Friday, September 7, 2012

The Brothers Everhart - Pres Ch. 6 What About Sofia?

Pres Everhart (alias Ray Nolan) decided to take Sofia out for an evening ostensibly to tell her about Arlene and say goodbye to her. He hadn't seen Arlene in a week, although he'd talked to her by phone and email, because she was out of town at her parents' house in Garden City. He'd been thinking about what Perry said...who was it he loved? He believed it was Arlene, a typical girl-next-door. He missed her terribly. But when he was with Sofia he wanted to take care of her. In spite of her tough life, she still believed in the goodness of people. He began to wonder if he cared for her more than he previously thought.

Sofia was so grateful to see him and for the dinner at a fancy restaurant that he couldn't bring himself to tell her, even when he brought her home. It was a stupid move, he realized later, to follow her inside her place. He should have just kissed her at her door and left, even if he couldn't get the guts up to tell her goodbye. Of course when he came in it just led to other things. She was still a curvy beauty, with her peaches and cream complexion, huge brown eyes and long golden blonde hair. And she was still a gentle, loving woman who was always thinking of others first--especially Pres. He felt comfortable with Sofia, she was familiar and they'd been close for a couple of years when he thought about it. Almost from the first she'd offered companionship and awesome sex with no strings and had seemed to accept that he was not making any promises. She was never combative; always soft and accommodating. 

On the other hand, Arlene was a vivacious, sweet girl, but somewhat assertive, sometimes difficult and thus far sexually untouched. From the beginning Pres had been "hands off" with her. She didn't seem to want to change the status on that. He assumed she was saving herself for marriage; a miracle in this day and time, but he had to respect her ideals if that was true. She'd never really said because he'd never pushed the matter. Since he was unable to commit to her while being undercover it helped him distance himself a bit. And, whether or not he wanted to admit it; that way he didn't have to feel so guilty about his association with Sofia. However; he was only human and on this night he stayed once more with Sofia. Okay, he decided, he'd tell her tomorrow before he left. But the next morning he again kept silent. He just couldn't find a way to tell her he would never see her again. Pres told himself he wasn't dragging his feet because he was unwilling to let her go, that could not be it; no, he just did want not hurt her.

Meanwhile, Sofia's neighbor, Dana Conadera, had become a friend to Sofia since he helped Pres give her former pimp the heave-ho back when she quit hooking. He'd been working to get his life straightened out, too; getting a real job at the local garage while going to school part-time.

"You shouldn't put yourself down so much," he told her one day as they chatted on her little porch, "You're a knockout and you're a lot of fun. And you're working hard to become a hair dresser. Besides, you're a friend to everyone, doll. You're just a good hearted person."

"Aw, thanks, Dana, you are so good for my ego. I just don't even realize when I'm doing it, I guess. It's automatic, or maybe a bad habit. Hey, when are you gonna grow some hair so I can give you a new hairstyle?" she dimpled, rubbing her hand over his ultra-short black hair.

"I'll start growing it out today, just for you," he grinned and then grew serious, trying to sound offhand, "I guess you're still seeing Ray Nolan, huh?"

She sighed,

" least for now."

"What does that mean?"

"Oh, nothing--are you going to the Apple Festival in Bluewater Village next week? I'm going and I'd love company."

"Yeah, I'll go with you, but don't try to change the subject. Is he treating you bad? I mean, I like the guy, he's always been straight with me, but what do you mean when you say 'for now'?" 

Sofia looked down and, using a long pink fingernail, she began tracing little circles on her jean-clad thigh,

"I think he's getting tired of me."

"Why do you think that?"

Still looking down she shrugged and continued tracing,

"It's just a feeling I have. In fact, I'm guessing there's someone else. And has been for several months," she looked up, "I mean, he never promised I'd be his exclusive interest or anything. I guess it's more like friends with benefits?"

He cocked one eyebrow deciding against making a comment on that, but he asked,

"Have you seen him with another woman or something?" 

"No, I don't know how to explain but, well, I can feel a distance between us sometimes. And he doesn't call or come by as often. I really think he wants out."

"Maybe you should just ask him if that's what he wants," Dana said quietly.

She shook her head and then met his eyes for a couple seconds,

"I'm afraid he might say yes."

There was a long silence.

"Well, please remember I'm here if you need me, doll. And you don't have to promise me any benefits," Dana put one hand over hers and Sofia smiled again,

"I'll remember."

