Operation Abaddon

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Chapter 7

A year earlier…

Kristine Markley pulled her car into a parking spot along the street near the jeweler’s, Preston standing outside appearing somewhat nervous and out of his element. Of course he had gifted Anne other articles of jewelry on special occasions in the past but this was a horse of a different color. She thought he also looked a bit peaked, but supposed he was making quite a major life decision and she was well aware that one’s mental and emotional state can most definitely have an effect on the physical. Exiting her car she gave him a bright smile as she approached.

“Kristine...thank you. I hope I didn’t take you away from anything. I didn’t know who else to call. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a fish out of water.”

“It’s no problem at all. I’m so happy for you!”

“Perhaps you should wait to be happy for me until you find out what she says.” Preston replied.

“Do you honestly think she’d say no? So what changed your mind?” Kristine asked. She was well aware of Preston’s previously voiced opinion regarding the institution of marriage. She’d had her own opinion based on her knowledge of her field of expertise for why he held it after learning from him details of his life story, though she’d never voiced her thoughts to him.

“Circumstances have changed.” Preston replied simply.

“Circumstances? You don’t mean...is she…?” Kristine asked. The possibility that came to her mind seemed unlikely as Anne had confided in her previously that she was infertile along with the fact she was now over the age of forty, though it was becoming more common for women her age as women pursued careers. Also with medical advancements, bearing children at that age was becoming less of an issue. However, it was all Kristine could think of in the moment that would have led to such a shift in what had previously seemed to be a stalwart opinion. Preston quickly ascertained the rest of her question that had been left unvocalized.

“No….no. I would have thought she’d told you that she’s unable.”

“We’ve discussed it in the past. But I’ve known of others that were told the same thing and lo and behold….stranger things have happened.”

“Yes, they certainly have.” Preston said in response to her comment about ‘stranger things,’ the videos he had been shown and the story Crewson and Stillwell had related to him were still fresh in his mind. “I’ve had a change of heart. Let’s leave it at that. It’s not important.”

“You’re right, it isn’t.” Kristine said with another smile. Whatever the reason, she knew he would share it in his own time if he wished to. Preston opened the door of the jeweler’s for her.

“After you.”

It had not taken Preston nearly as long as he had believed it would to make his selection. His eyes had fallen upon it the moment he’d stepped over to the counter where the jeweler had indicated the engagement rings were displayed. The jeweler removed it from the case for him to examine more closely...a heart shaped sapphire bordered by diamonds. He had already known whatever he chose, it must be something that set it apart from the routine simple diamonds and diamond solitaires. The rich blue of the sapphire had immediately recalled to him the color of Anne’s eyes. He perused a few others, but his mind kept returning to it.

“What do you think?” he asked Kristine.

“I think you didn’t really need me. It’s perfect.” she answered.

“Don’t worry about the size. You can bring it and the lucky lady back and we’ll resize it for her at no charge.” the jeweler had informed him.

After finalizing the transaction, the two left the jeweler’s, Preston tucking the box into the inside pocket of his jacket along with the paperwork that came with it.

“You know, I was trying to think of what it reminded me of and it finally came to me..the necklace in Titanic. You’ve seen that movie, haven’t you?” Kristine asked as they stepped back out onto the sidewalk.

“Only about a hundred times…” Preston said feigning exasperation, the feint given away by a grin. He’d always thought the actor who had played Cal resembled Robert. He wasn’t sure of the exact count and was somewhat sure he was exaggerating, but it was one of Anne’s favorite movies, she being enamored since elementary school with anything related to the Titanic. He had made it a point to take her to several Titanic related sites during their first visit together to the UK. Her undergraduate minor had been in history. She had told him in the past how she had been in a quandary over whether to major in that subject or art. Perhaps that’s why the ring had caught his attention he thought, though he hadn’t consciously made the connection until Kristine had mentioned it, “..and she always cries at the end of it. You’d think since she already knows he’s going to-” Preston stopped, the grin sliding from his face. For those few minutes inside the jeweler’s he had actually forgotten. Perhaps his choice fit the circumstances a little too well.

“I could explain the psychology behind that but I’d probably put you to sleep. You already look tired.” Kristine asked.

“It’s been a long day.” Preston said, using the same excuse he’d used with Anne. It was at least partially the truth.

“Well I suppose my work here is done.” Kristine said as they walked past another business towards her car.

“If there’s nowhere pressing you need to be, I could use your help with something else.” Preston asked, looking at the business two doors down, one he knew well as Anne was a frequent customer.

