Thanks to everyone that helped me with this story. My friend Rachael who helped me with ideas (I love you, baby sis), my editor, PapaKilo14 for his usual sterling job, my second edit Hal for his good work and of course, my beta readers for their help. They all make me look like I'm not an idiot.
I lived on the right side of the street. Not right as in the opposite of left, but right as in the opposite of wrong. There wasn't anything bad about the other side of the street; it was just an unlucky place to live. My side was lucky. I never knew it until May the 22nd. I live in Joplin, Missouri. I was in Tulsa. I was flying home from Austin and the plane came into Tulsa when I wanted it to, so I drove the two hours to get the flight I wanted. I got my car out of long term parking and popped the trunk. I have a black Charger RT and I'm in love with it. I had a SRT-8 on order but I wasn't going to get rid of the RT. It would be my daily driver. I was playing an album on my iPod on the way home and wasn't paying much attention to the rest of the world.
I hadn't listened to Montrose in a long time but I saw a movie on the flight home that reminded me of Bad Motor Scooter so I was singing along with Sammy Hagar. No one could hear me and my car wasn't offended. We had an understanding. Sometimes I listen to her and sometimes she listens to me. When I got to Joplin the first thing I noticed was that the hospital had been destroyed. It looked like a bomb had blown it up. A cop flagged me down and told me I couldn't get through.
"I live here," I told him. "What the hell do you mean I can't get through?"
"A big tornado just came through," he said. "Where do you live?"
I gave him my address and he looked at a map. "You're right where the tornado hit," he said. "You can't go there."
There's no use arguing with the police. I turned around and went around the back way. It was a mess. There was debris everywhere and it took me a long time and several backtracks to get home. One of the trees in the yard on the side of my house had fallen on the kitchen and every window on the south and west was gone but my house survived. Everything on the other side of the street was gone. The church across the street was badly damaged and the bell was sitting on some guy's car. All my neighbor's houses, the store on the corner, everything was gone. There was damage on my side of the street but the houses were all there. Some idiot had painted a big orange X on my siding. That was going to be hell to clean off. There were a lot of emergency people around and I went in the back door. I cleaned up all the glass and got black plastic to duct tape over the broken windows. I went out the front door to look at the east side and there were two girls sitting on my front step. I recognized them right away. They belonged to my neighbors across the street and their house was gone. They were holding on to each other and crying. They looked up when I opened the door. I tried to remember their names. Kaitlyn and Amber Osborn; I remembered.
"Hey girls, you okay?" I asked.
"Hi, Mr. Chapman," Kaitlyn said. "Yes we're not hurt. We were over at a friend's house three blocks north and we got in their basement. Our house is gone and we can't find Mom and Dad. We're afraid they got hurt." They started to cry harder.
"Well, come in and we'll try to find out," I told them. "I'll get you something to drink and we'll talk to some emergency workers."
"Thanks, Mr. Chapman," Amber said.
"Please, my dad is Mr. Chapman," I told them. "My name is Cedric."
I took them to the refrigerator. The power was out and if we didn't get rid of the perishables pretty quick they were going to spoil. I sent them to the garage for coolers and ice out of the freezer out there. I got everything that had to stay cold out and we packed it in chests. We drank the milk. That's what they wanted and I drank a glass too and we ate some chocolate chip cookies. The milk wouldn't last anyway. I took them outside and immediately, some clown came by and told us we needed to evacuate.
"We live here and we're not going anywhere," I told him. "These girls need to find their parents. Who should we talk to?"
He didn't have a clue but he told us we had to leave again. "No, you're on my property and you need to leave," I told him. "Come on, girls."
We went to the front yard. The maple tree there had the top broken out and it was a mess but not a priority. We talked to a couple of more emergency people and they told us that people whose homes had been destroyed were at churches and shelters around but it might take a few days to a week to get everyone found. People that were hurt were in temporary hospitals and the other one that hadn't been destroyed.
