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First Love – Part 64

First Love coverClayton and Maddie go to the basement to look for the fuse box, only to find it high on the wall. She sits on his shoulders in order to reach it.

“Careful, Mads. We’re kind of precarious here. I can’t see what I’m standing on, but it feels like loose tiles.”

“One second. I think I see the switch. It’s a breaker box. I’m gonna need both hands. Hold this.” She handed him the flashlight, but he fumbled and dropped it.

“Hurry, Mads. I can’t hold you much longer.”

“It’s really stiff.” With great effort, she threw the switch.

The lights blazed on. Maddie dropped from Clayton’s shoulders. He pressed her behind him, suddenly tense.

“Clayton, what’s—”

Two men stood opposite them, about fifteen feet away. They flanked Gabe, who was tied to a chair.

Ramon’s goon held a gun, leveled at them. Ramon’s pistol pressed to Gabe’s temple. Gabe’s face was bruised and bloody. One cheek was laid open to the bone. Blood oozed down his face. He forced a smile, trying to appear brave. It pained him and he winced. He sat in a battered chair, secured with duct tape.

“Get over here,” Ramon gestured to Maddie with his pistol.

Clayton cleared his throat. “Let the girl go, Ramon.”

“You call me Jefe!” he yelled. “She’s my insurance you won’t do something stupid. Once we tie you up, we’re gonna have some fun with her. You can watch if you want.” He leered dangerously.

A scream rose in Maddie’s throat. She tried to contain it by clamping her hands over her mouth, but she couldn’t. It burst forth as Ramon pointed the gun at Clayton.

“Get the damn girl,” Ramon ordered his flunky. “Tie them up. We’ll have some fun later.”

“You won’t!” Maddie yelled, taking a fighting stance. “I’ll bite off your balls, cabrón!”

Ramon yanked Gabe’s head back. The gun pressed into his neck, just below the ear.

“Maddie, not helping,” Clayton muttered.

“He’s gonna kill us all anyway,” she yelled. “But first, he’s going to rape me. You think I’m going to stand here and let him?”

The goon moved toward her. Clayton shielded her with his body, but she moved to his side, wielding the flashlight like a billy club.

“Try it, perro. You’ll be missing your teeth.”

“Maddie, no,” Gabe groaned.

Ramon cuffed him. “Shut up, or the girl dies.”

“Better death than sex with you,” Maddie spit at him. “Is that the only way you get a woman? Threats and violence? I bet that turns you on. Or are you gay lovers with your butt buddy over here? You did prison time. Maybe you found a special someone there?”

The goon glanced at Ramon uncertainly.

“Oh, my God, I’m right!” Maddie laughed.

 

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First Love – Part 63

First Love coverSurprised when the lights go out, the teens quickly regroup and find candles and a flashlight. Half the teens are upstairs with Les, who is resting after a cardiac episode. Maddie, Clayton, Patti and Daniel are downstairs looking for a fuse box. They decide they have to go to the basement.

“Being quiet might be good?” Clayton said.

“Sorry.”

Maddie stopped him before he moved away. “If this is our last moment before we die—” She crushed him to her, kissing him deeply.

Clayton nearly dropped the lantern. Maddie’s body melded to his, filling in the contours with her soft, feminine parts.

“Promise me,” he gasped afterward. “When this is over, we’ll find a quiet spot and you can fuck me stupid.”

Maddie smirked, shoving him away. “That won’t take long. You’re over halfway there.” Swishing her hips, she sashayed off.

“Smooth,” Daniel mumbled. “Very.”

“Smooth flew out the window with that kiss.”

“Who’s going downstairs?” Daniel asked.

Patti clung to him. “I can’t go into that creepy, spider ridden basement. Not at night. Not in the dark.”

“We’ll be together,” Daniel soothed.

“Have I mentioned an irrational fear of the dark?”

“It’s okay. The dark can’t hurt you.”

“It’s—Irrational!” She shook him off.

“Okay, Clayton. Let’s do this,” Daniel said. “The girls can stay here.”

“No! It’s no better up here!”

“Sorry, dude. You’re on your own.”

“I’ll go,” Maddie whispered.

“We’ll be okay.” Clayton kissed her. “Nothing to be scared of.”

“Sure. Perfectly safe. I’m beyond terrified, but I have a lifetime invested in you.”

They left the lantern with Patti to make her feel better. She and Daniel huddled in corner furthest from the basement steps, between the dishwasher and the stove, the wall at their backs. Maddie let Clayton go first with a flashlight, but kept one hand on his shoulder, the other gripped the railing.

