Seventeen

Zoe C and I land at the Mesa airport, blessedly skipping the Phoenix Sky Harbor monstrosity. We’re loaded up in the Tahoe.
Zoe C, “Where to?”
“Pass by the boy’s house, then his school.”
“Isn’t he expelled?”
“Yeah, but if he’s going to lose it, he’s going to lose it there, at least that’s the most probable place. I want to see the layout first hand.”
The house is nice, in Glendale there aren’t slums, and the whole place is relatively new. Why so many people came to Phoenix is unclear to me. It’s hot six months a year, hot as in over a hundred up to one fifteen with occasional bursts to seventeen, even nineteen. I don’t care about ‘dry heat’, one fifteen is hot, blisteringly hot. Four million people in the middle of the desert, cacti are the preeminent vegetation.
Zoe C, “Phoenix went out, not up, understandable, there was nothing but dirt in all directions, it kept expanding. Now it’s something like forty miles wide.”
We pass the school, in session today. 
“Thing looks like a prison, narrow windows that don’t open, twelve foot fence. I don’t see how he gets in other than sheer don’t give a damn bravado or looking to commit suicide by cop.”
We say the same thing at the same moment, “An accomplice.”
Zoe C, “If we’re right, it makes things really messy.”
I find a place called Tokyo Lobby, two orders of shrimp tempura, one vegetable tempura, start with deep fried spring roll, then an order of snow crab sushi, a second of yellowtail. 
Zoe C, “They know their stuff, crispy spring roll, sushi was excellent, and here comes the tempura.”
It sound like a lot but Japanese portions aren’t American portions. The tempura is crisp battered, a tangy chili sauce for dipping.
We’re sitting in the Tahoe figuring out what happens next, Zoe C says, “Let’s check in, I need to sit someplace with a desk and start surfing.”
The rooms are typical Springhill, which is why we use them, things are clean, there’s actual room in the room, little fridge, microwave and coffee pot. Zoe C goes to hers through mine, connecting rooms are a plus.
She goes to work, I make coffee, bring her a cup.
My powers of observation reveal that she’s shucked her jeans and is typing away in only a t-shirt.
 “Mind if I watch the news in here, I can go to my own room but that would mean losing sight of your legs.”
She grins, “It’s good for my ego, which McKenzie says we need to lose, which I may get around to but not today.”
I call Natalie on Facetime, “We’re here and setting up, you good? How’s the kids, Elle?”
Nat, “You only left a few hours ago.”
“Still, you need to know the stress I’m under, look,” I point my phone at Zoe C, she waves, “Hey Nat.”
“Christ she’s adorable, hurry back I want to jump her.”
“Don’t be greedy, you have Elle to yourself for a day or two.”
She points her phone to the pool area, Elle is sunbathing…nude.
“I win, yours is still partially dressed.”
Zoe C stands and shucks her t-shirt, smiles at my phone, “Better now?”
Natalie, “You are a vision, with Elle double vision. Okay enough titillation, the children have been full throttle all day. They don’t say anything, but when part of the family is elsewhere, like overnight, they get antsy…even McKenzie. She must have swum a hundred laps, then they hiked the property for two and a half hours. I wondered if they’d been abducted by aliens.”
“Worried?”
“No, there are cameras that cover the property, I checked the screens while I took phone calls. Elle had them on in the living area too. You know how it’s been since the thing with Mickey, we have eyes on the kids all day.”
“Good, rational paranoia gives us an edge. They have GPS tags, even the dogs and Burma. Besides, anyone coming inside the fence will be met by two well trained monsters, not to mention trying to take on McKenzie, she can fry them from twenty feet.”
“Speaking of, just to make you jealous, Mac is making barbeque shrimp for dinner, French bread for dipping. Elle got fat jumbo shrimp, the whole thing, head-on.”