The girls were pretty upset about that but I told them they could stay with me until we found their parents. I tried to keep them busy for a while. The gas had been turned off but I had an underground propane tank. I changed the orifice and we got the water heater lit. We still had running water. I took them out to the garage and we got the generator running. It wouldn't run the whole house but we could keep the lights running and some other things. We got a window air conditioner and put it in the living room window. The generator could handle that and we shut all the doors we could. We dragged three mattresses into the living room and made up beds. I changed the orifices in the range, cooked supper and we took showers upstairs.
I gave them shorts and t-shirts to wear and that's what I put on too. They were both tiny little things. Amber was fourteen and Kaitlyn was sixteen. Amber was a freshman and Kaitlyn was a junior. We kind of talked and got acquainted. I told them we could turn off the lights and run the TV and PlayStation 4 if they wanted to pick out a movie or play a game. We sat on the sofa in the cool air under the air conditioner and they looked over my movies and picked out a Blue-ray. It was Monty Python and the Holy Grail and we laughed like hyenas. They sat on either side of me and put my arms around them. They seemed like they were getting very comfortable with me and I realized I had two very pretty girls staying with me.
Neither one of them had much going on in the development way. They were both very short, maybe five one or two and slender. Amber had very blonde hair and Kaitlyn had kind of strawberry blonde hair. They both had freckles, but Amber's eyes were baby blue and Kaitlyn had these glowing green eyes. They were very happy girls and even though they were worried about their parents they seemed like they were okay. We watched one of those stupid vampire romances they picked out and they loved it. I hated it, but I liked them, so I put up with it. I can't imagine what possessed me to buy that title.
We moved to our beds about halfway through the movie and I fell asleep. When I woke up someone was pounding on the door and the TV was just the PlayStation home screen. The pounding woke the girls up and they went with me to the door.
"What do you want?" I asked whoever was out there.
"Is everyone okay in there? We're with the fire department!"
"Thanks for checking," I told them. "We're fine."
We went back to bed but the girls were a little upset. They pulled their mattresses over next to mine and we went back to sleep. That happened four more times. I was getting tired of it. I made a sign and put it on the front door. "We're fine and we're sleeping," it said.
About four in the morning some asshole knocked anyway. "You can't stay here," he said when I answered the door. "This area has been evacuated."
"Go away and leave us alone," Amber shouted.
The next time I woke up it was to the sound of the lock being broken on the back door. I jumped up and grabbed a shotgun out of the closet under the stairs. I heard people moving around and when they came into the dining room I snapped on the light. The sound of a round being jacked into a .12 gauge froze them in their tracks. There were four of them and I think they were looters but they pretended to be emergency workers. I went along with it but I escorted them back out the door with the shotgun and I locked the dead bolt that time and propped a chair under the knob. The girls were pretty freaked out now and they came over on my mattress and huddled against me. I let them use me for a pillow and we went back to sleep. It was ten when I woke up and the girls were already up and making breakfast. We carried it back to the living room and talked while we ate.
We went out in the yard after breakfast and I got out my chainsaw. We cut the fallen tree up and made a woodpile. We worked in the yard all day and asked everyone that came by about the girl's parents. No one knew anything and I told them we'd just have to be patient. As soon as they got the streets clear of trees and power lines we'd drive around and look for them. We walked over to St. Paul's Church at dinner time and they fed us and gave us water, food and some clothes for the girls, just underwear, t-shirts and stuff. FEMA was starting to show up and as soon as it was safe to come in they promised they'd get clean up and rescue crews in.
It took three days to get the roads safe and the girls and I were starting to feel like family. They talked to me constantly. I knew their whole life history. They asked so many questions that I wound up telling them mine. I knew the name of the dog they used to have and their first boyfriends, how Kaitlyn had fallen off the swing and broken her arm when she was ten and that Amber played guitar. It felt like I had known them all my life and I think they were feeling the same way about me. They were the sweetest girls I had ever met most of the time, but they had tempers. They fought like hornets and in five minutes they were best friends again. I could tell the thought of their parents was heavy on their minds but they just had dazzling personalities and they filled my life with joy. I wondered why I hadn't made the effort to get acquainted with them before. When volunteers started coming into the neighborhood to help with the cleanup I knew we could get out. There were some centers where displaced people were taking shelter and we checked them all. There wasn't any sign of their parents and they were starting to get very worried. We checked all over town that day and by the time we got back home they were very sad girls.
