like sisters for each other?"
 
   "Maybe," she said.  "Yeah!  That would be neat.  If
Wynter wants to, I mean."
 
   "I'm sure she would.  You'd be hard pressed to find
anyone more loving and accommodating of the needs of
others."
 
   "She loves Jimmy, you know."
 
   He turned his head to flicker a frown at the abrupt
change again.  "Yes, she does.  We know that.  But she has
plenty of love to share.  And, frankly, I think she's made
an excellent choice."
 
   "Yeah.  But I think Jimmy got the best half of that
deal."
 
   "I think so, too.  But I'm prejudiced since I'm her
father, of course."
 
   "Being a parent doesn't always mean you're prejudiced
in favor of your kid."
 
   She watched the red creep into his face.  "Cinnamon,
I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to...."
 
   "It's okay," she said, cutting off the embarrassed
apology.  "My father's probably more prejudiced in my favor
than you are in Wynter's.  He has to be to love me enough
for both of them.  But we're both lucky."
 
   As she expected, he misunderstood her meaning of the
last sentence.
 
   He slowed to a stop for the traffic light at Cheyenne
Boulevard.  "I hope so, for your sake," he said.  "You know,
I was serious when I said Angie and I would love to invite
your family over after Christmas.  Do you think your mother
would object?"
 
   "Yeah.  Absolutely.  But she'd object to anything you
did, so do it anyway, if you want.  Daddy and I will come. 
She can stay home and interview more domestic help.  She's
really upset because the only ladies who have shown up for
interviews are Hispanic."
 
   He looked at her for a second.  "I suppose Sunni Chang
wouldn't stand a chance of being hired?  She's the best in a
fifty-mile radius at least."
 
   She grinned and shook her head.  "Nope.  And Mrs.
O'Malley or O'Shaunessy or O'Grady don't stand a chance
among the white women, either."
 
   He looked through her to some distant inner part of
himself.  "She must lead a lonely existence," he mused as
the light changed and he eased down the gas pedal.
 
   She didn't bother saying that Millie's existence wasn't
lonely enough as far as she was concerned, but that it could
be if the bitch would just move the hell out of the house,
away from herself and her father.  But she guessed Mister
King might have reasoned that out for himself.  He wasn't
all that clueless, even if he didn't realize what she'd been
doing.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter followed her father up the stairs, the last
armload of presents split between them.  Jimmy remained in
the basement to help her mother finish straightening up the
party room.  She pondered the questions Cinnamon had asked
him and the answers he'd given.  How the heck was that going
to help solve what was wrong with Suzie and Kenny?  She knew
that the questions were a test by the way he described them,
but she just couldn't make them fit.  Maybe some of them
were to distract him and get him to answer about Suzie and
Kenny without thinking?  And just how the heck did Caroline
fit into the picture for Cinnamon?
 
   They put the presents either on the floor or on her
desk.  She put her notes for thank-you cards on the latter
and then threw her arms around her father's neck.  They
shared a lover's kiss that left her breathless.  She was
barely able to tell him that she loved him with all her
heart.
 
   "And I love you with all my heart, too," he said.  "So,
are you going to be ready for Jimmy after we leave?  Getting
wet yet?"
 
   "Smarty pants!"  She gave him a special nose-and-lips
kiss.  "Why don't you see for yourself?"
 
   He kissed her again and took her advice.  The tip of
his finger slid into her pussy with ease.  She moaned around
his tongue as his finger withdrew and massaged her clitty. 
She felt the tension build and shatter in an instant.  It
wasn't a big orgasm, but it was ever so satisfying because
she had needed it.  When it was over, he removed his finger
and pulled back to smile at the look on her face.
 
   She felt the mischief creep into her own smile as she
asked, "Do you know what Cinnamon told me before you took
her home?"
 
   "What?"
 
   "She said you're definitely a tit man."
 
   He looked like an embarrassed old sheep.  "She caught
me looking?"
 
   "I told you she didn't miss anything.  Now do you
believe me about her?"
 
   "Oh, yes."  He nodded, and then he looked like he was
worrying about Cinnamon's questions and where he was looking
as he answered them.
 
   Wynter frowned at him and pushed her lips to one side. 
"How long's it going to be until you think of her while
you're making love to me?" she asked in a stern voice.
 
   He gave her a wide-eyed, innocent look.  "Not before
Friday night.  I promise!  Unless I get lucky before then."
 
   "Smarty pants!  Maybe I shouldn't kiss you again."
 
   "Okay," he said with a sly grin.  "If you think you can
do without."
 
   "You fight dirty!" She hoped she could keep the furious
look on her face and not break out laughing.
 
   He shrugged.  "I have to.  Otherwise I don't stand a
chance."
 
   She couldn't argue with that.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   The back wall of the tub enclosure had been warmed with
hot water from the shower.  Eyes closed, Wynter placed her
forearms on it and leaned forward, pressing her forehead
against them.  _Maybe this is better than the hot tub after
all_, she decided.
 
   Jimmy soaped her back and then began kneading her neck
and shoulders with slippery fingers.  Soon his hands slid
around under her arms and cupped her breasts while his
fingers drew circles around her small, hard nipples.
 
   "You already washed there," she murmured, feeling too
wonderful to pretend being cross.
 
   "I might have missed a spot."
 
   "Good thinking."  She moaned with pleasure a few times
before his erection bumped against her slender butt.  She
reached beneath and pulled it between her legs, letting it
press up against the soapy cornsilk curls around her split. 
"You wanna put it in?"
 
   "Unh uh. I think I'll save it for some sixty-nine after
we get out."
 
   She hummed, a mixture of pleasure at what his fingers
were now doing to her lower back and anticipation of what
his tongue would soon be doing to her clitty.  "Okay," she
said several seconds later.  "But we've never done it in the
shower before."
 
   "That's because we've never showered together before. 
Y'know, I could get used to this."  His hands cupped her
almost non-existent butt cheeks and continued their massage.
 
   "Well," she purred, "I look forward to the day we can
take all of our showers together."
 
   She was thrilled to note that his moving fingers never
hesitated before he said, "You think we'll take all of our
showers together some day?"
 
   She really hated to move his erection away from her
split, even for an instant.  It felt sooooooo good pressing
against her down there.  But she had to because she wanted
to stare into his green eyes even more than she wanted to
feel his pressure against her split.
 
   She turned and quickly placed his hardness against her
split again.  She crossed her arms behind his neck and
pulled his forehead against hers.  "You'll propose to me
some day."
 
   He couldn't nod, but he could give her the grin.  "What
if I'm afraid you'll turn me down?"
 
   "You know I won't.  I'd rather have you soaping my tits
than Cinnamon's, though she has more to play with, doesn't
she?"
 
   "Yes," he grinned, "but hers don't love me like yours
do."
 
   "You'd better believe it," she murmured before crushing
her mouth to his.
 
   She hoped the hot water wouldn't run out before she was
through kissing him.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter waited for Jimmy to collapse to one side and
cuddle up against her.  His deflated penis was warm and wet
and sticky against the side of her thigh.  She thought the
only thing that felt better than that at the moment was the
warm stickiness that was beginning to trickle down her
split.  She brushed back his hair with one hand and kissed
him gently as he peered at her with half-closed but happy
eyes.
 
   The CD-player recycled back to the beginning, and the
opening notes of her song started again.  "I learned
something tonight," she said.
 
   "That's good," he murmured in a contented voice.  "You
should expand your knowledge daily.  What did you learn
today?"
 
   "I learned that you can make love in three-quarter time
and it's wonderful."
 
   He kissed her.  It seemed to take the last of his
strength, not counting the bit expended to cup one hand over
her small breast.  "I learned that there's no such thing as
bad sex with you."
 
   "Didn't you already know that?"
 
   "Uh huh," he said.  "But I think I forgot it when you
screwed my brains out."
 
   She giggled.  "Is that what I feel running down my
butt?  Liquified brains?"
 
   "Probably."
 
   "Good.  Then you won't be thinking about memories of
how Cinnamon's tits felt while you're making love to me."
 
   "Nope," he said, and then he yawned.
 
   She tried to keep the mischief out of her voice.  "So,
just how did her tits feel?"
 
   He kissed the point of her shoulder.  He was too
exhausted to sound irritated when he said, "Why don't you go
feel them yourself if you want to know?"
 
   Wynter shrugged, being careful not to bump his nose. 
"She said I could.  Maybe I will."
 
   "Uh huh."  She stifled the laugh for almost eight
seconds, and then couldn't hold back when Jimmy's head shot
up from the pillow and he stared at her.  _Drat!_ she
thought as the contractions sent the last of his semen
dribbling down between her cheeks and into the growing wet
spot.
 
 
 
                           Six
 
   Wynter was eating breakfast when Cinnamon called.  She
wanted to know if she could visit and talk some time that
day.
 
   "Sure.  We were going Christmas shopping this morning,
'cause we're leaving for Grandpa's tomorrow.  We always
spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with him.  But I don't
have to go today.  Only one of us is late finishing his
shopping."
 
   Daddy sighed and looked like an embarrassed old sheep
again while he chewed his bacon.  He'd been getting to
practice that look a lot lately.
 
   "And Jimmy is going somewhere with his mom for most of
the day.  I'd love to have you visit.  Just have your dad
drop you off on his way to the hospital so he doesn't have
to make a special trip or anything later."
 
   When she replaced the phone and sat down, Daddy asked,
"What does she want to talk about?"
 
   Mother backhanded his arm.  "Girl talk, for piss sake! 
You think they're going to talk about football and rocks
behind your back and you'll be left out?"
 
   Daddy sighed again as Wynter lifted her glass of juice
and took a sip.  Eggs slipped unnoticed off his fork. 
"Angie, I just...."
 
   Mother rolled her eyes.  "You just want an excuse to
stay here and look at Cinnamon's tits some more."
 
   The surprised look on Daddy's face almost made Wynter
squirt orange juice out her nose.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter played some of her new age CDs for Cinnamon. 
The little redhead was familiar with some of the artists but
not others.  Wynter was impressed with the wide range of
knowledge Cinnamon had about artists and their records.  She
was surprised to learn that the new girl preferred surf
music from the sixties and seventies, though she liked
everything except rap and country.
 
   They talked about Wynter's taste in music and Jimmy's
composition, interspersed questions and answers about Kenny
and Suzie and Caroline.  Cinnamon had a few questions about
Caroline's friend Annie MacReady when her name came up in
conversation, but she quickly abandoned that line.
 
   When her parents left for shopping, Wynter gave them
both hugs and kisses.  They also gave Cinnamon big hugs. 
The sparkle in the little redhead's eyes made Wynter's heart
feel too big for her chest.  They had been talking about
Wynter's drawings.  Wynter suggested they go up to her room
and she'd draw Cinnamon.
 
   When Cinnamon was seated, Wynter stood for a minute
with her lips pursed and pushed to one side.  She held her
left elbow in her right hand while her left hand held her
chin.  The index finger slowly tapped below her ear. 
Finally she decided and chose the right tablet from the top
of her desk.
 
   "How do you want me to sit?"
 
   Wynter grinned and took a seat, crossed her left leg
over the right, and placed the pad on the leg.  "It doesn't
matter, especially for this.  I just need to look at you for
a couple of details because I don't know you all that well
yet.  In another month I probably won't even need you in the
same room to draw you."
 
   When Wynter's pencil began moving Cinnamon sighed. 
"Sure was nice getting hugged by your parents."
 
   Wynter paused and looked at her.  "Yeah.  I'm sorry
your mom doesn't hug you."
 
   "I wouldn't mind her not hugging me if she'd get the
hell out.  But my father loves me, like your father loves
you."
 
   Wynter smiled at that thought.  "Yeah.  It's better to
have one parent love you than none."  She resumed sketching. 
"But two is better than one."
 
   "It's nice having your mother love you, isn't it?"
 
   "Uh huh.  It's almost as nice as having your father
love you."
 
   "I guess if it has to be just one, I'm lucky that it's
Daddy who loves me.  It's really nice being special for your
dad, isn't it?"
 
   "Yeah."  She flattened the pencil against the paper and
shaded for a moment.  Then she relaxed and let the smile
wash over her face.  "I try to be extra good at things so
that I don't disappoint him."  She glanced at Cinnamon and
made a minor correction.
 
   "Kinda hard to disappoint him, though, isn't it?"
 
   "Uh huh.  But I don't want to do it even by accident."
 
   "Which is better:  hugs from your mother or your
father?"
 
   "Both are wonderful.  I wish you could know that from
experience."
 
   "That wasn't the question."
 
   Wynter looked up and then made another minor
correction.  "I guess Daddy's are a little more special, if
I have to make a choice."
 
   "Yeah, I thought so from what I saw."
 
   The questions, mostly about her father, though they
wandered around through a variety of topics, continued for
several minutes.  Wynter reached for her colored pencils
near the end.  When Wynter was satisfied, so was Cinnamon.
 
   Wynter put the pencil on the desk.  "Okay, here it is." 
She handed the pad to Cinnamon.
 
   The little redhead doubled over in laughter.  It was a
cartoon of the Addams family, except that Wednesday had long
red hair, green eyes, a square face with round cheeks, and a
pointed chin.  "Whatever made you think of this?" The
question required four attempts before she got it out.
 
   Wynter shrugged.  "I don't know what made me think of
it.  It just seemed appropriate."
 
   The laughter tapered off and she gave Wynter her
curious pose look.  "You should pay more attention to your
subconscious, Wynter.  I may have underestimated you after
all."
 
   Wynter had no idea what the heck THAT meant.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   When Jimmy had answered the kitchen phone he'd still
been half-asleep because they hadn't returned from Christmas
Day at Uncle Jim's until after midnight.  He was now wide
awake and almost pulled the kitchen phone away from his ear
to stare at it in surprise.  "No.  I didn't know he'd been
grounded.  That explains why he keeps coming up with excuses
to avoid coming over.  I thought it was just his fight with
Suzie."
 
   "_It could be that, too,_" Cinnamon said.  Jimmy
thought he recognized frustration in her voice.  He guessed
that she was frustrated because she couldn't get any answers
that made sense to her, either.  "_Doctor Taylor didn't give
Daddy any detail.  He said that Kenny was grounded but
nothing else.  The bitch is in one of her moods about the
maid today.  I think I'll get out of the house and go visit
him._"
 
   "Won't Kenny be more defensive on his home turf?"
 
   "_You watched that same show on _The Discovery
Channel_, didn't you?  Well, I guess you had to do something
for distraction, what with Wynter at her grandfather's. 
Actually, I'm counting on his being overconfident on his
'home turf' and letting something slip.  Especially if
he's... well, distracted._"
 
   Jimmy grinned at that.  "He does tend to get distracted
around pretty girls.  He about qualifies for brain dead
around you."  The grin slumped as he realized what he'd said
and what was coming.
 
   "_So you finally admit that I'm pretty, huh?  You been
thinking about playing with my tits again since you don't
have Wynter's around for entertainment?_"
 
   He grimaced, clamping his lips shut between his teeth. 
He knew better than to respond to that.  "Let me know what
you find out about Suzie and Kenny."
 
   "_I will, but I'm not headed to his house for a while. 
I'm gonna buff the beaver and think about how good your
hands felt massaging my mini-mounds._"
 
   She giggled at the tone of his voice as he told her
good-bye and hung up.
 
