Chapter 1

I was driving through the suburbs of a small city in the Midwest. It was after ten in the evening. Suddenly a vehicle came charging up behind me. It was a cop car with lights flashing and the siren got tapped. I pulled over to the curb and the cop car went screaming by me. It was followed by two others. I was almost to the end of the block and I sat there and watched the police go wheeling around to the right out of sight. I figured it was an accident or someone was in trouble.

I was a little tired so I just sat there, relaxing. I cracked a bottle of water and sipped on it. More awake now, and thinking I had better get going, I started the engine to pull away from the curb. Someone tapped on the passenger's window. I rolled it down and a girl leaned in. "Please, can I sit in your car for a little bit? I have to get off the street."

It was a tall young woman and she didn't look dangerous so I said, "Okay, but not for long. What's going on?" She slid into the seat and put her handbag down on the floor.

"The cops just busted the party I was at. I would really be in trouble if I get caught. I'm always in trouble or at least I'm always getting caught. Mom doesn't really care. She'll hire a lawyer, but I'm getting awful close to being put in juvenile detention."

I turned on the overhead light and looked at my passenger. She had dirty blonde hair cut into a shag. It looked as if someone had tried to style it, but it came out wrong. She had pimples on her face and she was overweight. Her lips were painted with a dark red lipstick and she wore ear rings. Those were small enameled roses and looked quality. Her blouse was red and of some shimmery material. The skirt she had on was short and made of blue denim.

"What's your name?"

"It's Ginger Adams. What's yours?"

"Pete." I continued to look at this girl. She appeared to be middle class and dressed for a teenage party.

"Pete, thanks for letting me sit in your car. I suppose I should get out now and go home. There's nothing really to go home to. Mom is off tonight with the man she is marrying next week. I'm not even invited to the wedding. Isn't that a hoot? She fought for me when dad left and now she doesn't have anything to do with me. She doesn't even want me around."

"Is school out for the summer?"

"Yup, last day Friday. I'm bored already."

"Get a job. That will keep you busy."

"I tried and nothing. Haven't you heard that the country is in recession?"

"I did hear that."

"I'm sixteen, almost seventeen and I'm on my own this summer. My mother is going on her honeymoon and I'm living alone. Most of my friends are going on vacation. I wish I had somewhere to go.

"I went to the party with my girlfriend's older brother, but he wanted more than I wanted to put out. He wanted me to be a pig for him and his friends. He even offered to pay me. I got even though. I was so pissed at them for thinking I would so I called the cops. Guess I have a bit of a reputation. I almost got caught myself before I could get away. That would have been justice wouldn't it? Where do you live?"

"Big city Minneapolis. Not much going on there for me except for a new job. I'm headed over to England in a couple of weeks. I'm interning with an architectural firm and they want details on a monastery near London. I'll be gone for the next three months."

"Take me with you."


"Didn't think you could. Life sucks. What I should do, is run away and vanish forever." This brought a cold chill to my heart that was not related to this girl.

"What about your father?"

"He can't take me. He has a new family. They have twins. There is no room for me anyway. All he does for me is to make sure I have all of the money I need."

We sat silently for several minutes. A police car went past on the other side of the street heading the way I had come from. Ginger spoke, "You want to make out or something? I'm no virgin."


"Why not? You've been good to me by letting me sit here. I'm willing."

"Ginger, believe it or not what you are offering has more value than you realize. If I took you up on your offer, I could take it, but I wouldn't respect you. The value is in the respect. Someday a young man will come along and you will fall in love and then you will wish you hadn't given so much of it away."

"Christ, what are you, a preacher or something?"

"Nope, but I do have respect for myself and my body. I'm no virgin either. I had a girlfriend for awhile, but it didn't work out and she chose someone else. I still respect her even though our relationship crashed."

"Pete, how old are you?'

"Just barely twenty-two."

"You're too old for me anyway. Well, would you drive me home? It is late. Do you want a place to stay tonight? It's a long way to Minneapolis and Mother won't be home for a couple of days." She grinned, saying, "You're safe with me and I won't attack you."