"What are we going to do, Cedric?" Amber was crying.
"We're going to keep looking," I told them. They were huddled up against me and I could feel them shaking as they cried. They were breaking my heart. I held them and tried to keep their spirits up as much as I could.
"It may be weeks before they find everyone," I told them. "We'll try churches tomorrow. A lot of people are staying in churches or with friends in other parts of town and even in other towns."
"Why haven't they come looking for us?" Kaitlyn wept.
"Something has happened to them, Cedric. I'm afraid they're hurt or dead. They would have come looking for us if they could." Amber was sobbing into my chest.
"Maybe they don't have any transportation and they can't come. They may be hurt and in the hospital somewhere," I said. "Don't worry about it. That doesn't do any good. We'll find them and if they're hurt we'll help them. I'm not going to let anything happen to you. You can stay with me as long as it takes. I'm not giving up and I don't want you to either. We're going to be okay."
Kaitlyn peeked up at me with those big emerald eyes. "Thank you Cedric. I don't know what we'd have done without you. You've been so good to us. We love you."
That nearly made me cry. "I love you girls too," I told them. "We're going to be friends for a long time. I'm just sorry I never got a chance to get to know you before."
"I wanted to talk to you, but I didn't know you were so nice," Amber said. "I didn't think you'd be so much fun or that you'd want to talk to high school girls or be so hot."
I blushed all over. "Well, you're very sweet girls and I hope you won't think I'm too old to be friends with after this is all over," I told them.
"You're not old," Kaitlyn said. "How old are you, Cedric?"
"I'm twenty-six," I told them.
We watched another movie and went to bed. Their beds were still beside mine but they might as well have not been there because they only used mine. I was a sandwich between two sleepy girls and I had been for four nights. They still used my arms for pillows and it was a little disturbing. They were very soft and their skin was silky. They smelled good too. I rebuked myself for having impure thoughts when I felt hard little nipples pressed against me through thin t-shirts as they snuggled up against me. They took over my t-shirt supply and with what they had been given at the church that's all they wore when we were in the house. Well, they wore panties too and I saw a lot of them. Their butts were so small that the only things that fit them were little girl panties. There were two incredibly tight, round butts in those panties though. Both of them just had little bee stings for breasts but they had nipples that seemed to always be hard and trying to tear through that thin cloth.
It took us three days to search the churches and on the fourth day we started the hospitals. We found their Mom. She had a broken leg and a broken arm. She had a concussion and she was in the hospital under sedation. Amanda was an older, curvier copy of her girls. She was pretty beat up but she was conscious and when she saw her girls she tried to get up out of the bed. They ran and threw themselves on her. They squeaked and cried and nearly hugged that poor woman to death. When they got around to asking her about their dad I knew something bad had happened. Mandy started to cry and she quickly got hysterical. I got a nurse to come and she gave Mandy something in an IV that calmed her down right away.
We huddled around her bed and she told them that their Daddy was gone. They had gotten in the bathtub and he was on top of her when the house started coming apart around them. A splintered two by four had come flying through the air and stabbed through his back, into his lungs and heart and he died instantly. Mandy had been trapped under him for nearly an hour and it had nearly driven her crazy. She was still in a lot of trauma. Kaitlyn stayed with her at the hospital and Amber went home with me. She didn't say anything until we pulled up in the garage and then she just threw herself on me, crying like a baby. She crawled across the console into my lap and I held her while she shook and sobbed like she was dying. I just held her, petting her hair and kissing the top of her head. She wouldn't stop crying and finally I just got out and carried her inside. I sat on the sofa and held her while she poured out her grief.