   He turned to the refrigerator, poured some orange juice
into a glass, and stuck his head into the family room.  He
told his parents he was going up to his room and practice on
his keyboard until lunchtime.  Maybe he'd compose another
song for Wynter.  Lost in thoughts of how much he missed
her, he slowly drifted up the stairs.  The glass was half
empty when he closed his door.
 
   He swallowed another sip and stood in front of Wynter's
remarkable colored-pencil drawing of the deer and her baby,
letting himself get lost in all the fine details.  His free
hand closed around the arrowhead suspended under his shirt
from a leather thong.  Wynter had found that arrowhead not
far from where they had seen the deer and her baby and had
given it to him.  That was the day he'd first held her hand
at the new _Star Wars_ movie.  They held hands again after
they saw the deer.  Who'd have guessed that their
relationship would progress this far?
 
   Who'd have guessed then how terribly he'd miss her now. 
It was one thing knowing she was a block away and not being
able to see her.  It was something else knowing she was all
the way over in Breckenridge and not being able to see her.
 
   He turned from the drawing and finished the juice while
moping his way to his desk.  He picked up the gold-framed
picture of the two of them that she'd given him for
Christmas.  Her long blonde ponytail hung over the shoulder
next to him.  Her blue-green eyes sparkled, as did her
perfect white teeth between her coral lips.  They were
holding hands much the same way they had held hands at that
movies.  She was the sexiest person he had ever seen, as
well as being the smartest.  And the prettiest, no matter
how beautiful Cinnamon was for everyone else.  And the
sweetest.  And he missed her so terribly that the pain was
almost physical.
 
   "I love you," he said, and added another lip-print to
the glass as he decided what to do next.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Jimmy grabbed the lobbed snowball in mid-air, whipped
it around, and released it.  Charlie Taylor was so startled
that he forgot to duck.  The snowball hit his knee.
 
   "WOW!"  Charlie said, eyes wide and mouth gaping. 
"Just like the stuff in the kung fu movies!"
 
   Jimmy frowned.  "Your mom lets you watch those?"
 
   Charlie grinned.  "Kenny knows the lock-out code for
the satellite tuner."
 
   "Yes, but I didn't know he'd told you."
 
   Charlie gave him a smug I've-got-one-on-my-brother look
and packed another snowball.  "Then I guess you don't know
that I found his magazine under the mattress."
 
   Jimmy laughed.  "You know, Kenny was also six when he
discovered the advantages of blackmail."
 
   "Yeah!  That's what he called it:  blackmail."  He
threw the snowball without warning.
 
   Jimmy had to lurch sideways to catch it.  He threw it
back.  His pitch was even wilder than Charlie's.  "I guess
Kenny's home?"
 
   "Yeah.  He got grounded!"  It was the typical
six-year-old gloating because his older brother had been
caught doing something he shouldn't have.  Jimmy knew
several people with brothers who were six, and he was quite
familiar with that tone.
 
   "Do you know why?"
 
   Charlie launched another one on a straight-but-high
course.  Jimmy threw up a hand to catch it. It was loosely
packed and shattered, splattering him with snow.  "I dunno,"
Charlie said while laughing and slapping his thighs in
delight.  "Suzie was the one doing all the yelling and using
those words and stuff."
 
   Jimmy's hands paused in brushing away the snow.  "What
words, Charlie?"
 
   "The ones I can't say.  The ones Kenny's not supposed
to say that stuff either, but he does for grounding."  He
launched another one, wide left where Jimmy couldn't reach
it.  Instead of trying for the snowball, Jimmy translated
Charlie's words out of six-year-old and into English.
 
   "Well, what was she yelling besides those words?"
 
   Charlie gloated again.  "That he was stupid and a
jerk!"
 
   "No surprise there, huh?"  Jimmy jumped to catch one
sailing overhead, whipped his arm around, and launched it
back at Charlie.  It was so loosely packed that it broke
apart on leaving his hand.  Most parts didn't make it
halfway.  "Did she say why she was telling the truth about
him?"
 
   Charlie laughed with glee and started packing another
one.  "No.  Just that he hurt her while they were having fun
dumping some stuff costing twenty dollars.  In her chest."
 
   That didn't make sense to Jimmy no matter how he
translated it, but it was a six-year-old rationalizing words
he didn't understand into a pattern that made sense--to him. 
"Did...."  He caught the lobbed snowball, packed it with a
clap of his hands, and sent it back.  Charlie squealed and
ducked. It flew wide right.  "Did she say what they were
dumping or why it cost twenty dollars?"
 
   "Nope.  There was something about you and Wynter and
Caroline and some of that silly love talk stuff, but I was
trying to watch the Road Runner and the Coyote.  Do you know
how much Acme wants for that stuff?  I'd like to get me some
rocket shoes!"
 
   "I don't think they make those any more because of
environmental concerns," said Jimmy as he caught, repacked,
and returned a snowball.
 
   Charlie threw out a hand to stop it.  It landed in the
center of his chest.  "You're GOOD!"
 
   "Yeah, that's what happens with practice.  I'm gonna go
see Kenny now."
 
   Charlie's mouth turned down and his lower lip
protruded.  "Won'tcha throw some more snowballs with me?" he
whined.  "Kenny can't 'cause he's grounded."
 
   "I'll tell you what:  you practice by aiming at those
trees and the mailbox.  Then I'll throw some more with you
after I'm finished with Kenny.  Okay?  You can improve your
chances of hitting me if you practice."
 
   Charlie's face lit up like the town Christmas tree. 
"Yeah!  C'mon, I'll let you in.  Mrs. Holland is vacuuming
and might not hear the doorbell.  I gotta go to the bathroom
anyway."
 
   Mrs. Holland shut off the vacuum cleaner and greeted
him in the hallway.  "It seems so strange not seeing you
with Wynter.  Is she coming back tomorrow or Sunday?"
 
   Jimmy removed his gloves and began unfastening his
coat.  "Tomorrow afternoon, ma'am.  I'm so desperate for
distraction that I came to visit Kenny."
 
   Mrs. Holland laughed at his joke.  "He's playing
upstairs in his room," she said in a bright voice.  She
always spoke to Jimmy and his friends as if they were
Charlie's age.  "He said he doesn't want to be bothered all
afternoon until his parents return."  Her face turned
sympathetic.  "I can understand the doctor having to work on
the day after Christmas 'cause people get sick and hurt all
the time.  I'm surprised she had to, though, but she said
something about end-of-year reports."  She clucked her
tongue and shook her head.  She seemed to be unaware that
she, too, was working that day.
 
   "Is Cinnamon with him?" he asked as he stuffed his
gloves into his coat pocket and hung it on the coat rack.
 
   "Oh, I haven't seen the dear girl all day," she said. 
"I do hope she drops by.  She's almost as sweet as Wynter. 
And she doesn't have a sister who's, well, who has such a
horrid reputation."
 
   "Huh.  Guess she's having problems with her mother
again.  Well, she's supposed to be coming over this
afternoon.  When she gets here, tell her she should talk to
Charlie first.  She'll know why."
 
   "Oh!  Well, that sounds all very mysterious!  I'll tell
her."  Clearly Mrs. Holland thought it was a game.  Jimmy
saw no reason to correct her mistake.  She went back to
vacuuming the living room as Jimmy climbed the stairs.
 
   Kenny's stereo was loud even through the closed door. 
That always meant he was up to something.  Jimmy wondered if
he should knock. Ordinarily he would never consider not
knocking, but this was an emergency.  As Wynter had
explained to him so many times when they were trapped in the
mine, in emergency situations, normal rules don't apply. 
Okay, this might not be life-or-death like in the mine, but
when his best friends were at war, it was an emergency by
his standards.  Maybe he'd see some clue before Kenny had
time to hide it.
 
   He turned the knob and pushed the door.  It almost felt
as if the music pressure was resisting his effort, but then
it flew open on its smooth hinges.  Jimmy quickly looked
around.  And froze.
 
   Cinnamon's breasts looked even better than they had
felt.  She was so small that they looked large on her body. 
They were half-baseballs that thrust out from a chest, with
little pointed cones like Wynter's for nipples.  Her mound,
like everything else about her, was wider than Wynter's
and... "puffier" was the word that came to mind, followed by
"chubbier," though that didn't really apply.  Unlike Wynter,
Cinnamon had only a scattered bit of thicker hair on her
mound, but she did have a narrow band of it starting on
either side of the top of her slit and, presumably,
continuing along it between her legs.
 
   He didn't mean to study the naked girl in such detail. 
In fact, all those observations occurred simultaneously in
one glance as she ran generally in his direction, pursued by
a rampant Kenny.
 
   When she saw him in the open door she squealed and
changed her path to directly at him.  Before he could react
she launched herself, landing with her arms around his neck
and her legs around his waist.  His hands shot under her to
support her weight, and he thrust one leg forward for
stability as he resisted the pull to fall face-down on top
of the girl.  The tips of two fingers slipped inside her
slit.  She looked startled for a second and then grinned at
him and purred.  He couldn't believe how wet she was....
 
   "HOLY SHIT!"  He yanked his hands away.  Cinnamon
unlocked her short legs and lowered them as he stared at his
fingers in horror and glanced at Kenny.
 
   She released his neck and took his hand.  "Relax," she
said before sucking one finger clean while still watching
his face.  "It's just pussy juice."  She pushed his hand up
to his face.  "See?"
 
   He'd been gasping for air.  She's surprised him by
shoving his hand up just as he inhaled.  The aroma was
definitely nothing but her own, which was slightly different
from Wynter's.  Not better or worse; just different.  Sort
of like....
 
   What was he DOING thinking about that?
 
   "CINNAMON!  KENNY!"  He was too flustered to say
anything else, so he repeated it.  He'd seen Suzie naked
when she and Kenny interrupted his playing with Wynter on
the night of Jimmy's and Kenny's birthday, but this was...
well, it was... it was different.  This was something
entirely different.  For one thing, Suzie hadn't thrown
herself on him.  And...
 
   The music volume suddenly dropped a few million
decibels.  "Hey, dude, don't you knock?"  But Kenny was
wearing his "Patented Shit-Eating Grin" as he turned away
from the stereo.
 
   "Who cares?" Cinnamon said.  "One more for the party. 
Nothing like having both ends filled at the same time, I
always say.  I LOVE threesomes!  Especially when both guys
are so ravishingly ravishable."
 
   Kenny slipped his left arm around Cinnamon and grabbed
her left breast. "Yeah!  Hey, you wanna get it on, too,
Jimmy?"  His right hand waggled up and down, pointing at her
face and crotch with rapid alternating movements.  "Two
holes, no waiting!  I'll even let you have first choice!"
 
   Jimmy had enough presence of mind to notice that
Cinnamon was watching Kenny when she spoke, and that she had
nodded slightly when he answered.  Kenny, hormones on
overdrive, hadn't noticed, of course.  Jimmy forced his
anger down and tried to think.
 
   It was one of Cinnamon's tests.  And it wasn't aimed at
him.  She didn't even know he was going to be there.  He'd
blundered in, interrupting Cinnamon's testing Kenny.  But
would she have made Kenny cheat on Suzie to get her answers? 
Or allowed him to?
 
   "No, thanks," he snapped.  "I'll wait until Wynter
returns.  Some of us remain FAITHFUL to our girlfriends."
 
   Cinnamon's gaze returned to him.  "Your loss!" she said
in a bright voice.  But her face said he'd made a mistake,
and a slight jerk of her head and eyes said that she meant
with regard to Kenny.  He didn't care.  He didn't want Kenny
having sex with Cinnamon while he was fighting with Suzie
because Suzie would be hurt when she found out about it. 
Suzie would....
 
   _Yeah!  Suzie would be hurt if she found out that he'd
had sex with someone else.  Such as Caroline!_
 
   He slapped his forehead.  "Of course!  Now I know
what's going on with you and Suzie."
 
   Cinnamon gave him a puzzled frown but said nothing.
 
   Kenny looked like he'd been the one slapped.  "You do?"
 
   Jimmy was surprised at the way Kenny's erection
reverse-exploded.  He was surprised at himself for noticing,
and wondered if that made him like one of those Trinidad
faggots.  "Yeah," he said.  "Caroline."
 
   Kenny turned pale and sat on the edge of his bed.  When
Cinnamon saw how he looked, she sat beside him.  She watched
his face as Jimmy continued.
 
   "You told me you'd had sex with Caroline.  But you paid
her twenty bucks for it, didn't you?  Suzie found out about
it, and that's why she's mad."
 
   When Jimmy didn't say anything else for several
seconds, Kenny's head jerked up, but he said nothing. 
However, the patented shit-eating grin slowly began
spreading.
 
   Cinnamon's head and eyes shifted to Jimmy, then
indicated the spot beside her on the bed.  It was a command
and a statement.  The command was, "Sit here and shut up." 
The statement was, "You fucked up."  Her lips moved and
silently formed those exact three words.
 
   Jimmy didn't know what to do.  He'd interrupted
Cinnamon's test when he barged in.  And now he knew he'd
made things worse by guessing wrong.  He could see that she
was thinking furiously, trying to salvage the attempt to
ferret out Kenny's secret that he'd ruined by what he'd
said.
 
   But if that wasn't the secret, then what was it?  He
thought he knew what Charlie had actually overheard, but
clearly he hadn't.  He should follow Cinnamon's orders,
giving him time to rethink what Charlie had said.  Even if
he did have to sit next to a naked girl that wasn't Wynter.
 
   WYNTER!  Wynter would understand, wouldn't she?  He
thought so, based on her strange actions lately.  But what
if she didn't?  He'd sure misunderstood what was going on
with Kenny.  What if he'd misunderstood what was going on
with Wynter where Cinnamon was concerned?  After all,
Cinnamon was naked and here alone with him--well, Kenny was
here, too, as if THAT made things any better--while Wynter
was all the way over in Breckenridge.
 
   What if Wynter found out and got mad about it?  Well,
she would find out, of course, because he'd have to tell
her.  But what if she was mad at him afterward?  What if....
 
   "Are you going to sit down or not."  Cinnamon's voice
wasn't a question.  It didn't even sound like a question. 
It was an order.
 
   "Uh, yeah.  I was just thinking."
 
   She smiled at him, all round rosy cheeks and small
white teeth and angry red eyes.  "Don't."
 
   She put her arms around both of them and turned to
Kenny.  "You sure you don't mind if Jimmy uses whichever end
you aren't in?"
 
   "Nah," he said, his patented shit-eating grin in its
full glory.  "He's my best friend.  Hey, I don't mind
sharing."
 
   Jimmy started to say something.  Cinnamon's hands shot
to both boys' laps.  She started stroking Kenny back to
hardness.  Jimmy, however, realized that he was about to
discover that Suzie's ball massage had been gentle in
comparison to the one Cinnamon was prepared to administer. 
He suddenly sympathized with the look of fear on Huntly's
face at the birthday party.
 
   He shut his mouth and wished she'd move her hand.  He
was too scared to get a boner at the moment, but if she kept
her hand there....
 
   Cinnamon spoke as if nothing were going on with Jimmy. 
"Then you won't mind turning down the bed covers while I
warm Jimmy up for the fun, will you?  We'll go kiss over by
your desk," she added, as if Kenny had already agreed. 
Which, she knew as well as Jimmy did, he had.
 