"Sure. I'm bushed from driving and it will save me finding a motel."

Just then a police car pulled up behind me and the cop got out and came to my window. I rolled it down. The officer spoke, "You two have been sitting here for awhile. Is there any trouble?"

"No officer, my step-sister and I went out for a late dinner. We don't see each other very often so we were just sitting here talking."

"You have an ID?"

I pulled my wallet out and handed it to him. He looked back and forth between the picture and me. "You live in Minneapolis?"

"That's right."

"How about you young lady, where do you live?"

Ginger opened her handbag and handed him her student ID. He peered in the window after reading it. "It is getting late. You better go home. This is no place to park. Have a nice night." The police car went back on patrol.

I smiled at Ginger. "You had better give me directions, Sis. I seemed to have forgotten where my mother lives."

Ginger was cracking up. "Boy, you think fast. What would have happened if the cop had really looked into us to see if I was your step-sister?"

"I would be finding me a lawyer and you would have to come up with some money to bail me out."

"I would've too. I like you, you know."

"I like you too." I followed Ginger's direction to the beginning of the residential section and pulled in front of a three car garage. The house was big and I was thinking it must have at least four bedrooms.

"You can park on the left. Or you can pull into the garage."

"I'll leave it out. Are you sure this is okay?"

"Sure, I have friends over all the time."


"Well no, not often, but Mother wouldn't care." When we got inside, she asked, "Are you hungry?"


"Spaghettios and hotdogs?"

"That's good."

I sat in the kitchen and watched Ginger open a big can of pasta and get some hotdogs from the refrigerator. She put rolls on a pan to brown. Mostly I watched this new friend of mine. Ginger was at least five-nine and thirty pounds or more overweight. It was much more than baby fat. I would imagine this was from a poor diet. I felt sorry for her and her situation.

"Ginger, is it okay to call my mother from here?"

"Sure, go ahead."

I pulled out my cell and dialed. "Hi Mom, miss me?"

"Oh Pete, you know I do. I am so looking forward to seeing you. I have been so lonely this last year. You'll be with me for two weeks before you have to go away again."

"I have just the person to be a companion for you for the summer. That is if I can arrange it. It is a young lady who is at loose ends and can't find a job."


"No, Rita and I split up. This is just someone who has to live alone until school starts in the fall." Her name is Ginger. Her mother is getting married and will be away on her honeymoon. I may be a day late getting home as things need to be settled here. If you get a call from her mom you can talk to her about it."

"Okay son, I am looking forward to seeing you. It has been so long."

I looked across the table at Ginger. "Well there you are. You have something to do for the summer if you want it. You'll like my mom. I wish I could be with her more than I am, but I have my life to live and she urges me to pursue the course I am on. I believe I'll be home to live with her in the fall. It would be great if she has a companion to talk to while I'm gone this time."

"Can I think about it tonight and how I can make it happen? This is pretty exciting and I think it would be so much fun. What is your mom like? Is she pretty?"

"I think so. She has a very high metabolism and is extremely thin, but her face is beautiful."

"She won't want a fat girl like me around then. I think I will pass. Damn, for a few minutes I had hopes of having a good summer."

"I'll tell you what. Why don't you go with me to visit and if you don't think it will work out, I'll bring you home before I leave for overseas."

"I'll think about it tonight. I have to call my mother anyway, but I'm sure she won't care. Hell, I could go into a whore house and she would say go ahead and have fun." This was as close to tears I had seen this girl. I was going to urge Ginger to reconsider if she decided against traveling with me.

Ginger took me upstairs and showed me the room I would be sleeping in. "You know you can sleep with me if you want to." She threw this out as she went into her room. I stood in the doorway and told her I guessed not. Her room was a typical teenager's room. It was pretty messy and had some stuffed toys scattered around. There were several posters of heart throbs on the walls. There was some dirty underwear in the corner. Her face got red when she saw me glance in that direction.

I didn't make note. "I think I'll go get my bag. Is it okay if I take a shower?"