“I think I see it,” Clayton whispered. “Jesus, could they make this any harder to get to?” He examined the box that was nearly eight feet off the floor.

“Maybe there’s a step ladder or something.”

They examined the immediate area, too nervous to move far apart.

“There’s nothing,” Clayton said. “Get on my shoulders.”

“What?”

“Like water polo. Climb up.” He crouched so she could sit on his shoulders.

Holding the light, Maddie mounted his broad shoulders. He stood slowly, gripping her legs. She was high enough to reach the fuse box if she rose up slightly and leaned well forward.

“This must have been installed by a giant,” she complained. She leaned further, fully extending her body to reach the panel.

 

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First Love – Part 62

First Love coverThe teens are worried about Gabe, but have been ordered to stay inside while the police look for him. They are talking quietly when the lights go out.

“There are some candles in the kitchen. I saw them in a cupboard,” Maddie said. “Maybe there’s a flashlight too. Can you see well enough to find them?”

“I’m not going alone,” Richard said. “I’ve seen enough horror movies. It never ends well for the guy who goes looking for candles.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake! I’ll go,” Maddie said.

“And me,” Clayton added. “Not letting you out of my sight.”

“Someone should stay with Bev,” Patti said.

“Brad’s there. What about Denise?” Clayton asked.

“You stay with her, Richard. We’ll borrow the lighter and go get candles,” Maddie decided.

“We’ll come with you,” Patti said. “I’m not staying up here in the dark. If I’m gonna get hacked to pieces, I want a running start.”

“I’ll protect you,” Daniel said, putting his arm around her.

“Be glad it’s not me,” Richard said. “I’d trip your ass so they got you first.”

“And yet you wonder why you have no girlfriend,” Patti countered.

Richard chuckled. He handed Clayton his lighter and walked into the room with Denise. There was a little light from the outside.

“We’ll find candles or something,” Clayton promised. “Just stay put.”

“I assure you, I’m not going anywhere,” Denise said.

“I’m here for the duration,” Richard replied. “So, you still wanna make out?” he asked Denise as the others left.

“Are you serious?” They heard her say as they closed the door.

With some difficulty, they arrived at the kitchen. Emergency lights illuminated the door, which aided them in their search. One cupboard produced a flashlight, another a camping lantern. Finally, they came across six glass restaurant style candles and a box of wooden matches.

Daniel tried the flashlight. “Dead.”

“There’s a spare battery in the fridge,” Maddie told him.

“Crazy place for a battery.”

“Supposed to keep them fresher.”

A quick search of the refrigerator revealed a new battery. This one worked. Daniel and Patti took the candles and matches upstairs, finding Denise and Richard in with Brad and Beverly. Fortunately, Leslie was asleep.

Downstairs, Clayton and Maddie did a search of all the spooky cupboards and closets they could find. There wasn’t a fuse box anywhere. Daniel and Patti came back, joining in the search.

“At home, our fuse box is in the basement,” Patti said with a shudder.

Daniel moved a few steps toward the basement door. She grabbed his sleeve.

“We all go together. I don’t want to die a virgin, so I’m protecting my asset.”

Daniel grinned, pulling her close. “We can take care of that right now, if you like. Then if the big, scary man grabs one of us, it’s a done deal.”

“You wish, rock star.”

“I offered,” Daniel said with a shrug.

 

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First Love – Part 61

First Love coverThe teens have been ordered to bed, but no one feels like sleeping. Instead, they stay together in the girls’ room and talk.

“Claire could die,” Denise said, sniffling. “And Jane. And Gabe’s probably being tortured—”

“Don’t say that!” Maddie screeched. “Don’t say that. He’s fine. He has to be.”

“Oh, stop freaking out,” Denise snapped. “Just because he’s your boyfriend doesn’t give you the right to scream at me.”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Maddie hurled back. “Clayton is. Gabe is my friend, which is more than I can say for you.”

“Enough,” Daniel said in a commanding tone, worthy of his father. “We shouldn’t fight. This trip was supposed to bring us closer together. We aren’t friends, but we should be. Clayton can’t stand Claire, but he helped find her. She may be a bitch, but she’s one of us. Gabe’s one of us too and I hope like hell he’s okay. Because if he’s not, it’s Claire’s fault. All she’s done is cause trouble. I’ve tried to be nice and Christian about this, but I’m done.”

Daniel got up and went back to the boys’ room. No one was sure if they should follow him or not. Finally, Patti got up and went after him. Clayton and Maddie decided to join them, leaving Richard with Denise. He trailed in a few minutes later.