“I think the heads add flavor but I can’t prove it. The wonderful messiness of peeling them soaked in butter, loaded with black pepper, garlic, bay leaf and Worcestershire. We had Japanese for lunch, the place was quite good, if we all come to Glendale again, we can revisit Tokyo Lobby.”
“Progress on the mission?”
“Collecting information, he’s not the world’s most popular guy, two friends we can name, kind of sad, but we can’t have him or him and possibly a coconspirator going ballistic in a high school.”
There’s a commotion, kids have returned, I hear Nat, “Pool shower little grubbies, and rinse the big grubbies while you’re out there.”
She points her phone, “Wave at Chef, he called to make sure everyone’s okay.”
Grins from Mickey and Zak, McKenzie looks up at the phone briefly, then returns to showering Zelda. Cilia lopes over and sticks her snout on the screen and sniffs. 
“I’ll let you return to the kids, we’ll check in later, big kiss for you and little kisses for the children.”
“What about Elle?”
“I’ll leave you to handle that, I’m being teased quite enough thank you.”
“Lucky bastard.”
She’s sooo right, if I wasn’t already Chef, I’d be Lucky.
Zoe C, “We need to find and follow. School is closed now, but tomorrow is another school day. I bet he either holes up in his room or goes out to meet one or both of his friends. I want to know what they talk about.”
“Okay, saddle up, feel free to go without your jeans.”
“Pervert.”
“What can I say, you inspire me.”
“Nice save,” she pulls on her t-shirt and jeans, I’m pretty sure none of the girls wear underwear much, but it’s not like I’m going to ask them. 
She takes the wheel, we head to the Spivey casa, our target is Casey Spivey, the boy he talks with almost exclusively is Josh Favalora, another of the out group. He and Casey talk about guns and kids they hate on what they believe are private messages on Instagram Direct. Hah, they never met Zoe C, privacy is a myth.
We’re down the block from Spivey’s house. Glendale subdivisions aren’t made for stealth surveillance so we launched the drone from a mile away on a nothing street and now we’re listening to Casey and Josh who are together in Casey’s room. We don’t know the boys, we don’t know which voice is which.
“Are you doing this or what?”
“Hell yeah, look, they treat us like losers, it blew up the other day and I got expelled. (Aha, must be Casey) I’m fucking tired of this bullshit, school bullshit, my bullshit life.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not, not yet anyway.”
“Just get me in the rear fire door, it doesn’t matter if the alarm goes off, open it, I come in, you disappear. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“Dude, you take care of the two guys only…right? They’re assholes, the rest of the kids, well, they never did nothing to you or me.”
“They didn’t help either, just stood and stared like they just got off the short bus…and the bitch, she shot me down in front of her friends, I can’t let that slide bro. I’m gonna die, don’t give a shit as long as I take out those three.”
“Fuck man, you got some brass. If you promise to keep it to the three, I’ll help you out, or get you in anyway.”
“I told you bro, the three, that’s it, I mean if the guard comes along first, I gotta take him too.”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t care ‘bout no security guard, he suited up, he takes his chances.”
Zoe C, “Jaysus, we’re getting all this recorded, right?”
“Yep. All we need is a date.”
Josh, “So when? Tomorrow, day after? If not, got to wait until next week.”
“Day after, tomorrow Janine goes to some outside thing in the morning. On Friday she and the two soon to be dead guys are in algebra together. She’s fucking them both…you get it? Two, those two, while she’s pretending to be my girlfriend, she laughed in my face when she told me. She won’t fucking laugh Friday.”

Eighteen

Zoe C, “What now?”
“Bit of a dilemma isn’t it? We go to the cops with the recording, even if they take it seriously, the two boys will say they’re just making it up.”
“The accomplice will back out though, he’s not going through with anything if the police come calling. Casey might, he wants to be killed when it’s done.”
“The date is Friday, we have a day to stumble on more evidence, let’s find a steakhouse and enjoy dinner. Tomorrow we can continue the snoop.”