She recovered enough to go and take a shower and I made her eat some pizza. We went to bed and she lay with her head on my chest and I held her. She told me about her Dad and how much she had loved him. He seemed like the perfect father. She was a gymnast and he had never missed a single competition she had been in. They had their arguments, just like any father and daughter, but she was his baby and he had devoted his life to his family. He was a diesel mechanic and worked long hours but he was never too tired to hear about her day or help her with homework or anything she needed. She talked and cried until she went to sleep, cradled in my arms with her cheek on my chest. She felt so little and precious and innocent that I cried a lot myself.
When I woke up in the morning she was still there. She was awake and watching me with those big blue eyes. When she saw I was awake she stretched like a sleepy kitten and settled back in.
"What are we going to do, Cedric?" she asked.
"About what?" I asked.
"We don't have anywhere to live," she said. "Daddy's gone and Mom doesn't make very much money. She's a waitress. The school is torn up. The town is a mess. What's going to happen to us?"
"You do have somewhere to live," I told her. "You don't like my house?"
"Yes, but I don't think you want three sad girls living with you," she said. "You have your own life."
"You've forgotten something," I said. "Do you love me?"
She blushed a little. "Yes."
"Well, I love you and when you love someone, you do things that make them happy. It makes me feel good inside to do things for you. You can stay here as long as you want to. You can stay forever if you want to. I hope you do. Eventually, your insurance company will pay for your house and you can get another one. I suppose your Dad had life insurance. It probably won't be enough for you all to retire, but you can get a fresh start. Don't worry about that stuff, Amber. You're a freshman in high school. You just need to be that. You have all your life ahead of you. I know this is a tough time, but you're going to be okay."
She wiggled around, getting more comfortable. "If you could just hold me here forever I'd be happy," she said.
"As much as I'd like that, I'm hungry and I need to visit the restroom," I told her. "We need to go to the hospital and relieve Kaitlyn. I think you should stay with your mother tonight and let Kaitlyn get some rest. Mandy should be able to come home soon. We need to get ready for that."
She scooted up and her gorgeous little face was inches from mine. She looked in my eyes for a minute. She seemed to find something there and she leaned down and kissed me. It lasted for a while and then she pulled away with a sigh and squeezed me. "Thank you, Cedric," she said. "Thank you for everything. I love you."
"You're welcome," I told her. "I love you too." She laughed and got up. She went to the bathroom downstairs and I went upstairs. We drove to the hospital and Mandy and Kaitlyn were both asleep. We went to the waiting room and sat on a love seat in there. I read a magazine and she cuddled up against me. She was a very physical girl and she tried to be touching me all the time. I wondered if she was like that with everyone. I noticed that the sisters hugged each other all the time, so maybe it was a family thing.
When we went back in, they were both awake. Amber stayed with her mother and I took Kaitlyn home to rest, get cleaned up and get something to eat. It was lunch time and we went to the Red Cross trailer down the street. They gave us food in Styrofoam containers and we took it home. We sat on the sofa and ate. Kaitlyn told me about her night and how her mother was doing. The doctor had come around and said Mandy could go home in the morning.
"We don't have a home to go to though," she said.
"This is your home as long as you need it," I told her. "We'll bring her here."
Kaitlyn looked up at me with tears in her eyes. "You're so nice to us, Cedric. Thank you. I'll make it up to you somehow."
"No, you won't," I told her. "You don't owe me anything, Kaitlyn. I've only known you a little while, but I love you. I'd do anything for you and you don't have to make anything up to me."
That made her cry even more and she went to take a shower. She came out with a towel wrapped around her hair and her usual t-shirt and panties on. "I'm very tired," she said. "I'm going to sleep now."
I got out my iPad and I was reading a book while she took a nap. She squirmed around for a while.
"Cedric, I can't sleep. Come down here so I can hold you," she said. "I'm used to having you to snuggle up to."
