Clinging to Hope as the World Falters
11: A Good Teasing Scrubs the Soul Clean

Copyright© 2016 by Vincent Berg

The next morning David awoke before anyone else, as was usual for him. He glanced around, idly wondering who he’d fallen sleep next to the previous night, but there were bodies lying all over due to everyone’s having moved around during the night, so there was no way to calculate who’d started out where.

Like him, both Alice and Ellen awoke at nearly the same time. David realized, once he started to think about how to extricate himself, that not only was he still naked, but the covers had been scattered during the night and he was sporting his traditional ‘morning wood’. He glanced around and saw Ellen rubbing her eyes, but Alice was already sitting up watching everyone, to figure out who was going to be getting up.

He tried to mouth the words, ‘A little privacy please’, but Alice had no clue what he was trying to say, actually leaning closer to try to make it out better. Instead he shrugged, figuring everyone here knew precisely what they were getting into when they came in last night, so he gently moved a couple of people aside and stood up, trying not to focus on who may or may not be watching him. However, once he stood up so did his erection as it bobbed up and down in front of him.

“Could you make some coffee?” Ellen asked him quietly.

David grew even more frustrated. He could either mumble something over his shoulder, which wouldn’t be heard, or he could turn and flash everyone on the bed. He debated it for about three tenths of a second, then figured what the hell!

Turning around, his cock swinging in a little arc back and forth from the movement, he addressed her. As he began speaking he noticed his daughter watching him, smirking at his predicament. He tried to ignore her as best he could, but his embarrassment didn’t make his cock go down.

“Sure, Sweetie. Take your time. I’ll try to get things organized if everyone takes a little while to come downstairs.”

“I can imagine what things you’ll be organizing,” Alice observed in a teasing tone, emphasizing the final word to convey what she was thinking. However David wasn’t going to worry about things he couldn’t control. Alice had come in last night, knowing not only that he, Ellen and Linda were nude, but that they’d barely finished having sex before she brought all her friends in with her. If she wanted to be outraged, then it was on her, not him.

Still, he noted she seemed more amused than outraged by it.

David turned back, heading to his dresser to select some new clothes. Of course, that required him to bend over, displaying his bare ass to the room like a baboon presenting his bright red ass to any potential mates. He made sure he grabbed the first thing he found, not focusing overly much on what matched and what didn’t.

When he turned back around, Ellen was standing, watching him while Linda was stretching, both as naked as him, but neither seeming overly concerned about the fact. They were of course surrounded by other women, most of whom were still asleep. The only other man in the house was Bobby, who wouldn’t be able to see them even if he was awake. Alice was busy trying to comb her hair, watching each of them as she did, the smile still clear on her face. As much as she disliked being embarrassed by her girlfriends talking about her father, she found watching the adults embarrass themselves to be quite humorous.

Figuring he could make a quick exit even if he couldn’t save his dignity, David held his clothes with one hand and walked out of the room, his erect cock bobbing as he walked. He tried to do it with as much dignity as he could, but it was difficult with his cock bobbing and his balls knocking against each other.

He thought he’d made a clean getaway when he heard footsteps behind him.

“Wait up, Dad,” Alice called.

Rather than turn and face her, David simply stopped and waited for her to catch up. Hopefully she’d be discreet enough to stay behind him.

“I wanted to help, and I want to apologize for last night as well,” she explained. “As I said, that wasn’t my idea. If—”

“Hey, guys, hold on,” someone else called out. Despite his better judgment David was curious who it was, so he unthinkingly turned around and saw Amy hurrying to catch up with them, tucking in her shirt as she did. Her smile as she glanced at his erection reminded him why that wasn’t the best idea, but he once again ignored it, figuring it was better to show the girls that nakedness is simply a part of nature, and that if they chose to expose themselves to it then he shouldn’t overreact to it. At least that’s what he told himself.

“As I was saying,” Alice continued once Amy fell in beside them, walking on the other side of David, “the other girls started crowding around and listening in. They were the ones that insisted on joining you.”

“Actually that was me,” Amy offered, even though David was well aware who’d asked whether they’d “finished cuddling” and could they come in. “You’ve got to admit,” she added, “you guys put on quite a show.”

David grunted, but simply kept walking now that they’d reached the stairs.

