Identity Check -Chapter Two

New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s the second chapter…

College junior Scott Harold, dressed in bleached-out jeans, a scarlet and gray varsity sweater, and brown penny loafers, looked at his watch–late again. He promised to meet Jessie for lunch but had run into some friends near the Natatorium and time had simply slipped away.

He picked up the pace, passing the William Oxley Thomas Memorial Library, weaving in and out of the hundreds of Ohio State students hurrying to class on the many sidewalks that crisscrossed the Oval. Chimes in nearby Orton Hall rang out the three-quarter hour as the powder blue spring sky started to cloud up. A few drops of rain fell on his face. Now he wished he’d listened to the WCOL weather report this morning before heading out to his six AM swim practice.

Covering his head with the campus newspaper, The Lantern, Scott waited for the light at Fifteenth and High Street to change. He smiled as he thought back to how he and Jessie had first met only a few months ago.

#

His fraternity, the Lambda Chi’s, wearing their traditional blue blazers, with matching striped ties, and tan chinos, had walked over to serenade the Delta Gammas. After the brothers finished the first song, instead of the girls coming outside to respond, the housemother stuck her head out the door, smiled mysteriously, and invited them inside the sorority house.

There, like a Busby Berkeley movie, poised on each step of a curving grand staircase, stood a bevy of the most beautiful women Scott had ever seen. On cue, the ladies slowly descended, each holding a flickering candle while singing a lilting ditty from Brigadoon. Although each girl appeared as beautiful as the next, he focused his attention on one particularly stunning young woman, who easily outshone the others, with her flashing eyes, high cheekbones, and international mystique.

Scott watched in fascination as this intriguing young lady, dressed in a flowing chiffon gown, got closer and closer, and then he broke out laughing when he spotted, just below the hem, a slip poking out imprinted with tiny Minnie Mouse figures. Black army boots adorned with polka dot laces completed the outfit.

Curious to meet this fashion diva, he worked his way through the boisterous crowd to her side. “Hi,” he shouted over the noise. “I’m Scott Harold. Love your boots.”

She looked him up and down, and then asked, “Are you wearing any underwear?”

Scott checked his zipper, relieved to see it remained closed. “Ah, yes, why do you ask?”

“You strike me as the kind of guy who might go commando to one of these shindigs.”

Scott blushed. “Thanks…I think…and you are?”

“Thirsty,” she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him toward the dining room. “Buy me a drink, and if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you my fascinating life story.”

They stood in line forever for a half-filled paper cup of chilled fruit punch, plus the last of the coveted chocolate-covered mint cookies and then found space to sit down on one of the living room couches.

She faced him, her brown eyes open full…their knees touching. “OK, you’ve got one shot–so, impress me.”

Scott thought, be bold, don’t hesitate, and don’t be clichéd. No, wait, what if she talks brash, but is really shy? Oh crap, I can’t screw this up. What should I say?

Jessie raised an eyebrow. “You with the zombie stare–did I put you to sleep, or is the pressure too great to carry on a normal conversation?”

He blurted out, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world–and I can lick my own eyebrows.”

She laughed so hard punch came out her nose. “Good one–and as a token of good faith in this negotiation, I am not wearing any underwear.”

“Would you go out with me?” he said.

“You’re cute, but a little dense. I’m giving off such a positive signal that I could be mistaken for a lighthouse. I think I’ll call you, Pookie.”

Scott frowned. “I’d rather you didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“What if I called you, Snookums?”

“Would it help with the Pookie thing?”

Scott shook his head. “Not really.”

“Okay, no nicknames, until we get to know each other better. Pick me up Friday night at eight.” She stood up to go.

Scott touched her arm. “Wait, what’s your name.”

She turned and smiled. “Jessie.”

#

That wonderful beginning had led to a series of incredible dates. Now Scott thought only of Jessie…his former girlfriends left far behind. His fraternity brothers had grown fond of her too. She had become a house favorite after showing up for the Hell’s Angels party on a Harley Fat Boy Classic, wearing nothing but combat boots, a red bikini, and a German World War Two helmet.

Today, Scott intended to take their relationship to the next level.

He entered the Char Bar and scanned the packed restaurant. It didn’t take long to spot Jessie because at five-foot-seven she easily stood out amongst the crowd. Wearing an open bolero-length leather jacket and jeans, she leaned against a high-backed booth, chatting away with Pam, one of her sorority sisters.

Jessie saw him approaching and loudly announced to the entire restaurant, “Mr. Scott Harold, here you are at last. I feared you had abandoned me. I’m pregnant and you won’t pay for an abortion. I’m ruined–ruined, I tell you.” She broke into tears and covered her face with her hands.