“Just name it.” Kristine said. Preston got the impression that Kristine’s enthusiasm and willingness to help wasn’t only the desire to be a good friend to him and to Anne, who had very few, but also that she infrequently had the opportunity to be involved in something considered as exciting and life altering as a proposal. Her two grown children had long since left the nest and her work appeared to be the center of her universe these days. He was also aware that Kristine had taken a special interest in Anne. .

“I know she’s spoken with you about her past. Did she ever tell you about her prom?” Preston asked.

“You mean Joe Michaels.” Kristine said darkly, her expression becoming disgusted with a hint of anger.

“I was thinking…” Preston said as he led her past her car towards the resale shop.

“I think I know what you’re thinking and I think it would be a wonderful idea, if that’s not too much thinking.” Kristine said with a grin. As they reached the entrance to the shop, Kristine turned to Preston. “I have an idea what she likes and her size. I’ll go take a look. If I find something I’ll pick it up and take it with me. You shouldn’t see it until the day.” Kristine said, smiling.

“I thought that was the bride before the wedding.” Preston said with a grin.

“That too.”

“If you find something, whatever it costs-”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s on me. Why don’t you go home? I’ll give you a call later and we’ll plan it all out.” Kristine said.

Preston glanced next door at an art shop, canvases and framed prints in the display window and adorning the walls. Anne had sold a few of her own paintings there on commission. Through the window he could see one in particular on the wall that harkened back to a conversation he’d had previously that day.

“Alright. I think I’ll have a look next door before I go. Thank you for your help, Kristine.. I appreciate it.”

“I would do just about anything for Anne...and for you. You’ve been so good to her. She’s had such a hard life. She’s such a trooper. She deserves to be happy.” Kristine replied.

“She most definitely does.” said Preston. At that moment as he thought of his wish for Anne’s happiness, he began to second guess himself. Would saddling her with a dying man really make her happy? Would it not be better to set her free to find another with an expiration date that was likely to be much further off? What about the pain she would experience upon finally learning of his condition and especially after his passing? He thought of the burden he would most likely someday be. Did she really deserve that after everything else she’d experienced in her life?

As he had learned over the last five years, however, if Anne was anything she was loyal. To the very few that showed her loyalty, kindness, love, she returned it tenfold. He thought how much it would have enriched Joe Michaels’ life long ago, even as just a friend, if he’d been sincere and taken her to the prom. Preston considered what fools so many were to treat her the way that they did when it would benefit them far more to have someone like her in their life. She was the type that would walk over broken glass or hot coals for a friend, for someone she loved, for someone that treated her with dignity and respect. There was no way she would leave him, even if he asked her to, even if he demanded she do so. It would be pointless to try. She would stay by his side until his last breath however near or far off that day was, whether he put that ring now resting in his pocket on her finger or not.

Kristine entered the resale shop, the bell on the door ringing. Taking that as his cue, Preston made his way next door.

Preston crossed over to the wall where hung a large print of Holbein’s Anne of Cleves in an ornate gold frame as one would see in a museum of Renaissance art. He was sure that the frame itself was worth far more than the print within it.

“Can I help you? Is there anything in particular you’re looking for? A particular style or artist?” A balding, portly man asked as he moved from behind a table where he had been occupied framing another print.

“I believe I’ve already found it.” Preston said, looking admiringly at the print. The colors and detail were crisp and clear, so much so that it almost looked as if it had been painted with a brush instead of printed onto the canvas.

“Holbein’s Anne of Cleves. A wonderful piece, as are all his works. It’s amazing to me that you don’t hear him mentioned often. He should be a household name like Da Vinci and Rembrandt. In some ways I believe him to be superior, but that’s only my opinion. I can give you quite a deal on her. She’s printed with a new type of printer technology that even mimics the original brush strokes. Ironically enough, a customer ordered her and then changed their mind. She’s been here waiting for the right person ever since. I’ll sell her for what she and the frame cost me. I’d just like to see her find a good home where she’ll be appreciated.” the proprietor of the shop said as if he were speaking of an animal in a shelter up for adoption.

Preston arrived home, hauling the heavier than he had expected portrait through the door. Anne rose from the couch where she had been reading upon hearing the door open and entered the small foyer.

“They must have been even slower than usual today. What’s that? I thought you had meds to pick up at the pharmacy?” Anne asked as she looked curiously at the object wrapped in brown paper.

“I did. They’re in the car. I’ll get them in a moment. I picked a little something up for you while I was out.”

“A little something?”