   She gave Kenny a kiss and then pulled on Jimmy's balls
as she hopped off the bed.  He stood up immediately.  She
led him away from the bed and motioned his face to hers. 
She pulled his face down and turned him so that Kenny
couldn't see that they weren't kissing.  "What the hell are
you doing?" she whispered.  "I almost got him to tell me. 
After he'd caught me, he'd have said it just to get me to
fuck him."
 
   "Would you?" he snapped
 
   "No."  She hesitated.  "I don't think so.  But we may
never know.  You play along and we might find out."  She
spoke up.  "Oh, God, Jimmy, that feels GOOD!"  Then she
resumed whispering.  "Don't say anything else, or you can
find out what's wrong with him all by yourself.  You'd
better follow my lead exactly, mister!"
 
   She pulled one of his hands up to cover a breast.  "Oh,
Jimmy!  That feels even better than when you played with it
at Wynter's!" she moaned.  She turned just enough that Kenny
could see the hand when his head shot around.  "You're going
to make me cum again, just like that night."
 
   Jimmy knew he was being punished and said nothing as
Kenny smirked and jumped into the bed.  He didn't know how
the heck he was going to get out of this one unless Cinnamon
backed his story because he knew what Kenny would say.  He
sure didn't want to piss the new girl off by refusing to
co-operate, not now, after what she'd just done in front of
Kenny.
 
   "Let's get in the bed, lover.  Kenny's cooling down,
and I want my men hot!"
 
   He wished she hadn't grabbed his balls and pulled him
along.  Kenny would think she was leading him by his dick,
the way Suzie did Kenny at Wynter's after their birthday
party.  Jimmy had teased Kenny about that.  Payback was
going to be a bitch.  The only good news was that she hadn't
made him undress as part of his punishment.
 
   She hopped up on the bed, pushed Kenny onto his back
with one hand, and sat straddling his legs, her pussy just
barely below his balls.
 
   "Now," she said as Jimmy crawled onto the bed at her
silent request.  "Request" spelled "d-e-m-a-n-d," of course.
 
   Jimmy never learned what she had in mind because the
door burst open and Charlie rushed in.
 
   "Hey, Jimmy!  I just...."  Charlie froze, his eyes
wide.  "Oh, man," he said to Kenny, "is this ever gonna be
worth more than the satellite code."
 
   "Charlie, what the hell do you want?" Kenny moaned as
he peered around Cinnamon toward his brother.  He added a
muttered, "I gotta get a lock for the fucking door."
 
   "Huh?  Oh, I thought of something else Suzie yelled
that day and mom grounded you.  Jimmy wanted to know.  I
forgot to tell Cinnamon, too, yesterday.  I didn't know you
were here, Cinnamon.  Hey!  You're almost as pretty without
clothes!"
 
   Eyes narrowed by his frown, Kenny pushed up on his
elbows.  "You've been talking to Cinnamon and Jimmy about
that?"
 
   Cinnamon flipped herself off him.  Jimmy noticed that
the thin strips of hair did, indeed, parallel her open,
juicy slit all the way back to her butt cheeks.  Then he
cursed himself for noticing.
 
   Cinnamon's voice was dry and peeved.  "Well, that's
obviously all for today.  Jimmy, could you get me my
panties, please?"
 
   Jimmy realized he'd been given permission to get off
the bed and did so immediately.  He took Cinnamon's panties
off the bedside lamp shade and handed them to her.
 
   They had been warmed by the heat radiating from the
bulb, releasing her scent.  The pheromones gave him an
instant boner.  The only thing he could think of that could
be worse would be for Kenny to notice.
 
   "Hey!" Kenny growled in an angry voice as he glared at
Jimmy's crotch.  "If you two want to use that thing, do it
someplace else."
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   _Fuck!_
 
   Suzie stared out the window at nothing in particular. 
The last thing she wanted to do was entertain Cinnamon, but
there she was, sitting on the corner of Suzie's bed, and
watching her like Wynter and Jimmy studying that stupid
spider back in the summer.
 
   "Caroline's out of town?" Cinnamon asked.  Suzie had
just said that, so the girl was obviously searching for
information in Suzie's reaction.  She was glad Caroline had
gone to Wyoming for a week with that slut Annie MacReady. 
They wouldn't be back until New Year's Day, so Suzie
wouldn't have to admit to Cinnamon that Kenny had made a
fool out of her.
 
   Suzie had wondered at first whether Wynter and Jimmy
had been in on the betrayal and had laughed at the way Suzie
had fallen for Kenny's treachery.  But she knew now that
they hadn't because they were trying too hard to find out
what was wrong.  But she wasn't about to admit how much
Suzanne Middleton had been a fool.  No way!
 
   Besides, she was in love with Kenny, and it just hurt
too damned much for her to admit that he'd used that love as
a weapon against her because of Wynter and Jimmy.  She'd
thought she'd been in love with Jimmy then, but she knew
beyond question that she loved Kenny, especially after he'd
saved her at the mine.  And she still did, despite the fact
that he'd used her and dumped her like yesterday's garbage. 
She wondered if he'd saved her life just so he could dump
her like this and make her hurt worse.
 
   Through tremendous force of will she forced the tears
to stay bottled.  "That's what I said.  You want to pump her
for information about stuff that's my own business, I
suppose?  Sorry.  You're just shit off of luck."  She
dropped into her desk chair and stared out the window again.
 
   "But Kenny...."
 
   "Kenny doesn't want me.  He wants you.  Well, now he
can have you.  He...."  She decided she'd already said too
much and slammed her lips shut.
 
   "Suzie, Kenny doesn't want me.  His cock does, but he
doesn't."
 
   She glared at Cinnamon.  "What's the difference?"
 
   She shrugged.  "Kenny's cock wants to play hide the
sausage with anything female and room temperature or better. 
That's you, me, Caroline, Wynter, and even Mrs. Holland if
she'd cooperate."
 
   Suzie had been watching Cinnamon's eyes and listening
to the stress in her voice.  And she heard it:  the slight
emphasis on those particular three syllabus.  Or whatever
the stupid word was.  Anyhow, she just knew that was where
Cinnamon was headed when she'd asked about Caroline the
first time.  And now Cinnamon had verified it.
 
   She sighed.  Her heart felt heavier than Buffalo
Mountain in her chest.  "So you wanna know if the dolt
fucked Caroline, too?  That's what you're trying to find
out?"
 
   "Not really.  I already know he did."
 
   "Nice try."
 
   "No," Cinnamon said, "I'm serious.  Charlie told us you
said he did."
 
   _Us_.  "Meaning you and Jimmy?"
 
   "Yeah."  Suzie didn't like the way Cinnamon grinned. 
"That was after Jimmy stuck his fingers in me, but before we
could make the beast with two backs."
 
   _I KNEW IT!  Jimmy's just like Kenny!  He's gonna fuck
over Wynter and dump her for Cinnamon, just like Kenny did
me!_  She tried to stop the tears again, but this time she
couldn't.  _Caroline was right!  All men are hateful pigs!_
 
   She didn't notice Cinnamon had moved beside her until
she spoke.  "Suzie?  Are you okay?"
 
   "No.  Can I be alone, please?"
 
   "Sure."  Cinnamon straightened and placed one hand on
Suzie's shoulder.  "But if you need somebody to talk to, you
can call me.  Or Wynter.  She really cares about you. 
That's why she's worried about you, you know."
 
   Suzie didn't hear much after that.  She just waited
until Cinnamon had left the room, and then she threw herself
onto her bed and buried her face in the pillow.
 
   Even Caroline had abandoned her during her time of
need.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Cinnamon shook her head while slipping into her coat. 
"I don't know.  I didn't get anything out of her, or out of
Kenny earlier this afternoon."
 
   Mister Middleton nodded.  "I appreciate your trying to
help."
 
   She sighed as she fastened her coat.  "I don't know
them very well yet because I'm new, but all of them are my
best friends here, and I don't want to see those two
fighting any more than Wynter and Jimmy do."
 
   "Well, it's very nice of you to try for me, especially
since I was so rude to you Monday."
 
   Mrs. Middleton looked up from her cross-stitching and
frowned at her husband.  "Why were you rude to her Monday?"
 
   Cinnamon jumped in first.  "It was just a
misunderstanding.  You know how things can happen that you
didn't mean to happen that way?  It's okay.  He was just
worried about Suzie, and I was, too.  Just like you are."
 
   She hadn't been a hundred percent sure that was the
right thing to say, but apparently it was.  Mrs. Middleton
went back to her sewing and Mister Middleton looked
thankful.  It was the least she could do, considering how
she'd just made things worse for their daughter instead of
better.
 
   As he helped her into his vehicle for the ride home she
considered asking him to drop her at Jimmy's house.  If
she'd had balls she would have, too.  She'd let Jimmy
squeeze them painfully and yank her around by them in
payback because she had opened her mouth and said exactly
the wrong thing, the way Jimmy had done.  And all because
she, too, had misinterpreted what a six-year-old had said. 
She sure did feel stupid about that.  If it wasn't for
Wynter, she'd rip off her clothes and let Jimmy do whatever
he wanted to with her body in order to make amends for how
she'd overreacted.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Her green eyes squeezed shut, crunching her
cinnamon-red brows together, while her knees drew even
closer to her armpits and her hips began jerking
uncontrollably.  She couldn't begin to match his rhythm at
that point, but he switched to match hers, syncopated though
her rhythm was.
 
   She pressed her face to his body to stifle the moans
and gasps of intense pleasure which fought to escape her
throat, even though she knew the bitch couldn't be awakened
with dynamite tonight.  Thanks to a phone call from a friend
that evening, she would finally be able to resume the plan
that had been interrupted by the move here.  With any luck
the bitch would either be back in Boston or in some rehab
facility or maybe even dead by next summer.  She didn't care
which, so long as the result was just her father and herself
in the house.  Then they could spend every night together
like this and she could count the nights until he was able
to fit all of himself within her goodie box.
 
   The tension melted from her, and she purred with
supreme satisfaction before thrusting her lower body up to
meet his normal thrusts.  "Your turn," she said with a
satisfied giggle.  "And it better be as good as mine was, or
you'll have to do me again."
 
   "What if I want to do you again anyway?"  His words
were choppy because he'd begun short-stroking into her.
 
   "Promise?"
 
   But her father couldn't answer.  He was in the middle
of his first orgasm since they'd moved into the house.  She
concentrated on making it as pleasurable for him as she
possibly could.  Later she'd have time for tears of joy.
 
 
 
                          Seven
 
   Ron slipped into the chair and sat quietly for two
minutes and twelve seconds.  Kevin Taylor sighed deeply and
leaned back in his chair, his hand tossing the report at his
outbox.  As he released it he spotted Ron sitting in front
of his desk and flinched.  The report sailed over the tray.
 
   Ron snatched it from mid-air with an economy of effort
and movement.  "No wonder you cheat at basketball."  He
tossed the papers into the tray.  "You can't hit your outbox
from a foot away."
 
   "How long were you there this time?"
 
   Ron scratched his head.  "Five, maybe seven minutes,"
he replied with a straight face.  "You worked Christmas day,
you worked the day after Christmas, and you're working
Saturday too?  C'mon, Doc.  You'll never reach fifty with
that schedule."
 
   "Not Christmas day."  Kevin reached into a desk drawer
and pulled out two peppermints.
 
   Ron snatched the thrown candy.  "Okay, you'll never
reach fifty-one, then."
 
   Kevin snorted as he ripped off the protective wrapper,
tossed the candy in the air, and caught it in his mouth.
"What brings you here?"
 
   Ron slouched in the chair, crossed his legs, and
scratched his head again.  "Mrs. Gagnon.  Her husband took
Timmy skiing.  She has a follow-up with Doctor V, but her
car battery was dead.  She thinks he'll pronounce her stable
now that her blood pressure and heart rate are steady."
 
   Cardiologist Miguel Vasquez, "Mike" to the staff, but
"Doctor V" to the rest of the world, turned down plum
positions to be near his parents.  Antonio, his father, had
little time left.  Rosa wouldn't last long afterward.  After
sixty-two years they were still newlyweds.  After both were
gone, Mike would likely leave.  Kevin couldn't imagine the
hospital without Mike.  Candis would have her hands full
finding a replacement only half as qualified.
 
   "That woman has some seriously strange body chemistry,"
Kevin said with a sigh.  "I don't know how Mike figured out
that the drugs worked backward for her."
 
   Ron's sparking white teeth flashed.  "Easy enough for
him.  He's one of the two geniuses in town."  He didn't need
to add that he was the other one.  "Or maybe that's three. 
I hear that Doctor Brees' daughter is almost as smart as me. 
She's certainly as good looking.  Almost."
 
   Kevin leaned back and toyed with a paper clip.  "So, is
the next question about Kenny or Suzie?  I'd guess it's
Kenny"  He grinned as Ron's eyes widened and smile faded. 
"We've played this game several times before, you know."
 
   "I'm getting predictable?"  His smile disappeared
completely as Kevin nodded.  "Damn.  Dad's gonna disown me. 
Maybe we should add you to the roster of town geniuses."
 
   "If Kenny wants you to know, he'll tell you.  I'd like
to, I think, because I'm sure there's more to the story than
what I know.  No story involving the male and the female of
the species is simple.  But I can't tell you, because Kenny
asked me not to.  It wouldn't be right."
 
   Ron's face warped into incredulity.  "You cheat at
basketball, and you talk to me about ethics?"
 
   Kevin laughed.  "That's different.  So, what are you
going to do now?"
 
   "That's easy," Ron said with his grin back in place. 
"Cheat."
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Ron's grin escaped from captivity when Mrs. Brees
watched from the other end of hallway, as if expecting him
to pocket the elegant coat tree.  She'd allowed him to talk
to Cinnamon only in the living room, where she could watch
him, hawk-like, from the dining room.  In the ten minutes he
was there she had consumed two drinks on the rocks--Scotch,
if he was any judge of her breath.
 
   The maid, Mrs. Vasquez, bade him farewell in atrocious
Spanish.  The widowed sister-in-law of Doctor V, she was
third generation American and rarely used Spanish, but she
insisted on doing so today.  She managed to convey that she
was doing it only because Mrs. Brees had no idea what they
were saying and that severely aggravated the woman.  She
said her boss was a bitch and that she had accepted the job
because the money was good, though some jobs were barely
worth the income.  She also said that if not for Cinnamon,
she'd leave with him.
 
   Ron paused at the end of the sidewalk and glanced back
at the house.  Cinnamon waved to him from an upper window. 
He waved back, organized his thoughts, and headed up the
sidewalk for Kenny's martial arts lesson.
 
   Things still made no sense to either of them, but he
agreed with Cinnamon that Caroline seemed to hold the key to
the puzzle.  Unfortunately, Caroline was in Wyoming.  Ron
knew the true reason for her trip with Annie MacReady.  Ray
Simons had made the mistake of telling Matt Jenkins, whose
idea of keeping secrets was to couch them in mysterious
words that hid nothing.  Not from anyone at least as half as
smart as Ron.
 
   Ray had gone to Vail for his antibiotics.  Ron thought
that was appropriate since it was 90% certain that Ray had
caught it there and then brought it back to Caroline and
Annie.  Ray claimed that Caroline or Annie had given it to
him, but Ron knew that Ray was the only one allowed entry
into either girl without a rubber.  Correction: Ray had been
the only one.  If they let Ray back in now, he'd have to
wear something as thick as an inner tube.
 
