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Lost and Found

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Author: Smokey
Contact: pokey416@msn.com
Published: 11-Aug-17


Here then is a bittersweet, touching lebbi heartwarmer, especially for those of you more sentimental Sapphiles. It's also a little on the lengthy side, so I apologize if the Reader feels it takes a tad long to reach the intimate portions. But do please enjoy, and remember that your feedback is always welcomed, valued and appreciated.

* * * * * * *

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 9:53 a.m.

The given day of the week would far more accurately be described by altering its pronunciation to "Winds-day." Harsh gusts ripped effortlessly through the crisp late autumn air, one steadily after another. A few additional layers of bundling up only slightly hindered citizens' daily business if at all. Activity proceeded as normal otherwise. Daytime's friend Sunny Ray rose proudly in its circadian arc above, watching over town. A normal, especially chilly day, like any fall holiday eve.

The level of business and pace thereof naturally varied from individual to individual, and residence and vocation locale played a hand. Those working and living out nearer the prairies and pasturelands farmed, herded and enjoyed their simple, modest lifestyles. Higher-end folks who settled in downtown logically lived life in the proverbial fast lane. Offices brimmed with busy, hard-laboring workforce members. Retail businesses--especially superstores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and so on--went into turbo mode, in preparation of the upcoming stampede-like Friday. Many would today work their laborers to noon and let them go for the rest of the day, or held a festive Thanksgiving party, rehearsing the act of devouring everything in sight.

Certain townspeople, however--a forgotten minority--had little or downright naught to celebrate, having not been dealt such a fortunate hand. One of those folks was Cecily Helmsley. She was 34, woefully unemployed, and a street person. It had all begun when mandatory layoffs edged her out of First Parties, the company to which she'd given ten of the finest years of her life. To make matters worse, she had poor credit, was denied benefits when she applied for them, and found herself locked in a lose-lose situation. The slope sadly only steepened. Any luck she had left was drained, as inability and failure to pay rent prompted foreclosure on her. Her property and car were seized, her accounts were frozen, and she was evicted.

She'd lost her parents one by one a rough decade ago, who were already in their 40s when they had her. She was an only child, and the closest living relative, her Aunt Pippy, was fifty miles away. Which still wouldn't have been a problem, if Cecily could only have gotten in touch with her. By the time this happened, she'd the same issue contacting any friends to ask to stay with them. Like all else, her cell service was cut off, so she was on her own.

She'd been homeless for close to four months now, which for some could go by like a railroad train. But for poor Cessy Selena Helmsley, they were the four longest months of her unlucky life. She was quick to learn firsthand that the outside world could be less than compassionate to the homeless. And she was forced to take a look at her own behavior in comparison to those around her as this new development unfolded. She had neither cardboard nor a marker, but somehow didn't see a sign making a great deal of difference. Back when she was on her feet and saw a homeless person panhandling with a cardboard sign, she regretted that she didn't stop to offer food, money or a ride. It wasn't that she didn't care, it was just that...well, she needed her own funds. She was living paycheck to paycheck, like anyone else. This was the dilemma, she realized. For the broadest part, the people who cared were unable to really help, and the people who could really help...well...frankly, didn't care quite so much.

She wasn't prepared for this, but well, she thought, how could one be? She had $61 in her purse at the time of the bank freeze, and rightly determined she must put this money to exceptionally wise, frugal use. Only the absolutest necessities could be accommodated now, which were...food, food, and...food. Even if she could've afforded a vacancy for a night, the fee would've eaten up her entire tiny budget. And while she'd enjoyed a reasonably solid middle-class living as a child, lower-quality food was better than no food at all--provided it was still healthily edible. And so in this compromising state, she was willing to settle. The problem arrived at nightfall that first solemn day. Fortunately for her, it was July, warm outside, and wouldn't get dark until about 9:00. But she still needed to formulate some sort of plan.