Lenny, Sofia's former pimp, had not forgotten Sofia and late one night he paid her a call. He made a last attempt to "convince" Sofia to go back to work for him. When she wouldn't he resorted, once again, to using physical means to force her to reconsider. He told her she'd better show up for "work" the next night or he'd be back.

Sofia's older sister, Thalia Giallelis, called Pres the next morning and didn't mince words.

"Ray, I've been trying to call you for a couple hours--Lenny went over to Sofia's late last night and beat the hell out of her. Where have you been?"

He'd been in a meeting with his superiors and then having breakfast at the diner, but that was neither here nor there. The important thing was Sofia.

"Is she okay?"

"Well, she'll live, but she really needs you. He said she has to report to work tonight--or else."

"I'm going out the door now."

"Well, make it snappy!" Thalia crabbed, but Pres had already ended the call.

"Thalia! Does Sofia know you called Ray?" blurted her housemate, Jerri Rasmus.

"No, she told me not to--but she needs him." 

"Well, at least call her and warn her he's on his way there. She's going to be upset you did this; she said didn't want him to see her face all messed up and as for Ray he's gonna kill Lenny."

"Yeah, I hope he does but first he needs to be with Sofia."

Reluctantly she phoned her sister and let her know she had spoken with Pres.

"How could you, Thalia?" the usually soft-spoken Sofia cried, "You had no right!"


When she hung up with her sister Sofia ran to the mirror; she couldn't get rid of the bruises and cuts, but she'd try to lessen their severity before he got there. She hated Ray to see her looking this way, but, on top of that the worse her face looked the angrier he would get. She was afraid he would go after Lenny in the heat of the moment and something terrible would happen. Hurriedly she began to pile on the makeup even though it was nearly impossible to hide a black eye.

Pres came to her front door, took one look at her and hissed a couple of particularly vulgar swear words. Then he cupped her face and said,

"Baby, I'll be gone for a while."

"Ray! Come back!"

"I'll be back, I promise," he said over his shoulder as he went down the steps. Sofia saw Dana come from his own house and join Pres with a nod. She realized he must have called Dana on the way over. They drove off in Pres's car in the direction of Crystal Creek.

It was a few nerve-wracking hours later when Pres and Dana returned. It was dark and Sofia ran to the door and opened it. The two men spoke quietly to one another; but it was so low she couldn't make out what they said. Dana looked up at her quickly and then turned and walked toward his own front door while Pres came up her steps.

She looked at him questioningly, but he silently took her arm and guided her back inside.

Once they were in the living room he pulled her to him tenderly, kissing her forehead. He'd always been so gentle with her but never more than now.

"Everything's okay, baby. I don't want you to worry anymore."

"But Lenny--"

"He won't bother you again."

Her brown eyes were wide and fearful.

"No, he's still alive," Pres said, "I wish he wasn't but don't worry. I thought Dana and I had convinced him last time, but I guess he needed a reminder. We gave it to him. Anyway, I...well, afterward I decided we needed to reinforce the message so I went to see Prince Everhart. He has many contacts and people who owe him favors and he'll keep Lenny from even thinking about harassing you. Ever. Believe me."


"Prince promised me, Sofia--he's good for it."

He took her into his arms, cuddling her, and then kissed her softly.

Pres knew he shouldn't stay but Sofia was so frightened and so fragile at the moment it tore him up. He couldn't leave her right now. And he couldn't end things between them either, at least not yet. He spent the night with her but when he kissed her goodbye in the morning, in spite of their passion, Sofia was heartsick and afraid that this time his goodbye was forever.

A few weeks later her bruises and cuts were healed, but Sofia had a secret. She wondered if she could tell Dana; he'd become her best friend; even closer than her sisters, Thalia and Anneliese. And he wouldn't yell at her like they would. Pres/Ray had even told her that Dana had promised to protect her whenever he happened to be gone. But she hesitated. She would wait a while.

She'd been trying to get and stay healthy and learn to pamper herself a bit. She took naps everyday and was religious about taking vitamins and eating right. No one was allowed to smoke around her now, she'd become insistent. And then there was the daily, short spells of nausea that had begun to plague her...


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Brothers Everhart - Pres Ch. 5 Boys Will Be Boys

The next Saturday Pres spent the morning over at his brother, Perry's. They were working on restoring a car Perry picked up in the mountains and dragged back home. He could have left it at Pres's house, but they wanted to be able to work on it in any weather so Perry's apartment garage was the best place.

It took Pres a while to start unburdening to his older brother. Slowly at first, but then with increasing ease, he loosened up and recounted his fears and worries about his relationship with Arlene and his longing to get out of undercover work as soon as possible to start a life with her. There was also the matter of their brother, Prince, who would soon have to account, it seemed, for his illegal activities. Pres didn't want to be any part of that. Prince was wrongheaded but he was still his brother.