   Ron tried once more to picture himself between the legs
of either of the two girls and shuddered.  Celibacy had a
certain appeal compared to that image.
 
   As he reached the Taylor's sidewalk a new Cherokee
rumbled past.  Huntly Sheridan and his dad both waved at
him. Ron returned the greeting and watched the vehicle stop
at the Brees house.  Huntly scrambled out and ran up the
sidewalk at a track-star's pace.  Ron grinned and spoke
softly.
 
   "Go to your fields and your gardens and you shall learn
that
 
   "It is but the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of
the flower.
 
   "But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its
honey to the bee,
 
   "For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
 
   "And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
 
   "And to both, the bee and the flower,
 
   "The giving and receiving of pleasure is a need and an
ecstasy."
 
   If you couldn't quote Khalil Gibran, you had no right
to call yourself a botanist.  Ron's grin lasted all the way
to the front door.
 
   He rang the doorbell.  While he waited he decided he'd
not get any information out of Kenny the usual way, not
after Cinnamon's failure.  So, should he bribe the lad or
just beat it out of him?
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Kenny's back slammed to the pad.  He gulped air and
looked up at the grin of his former guardian Angel.
 
   "See?" Ron asked.  "That leg sweep needs to land behind
the knee, not mid-calf."  He extended a hand down to Kenny. 
"Now you try it again."
 
   Kenny ignored the hand, sprang to his feet, and whipped
his leg around.  This time he caught Ron behind the knee. 
The older boy flexed his leg and staggered but didn't fall. 
"Aw, man!"
 
   "No, no!  You did it right that time.  If I hadn't been
expecting it, you'd have dropped me the way I did you. 
That's the other thing:  you have to be ready to respond in
case the first attempt fails.  Now picture what happened. 
What should you have done?"
 
   Kenny frowned in thought.  "You were off-balance with
your weight on your left leg.  My foot was.... I should have
kicked the side of your left knee?"
 
   "Professionally, yes.  Personally, I'm glad you
didn't."  He glanced at the clock on the recreation room
wall.  "Let's take a breather."
 
   Kenny was ready for that.  He'd spent far more time
than usual crashing to the gym pad today.  When he
complained about it, Ron had reminded him that he needed
practice on how to fall anyway.  Kenny frowned at the older
boy.  "You haven't even worked up a good sweat."
 
   Ron grinned that infuriating grin and steered Kenny to
the refreshment bar.  "It's your practice lesson now.  When
it's my practice lesson, I work up a bigger sweat than you
do.  I go through about a quart of Gatorade each session." 
He poured a small glassful for Kenny and then poured a
second one.  "But I do believe I'll have some with you."
 
   They sat on the couch and sipped their drinks.  Ron was
quiet.  Too quiet.  Kenny knew it was coming.  It happened
after Ron took Kenny's empty glass and put both on the end
table.
 
   "Isn't it about time to tell somebody what's going on?"
 
   Kenny pulled his left foot over his right thigh and
gripped the ankle with both hands.  "No."  Suzie would be
hurt if anyone knew what he'd planned back in the summer and
why.  She was hurt bad enough as it was.  If word got out,
she'd catch hell from all the people in school who had made
fun of her before the mine incident.  He didn't want people
making fun of her because he still loved her.  He was going
to be her protector, her guardian Angel, whether or not she
cared for him.  Maybe someday she would let him explain.
 
   Oh, sure, he missed getting "action" from her, but
unlike the scuzzbuckets that banged Caroline, he cared for
Suzie and liked being with her even when he wasn't slipping
the sausage into her bun.  He could still get "action."  He
was a celebrity.  A few girls had ridden the baloney pony
after he made them promise to tell nobody else so that Suzie
wouldn't be hurt.  But that was just for fun.  Unlike Suzie,
they weren't interested in who he was; they were interested
in what he was.  He was a trophy, the same as they were to
him:  just another notch on his old sex-shooter.
 
   He was really pissed that Cinnamon wasn't one of those
notches.  Maybe she wouldn't have let him slide the baseball
bat into home plate unless he'd told her what was going on,
in which case he wouldn't have been able to wet his wick in
her honeyhole anyway.  But he was keeping his options open
in case she ever got horny enough to let him in.
 
   "I see," said Ron, glancing at Kenny's leg and foot. 
The answer was final.  "You know, people are worried because
they care about the two of you.  Even Cinnamon cares, and
she's not known you all your life the way we have.  She
hasn't known you for a month.  Someone who can get another
to care that much about him in that amount of time is pretty
freakin' special."
 
   Kenny fixed him with a hard stare.  "Hey, I believe it
was your dad who said 'When you butter the toast, really lay
it on thick,' wasn't it?"
 
   Ron didn't flinch.  "The truth is what it is."
 
   Kenny snorted.  "Maybe I'm just an experiment for
Cinnamon.  A question that she can't answer, so she's going
batshit trying to sort it out.  How's that for truth?"
 
   Ron shrugged.  "It's okay for a hypothesis.  I'm not
sure it's good enough for a truth.  Cinnamon told me about
you and Caroline, so let me ask something."
 
   "I won't tell you!"
 
   "You haven't heard the question.  It's whether I can
trust you to keep a medical confidence about someone else. 
I suspect the answer is yes, but I have to hear you swear
that you will."
 
   _What the hell is he trying this time?_  Kenny stared
at him for a long time before saying, "You have my word as a
future doctor subject to the Hippocratic Oath."  It had been
a while since he'd used those words, but he meant them, as
Wynter would say, with all his heart.
 
   Ron nodded.  "I believe you.  When was the last time
you did it with Caroline?"
 
   Fury ignited Kenny's voice.  "I thought you said...!" 
He stopped when Ron raised a hand.
 
   "Do you know the real reason she went to Wyoming with
Annie?"
 
   "Is this a trick?"
 
   Ron shook his head.  "No tricks.  Well, not the way you
mean it.  Ray Simons was the 'trick.'  He brought in a
particularly nasty strain of clap that doesn't respond well
to antibiotics.  He's been going to Vail for treatments to
keep people here from knowing about it.  You know how small
town gossips are.  And that's why Caroline and Annie went to
Rawlins and then Laramie."
 
   Kenny was stunned.  "He caught that shit?"
 
   "Uh huh.  Probably got drunk, or worse, and didn't
think about a rubber.  Let's hope it wasn't AIDS, too."
 
   Kenny had to think about that one.  _Okay_, he decided,
_but only because I don't want Caroline and Annie to catch
it from the dickhead._
 
   Ron leaned toward him.  His face remained
expressionless.  "So the question is, have you done Caroline
recently enough that you could have caught it and passed it
on to Amy Katzmarek, Tiffany Jones, Tiffany Marucci, Tiffany
Taylor, Megan McNeal, Judy Chase, or my sister Evita?"
 
   The blood drained from Kenny's face.  Ron hadn't missed
any.  "You.... You know about Evi?"
 
   Ron leaned back on the couch.  Kenny didn't relax.  He
knew Ron's manner.  He knew that if Ron wished it, he would
be dead before he realized Ron had moved.
 
   "Look, I'm not your stereotypical hot-blooded Latino
when it comes to my sister, okay?  Evita's life is her own
business as long as nobody does something stupid and messes
it up for her."  The subtle emphasis on the last half wasn't
lost on Kenny.  "Dad might kill you anyway, but I'll try to
stop him as long as you haven't hurt her.  Of course, if I
thought you had, Dad would be too late."
 
   Kenny's mind raced and words flew as he considered each
thought.  "No!  I didn't... it wasn't anything serious
for... we were both just wanting to have a good time,
not.... Hey!  I always wear a rubber!"
 
   Ron's expression was unreadable.  "You didn't with
Judy."
 
   _How the hell did he know THAT?_  "Only the first time. 
After that I always did.  Especially with Evi!"
 
   Ron blinked at him several times before saying, "Okay. 
You're telling the truth."
 
   Kenny frowned.  "How can you tell?"
 
   Ron shrugged.  "You'd starve to death as a pro poker
player.  But you do know that a rubber isn't guaranteed
protection.  So, when's the last time you did it with
Caroline?"
 
   "Not since the mine.  I was getting it for free from
the other...."  He took a deep breath.  "Uh, from others. 
So, you told Cinnamon about the rest?"
 
   "Nah."  Ron scratched his head.  "But she's a bright
girl.  Once school starts and she makes contacts, she'll
figure it out for herself.  So, are they the reason that
Suzie's mad at you?"
 
   "Suzie doesn't know, and I'm not telling you anything
else!  And don't you DARE tell her!"
 
   Ron shrugged again.  "I could beat it out of you."
 
   "No, you couldn't!"
 
   Again Ron blinked at him for a long time.  "No, I see
that I couldn't."  He seemed to spring to his feet with no
effort.  "Break's over.  Back to practice."
 
   By the time practice was over Kenny had decided to ask
his dad from some softer gym mats.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   The telephone rang as Wynter carried her suitcase
through the upstairs hall to her room.  To everyone's
surprise it wasn't Jimmy.  It was Ron, calling to tell her
about Kenny and Suzie.
 
   As she was telling him goodbye the doorbell rang.  From
Dragon's posture and the way he raced out of her room, she
knew why it wasn't Jimmy on the phone.  Her heart suddenly
felt too big for her chest as she hung up the phone and
hurried to the stairs.  Jimmy was removing his coat and
talking to her father at the foot of the steps.
 
   Mother came out of their bedroom and hugged her
shoulders.  "Looks like you'll have some help dragging your
loot up the stairs."
 
   Wynter frowned at her.  "Daddy would have helped me,
too."
 
   Mother smiled.  "But now you'll have help that won't
drop anything and break it."
 
   Daddy threw a cross look up the stairs.  "I heard
that."  Before his words stopped echoing the bag on top of
the pile in his arms slipped off.  Jimmy caught it in
mid-air.  Daddy glanced up the stairs, looking like an old
sheep.  He knew Mother wouldn't pass on the opportunity.
 
   "As I was saying."
 
   Wynter giggled at the tone in Mother's voice.
 
   "It's okay," Jimmy said.  He sounded like he was
apologizing.  "He'd have been okay if he hadn't had to open
the door for me."
 
   Mother motioned Wynter to go first and then followed
her down the stairs.  "Wanna bet?" she asked.  "He decided
to be gallant on the honeymoon and carry me across the
threshold at the hotel."
 
   Jimmy's blue eyes went wide.  "You mean....?"
 
   "Uh huh.  He sure did.  I think I still have a bruise
on my butt."
 
   Jimmy laughed as Wynter slid her arm around his waist
and squeezed.  Daddy gave Mother another cross look and
said, "Why don't you tell him about the slick dress and the
way you were squirming?"
 
   "And ruin a perfectly good story?  Come on.  I'll help
you get this upstairs.  Jimmy can help Wynter."  She smiled
at Jimmy.  "Did you have a nice Christmas.  Except for being
alone?"  She tilted her head toward Wynter.
 
   "I was worried about all of you--holiday drivers and
all that stuff.  Now that you're all safely home, I've had a
nice time."  He looked at Wynter in a way that made her
whole vaginal region do a flip-flop.  "Considering."
 
   Mother leaned forward and kissed Jimmy's cheek. "Thanks
for being concerned about us old people, too.  We'll leave
you alone now.  Come on, Senor Klutz."
 
   Daddy sighed, donned a very put-upon look, and followed
her up the stairs.
 
   Wynter turned to look up at Jimmy's eyes.  "Do you want
to help me carry the rest upstairs?"
 
   He gave her his special grin-and-nod.  "I'll do
anything as long as we can do it together."
 
   She gave him a quick kiss and then glued herself to his
side for the trip down the three steps to the family room. 
She stopped at the door into the garage and turned her face
up to him.  She wasn't sure how long the kiss lasted, but it
sure wasn't long enough.  She needed another one before she
removed her things from the back of the Jeep.  It didn't
last, and she had to have a third as soon as they placed the
things on the desk in her room.
 
   They stood holding each other for a minute before she
said, "Ron called."
 
   "Um hmm," Jimmy said.  "I told him you were home."
 
   She snuggled her cheek against his shoulder as he
kissed the top of her head.  "Well," she sighed, "that
explains how he had such good timing.  I've heard he has a
secret network of informers, but I sure didn't know you were
on of them."
 
   "I can't believe how much I missed you."
 
   She pulled her head back and looked up into his eyes. 
"I felt the same way."
 
   "Um...."
 
   When he didn't say anything else she squeezed her arms
tighter.  "Cinnamon?"
 
   His freckles vanished in a sea of red.  "Yeah.  I don't
know how to tell you without making it sound even worse than
it was."
 
   She looked at him for a moment.  "Excuse me."  She
unlocked her arms and turned to her dresser.  She pulled out
her stethoscope and draped it around her neck.  "Okay, I'm
not your girlfriend, I'm your doctor.  Now sit in that chair
and tell Doctor King what's wrong."
 
   He sat.  "Wynter...."
 
   She held up her right index finger and waggled it. 
"Unh uh.  DOCTOR KING."
 
   He gave her this special grin and nod.  The grin
suffered from terminal anemia.  "Okay, Doctor."  And he told
her everything.  EVERYTHING.
 
   When he finished he had his elbows on his knees, his
hands clasped, and his head down.  His words had faded until
the last sentences were barely a whisper.  He took a deep
breath.  "Can you forgive me?"
 
   "No."
 
   His head shot up.  The pain in his eyes made her want
to hold him for a month.  She thought that was a strange
reaction since she already wanted to hold him for the rest
of her life.
 
   "I understand," he said.
 
   "No, you don't!  Do you want me to forgive you because
Grandpa slipped on the ice this morning and twisted his
back?"
 
   "What?"
 
   She removed the stethoscope and put it on the desk. 
She sat in his lap, wrapped her arms around him, and laid
her head on his shoulder.  "Well, you had as much to do with
Grandpa slipping as you did with Cinnamon jumping on you and
almost pulling you over."
 
   "But... my fingers.  I mean, they, well...."
 
   "Jimmy McCauley!  Do I have to put the stethoscope on
again to get you to listen?"
 
   "No.  But...."
 
   "But nothing.  What would have happened it you hadn't
put your hands under her?  You might have fallen on your
face?  On top of her?  What then?  What if you landed on
her?  What if you'd broken one of her bones?  Would you
rather stand beside a hospital bed and say, 'Gee, I'm sorry
I broke your pelvis, Cinnamon, but I didn't want to take a
chance of accidentally getting my fingers wet'?"  She gave
him a second to think of that before tightening her hug and
continuing.
 
   "If I were stupid enough to stop loving you, just which
reason do you think I'd pick?  The one where you hurt
someone because you deliberately failed to try to keep from
hurting her, or the one where you did try to avoid hurting
her and accidentally got a little pussy juice on your
fingers?"
 
   He blinked.  She watched him sorting his thoughts. 
"But, I thought girls...."
 
   "I'm not 'girls,' I'm 'Wynter.'  Remember?  You ever
notice how much we think alike?"
 
   "Are you kidding?  Sometimes it almost scares me!"
 
   She kissed his nose.  "Now, suppose it was Kenny
jumping on me.  Would you be mad at me if I accidentally
touched his testicles?"
 