“Open it.” Preston said. Anne stepped into the foyer from the doorway as Preston rested the portrait on the floor, holding it up. Anne stooped, tearing away the brown paper.

“Anne of Cleves by Holbein. It’s my favorite of his. I don’t recall ever mentioning it. How did you know?” Anne asked.

“Just a hunch, I suppose.” Preston felt a strange sensation, almost as if supernatural forces were at play.

“I used to look at it, examine every detail trying to figure out what it was that Henry so disliked about her. If Holbein had overly flattered her, Henry would likely have had his head. I’ve always felt a sort of kinship with her, aside from sharing a name.” Anne said. “It’s beautiful, thank you.”

“I find myself doing the same when I look at you, trying to figure out what it is that others have found wanting. In all this time I’ve still not come up with an answer. I suppose their loss is my gain.” Preston said. Anne smiled, tears welling in her eyes. She moved the portrait to lean against the wall, wrapping her arms around him, he returning the embrace.

“I always thought her story was so sad...she ended up rich and independent which very few women were in her time, and of course kept her head...but she could never be with anyone, she could never marry or have children or she’d lose it all. I always liked to think maybe she had a secret lover but it’s unlikely she would have risked it. It’s strange to think I’m already a year older than she was when she died.” Anne said. Preston slightly stiffened at her mention of death.

“Marriage at that time, especially for a woman of her class, was very rarely for love. It was more like a business transaction. Robert probably would have found a way to make money off it.” Preston replied. “She was likely better off and happier than she would have been if she had remarried.”

“Maybe.” Anne said, pulling away from Preston and turning back to the portrait and examining it again. “But it’s still sad. I wonder sometimes...if everyone had what we do, what would the world be like?”

“It would be a very different place, I think.” Preston answered. Anne turned back to face him, quiet for a moment as she seemed to examine him with her eyes.

“Are you feeling ok? You don’t look like you’re feeling well. You look tired.” Anne said.

“I suppose I am. Kristine said the same thing…” Preston said, quickly realizing his mistake as Anne looked at him strangely, “Kristine Markley. I ran into her when I was out.” he said.

“Oh. Well if you don’t feel like going out, we have a few leftovers in the fridge, or I can warm up some soup. That might be better if you’re not feeling well.”

“Soup is fine. I’m not terribly hungry.” Preston said, which was the truth. The pill to ward off nausea had worn off and though he didn’t feel sick to his stomach, he found the warning about having no appetite to have been accurate.

“Alright.” Anne said walking back through the doorway into the front room towards the kitchen. “Chicken or vegetable beef?” she called out as she neared the doorway that led to the kitchen.

“Chicken, I think.” he said, stating his preference, surmising that the chicken soup would be easier on his stomach, though he didn’t expect to eat much of it.

“Why don’t you get your meds and take them if you need to and then lie down? I’ll bring it to you.” Anne told him. Preston had completely forgotten about the bottles of pills in the car.

“That sounds wonderful. Thank you.” Preston said, turning back towards the door to exit it and return to his car.

Preston unlocked the car with the remote on the key fob and took hold of the door handle on the passenger side, opening it and leaning in slightly to take hold of the bag from the pharmacy.

“He’s coming.” a familiar voice said, Preston quickly turning his head towards the center of the back seat where Whitby sat as grotesque as last he’d seen him, the flesh of the remaining half of his head pasty and white, looking at Preston with his one hazy eye. “Sheol is naked and Abaddon has no covering.”

“Fuck!” Preston exclaimed as he startled and in terror, raising his head a moment too soon as he backed out of the cabin of the car, bumping it on the door frame as he fell backwards on his ass in the driveway, the bag of pills clenched in his hand. Scooting backwards crab-like, breathing loudly and heavily, he lifted his foot, kicking the car door closed. He sat for a few moments, catching his breath, his eyes almost bursting from their orbits, his face drained of color.

Finally, Preston closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths in through his nose and exhaling audibly out of his mouth, his body relaxing. Opening his eyes, he rose to his feet, leaning over slightly and peering into the empty car.

“You’re going barmy, you bastard.” he said softly to himself. Reason returning to him, he considered the possibility that the treatment in combination with his fatigue, which seemed to be increasing by the minute, had led him to suffer yet another hallucination. He had been overly tired and suffering a fever the last time he’d seen the specter of his dead comrade.