I search while she drives, “Take a left here, a mile down is Steak and Stone, they cook the steaks on a five hundred degree stone, ought to be interesting.”
We skip appetizers, excepting a double vodka rocks, olive. I’ve got a sixteen ounce ribeye, Zoe C has a filet, we added sides of bourbon baked beans and garlic mushrooms, cabernet accompanies.
“I don’t know if cooking the steak on a stone is better, it certainly isn’t worse, these were good, beautifully charred, just enough blood, leaning to the rarer side of medium rare.”
Zoe C, “No complaints here.”
I cut a chunk of my ribeye, “Here, that six ounce filet of yours was more like an appetizer, this ribeye is sharable.”
“Thanks, I started to go for the twelve, I was worried about wasting it, we don’t have Zelda here to help.”
“Enjoy the ribeye, I’ve got plenty, garlic mushrooms are tasty, I’ll mention it to McKenzie, she’s always looking for new things to make.”
“She loves that you cook with her, even if she doesn’t say it. Natalie is her mom, but you’re something between dad and best friend.”
I’m touched, “You think?”
“No Chef, I know, I’m a woman, we’re tuned into these things. Her body language, the way she listens to you, her eyes smile even if she doesn’t.”
“I don’t mean to sound coy, I didn’t know. I mean, I know we get along, work smoothly in the kitchen. I like her distance, her matter of fact, even her serious demeanor. McKenzie is totally adorable with her spray of freckles, soft shiny auburn hair, she’s not at the mirror like Mickey who loves fiddling with makeup. I don’t think Mac has ever used makeup.”
“Natalie lip glosses her, it doesn’t occur to McKenzie. Now that she’s thirteen, Nat plans to introduce her to eyeliner and shadow, blush. Once she sees herself, she might want to use a little here and there.”
“I suppose I’m self centered, but I’m not sure I want our little girls and boy to grow up, they’re such a pleasure now.”
“Know what you mean, if I could keep Zak at nine, that would be nice, at least for me.”
“Since we’re out, let’s pass by the house and see if anything’s happening.”
We trek to the Spivey home, launch the drone along the way and do a repeat of our earlier surveillance.
The drone sinks to window level, the house is a two story, Zoe C finds the boy’s bedroom, shades are pulled open, we can see him at his desk.
“Zoom in to the computer screen.”
Porn, well, he is a teenage boy after all, even if he’s gone mental.
Zoe C, “It’s a bondage site, yuck. So stupid, love taps with a whip, bunch of groans, dominatrix in latex costumes.”
“His window is partly open, see if you can get any conversation, maybe he talks to himself.”
He does, ‘I’d like to tie that bitch up and use a real whip, shoot me down in front of her friends, no prob, day after tomorrow, she’s dead along with the two assholes she’s fucking.’
His screen shows a message, he clicks it open, we can’t read it, but it appears to upset him, he slams the keys, ‘Fuck!’
Zoe C, “I can see it partially,” she giggles, “it’s a dick pic,” let me squeeze in closer, no wonder, the message is, ‘this is what kelley craves, not your tiny stub of a pencil.’
“Not doing much for his self-esteem.”
“He never had self-esteem, or it’s turned into self hatred.”
His phone dings, “Yeah, I saw it…what do you mean all over the place? Doesn’t matter now, one more day to kill, the next day I kill all of them, see how fucking funny that is. You’re on to let me in, right?...okay, stay clear of me until then, I’ll be there at eight thirty, the fuckers parked in algebra will never know what hit them.”
They disconnect, Casey stands and walks out of camera sight, then returns, he’s got the ugly AR-15, wiping it with a rag, releases the magazine, dry fires. Then he loads it, thirty round extended magazine, talking to himself again.
‘First round for Kelley, next round for Daniel, third for Chase. Seems like  a waste to have twenty seven left, may as well wipe out the whole class.’
“You got all that?”
“Tucked away on our video cam.”