   "Of course not!"
 
   She shrugged.  "There you go.  If you wouldn't be mad
at me, then why would I be mad at you?  Next time ask that
question and you can save yourself a big time anxiety
attack.  Doctor's orders."
 
   He gave her a weak smile and a gentle kiss.  "I guess
you think I'm stupid, huh?"
 
   She pressed her forehead to his and lost herself in his
eyes.  "If you are, then I am, too.  I had to figure that
one out the hard way, too."  _Oh, drat!_
 
   Sure enough, he pulled back.  "You did?"
 
   "Um, yeah.  Jimmy, would it be okay if you just took my
word for it for now?  Not ask me any questions?  Please?"
 
   He shrugged.  "Sure."
 
   And she knew he'd never mention it again until she did.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Sunday afternoon, right after the first football game
ended, found Wynter with Jimmy in her family room,
practicing music together.  Daddy had stacked her keyboards
to the right of the piano so that she could play the piano
with her left hand and keyboards with her right if she
wanted to.  Jimmy's keyboard went to the left side, where he
could sit beside her on the bench and play the opposite hand
arrangement.  Her parents, meaning Mother and not the one
who was complaining that there was a second game about to
start, decided that the pantry needed restocking, so they
left to fight the crowd at Albertson's shortly thereafter.
 
   She decided that she and Jimmy would be more relaxed
and could play music better if they first relieved excessive
sexual tensions with a quickie on the sofa.  No undressing,
no prolonged foreplay.  Just a quick drop of the pants,
insertion of Tab A into Slot B, and release.
 
   "You know," Jimmy said as he gave the cornsilk curls on
her mound a quick kiss and then tugged her underpants into
place, "as much as I like snuggling and cuddling with you,
sometimes a quickie is just perfect." 
 
   "Yeah," she agreed, wondering if her voice sounded as
dreamy to Jimmy as it did to her.  She didn't feel as if she
was standing beside the couch.  It was more like floating
upright.  "It's a nice change of tempo."  She watched from
someplace else as he tugged up her jeans and fastened them. 
Then he rose and she sat on the couch to restore his
underpants and jeans after first sucking "Little Jimmy"
clean.  She thought she might have giggled when that made
Jimmy's knees go weak, but she wasn't sure.
 
   Except for her grin, she was back to normal by the time
her parents returned.  They took a break from playing and
helped carry in the groceries.  At one point she and Daddy
were alone in the kitchen.  He examined her eyes and said
with a gentle smile, "Looks like you made up for missing
your Friday night with me."
 
   "Unh uh," she said.  "I made up for not having Jimmy
around.  You still owe me."
 
   She was amazed at how much he always looked like a
little boy looking at a roomful of Christmas presents
whenever she said something like that.  It always made her
heart feel too big for her chest.  "I'll pay," he said,
wrapping an arm around her shoulders for a warm squeeze.
 
   "Hey!" snapped Mother from the family room steps.  "No
goofing off while others are working."
 
   Daddy gave her a smug look.  "Could you resist hugging
her?"
 
   She looked at Wynter, Daddy, Wynter, Daddy, and Wynter
again.  "No."  She shoved the sacks at him and hugged
Wynter.
 
   "Hey!"
 
   All three turned to look at Jimmy.  "Hush," said
Mother.  "You had your turn while we were shopping."
 
   Wynter had a giggle fit over the way Jimmy turned red
and choked.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter sat on the edge of the examination table and
crossed her arms under her small breasts.  She almost
giggled at the look on Doctor Taylor's face.  When he was
puzzled he really did look a whole lot like Kenny.
 
   "Because," she slowly explained in her best
doctor-explaining-to-the-naive-patient tone, "the ear
piercing places in the department stores and salons aren't
sterile and I could get an infection."
 
   Doctor Taylor blinked at Mother.
 
   "I thought you'd already know that," Mother said. 
"How'd you get your medical license?  Two boxtops and
twenty-five cents?"
 
   "I wish!  You will, too, when you have to pay for her
medical schooling.  Though any school that knows quality
will make it easier with scholarships to get someone as good
as Wynter."
 
   Wynter looked down to see if her heart was going to
explode through her chest like that yucky creature in
_Alien_.  Doctor Taylor always made her feel that way
because he really and truly meant it when he praised her
like that.  She knew that when she finally reached medical
school, she was going to try harder than anyone else had
ever tried before so that she wouldn't disappoint him.
 
   "But," he continued, "the cost would be a lot lower at
the salon."
 
   "Oh yeah?" Wynter asked in a disdainful voice.  "If I
got an infection, how much would it cost for the diagnosis
and the dicloxacillin or the keflex?"
 
   Doctor Taylor lowered his face until their noses almost
touched.  "Do you know the difference between arguing with
you and arguing with Candis?"
 
   "No."
 
   "None," he said with a sigh.  "I always lose.  This is
a heck of a way to start a Monday.  I should have gone to
Denver with Richard.  I'll bet I could win against a bunch
of geologists."
 
   Wynter giggled and watched his preparation for the
piercing.  One of these days she was going to catch him
making a mistake.  She had several lectures prepared,
depending on just what mistake he made.  And from the way he
looked at her, she realized he knew it.
 
   Unfortunately, she lost the battle to get any
information from him about Kenny and Suzie.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter and Suzie left their mothers in the Middletons'
kitchen drinking coffee and adjourned to Suzie's room with
mugs of hot cocoa sprinkled with grated chocolate over
little marshmallows.
 
   "How was your grandfather?" Suzie asked as she closed
the door.
 
   Wynter placed her mug on a coaster on Suzie's desk and
sat on one of the chairs.  "He slipped on the icy steps just
before we left and twisted his back when he grabbed the
railing.  He'll be okay in another day or two.  It's not as
bad as last year.  And he said that next time I visit I
should bring you 'cause he's partial to redheads, even when
they're blondish red."
 
   Suzie sat in the other chair and looked out the window. 
"I guess he'd like Cinnamon better.  She doesn't have any
blonde to ruin her hair."  Wynter thought Suzie's eyes
looked wetter.
 
   "Suzie!  You know how much Grandpa likes you.  He came
to the State swim meet just because of you."
 
   "Yeah."  Suzie tilted her head and frowned at Wynter's
ear.  "Do they hurt?"
 
   She had forgotten the simple gold studs were there. 
"Not really.  Just a little discomfort, and the analgesic
counteracts that.  I don't notice them if I don't think
about it.  Are you thinking about having yours pierced?"
 
   Suzie shrugged.  "I dunno."  She sipped her cocoa,
wiped away her liquid brown mustache, and interlaced her
fingers in her lap.  Her eyes found the window again. 
Wynter wondered what she was really seeing when she
unfocused that way.
 
   "Um, Mother and Daddy are going to the Bighorn for the
New Year's Eve party.  I wondered if you'd like to come over
for a little party of our own."
 
   She stayed unfocused on the window.  "Who's going to be
there?"
 
   "Um, just the four of us.  Sorta like after the
birthday party?"  She couldn't stop herself from squirming
in the seat.  _Anxiety disorder!_ she diagnosed.  She took a
sip of cocoa from the mug to cover her nervousness, but she
thought that she didn't do a very good job of hiding it.
 
   "No."
 
   The voice was so quiet Wynter almost though she'd
imagined it.
 
   "Suzie...."
 
   The gray-green eyes focused and moved to hers, though
the rest of Suzie's head remained motionless.  "How's
Jimmy?"  There was a fragile tone when she spoke the name, a
faint crack in her voice.
 
   Wynter shrugged.  "He's fine, but he's really worried
because you haven't talked to him about anything.  He's
afraid you're mad at him or something.  He really cares
about you, you know."
 
   The eyes unfocused on the window, and a faint hint of
laugh, just one faint syllable, was followed by something
also very faint that sounded like, "A little late for that."
 
   Wynter frowned.  "I didn't hear you."
 
   "That's okay."  She shrugged.  "I was really stupid
trying to take him away from you."
 
   Wynter tried really hard not to react to the surprise
words.  She was sure she was hearing a clue and didn't want
to give Suzie an excuse to stop talking.
 
   "Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference.  Maybe it
would be better for you, though."
 
   That dumbfounded her.  She had no idea what Suzie could
be talking about.  Maybe it was transference, or whatever
the term was.  Now she wished she'd spent more time reading
psychological texts and less time studying skeletal
nomenclature and internal organs.  Maybe in addition to
knowing what the right word was, she'd also know what Suzie
meant and how to respond.  Jimmy and Cinnamon had both made
things worse by saying the wrong thing.  She sure didn't
want to make the same mistake.  _When you don't know the
right thing to say, just say nothing_.  She'd heard Grandpa
Wolfe say that more than once.  It sure sounded like good
advice right now.
 
   Suzie's hand found the mug.  She took a sip of cocoa. 
Her eyes stayed focused somewhere else.
 
   After a minute of silence she realized Suzie wasn't
going to say anything more.  Well, she apparently had
nothing to lose.  "Why would it be better for me?"  She had
to explain the question.  Suzie had no idea that she'd
spoken aloud.
 
   "Oh.  Ummm....  I....  I mean, well....  I
shouldn't...."
 
   Wynter wondered if her face looked like that back when
she had panic attacks all the time.  She leaned forward and
lightly squeezed one of Suzie's forearms.  "Suzie?  It's
okay.  You're one of my very best friends.  You can say
whatever's on your mind, and I promise I won't get mad,
okay?  I might not understand at first, but I promise I
won't get mad because of what I think you meant or even what
you really did mean.  Okay?"
 
   She watched Suzie searching both of her eyes, as if
looking for something.  Suzie must have found it after a
minute because she finally nodded.  They both sipped cocoa
and put the mugs back on the desk.  Wynter moved her chair
so that she could hold each of Suzie's hands in hers.  "I
don't know much about psy... psychlo...," _DRAT!_
"psy-cho-logical problems, but think I know a little bit
about being a friend and someone you can talk to."
 
   "Do you promise you won't hit me if I tell you
something you don't like?"
 
   Wynter felt her heart fall to the floor.  "Suzie!  I
thought you knew that I would never hit you.  If I were
going to hit someone, I'd hit Uncle Bob, not you."  When
Suzie frowned, Wynter decided that the best way to show she
could be trusted was to trust Suzie in return.  "Um, nobody
else knows this, not even Jimmy.  This is just woman to
woman, best friend to best friend.  Okay?"
 
   Suzie twisted her head in a good imitation of Dragon's
"curious pose" and nodded.
 
   "Well, whenever we're alone, Uncle Bozo tries to look
down my blouse, even if I'm wearing a bra. Which I always do
whenever he's around.  And sometimes he tries to play with
my butt."
 
   It was one of those occasions when Suzie's face got so
red that her hair looked blonde.  Even though she was
seated, she stamped her right foot.  "All men are PIGS!"
 
   That, Wynter knew, was a clue. "No they're not! 
Daddy's not a pig.  Neither is your dad.  After you cussed
out Judge Wilson at the mine, he only grounded you for ten
seconds.  Remember?"
 
   Suzie shook her head.  "It was five seconds."
 
   Wynter smiled and bounced her shoulders in a quick
shrug and squeezed Suzie's hands.  "There you go!  And
Jimmy's not a pig, either."
 
   "Ummm....  Wynter, something happened while you were
gone that you don't know about.  With Jimmy.  Not me and
Jimmy!  But Jimmy and, um...."
 
   It was the moment the lights came on, though the bulb
sure was a low-wattage one.  "You mean when he accidentally
stuck his fingers in Cinnamon's split?"  She thought the
look on Suzie's face must be what Doctor Taylor saw whenever
he told someone that the cancer tests came back negative.
 
   "You know?"
 
   "Sure.  Jimmy couldn't wait to apologize to me, even
though it wasn't his fault.  Men ...."
 
   Suzie interrupted her.  "How could he do that and it
not be his fault?  He slipped on the stupid ice and tried to
catch himself and his hand landed inside her cunny?"
 
   _Uh oh.  I didn't think about having to explain it_.
"Um, Suzie, I'll explain it if you really and truly want me
to, but I don't think you do.  Not right now."
 
   "But Cinnamon said...."
 
   "Cinnamon said it the way she did because she cares
about you, too, and was trying to find out what's really
wrong between you and Kenny.  It was one of her tests, and
she made a mess of it because she mis-guessed your
reaction."
 
   Suzie frowned and shook her head, but she kept Wynter's
hands tight in hers.  "Then how did Jimmy...."  Her mouth
slowly closed into a tight line with no lips.  "Oh.  They
were testing... _Him_.  They were exploding his weakness,
weren't they?"
 
   Wynter decided this wasn't the right time to correct
Suzie's vocabulary.  Suzie might not be all that great with
words, but she sure did know Kenny well enough to guess what
had happened.  "Cinnamon was.  Jimmy didn't know she was
there and stumbled in by accident.  She jumped on him, and
he grabbed her to keep from falling.  It was so fast he
didn't have time to aim his hands."
 
   "So he says."
 
   "Cinnamon said so, too."
 
   "Maybe she was lying."
 
   "I could ask Kenny."
 
   "That stupid dolt would lie, too."
 
   "Suzie!  We're talking about Kenny!  If Kenny was gonna
lie, he'd say it did happen deliberately, if it didn't, not
the other way around."
 
   Suzie laughed.  "Yeah."  She laughed again.  She kept
laughing, and it turned into crying.
 
   "You're so lucky to have a man who loves you," she
sobbed.
 
   "Suzie!  Kenny loves you, too!"
 
   "No he doesn't."  And then the tears began in earnest.
 
   Wynter stood and clutched Suzie's head to her breast,
letting her cry, and wondered if Cinnamon and Jimmy had felt
this bad when they realized they'd made things worse.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter had to wait until after lunch to learn what
Cinnamon wanted to discuss.  After the girls helped clear
the table they hugged Mother goodbye as she left for a visit
with Mrs. Jackson, the mother of Suzie's swimming coach. 
Mrs. Jackson had worked for a few years after high school to
earn college money, and she'd been one of Mother's sorority
sisters in college.
 
   Mother paused at the door and looked down at Dragon,
who was sitting there looking expectant.  "Are you coming
with me or staying here?" she asked.
 
   He looked from her to Wynter twice, then went to stand
between the two girls.
 
   "Well, at least you pretended to think about it,"
Mother sighed.
 
   "He's a boy," Cinnamon explained.  "He went for
quantity over quality."
 
   That got the little redhead another hug and left her
grinning from ear to there, as Grandpa Wolfe would say. 
Mother looked at Wynter and nodded a signal before leaving.
 
   They fetched glasses of juice and retreated to the
living room loveseat, where they sat facing each other,
their legs pulled up on the seat but their feet, of course,
off the furniture.
 
    Cinnamon leaned forward and took one of Wynter's hands
in hers.  "Are you serious about your questions rule?  I
mean deep-down-inside one-hundred-percent committed to the
words?"
 
   She couldn't have been more surprised if Jimmy had
suddenly announced that he was going to marry Suzie instead. 
This, whatever it was about, was something very serious to
Cinnamon.  The little redhead waited patiently, seeming to
understand as Wynter turned the question over and over in
her mind, examining it and her answer in every possible
light.
 