The idea of locating a shelter hit her early on, but...how did she do that? She started walking towards the nearest library, which was about twenty blocks away. The trek already tuckered her out. Lucky for her, it was early on, she wasn't that disheveled or downtrodden just yet, so others weren't disturbed by her presence. She logged on one of the computers and searched.

Yikes, she thought. She knew homeless shelters weren't exactly as ubiquitous as 7-11s, but the closest appeared to be...good Lord...way too far. Just the thought of making a trip that long sucked away her leftover energy. She slumped back in the chair and tried to hold it together.

Well, she thought, she hadn't many options. She could start walking in the direction of this shelter, and attempt to thumb a ride along the way, or she could...figure out something else. There were employment opportunities, but on an application, the fact that she had no residence and no means of contact was not a huge advantage. In her more sorrowful moods, it seemed everyone and everything were against her. She didn't know what to do. So when she wasn't sleeping in and around the woods or under a tree, trying to appear inconspicuous, she just...kept walking. She walked, and walked, and walked some more, innumerable autumn leaves crunching under her feet.

Her tummy ached and gurgled for nourishment. The situation called for only impeccable moderation in metering out her money. She did, one August afternoon, get a little luck tossed her way when she happened upon an all-you-can-eat buffet. This was a case in which she could toss a few pennies around without guilt. She gratefully paid her way in, took two plates, piled them high and deep in just about everything the restaurant had to offer, bibbed herself with a napkin...and slowly, thankfully savored one of the best meals she'd had in a long time. She couldn't remember the last time she'd actually said a quick blessing before digging in.

This buffet experience was so wonderful, she found a place to sleep under a grove of trees nearby, came back the next day and dined again. The fact that the management and wait staff worked in the service industry played in her favor. Customers were always right, and so they refrained from indulging curiosity as to why she'd come in two days in a row, wearing the same ratty clothing, in the same stale state. Cecily prayed she didn't have to explain her misfortunes. She'd be lying if she said she didn't want any sympathy, but she also didn't want to dampen anyone's day with her burdens. Eventually, however, she predicted she'd have to sooner or later, if she were to have hope of surviving the rough days ahead.

As glorious as the buffet was, she couldn't just stay and keep eating here, for a couple of reasons--one of which was she was running short of cash. She already knew if she offered plastic it would be declined. She had to move on. So on her last visit, as she left, she addressed the woman behind the front counter with a personal message.

"Excuse me, I'd just like to thank you so, so much for being so good to me and allowing me to eat with you. The time I've spent here's meant a great deal to me, and I know you reserve the right to refuse service and all that, and I just want you to know how grateful I am for you not turning me away. You've really, really helped me. Thank you all again."

Her voice cracked in the last ten words. She left before she started crying. Once she got out the door and past the sightline of anyone inside, out came her tears of gratitude.

The greeter/manager to whom she'd poured out her thanks was a bit bewildered, but appreciative. She'd left out being homeless, again, not wanting to stir up any unnecessary scenes. She didn't know how folks would react. But she did know this was the plight of the homeless. The random casual observer would (most likely) presume the street person in question would accept any handouts and run--not walk--straight to an establishment with a liquor license. And while Cessy enjoyed a fine wine now and then, this was simply not true in her case. She looked back into her personal history for a comparable example, and found one.

*****

Eleven years earlier

Monday, October 13th, 2003, 1:25 p.m.

Once upon a time, at the much richer--on several levels--age of 23, Cecily emerged from a store, bag in hand. She was just about to reenter her car when footsteps approached behind her, accompanied by a gasping, "Excuse me, ma'am!"

She turned to see a young, frazzled-looking woman about her age hurrying towards her. Her belly bounced as she approached, prominently noticeable. She was dusty, dirty, and panting.

"I'm really sorry about this," she said. "I don't mean to impose on you, but...I'm...

"...I'm, well...I'm homeless."

Cessy's face filled with empathy hearing this news.

"...And, um...I so hate to ask you this, but...is there any possible way you might be able to...help me out with...some...money?"