“Jeesh, please don’t leave me with her ever again. She wanted to make out. Huhhh.” He shuddered.

“She’s nearly as insufferable as Claire,” Daniel said. “The only one of them who came out of this a better person, is Beverly.”

“At least she’s calm enough to sit with Les. I’m a wreck. I’m worried sick about Gabe,” Maddie said quietly.

Clayton’s face clouded. Maddie touched his hand.

“He’s my friend. At one point, I kind of hoped he might be more, but I’m delighted with my choice. I would be more worried about you.”

They kissed lightly on the lips, as did Daniel and Patti.

“I’m gonna go check on Beverly and Les,” Richard said, rising quickly. He stumbled out the door.

“I’m going with,” Brad mumbled as he backed toward the door.

The boys laughed.

“Way to clear a room, bro,” Daniel teased. “If we want privacy, we have a sure fire method. Shall we?” He opened his arms, grinning at Patti.

“Don’t be getting ideas with all the sleeping bags around,” Patti chided.

“What ideas?” Daniel tried to look innocent. “—that we haven’t already had a million times over. Give us some credit, huh? Kissing. I promise. I’ll sit on my hands.” He did so.

Patti leaned over to kiss him and the lights went out. Denise screamed from the girls’ room. Richard stumbled to the door, a lighter in one hand.

“What the fuck, dude?” He looked scared. “Anyone got flashlights?”

“I have a flashlight,” Patti said. “A little one on my keyring.” She dug through her purse, dropping it in disgust. “Which I left at home because I don’t need my keys in New Mexico!”

 

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First Love – Part 60

First Love coverTed takes the teens to the common room and talks to them, trying to cheer them up. Soon, Maddie asks if they can all say prayers for their friends.

Each of the girls added their prayers. When it got around the circle to Ted, he led them in an Our Father.

“I was raised Catholic,” he said. “I know you kids aren’t Catholic, but there are a couple prayers I think might make us all feel better.” He taught them a Hail Mary and a prayer to Guardian Angels.

As she spoke the words, Maddie felt comfort flow through her. Sitting with their heads bowed, they were silent a long time, each lost in thought.

Clayton burst into the room, gasping. “They got Jane and Claire out. They’re hurt, but alive!”

The girls cheered.

“Any word on Gabe?”

Clayton’s face clouded. “No. Why? What’s wrong?”

Maddie burst into tears. Clayton raced to her side, taking her in his arms. She buried her face in his chest. Ted tried to explain, but Maddie’s tears distracted Clayton. All the got was that Gabe was missing.

“Polly and Caroline are going to the hospital with the girls,” Clayton said. “They have a dog out to see if they find anyone else in the blast zone.”

“What caused it? Could they tell?”

“Looked like dynamite,” Clayton said. “It was rigged with a timer. The girls were lucky they came up on that side of the torreón. If they’d come from the other direction, they would have caught the full blast. The structure actually protected them.”

“If the old girl had to die, I’m glad she saved them,” Ted said sadly. “We’ve been working on that project for three years. It would have been done in a few days.” He shook his head. “I’m going to join the search party. You stay here. No one goes anywhere, got me?”

“Yes, sir,” they all replied.

“You’re a good man, Clayton.” Ted shook his hand.

“Thank you, sir. That means a lot coming from you.”

Ted left and Craig came in a few minutes later. “I’m driving the women to the hospital. No one leaves.”

“We know, Dad,” Daniel said from behind him. “Ted told us and so did the police.”

“Lock up tight. Les is lying down. He was having chest pains. In fact, Maddie, would—Are you okay?”

“She’s worried about Gabe.”

“I was going to ask her to sit with Les.”

“I’ll do it,” Beverly said. “I’ve had some Candy Striper training.”

“Thanks. Everyone needs to go to bed,” Craig ordered. “Go. Scoot.”

The teens reluctantly wandered up to their rooms. None of them intended to sleep. They met up in the girl’s room, bringing beanbag chairs from the nursery. The boys had brought up food and sodas. Soon, they were eating and talking quietly.

“How did this all fall apart so fast?” Brad asked. “It was supposed to be fun. Now, it’s all gone to hell.”

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First Love – Part 59

First Love coverMaddie puts the note that’s supposedly from Gabe, in a plastic bag and takes it to the police. Ted introduces her to Officer White Star who, fortunately, doesn’t think that Gabe could have sent the note.

“Gabe’s not a violent person,” White Star said. “I’ve known the kid his entire life. Given the problems with that girl and Ramon, I agree. I think he’s in trouble. Let me call it in.”