   "You're asking if I'll get mad at your question.  I
promise that I won't get mad no matter what you ask."  Her
free hand rose to trace an "X" over her heart.  "I might not
understand, but I promise I won't get mad.  And if for
whatever reason I might get upset because I'm surprised, I
won't stay that way and we'll always be friends."
 
   Cinnamon studied her eyes and then reached for her
juice.  She indicated with a nod that Wynter should take
hers.  When Wynter did, Cinnamon lifted her glass between
them.  "Friends?"
 
   Wynter nodded.  "Best friends."  They clinked glasses
and sipped juice before returning them to the coffee table.
 
   Cinnamon took Wynter's other hand, too, and her face
went serious, like Wynter's would have to do when she gave a
patient bad news.  Wynter vaguely felt that perhaps
Cinnamon, like Suzie, was concerned whether Wynter might hit
her.  That meant the question had something to do with
Jimmy.  She wondered if the little redhead was going to ask
her to give up Jimmy.
 
   _No, Cinnamon isn't stupid.  What, then?_
 
   "Wynter," she asked, looking straight into the
blue-green depths of Wynter's eyes, "how long have you and
your dad being doing each other?"
 
   Wynter's wide-open mouth worked but no words came out. 
If Cinnamon had been guessing, that alone had told her she'd
guessed right.  But it wasn't a guess.  The girl KNEW.
 
   Cinnamon's cheeks rounded a little more, pushed out by
a tiny smile.  "Don't worry.  I can keep a secret."
 
   "How... how did you know?"
 
   The smile widened.  "I know what to look for.  The same
way you know what to look for."
 
   The words sank in.  You could have knocked Wynter off
the loveseat with a feather. "You, too?"
 
   The smile grew even wider, but there was a different,
almost dreamy quality to it.  Wynter thought that must be
how she looked whenever she thought of how much she loved
Daddy.  "Almost three years now.  I told you he didn't have
a relationship with the bitch."  The smile remained, but the
green eyes took on a harder look with that last sentence. 
Then they sparkled again.  "But if you'd been around us as
much as I've been around you and your dad, you'd have
spotted it.  Not as quickly since we work hard at hiding it,
but you'd know.  That's why I wanted to tell you now, so you
wouldn't worry about saying anything.  It's really kind of
special, isn't it?"
 
   Wynter swallowed and nodded.  "Uh huh.  I couldn't
believe it when I found room in my heart for Jimmy.  I
couldn't imagine that there'd be room for anyone else."
 
   The smile shrank a little.  "Jimmy doesn't know, does
he?"  It wasn't exactly a question.
 
   "Hunh uh."
 
   "Good.  He can't handle it yet."
 
   "Yeah, I know."
 
   "I think he'll come around eventually.  But there's one
thing I can't tell, though:  you don't make an issue of me
kissing him or offering to let him play with my tits or
goodie box.  Is that because you hope it will prepare him
for your telling him, or because you are trying to avoid
being a hypocrite because you despise them so much?"
 
   Wynter's slender shoulders bounced in a shrug.  "I
think it's both."
 
   Cinnamon processed the data before she said, "He's not
dumb.  He'll be slow to piece the clues together, and then
he won't believe it.  He'll pay closer attention to prove
he's wrong.  Which, of course, he won't be able to do,
forcing him to accept the truth.  You might lose him then."
 
   Wynter sighed.  "Yeah.  I sort of suspect that.  I hope
I can tell him first.  I sure want to."
 
   Cinnamon's expression showed a combination of love and
concern.  "I'll give you some tips on what's giving you away
to help delay it.  Otherwise Kenny will also find out, but
he'll disregard it as one of his fantasies.  Ron has noticed
a couple of things, but not enough to raise suspicions. 
Yet.  So how do you plan on breaking the news to Jimmy?"
 
   Wynter followed the turns in  her words and then
shrugged in frustration.  "I don't know.  He's so...."  She
left the sentence hanging while the word hid from her.
 
   "Prudish."
 
   Wynter shrugged.  "Maybe.  A little anyway.  Yeah.  I
guess he is.  You should have seen him when he told me about
getting his fingers wet.  But he's never had any other
girlfriends."
 
   "Well, when you start with the top of the pile there's
no place to trade but down, and Jimmy's not stupid.  He
won't be moving on.  Unless."
 
   Wynter hoped she was hiding her embarrassment, but she
knew she wasn't.  "Oh, I'm not at the top of the pile.  I
just got lucky."
 
   "Bullshit.  And from all that I can tell, you started
at the top, too.  Which wasn't very fair to the rest of us. 
We have to fight over second best, with no hope of reaching
the top."
 
   Wynter smiled at that.  "I think I did.  Sorry."
 
   "So are you going to loan him out?  And how do you plan
to get him to accept your relationship with your dad?"
 
   She lifted Cinnamon's hands as she shrugged.  "I don't
know.  I guess first I gotta get him to stop being so scared
to death of... of...."  Her eyes moved to Cinnamon's chest
and she nodded toward it.  "Of looking at those."
 
   Cinnamon giggled.  "And of touching them?"
 
   Wynter's lips pursed and pushed to one side for a
moment.  "Yeah.  That, too."
 
   Cinnamon examined her eyes.  She was looking to see if
Wynter meant it.  "Would you object if I had sex with him?"
 
   The use of "had sex" instead of "fucked" told Wynter
that this wasn't a test.  Cinnamon wanted an honest answer. 
"No.  It's something I've thought about for a while.  But
it's entirely up to Jimmy.  I don't want to give up Daddy,
so I can't tell him he can't have someone else, too.  That
wouldn't be right.  But he doesn't want anyone else, so I
think your chances are about zero."
 
   "That last wasn't the question I asked.  It's not about
me.  Oh, I wouldn't object if he wanted to.  In fact, I'd
love it, but I'm not counting on it.  Besides, I can get
enough on the side at school to keep me happy.  I'm just
determining what I should do if the situation arises.  The
one thing you don't plan on is what will bite your ass.  But
a doctor knows that, and I'm sure a Future MD does as well."
 
   Wynter sure did.  She and Jimmy were prepared for the
cave-in of the mine even if they hadn't ever thought that
something like that might happen.  They simply had prepared
for non-specific emergencies and that had paid off.
 
   "Has Doctor Taylor ever told you what medical school is
really like?"
 
   Wynter started to describe the curriculum.
 
   "No.  Not that.  Outside of classes.  It's a high
pressure environment.  Opportunities to blow off steam are
rare, so a lot has to be vented in a short amount of time. 
The parties can get wild."
 
   Wynter frowned.  "But Jimmy's not going to medical
school.  He...."
 
   "And are you planning on leaving him home vacuuming? 
From some of the parties my father's told me about, Jimmy
would freak.  You two may not hump somebody else, but there
will be all kinds of naughty bits on display, even shaken or
rubbed in your faces, and possibly even some humping in the
living rooms.  You'd have him on thorazine for a month."
 
   Wynter laughed at the image, but the laughter died
quickly as she realized Cinnamon was right.  "So what do I
do about him?"
 
   "I recommend you agree with me and back me up whatever
I do, especially at the New Year's Eve party.  Things will
be a shock the first time Jimmy experiences them, but
repetition reduces the voltage each time.  Don't worry, I
can read him almost as well as you can.  Most men are short
stories instead of novels anyway.  I'll back off before I go
too far, but whenever you say so, I'll back off immediately. 
That's if you trust me, that is."
 
   Wynter nodded.  "Of course I do.  But, um, why, um, why
are you doing this?"
 
   Her eyes narrowed as the bright smile pushed her cheeks
up.  "I'm trying to help out a friend.  You can never have
too many friends, so you try to help them when you can in
order to keep them."
 
   "Cinnamon!  You don't have to BUY my friendship!"
 
   "That's one reason WHY you're at the top of the pile. 
See?"
 
   "Oh."  She understood.  She knew some girls at the
school who wouldn't bother to spit on you unless they got
the cost of the saliva first.  And there were those who hung
around Kenny so that they could claim they knew him; the
ones who also laughed at him to their friends.
 
   "I have some ideas for the New Year's Eve party I want
to discuss.  I'm bringing Huntly.  He won't know what's
going on, but he won't object because his little head will
do his thinking.  Don't worry, we won't be humping on the
living room floor.  But... are you comfortable with others
seeing your body?"
 
   Wynter had to think about that.  "Well....  I don't
mind for medical procedures.  I don't mind at PE in the
showers, but that's just girls.  I flashed my tits at Kenny
for one second the night of Kenny's and Jimmy's birthday
party 'cause Jimmy said it was okay."
 
   "He did?  Good.  Probably because he knew Kenny.  He
knows Huntly, too, so maybe that will help."
 
   "What is it I have to do?"  She hoped the nervousness
didn't show in her voice.
 
   "Not much.  Just a game of strip poker, maybe.  Is the
hot tub working?"
 
   Wynter glanced at her watch.  "Maybe in about two
hours, when they come out with another part.  Daddy sure is
mad about that, but he knows it's the company's fault, not
Pickett's.  Mister Pickett is as mad as Daddy."
 
   "We need a Plan C anyway.  Maybe if you thought of it
as a medical procedure.  Maybe like we're giving Jimmy a
prudectomy."
 
   Wynter giggled at the word and the idea.  "But you
don't have to get undressed for other medical procedures."
 
   "If you practice emergency medicine, you'll be
surprised at all the things that you wouldn't normally have
to do.  That would just be one more, so be prepared for it
or it'll bite your ass."
 
   Wynter giggled again.  "Maybe there's an advantage in
my not having much of one."
 
   "Even so, I doubt Jimmy would want to see any teeth
marks on it except his.  I'll try not to embarrass you too
much, but if I do you still have to pretend that it's okay. 
Otherwise he'll stay in that shell until he dies and you'll
never be able to share your secret with him."
 
   "Um," Wynter hated to hesitate, but the words didn't
want to come out right.  "Speaking of that, can, um, can
I... I mean, since you and your father... well, I don't have
anyone to talk to except Nurse Carter and Mother and they
don't understand like you do, so...."
 
   The green eyes sparkled.  "Sure!  Sometimes I need to
talk about it, too, and I don't have anyone else, either. 
We'd be like secret sisters."
 
   "Oh!  I almost forgot!  Mother and Daddy said that
since we don't have any siblings and you, well, you, um,
don't really have a mother to speak of, that we could be
like sisters for each other and she could sorta be a mother
for you, too."
 
   The eyes went from sparklers to a whole fireworks
display as Cinnamon's fingers spasmed around Wynter's hands. 
"Really?"
 
   Wynter didn't know how to describe the look on
Cinnamon's face.  She could draw it, of course, but she
couldn't describe it if she'd had all the words in the
dictionary on the end of her tongue.  "Happy" didn't begin
to be adequate.
 
   "Uh huh.  Really.  I'd kinda like that."
 
   A tear rolled from Cinnamon's left eye.  "I'd love it!" 
Her head jerked forward and planted a quick kiss on Wynter's
lips.  "Thank you!"
 
   "Uh...."  _Think!  That was just a sister-to-sister
kiss!_  She relaxed and couldn't stop the smile if she'd
wanted to.  "Sure."
 
   Cinnamon gave her an evil grin.  "Does this mean we get
to share our father, too?"
 
   "No way in hell."
 
   "Damn."
 
   Wynter returned the grin.  "Well, you wouldn't want to
share yours, would you?"
 
   The only word Wynter could think of to describe
Cinnamon's sudden expression was "neutral."  Wynter's grin
faded while the little redhead seemed to be considering her
reply.  "I hope you're serious about accepting 'I don't want
to answer that right now' as an answer.  Now's not the time
for me bring this up."
 
   "Sure.  Cinnamon, I was just teasing.  I didn't mean to
upset you."
 
   Cinnamon shook her head.  "It's not that, but I can't
tell you something yet.  I promise I will when the time's
right."
 
   Wynter smiled at her new sister.  "I won't worry about
it until then."  And she didn't.
 
 
 
                          Eight
 
   As always, Wynter had to wait for Jimmy to pay Dragon
the entry toll.  The way Dragon sniffed at the coat pocket
while Jimmy scratched his ears and spoke to him told Wynter
that Jimmy had brought his usual treat.  She was wrong. 
Instead of a large dog biscuit, Jimmy pulled out a huge one,
almost ten inches long, plus a new rawhide chew toy.
 
   "Happy New Year, Dragon!" Jimmy said as he bent forward
and handed them over.  Dragon gave Jimmy's cheek a wet slurp
and carried both gifts to the center of the living room rug. 
Wynter thought his tail would surely separate from his body
as hard as he was wagging it.  Jimmy closed the door and
turned to her.  He held up his overnight bag.  "Where should
I put this?"
 
   "Right there by the living room couch for now."
 
   Dragon watched him carefully as he placed the bag. 
Most people would think he was watching for another treat. 
Jimmy knew that no matter how much he and his treats were
welcomed in the house, Dragon was watching to see if he was
a threat to Wynter.
 
   She was standing beside him when he straightened. 
"Pretty soon he's going to move out of here and in with
you," she said as she slipped her arms around his neck.  He
had to pay her toll before she'd let him remove his scarf
and coat.
 
   Mother and Daddy came down the stairs while he was
hanging his things in the hall closet.  After they exchanged
greetings with Jimmy, Mother told him to look up.
 
   He peered at the small object hanging from a short
thread tacked to the ceiling.  "Mistletoe?"
 
   "Yes," Mother said with a VERY put-upon sigh.  "I don't
want to mention any names, but that was all that was left
after SOMEBODY crushed the rest of the bunch under a truck
tire."
 
   Daddy turned red and looked like an old sheep.  Wynter
giggled.
 
   Jimmy grinned and nodded.  "Since it's New Year's Eve,
I'll be polite and not attempt to guess who that klutz might
have been."
 
   Mother snapped her fingers.  "Damn."  Then she put her
hands on Jimmy's shoulders, looked up, and moved him back a
couple of inches, until they were directly under the
mistletoe.  "You do know how this stuff works, don't you?"
 
   Now it was Jimmy's turn to look like an old sheep. 
"Uh, yeah."  He puckered up and gave her a quick kiss.
 
   Mother shook her head.  "No you don't.  It doesn't go
on the cheek."
 
   Jimmy's freckles disappeared in a sea of red and he
gave her a peck on the lips.
 
   Mother smiled at him and then looked at Wynter.  "If
that's the second best kisser at work, the rest except for
Huntly must have really been horrible."
 
   Wynter gasped.  "How did you know about that?"
 
   Mother just grinned at her.  "When you develop an
inter-parental network you'll be amazed at all the things
you learn about your child from other parents."
 
   Daddy cleared his throat.  "If it's okay with you, I'll
take their word for your skills and just shake hands."
 
   Jimmy's face was still red when Daddy started pulling
coats and gloves out of the closet.  "I have bad news," he
said as he held Mother's coat open for her.  "The streets
are getting worse, and it may not be safe for us to drive
back after the party."
 
   "Especially after he's had a few drinks," Mother added.
 
   "So, we'll have to take a room at the Bighorn and not
return until tomorrow morning."
 
   "The good news," Mother added with a grin at Jimmy's
gawking expression, "is that we won't be here to enforce
curfew, so if the four of you want to stay up after midnight
while you try to become worthy of that second-best title,
well, there's just nothing we can do about it."
 