Preston returned to the house, entering the front door and ascending the steps in the foyer. Reaching his and Anne’s bedroom, he opened the bag of pills, reading the directions on each and taking one from each bottle, putting the bottles into the top drawer of his dresser, also stowing there the small box containing the ring and the paperwork that accompanied it. Closing the drawer, he walked into the master bathroom off the bedroom, filling one of the small disposable cups near the sink with water and popped both pills into his mouth, taking a drink and swallowing them.

Switching off the bathroom light, he reentered the bedroom, removing his jacket and hanging it on a hanger, returning it to the closet and removing his shirt and undershirt, then sat on the bed, removing his shoes and socks, throwing the socks and shirts in the hamper and removing his trousers and placing them into it as well after checking the pockets and removing his phone, placing it on the charger atop his dresser.. Not bothering to throw on the lounge pants he typically wore to bed, he pulled back the comforter and sheet on the bed and slipped under them in his shorts, lying his head onto the pillow and covering himself before closing his eyes. Not long after, Anne entered the room with two steaming bowls on a tray.

“I thought I’d join you and we could watch some-” she said before breaking off. Sitting the tray on top of the nearby vanity, she crossed the room to the bed and looked down on Preston who lay on his side, facing her, sound asleep. “Poor baby…” she said quietly, leaning down and kissing his forehead. “I love you.” she whispered, though she was sure he was beyond hearing her, before pulling the blankets up higher over him. Turning from the bed she crossed the room again, picking up the tray and glancing back at the bed with concern before leaving Preston to his rest. After she had left the room, Preston’s phone began ringing atop his dresser, going unanswered.

Preston had arisen the next morning feeling refreshed and rested, Anne’s concern for him fading as he ate a hearty breakfast and she noticed his color had returned seemingly along with his energy. He and Anne had driven to campus together after taking separate vehicles the day before due to Preston’s meeting with Dr. Waller. After reaching his office, Preston had returned Kristine’s call, apologizing for not answering his phone the evening before. Together they hashed out their plan that was to be realized that Saturday, two days hence. It wasn’t much time, but Kristine was certain she could pull off her part of it if Preston could fulfill his, which he assured her he could.

The next two days had passed as most others. Preston had felt better than he had in quite awhile and had again almost forgotten his dark secret that was known to only three others, Dr. Waller, Colonel Crewson and Lt. Colonel Stillwell. He had shared it with no one else and had no plans to for the moment.

Late Saturday afternoon, Anne had said her goodbyes to him before she headed off to Kristine’s, under what premise she had lured her over Preston was unaware. Feeling like a teenager again prepping for a date, he dressed in his best suit and tie, the dark blue one with the matching tie with gold fleur de lis pattern and applying a cologne he knew she liked, he checked himself one last time in the mirror over her dresser, satisfied with his appearance. Walking to his dresser, he opened the top drawer. He looked down at the two pill bottles for a moment as they gave him an unwelcome reminder of the reality of his situation. Reaching into the drawer, towards the back, he took hold of the ring box, drawing it out and placing it into the inside pocket of his suit jacket.

After Anne had left, he had pilfered her digital music player from her studio and had gone through her music files, putting together a playlist. It struck him how eclectic was her taste in music. There were songs from the 1920s through the mid 2000′s, though most were from the 50s-70s. There were many Al Bowlly songs, Preston only learning after the night they had first met that she had been a fan of his for quite some time, though the man had lived and died decades before her birth. As with him spying the portrait of Anne of Cleves after having just discussed her earlier that day with the nurse at the clinic then learning that his Anne herself was a fan of the piece and had spent much time thinking on it in the past, it had been a strange coincidence that he had chosen to ask her to dance for the first time as an Al Bowlly song had begun to play, one of those moments in life that when looked back on later, give that satisfying feeling as when one finds two matching puzzle pieces and they join smoothly together, that sense that everything had come together perfectly despite the seemingly chaotic nature of the universe,.

Before arriving at Kristine’s, Preston stopped at the florist, picking up the corsage he had ordered and the matching boutonniere for his own suit. He wasn’t even sure if that was still “a thing” at modern proms but was reasonably sure it had been at the time of hers. He figured since they had known to what he was referring to when he had called in the order and already had a price in the system for it, it must be.

Walking to Kristine’s front door, he had rang the doorbell and then stood on the stoop expectantly. He couldn’t remember when was the last time he had done the same, again feeling like a teenager. Perhaps the evening would not just be cathartic for Anne, but for himself as well. After a few moments, the front door opened, Kristine standing before him grinning from ear to ear. Over her shoulder, he could see Anne, dressed in the powder blue vintage prom dress with the silver tulle overlay sporting a pattern of glittering stars, her hair arranged and curled, a small tiara pinned atop her head with a matching star pattern, her make up having been done by Kristine, far more than she generally wore. A pair of diamond earrings dangled from her ears along with a matching necklace, both from Kristine’s own collection. Anne’s face reflected her astonishment and lingering confusion.