Cecily was torn. On one hand, her folks had warned her growing up about financially indulging the homeless. They could be lying, cleverly reinforcing by dirtying themselves up. If she gave a street person money, they told her, said person would head straight to the bar. This part of her mind was inclined to say no. Just on the chance this girl was lying to her, she could lie back, and say her wallet was empty. Or she could simply flat-out refuse, and get in her car, cold as that option seemed.

The other part of her mind countered by reasoning that first of all, she could tell this girl was pregnant. No portion of her was obese or overweight, but she was showing. And how. That was either a very large baby in there, or a very small medicine ball. So Cesse followed the logic that if this girl cared at all about the and well-being of her child, she wouldn't be touching a drop of booze. Or any other harmful drug-like substance. And as much as her parents had warned her about homeless people, they'd also encouraged her to share what she had, and give to those less fortunate. Something of a conundrum. Plus, she thought...what if the girl wasn't lying?

What if she really was homeless? And with child?

The thought made Cecily want to cry. And the girl gazed into her face with such sad, pleading eyes, she might start crying herself at any point. Cesse didn't want that to happen. She dug into her purse, located and unsnapped her wallet. The girl's eyes widened at the action. She let out a small, happy gasp, anticipating an offering.

Cessy nodded. "Yes, I can."

To the disbelieving pregnant young lady, Cecily produced a note of a generous denomination, and over it was handed.

"And that is real," Cessy assured her. "Not counterfeit. You can take my word for it."

The amazed girl gasped into a squeal.

"OHMYGOSH!" she exclaimed, trying to keep from screaming. "Ohmygosh! FIFty DOLlars?!"

"Well, I can see you're carrying another life inside of you, and so I presumed you're not getting drunk. And...well, you look like you could really use a couple good, nourishing meals. Besides, I'd probably just fritter it away on something unnecessary myself."

The pregnant girl was so moved, she did begin welling up in tears. Euphoric tears.

"OH my GOSH!" she repeated, shaking her head. "I c--...I can't believe this! I...you...you're an angel, lady! You must've been sent from heaven! You're a wonderful person! God bless you!!"

The $50 bill was dampened by her astonished tears. Cesse deduced the girl really was homeless. It was a lot of money, but unless this gal was one hell of an actress, she didn't think such a gesture could touch anyone to genuine weeping.

"No, no," Cecily waved her off. "God bless you. Now you put that in your pocket, or somewhere it can't be seen. Then go ahead and get some healthy food in that belly. I really hope things start looking up for you."

The girl wiped her tears away. "They already have," she replied, indescribable emotion having taken over her. "Miss...Unbelievably Sweet Lady, I...I..." She continued shaking her head, no idea what to say. "Words...fail me. I...nobody has ever done anything like this for me before, and...you may not know me, but I don't take anything for granted anymore. Ever. I have become the most thankful person in the world. I'd give you a hug, ma'am, but I don't wanna get you all dirty. But I don't know how to possibly thank you!"

Cesse smiled at her. "Hey, it's okay. You can thank me by just enjoying yourself a nutritious meal."

She got in the car, threw her a wave, and they went their separate ways. Part of her wished she could've written the girl a check, just in case, but she was about 98.9 percent sure the girl was legitimately homeless, and pregnant.

Besides, even on the 1.1 percent chance she was lying, what would Cesse do about it now? It wasn't like she'd ever see this girl again. And besides, doing a good deed on such a grand scale made her feel noble, giving and proud of herself.

She kept driving.

*****

Eleven years later, present day

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 10:28 a.m.

Well, now the proverbial shoe was on the other proverbial foot, Cessy thought. Thank God she at least had shoes on her actual feet. She spent her overabundant free time walking in one general direction she hoped was south. Here in the northern midwest, the autumns and winters got pretty cruel, and again, today's winds were rather brutal. Wow, thought Cessy, hair flying, whipping all around, slapping her in the face. Could she ever use that fifty dollars now.