   Jimmy stammered for a moment, then said, "But we're
only twelve.  And you're going to leave us alone all night?"
 
   Daddy's ruggedly handsome features took on a serious
look that made Wynter's heart skip a beat.  "You survived
two days trapped in a mine shaft together and were prepared
to survive at least two more, all without benefit of our
supervision.  I think we can trust you not to burn the house
down or kill each other for a few hours."
 
   "Emergency numbers are on all the phones, and I believe
you know how to dial 911," Mother added.  "Plus your parents
are close enough if you need them.  Richard has his cell
phone, and the number is the first button on the speed
dial."  She looked at Wynter.  "Be sure to tell the others
that, since it's after six-thirty and it looks like they're
running late."
 
   The doorbell rang on cue.
 
   "I'll get it," Wynter said.  Dragon joined her and
inspected Cinnamon and Huntly when they entered.  He
accepted their greetings, decided he wasn't going to get
presents from them, and returned to his rawhide chew toy.
 
   Huntly shook hands with Richard.  "Dad's sorry he
couldn't come in but there's a problem down at the
dealership.  Somebody broke a couple of the showroom
windows.  I guess it was his turn."  Huntly's dad owned
Sheridan Motors.  Someone was vandalizing businesses in
town, and the primary target was large storefront windows. 
Whoever was doing it apparently used a slingshot to shoot
large metal ball bearings at the glass.  "Dad also said to
tell you to be careful out there.  The streets are getting
worse, and he doesn't want to sell you another truck for the
usual reason."
 
   Wynter giggled and put the overnight bags in the living
room while the arrivals shed their coats, gloves, and
scarves to the accompaniment of Mother's safety briefing. 
When she finished she looked at Wynter.  "Did I miss
anything."
 
   "Uh huh," Wynter said with a giggle.  She pointed at
the mistletoe.
 
   "Oh, yeah!  Huntly, come here."  She positioned him,
pointed overhead.  "Mistletoe." She leaned forward to kiss
him.  When she straightened she said, "You're right.  He is
better than Jimmy.  But he needs practice, too."
 
   Huntly's eyes grew almost as big as his open mouth. 
"WHAT?"
 
   Mother flipped her hand in dismissal of the question. 
"Wynter will explain later.  Jimmy?"
 
   Jimmy drowned his freckles again and puckered up.
 
   Mother nodded afterward.  "Better, but you're still not
in Huntly's league.  Richard?"
 
   Daddy wrapped his arms around her and bent her
backward.  When she straightened she smiled, made dreamy
eyes, and sighed.  "Now, THAT'S more like it!"
 
   Daddy grinned, then said, "We'd better get going or
we're going to be late."
 
   "Hold it, buster!"
 
   Everyone threw Cinnamon a surprised look.  She ran her
hands down either side of her head, gathering her long red
hair back and letting it fall straight behind her tight
black cashmere sweater to her black-jeans-clad butt.  "No
man gets away from me when there's mistletoe around.  Let's
see if you're as good as she says."  She lifted her arms to
him.  "Let's do it at your level."
 
   He picked Cinnamon up, puckered, and pressed his lips
to hers.  Short arms flew around his neck, as Wynter had
expected.  She giggled and then giggled again at the look on
his face when Cinnamon released him.  She wondered if
Cinnamon had used her tongue, though even without it her
actions were enough to cause his expression.
 
   Cinnamon turned to Mother.  "You're right!  He's a LOT
better than these two clowns!  If you decide to trade him
in, let me know."
 
   Wynter wondered what test Cinnamon had just
administered as Mother grinned and Daddy sheepishly thanked
her and set her on the floor.
 
   "Don't forget Wynter."
 
   Wynter's smile felt like it was stretching to her ears
as she lifted her arms to be picked up, too.  Daddy gave her
a father-daughter kiss, but it was enough to make her heart
feel too big for her chest again.  She added her special
end-of-nose-and-lips kiss while Cinnamon gave Mother a big
hug and a quiet, "Bye, Mom."
 
   "Can we leave now?" Daddy asked Cinnamon.
 
   "Yeah.  Hurry up.  The mistletoe's going to waste." 
She made shooing motions with her hands.
 
   Daddy gaped at her and turned to Mother.  "When did I
lose control of my own household?"
 
   "When you said, 'I do.' Let's go."
 
   Dragon looked up, saw that Wynter was staying, and
resumed gnawing on the rawhide.  All the biscuit crumbs had
been removed from the rug by the Labrador Hoover.
 
   While her parents exited through the family room door
into the garage, Wynter locked the front door and turned
around.  Huntly had bent Cinnamon backward under the
mistletoe.  She looked at Jimmy.  "Deja vu," she said in a
quiet voice as she slid her hand to its customary resting
place.
 
   Jimmy nodded.  "All over again.  Except they're still
fully dressed."
 
   After Jimmy and Kenny's birthday party, Suzie and Kenny
had half-undressed each other while kissing in the hallway. 
Wynter missed the other two.  She had hoped they would get
together that night and resolve their differences.  But
neither one would come.  Suzie refused to come if Kenny was
there, and Kenny refused to come if Suzie wasn't there. 
Cinnamon knew that she was second choice, but she didn't
mind.  Cinnamon was the most practical girl their age that
Wynter knew.
 
   When the kissing couple straightened, Cinnamon's cheeks
rounded as she exhaled through pursed lips.  "Damn!"  She
looked at Wynter.  "It's your house, so you're next."
 
   Wynter looked at Jimmy.  It was the first step in the
prudectomy.  Everything depended on how he handled this.
 
   Cinnamon put her small fists on her shapely hips. 
"It's not like you haven't kissed him before.  This is no
time to become a virgin.  After all, he is the best kisser
according to you."
 
   Huntly blew on his fingernails and buffed them on his
CU Buffalos sweatshirt.
 
   Wynter turned to whisper in his ear.  "We might as well
get used to it.  We'll have to put up with something like
this every New Year's Eve from now on, especially when I get
my MD."  He knew it was her way of reminding him that she
loved only him, and that she would keep loving him
 
   "After you're Wynter McCauley?" he whispered.  Her
swollen heart did flip-flops at hearing that name from his
lips and didn't stop until he grinned and said, "Okay."
 
   She gave him a quick kiss and turned to Huntly. 
"Pucker up."
 
   She wasn't nervous, not much, anyway, because she'd
kissed him on her birthday.  When she finished, Huntly was
gasping for air, his eyes enormous.  "You didn't kiss like
that at your party!"
 
   She shrugged.  "Wasn't any mistletoe there.  Come on. 
We're hogging it, and there are others waiting."  She
beckoned to Jimmy and Cinnamon.  Poor Jimmy.  He looked
catatonic.  She looked like she'd won the Powerball lottery.
 
   Cinnamon wrapped her arms around Jimmy's neck and
asked, "Wanna play with my tits again?"
 
   "NO!"
 
   Cinnamon glued her mouth to Jimmy's and locked his head
in place as Huntly turned to Wynter.  "WHAT?"
 
   Wynter watched Jimmy struggle.  She might as well
assist the attending surgeon in the prudectomy.  "Sometimes
he cops a feel of her tits when he's kissing her like that."
 
   Jimmy suddenly stopped pushing against Cinnamon's arms. 
Wynter strangled a giggle in its crib.
 
   Huntly straightened, his face brightening with
anticipation.  "Does that mean that I...."
 
   "No."
 
   "Damn."  He watched for several seconds.  "When does he
come up for air?"
 
   "Not until after her orgasm."
 
   "WHAT?"
 
   She looked at her watch while Jimmy tried to complain
with his mouth full.  "She usually has it by now."  She took
a deep breath and exhaled it in a heavy sigh.  "This could
take a while.  Want some hot spiced punch?"  She indicated
the large pot steaming on the stove.  "Grandma Wolfe's
secret recipe.  It's really good."
 
   "Uh, yeah.  Say, mistletoe doesn't wear out quickly
does it?  It's still good after... well, however long it
takes them?"
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Cinnamon and Huntly carried their mugs to the family
room.  Wynter had Jimmy carry hers so that she could bring
the tray of cookies.  She'd had to stop his apologies twice. 
She wanted to hug and comfort him, but she understood that
short term pain sometimes brought long term gain.  She
guessed a prudectomy was sort of like an appendectomy.
 
   Huntly froze at the bottom of the steps.  "Hey!  Those
are your synths?" he asked, turning to look at her. 
Cinnamon shooed him ahead.
 
   "The two stacked ones are mine.  The other's Jimmy's. 
Daddy set it up that way for us so that we can play
keyboards and piano at the same time during Christmas
break."
 
   Huntly sat next to Cinnamon on the love seat.  "Cool! 
Do we get a concert?  I haven't attended a live performance
by the composer of _Wynter's Song_.  Or its namesake.  Which
one of you sings?"
 
   "Well," Jimmy drawled as he put the mugs on the coffee
table coasters, "neither of us.  We're instrumentalists."
 
   Jimmy took his seat on the end of couch nearest the
love seat, with Wynter snuggled next to him.  Dragon trotted
down the steps, dropped his rawhide bone, and sniffed at the
coffee table.
 
   "One," Wynter said, and handed him a small,
green-frosted sugar cookie shaped like a Christmas tree.  It
vanished in an instant, and then he retrieved the rawhide
and curled up with it at the base of the steps to the
kitchen and hallway, blocking the lower bathroom door.
 
   Huntly raised his eyebrows and nodded his head briefly
toward his left shoulder.  "You play stuff like _Wynter's
Song_?"
 
   "Yeah.  You got a problem with that?"
 
   Wynter was surprised by the sudden ice in Jimmy's voice
and frowned at him.  She noticed Cinnamon's curious pose and
her eyes flicking between the two.
 
   "Of course not.  I was just asking, okay?  I like it. 
I was just wondering if you could play something else like
it together for me, but I don't know what your tastes are
and I don't know what to call it.  Say, you aren't pissed
off because I kissed Wynter are you?  I didn't complain when
you kissed my date, not even when you made her cum, you
know."
 
   Wynter thought Jimmy was getting quite good at his
imitation of Daddy's old sheep look.  "No.  I'm sorry.  I
thought.... Well, I just...."
 
   Cinnamon coughed politely.  "You're trying to say that
you thought he was making fun of _Wynter's Song_, and by
inference, making fun of Wynter, and you were being overly
protective of her the way you always do."
 
   Wynter gasped, but Jimmy's face said that Cinnamon was
one hundred percent correct.
 
   "Well, um, yeah."
 
   "There you go, Huntly.  Chivalry isn't dead, despite
your assassination attempts."
 
   Huntly's head drew back in indignation.  "Bitch."
 
   Her hand dropped into his lap and moved around.  His
face squeezed toward the center of his nose and he made a
humming sound like the one Jimmy made the first time Wynter
had squeezed his erection.  When her hand stopped moving he
sighed and said, "After further review, the decision on the
field is reversed."
 
   The smile pushed her round cheeks outward.  "I knew
you'd see it my way.  It's called new age music, something
like light jazz but more structured.  Or _Wynter's Song_ is,
and I believe that the more structured version is what they
play."  She looked at Wynter.  "Isn't it?"
 
   "Yeah.  Though Jimmy's pretty good at some of the jazz
style."  She listed the artists they liked  and whose styles
they practiced.
 
   Cinnamon asked to look at the sheet music.  She flipped
through the stack and stopped at the fourth one.  "_Skyline
Firedance_?  Ooooh!  Can you play it?"
 
   Wynter shrugged and looked apologetic.  "Not very well
yet.  But Jimmy's really good with it."
 
   "Yeah?  Hey, lover-boy.  How about playing this for
me?"  Cinnamon pulled the music out of the stack and handed
it to him.  "Do a good job and you can stick your fingers in
my pussy again."
 
   "WHAT?"
 
   Wynter grinned at Huntly.  "She'll explain later. 
C'mon, Jimmy.  Do a good job and I'll let you stick 'em in
mine instead."
 
   Jimmy, his face glowing like a stoplight, sprang from
the couch.  Wynter knew what he was thinking:  _If I play,
they'll stop talking_.  He gave her a funny look, almost as
if he were cross with her, as he sat on the bench.  He shook
his head when Cinnamon again offered him the sheet music,
playing it from memory instead.  Wynter sat on the far back
corner of the bench and watched over his shoulder,
forgetting all about her guests as she watched his fingers
firedance on the keys.
 
   When the echoes of the final notes faded away the room
was silent except for the crackling of the logs on the fire
and the wet gnawing sounds from Dragon.  As Jimmy turned to
look at Cinnamon and Huntly, Wynter pressed her cheek
between his shoulders.
 
   Cinnamon finally broke the silence.  "Jesus, you're
good!  You have a great keystroke technique.  Light, but
with plenty of force when needed and minimal energy expended
per stroke."
 
   Wynter lifted her head and frowned.  "Do you play the
piano?"
 
   Cinnamon raised her hands and waggled all her fingers. 
"Too short to make difficult chords comfortably," she said. 
"But I don't play football, either, yet I know Huntly's a
great safety."
 
   Jimmy's voice was suspicious.  "You moved in after
football season was over.  Have you been here before?"
 
   The smile pushed her round cheeks out again, and her
green eyes sparkled.  "No, but he's tackled me in my room a
few times."
 
   Huntly blew on his fingernails and buffed them again. 
"Yeah, your technique was pretty good, Jimbo, but I'm not
crazy about solo piano.  How about something with Doctor
Cutie-pie there?"
 
   "Oh," said Cinnamon, sounding disappointed as she
looked up from the sheet music.  "I was about to ask for
_Eagle's Path_."
 
   "Oh, that's okay," Wynter said.  "We do that together." 
She stroked a hand down his back.  "You want piano or
keyboards this time?"
 
   Jimmy looked over his shoulder at her.  The look in his
eyes made her whole vaginal region flood.  "It's your turn
on the piano."  He gave her a quick kiss and then slid to
the side, facing his keyboard.  Wynter spun around and slid
into place as he hit the power switch and keyed in the
settings.  "You two can turn the love seat so you have a
place to sit if you want to."
 
   "Question," Cinnamon said while Huntly arranged their
seating.  "Do you have to make him mad to get his best
performance on this one, too?"
 
   Wynter was surprised her jaw didn't hit the keys.  "No. 
Only when he plays piano.  How'd you know that was what I
was doing?"  She answered Jimmy's "Huh?" with a promise to
explain later.
 
   Cinnamon blew on her fingernails and buffed them at the
neck of her black sweater, then looked at Huntly.  "Did I do
that right?"
 
   He shook his head.  "You should rub them right here."
He stroked his fingertips down the top of her right breast. 
"Looks better."
 
   "You just wanted to cop a feel."
 
   "Of course not," he snorted.  "If I'd wanted to do
that, I'd have done this."  He cupped the whole hemisphere
in his hand and massaged it with a gentle stroke."
 
   "Oh.  Okay."  She left Huntly's hand in place as they
sat and then turned a grin to the musicians.  "Whenever
you're ready."
 
   Wynter giggled and played the first four notes with her
left hand, then the three-note response with her right.  She
heard Jimmy's exasperated sigh and leaned her left shoulder
into him as she repeated the seven notes.  Jimmy responded
with the sampled flute, and she knew that it was going to be
perfect.
 
