Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, .

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Beth and Tommy continue their journey. A new home, new schools and new adventures. Suggest you read Beth 1 through Beth 3 first.

Sitting on my palm was a small velvet-covered box.

Beth sat up on the bed and tentatively reached out toward the box. Her hand was within an inch of it when she stopped. I looked up and saw her gnawing at her bottom lip.

"T-Tommy, is that what I think it is?"

"I hope it is."

As she picked up the box I could see her hand shaking. She opened the box and I could see the tears form. "Oh, Tommy," she whispered.

"I'm sorry it's not bigger."

Beth launched herself off the bed and into my lap with enough force to roll us across the floor.

"Oh, Tommy, it's perfect!" She reached for the ring then stopped and pushed the box at me. "Tommy, you do it," she whispered as she held out her left hand. As I slipped the ring on her trembling finger the tears started. A year ago that would have scared me, but I'd learned the difference between happy tears and the other sort. Then suddenly I was fighting for my breath. My princess had a death grip on my neck as she soaked the collar of my shirt.

When the tears stopped and I could breathe again I looked at her. "Does this mean you like the idea?"

I guess being engaged wasn't going to give me immunity from the elbow.

"You goof. I love the idea! But why now?"

"Well, I've had the ring for a couple of weeks and I was just waiting for the right time. If we're going to live together I figured this would make you at least a little bit of an honest woman."

"Oh Tommy, I love you! But we've got to talk about this."

Talk? Somebody just hit my panic button. "Uh, sure ... About what?"

Beth looked at her ring then down at the floor. "Tommy, can we make this a long engagement? I DO want to marry you, but I want to finish school first."

"Beth, we can take as long as you want."

As we were leaving the house, Beth stopped to say goodbye to my folks.

"Beth, wait!" my mom hollered as she jumped up and grabbed Beth's wrist. "He did it!" she exclaimed, pointing at Beth's ring then hugging my lady to her. Dad got up and pounded my back, "Good for you! But I'm glad you waited until you graduated."

After getting dragged back into the living room we sat down and talked about plans, dates and all the minutiae that goes with weddings. Or maybe I should say Mom talked, Beth tried to get a word in edgeways, and Dad and I sat there watching the fun for a few minutes and then moved to the family room. I figured this would be a good time to bring up Beth's suggestion.

"Dad, Beth is going to move to a duplex her folks own near the campus and she asked if I wanted to live there too. Greg and Cindy are moving there too."

Dad grinned, "Oh, perfect, Beth and Cindy will have half the house and you and Greg the other, right?"

"Um, well, actually..." How was I going to handle this?

"Relax, Tommy. Mom and I figured you two would be moving together sooner or later." Hey! Breathing isn't that hard to do!

Out of the house at last, Beth collapsed in the car. "I didn't think your mom was ever going to stop! Do you think she understood nothing's set yet?"

"I don't know, but I'm not sure I should go home tonight, I'll have to go through it all over again."

I got that special look. "You could always stay with me tonight..."

Hmm, let's see, spend the night curled around my lady or face the third degree at home? Decisions, decisions.

"Maybe we could run away?" I joked.

"Well ... We could..."

"Hey, I was only kidding!"

"I'm not." I'd seen that look before. What was she up to now?

"Um ... is there something you want to tell me?"

"Yeah. Do you like trains?"

"Trains, yeah. I've only been on one and that was just an excursion train to the Grand Canyon. What are you up to?"

With a grin and a chuckle Beth just sat there. I knew I wasn't going to get any more info until she was ready. I just sighed and continued driving toward her house.

Once in the house Bev used the same radar my mom had to spot the ring and soon the same conversation was on. This time Beth's dad motioned me to follow him. Once in the kitchen he opened the refrigerator and pulled out a couple of beers. Handing one to me he chuckled, "This could take a while." I just nodded.

"Tommy, we've been waiting for this. You've made such a change in Beth's life we knew it was just a matter of time. Our daughter couldn't have nabbed a better guy.

"By the way, did she mention the duplex?" And suddenly my respiration was in trouble again.

"Yeah, she did."

"And?" Chuck obviously wasn't going to make this easy.