Sometime around the turn of September, Cecily'd hit upon a method of keeping a roof over her head at night. She visited outlets in the customer service industry, shortly before closing, where no one would judge her or be too suspicious, and located a restroom. Or another small nook in which to conceal herself. She got the idea from a movie she saw when she was twelve. The aforementioned larger superstores were especially good for this type of thing. She didn't like taking advantage of this clientele hospitality, but she didn't like camping out without a tent either. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Each night she spent in a store tempted her more and more to shed her months-worn apparel, and swap it out for a new one. Her outfit was beginning to feel, look and smell pretty rank. But this temptation went hand in hand with the recurring decision: homelessness...or prison? Homelessness entailed freedom, but without shelter. Prison guaranteed a roof, but a great deal of unpleasantness to go on underneath it. All things considered, she thought she'd stick with homelessness and see whither it took her.

This morning at half past ten, Cecily continued along her less than merry way, like always. (How fortunate it was that the shoes she ended up with were sneakers.) Her own belly again grumbled unhappily. She could feel and trace the shape of almost all her ribs. Between all the walking and the lack of eating, the one silver lining in all this was that she had never been more slender and petite. But she prayed something turned in her favor before she wasted away to nil.

She was desperately needing somewhere to sit and rest for a while. Until a person was homeless, she thought, s/he could not imagine nor appreciate how difficult it was to find a place to just...sit. Every square inch belonged to someone's--or something's--property. And not many took very kindly to a vagrant seeking refuge on it, if merely temporarily. If only she could locate a park, or bike trail, or something.

At the corner of 41st and Boulder Street, she passed a telephone pole with a poster taped to it. She glanced for just the second it took to register what it said.

Hm, she thought lackadaisically. What a coincidence.

Several yards later, a few further buildings gave way to a small clearing, dotted by some trees three-quarters bare of orange leaves. Cesse breathed out a sigh of relief. Oh, thank goodness. A bench would be preferable, but in lieu she'd certainly take a nice patch of soft grass, and some crispy yellow and gold leaves under a tree.

Hoping that anyone who might see would grant the favor of her privacy, Cessy trod out into the middle of the clearing, and chose a friendly-looking oak to keep company for a while. It never hurt to hope, and while she was at it, she added the hope that anyone who may approach would show her a bit of charity. Unlikely, but never impossible.

She kicked off her sneakers, letting herself down to her tush and crossing her legs at the ankles. Oh, how good it felt. She stretched her limbs and rolled her head about her shoulders. Crick-crick-pop-pop-crick-pop. How soothing.

She shut her eyes and listened to the birds and breezes, letting the wind again lightly whap her in the face with her own hair. The temperature was in the high 30s, but she was getting pretty accustomed to the chilliness. She laid her head back against the bark and idly sifted through her purse, manually reviewing the contents. Useless cell phone, dead iPod, empty wallet, naked keychain, napkins, tampons, wrappers, plastic utensils, compact, a few loose pennies...and of course the small heart-shaped cameo with the picture of her parents inside she'd kept since childhood.

Now and then she felt the urge to cry, but couldn't go through with it any longer. She'd shed her last tear weeks ago. There were none left. She didn't have the energy to feel this emotional anymore. She tried to just keep from thinking about what might happen in the future. When she did, she got scared. She was past the point of worrying what she was going to do, but still had no idea how to go on surviving...short of begging for money or food. She'd rather beg than wind up in prison, but if things got bad enough...she might not have a choice anymore.

She rested motionless under the tree for an indeterminable span of time, until a new noise joined the natural soundtrack. She opened her eyes to see a black and brown dachshund sitting in front of her, whipping the grass with its enthusiastically wagging tail. It seemed to be smiling at her.

Cesse smiled back with a small, weak chuckle.

"Well, hi there, fella!" she said, holding out her hand to say hello. "Where did you come from?"