"Yes, use the one down the hall. I have my own off my room. Pete, would you write down your mother's address so I can give it to my mother when I call her?" I wrote it down on a pad of paper that had strawberries pictured all over it. She looked at it and said, "Your last name is Brown." I confirmed that it was. I turned to go out.

"Pete Brown, you're a hunk, you know. You're tall, thin and handsome with your brown curly hair. Why in god's name would you want to take an interest and help me?"

"Beat's me. Maybe because you think I am a hunk." I grinned and paused before saying, "Let me know what you decide in the morning. Good night, Ginger."

"Good night, Pete."

I slept hard. There was a knock on my door at six. "Come in."

"Morning, Pete. Did you sleep?"

"I did. Thanks for putting me up."

"Pete, I talked to my mother. She was peeved that I interrupted her because she and my new soon-to-be step father had guests. I told her what I wanted to do this summer. She told me to leave the address on a slip of paper by the phone downstairs. She didn't ask any questions about who I was traveling with or how I met you. I told you, she just doesn't care about me at all. I'm going with you and I hope your mother can stand me."

Tears were trickling down Ginger's face. She looked so lost when she came up beside my bed. I raised my arms and she sank down beside me. Now she started to sob. There were blankets between us and we both were clothed in our pajamas. I held her and she snuggled as close to me as she could. Ginger soon calmed down and wiped the tears away.

"Pete, can I scramble you some eggs? I can cook, you know. Then can we get going. I'm anxious to meet your mom."

"Okay. Can you make coffee? I always start off the day with that."

"It is already perking. Pete, would it be okay if I gave you a kiss? I feel so much better this morning. I feel as if I was somehow going to have a life."

"If it would make you happy, sure go ahead." Ginger kissed me quickly and jumped out of bed. It was a good thing because my kidneys were screaming. I did lay in bed a few more moments reflecting on how weird a situation this was that I was finding myself in so unexpectedly.

Ginger served me as soon as I came into the kitchen. We hadn't dressed yet. I examined Ginger's shape again. With some weight loss and firming up, she should turn out to be a good looking girl. Too young and immature for me, but I'll bet we could become great friends. That is if we were around each other long enough.

Ginger left her mother a note, hurriedly packed a bag, and we soon were on the way. She had never traveled this far from home and was looking at the sights as the country flowed past. Ginger was intrigued with everything she saw and we stopped several times to look at the sights and things we spotted that were of interest. It was evening when I pulled in front of home. Mom came out as we got out of my car. "Peter, it has been so long since I have seen you."

She came into my arms and hugged me to her, holding me as tight as she could. She kissed me lightly on the lips and then released me, turning to my new friend. What a contrast. Mom was willow thin, and Ginger was just short of being obese. Mom went to her and hugged her as well.

"I'm so pleased to meet a friend of Peter's. Come in and we will get acquainted. Did you have a nice trip?"

"It was wonderful. I never have been this far from home and we saw some great sites." Mom had a salad ready for us. We were tired so we didn't talk long. Mom slept in the first floor bedroom. Ginger and I had rooms on the second floor. She put Ginger into the room that had been my sister's. I was twelve when my sister ran away and I didn't remember her all that well.

Ginger would soon learn about Roberta. Roberta was seventeen when she left and would be twenty-seven now if she was still alive. Mom and I had given up looking for her and we believed her dead. I was hoping Ginger would become a person that would replace my sister if only for a few months. I would be home in the fall and then Mom could look after her myself. Until then, I would be counting on Ginger to be companion to Mom.

I had called Mom's doctor a month ago and he had reported that mother was becoming depressed and he was worried about her health. With Ginger here, this might be just the thing to bring brighten her life.

I went downstairs and talked to mom after Ginger had gone to bed. She lit into me. "Peter, Ginger is just a young girl. What were you thinking traveling this far with her? You could have got into all kinds of trouble. What if the police had stopped you?"

"The police did question us last night right after Ginger got into my car. I claimed she was my step-sister. We both had IDs so he didn't make anything of it. Her mother now has your address and Ginger had somewhat of a permit to travel with me. We are here so it worked out fine. I am asking if you will take her under your wing. Her mother doesn't want her around and she was going to be living on her own all summer.