"I'd like very much to move. How do you feel about the idea?"

"What would you do if I said Bev and I didn't like the idea?"

"Then I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't be happy about it, but..."

"Tommy, relax. When we offered the house to Beth we just assumed you'd be moving in too."

Isn't there a rule about getting yanked by both sets of parents in the same day? There should be!

Chuck and I finished off our beers just as Beth came around the corner, grabbed me and headed for the stairs. Once in her room she collapsed on her bed.

"Tommy, I can't take any more of this! What's it going to be like when we finally set a date? Think we could elope?"

"Look at it this way, we'll have a few years to brace ourselves if we both want to finish school first. How does the idea of going for a Ph.D. sound?

"Speaking of eloping, why did you ask if I like trains?"

"Wellll ... If you can take two weeks away from all this fun I can offer you a trip to Seattle."

"Seattle? And why a train?"

"Because my parents and grandparents gave me a pair of passes, that's why. They're a graduation present!"

"Joan and Hank? That's right, they live in Seattle, don't they!"

"Yeah, and I'm sure they'd love to see you again. They wanted to be here for graduation but Grandpa Hank's off on some project."

"I thought he was retired?"

"He is, but he keeps getting volunteered for stuff and I guess he just doesn't know how to say 'no.'" I knew the feeling.

"Anyway the train trip is about two days each way." My lady suddenly dropped her voice to a very conspiratorial volume. "And we'd have a room all to ourselves for the trip."

Suddenly traveling by train was definitely the way to go!

The next morning I got call from Gracie.

"Tommy, can I get that picture we talked about?"

"Sure. You want it for Joey, right? A regular portrait with a 'special' picture on the back?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Gracie, you don't sound really thrilled. Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yeah, I just have to keep convincing myself."

We agreed to meet the following afternoon so I had the rest of the day to start cleaning up the basement. I felt a little guilty having taken over most of our downstairs area. What with a large area set up for product photography and another big chunk full of aluminum and other parts for my gadgetry, there wasn't much room left.

Beth and I already had all my gear loaded when Gracie pulled into the driveway so we were ready to go as soon as she grabbed her extra clothes. After we got to the farm I started posing her, using some of the same spots I'd used for Cindy's pictures.

After the regular poses, including a couple of changes of outfits, I looked at Gracie. "Are you ready for your special pictures?" I could tell she was still unsure of the whole idea.

Beth walked over. "If you don't want to do any full nudes, maybe something just a little risqué would be better?" With that my princess walked back to the Jeep and pulled out the picture that usually hung over her bed. "Maybe something like this?"

Gracie stared at the sedate nude I'd done of Beth. "God, you're beautiful. I could never look like that," she whispered.

"Gracie, let's take a walk. I want to tell you about another girl and a little black bikini..." Beth said as she led the nervous girl down the hill.

When they came back Gracie looked more sure of herself. "Okay, Tommy. I think I'm ready to do this."

I looked at Beth. "I think I forgot one of my filters in the car. I'll be back in a minute," I said as I gave her a slow wink. She just nodded with a little grin. She knew I was leaving the two of them alone to get Gracie ready. It's funny, but I noticed when I was doing Cindy's pictures that taking her clothes off was more embarrassing than the actual posing. This would hopefully get Gracie past that and give Beth a chance to get her in a not-too-revealing pose.

When I came back Gracie was leaning against a tree, her breasts were far enough behind the tree that her nipples were hidden and her front leg was far enough forward to show just a bit of one cheek. Gracie had shed a lot of weight in the last year but was still a bit Rubensesque compared to the size-zero supermodels most girls seemed to think was the ideal look. Personally, I thought she looked great. Now to convince her.

I picked up the Nikon as Beth moved the monster diffuser into position. I slipped a light soft-focus filter on the camera and took a couple of test shots.

One of the things I'd added to my gadget bag was a small portable DVD player that I could plug the camera into so I could use the larger screen for previews. This was much easier than having clients squinting at the small display on the camera itself.

"Do you want to see how good you look to the camera?" As if on cue, Beth handed her a big towel. After she wrapped herself up, Gracie came back to where I was holding the player with her first picture displayed.