“Anne-...what was your name again, young man?” Kristine asked.

“Alan.” he answered, both grinning at each other.

“Anne, your date, Alan, is here.” Kristine turned to the side, beckoning Anne to the door. Anne made her way to it, smiling but still looking clueless as to what exactly was going on. “Now young man, have her home at a decent hour and no hanky panky, you hear?” Kristine said. Alan pinned the corsage in his hand onto Anne’s dress as she stood before him.

“You look beautiful.” He said into her ear as he kissed her cheek. Taking Anne’s hand he led her to the car, she seeming to have gone mute. Opening the passenger door, she entered, he closing it and rounding the car to the driver’s side, entering it and starting the car, waving to Kristine who continued to smile broadly and waved as he pulled out of the drive.

Anne remained silent on the short drive to campus, Preston pulling into a parking spot in front of the large building that housed the ballroom. Exiting the car, he walked around it to her side, opening the door and extending his hand, she taking it and stepping out of the car.

As they walked down the wide hallway towards the entrance to the ballroom, Anne heard music playing.

“What is all this?” Anne asked, finally finding her voice.

“This is the prom you should have had.” he told her, leading her by the hand through a curtain of silver and blue metallic streamers that had been hung over the door. The ballroom, lit by the chandeliers, was decorated not quite as elaborately as it would have been for an actual prom, but close. On the dance floor as the music played, college aged students in formal dress danced. The song ended, shortly after another beginning, one of the many Al Bowlly tunes from her collection. Preston led Anne out onto the dance floor.

Midnight and the stars and you, midnight and a rendez-vous…

Preston, as he had the first time they had danced, put his hand to her waist, taking her other, she moving hers to his shoulder.

Your eyes held a message tender, saying I surrender all my love to you…

“Alan...I can’t believe you did all this...” Anne said as they danced, tears in her eyes before she began to chuckle.

“What is it?” Alan asked, stymied as to what was funny.

“Is Lloyd the bartender here? If I see twin girls in blue dresses, I’m outta here.” Anne said. Preston appeared confused for a moment before understanding came to him, he laughing as well.

“Well, the music is from your collection.” he said, grinning.

“I’d figured as much. Who else would have Al these days? How did you get all of them to show up and miss out on whatever kegger”s probably going on somewhere?” Anne asked.

“Offer enough extra credit, especially at the end of the semester, and you can accomplish anything.” Alan joked. “Though looking around at who’s here, I don’t think most of them really need it.”

Midnight brought us sweet romance, I know all my whole life through

I’ll be remembering you, whatever else I do, midnight and the stars and you

As the song ended, another began, time hopping to the late 1950s, in fact, the last year of that long ago decade that had changed music among many other aspects of American as well as western culture in general forever. Changing dance position, Preston hooked both of his arms around Anne’s waist, she wrapping hers over his shoulders. Preston felt the weight of what he knew rested in the inside pocket of his jacket. Not the physical weight of course as in that sense he hardly noticed its presence.

My love must be a kind of blind love,

I can’t see anyone but you.

Are the stars out tonight,

I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright

I only have eyes for you, dear...

Preston had not set the songs to play in any particular order, setting the playlist he had made to random, but yet again, that sense of something beyond mystical, supernormal, came over him, the lyrics of the song too perfect. Continuing to dance, Anne pressed herself closer to Preston, her head against his shoulder, her eyes closed, relishing the moment with a sense of reclaiming something dear that had long ago been painfully lost.

The moon may be high,

But I can’t see a thing in the sky.

I only have eyes for you,

I don’t know if we’re in a garden

Or on a crowded avenue…

Preston could smell the scent of the flower pinned to her dress mingling with the light scent of her perfume, also a floral, or more likely Kristine’s as Anne would have had no reason to bring her own with her, not knowing what was in store for her once she arrived there. She may have had some in her purse (Preston reminded himself they’d have to stop back by Kristine’s to pick up Anne’s belongings) but he didn’t recognize it.

You are here, and so am I

Maybe millions of people walk by

But they all disappear from view

And I only have eyes for you.

“I still can’t...I can’t believe this...that you’d do all this for me. I love you.” Anne said, her voice quavering with emotion.