"I think she was apt to be a little wild and certainly too trusting of boys and men. I could have had her in my bed last night and done anything I wanted with her. She is too young for that in my estimation. I would guess she is somewhat jaded about life already. I know you can turn her around and give her a different outlook."

"Are you trusting me to do this? I didn't do at all that good with Roberta. I drove her out of our lives and we lost her."

"Yes, you did. Now, though, you are a different person than you were then. Remember, sis couldn't get along with anyone, not even me. I thought the world of her when I was a baby. I think it all had something to do with Dad. We still don't know why he killed himself."

My mother was looking at the floor. She seemed to want to say something. "Peter, I know why your father killed himself. You are now old enough to know the truth. It had to do with Roberta and William. There were too close. Closer than a father and daughter should be. I confronted her when I discovered them together. She threw it back in my face making a snide remark, saying at least she had his love. I don't think it was because your father was that weak, but your sister was too voluptuous and sexy.

"William tried to break it off. He went up to the lake to get away from Roberta for awhile, but she hitched-hiked up there and it began all over again. A few days later, he bought some drugs and overdosed himself. That was when Roberta was fifteen. She blamed me for two years before she left. I'll tell you I was in hell for those two years and I didn't let her forget that it was all her fault, either. It was a relief when she took off. That is why I have never looked that hard for her.

"I do regret everything now. I have been thinking about her a lot lately. Maybe I should have tried to live with the two doing what they were doing, but it was wrong."

"It was wrong, Mom. Don't blame yourself. I think you did the best you could in such an untenable situation. I'm glad you told me about this. Why did you tell me now?"

"Well, you just brought a young girl home and I was a little afraid you might have your father's genes."

"Mom, I haven't even considered sleeping with her. I had a chance when she offered herself. I want her to have better values than what she has at the present. I know you can help her in that direction better than her mother is doing. Her mother has given her no direction at all. She does have some sense of right and wrong for she was running from a bad situation when she got into my car. You need some direction yourself according to Doctor Jones."

"You've talked to my doctor?"

"I have. Your letters have been so sad these last few months. I called your doctor for his input. I was thinking of searching for a companion for you after I reached home, but I believe on my way here I have found the one you need. Maybe this will help you both. She needs a mother's love and you need to forget the past and get on with your life. Give it a try, anyway."

"You are a good son. I feel better about life already."

"Good, I'm going to bed. I've been on the road since early this morning. Good night Mom. Love you."

"Love you too, son."

Ginger was sitting on the top stair when I went upstairs. "Am I going to be able to stay here with your mom?"

"Definitely. You're in as a surrogate daughter. Treat my mom as if she was the mom you always dreamed of. You both need each other. Good night, Ginger. Go to bed."

"Good night Pete. Thank you."

Both women were up when I came down in the morning. My coffee was ready. Ginger was helping get breakfast and more in the way than not because she didn't know where things were. The third time Ginger called Mom, Mrs. Brown, my mother said that wouldn't do. "Call me Harriet. All my friends do."

"Okay, Harriet, I can do that. I have a suggestion. Let me take you out to dinner tonight. Pick a nice restaurant and I'll make the reservation."

"Oh, no, you don't have to do that."

"Yes I do. My dad gives me the court ordered support money and I never spend half of it. Mom got enough from the divorce settlement. Since I turned fifteen she doesn't even ask what I do with it. He won't care and he can certainly afford it. He will be glad really that he is able to do something for me. It will reduce his guilt for leaving Mom for another woman." Mom could see how serious Ginger was, so she reluctantly agreed.

Ginger made the reservation. Then she turned to mom, "Harriet, I don't have a thing with me to wear. Would you take me shopping and help me pick out something? Something appropriate so I don't embarrass you. I'm such a whale, but maybe we can find something to make me look less fat."

"We'll find something. Maybe I'll buy me some bigger falsies. That will help the comparison."

"Hey you two, this isn't in my comfort zone. I'm the one being embarrassed here." Ginger's face was red and Mom actually giggled. I shook my head leaving the room. Then I stuck my head back in and said, "I'm looking up old friends. I'll be back at lunch time."