"That's me?" the stunned girl exclaimed. "But I don't look like that!"

I glanced at Beth and saw her special smile.

I brought the next picture up and saw a tear on Gracie's cheek. "Oh, Tommy! I can't believe that's me," she whispered.

We spent another half-hour with other poses. Although Gracie seemed to loosen up as we worked, she wanted all the pictures to be like the first 'masked' ones. I also made it a point to turn around as she moved from pose to pose, letting Beth get her into position.

After we finished I excused myself and headed for the Jeep with the first armload of equipment. When I got back to our clearing Gracie was dressed and looking relieved that her ordeal was over.

When we got back to the house I told her I'd have a CD ready in a couple of days with the proofs in two separate directories, the special one password protected.

As we walked out to her car, Gracie looked at me. "Thank you, Tommy, for the pictures ... and for not looking." I glanced at her and saw the flush work its way up her neck and across her face.

A day later it was Sherry's turn. The standard outdoor portraits went fine, but I could tell she was even more nervous than Gracie about the specials.

Beth and I had talked about how shy Sherry seemed and came up with what I hoped would be a face-saving out.

"Sherry, since Steve's going to be living in a dorm, we should probably keep his special picture a little on the tame side. Just in case somebody else sees it." The flash of gratitude I saw confirmed my suspicion and our head cheerleader was more than happy to agree.

A couple of months before, Beth and I had gone to one of the local fabric stores. Now, a fabric shop was one of the last places I had ever expected to be, but I wanted something I could drape over whatever I was using for posing, whether it was a stool, a rock, a tree stump or anything else. While we were there Beth grabbed some thin fabric she said was used as lining for curtains. I was about to find out why she wanted it.

I was fiddling with the camera and Sherry was just fiddling, looking like she was trying to talk herself into, or out of, something.

"Beth can you give me a hand over here for a sec?" I said.

"I may be nuts, but I wonder if Steve's ever seen Sherry undressed," I said quietly as I pointed unnecessarily to the camera.

My lady looked at me like I was nuts. "Tommy, they've been going together for a year! What are the chances?"

"I don't know. I've just got a feeling she's more nervous about Steve seeing her picture than she is of us taking it. Could you find out?" I wasn't being chicken about asking—alright, not completely chicken—I just figured Sherry'd find it easier to confide in another girl.

Beth walked back to Sherry. "Let's take a little walk. Posing always gets people knotted up and a walk might help get the kinks out." As they wandered off I tried to figure a way to give Sherry the picture she wanted without scaring her off the idea completely.

When the girls walked back I caught a quick head shake. Oh, boy, another complication. Beth walked over to me, "Tommy, did you bring that thin material?" When I nodded she grinned. "I think I know how to do this."

What we ended up with reminded me of the dance of the seven veils. I walked back to the Jeep while Sherry stripped down to her bra and panties which, luckily enough, were almost an exact match for her skin tone. Beth draped the fabric around her and readjusted it for each pose. I had to hand it to my devious lady—with her image veiled by the material, it was almost impossible to tell Sherry wasn't nude.

As with Gracie, I excused myself and started taking stuff up to the Jeep as a very relieved Sherry got back into her clothes. When I set up the DVD player and showed her the pictures I saw her turning more and more red as we cycled through the images. I had to admit, even knowing she wasn't bare under the veil, some of the shots caused my jeans to shrink a bit.

When we got back to the house Sherry thanked me for putting up with her shyness.

"Sherry, there's nothing to apologize for. It's always easier to get good pictures if the subject is comfortable." I didn't mention some subjects make it easier than others.

"Tommy, I'm sure you think I'm nuts, but it's just the way I was raised. I hope Steve will like the picture."

"I'm sure he will. I'll make a CD of the proofs in a couple of days. Take your time deciding which ones you want, Beth and I are going to see her grandparents for a couple of weeks."

The next Saturday night we were standing on the platform ready to board the train.

The attendant took us to an upper level room.

"Let me know when you'd like the berths made up. Do you want both or just one?"

"I think we can get along with one," Beth answered.