Sensing friendliness, the dog hopped on Cecily's lap. He placed his paws on her chest and began to sniff and lick her face.

She giggled. "Oh, gosh!" she said. "Well, you're an affectionate little thing, aren'tcha?"

She took the pup's paws to lower him to the grass, but he hopped back up on her. He seemed eager for attention. He also seemed oddly...familiar, for some reason, but with Cessy's diminishing brain power, which had turned rather mushy by this point in time, she couldn't figure out why or how.

Cesse began to enjoy the short spell spent playing with this funny dog. It was a nice diversion from her daily ordeal. She envied him. Most dogs--and most other animals, really--lived such simple, carefree lives. And thanks to the surplus of animal lovers in town, most of them didn't have to worry a great deal about the source of their next meal. Which was more than Cecily could say for herself. It was too bad there wasn't a surplus of homeless 34-year-old brunette lovers around.

A short time later, she was no longer feeling the need to rest. And she couldn't make anything happen for herself just sitting still, so she had to get up again and at least start walking...somewhere. She pushed herself back to her feet, about the time the dachshund ran behind the oak she'd visited, and returned with a stick in his mouth.

Aw, he wants to play, thought Cessy. Okay, fella, I'll give you one good throw. She took the stick and flung it as far into the clearing as she could. The dog barked gleefully, chasing off after it. Cesse slung her purse back over her shoulder, tried to decide which way to head, and picked a route. But not before the pup returned once more with the stick, dropping it at her feet.

She chuckled at the small wiener dog's happy, worry-free demeanor. She threw the stick again, turned and started away, but back he came with it yet one more time, dropping it, running circles around her feet.

She threw it back into the clearing for the third time, to the same result.

Cecily sighed. She wasn't making much progress here. She wouldn't object to spending the day playing with a dog, but she had bigger, more pressing concerns on her mind. She didn't want to abandon this pup--wherever he'd come from--especially what with it being so adorable and very pleased to meet her. But she couldn't just stay here with it either.

This time she wound up and pretended to throw the stick, but kept it in her hand. The dog ran for a few seconds before halting, whipping its head back and forth, and darting its eyes all about, finally realizing it hadn't actually been cast for him to fetch this time. He was confused. He turned back to see the woman departing with his toy.

Cesse heard him running to meet up with her yet again. As was the nature of canines, he wasn't peeved she'd tricked him with the fake throw. He just wanted to keep playing.

Hm, she thought in amusement. It seemed she wasn't getting rid of him. Well, all right...looks like I've a partner in crime...as it were.

The dog followed alongside as she walked, sans destination. At least with a dog by her side, she might appear somewhat less conspicuous. He hopped about from her left to right, trying to grab at the stick, engaging in the normal repertoire of dog activities. He barked, he circled her ankles, he chased his tail, he made puppy love to her leg, he licked and scratched himself, he chased squirrels and bunnies around.

One of them ran into the street. He quickly followed, unaware a car was coming.

"St--doggie!" Cesse called. "Hey! Stop! Come back here!"

Fortunately, the loyal pup thought more of Cesse than the rapidly escaping squirrel scurrying over the pavement. Besides, she had the stick. He returned to her side, oblivious to the oncoming car, contentedly panting and wagging.

Soon they reached an intersection, so Cecily showed him the proper way to cross a street. They waited for the signal, and went. Once on the other side, Cesse had to stop for a breather. The seemingly never pooped Energizer Puppy barked at her and trotted off in another direction, turning around and yapping for her to follow. He kept running.

"Do--..." Cecily sighed in pursuit. Following his lead seemed as good an idea as any right now, and perhaps he'd have better luck finding a source of fortune than she'd been. He was making it difficult, however.

"Doggie, slow down!"

He led her in a 360° pattern, slowing every so often so she could catch up, at last taking her to an area where she'd been earlier the same morning. She panted along with him, catching her breath, before she recognized where they were.

