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Prudence, Chapter 22

When Mark arrived at the school that morning, there was a lot of whispering and gossiping going on. He was concerned, at first, that he'd been too obvious when Kristen got hurt, but no one was inclined to exclude him from the gossip this time, and it was with mixed emotions that he learned that, for a change, Kristen wasn't a part of the current rumor-mill at all. Relief, of course, but unease, too, because the subject matter was more than a bit disturbing.

It seemed that a dead dog was found on the school's front lawn. It definitely didn't die of natural causes. Details varied, but a consistent theme was that the animal was mutilated. Exactly how varied from tale to tale. Mark's history teacher friend, Jack Brenner, was a goldmine of information. It turned out that the student who'd found the animal first had gone immediately to Mr. Brenner, who was a favorite among the students, so Jack had actually seen it. The dog had been dismembered, hacked apart with an axe or machete or some such, and partially skinned. It also looked like both eyes had been burned out.

According to further rumor, this wasn't the first thing of this nature to turn up this year, though for the most part, they'd been found in open fields or abandoned lots, that sort of thing. That went a ways towards explaining why the sheriff had been so willing to come out personally on such scanty suspicion the night before.

There didn't seem to be any connection between the incident and Kristen or the dreams, but it made Mark nervous, anyway. He didn't see anything he could do to make her safe that he wasn't already doing, though, so, with difficulty, he tried to keep his mind on his work. Another bit of news, of a more official sort, was that Superintendent Stegar was returning to Prudence ISD next week. Up to now, he'd been working at Leilana ISD. The two schools shared a superintendent, since both of them were so small. Mark wondered if he'd have any trouble with the man -- he was getting away with a lot, at the moment, after all -- so he started quietly checking around.

The impression he got from the other teachers, as well as the students, was that Stegar was, in their words, laid back. A nice guy. Smart. A good Christian. Loaded. It was an interesting combination, and he decided to check with Steven when he went home for lunch.

"Stegar?" Steven said, when he asked. "I don't know him that well, but I've never had a problem with him."

Mark nodded. "Okay. I was just wondering if he was likely to cause a problem -- I suspect I've gotten more leeway than I'd expect since Ward's afraid of you."

"Hopefully, there won't be a problem," Steven said. "He'll only be here a month, anyway, then gone for another month. Hard to do much harm like that."

Mark nodded in agreement and went to find Kristen. She was curled up on the couch in the living room, fast asleep, and looking gaunt and tired. He reached down and brushed a bit of hair back from her face, and she stirred.

"Mmmm?" she murmured, then smiled weakly up at him. "Hi, lover. Carry me upstairs?"

He grinned at her. "Ready for..." he wriggled his eyebrows suggestively, "lunch?"

"Mmmhmm..."

Tenderly, he scooped her up and carried her to her bed.

The task of feeding her proved to be quite complicated, though. It was hard to accomplish anything satisfying without hurting her ankle, and she finally settled for giving him a really nice blowjob. When she was done, she looked better, physically, but didn't seem particularly happy.

He pulled her up and into his arms. "What's wrong?"

Kristen sighed. "I know it's silly, but... doing it like this, where it seems like it's just a necessity... ick. It just... shouldn't be that way. Not with you."

Mark leaned over and kissed her, softly, licking at her lips. "I didn't think it was just a necessity, love. I really enjoyed it."

She smiled at him lovingly. "But if you didn't have to, though, you wouldn't be here. If you thought I'd be okay without it, you wouldn't have done this."

He gave her a little smile. "Only because I wouldn't have had the nerve to leave work to do it. I would still have wanted to," he assured her.

"I know it's a lot of trouble," she said softly, looking down. "I am sorry."

"I'm not," he said firmly. "I love you, Kristen, and I like to spend time with you." He grinned. "And you give wonderful blowjobs."

She cuddled up and kissed his chest, smiling now. "I love you, too. Carry me back downstairs before you go? I can sit on the couch in Daddy's office and draw. I really don't want to be alone."

He left her happily ensconced on the couch with sketchbook, pencils, warm blanket, and comfy pillows when he had to go back to work.

Deciding that their lunchtime difficulties in lovemaking could benefit from another viewpoint, he invited Kayla over after school. She happily accepted, and it proved to be a very good idea. Kristen was happy to see both of them, and though it'd only been a few hours since her 'lunch', she was already looking gaunt. Kayla was particularly clever at finding ways around Kristen's current handicap, as well as lightening the mood and making her see it all as funny rather than pitiful. Between the two of them, they even managed to make Kristen come, though not as frequently or as easily as she did when she wasn't on darvocette. After a bit more than three hours, Kristen was glowing enough that she wouldn't need a lunchtime 'feeding' the next day. After helping make Kayla come the final time, Kristen lay her head on the girl's chest, smiling happily.

She closed her eyes for just a minute, and ended up falling asleep, still cradled against Kayla's breast and glowing prettily. Mark looked down at her, a touch worried, but she was still on pain pills, she hadn't been sleeping worth a damn, and it had been a long, miserable day for her. Deciding it was really perfectly understandable and that she needed the sleep, he tucked the blanket around her and slid into bed beside Kayla.