Mom said, "Eat lunch out. Shopping is going to take awhile so I'll buy lunch somewhere for the two of us."

"Okay. I'll be home this afternoon sometime." I was feeling better and better that I had proposed having a companion come live with my mother. She looked and acted happier already.

We did go out to dinner. Ginger was slightly over dressed, but she looked five years older than I knew her to be. Mom had gone all out and looked five years younger than her fifty-one. Mother recognized some friends after we were seated for dinner. They stopped by and talked to Mom as they were leaving.

One woman actually asked Mom if this was Roberta and when had we found her? She knew the family history. "No, this is a young lady who is staying with me while Peter is out of the country. Peter engaged her for me and we are having a good time together. I'm looking forward to having a great summer this year."

I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was home alone. This was two days after I had arrived with Ginger. The phone rang.

"Is this the Brown Residence?"

"Yes it is. This is Peter Brown. What can I do for you?"

"My name is Ada Adams. I'm looking for my daughter, Ginger. She left some crazy note about taking off to help some old lady living at this address for the summer. What can you tell me about her?"

"I'm the one who made the arrangement for her to care for my mother."

"How old are you?"

"I'm twenty-two, why?"

"What you did is illegal. I could have you put in jail."

"Hey, she called you and you gave her permission to take the job. How else was she going to get here? She has been living by herself and was going to be alone all summer. I rescued her from a party where she was going to be abused by several boys and some older men. Her summer ahead looked pretty damned bleak to me. I'll bet she would have gone to another party again sometime during the summer while you were away on your honeymoon. She will be safe here with my mother. I'm leaving for England the end of next week. She will be safe for that long anyway. Mom will take care of her."

There was silence on the line while this was being digested. "Where is she now?"

"I believe she and Mom went to a concert this afternoon. It has something to do with chamber music. I hate it so I begged off."

"Well, I'm not getting much information from you. I'll call back later. Make sure she takes my call."

"What time? No better yet, call at six. That is dinner time for us." The phone clicked. Well at least Ginger's mother was checking up on her. It should make Ginger feel a little better. The phone rang at exactly six.

Ginger answered it. "Hello mother." This started an hour-long conversation. There was screaming by both parties. Ginger got really hot and Mom got up and put her hand on Ginger's shoulder, not saying anything, but it did calm Ginger down. After that and for the last fifteen minutes while they were on the phone, Ginger just listened as her mother explained her plans for the wedding and the honeymoon. Still there was no invitation for her daughter to attend.

Ginger came and sat down and we ate a meal that was already cold. I don't think anyone of us noticed. I figured not much had been resolved and the status was the same as it had been. "Harriet, I have permission to stay here until school begins. Mother still doesn't want me around, but I guess she is happy I am where I am safe and looked after. Now she can go and enjoy herself without a thought for me."

Mom got up and hugged Ginger. I wanted to show my support so I did the same. This brought smiles to her face.

I was out and about every night, but I did often knock on Ginger's door when I came home if I saw her light on. This was to say goodnight. I had four more days before I was flying out. "Pete, I'm going to miss you terribly when you leave. You have done so much for me and I don't know if I can stand it with you not here."

"Hey, I haven't done that much. My mother needed someone and you are perfect for her. You needed someone too. I'm happy it has worked out for you both."

"It has hasn't it? Pete, would you do one thing for me? Would you take me out on a date one time before you leave? Just to the movies and maybe out for a shake and burger before we come home."

"Sure. Let's plan it for tomorrow night. Hey, I'll round up a buddy and we can double date at the movies."

"I would rather it be just you and me."

"Okay. Tomorrow night we'll take in a show. Why don't we make it a real date? I'll take you out to dinner and then to the show."

"That will be wonderful. I'll be ready at six."

Ginger told mom about her date with me coming up. Mom came and cautioned me, "Don't you be trifling with her. She still is very vulnerable. I don't want to see her hurt."

"I won't hurt her, Mom. She takes the place of being a sister like the one I lost."

"That won't work. She will never look on you as her brother."

"Mom, now you have me worried. I've only treated her as a friend."