“I was all for letting you get dressed,” Alice said, “but Amy and the others were anxious to talk and spend time with you and—”

“Yeah, yeah, we get it,” Amy told her. “You’re little Miss Innocent. Never mind that you were right there with me listening to them before that, or that it was your presence there that made the other girls think their behavior was OK.”

David was relieved to see that the two girls were no longer staring at his dick. He’d tried covering it briefly with his clothes, but that made walking difficult, and he really was trying to convey a message here, so he gave up and simply let the things that wanted to swing do as they desired.

“Don’t worry,” David responded. “I suspect we’ll have to set up some new rules over breakfast, but for now it’s forgotten. Now could the two of you make some coffee while I get dressed? I’m going to have to go outside soon, and I’d rather not shock the wildlife outside, since they seem to be the only ones still surprised by my pasty white skin.”

“Go ahead,” Amy told him as she grabbed the carton of orange juice and poured three glasses, watching him the entire time.

Once again figuring it was a lost cause; he simply dumped his clothes on the counter and proceeded to dress in front of them.

“Damn, I was hoping we were going to have a naked Saturday,” Caitlyn said as she entered the kitchen as well. “I was ready to start stripping, but I didn’t want to start too early and miss seeing anything.”

“That’s enough of that, girls,” David told them, not sternly, but simply letting them know the jig was up, “I think the joke is about played out.”

“Uh, I think someone has a question about that,” Caitlyn pointed out. “They have their little hand up waving in the air, looking for recognition.” The other girls giggled, but at least they were getting something done while they were having their fun.

“Do you have any coffee ready yet, or are you still too busy flashing the girls?” Ellen asked as she walked downstairs with Linda, looking like two life-long friends having just awoken from an adult sleepover together.

“I wish,” Caitlyn replied. “I got here just as he covered up that nicely shaped chest of his, and now he’s pulling his underwear on. Could you kindly tell him that some of us didn’t get up early enough to catch our early morning sex education lesson?”

“Hey, the early birds get to see the worm,” teased Amy.

“Ah, shoot,” Caitlyn replied, playfully pouting. “I wouldn’t mind swallowing a particular worm for breakfast this morning.”

Ellen laughed, and Linda patted her head affectionately.

“Just remember that he’s shy and that he’s also the one to hand out the work assignments. Always remember that it’s dangerous to poke a bear, even if he’s the one that was poking you the previous night,” Linda advised her.

By then David had finally covered up his erection, though he still had to situate it so it would lie correctly to the side. The women seemed to find that quite amusing, but at least the teasing had stopped. He figured it was finally over for good when he pulled his pants up.

“So whose pecker was that I felt rubbing against me last night?” the normally shy Erica asked as she entered the room. She seemed to be quite pleased with her witty remark, although everyone else was already focusing on getting breakfast started.

“Doesn’t anyone take a shower before showing up for breakfast anymore?” David asked.

“We might ask you the same question,” Ellen pointed out. “After all, you were so busy getting a jump on the day that you didn’t even bother getting dressed before you accompanied the kids downstairs.”

“He did, and I missed it? Shi ... I mean, shoot,” Erica responded.

“I left right away because I had a feeling that if I took a shower, I might have a line forming up outside to join me,” David reminded them.

“Hey, I’ve been very good since then,” Flora said, as the last couple of people showed up in the kitchen.

“I know you have, dear. You’ve been doing very well,” Ellen assured her. Flora’s face brightened noticeably.

“So you’ll lift the restrictions soon?”

“You know the rules,” Ellen responded. “You’ve got to wait the full time limit. You can hardly demonstrate how well you obey rules if you keep insisting they don’t apply to you.”

“If it were up to me, I’d let it slip, but then I’m not the one making the rules,” Linda conceded. “After all, I can understand why you’d want to do something like that.”

David was wondering why none of the other girls were asking what they were talking about, but they each seemed too busy with something at the moment, and he hoped they were just being polite for once.

“And just make sure you obey the rules once your trial period is over, OK?” David asked as he finished straightening his clothes.

“Oh, of course I will,” Flora assured him. “I’ll be sure to obey them to the letter.”

“Good, that makes me feel much better,” he responded, although he wondered why both Ellen and Flora were trying to hide their smirks.

“Hey, Bobby,” David said, announcing himself as he entered the back room that Bob had set up as his new radio room, “we missed you at breakfast. Aren’t you hungry? How long have you been at this now?”

The room had been David’s office, where he worked on building plans or kept his schedule and bookkeeping, but he knew he’d have to share it now.