They went upstairs and Perry pulled out a couple of steaks to broil.

"Steak for lunch? I mean I love it but seems kind of much for midday."

"Yeah, well, I have to use these before they go bad, so deal."

While he prepared the filets Perry began to address Pres' concerns.

"You can really just claim conflict of interest in this case. If Prince continues to be a key figure in the investigation I'll have to let someone else take over for me, too. As for long term; if you hate what you're doing and can't give it your best anymore then you need to resign, Pres--too many lives are at stake. And if you do that you'd be free to be with Arlene."

With that Pres relaxed a little. Until Perry went on,

"Of course, then you'd have to tell her the truth. And what about Sofia?"

Gloom descended upon Pres once more.

"Yeah...Sofia. I don't know what to do about her. I keep trying to work up the courage to break it off, but she's doing so well at school and she's no longer hooking. I'm proud of her and I don't want her to give up and go back to her old life. She's independent in some ways but she needs someone to take care of her; she's so emotionally vulnerable and people take advantage of her."

Perry paused and scrutinized him,

"You sure who it is you're really in love with?"

Pres looked at him in shock and bewilderment.

"Better think long and hard on it, kid," Perry advised.

As for Prince; Perry and Pres knew that their brother had come up in the world, at least according to his lights. He'd bought a small but cushy home that had once been featured in Southern Living magazine called "The Water House". It was considered one of the most avant-garde homes in tiny Pleasantview, only surpassed by the nearby "Cascade" which was much bigger. He'd had a well-known decorator do over the interior to his specific and expensive taste. He dated only rich and sophisticated women--rich, sophisticated and married women.

Perry took a bite of his perfectly prepared filet mignon and rolled his eyes in ecstasy. He loved good food. Then he spoke.

"Pres, he's got a gorgeous house, and beautiful women hanging off him, but he didn't get any of it honestly and now it's going to all come crashing down on him. Got any ideas on how to handle this with Dad and Mom when they find out?"

Pres was looking at his plate wondering where the rest of his steak was. He usually ordered a porterhouse or the largest prime rib and this little dinky--

"Pres? You still with me?"


"Dad and Mom? How to tell them about Prince? Or at least prepare them for his arrest?"

"Oh, man, I can't even think on that yet. Until recently I still hoped he wasn't as involved in this mess as he is and that they wouldn't have to know. It's going to break their hearts," Pres replied, "Well, it will break Mom's heart for sure; and the old man will have a coronary."

The D.A.'s office was trying to get Prince's current mistress to turn state's evidence. Being married they were hoping she'd agree to give them information and then testify at the trial if they promised to try to keep her husband out of the loop. But Perry and Pres knew that if there was a trial he was bound to find out. Pleasantview was too small a town for it not to become common knowledge.

"Damn. I'd like to kick Prince's butt from here to kingdom come," Perry frowned.

"He goes out of town so often, but it's never to the same place," Pres grumbled, "Sometimes 'on business' but mostly just to gamble and live the high life."

"Yeah, well, I hope he's enjoying it because it's going to be ending soon," Perry replied, "Are you jealous?"

"Of the married women and the life of crime? No way. But I sure would like to vacation at some of those places, I admit it. And why is it always the married ones with him, anyway?"

The handsome but immoral Prince Everhart:

"He figures they have too much to lose to blab things and they're less likely to try to get him to commit than a single woman. He's a player and he wants no ties. At least that's what he told me," Perry shrugged, "You know the effect he has on females from 8 to 80. He's had it since he was a toddler charming Mom and all our aunts and neighbors. I remember when we were both at University I was friends with Deb Himmelspach and she was crazy for Prince. He took her to Homecoming and then dumped her after three weeks for some other cheerleader and I asked her, after a couple months had gone by, why in the heck she was still hung up on him after the way he'd treated her. She said--and this is a direct quote--'damn, Perry, he's just sex on legs'. I think her voice even shook a bit when she said it."

Pres grinned,

"so what happened to her?"

"Deb? Oh, I started taking her out and she completely forgot about him," Perry dropped his napkin down on his empty plate and kicked back in his chair with a devilish twinkle in his eyes, "She was mighty thankful, mighty thankful. The rest of that term anyway."

Pres shook his head and laughed,

"You dog."