"Yes, but she is young and may have a dream about you. Puppy love is as painful as any injury." Mom stopped talking, and then went on, "I trust you Peter, so go and give her a good time. I just wanted you to be aware, that is all."

"Thanks for the heads up."

This conversation took place just before noon. A little after three the phone jangled. Ginger and Mom were off getting Ginger beautiful for our upcoming date. "Hello, Peter speaking."

"Peter who?" The voice was abrupt and demanding.

"Peter Brown."

"Is my daughter, Ginger, there? Put her on, I want to speak to her."

"I take it you are Ginger's father?"

"Of course it is. I asked for her, didn't I?"

"Sorry, I missed that. Ginger isn't here right now. I'll tell her you called."

"Don't hang up damnit, I'll talk to you. Look, I have found some charges on her credit card. I oversee the card and the bill comes to me. What's with dinner at some posh restaurant and some expensive clothes? What is going on and how come she is in Minneapolis anyway? Ada just emailed me a short note giving me this phone number and city."

"I'm responsible for that. The cops were chasing her and I rescued her from being picked up on the street. Your ex-wife was married two days ago and wasn't taking care of your daughter before that. Ginger was going to be living alone all summer. I hired her to be companion to my mother. I'm leaving for the UK the day after tomorrow and I didn't want my mother being alone. I put the two of them together and that solved the problem for both."

"Why didn't she call me?"

"I think she said you weren't her custodian, her mother was. Besides you didn't have room for her."

"Well, yes, but I pay support. That gives me some rights."

"I wouldn't know. Look, Ginger will be home by five o'clock. I will make sure she calls you. Just so you know; she has felt abandoned by both you and her mother. My sister disappeared when I was twelve, so I can kind of relate. Ginger seems like a nice person who hasn't been treated very well by her parents. My mother can take her mind off this. When Ginger is older, she can handle this better."

"Okay, I was just worried about her. I thought she had run away or something."

"No, Ginger made sure she had permission to live with my mother. It was convenient for your ex and she is happy here. Ask her about it when she calls."

"I'll be sure to." There was lengthy pause and than he said, "Thank your mother for looking after my daughter when I can't. Good bye."

As soon as Ginger came in, I told her about the call from her father. "I'll call him now." She came back all smiles in less than ten minutes talking with her father. "Dad thinks you people are all right. He is really pissed at mother. Pete, you must have told him I was going to have to live alone this summer."

"I did."

"Dad, his new wife, and the twins are going to visit me sometime in August. I'm looking forward to it. He also promised to call me once a week. But now, excuse me, I have a date and must look my best."

When Ginger came down from her room she was dressed in a blouse and jeans as any teenager would be who was going out to the movies. She was made up, though, and her hair was styled.

I was surprised. I thought she would have on something to make her look older like she did the night she took us to the restaurant.

When we got in the car, she explained, "Pete, your mother is worried I will vamp you. She thinks you are too old for me. That part doesn't bother me, but I think a lot of Harriet and I wouldn't hurt her for the world. I will agree that you are a wonderful person. So I am going be good and act my age." She mumbled something that I didn't catch, but wouldn't say what it was.

"Where to Ginger? What would you like to eat?"

"I don't care. Take me to the same place you used to hang out."

"That would be a hamburger place. We can get pizza there too. My gang used to hangout in the parking lot. Maybe some of them still do. I haven't been there for years. By now, I would imagine there will be a whole new crop of young people gathering there.

"Do you dare to be seen with me? Won't I embarrass you?"

"Naw, it's just a hangout. The rich kids with shiny cars stayed on one side of the lot and the poorer ones with junkers had the other side. Everyone just comes to eat and bullshit each other."

"Which side were you on?"

I paused, thinking a minute before answering. "You know, I never gave it much thought to which side I was more comfortable with. I guess you can say I was comfortable with either. I dated girls from both sides."

"Will any of those girls be there tonight?"

"Maybe. If they are, then you can meet them."

"You would introduce me to some of your old girlfriends? You're crazy. Look at me. I'd be embarrassed. Not for myself, but for you."