“Then let’s get going, it’s getting late and we don’t need a patrol car to pass by and a cop to start asking questions,” we collect the drone and return to the Springhill.
Zoe C goes to her room, I hear the shower going, take one myself. When I come from the bathroom, the connecting door is still open but the lights are out in her room. I climb into bed and fall away.
Morning brings Zoe C and a cup of coffee. I prop up in bed, sip, “Thank you, sleep well?”
Zoe C, “Quite. I texted the family, told them we were likely here until tomorrow. Mickey replied with a ‘hurry home…Zak wants to say hi.’ Anyway, we kept it short, what do we do today?”
“Good question, any thoughts?”
“We have enough video for him to incriminate himself, maybe not admissible, it’s not like we got a warrant to wiretap.”
“That’s the prosecutor’s problem. He doesn’t have to use the video, he can say he got an anonymous tip about the school. If we hang, do we collect more evidence? And if we wait until later today, do the cops get their act together in time?”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
“They have to go to the DA, show him or her the evidence, then they dance around the what ifs, what if this is something his tormentors pasted together, what if the kid says it was all bullshit?”
“They have to catch him as he approaches the school, waiting until he gets inside is dicey, even if they have cops planted in the school. It freaks the students and in the aftermath to explain why they let a kid with guns get into the school at all.”
“Then we give them what we have and things fall out how they fall out.”
“We could use the drone to follow Casey in the morning, link the feed to the police.”
“Let me think about it. I mean, we’re in the car someplace, the drone is on Casey, but if the police are already staking out the school, the live feed is almost a distraction.”
“Good point. Let’s round up a bit of breakfast, then we have to make a decision.”



Nineteen

Breakfast concluded, back in the room, “I think we give what we have to the police, set up a file transfer from our anonymous site while I concoct a storyline to attach to it.”
She goes to work, I make notes.
‘To the Glendale police department and the FBI. The attached video was obtained surreptitiously and without the knowledge of the subject. Suffice it to say our people were contacted anonymously regarding an expelled high school student. The video is self explanatory. The expelled student is Casey Spivey, address XYZ, Glendale. Spivey plans to get in the school with the help of Josh Favalora, who will open a rear exit fire door locked from outside. As recorded, he intends to carry out the killings tomorrow morning. How you decide to deal is up to you, but if nothing is done and children are murdered, guess where the video goes next.’
Zoe C, “Ready to send.”
“Go for it, then get us booked to go home as soon as possible, we can’t do anything else here.”
She clicks the button, picks up the phone and we’re set to vacate at three this afternoon. Sticking around to watch the arrests tomorrow serves no purpose. We pack it in and leave. 
Elle collects us at LAX, then home.
Zackary is first out the door, “Yay, mom’s home,” he hugs Zoe C, she kisses him on both cheeks.
A sweet kiss from Natalie, “We left early, did we interrupt your time alone with Elle?”
She smiles, “I’d say we spent the whole time playing, but we didn’t. We worked, the kids did their thing, or things. Mac and I went shopping. We had the barbeque shrimp, amazing as always. Elle and I took a couple of turns around the property today to work off the calorie blast.”
Zelda thumps up, rises and puts her mega-paws on my chest for me to scratch her ears, Zoe C got Cilia, who nearly knocked her over in a burst of enthusiasm.
Zoe C, “Hey big girl, you take care of everyone? Where’s Burma?”
Zak, “She’s following Mickey while she does laps, McKenzie’s in the kitchen.”
Elle and Zoe C take our bit of luggage and the drone, I go find my cooking companion.
McKenzie is at the stove, I give her a kiss on the top of her gorgeous auburn, “What are you making?”
“Sauce for pasta, rotini, meatballs.”
“It smells divine, scent of garlic and onion,” I peer in the pot, simmering tomato sauce with mushrooms.
“Shall I make the pasta?”
“Yes, and garlic bread.”