I laughed and crawled up on the mattress beside her. "That's better," she sighed, scooching up against me. She put her pillow on my arm and draped one leg and arm over me. I hugged her and she was asleep. I fell asleep too after a while and when I woke up she was nearly on top of me. All that strawberry hair was covering us and I looked down at her. Her lips were slightly parted and she twitched in her sleep occasionally. I guess she was dreaming. Her leg was over my cock and I was as hard as an iron bar. The crotch of her panties was pressed against my thigh and I swear they felt a little damp against me. I tried to ease out from under her but she moved and hung on, not letting me slip away. I tried again and she opened her eyes.
"What time is it?" she asked sleepily.
I looked at my phone. "It's three-thirty,"
She moved her leg and froze. I was busted! There was no way she didn't feel my erection against her thigh. She didn't move for a minute. She looked up at me and I felt her rub her panties against my thigh. I didn't act like I noticed and she did it again.
"Kaitlyn, don't baby," I whispered.
"Why not?" she said. "I can feel you, Cedric. I know what that is."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I was like that when I woke up."
"Is it because of me?" she asked.
"Yes, but it shouldn't be," I told her. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to perv on you or anything."
"I like it," she said. "I love you, Cedric. You're really hunky and my panties were wet when I went to sleep. I know I'm not sexy, but maybe I could be for you."
"Who told you you aren't sexy?' I asked.
"I don't have big boobs or a fat ass," she said. "I know men like that."
"No you don't have that. I like big boobs and fat asses as much as the next guy," I told her. "I like tiny little boobs and hard, tight little asses too. Don't you ever let anyone tell you that you aren't sexy, Kaitlyn. You're as sexy as hell! When those girls with big boobs and fat asses are just fat and saggy you're still going to be as sexy as hell. If you were older I'd be all over you."
"Instead, I'm all over you," she giggled. "So I have to be old to be with you?"
I laughed. "Not old, just older."
"I'm horny now," she said. "My dad was six years older than Mom."
"Yes, but they were older than either one of us," I told her. "You're too young, Kaitlyn."
She grabbed my hand and pulled it down to her panties. They were soaked and she rubbed herself on my hand.
"Does that feel too young?"
"Jesus Christ, Kaitlyn, you're sixteen," I said "No, that feels amazing but I don't want to find out what jail food is like or play hide the soap with Bubba in the shower."
"I'll never tell anyone," she said.
"What about Amber?" I asked her.
"Yes, I'll tell her," she said. "She wants you too."
"Oh, my God; I'm going to hell," I groaned.
"I think it would be more like heaven," she said. "Just think, you've got two teenaged girls hot for you. All the boys I know would give their left nut to be you."
"Yes, but I'm not a boy you know," I said.
"Oh, well that cock under my leg sure feels like you're a boy," she said. She reached down and grabbed me.
I groaned and she slid all the way on top of me and kissed me. Her little mouth was soft and luscious and her lips were alive against mine. She sat up on me and pulled her t-shirt over her head. She was breathtaking. Those of you who have never seen a naked sixteen-year-old girl have no idea. I had never seen a naked sixteen-year-old girl and she was spectacular. She wasn't just a naked sixteen-year-old girl. She was an incredibly beautiful sixteen-year old-girl that could have easily been a runway model if she was taller. She just had those tiny little titties that made little cones that stuck out about two inches from her chest. The ends were covered by brown areolae with hard little nipples the same color as little points on the tips. They were as hard as diamonds and she scooted up on me until they were right in my face. She lowered one of them to my lips and I tried to turn my head. I really did. She took my head in her hands and I was lost.
As she lowered her little body down my mouth opened involuntarily and she fit that whole little cone inside. I sucked it up, fluttering my tongue over that hard little nipple and she moaned, pushing her breast into my mouth and her fingers tangled in my hair. I let my teeth graze it and she shuddered. She fed me the other one and this time she began to tremble. When my lips closed around that nipple she arched her back, thrusting against me and I sucked it hard. She went into orbit, writhing and rubbing her pussy on my belly as she came, calling my name over and over again. I thought that this must be the first time anyone had ever tasted those little breasts.