“Sorry, but I was anxious to check in, especially since we were talking about picking up Ma this morning. But things have gotten crazy,” Bob responded.

“What’s happening?” David asked, growing nervous. Bobby was good at giving them the latest news, but sometimes it was just better being ignorant of those things you had no control over, like how widespread the damage was to cities far away from them.

“Well, there have been a variety of different hospitals reporting similar ‘stress illnesses’ to what Ma described. However, someone in California who had a functioning lab managed to study some blood samples. Well, I say functioning, he still doesn’t have electricity, but he can get enough power to carry on for a few hours at a time because they have a genera—”

“Get to the point, Bobby,” David reminded him.

“Oh, sorry, anyway, he studied same samples from the nearby hospitals and he’s claimed to have identified a new pathogen. One linked to the patients complaining about these ‘baseless’ symptoms. Now that the word is getting out everyone is anxious to examine their patients to see if his discovery applies to them. Unfortunately, since most people either have no electricity, or are lacking internet access or fax machines, I’ve been trying to describe what the virus looks like from the descriptions people have given me. It’s hard to convey that kind of information when you don’t actually know what those kinds of things look like.”

“I can imagine,” David agreed.

“Anyway, I just finished describing it to Ma, and she called an immediate conference between the people in charge of her hospital. We’ve been discussing it since.”

“And what have they decided?” David asked, already assuming that Ma wouldn’t be coming home that day.

“They’ve decided to isolate and quarantine the patients in question, since they have no idea whether it’s contagious, even though the symptoms aren’t that major yet. So far they’re annoying and concerning, but they haven’t been tied to any tissue or structural damage to their bodies, so it’s probably nothing.”

“Still, it makes sense. We should probably watch who we interact with as a result, as well,” David responded. “That also means I can’t allow the girls to head back home anytime soon. Schools and shelters would be breeding grounds for a new virus. They’ll be safer staying here.”

“That’s what Ma thinks, as well. They’ve now assigned the people who’ve had the most contact with these cases to the isolation wards, taking care of and monitoring them, but that leaves them that much more shorthanded. After all, there’s only so much you can do waiting to see if someone who looks healthy gets ill.”

“Well, tell Ma I’m sorry she won’t be coming home today, and tell her I miss her. Hell, we all do. I’ll also send one of the girls down with some breakfast. There’s no need for you to starve while you’re doing this for us. Will you be much longer?”

“Hell, yeah,” Bob responded. “After I finish with Ma’s hospital, I’m going to reach any other ones I can access. This is potentially vital information, although it could also be completely meaningless. It’s a completely new pathogen, well, a new cell type actually, since we don’t know if it’s a new virus or not, but it didn’t exist a week ago, and it does now, so everyone is concerned.”

“Wait a minute,” David said, stopping the recitation of facts as he considered them. “I thought viruses were too small to be easily seen other than with electron microscopes, which suck up a ton of electricity and take huge amounts of time to use? And aren’t pathogens the size of cells more likely to be infectious agents? After all, bacteria spread disease by invading and taking over individual cells.”

“Ah, good point. He simply pointed out that he’d found a correlation between this new cell type he’d found in the blood of patients. He has no idea how it works, or what it might affect, but he’s drawing a correlation based solely on statistical association.”

“OK, then, what’s his confirmation rate?”

“He claims a 57% confirmation,” Bobby told him.

“Wait, 57%? Where’d he ever got a number like that?”

Bobby laughed. “Technically, he had 4 out of seven patients with the specific symptoms that had the cells in their blood. That makes for a fairly high incidence rate, but it could just be a fluke due to the low sample size. We don’t know how many people are suffering from these particular symptoms.”

“Still, it sounds pretty conclusive given the low number of cases.”

“Well, we’d like to see it a little higher, since that still leaves 40% unaccounted for, although those might actually be real stress cases. On the other hand, it just may be that the cells haven’t spread enough in the unconfirmed cases, or that their immune systems have already responded to them and they’re already on the mend. Right now we just have questions and no ideas of the answers.”

“OK, keep working them. I’ll assign someone to keep an eye out for you. We don’t want you getting ill because you’re working on this too hard. But keep us informed.”

Bobby agreed to that, so David left him alone. He figured he’d better contact the Sheriff and warn him. They’d want to be aware if they observed anyone getting sick. After all, he might see them before they reached the stage of heading to the hospital. But then again, Bobby was probably right, this was probably just a minor new virus which just had a few odd symptoms that wouldn’t really bother anyone. Still, it bore watching.