We make garlic bread a little differently. I cut the loaf lengthwise, butter it up. It will go in the oven for a few, until a light brown crust forms on the exposed interior. Then, just before serving, I take a hunk of garlic, chop it in half and rub the halves on the bread. The heat releases the garlic oil, the taste is amazing, and the scent while I garlic it up is heavenly…as if heaven is in Italy.
I set the bread halves on the baking pan, it only needs a few minutes in the oven when we’re ready. The pasta pot is boiling, sprinkle in a bit of salt, dump the rotini and stir. We like it almost al dente, where there’s still a bit of snap, but not a purist al dente which we find a bit too chewy.
Zoe C and Elle come down, “Cocktails, taking requests, there will be…Chef, what’s dinner?”
“Rotini, perfect tomato sauce ala McKenzie and meat balls, the big fat kind.”
“Oh geez, yum and double yum, I suppose your garlic bread is in there too.”
“You know it, varied cheeses for appetizers, havarti, sharp cheddar, jalapeno and pepper mozzarella, we skipped antipasto this time, there’s a truckload of meatballs. Enough to make meatball poboys tomorrow or day after.”
“Then Chianti, I have two bottles of a bracing one that can handle garlic and onion.”
Absorbed with my kitchen duties and Mac facing the stove, I don’t notice until I sit at the island with my drink. McKenzie turns to put the platter of cheeses out with a stack of crackers. I blink, this is Mac?
She’s wearing makeup, delicately, but makeup just the same. Soft blush, black eyeliner light, sandy eye shadow, again, enough to see, not to overwhelm. A lovely dark red lipstick, I don’t know from brands or the million names for the various colors.
I must look like a moron, I’m staring, my mouth open like a guppy, speechless.
Natalie, “Well tell her doofus, don’t sit there like you’re catatonic.”
I take a long sip of vodka, then, “McKenzie, you’re always beautiful, now you’ve launched into stunning. Natalie give you guidance?”
“I pick, mother shows me what to do.”
I look at Natalie, “Don’t think it, she did pick the colors, I had nothing to do with it. We went to MAC, coincidentally her namesake, and she decided. She wouldn’t let the girl touch her, so I did it. Fortunately the store wasn’t full, only two other customers. They sat and gawked, then the compliments flowed. We made a hasty retreat, McKenzie doesn’t like crowds.”
A crowd for Mac is any three people she doesn’t know, maybe two, or even one. 
“You did well McKenzie, a new outfit too?”
She nods, I look at Nat, “Her or you?”
“Both, she wanted my ideas on clothes. When we went for a few outfits, she was deliberate and has excellent taste. I made a couple of suggestions only.”
I look Mac up and down, her personality reflected in the look. Everything fits beautifully, it’s like she has an algorithm in her head, jeans are an exact fit, hem of the top she matched with the jeans precisely level around her waist, nothing off center, nothing out of place. 
“And she’s got jewelry.”
“She was drawn to simple elegance, platinum only, gold doesn’t work for her coloring. Ears pierced, simple platinum rings but we also got the dangling kind, three strands an inch and a half long, they look splendid on her. And the coup de gras, onyx necklace platinum chain. We’re still working on rings, maybe later.”
I look at the girl, “Just wonderful Mac, it’s you, totally together.”
“Make bread now.”
So much for makeup and outfits, her laser mind is on dinner.
“Step up girls, we’ll go buffet tonight.”
Zelda and Cilia get a fat meatball each, McKenzie cut them in quarters first although the dogs sort of took a long lick off the plates and the food disappeared. 
I have the news feed on CNN, sound free, no mention of any excitement in Arizona. Maybe the cops decided to ambush the kid as he approaches the school rather than arrest him at home. Whatever the plan, nothing’s happened so far, tomorrow is Friday. I turn off the TV.
Mickey, “Wherever you went, no news yet?”
Zoe C looks at me, I tell her, “They don’t need to be in the dark on this one, tell them what the trip was about.”
She recaps the trip and how we left it.