"That's kind of what I thought," he answered with a grin that matched hers.

My lady plopped down on the seat and looked at me. "You ready for a ride?" After a second she colored. "I meant a ride on the train!"

"I think a ride on the train sounds good. But I think you forgot something."

"I did? What?"

"We're going to Granma's house. Shouldn't you have a red riding hood?"

I was expecting her reaction so her elbow missed.

After we were underway we decided to explore. As we left Beth stuck a note on our door that it was okay to make up our berth.

After roaming through what was going to be our home for the next day and a half we got back to our room to find it ready for us.

Beth looked at the berth. "So are we sleeping left to right or what?"

I saw what she meant, the berth was just a couple inches over three feet wide. Close ... but not too close if we snuggled, and there was no way I was going to sleep by myself!

"Why don't we get ready and then see what works out."

"Okay. I get the little room first!" Beth said. She opened the door to our bathroom and started laughing, "I guess I'm not kidding!" I looked over her shoulder and saw what she meant— a toilet, sink and shower in the space of a very small closet!

After we both got ready I looked at the berth. "You want the outside or the wall?"

"I guess I'll get in first ... as long as you promise to behave yourself!"

"That would depend on what you mean by behaving myself," I grinned.

There's something almost magical to making love in time to the clickety-clack of a train. It's too bad the railroads are all moving to welded rails. A click every quarter of a mile just isn't the same.

We woke up to find ourselves traveling across North Dakota, just in time to pass the geographic center of the Northern Hemisphere, or so the dining steward told us as we sat down for breakfast. After we ate we went back to our room to read. Well, read and other things. The Dakota landscape gets boring after a while.

As we were finishing dinner we reached the east end of Glacier Park and the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. I asked the steward about the number of people we saw getting off the train at the East Glacier stop. He told us it wasn't unusual for people to get off the train there, rent a car and drive through the park for a few days, then drop the car at West Glacier and get back on the train for the rest of their trip west. Hmmm ... Next trip, maybe?

That night we went to sleep in Montana, slept through Idaho and woke up in Washington. A quick breakfast and we were in Seattle.

Joan and Hank met us at the station and Joan immediately spotted Beth's ring. "So who's the lucky guy, Beffy?" Hank asked.

It's nice to know elbows work on other people too.

"Tommy, you're a lucky guy," Hank told me.

"I know I am, sir ... err, Hank."

"And you, young lady," Hank said, turning toward his granddaughter, "I guess now that you're engaged and all grown up I should stop calling you Beffy."

"Oh, grandpa!" Beth said as she hugged Hank to her. "I'll always be your Beffy." I could see a little tear in her eye.

"So are you planning on a quick wedding?" Joan asked Beth. I could see the looks of pride on both Joan's and Hank's faces when Beth told them we were going to wait until we'd finished school.

"Well," Joan said, "I suppose five years isn't too long to wait for great-grandkids."

No pressure there.

Beth's grandparents lived in a big old house south of Seattle, and when we walked in it was obvious a lot of remodeling had been done. The kitchen was a sea of stainless steel and granite.

They walked us through the house to a huge guestroom with French doors that led out to a deck that ran the whole back of the house. "On a clear day you can even see that big pile of rock to the south," Hank said.

"He means Mount Rainier, Tommy," Joan said, giving her husband that loving "you're-such-an-idiot" look I'd seen from her granddaughter a few times.

"I didn't bother making up the second guestroom. I hope that's okay?" Joan said with a grin.

"Oh, this will be fine," Beth said with a return grin.

After we got settled we found Joan and Hank at the kitchen table.

The four of us sat around the table talking about things to see and do in the area.

Hank mentioned the Seattle underground.

"Seattle's got gangsters?" I said, trying to figure out why they'd be something people would want to see.

With a chuckle Hank explained about the lower level of downtown Seattle. Apparently part of the city was built on an area that would become a muddy mess when it rained, so after a huge fire in the late 1800's the streets were raised and new sidewalks built so the old first-floor display windows and entrances for some of the buildings were suddenly in the basement and now they had tours of the area. Sounded like an interesting trip.