David briefed everyone on the latest news, also informing them that all their plans had changed.

“We won’t be picking up Ma today, we’re also only going to send out a small group, and we’re going to be cautious about who we approach. What’s more, none of you girls are going to be heading home in the near future,” he told them.

“Do you think it’s worse in the city?” Caitlyn asked, suddenly worried about the family and friends they’d left behind.

“No, I don’t, and what’s more, so far we don’t know if it’s dangerous anyway. But I’m just being cautious. Right now it’s still dangerous trying to move around, and if you were to return to the city they’d either shuffle you off to school, or set up a place where they could keep you out of everyone’s way. However, if there is a new virus running around, that would also be a great place to pick it up. Everyone knows that you kids take every cold, flu and bug that’s going around and expose each other with it at your schools every day.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Sara agreed. “If we went back no one would know what to do with us, whereas here we’re actively helping, making a real difference in the community.”

The others quickly agreed, and David could see that the work he’d been exposing them to had been helping their self image, so he was encouraged. As a result, while he didn’t want to expose them unnecessarily, he instead gave them tasks close to the house. He gave one group saws to clean up damaged trees in the woods, and another group was set to clean up the roadway. He decided he’d head out on his own with Linda to check out whether anyone needed help. Alice and Ellen weren’t pleased, but if the girls were working they needed someone to manage them, and Maggie and Ellen were the best suited for that. He hated refusing to take Alice, since she’d clearly proven time and again how responsible and resourceful she was, but he was adamant. He was only taking Linda because she was the least useful working outdoors of any of them.

“Wow, it gets really windy out here, doesn’t it?” Julie asked.

“Yeah, it does,” Alice responded, as she pulled her jacket up to protect her from the wind. She watched the other girls wiping their noses on their sleeves. She was about the only one with a jacket, although she doubted the others would have worn them if they had been available. They weren’t used to conditions around here yet. “When the wind blows, it sweeps straight down the face of the cliff the house is built on and blows away from the house. It’s really handy, actually, since it blows all the leaves towards the woods, so we almost never have to rake any leaves.”

The girls agreed that made sense, although it reminded them just how much her father had planned ahead in designing this place. They were glad he was now watching out for them. They were also glad they wouldn’t have to leave now. They each liked it there, they were actually accomplishing something instead of just going back and forth to school. What’s more, with what had happened last night they were sure that things were going to be that much more interesting in the days to come, and none of them had any intention of missing anything that might develop.

“You know, everyone’s going to respond differently now that they know what we’ve been up to,” Linda said, reminding David once again what the girls had already made clear that morning.

“Yeah, I got that. Hopefully it’ll blow over, but right now everyone is having a lot of fun at our expense.”

“They’re just having fun,” she assured him. “We’ve been very close for the last week, and the kids don’t have their normal escapes of television or the internet. They’re feeling especially close to us, and they feel comfortable enough to be honest with us.”

“Well, I think I liked it better when kids weren’t quite so upfront with my nudity,” David responded.

“Oh? You’d have felt better if they walked in naked instead of you?” Linda could tell from his reaction what his response was. “That’s what I thought. So quit complaining. They’re still watching themselves, so I don’t think you have to worry too much. They’re having fun, that’s all.”

“OK, that makes sense. I’ll try to ignore the teasing from now on.”

“So are you going to take Maggie up on her offer to speak to her husband?” Linda asked, changing the topic now that she got that concession from him.

David simply grunted. “Yeah, I can just picture it now. ‘Reggie, excuse me, but do you mind if I sleep with your wife while she’s staying with us?’ Somehow I can’t picture that conversation.”

“So you’re not going to mention anything to him?” she asked, trying to pin him down.

“I’m not sure. I might try to feel him out, but I’m not about to embarrass him. After all, she was the one to say it was OK. Just because it’s OK with her doesn’t mean it’s OK with him.”

“What do you mean? Do you think she’d lie about something like that?”

“No, but a husband and wife could very well have two very different perceptions of things. After all, if I bring it up he just may tell me that his wife is just a slut.”

“You don’t really think that, do you?” Linda asked, surprised by her ex-husband’s reaction.

“No, of course not, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t see her attempts to sleep with me that way. It’s entirely possible he conceded the point, but that he’s still not fond of the idea.”