Mickey, “You prevented a school shooting, that’s cool.”
“We didn’t do it alone, the boy’s mother alerted us after getting nowhere with the locals. Not sure how she found us, I didn’t ask.”
Zoe C, “Sometimes they tell us but we really don’t want to know.”
Zak, “Why not?”
“Because it adds a name unrelated to the purpose of the contact. It’s not like we’re going to call them and say thanks for the referral.”
“Like too many people in on a secret.”
“Exactly smarty.”
He grins, “Maybe I’ll become the blind detective.”
“Sounds like a book title, maybe you should try your hand at writing mysteries.”
“I never thought of it, Mickey, will you let me free associate and type out what I say?”
Mickey, “Record it, it will be easier to follow if I can start and stop the recorder. There’s a name for that, what is it McKenzie?”
“Transcribe.”
“Thank you,” Mickey grins at us, “McKenzie knows everything.”
Zak, “Good idea, that’s what we’ll do, I’ll dictate, you can transcribe.”
Elle, “You can get software that converts your speech to written words. There are difficulties, punctuation, it mishears some words, to check errors someone has to read it anyway.”
Mickey, “I want to do it, I can be his editor.”
Natalie, “A splendid project, may I read along?”
Zak, “Sure, and make suggestions, point out mistakes, I need eyes on it and mine don’t work.”
I smile to myself, get in Zoe C’s head, 'This is what happens when you leave kids alone to find their thing instead of being pushed around by parents and teachers.'
'They are sooo precious, and who better to write a blind detective series than a blind boy?'

Twenty

The news hits, we’re watching during breakfast, CNN and the other news outlets are deep into the story. There’s video of the school, naturally some people unhappy because the Spivey kid got to the school despite the fact that he was apprehended before actually getting inside and that his rifle and handgun were still in a satchel. They were loaded however, and a round in the firing chamber. Talking heads go on about whether he should have been picked up at home, who sent in the ‘anonymous’ tip and the arrest of the accomplice for conspiracy to commit murder.
The FBI said there was no danger to students in the building, two of their agents were in an empty classroom where they could see the fire exit. Josh and Casey did the perp walk to waiting cars, taken down for arraignment. 
Elle, “I don’t see why people gripe. They caught him dead to rights, if they busted the kid at home, he can say it was all talk, and they have nothing on the accomplice. This way, there’s no doubt.”
The police and FBI further defend their actions by saying it could have been a hoax, after all, the Spivey boy had been bullied and humiliated, for all they knew the anonymous ‘tip’ could have been dreamed up by the same kids who screwed with him in the first place.
No dead kids, the media moves on to more gruesome stories to better keep the audience engaged through the next set of commercials. I click the TV off.
Zackary, “Chef and mom saved a lot of lives, and nobody knows who they are, they’re like ninjas, is that cool or what?”
Natalie, “That is colossally cool.”
McKenzie walks over and hugs me, a first, I look in her eyes, mine are glossy with tears, Natalie dabs at hers with a napkin. 
“Thank you McKenzie, I can always use a hug.”
McKenzie nods, starts collecting breakfast plates. Zelda has been watching, she watches everything Mac does. Two monster paws land on my legs, her big snout taps me on the cheek, then her version of a kiss, a lick to my cheek. I give her extra scratches as another thank you. Burma jumps on Zelda’s back, climbs up to her head and raises her paw, gently pats me on the nose. I’m awash in the love.
“You know Zoe C did as much as I did, maybe more, we don’t keep score.”
Burma leaps from Zelda to Zoe C’s lap, flops over and waves her front paws in the air, her signal to have a tummy rub. Zoe C laughs and complies.
McKenzie, in a burst of never seen before, goes to Zoe C and kisses her cheek. Natalie, overcome with joy,  runs a small river of tears, her dear autistic insular daughter is expanding her emotional universe.
That is what one calls a moment, special, tender, uninhibited….real.