She scooted back until she could kiss me and she was panting heavily.
"That was so amazing, Cedric," she gasped. "I've never felt like that in my life."
"Have you ever rubbed yourself?" I asked her.
She blushed. "Yes, it felt good but not like that. I want to do it again."
I rolled her onto her side and squeezed her close. When I slid my hand down that silky back and inside her panties to cup one hard little cheek she gasped. I pulled her against me and let her feel my cock against her belly. I squeezed her butt and she flexed under my fingers, giggling a little. She was absolutely charming in every way. I slid my hand inside her panties, up over her hip and down across a flat plane until I cupped her pussy in my hand. She was silky. That's the only way to describe her. Her hair wasn't long and it was thin and wispy. It wasn't a big patch either, but it felt very exotic under my touch; fine and just silky. I pushed at her panties and she reached down and wiggled them off.
I pulled away to look at her and I could hardly breathe. She looked like someone's fantasy of an erotic doll! She was delicate and fragile looking. She had the same fire down below that was on her head. I ran my fingers through it and her hips twisted a little. She looked very young and I started feeling guilty again. She sensed my hesitation and she grabbed my hand and pushed it between her thighs. I ran a finger through her slit and it was soaking wet. She groaned and thrust her hips up, seeking more contact and I gave it to her. Her juices were thick and syrupy and I used them to coat her tiny little clitoris. It was just a bump but it quickly became erect and when I started stroking it she went wild again, moaning my name over and over again. I knew she would quickly become too sensitive to touch so I stopped and kissed my way down her belly and all over the inside of her thighs. When I dipped my tongue inside her tight little opening she jerked like she had been shocked and went off again. I could plainly see her virgin barrier and I didn't want to break it, so I just played with her lips and attacked her clit until she came again. She was a screamer and she came over and over again.
"Oh, ah, my God, Cedric!" she groaned. "That's so ... that's so ... Jesus, it's good!"
She thrashed around and bucked under me until I grabbed her hard little ass and held her still. She strained against my hands and I could see her little pussy pulsing. She began to struggle to escape.
"Stop, Cedric," she moaned. "Please, I can't take any more. God you're killing me! Please!"
"Cum for me again," I told her and went back to work. I ate that hot little pussy until I thought my tongue was going to fall off and she was nearly hysterical with sensation.
She pushed frantically against my head and I allowed her to push me away. I slid back up over her so I could kiss her. She grabbed my head and crushed her lips against mine. She pushed me up and looked at my face for a minute.
"That was exactly how I dreamed it would be," she said.
I pressed my cock against her wetness and she flinched.
"No, Cedric; I can't do any more now. Please, this was the first time I've ever let a man touch me like that and I'm just overloaded."
She fought out from under me and pushed me down on my back. "I'm going to do you now," she said.
She bent over me and I pulled her down until I could get my hands on her amazing ass. I couldn't believe how firm and resilient it felt. I could smell the arousal she was putting off and when I felt her lick the head of my cock with her little tongue I nearly came.
"Oh, my God, Kaitlyn," I moaned. "I'm not going to last long here. You're just too sexy and too beautiful. I'm going to cum like a bomb as soon as you do that a few times."
"What should I do?" she asked.
"Just suck on me like a lollipop," I groaned. "It's going to be messy. Have you ever done this before?"
"No, I've never seen one before," she looked back at me.
"There's going to be a lot of cum," I warned her.
"What should I do with it?" she asked.
"Do you think you could swallow it?" I asked.
"I don't know. What does it taste like?"
I laughed. "I have no idea. I don't suck cocks. Some girls love it, others hate it."
"Well, we'll find out which kind I am," she said.
Her lips slid down and she took maybe three inches inside her mouth. She sucked like she was trying to strip the skin off of me! It was amazing and the thought that this sixteen-year-old angel was doing it made me wild. I felt my balls draw up in a knot and I was cumming.