"And then there's Pike Place Market," Hank added, "and of course a stop at Starbucks, Seattle's main contribution to conspicuous consumption." That earned him a "bad pun" groan from his wife.

Joan fixed us a great dinner that first night—a nice light salad with grilled chicken—figuring we'd want to crash early. I had to admit the two hour time difference was catching up to me even though the time on the train helped ease the difference.

As we were getting ready for bed I noticed Beth acting a little strange. "Is something wrong?"

"Hmm? Oh, no. It's just that the last time I slept in this bed I was twelve and hadn't even started thinking about boys and now..."

"And now you've got one of your own, right?" She just nodded, still looking a little uneasy.

"Well, that couch looks pretty comfortable," I said and found myself on my back on the bed with a no-longer-twelve-year-old Beth leaning over me determined to show me what she'd learned about boys in six years.

Tuesday we just took it easy. Hank had a couple hours of work to finish up on his latest project so we just lazed away the day, listening to Joan tell family stories, reading, and just cuddling. Not that cuddling with Beth was ever "just"!

The next day Joan and Hank drove us into Seattle and the four of us spent the day as tourists. We hit the Market—and Starbucks—the underground tour, took the monorail to the 1962 World's Fair site and rode the elevator to the top of the Space Needle. The following day we drove up to Everett, went to the flight museum and visited the largest damn building I'd ever seen to watch Boeing build airplanes.

By Thursday night Beth and I were ready to crash. We wished Joan and Hank goodnight and stumbled up to our room, where we assumed our usual curled together position, and were soon in dreamsville.

"Oh my God!"

I rolled over and saw a goddess standing in front of the French doors, all her beautiful skin glowing in the rays of the rising sun. I looked past her to see what she was talking about and levitated out of bed, reaching for the camera. Over Beth's shoulder I'd seen Mount Rainier highlighted by the beautiful dawn. I grabbed the Nikon, a longer lens, opened the door, screwed a string-pod into the base of the Nikon and started taking pictures. It was a perfect morning—the sky was totally clear except for just enough high haze to give the mountain a slight shadow in the air.

It wasn't until I noticed the rope from the string-pod rubbing between my toes and heard Hank's chuckled, "Now there stands a true photographer!" that I realized I was standing out on the deck bare to my hair. I looked down the deck and saw Hank and Joan, huge grins on their faces, saluting me with their coffee mugs! I retreated with as much dignity as I could muster—not much!— and found my lady holding her sides, laughing so hard she was hiccupping.

"Oh, T-Tommy, I can't b-believe you did that!"

Well, I couldn't either. I just hoped some of the pictures of the mountain would help offset what this was going to add to Jones family lore.

That morning we rented a car to go exploring on our own. Beth was a fan of the old Northern Exposure TV show and wanted a picture of Cicely Alaska. So we drove to Roslyn where the exteriors for the show were filmed, and Beth had me take some pictures with her posing in front of some of the buildings used in the show. We spent the rest of the day just driving around exploring.

When we got back to the house Joan had dinner waiting for us. As we ate the conversation turned to the farm and I remembered something I'd brought with me. Excusing myself, I walked back to our room and dug through my suitcase.

As I walked back to the kitchen I heard Beth say, "I don't know what he's up to."

"I'm not up to anything. I just remembered I'd brought this along for the two of you," I said as I handed Joan and Hank a sixteen-by-twenty print of the farm taken from the air.

"Tommy! Where did you get this?" Joan asked quietly. I could see the picture was bringing back memories for Beth's grandmother.

"One of my first paying jobs was to do some aerial photography out that direction and I asked Jim, the pilot, to take a little detour so I could get some pictures."

"Tommy, why didn't you tell me about that?" Beth asked.

"Because it kind of got lost in the shuffle. Remember how busy I was that first month or so? I remembered them when you dropped this trip on me."

"Tommy, this brings back a lot of very fond memories," Hank said as he stood behind Joan with his hand on her shoulder. "Thank you."

"I'm sorry it's not matted and framed, but it wouldn't have fit in my suitcase. This way you can frame it any way you want to."