Zoe C stands to clear the dishes and get them in the washer. I’m too moved to do much but sit and watch. McKenzie goes off to visit with Bloomberg, Zelda and Cilia want outside, a sunny mild Malibu day.
Mickey and Zak follow them, but only as far as the pool. They shuck t-shirts, down the pool steps and start laps. Elle and Nat go off to their daily projects, Elle to monitor her algorithm’s stock trades, Nat to take or return calls.
I decide to think over lunch. We have leftover meatballs in tomato sauce, need French bread from Louisa’s. What do I add to meatball poboys? Grilled onion, parmesan, shredded purple cabbage, sounds like enough. 
“Zoe C, I’m off to get French bread, meatball poboys for lunch.”
“Goody, grab something for dessert if you’re going to Louisa’s.”
Got my orders, fifteen later I’m batting the breeze with Louisa.
“Three loaves today, I can do French toast tomorrow with the extra. Zoe C wants dessert, any recommendations?”
Louisa, “Fresh today cupcakes, chocolate or vanilla, mix of frostings, best in the city.”
“Add a dozen, half chocolate, half vanilla, variety of frostings,” she has standard chocolate and vanilla, also raspberry, pistachio and cherry.
“How are the kids Chef, and your girls?”
“Could hardly be better, healthy, active, busy as we want to be, sometimes busier.”
“Such beautiful children, you need to bring them next time or Louisa will give you trouble.”
“Will do, they were swimming when I left and I needed French bread, making meatball sandwiches for lunch.”
She grins, “Always good food at your house.”
“McKenzie’s doing, she’s taken over most of the planning, she’s really talented and incredibly organized. I get to help with the execution.”
“You’re a good man Chef, take care of girls, take care of children not even your own.”
“Louisa, I get so much more than I give, my life is a wonderland.”
“Go now, and bring children next time or there will be trouble for Chef.”
Box of cupcakes and a bag with three loaves, I place things carefully on the passenger seat, hop in and return to my favorite place in the world.
Zackary, “I smell bread and…wait, don’t tell me, cake with icing, but different flavors so it must be…cupcakes!”
Natalie, “Good call hotshot, work up an appetite in the pool?”
Mickey, “Zak doesn’t have to work up an appetite, he’s always ready to eat.”
“McKenzie’s fault…and Chef, they make the best stuff, so I stuff me in appreciation.”
If Zak is stuffing himself it’s hard to tell. If he carries body fat, he carries it someplace nobody can see.
McKenzie comes along, “Got the bread, and enough for French toast in the morning, Louisa decided we wanted fresh this morning cupcakes.”
She peers in the box, closes the lid and leaves them on the counter. She takes the meatballs in sauce out of the refrigerator.
“You want to heat them in a pot, or in the oven?”
“Oven, covered, three hundred for an hour.”
“Do we grill the onions or chop them and add to the sandwiches raw?”
“Grilled lightly, mushrooms are in the sauce, shredded cabbage is in the refrigerator.”
We don’t use lettuce on anything, crispy cabbage add a satisfying crunch to burgers and poboys that lettuce doesn’t provide.
Elle, “I’m beginning to see daylight on the short side of the algorithm, up to sixty percent winners if I may brag a bit.”
Natalie, “If you can do it, it isn’t bragging, it’s reporting.”
“Thank you, if you happen to visit me near bedtime, I’ll thank you even more generously.”
Natalie laughs, “I’m there, we can thank each other, perhaps more than once, a thank-a-thon as it were.”
Zoe C, “Can I thank you both as well?”
“Absolutely, a kumbaya festival of grateful lesbians.”
Looks like my evening will be undisturbed by sex, tonight anyway. Natalie takes care of me regularly, I can hardly complain.
McKenzie, “Lunch.”
We make up our sandwiches, Mac saved a couple of treats for Zelda and Cilia, a half piece for Burma. They aren’t worried about making a sandwich, meat in their bowls is all they need to know. For the dogs it’s Snap! Swallow, gone. They plop down and eyeball Burma who takes her dainty time.