She choked at first but she hung in there. She was making these lewd gulping sounds and her eyes never left my face. She couldn't keep up with the flow but she tried. I felt like my life was pouring out the end of my cock and there was cum all over her chin and hands as she kept stroking me.
When she was satisfied I was through she jumped up and ran to the bathroom. I heard water running and when she came back she was carrying a washcloth. Her face was clean and she washed me off, giving my cock a kiss on the head. She threw the washcloth in the direction of the bathroom and crawled back on top of me. She looked in my eyes and I could tell she wanted me to say something.
"That was the most amazing thing I've ever done," I told her. "You're amazing, Kaitlyn."
She glowed. "I can't believe we did that," she said. "I was so sad when we came home and you just made me feel a lot better. I loved that, Cedric, and I'm going to want to do it again a lot. I want to do more next time."
My heart skipped a beat. There was going to be a next time! I squeezed my little munchkin and she kissed me.
"I'm not one of the girls that love cum," she confessed.
"Was it really bad?" I asked.
"No, I'll do that for you anytime you want me to, but I don't love it," she explained. "I loved sucking you off but not cum. I don't hate it, and it made me feel really like powerful to make you do that. I know it made you feel like you made me feel and I want to do it again. I don't mind the taste that bad. It's worth doing it to make you feel good. It wasn't unpleasant, just sort of warm and thick."
I laughed. "Well, I love your pussy and I'm going to taste it every time I get the chance."
"I can hardly wait," she giggled. "We should go back to the hospital."
We got dressed and when we got there Amber came and gave us a hug. She sniffed a couple of times then leaned in and whispered in my ear. "You smell like pussy. Don't get close to Mom." I blushed a fiery red but I stayed away from Mandy.
We brought burgers and we all ate. I sent Kaitlyn and Amber to the store for clothes. They didn't have any money so I gave them each 500 dollars. They didn't want to take it but I told them they could pay me back when they got their insurance settlement. It should replace all their stuff. I had no intention of letting them pay me back but they didn't need to know that. I stayed with Mandy and we got acquainted. I had talked to her or her husband a few times when we saw each other out in the yard but I didn't know her very well.
"I want to thank you for taking care of my babies, Cedric," she told me. "I was so worried about them it was driving me crazy. You've made quite an impression on my girls. You're all they talk about."
"Yeah, well they're very special, Mandy," I said. "You must be a wonderful mother and Dave must have been a wonderful father. I'm so sorry he's gone. I would have liked to get to know him."
She got tears in her eyes. "He was a wonderful father," she said. "I think you must be a lot like he was. I'll never forget how you took care of the girls. God, everything's such a mess. I don't know what we're going to do."
She was crying openly now and I held her hand. "I know you don't know me very well, but if you let me, I'll help you," I said.
"How?" she asked. "They're going to release me in a few hours and we don't even have anywhere to go. We aren't rich, Cedric. Dave's and my parents are both dead and we don't have any other family in the area. We've barely been scraping by and now I can't work. I don't know what we'll do. I don't even know if the restaurant is still there."
"You can stay with me while you get back on your feet," I told her. "You know how big my house is. I've got plenty of room. There's a master bedroom and bath upstairs and four more bedrooms and baths. There's a master suite downstairs too. I use one of the upstairs ones for an office but my bedroom is downstairs. We'll put you in mine so you won't have to worry about stairs and I'll move upstairs. The girls can have two of the spare rooms. We've been sleeping in the living room so we could have air conditioning. We'll all have to sleep there for a while. They'll eventually get the power back on and we'll be comfortable."
"How will we live?" she wept. "I have 1200 dollars in the bank. We all need everything and the insurance probably won't pay off for a long time."
"I'm going to help you," I told her.
"How? Are you wealthy, Cedric? What do you work at?"
"I'm professionally decadent," I said.
"What does that mean?" she laughed through her tears. "I mean, I know what the words mean, but are you just playing?"