   She glanced at the guests.  She and Jimmy thought of
the piece as a day in the desert, from before sunrise to
after sunset, compressed into seven minutes.  Huntly didn't
appear to be thrilled about the slow pre-dawn music, though
it was difficult to be certain of her diagnosis because of
the way he was slowly massaging Cinnamon's right breast. 
When the tempo exploded after sunrise she glanced again.  He
sure looked a lot happier at that point.  She wondered if
that was because he liked the rhythm she was driving with
her left hand or because his right hand still moving in the
same place, but now under the black sweater.
 
   Jimmy, now playing a sampled distorted guitar, looked
over his shoulder and gave her his grin-and-nod.  She knew
it wasn't because of Cinnamon and Huntly but because he
understood what Cinnamon had meant.  He'd realized that he
always played better whenever Wynter had aroused his
emotions, either by irritating him or, usually, by exciting
him.  "I love you," he mouthed silently.
 
   "I know," she replied, equally as silent, letting her
eyes convey the emotion that would have been in her voice.
 
   When Wynter looked up from the final piano chord,
Huntly was nodding.  "I liked that."
 
   "The music, or Cinnamon's tits?" she asked with a grin. 
Huntly now had one arm wrapped around Cinnamon and both
hands under her sweater.
 
   "Yes!"  He did something that made the girl giggle, and
then he frowned at Jimmy.  "Not bad, but wouldn't a real
guitar be better?"
 
   "Sure," Jimmy said, squeezing Wynter's knee as she
rested her hand between his shoulders.  "But I don't play
guitar and don't know anyone good who plays one."
 
   "Of course you do," he said as he straightened.  He
frowned at his hands under her sweater.  "Uh, do you mind?"
 
   Cinnamon held her fingernails for him to blow on, then
buffed them on his sweatshirt, lengthening the final stroke
until her hand landed in his lap and kept buffing.
 
   "You play the guitar?"  Wynter thought Jimmy should
have sounded excited instead of suspicious and looking
disdainful.  "Since when?"
 
   "Couple of years.  I thought maybe being a musician
might get me laid since being a sports champion hasn't
worked out the way I'd planned it."  He leered at Cinnamon. 
"Until now."
 
   Jimmy snorted a laugh.  "I don't think winning the
pocket pool tournament counts as being a sports champion.
 
   Wynter gasped.  "I didn't know you played pool, too!"
 
   The way Cinnamon laughed told her she'd made a mistake. 
Even Jimmy chuckled while Cinnamon explained it to her.
 
   "Oh," she said, filing the term away for later use. 
"Well, if you're nice to Jimmy, maybe he'll write a song for
you to play by.  A solo piece."
 
   Even Huntly laughed, though he was trying to look
cross.  Then he asked for more music from the live
entertainment.
 
   They settled on _Inside the Sky_, with Jimmy on piano
and Wynter on her two keyboards, both lost in the music and
in each other.  When they finished they turned to the
audience.
 
   Cinnamon's sweater was draped over the arm of the love
seat.
 
   "I couldn't wait," Huntly explained as his fingers
played with her hard pink nipples.  "Besides, you've seen
them before."
 
   "Actually, I haven't," Wynter said.
 
   "Oh.  Well, now you have.  She was getting hot in that
sweater, you know."
 
   Cinnamon nodded.  "Sure was."
 
   "Because he was getting you overheated?"  Jimmy's voice
sounded... well, she didn't know how to describe it,
especially since it broke again.  It wasn't exactly angry or
disappointed or disdainful.  "Resigned," she decided, was
the word.
 
   Cinnamon's familiar grin lit her face.  "You'd better
believe it."
 
   Wynter giggled.  "Speaking of getting things hot, our
punch is cold by now.  I'll get us some refills."
 
   "Hold on."  Cinnamon used her thumbs and forefingers to
remove Huntly's fingers.  "We need refills, too.  You guys
wait here and talk about..." she fluttered her hands "...guy
stuff."
 
   Dragon lifted his head when Wynter passed.  She put
both mugs in one hand and patted his head.  "You can stay. 
I'll be right back."
 
   Dragon thumped his tail and went back to his rawhide
bone.
 
   "I sure wish the bitch would let me have a dog like
him," Cinnamon sighed as she followed Wynter up the steps.
 
   "I don't think there are any more like him.  He's
probably the way he is because I saved his life when
everyone else wanted to euthanize him.  He was my first real
patient, and he's the main reason that I decided I really
wanted to be a nurse.  Until Doctor Taylor talked me into
being a doctor instead.  You hold the mugs and I'll dip out
the punch."
 
   Cinnamon said nothing until the first two mugs were
refilled, then grunted to herself.  "So, what do you think,
Sis?"
 
   Wynter answered without looking at Cinnamon.  She kept
her eyes on the third mug and the ladle because she didn't
want to make a mess and give Daddy an excuse to call her
Senorita Klutz.  "Well, they're bigger than mine and
rounder.  Apparently the guys like them, though Jimmy won't
admit that he does."
 
   "What?  Oh.  These.  No, I meant about Huntly.  Is he
good enough to be the best kisser yet?"
 
   Wynter finished pouring and dipped the ladle for the
last cup.  "No," she said with a grin, "but he's much
better.  Has he been practicing with the vacuum cleaner?"
 
   Cinnamon laughed as she picked up the last mug.  "Just
this one."  She puckered her lips and make smacking sounds.
 
   "Uh huh."  Wynter frowned, pushed her lips sideways,
and began carefully pouring.
 
   "Jimmy's irritated, but he's not angry."
 
   When she was finished refilling the mug she put the
ladle in the holder returned the lid to the pot.  "Yeah.  I
think we can go a little farther.  Um, I don't have to,
like, kiss Huntly or something like that, do I?"
 
   "Only under the mistletoe."  Cinnamon gave her a sly
smile.  "How about you and me?  I wasn't kidding when I said
that boys don't know how to eat pussy properly, and, well,
we already have a history of family incest, Sis."
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Kenny opened his mouth to answer the question, but
burped instead.
 
   Stephanie Marcus curled her lip, slammed her dark
eyebrows together like colliding thunderheads, and set her
dessert fork on the plate next to her half-eaten cheesecake
while Kenny apologized.  "Eew!  Gross!" 
 
   "It's not Kenny's fault, honey," said her father over
the brim of his coffee cup.  "It's the medicine I prescribed
for him.  It makes him burp without warning."
 
   She glanced at Doctor Taylor at the head of the table
and then to Kenny before locking her eyes back on her
father's.  "Well, prescribe something that doesn't make him
do THAT!"
 
   Kenny sighed.  _Here we go again_.  "Stephi, you don't
prescribe medicine because of what it doesn't do, you
prescribe it because of what it does do."  He glanced at his
dad as a warning not to correct him, even though he was only
partially right.  It was a wasted warning.  Dad knew better
than to get Stephi started on something she knew nothing
about but had an opinion on anyway.  He, too, had learned
the hard way.
 
   Stephanie's eyes shot to him.  "What's wrong with you? 
Besides the obvious, I mean."
 
   "The obvious" was that Kenny was male.
 
   Her father answered for him.  "We're not sure, honey,
so we're still trying to find out what's wrong so that we
can cure him."
 
   Stephanie's smile spread, reminding Kenny of a queen
expecting her subjects to bow before her superior personage. 
"Well!  There you are!  It doesn't really matter what you
prescribe, does it?"
 
   At that point Kenny had forgotten the question, and
Mrs. Marcus forgot that she'd asked one.
 
   For the past four years, while Doctor Marcus had been
treating him, the Marcus family had always spent most of the
daylight hours of New Year's Eve and Day skiing at Wizard
Basin and the night with the Taylors.  For four years,
thanks to his father's jokes, Kenny had been convinced that
Stephanie's black hair was a dye job and that she was really
blonde.  That is, he'd been convinced until about two hours
earlier, when he finally discovered that black really was
Stephanie's natural hair color.
 
   Fourteen-year-old Stephanie had found the answer to
"What's the big deal about sex?" that summer and now was
willing to bang even a twelve-year-old to get it.  And Kenny
was desperate enough to accommodate her.
 
   The remainder of the meal passed in its usual relative
boredom.  Afterward the adults and Stephanie's
sixteen-year-old sister, Jennifer, adjourned to the family
room for a game of Monopoly.  Kenny loved Monopoly,
especially the two games of Strip Monopoly he'd played with
Suzie.  But Stephanie found the rules to be "too
complicated," so he always entertained her while the rest,
except for Charlie, played.  Tonight, however, he planned to
let Stephanie "entertain" him.
 
   Stephanie glanced at Charlie, confirming that he was
watching the television instead of her, then circled her
left thumb and index finger and shoved her right index
finger into the hole.  She looked at Kenny as if wondering
whether she'd been too subtle for him.
 
   Kenny pushed out of his chair.  "Charlie, I'm gonna go
help Stephanie unpack her suitcase."
 
   "Whatever."
 
   Kenny let Stephanie precede him up the stairs not out
of any sense of gentlemanliness but so that he could watch
her butt wiggle in her dress.  By the time he reached the
top of the stairs that sight alone had him erect and primed
for action.  As he closed his bedroom door he once again
wished he could get her naked.  She would be sharing a
bedroom with Jennifer, a notoriously light sleeper, so there
was no way they could sneak into each other's rooms tonight.
 
   Stephanie hiked her skirt and pushed her fancy white
panties to the floor while Kenny opened his sock drawer.
 
   "Oh, shit!  Stephi, I'm out of rubbers."
 
   Stephanie finger was already churning in the abundant
underbrush.  "What?  Well, uh, look, just pull out before
you're ready to shoot and I'll finish you off with my mouth
and then you eat me."
 
   "I love a woman with a plan," he said, pulling out his
erection as he closed the distance.  She perched on the edge
of the bed.  He squatted slightly and slipped his pink
bullet into her receiver.
 
   Her tunnel was hot, wet, and slick. And rather loose. 
But the way she was sitting on the bed somehow made it
tighter than it had been before dinner, when she'd placed
her hands on the end of the bed and he'd banged her doggie
style.  As he slammed in and out of her he watched her eyes
unfocus, her mouth sag open, and drool eventually creep from
the corner of her mouth.
 
   He really wanted to squeeze her tits, but she didn't
have any.  Most of the twelve-year-old girls he knew had
bigger tits than Stephi.  He wondered if all the
fourteen-year-old girls in Denver had tiny tits.  He'd just
have to fantasize squeezing some tits while he pumped his
prod into her bang box.  He grabbed her hips and watched his
erection spear the pink-red gash that split the thick mat of
her pussy hair.
 
   Stephi lifted from the bed a few inches, shuddered, and
dropped back to a sitting position.
 
   Tits began floating before his eyes.  Two stood out
from all the others, the right one having a quarter-sized
port wine birthmark on the inward side.
 
   "I'm ready!" he gasped as he yanked backward.
 
   His dong floated in the air for a second as she
gathered her wits--all two of them--and slid off to sit in
the floor.  He shoved into her open mouth, locked his
fingers behind her head, and spewed.
 
   She fought him back and spat his load onto the rug as
one last dribble trickled out of him.  "You stupid shit! 
What do you think you're doing?  That's DISGUSTING!"  She
spat again and wiped furiously at her mouth.
 
   "But... but you said I could cum in your mouth!"
 
   "I did NOT!  I said I'd finish you with my mouth.  I
didn't say anything about you shooting off in it!"  She spat
on the rug again, pulled up her panties, spat one last time,
and rushed out the door to the bathroom, tugging her dress
down on the fly.
 
   More than at any other time during the Christmas break,
Kenny missed Suzie.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   _Fuck!_
 
   Suzie finally realized she had no idea what was on the
stupid television, and she'd been watching it--no, she'd
been sitting in front of it--for ten minutes.  She dragged
herself off the couch and into the kitchen.  She was barely
aware that her mother had spoken and had no idea what she'd
said.
 
   She opened the refrigerator door and unfocused as her
thoughts took off again.  Eventually she came to her senses
and pulled out a Diet Coke.  She carried it to the table.
 
   She wanted a cookie ever so much, but she knew that the
only thing in the cookie jar was those stupid fig Newtons
her mother and Caroline liked.  She'd give anything for a
chocolate chip cookie now, especially one of the home-made
ones Mrs. Taylor had given her after the mine rescue.  Six
dozen home-made chocolate chip cookies and they were all
hers.  Though she did share almost a dozen with... _Him_. 
He'd laughed and hugged her given her a chocolate-lipped
kiss and told her that the only thing better than his
mother's cookies was her.  And he'd been lying.  He'd said
it to make her feel good, just so he could hurt her that
much worse later.
 
   She pulled a chair out and sat down, folding her arms
on the kitchen table and resting her forehead on them. 
Mother and Daddy asked if she wanted to have a stupid New
Year's Eve party, but she'd refused.  She didn't want to be
around other people.  People having a good time.  The boys
and girls would be enjoying each other's company, though
most of the boys wouldn't admit it at gunpoint.  And she'd
be all alone.  Oh, sure, she'd invited Huntly Sheridan over
the day after Wynter's birthday party, but every time she
tried to kiss him she'd started crying.
 
   The dolt thought it was his fault at first, but he
eventually realized what was wrong.  She guessed he wasn't
really all that dumb for a guy.  As he was leaving he'd
said, "I have only two regrets:  that you are sad, and that
I didn't get to kiss you."  She'd offered to kiss him then,
but he'd reclined, saying he'd only do it if it would make
her feel better, but he knew it wouldn't.
 
   She was amazed that he hadn't taken disadvantage of
her, the way the other guys would have.  She had suddenly
realized that Huntly was the kind of man she needed in her
stupid life.
 
   But she also realized he wasn't the one she wanted.
 
   She inhaled in a long, liquid sniff.  She needed to
talk to someone about that, but the only one that she
trusted was Caroline, and she was in Laramie.  Why Laramie
instead of in Rawlins, visiting Annie's stupid relatives,
Suzie couldn't begin to guess.
 
   She felt her tears welling and dragged herself out of
her chair.  She knew her parents would ask stupid questions,
but she had to walk past them to get back to her room. 
"Fuck," she muttered and began the long trek.
 
   The Diet Coke sat unopened on the corner of the kitchen
table.
 
                          ~ ~ ~
 
   Wynter shrugged.  "The idea doesn't really turn me on."
 
   Cinnamon took Wynter's hand and placed it on her bare
right breast.  "How's that?"
 
   Wynter's fingers began moving in a deliberate manner. 
A minute later she said, "I don't feel any lumps or fibroids
or even any granular tissue, but it wouldn't hurt to get a
mammogram if you're not certain."
 
   Cinnamon snorted as she released Wynter's hand. 
"Wouldn't hurt?  You've obviously never had a mammogram. 
I'd rather slam my tit in the screen door again."
 
   Wynter's face immediately became a mask of concern. 
"You've had one?"
 
   "No, but I've listened to the bitch fuss for days at a
time about hers.  She has one every year because a
great-aunt twice-removed had breast cancer."
 
   "Um, shouldn't we be getting back to our surgery?"
 
   "Yeah," Cinnamon said.  "I need to get something from
my bag first."
 
   "HEY!  WHERE THE HELL'S THE PUNCH!" rang out in three
voices.  Jimmy's had broken before the last word.
 
   Wynter smiled.  "I think we're being paged."

-- 

Russell Hoisington
State of Confusion

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