Zak, “Time to start my book, The Blind Detective. If you need someone not to see something, I’ll be in my room,” he goes up, Cilia thumping along behind him.
Natalie, “Mac and I are going shopping, you too Mickey, you guys need a few outfits, so does Zackary for that matter.”
Mickey, “He’s writing…dictating anyway.”
“He doesn’t need to go, I get most of his stuff online, maybe we’ll spot something for him.”
“After shopping, will you pick up a couple of roast chickens, I’ll figure out sides.”
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll pickup those too, give you two a night off from cooking.”
Zoe C, “I’ll come too, you want to go Elle?”
“I’m good here, an afternoon of nothing sounds scrumptious.”
The four take off, I go upstairs to my room, take care of necessities, brush my teeth, settle on the bed for a zone out hour or two.
After a half hour, I’m drifting in that semi-conscious state between awake and asleep. My door slides open then closed, the lock clicks. Elle slides into bed, and she’s wearing nothing.
Elle, “I want to expand my horizons, don’t know if I’ll take this road again but I’d like you to introduce me, is that okay?”
“Is it okay if I make love to a stunning blond with perfect legs? Well….I don’t know, perhaps I could think it over for two or three seconds.”
“Idiot, get busy, first lick, then stick.”
Those are orders I can understand, she’s perfectly smooth, all the girls ditched pubic hair since before I’d known them. I haven’t has intimacies with Zoe C, but she swims nude like the others, often just stroll around the house sans anything.
I’ve been fortunate to have a few girlfriends before our pasted together family came along. My lovemaking style is basic, warm her up with a digit, tongue or toy, lots of kisses, insert easy, go slow until I feel them peak then pick up the pace. It’s worked so far, and it works this afternoon.
Elle made appropriate noises, moans, gasps along with shakes and shudders, I roll off and hold her.
“Satisfactory?”
“Damn Chef, I may write a book. How long before you can encore?”
I laugh, “Let’s refresh, perhaps loll around for fifteen or so.”
After the break, she figures, correctly, that a good way to get the boy to stand at attention is to go oral. She does it easy and right, I’d wonder who coached her but I’m feeling way too good to waste time thinking.
When she has it filled to capacity, I move her to missionary and give it another go.
Elle’s such a creamy dream, lucky me.
Now on our backs staring skyward, or at the ceiling anyway.
“Did I get it right Chef?”
“You could teach a class.”
She giggles, “I got Natalie to give me instructions, we practiced on a toy.”
“You told her why of course.”
“Oh yeah, I wasn’t going to lie and pretend it was for some future reason in case of meeting some future guy. Nat’s not stupid, she’s also not jealous,” she giggles again, “considering she sleeps with Zoe and I regularly, jealousy would be the height of hypocrisy and Nat’s no hypocrite.”
“I am honored, no bullshit, that you chose me.”
“There won’t be anyone else, I love the sex, but I’m not shopping for things out there that are better right here at home. Geez, I have two gorgeous girlfriends and a hunky man who actually wants to please the girl more than he worries about his own pleasure.”
“I like pleasure, the feeling of a woman in passion is a significant part of the high.”
Time to get organized for tea, I don’t know if the shoppers are done, check in with Zoe C.
'Hey, status report, are you home for tea?'
'Oh yeah, push it to five, we’re at Whole Foods but about to wrap, McKenzie can take only so much humanity, don’t blame her, in fact, I can take only so much, she’s wearing off on me.'
'We’ll wait.
'Have fun with Elle?'
'How can you not have fun with Elle, she’s perpetually happy and always stunning.'
'See you in a bit.'

Zoe C can be in my mind and I in hers. I didn’t sense her eavesdropping on Elle and I but it wouldn’t matter, Zoe C and I, or any of the family, aren’t into secrets.

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