He walked to his car, picking up the radio handset from the dash. He spoke quickly, telling the dispatcher what Maddie had told him.

“Based on this, I think someone needs to investigate.”

“White Star, this is Sergeant Murphy. We’re sending backup. Don’t you even get out of your car without someone else there. You hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ve got cars rolling,” the dispatcher said.

“10-4, Dispatch. I’ll wait.”

“I want to go with you,” Maddie said.

“You stay here,” White Star commanded.

“He’s my friend!” Maddie wanted to scream, but controlled herself.

“You—stay—here,” he repeated, firmly. “This is a police matter. It’s very dangerous. You heard my boss. He doesn’t even want me going it alone and I’ve got ten years on the force. It’s far too dangerous. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Officer. I’m sorry.”

“And no sneaking off. I can’t emphasize how dangerous this is. I have to go.”

“I promise.”

“You heard her,” White Star pointed at Ted.

“10-4,” Ted replied, with a cocky grin.

White Star walked back to his car. They saw him pick up the radio and speak before taking off without his lights and siren.

“Let’s go back inside. We’ll be in the way out here.”

“You’re right. I hope Claire and Jane are okay—and Gabe,” she sobbed.

Ted pulled her close, his arms strong and comforting. “Don’t you worry about him, Maddie. That boy’s no slack. I’d be more worried about Ramon.” He forced a chuckle. “Gabe’s a scrapper. He’ll be fine.”

He led Maddie back inside. The girls had gathered in the common room. Craig and boys were helping outside, removing debris so the emergency workers could get to Claire and Jane. There was still no word on their progress. Ted sat with them, telling them stories and jokes to pass the time. When he finished one of his stories, Maddie touched his hand.

“Do you think we could pray?” she said softly. “I think it would make us all feel better.”

“Sure,” Ted said. “You want me to lead? Or you want to?”

“I thought maybe we could all say something from our hearts,” she murmured. “I need to believe that they’re all okay. I need to believe that God will take care of them.”

 

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First Love – Part 58

First Love coverTo their horror, they discover that the torreón has been bombed, trapping Claire and Jane in the rubble. They thought that Claire got a note from Gabe, telling her to be there at eleven.

“I know Gabe didn’t send that note,” Maddie said. “He doesn’t even like Claire.”

“She was sure,” Beverly insisted.

“Because she wanted it to be true doesn’t mean it was,” Maddie said, unkindly. “He thinks she’s a bitch. Do you have the note?”

“It’s in the trash upstairs.”

“Show me.” Maddie picked up the Platex gloves and a plastic bag from the kitchen and followed Beverly upstairs.

“It’s here in the trash,” Beverly reached for it.

“Wait. Let me get it.” Maddie put on the gloves and lifted the crumpled note. She opened it just enough to read it.

Meet me at the playhouse at 11 PM tonight. I have something special for you. Gab

“He didn’t write this,” Maddie declared as she slipped it into the plastic bag. “For one thing, he always calls it the torreón. And for another, it says Gab, not Gabe. He’d never misspell his own name.”

“Maybe he was in a hurry,” Beverly countered.

“Do you misspell your own name on a note?” Maddie pursed her lips. “That looks like a woman’s handwriting. Way too flowery for a guy. And Gabe’s left handed. This was written by a righty. The slant is all wrong.” She carried the note downstairs. “This is important evidence. We need to give it to the cops. Who touched it besides Claire?”

“No one.”

“Good. Let’s see what’s happening.”

Ted was in the kitchen when they got back. “Jose is talking to the police.”

“Where’s Gabe?”

“He’s not here? He didn’t come home. We figured he’d hung out over here and lost track of time.”

“Would you recognize his writing?” Maddie asked.

“Yeah, sure. Why?”

She showed him the note, explaining where it came from.

“No, that’s not his writing. It’s too neat. That boy should be a doctor, it’s so bad. And the name’s misspelled.”

“Can you introduce me to the cops?” Maddie asked.

“Sure. Why?”

“I need to talk to them. I think Gabe’s in serious trouble.”

Maddie followed Ted outside. He approached the nearest officer, who recognized him.

“Officer White Star, this is Maddie Reynolds. She has some information and some thoughts she’d like to share. Maddie, this is William White Star. Tell him what you told me.”

Maddie showed the officer the note. She pointed out the details she and Ted had discussed.

“I don’t think Gabe could have written it,” she explained. “For one thing, he doesn’t like Claire. He’d never invite her out here to show her something. And I don’t think he’d lure her out to hurt her.”

 

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