Resting against a telephone pole for support, she looked up. The crisscrossing street signs informed her that they had just reached the corner of 41st and Boulder Street.

She looked back down. The wiener pup was hopping repeatedly into the air, excitedly barking and yipping at her.

"Hey! Hey, what's gotten into you, fella?" Cessy wanted to know. "What're we doing here?"

The dog circumnavigated the telephone pole halfway, lifted his leg, and marked it.

Cecily made a perfectly blended face of amusement and unpleasantness.

"I see," she noted.

Raising her gaze to give the dog some privacy, Cesse saw something else she'd noticed before. This was the same telephone pole on which she'd seen this very poster. There was also a black and white photo on it, which now looked much more familiar. This time she paid closer attention.

 

LOST DOG, it read. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE, BROWN AND BLACK DACHSHUND. ANSWERS TO THE NAME OF HOLLAWEENIE.

 

Cesse looked down.

"...H--...Hollaweenie?"

Sure enough, the dog, now through peeing, leapt into the air, barking extra loudly.

Whoa! Son of a...

Somehow, this obviously very bright dachshund pup had led her right back to the spot where she'd seen his missing poster. She exhaled in astonishment.

How...how...astonishing.

She read the rest of the poster under his picture.

 

DESPERATELY MISSED. IF FOUND, PLEASE CALL 555-1710, OR RETURN TO 16730 RANDALL'S VIEW TERRACE, TWELVE PINES COUNTY. VERY GENEROUS REWARD OFFERED.

 

"WOW!" Cessy whispered. "Oh my gosh!" She looked down again, just to make sure.

"Hollaweenie?"

The pup again barked and leapt on his hind legs, pawing at her thighs over the dress. Yep, this was he all right.

Cecily couldn't believe it. "Holy cow!" she whispered. She looked back at the poster again. It was true. It was him. She'd found a lost dog!

Actually, he had found her.

And in boldface, right in the poster, there was a very generous reward involved.

Under more normal circumstances Cecily Helmsley was not the kind of person who would care about a reward, but due to circumstances which were out of her hands, such an offering proved pretty necessary at the immediate moment.

Well, her mission now couldn't be clearer. It looked like today she would actually have something to do. An aim, and a destination, courtesy of this brilliant, adorable dachshund. How...mindblowingly serendipitous!

Cesse looked back down at Hollaweenie, becoming excited. She tore off as much of the poster from the pole as would come, careful to keep all vital information together in one clean piece. She read it over a few times.

"Do you know how to get to your owner's house, boy?" she asked.

The patently intelligent dachshund turned a couple of circles before once more whipping his head back and forth. Finally, he barked, and began prancing off.

Cecily followed. "Oh, good boy! Good boy!" she praised, jogging after.

She certainly meant to encourage him, but couldn't be sure if he was in fact leading her the right way. After all, if he could get home on his own, he probably would have been back long ago, and this lost dog poster would never have been needed to be made. Still, she followed.

She ran the address through her head again and again. 16730 Randall's View Terrace. It sounded only vaguely familiar, like a street she would've driven through just as a detour, because the street she usually took was closed off. What was more, it sounded upscale. Which could also possibly mean...

No...no no no, Cessy, she told herself. Don't start with that. We know what it says, but we can't get our hopes too high. Let's just get the little guy home first and foremost, and see what happens. What's most important is reuniting him with his owner.

This was hard without a more efficient form of transportation. Cecily might have been keeping it clean and green hoofing it along, so to speak, but couldn't exactly make time stop while she found her way. Not that she had any appointments to keep in the meantime.

Finally, Hollaweenie slowed down and seemed to lose his way. Cesse sensed this was inevitable, so she began looking for other individuals who might be able to guide them. Soon she spotted one, a gentleman walking down the sidewalk sorting his mail.

"Pardon me, sir?" she called to him. The man turned in her direction.

"Hi!" she waved. "'Scuse me, sorry to bother you, but, could you, perhaps, please tell me how to get to Randall's View Terrace?"