"Let me worry about that. Come on, I'm hungry."

I drove into Pete's Place and circled the parking lot. I was waiting for the inevitable question. It came. "Is this place named for you?"

I laughed because this was what I was always asked. "Just a coincidence, that's all." I drove slowly by the parked cars and finally pulled up beside an old car that had a man and woman leaning on it. There was a small child of two sitting in a car seat that had been removed and placed on the ground. There was another seat in the back still attached. The woman was openly nursing an infant.

"That's Sammy. We went together part way through high school and I took her to the Junior Prom. She met Gordon and they married soon after. Gordon cut me out and look at them now. We'll say hi."

We said hi all right. Sammy saw me as I got out of the car. She thrust the baby into Gordon's arms, quickly covering up, and did a little moon walk right into my arms. I was kissed soundly. She turned to Ginger. "Pete taught me those steps. He kissed me on my sixteenth birthday too. My first real kiss, by the way."

I took over. "Sammy and Gordon, this is Ginger Adams. We met a couple of weeks ago and have become friends. Friends enough so I asked her to come live with my mother. I'm leaving for England day after tomorrow. We are on a date tonight. I wanted to show her around my old stomping grounds and hopefully to meet some of my friends."

"That's great Pete. Hey, meet my kids. This is Tammy, she is almost three. Say hi to the man Tammy." The little girl was shy and hid behind her mother. Sammy didn't pressure the child further. "This is Junior. He is eight months. He's a hungry little sucker and growing like a weed. Gordon and I are planning one more. We figure that is all we can afford. What are you going to be doing in England?"

"I'm working for an architectural firm with the headquarters located here in the city. I was recruited by the California office while in college and I'm being sent over to examine an old monastery. I'm to take pictures and make sketches. I'll do a lot of measuring. Basically I'm to make a floor plan of the place. Also, I'm looking for something that the client can use to fill out a vision that he is in the process of formulating.

"He says he will know what it is when he sees it. Our client is a rich person and so far wants a look-a-like monastery to house the wine from his vineyard."

"Why would he do that?" This was Gordon finally speaking.

"He was vacationing in Europe and was impressed with the view of one from the air while flying over several churches and monasteries. I may decide to hire a plane and take pictures from different angles from the air. He will use one of the scenes as a picture on his wine label. This is my first assignment and I'm hoping I do well. I have a lot of leeway and as much money to get the firm what they think the client wants."

"Wow, a world traveler."

"I know, Sammy. I've never been anywhere but here and at the university. I'm pretty excited about the whole deal. I'm going to miss my mother though. I hardly ever see her anymore. These last two weeks are the longest we have been together in the last year. That is why when I ran into Ginger and found she was free I proposed she come live with Mom. Mom wasn't going out at all and she needs someone around. She will still miss me, but Ginger is a fun person."

Ginger made the comment, "I'm going to miss Pete too."

"Ginger, how did you two meet?"

"Sammy, I was running from a party the police were busting up. He let me into his car before they rounded me up. He saved me from a whole lot of grief."

"That sounds like Pete. He is one of the good guys. Hey, my pizza is ready. Pete, I'm glad we ran into you and Ginger. Have fun in England. When you are back in town, please come visit us. We are in the phone book. Have fun on your date with Pete, Ginger. I always did."

"Gordon, you have a great family. I glad things are going well for you. I'll look you up when I return." We shook hands and Ginger and I got back into my car. I turned to her, "There is a real nice couple. I hope to have someone as nice as Sammy is for a wife someday."

Ginger was quiet and then she said, "I guess I never could qualify. You know too much about me already."

"Ginger, I'm just one person. There are a lot of nice people out there. Become a nice person yourself and you will find one for yourself. I think you're pretty nice already. You are more than half-way there."

"Thanks, Pete, for saying I am. I needed that."

I drove around to the other side of the building to order, parking in the back. Not many cars here yet, but it would get busy later. "Do you want to eat inside or out here in the car?"

"Let's go inside. That is if you don't mind being seen with me."

"Ginger, your insecurity is showing. We'll eat inside where I can be seen with you, not you with me."