“I still can’t see that,” Linda replied. “After all, she said they talked about it, and she seems pretty level headed to me.”

“Yeah, but I’m going to have to feel him out. I have no idea how to play this. I’ve just never found myself in this situation before.”

They drove to the police station first. Bob had called them earlier, informing them about the potential of a virus in the community. They didn’t seem to be overly concerned, having seen nothing to alert them that anything was happening yet. They figured it was just what the hospital had originally thought, just a case of nerves and nothing more.

“After all, rocks from outer space don’t carry germs,” Sheriff Benjamin Adams said, giving him his view of the whole topic. “They’re bloody rocks, and they get superheated in the upper atmosphere. Anything living on them would be vaporized before it ever reached us.”

This was the first time that David had actually met Sheriff Adams. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He was a bit older, with brownish hair that was graying on the sides. He had a nice smile and had an honest look about him. David found he liked him right off the bat.

“I’m really glad about everything you’ve been doing for us. Both Bob Lind and Reggie Sinclair think the world of you, and you and your gang have been doing a great job helping the community. So anytime you need anything, feel free to ask.”

“Thanks, Sheriff, that’s nice to hear.”

“Hey, I’m not sheriff anything to you. Call me Ben. For all you’ve been doing for this county, I consider you a personal friend.”

“Thanks. And if you need anything, feel free to stop by,” David offered, even though he hoped he didn’t. He didn’t know what a friendship with this man would entail. “One last thing, though, I’m a little confused. What the hell is the Sheriff doing in the local police station?”

“I’m glad you know your basic State Government setup. I’m officially in charge of the entire county, but since this is such a small county, population wise anyway, when the power went out we decided to consolidate resources, as we couldn’t afford to run generators at each site. This station is the most centrally accessible in the county, so we decided to set up shop here. I’m now working here, acting as an ad hoc policeman. Each of us is covering the whole county, so we’re stretched pretty thin.”

“Well, that’s good to know. Again, if there’s anything I can help with,” David said before taking his leave. He was anxious to get Linda back.

There wasn’t anything the police couldn’t handle, then, most of the people in trouble having been helped already. Most people were still without power, and they had trouble getting out of their homes, but everyone was now coping. Ben told him to take the day off as a result.

“Hey, how’s it hanging?” Reggie asked as David and Linda entered his store. The question made David squirm, although Linda thought it was humorous.

They noticed that he’d managed to get the wall repaired. It was still obvious it had been damaged, but at least no one could wander in anytime they wanted to. It also looked like he’d been doing a fair business, considering the fact that there were no tourists, no one could leave their houses, and there were no deliveries.

“I guess it’s hanging about as well as your business is,” David responded. “How’re you holding up?”

“Frankly, I’m doing pretty well. People still aren’t happy when I tell them I can’t fill their prescriptions, but most people are so anxious to get out and talk they don’t worry about spending money on whatever we have available. Plus most people know they can count on me if they really need something.

“My house is still a mess, but I’m getting by. I’ve been putting up plastic sheeting, but we’ll see how well it holds up when it rains. By the way, thanks again for saving the store.”

“I didn’t save anything,” David responded. “I just reacted when I stumbled across something. Anyone would have done it.”

“But the fact of the matter is, no one else was there, and no one else did anything. If it wasn’t for you I’d be out of luck, and you’d have yet another housemate. By the way, how’s Maggie been doing? She working out over there?”

David wondered what he was really getting at, but quickly stopped himself from reading things into everything Reggie told him.

“She’s fine, but I thought you’d talked to her since she’s been with us.”

“Oh, I have, and she says she’s having a great time with you, but that isn’t what I was asking. I was asking you how you’re doing putting up with her.”

“Oh, she’s fine. She’s a great worker and she appreciates how I go about things. She works as hard as I do, and she inspires the girls.”

Reggie waited, as if expecting David to say more. When he didn’t say anything else he pushed a little more.

“How is she fitting in with your new girlfriend, then? And Linda, your ex-wife?”

Here David took a breath, then asked Linda if she could pick them up some more pads and tampax for the girls. She smiled as she headed off, and David turned back to Reggie.