He offered to move her off of Kayla, but the girl waved him away. "She's okay where she is. I have to go pretty soon, anyway, and I like holding her. We should be quiet, but I think she's pretty much dead to the world right now."

Mark nodded. "Poor thing," he said, reaching over to stroke Kristen's hair gently.

"Yeah. Did you actually see what happened, Mark?" Kayla asked. Last night, she'd stayed focused on the most pressing problem, but he should have expected her to ask about the accident eventually. "Was it an accident?" Her tone was decidedly suspicious.

He sighed, shaking his head. "I didn't see it. It could have been... or it could have not been. I don't know." He pursed his lips. "I do know there's a tracking device in her cast -- but I don't think even she realizes that. She was in the car when I discussed it with Steven, but she wasn't exactly paying attention."

Kayla nodded. "I don't think she has a real high pain-threshold, actually. I mean, she's never been sick, never had a toothache or anything. Never even had a headache. Never seemed to fall or anything when we were kids, even. This is her very first broken bone. It was probably a serious shock to her that anything could hurt that bad."

He rubbed a silky red-gold curl between his fingers. "Poor baby. It'd be nice if she healed faster when she glowed." He glanced at Kayla hopefully. "I don't suppose anything you read would have said anything about that?"

"Honestly," Kayla said, "I'd kinda think she'd heal faster than a human no matter what. And that glow seems to be a big indicator that she's got... um... 'energy' I guess... to spare."

He nodded thoughtfully. "Good point."

"By the way," she asked, "Didn't you come home to her at lunch?"

"Yeah, but all we were able to manage was a blowjob."

"Still... should she have looked that bad?" she asked.

"Hmmm... another good point. Maybe her foot will be healed sooner than we expect, then."

"Either that or the pain eats up her energy faster than she'd normally spend it," Kayla said with a frown.

He shrugged. "Who knows? We don't have any data to work from yet." He sighed with a touch of frustration, then reached out to stroke Kayla's cheek. "You know something?"

"Hmmmm?" she asked, leaning into the caress.

"I'm really glad you slipped up and said what you said."

She grinned. "Well... it still counts as one of my most oh-fuck-please-let-the-world-open-up-and-swallow-me-now-embarrassing moments."

"But look what it got you," he said, his soft gaze moving over to Kristen. "Look what it got us all..."

Kayla looked at him seriously. "Not saying I would change it if I could. Definitely not. But I still can't believe I actually said that out loud. I've always been so damned careful about things like that... anyway, I'm glad I did, too."

He leaned over, kissing her softly, careful not to disturb Kristen. She returned the kiss, just as carefully, then sighed. "Now this I hate to say, and really wish I didn't have to, but... I've got to get home."

Mark nodded just as regretfully. "Damned shame. But I suppose your parents would object if you told them you wanted to spend the night with your underage girlfriend and the teacher who she secretly married."

Kayla laughed. "Honestly, they might not. But they would say, 'Not on a school night, dear.' Or even worse, 'We want to meet them, bring them to dinner on Sunday!'"

Mark cowered in mock fear. "No! Not that! Not... DINNER!"

She giggled. "You laugh, but you've never had to eat with my family. Believe me... it's a fate worse than death."

He raised an eyebrow. "It can't be that bad."

"I swear to you, Mark," she said, shaking her head, "that I have the weirdest family in the entire world. I love them, but... they're just flat-out strange. Remember Kristen's hairless cat? Well, as cat dander and not cat hair is what causes allergies, he needed a home. My mother named him 'fuzzywuzzy'. They paint his toenails every week."

"I... see," he said slowly.

"But, my little brother calls him 'Teddy' because..."

"Because?" he asked, almost dreading the answer.

"Because... 'fuzzywuzzy wuz a bear'," she said with a sigh.

He winced. "Ouch."

"But that's NOTHING compared to the little toupee my father made him."

Mark winced again, but smiled. "I think I'd like your family."

She shook her head. "Just... no. There are some things you shouldn't have to face unless you're born to them. A hairless cat with purple toenails and a curly blond wig is one of them."

Mark snickered, then pouted. "What, you're ashamed of us?" He pretended to be on the verge of tears.

She grinned. "Nope. Just terrified they'd scare you off."

He shook his head. "I doubt that would happen."

"I'd rather play it safe, thanks," she said. "Besides, I don't think they'd be very good at keeping secrets."

He nodded. "Good point." He sighed. "I'm really looking forward to when y'all turn 17. Speaking of which, when's your birthday?"

"Next week, actually. October 6th."

He looked thoughtful. "Oh really."

"Yep. I'll be a teensy bit less illegal," she said, grinning.

"Heh. Yeah, right. I really doubt it would matter."

"Well, Bubba might use a bit of lube if your 'victim' was fifteen instead of fourteen, anyway," she said thoughtfully.

He snorted.

Kayla smiled down at Kristen. "Should we wake her?"

He shook his head. "Let me tuck her in and tell Steven we're leaving, and I'll take you home."

"You sure?" she asked, sounding worried. "She's been real odd about being alone this past week. She won't even go to the bathroom by herself at school."

He frowned. He hadn't known about that. "Hmm. Good point. Yeah, let's ask her."



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