Prince's latest conquest was the sleek and lovely Katharine Burb, wife of Josh Burb and mother of Lucy, Karen and Kirstie Burb. She was a pillar of tiny tri-county society, and quite sexy even though she had recently become a grandmother. The news of her affair with a criminal would rock the town--and ruin her life--if it got out. 

Around four pm the brothers broke for the day after accomplishing quite a lot on the car. Perry changed his shirt and they headed to the bowing alley. They'd already called their youngest brother, Parker, to meet them there when he got off work.

"Why didn't you stop at your apartment first and change your clothes?" Pres asked him when he arrived, "You look uncomfortable; in fact you look like a nerd wearing that silk suit here."

"Oh, excuse me all to hell; I didn't have time. Anyway, I don't take fashion advice from you, Mr. Rebel Without a Clue. I don't know why we're even wasting time here, Perry always beats everything."

"You have something better to do?" Pres asked.

"Oh, no way. I'm always up for hanging around grungy bowling alleys that reek of stale popcorn and sweaty shoes. Shoes that, by the way, have been worn by about ten thousand people. It's what I live for, really."

"Oh, boo-blinking-hoo, cry me a river."

"Boys, boys," Perry lectured in a mock patriarchal voice, "Do I have to separate you?"

Perry had high score of course. 

They next headed to a posh restaurant that Parker insisted they should try.

"Are you sure? You're dressed up but we're not," Pres pointed out.

Parker dismissed this,

"They have a very relaxed dress code."

Pres shrugged.

Once they'd been served their dinner Parker asked Perry,

"So, what's the deal with your new lady? What's her name again--Monique? Veronique?"

"It's Lalique, bozo. Let's just say things are moving along. Unlike most of your airhead girlfriends, she's intelligent, educated and high-spirited with a great sense of humor."

"Definitely high-spirited," Pres added and then muttered under his breath, "And hot-tempered and sarcastic."

Perry decided to ignore the comment while Parker asked,

"Yeah, but the really important thing is--what does she look like? Is she hot?"

"She's attractive, almost as good-looking as Arlene," Pres volunteered.

"I want Perry's opinion; not yours, numb-nuts. You can tell me about your lady in a minute." 

Perry rubbed his chin as though giving the question due consideration,

"Guys, what can I say? She's a gypsy, a spitfire, an enchantress. Curly jet black hair, lots of it. She wears it up most of the time, but when she lets it down--oh, mama. Big beautiful brown eyes, full lips and absolutely incredible legs. In fact, you could say she's built like a--"

"Ah, ah, ah," Pres chided him and used their mother's favorite expression, "Keep a civil tongue in your head, Perry Everhart."

"Gee, Mom. Do I have to go to my room?"

"Civil? What fun is that?" Parker asked, shoveling in a huge forkful of lobster dripping with drawn butter, "Pres says she's got kids up the yin yang. Sounds like you'd have your hands full should it get serious."

"She has four kids; two sets of twins. They are great kids, believe me. The youngest ones are starting to crawl, the oldest two just started school," Perry frowned, "I'm pretty crazy about them."

Parker looked at Pres--they both knew how their oldest brother loved children--and then Parker looked back at Perry. 

"So-o-o, maybe it's already serious." 

"Oh, yeah. In fact, it's about to get downright significant; I'm going to take her to meet Mom and Dad, if she will agree. Unless I can get them to come here, which would be even better."

This disclosure definitely shut down all conversation for a moment. Then Pres threw in another bombshell for Parker.

"Actually I'm thinking of doing the same thing with Arlene."

"Both of you?" Parker was astounded, and then joked, "You're both deserting me at the same time?"

"Looks like. But you're a big boy now--you will survive," Perry replied.

Parker signaled the waiter to bring the bill,

"It's my check," he said, grabbing it as his brothers reached for their wallets.

Both of them looked at him in shock and Perry finally said,

"Moocher Everhart is treating us?"

Pres looked at Perry in wonder and then back at Parker, his expression of surprise exaggerated,

"To a rock lobster dinner?!"

Parker grimaced,

"Very funny. I've got a good job now--just because I found myself short occasionally when I was at University and when I was working as a parking valet you don't have to act like treating you is a major event."

Perry looked at Pres with his trademark deadpan expression,

"Damn. Wish I'd known that earlier--I could have ordered dessert and a bottle of Dom Perignon."

Pres nodded,

"Yeah, a lost opportunity. Sucks for us."

"Everybody's a comedian around here," Parker groused.

As they left the restaurant Pres was quiet; he needed to go home and think over everything Perry had said earlier in the day. It seemed his problems were not solved, but in fact had doubled...