We were getting ready for bed when Beth came up and wrapped her arms around me. "Tommy, that was nice of you.

"I know we haven't talked much about the farm, but it really bothered Joan when they were getting ready to move out here and a friend who was a lawyer told them they shouldn't leave the buildings empty. Something about liability if someone was hurt. That was the house she grew up in and taking it down really hurt.

"They didn't want to sell the land but the house and barn were showing their age, my folks were married and had just bought the duplex, so they finally hired a company to come out and dismantle both buildings after they moved. I guess they had a deal to share any money from selling the bits and pieces to antique dealers and that let Hank start their company, so at least something good came out of it.

"I don't think they've been out there since."

"Was the picture a mistake? I mean did I bring up some bad memories?"

"Oh, no, Tommy! They really loved it! I could tell."

Saturday morning we drove back to Seattle and took the ferry to Bainbridge Island. From there we drove up into Olympic National Park.

As we were driving along one of the curvy mountain roads in the park Beth spotted a group of mule deer standing along the side of the road. I pulled over, shut off the car and took the keys so the dinging of the key reminder wouldn't spook my next subjects.

I grabbed the camera, changed to a long zoom lens, carefully opened the door, slowly climbed out—leaving the door open so I didn't slam it by accident—and started snapping as I edged my way toward the quietly munching ruminants. I stopped when I was maybe fifty feet away. I didn't want to scare them off, just wanted some pictures.

I was maybe halfway back to the car when I noticed Beth looking like she was having a seizure of some kind. Finally she recovered enough to point behind me. I turned around and found I was at the head of a parade! There were six deer calmly following me back to the car with the closest one only five feet away! So much for needing to be stealthy.

"Looks like you've got some fans out there," Beth laughed when I was back in the car.

The rest of the drive through the park was amazing. I knew California had some big trees but Washington's forests have nothing to be ashamed of—I'd never seen trees as big as the ones we saw! And glaciers? Mount Olympus isn't that tall but there's a lot of snow on the top and a lot of big ice cubes marching down its sides.

We spent Saturday night in a B&B in Port Angeles. Sunday morning we drove west along the coast before heading back to catch the ferry to Seattle.

Monday we spent the day with Joan and Hank which gave me the chance to learn a lot more about Beth's family history. Monday afternoon, as we were sitting around the kitchen table—apparently the favorite piece of furniture in the Jones household—Hank looked at me.

"Tommy, I've been thinking about that tripod extender you've come up with and I've got some ideas." With that, he jumped up, grabbed me and started down the hall toward what Joan called the Inner Sanctum, a room filled—like almost every room of their house—with bookcases but dominated by a huge drafting table.

As we walked down the hall I heard Joan say to Beth, "Well, we might as well find some way to kill the rest of the day. We won't be seeing the guys for a while."

When we got to the I.S. Hank grabbed a piece of drafting paper, sat down at the table, pulled one of the ever-present mechanical pencils from his shirt pocket, and started drawing my extender.

"Does that look reasonably accurate?" he asked when he was done.

"Yeah. The hinge arrangement's a little different but, yeah, that's my baby."

"Well, how about..." Hank took a fresh piece of paper and started drawing just the end where the extender joined to the tripod. " ... and if you make the hinges with slip-pins you could..." He went on to describe a way to modify my design so it could be attached to almost anything: a fence post, a telephone pole or even a tree, if you had a long enough Velcro strap.

"Hank! That's a great idea! And if I just..." We talked for another couple of hours before Beth banged on the door frame to get our attention. "Dinner's ready, are you?" Hank and I looked at each other, food did sound good. He gathered all the drawings into a neat pile and we followed our noses out to the kitchen where Joan had worked her magic again.

Lying in bed that night I thought about how important books were to the Jones clan. I remembered how surprised I'd been that first night when I saw the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in Beth's room and the fact that they were full of books, not knick-knacks and stuffed animals. Thinking about it, it seemed every room in their house had at least one bookcase in it, and Hank and Joan's house was the same.

"Did you have fun today?" Beth asked me.

"Yeah, Hank came up with some great improvements to my extender.