"Yes, a little, but I don't work," I said. "I mean, I don't do anything I consider work. I'm a writer, Mandy. I write fiction novels and I won't be working on a new book for at least six months. I take my retirement in installments. This is one of the retired times. My grandparents were from Carthage and they made a fortune quarrying Carthage Marble. My parents are still in the business and they have more money than all of us will ever be able to spend the rest of our lives. I make more than they do. I don't want it to seem like I'm overwhelming you here, but taking care of you and the girls is nothing to me. Well, that didn't come out right. It's everything to me. I've been privileged all my life and it's time for me to do something to show how grateful I am. I haven't known your girls very long but they've become precious to me. If you let me, I'll get to know you and we'll be friends too. I won't let anything bad happen to you or the girls, Mandy."
She looked at me like I was crazy. "I knew you were a writer," she said. "The Lamberts next door told us that. Why would you do this, Cedric?"
"What kind of a guy would I be if I didn't?" I asked her. "I'm not necessarily a very good guy, Mandy. I've done a lot of mean, stupid things in my life. I've been married and divorced and it was my fault. I'm not a cheater or anything, but I just didn't pay enough attention and I didn't care enough. I've got maybe ten friends in the world other than my family. I've just pretty much been a party animal all my life. I've done a lot of bad things. Now I've got two girls I care a lot about. I'd like for it to be three. They care about me too. Do you know how many times in the last week they've told me they love me? I don't know either, but it's been more than in my whole life up to this point. I don't want to lose that. Will you give me a chance?"
She smiled tentatively and gave me a funny look. "I guess we will. We don't really have many options. I swear to God though, Cedric; if you hurt my girls I'll spend the rest of my life hunting you down and making you pay. Yes, we'll give you a chance, and thank you."
We talked for a long time and I noticed a definite thawing as we just got to know each other a little. By the time the girls got back, we were laughing like old friends. They were very excited.
"Cedric let me drive his car," Kaitlyn bubbled. "He has this really cool Charger, Mom. You should see all the stuff we got!"
They told her all about their shopping trip and the nurse came in with her release papers. We took her out in a wheelchair and they let me push her. I picked her up and put her in the car. She didn't weigh much more than the girls and she felt very tiny in my arms. It was hard to believe that this tiny woman had two teenagers. Kaitlyn asked if she could drive us home and Amber and I sat in the back seat. She scooted over against me and put my arm around her as we drove. We dragged another mattress into the living room and got Mandy as comfortable as she was going to get until we got the power back on.
That took five more days. We had a memorial service for Dave and it was very emotional and traumatic for the girls. They cried a lot for three days and I tried to comfort them as best I could. It was going to be a long, tough time for them, We played board games and cards constantly. I discovered that Mandy was actually a gamer and we played Skyrim, Dragon Age Three and Dark Souls together for hours while the girls read or played on my phone or iPads.
I saw the power company trucks driving around but they hadn't stopped at our house yet. The line had pulled off the house when the tree fell on it and I could see the broken line across the street. I got Amber to stand out in the yard and hold up the line when one of the crews drove by. I thought they'd be a lot more responsive to a hot young girl than me. They noticed her standing there and pulled over.
"You guys not hooked up yet?" A young man got out of the truck and came over. "I thought we had all the houses on this side hooked up."
He talked on the radio for a minute and in a few minutes a bucket truck pulled up and they got the power back on. We got the house cleaned up and took the mattresses back to the beds. The girls helped me move my stuff upstairs and we got Mandy into the bedroom downstairs. They moved all their stuff into the rooms upstairs and Mom and Dad came by. I introduced everyone and I could tell Mom and Dad liked the girls right away. That was a little unusual because they had hated most of my friends and the woman I was married to. They invited us to a barbecue at their house on Friday and the girls were excited to go. They had brought groceries and cases of bottled water. We were doing fine and life sort of started settling back to normal. We still didn't have TV or Internet but I have data on my tablets and phone so we could keep up with the world. Amber took over one of my iPads and Kaitlyn the other one. Mandy and I shared the phone for a couple of days and I got them all phones on my plan.