“Maggie has made some, uh, some fairly suggestive comments, and I—”

“Oh, is that all? You’re not sure if she’s legit, or that I’m aware of what she’s up to?” When David hesitantly nodded, he continued. “David, we have a somewhat open relationship. We don’t do much, but we occasionally invite someone else in, and we sometimes go to a little club in the next town over. We’re always very cautious, so you don’t have to worry about any diseases or anything,” he hurried to add. “But a while back we decided on our ‘freebies’, you know, who you were allowed to sleep with if the situation ever presented itself. I wasted mine on Rhianna, but she picked you. At first I thought she was just teasing me, but she’d bring it up every now and then.

“When this disaster occurred, and when we found both the business and the house damaged, I suggested you might be the best place for her to stay. When I did, she asked me if I was willing to give her the OK for whatever might happen. I thought about it, and I told her to go for it,” he explained, looking David in the eyes, looking sincere in what he was saying.

“So you’d have no problems if we actually did anything?” David asked, feeling very self conscious.

“Absolutely not! But let me tell you something, the only reason why I don’t is because I trust you so much. Up until now we’ve had a rule, we can share, but never do anything without the other. But in your case I trust you. I know you’d never try to steal her away from me, and if anything happened you’d come and talk to me, man-to-man. So I feel secure in allowing the both of you this little extravagance.”

“Well, there’s no saying whether it’ll happen or not,” David hedged. Reggie simply responded with a raised eyebrow, saying nothing.

“There’s no problem. I mean, we get along well, but ... well there’s the other girls to consider,” David replied, trying to explain why he hadn’t already jumped on the man’s wife.

“I don’t think she’d object to a little girl-girl action,” Reggie assured him.

“That wasn’t exactly the problem I was thinking of,” David responded, blushing for some unknown reason. “There’s the issue of my girlfriend, not to mention Alice and the other girls.”

Reggie just smiled. “Whatever you work out is fine with me. If you get together with her, fine. If not, don’t worry about it. She’ll be disappointed, but we’ll survive. We just thought it might be fun for the two of you.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess,” David replied, feeling like he was having an out of body experience.

“So what did he say?” Linda asked, once they were back in the car and on their way.

“It was pretty strange, trying to subtly ask a good friend if you can hump his wife, even when you have no intentions to do it anyway.”

“But you’re not planning on doing that, humping her, that is,” his ex reminded him.

“No, I value her too much to treat her that shabbily. But I’m hardly going to sleep with her just because they both said I could. The only reason I asked was because she told me to. But that doesn’t commit me to something I think is a mistake.”

“You thought getting involved with me was a mistake, and now Ellen and I are best friends,” Linda reminded him.

“Yeah, just like I thought showering with a college girl was a mistake. It doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, all it means is that it hasn’t blown up in my face yet,” he responded.

“So how long does he think it will be before Maggie can move back home?”

“He said they’ve covered the house so it won’t be damaged by rain, but the local construction workers are working on a priority basis, and since Reggie’s sleeping in the shop, his house isn’t considered a high priority.”

“He’s sleeping in the shop?” Linda asked, surprised.

“Yeah, he started the day after I defended it. He figured without someone there it was just too risky. So far everyone has avoided the place, but it’s easier than trying to stay in his house. I offered to help him out, so tomorrow we’re all helping rebuild his house for him.”

Linda just looked at him for a minute, smiling, before she replied.

“So either that means you’d rather build someone a new house instead of sleeping with a beautiful girl, or...”

“Or?” David asked, wondering what his other motive might be.

“Or you’re so thankful to be sleeping with his wife, that you want to pay him back in advance for the privilege,” she laughed.

“As I said, the only woman I’m interested in is Ellen. I only slept with you because Ellen suggested it would be healthy for both of us, and it was only supposed to be a onetime thing.”

“Yeah, and we saw how that worked out,” she replied.

“Look, I’m just trying to wrap my head around this whole hero worship thing you all have going. Let me deal with it at my own pace. I have no plans to sleep with anyone, I just want to understand how everyone is thinking. Now, the sooner we can get everyone back home—”

“The sooner you’ll be left all alone in that big house all by yourself,” Linda reminded him. “Is that really what you want?”

David had to admit she had a good point. He wasn’t sure he was ready for that. As difficult as the girls could be, he’d really enjoyed the little home his house had become.

Driving back, they were nearly home on David’s own private drive, when they encountered something strange.

“What the fuck is that?”

Linda laughed. “In case you aren’t familiar with it, David, those are female breasts.”

“Why are the girls walking around without tops?”

“I have no idea,” Linda admitted. “After all, I’ve been with you. Maybe we should stop and ask. Besides, they’re hardly topless. They’re still wearing their shirts, they just have them unbuttoned.”