"It's really something watching him freehand a drawing and have it end up look like a finished blueprint. Drafting like that's going to be a lost art pretty soon."

"You really like my grandparents, don't you?"

"Yeah, yeah I do ... Almost as much as their granddaughter" I said as I pulled her close.

Unfortunately all good things must end and soon we were waiting to board the train for our return trip.

"Tommy, we're going to miss you," Joan said as she gave me a big hug. "We've always wanted a grandson and we'll be proud to welcome you to the family."

Hank grabbed my hand and slapped me on the shoulder. "Tommy, you take good care of Beth, you hear? We're both happy we're going to have you as part of the family, but we're also happy you're not rushing into anything."

He pulled me a few steps away from the ladies. "Tommy, you have no idea what that picture of the farm meant to Joan. That was a nice thing to do. Thank you." He pulled me into a bear hug.

"Hank, I'm so glad we came out here. You came up with the perfect graduation present for Beth."

They called for boarding the train and after some quick hugs we were on our way home.

The trip back gave us plenty of time to talk.

"Tommy, thank you for agreeing to this trip. I know a lot of guys would run the other way at the idea of spending a week with a girl's grandparents."

"That's because not many girls have grandparents like yours."

I saw a quick shadow pass over Beth's face and I remembered what she'd said about her other grandparents. Dammit, Tommy, you've stuffed your foot in it again! I thought as I returned to my book.

"Ugh! Enough reading!" Obviously the tome Beth was trying to get through wasn't holding her attention.

"You should try something lighter. You bring any romances?" I kidded her.

"What's the matter? Not getting enough? You don't know what those bodice-rippers used to do to me," was her chuckled reply. "I'm going for a walk. You coming?"

"I don't think so. I'm just going to sit here for a while and watch the world go by."

After Beth left I was digging through my suitcase when I found a paper bag at the bottom under all the clothes and stuff. What I pulled out was a book on basic drafting for engineers.

When Beth got back I was sitting with the book on my lap, just staring at it.

"What's that, Tommy?" she said plopping down next to me. "It looks like one of Grandpa Hank's books." I opened the book. On the inside cover, under the flap of the dust jacket, she could see...

Henry Jones
M.I.T. '65

Beth looked at the title. "Tommy, that's his favorite book! I remember catching hell for just touching it when I was a kid. How'd you get it?"

I flipped the page and opposite the title page, printed in his exacting lettering...


Let all your lines be straight,
Your curves graceful,
Your angles exact,
And art in every drawing.


"Oh, Tommy! I can't believe he gave this to you. I think I'm jealous."

"Beth, Monday afternoon was a real experience for me. After that class we took in school I thought I knew what I was doing when it came to drawing up blueprints, but watching Hank showed me that class was just AutoCAD for Dummies compared to what he can do with just a pencil."

"Hey, there's something else in the bag." She reached in and pulled out the stack of drawings Hank had done for my extender mods. "Looks like it's back to the shop basement for you," she chuckled.

As we lay wrapped together that night I was thinking of Hank and how things have changed since he was in school. His was probably the last generation that really knew how to do that sort of work without a computer. Was the book his way of passing the torch? I was going to have to get a drafting table and some supplies when we got home.

"Don't worry, Tommy." I heard Beth's quiet voice as she snuggled closer. "I'll take you to a drafting supply company when we get home."

HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? Do I have an LED display in my forehead that only she can see? I mean HOW?

My folks were waiting for the train when we got home. I'm convinced traveling west-to-east is harder than the other way around. It was about seven in the morning but it felt more like five. We dropped Beth off at home and she wouldn't let me go until I promised to call her after I finally woke up.

The folks gave me a light grilling as we drove home but as soon as I was in the house I crashed.

Do phones have sleep-sensitive rings? I felt like I'd just dropped my head on the pillow when this tornado warning siren went off right next to me.

"Wha ... who... ?"

"Tommy, wake up! The cleaning crew is done at the duplex. Let's go look!"

Now I love my lady and would do anything to protect her, but at that exact moment...

"Uh, okay. Let me get ready and I'll stop over to get you."

"Hurry, Tommy! I want to see our new home!"

Our new home? I guess it was.

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