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cherry

Precocious - The Crime Committed

Only one table had its cloth; the rest had been folded flat and stacked against the side of the house. Most of the guests were gone. Mom and Brenda stood together on the lawn, still talking. Shasta wanted to run up and blurt it out, triumphantly. Simone isn't Nick's girlfriend! “Where is everybody?” she asked instead.
“They've gone inside, sweetie. Nick's got a what-do-you-call-it place,...”
“Billiard room,” Brenda said.
“Billard room. In the basement.”
“Let's go,” Shasta pleaded.
Mom turned indignant. “We will in a minute.” She and Brenda exchanged the narrow eyed smiles of women, deliberately, to contrast with the wanting, open stare of a twelve year old.
“Please,” she took mom's hand and pulled.
“Shasta!”
“No, we'll go, Irene,” Brenda urged. “Poor kid's bored.”
Their shoes clattered on the iron steps of the spiral staircase. The stuffy room at the bottom was completely red: the carpet over the floor and up the walls, the felt on the pool tables, the leather upholstry on the bar. It made Nick look bright as a lightbulb. Shasta didn't change technique; she loitered near his card game, smiled at all the players. Then it happened.
“Shasta,” he called, “come here.”
He made two people stand so she could squeeze past them to his chair, snug against the wall in a corner. Red carpet caught her dress at the back.
“You didn't get dessert,” he said. She ducked her head coyly. “How could you resist those cherries? They came from my tree.”
Her eyes came up slowly, as wide open as she could make them.
“Would you like me to give you some?” He didn't wait for a reply. He sent someone to find Simone. The caterers had gone, and yet somehow a pretty dish came down on its serving plate. “There you go,” he said. And she had to eat it. As she raised spoonfuls to her mouth she saw mom watching, with a look similar to one she had the day before she got the job with Nick's company. She'd been turned down by three other places. She was worried about the future. What was there to worry about? Shasta wanted to send a telepathic message across the room. See? This is how you do it.
The carpet snagged her dress again; she could feel the skirt lift. She slid her free hand behind to fix it and bumped into another hand, with coarse hair on the wrist. Her spoon waited in midair with a cherry on it. She lowered it back to the dish carefully, as she felt that hair tickle the inside of her leg, and fingers tug the elastic on her panties.

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January 2015

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