“Do you?” Preston asked. He felt his nerves firing along with the familiar sensation of butterflies in his midsection.

“You know I do. I think I did from the time you first talked to me. You were the only one that whole night to actually have a conversation with me. Maybe the only one at anything ever.” Anne said. Preston didn’t doubt it. He had thought at first that it was shyness on her part, her setting herself apart from others, but over time had seen first hand what she spoke of, how others seemed to avoid her, almost subconsciously. He had seen her more than once attempt to join others at a table during a luncheon or some other function or approach a group and join in the conversation only for them to quickly make their excuses and break up, spreading away from her throughout the room or even completely out of it. Some of that could have to do with jealousy on their part related to her relationship with him, but it seemed even the men at those tables, in those groups, reacted the same. It made no sense to him as it had never made any to her either, she remembered it being so even from a young age, how she seemed to naturally repel people. No, she wasn’t a ravishing beauty with a supermodel’s body, but she wasn’t a hideous Medusa either, nor was she rude or uninteresting.

“It seems as if he were almost writing of us when Shakespeare wrote, ‘No sooner met but they looked...no sooner looked but they loved...no sooner loved but they sighed...no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason...no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy... and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage.’” Preston said, reaching into his jacket pocket and retrieving the ring box, snapping it open as he lowered himself to one knee, Anne looked down at him in shock as her arms slowly lowered to her sides from where they had rested on his shoulders. Reaching out he took her hand. “Anne...will you marry me?” he asked.

Anne looked as if she were about to faint, even more so than most women at a proposal, as she processed his words, words she had never expected to ever hear and especially from he who had so often spoken contrary to the idea of marriage. Around them, the students in attendance, some that both Preston and herself had in the past or currently in both of their courses, stood as if holding their collective breaths along with Preston in silent anticipation of her answer.

Anne fought through the paralysis that her shock had brought upon her to finally nod her head, tears coursing down her cheeks. Preston was hopeful that Kristine had used waterproof mascara. Of course Kristine would have thought of that as she’d thought of everything else over the course of making their plans knowing what the night had in store for her, he conjectured.

“Yes. Yes, I will...I’ll marry you.” she said. The audience of students burst into cheers and applause as Preston removed the ring from the box and slid it onto her finger. It was slightly too large, but secure enough for the time being. Placing the empty box back into his jacket pocket, Preston rose, Anne practically throwing herself into his arms as he wrapped his around her as if wishing to meld her body with his own.

Looking across the ballroom, Preston noticed a figure standing along the far wall staring back at him. It, or rather he….or maybe he was an it….wore a uniform...the left shoulder dark brown, crusted with blood. Preston quickly squeezed his eyes closed. He couldn’t possibly be seeing what he was seeing and not now, not at this moment, perhaps the most important moment of his life, though the figure brought back to him what his mind had once more sat aside...that this moment of his life most likely had come when there weren’t all that many left beyond it. Taking a long deep breath, he slowly opened his eyes. The figure had vacated the spot in which it had stood. Glancing around, Preston saw no sign of him elsewhere. Turning his attention back to Anne he passionately kissed her as the applause of their supporters continued.

After a few more dances, Anne and Preston had taken their leave, Preston thanking the students who had given up their evening to join them and help to set the scene. He had remembered to stop back by Kristine’s, she seeming to have already predicted their return, having Anne’s purse and the clothing she’d worn over earlier that day ready to hand over to him when he knocked on the door.

Returning home, pulling into the driveway, Preston had shut off the car, both he and Anne sitting in silence for a moment. Turning his head, he looked into the back seat. He had played this part of the evening through in his head previously but now recalled what he had last seen in that same backseat and reconsidered before overcoming his discomfort at the memory...a false one he was sure, just as was the one from Nan’s bathroom. Climbing from the driver’s seat into the backseat, rather clumsily, he looked to Anne who stared back at him questioningly.

“It’s prom night…” he said with a sly grin, extending his hand.

“The neighbors...what if someone sees us?” she asked anxiously.

“What if they do?” Preston asked. Anne considered for a moment before taking his hand, allowing him to pull her into the backseat along with him, she practically falling on top of him, ending up straddling his lap, the skirt of her dress spread out over it. As they descended into a frenzy of lustful kissing she reached under her skirt to the waist of his pants, quickly, almost frantically unfastening and unzipping them, he moving his hands under her skirt to her hips.

“Wait…” she said. “Don’t you remember? No hanky panky.” Anne told him with a grin, his hands still under her skirt.

“Why should we listen to that old git?”

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