Several students within earshot gave him a disgusted look–including sister Pam, whose eyes grew so large she almost popped a blood vessel.

“Very funny, Jessie,” he said. “That’s not true…and please lower your voice, people are staring.”

Jessie took his hands but continued speaking at top volume. “When you left me that morning, ravaged from a torrid night of savage sex, you promised to love me forever. But by the next weekend, you couldn’t remember my name. Now I’m a gal in trouble, and you won’t return my phone calls.”

Pam’s jaw fell to her chest.

Scott whispered. “Tell Pam we haven’t done…it yet before she has a kitten.”

Jessie gave a clear, no holds barred laugh, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed the end of his nose. He loved that laugh–one of her many wonderful attributes, along with her trademark scent that smelled like a blend of fresh flowers and the lusty month of May. Whenever he got a whiff, he would flashback to their last make out session.

The rest of the Char Bar patrons went back to their meals, as the couple slid into the booth opposite Pam. Jessie said, “So, where have you been, dummy?”

“Sorry–unavoidably delayed.”

“Well, don’t let it happen again, or I’ll tie you down and spank you–oh wait, I already did that!” She laughed again.

Pam shook her head.

A waitress, in matching white apron and cap, took their orders. He selected the usual huge amount of food required to fill his six-foot frame, while the girls chose a salad, accompanied by the Char Bar’s famous double-thick milk shake. It amazed Scott that he could eat as much as he wanted and never weigh more than one-eighty-five–thanks to the four hours a day he spent in the pool as a member of the OSU swim team.

Jessie said, “Okay, we’ve ordered. What’s the secret you wanted to tell me?” Both girls leaned in for his answer.

He loved the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled. She was a wonderful, complex, intelligent woman who kept him constantly on his toes. And although she liked to shock people with her brazen sex talk, they had waited to sleep together because she wanted the moment to be right. Who could guess that Jessie would turn out to be a Romantic?

He swallowed hard, turned toward her, and held out a gold twin heart promise ring in his open hand. “Jessie, would you wear my ring?”

Across the table, Pam squealed and nodded yes faster than a bobble head mounted in a speeding car on a bumpy road.

Jessie remained silent; her eyes guarding her thoughts, for what seemed an eternity. Finally, she said, “I don’t know, Scott. First, I agree to go out with you–and now you want me to wear a promise ring. People will say we’re in love.”

“Well…aren’t we?”

Pam’s head started bobbing up and down again.

“This is a giant first step, followed by engagement, marriage, and a baby carriage. Do you want lots of children, Scott Harold?”

He stammered. “I…I…uh…didn’t think that far ahead…well, ah…we might, uh, maybe…”

She laughed. “Don’t panic, I have no desire to march down the aisle quite yet either.”

Scott let out a sigh of relief. “So, what do you think?”

“Of course, I will, silly.” Jessie slipped the ring on her finger. “Now kiss me.” She pushed him against the back of the booth, pressing her body against his. Fortunately, she stopped after a few seconds or he might have burst. Jessie demurely brushed back her hair and took another sip of her milkshake.

“I should give out promise rings more often,” Scott said, mopping his brow with a napkin.

Jessie punched him in the arm. “Not if you want to live.”

“You two should be arrested for making out like that in public,” said Pam.

“Well then, we’d better keep it private.” Under the table, Jessie slipped her hand between Scott’s thighs.

“No w-way,” Scott’s voice broke, as he put Jessie’s hand back on her side of the booth. “I want to tell everybody that you’re my girl.”

“Let’s take out an ad in the campus paper.”

“Come on, I’m serious…and I want you to meet my mother.”

Jessie shook her head. “Not after what you told me.”

“Why, what’s wrong with his mother?” Pam asked.

“She can be a little intimidating,” Scott admitted.

Jessie twirled several of the dark brown hairs on the back of his neck around her finger. “Must I go?”

“Only for a couple of days. We’ll stay over Saturday night, eat a home-cooked meal, and then drive back to campus on Sunday. I can give you your choice of accommodation in our twelve room historic home.”

“So, where in this giant residence is your room?”

“Sorry, Mom’s an old fashioned kind of lady with a very strict Catholic upbringing. I had to learn about the birds and the bees from the neighborhood kids.”

“So asking her to join us is pretty much out?”

He gave her a look. “What do you think?”

“I get the picture–your mom’s legs are glued together, and no hanky panky for us on the schedule either.”

“I didn’t say that–we always could go watch the submarine races on the Miami River.”

Jessie kissed him on the cheek. “Now you’re talking. Who knows, you might get your periscope wet this weekend. ”

Scott chuckled. “Whatever am I going to do with you?”

Jessie smiled like the Cheshire Cat. “How much time before your next class?”

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