"You do know how to make a person feel good." I received a bright smile and Ginger was almost skipping as we entered. We ordered a supreme pizza. Ginger had a diet coke and I ordered Bud Light. We took a number and sat back in the corner. We sat people watching, not saying much and being comfortable.

"Pete, tell me more about your work and yourself."

"Not much to tell. I've always been interested in different types of buildings and how they were constructed. My goal is someday to design a building and have my name attached to it. There have been a few architects who have stood the test of time ... some for centuries in fact. It may never happen for me, but it is a nice dream. Anyway, I went to university and concentrated on learning everything I could.

"In my second year, I hooked up with a girl, named Rita and we lived together until a few months ago. But she found me too dedicated and gave me a choice of loosening up about my work and giving her more attention. I chose to stay on the course, so we parted. This was just before I was recruited by the firm I'm now working for."

"How did this firm discover you?"

"It was at a job fair run by the university. I think being willing to travel immediately helped them make up their minds about me. I'm not ashamed of my scholastic record either, but there were others just as qualified."

"How did a company here in your home town get in touch with you? Did they have a representative at the fair?"

"My firm has a satellite office near the university. The headquarters just happen to be located here in Minneapolis. I've only been into the headquarters here in Minneapolis since coming back home. Mostly to get orders and details about what they want. I've been given a lot of leeway and I'm supposed to use my imagination. They want me to come back with enough facts so they can make a presentation to our client. Whether I will be involved in creating the plans for the building remains to be seen.

"Probably not since there are some well known architects on the staff. I just want to do a credible job at my first assignment." Just then our number was called and Ginger immediately got up and went to the counter for the box.

While she was gone, a woman slid into her seat. "Hi Pete, I haven't seen you since high school." Rachael and I had been an item for awhile. She had one thing on her mind and I wanted to be exclusive with her. That was until I had the promise, but not the fact. We parted then, but still spoke when we met.

"I know. I've been away at university. How are you?"

"Good, still a free spirit. Got married, but it lasted for only a year. I'm divorced now for the same reason you and I broke up. I'll settle down someday."

Just then Ginger came back with our pizza. The contrast between the two women was there before the room to see. Rachel was much shorter than Ginger and she was mature and svelte. Also her make up and dress were impeccable. Ginger didn't come off very well by comparison. She still had zits, was overweight, and looked like the teenager she was.

Mom had worked with her on her looks which I didn't realize until this minute. The zits were less and mother had done her best to reduce them. Also she had styled her hair and it looked really nice. Her eyebrows were plucked and she wore a soft pink lipstick.

I stood and took the pie box from my date. "Ginger, meet Rachel O'Connell. I went with her for awhile in high school. Rachel, this is my date for the evening. Meet Ginger Adams."

"Hello Ginger. Lucky you having Pete choose you for a date. You'll find he is a real nice guy. Hey, I can't stay. Pete, it was nice seeing you and also in meeting you Ginger. Pete, call me sometime and maybe we can go out and relive old times."

"We'll see. No promises, though."

"Okay, I understand. Bye now."

We watched Rachel wend her way across the room. There was a good looking older man who took her arm as she approached the door and they left together. "Are you going to call her, Pete?"

"No. She won't expect me to after what I said at the last. She was just making small talk anyway."

"Pete, tell me why you and I are sitting here right at this moment? You're an adult and I'm just a kid. Yet you don't seem to be patronizing me. Why?"

"Ginger, you are almost an adult. Don't sell yourself short either. I think you are more intelligent than you give yourself credit for. Someday, I do believe you will be as beautiful as Rachel was tonight. I also think you are going to be a lot nicer. Why? Because you have had a lot of problems in your young life, just as I have had. You are handling it well just as I think I have done.

"You keep saying I'm nice. Well, I think you are too. One other thing, our pizza is getting cold. Let's eat." I grinned and opened the box, breathing in the aroma. I received a grin and we dug in.

Getting full, there were two pieces left over and we saved them to give to Mom. "Let's go to the movies." We chose a comedy and laughed all the way through it.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/ft / Romantic / Heterosexual /