“Without any bras, out in the open, where any Tom, Dick or Harry can drive by and see them,” David pointed out, sounding horrified by the prospect.

As they drew closer the girls turned around and faced their car, each leaning on one leg, their other leg projecting out at an angle, which presented a particularly interesting view of ... David had to shake his head to clear it as he lowered his window.

“What the hell are you girls doing?” he called out.

Maggie laughed as she walked up. “Like the view? It was the girls’ idea. They wanted to surprise you.”

“Well they certainly did that,” David responded, still unable to believe his eyes. “Why the hell did you let them do this? I mean, anyone at all could drive along this road?”

“David, seriously, who has driven up this road recently? No one besides Linda and the girls have used this road since we got here.”

“But still, what if the police drove up?”

“If they did, this is a private road and this is private property,” the normally reticent Julie called up as the girls ran up to see David’s reactions closer up. Just as they’d hoped, his reactions were clear, as he fought a very obvious but losing battle to keep his eyes on their faces. “There’s no law saying people can’t dress how they want in the privacy of their own property as long as they aren’t bothering anyone else.”

“Well you’re botheri...” David started to respond before thinking better of it. “You need to be properly dressed,” he told them, struggling to control how he responded to them.

“Why, don’t you think it looks good on us?” Caitlyn asked, thrusting her chest out so he had a better view. When he seemed to have trouble looking long enough to see clearly, she turned a little so he’d have a clearer view.

“It’s nothing worse than what the actresses wear on the red carpet at the Academy Awards,” Sara pointed out.

“They at least tape their clothes in place,” David reminded her.

“We considered that,” she responded, running her finger along the edge of her shirt as if contemplating the idea, “but all you had was duct tape, and we didn’t think that looked quite as sexy.”

“And why aren’t any of you wearing your bras? Don’t you know you need support when you’re working?” he asked, trying a slightly different approach.

“Who are you asking?” Caitlyn asked, placing a single finger to her chin. “Frankly, I haven’t needed a bra in a long time.”

“Me too,” Julie called out, even though she was actually larger than the model thin Caitlyn was.

“Besides, you didn’t notice, but no one wore any underwear of any kind today,” Maggie pointed out to him. “They did it just to watch your reaction, but you didn’t appear to notice, so they wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it this time.”

“Girls, as good as you all look, and I assure you, you each look gorgeous, you really need to get dressed. It just isn’t smart to work with tools when you have ... when you have things ... hanging out.”

“Hey, he thinks I’ve got enough to ‘hang out’,” Sara said, shifting her shirt to observe herself. “Hopefully that means I’ve managed to grow a little bigger than I was before.”

“Believe me, you’ve got plenty to distract anyone, but I’d rather not be watching it at the moment,” he tried to delicately explain.

“I think he’s right, girls,” Linda graciously told the girls. “He almost drove off the road on the way in. It would really be safer if you put something on.”

“If we do, does that mean we can dress like this this evening?” Julie asked hopefully.

“Absolutely not,” David hurriedly responded. “I’ve got enough of a tendency to walk into doors as it is. I really don’t need any more help.”

“All right, girls, you’ve made your points,” Maggie told them. “Now back to work, all of you.”

The girls accepted that easily enough, and went back to cutting the various branches that still lay across the road, although none of them bothered to close or button their shirts.

“Now that we have a little privacy,” Maggie said, once the girls were a little ways away, “did you talk to Reggie?”

“He did,” Linda happily told her. “They had a fairly long talk about it.”

“Good, so does that ease your mind?” Maggie asked, smiling at him.

“It eases it, in an odd way, but it doesn’t change it. He also said he trusted me to do the right thing, since he knows what I’m like. And part of my makeup is that I don’t fool around just because an opportunity presents itself. I couldn’t do that to Ellen.”

“Or Linda,” Maggie pointed out, illustrating his own hypocrisy.

“Oh, I’ve got no problems with it. Feel free to try him out,” Linda suggested.

“I’m not going to be ‘trying out’ anyone,” David reminded them, sighing theatrically. “By the way, you’ve done a good job here,” he added, trying to get off the current topic.

“Thanks. The girls have been working hard at it. Personally, I think they work harder when they’re not strapped in by their underwear like they normally are. I suspect their newly discovered freedom inspires them to work that much harder.” Both Maggie and Linda broke out giggling at that.

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