He thought a second. "Hm, that's in the Hect's development property," he recalled. "Yeah, now that I think of it, it's just been there for a year or two. Let's see now, from here you go, eh..."

He turned to point southeast. "About a mile or so down Cadway Street until you get to the Twelve Pines Circle, then I...believe at that point you bang a left, keep going for another block or two, and you should be nearby Hect's right about then."

A mile, huh? That was actually closer than Cesse figured she was to this address, yet her feet were still starting to nag her for a little rest. The gentleman was just finishing as she looked back up to him.

"That's really all I know off the top of my head, though; sorry I can't be of more help."

"Oh, no, that is a lot of help!" Cesse replied. "See, I found this lost dog here, right?" She gestured to Hollaweenie wandering about sniffing things he found interesting, and showed the man the poster. "And according to this, his owner lives there. We've been trying to find the way for a while. If it's a mile from here, that's a pretty good distance, but I guess it could be more, too; it could be five miles."

The gentleman watched as Hollaweenie ran around examining things on the ground and giving chase to more small animals.

"Aw, lost, huh?" he asked. "Poor little guy. Well, that's too bad, but if you wanna give me a minute, I could run inside my apartment real quick and Google the directions for ya, if that'd be more helpful."

Cesse was touched. "You would?? How sweet! Sure, here's the poster."

She gave him a little time. Certainly enough, true to his word, he returned a short while later with some printed out pages. The next he said utterly floored her.

"...Y'know, if it'd make things easier too, I could give you a ride over, so you and the little tyke don't have to hitch. The homeless need all the breaks they can get, after all."

Cecily's mouth collapsed open.

"How...how did you know?"

The gent gave her a look up and down that basically answered her question. But he exercised tact in his response.

"Takes one to know one."

Her brows arched.

"My name is George Carlin, ma'am--I know...I know, I know. But for a short time last year, just before Christmas, I was actually homeless myself."

"Wow, no kidding?"

"Honest to goodness. I'll tell you more about it on the way. But in a nutshell, these two wonderful girls saved my life. In and around some of the most bizarre circumstances I've ever encountered," he chuckled, "They got my apartment lease reinstated."

"Oh my gosh, that's fantastic!" remarked Cesse. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you," said George, guiding her to his car. "At that point, I was seriously drained of hope too. It really helped restore my faith in humanity. Ever since, I've been inspired to help anyone down on their luck when I get the opportunity."

Cecily smiled warmly. "That's so awesome," she benevolently opined. She rapped the stick on her thigh to get Hollaweenie's attention. "Here, boy! C'mere! C'mon, we've got a ride! We don't have to walk anymore!"

She buckled them together in the passenger seat and held him securely. Luckily, the dachshund didn't mind sitting on her lap. George drove them slow and easy, but the motion proved still daunting to Hollaweenie, who became quite vocal along the trip. Cessy tried to soothe him down with petting and stroking, but ended up considerably lucky he didn't bite, claw or draw her blood.

"Oh, wow!" Cesse exclaimed as they pulled into Randall's View Terrace. It was a nest of luxury homes shrouded in foliage. Most of the residences were identically beautiful, as close as could be without being connected. It seemed that such impressive landscape of property separated the adults from the children, so to speak. "This place is beautiful!"

George voiced agreement. Cesse now had two thoughts occupying her mind. The first was hopeful, that if one of these luxury buildings was Hollaweenie's home, this reward the poster advertised may be more generous than anticipated. The second, however, made her apprehensive: Oh, gosh, I forgot...I look like hell. In such a fine neighborhood as this, she could be an even sorer thumb than normal. She hoped she didn't disturb the peace here in her raggedy, destitute state. She was at least secluded by George's car until they reached their destination. They scanned the even-numbered addresses until they found it.

"Oh--here it is," noted George, pulling alongside and parking. "One-sixty-seven-thirty."

"That's what it says!" confirmed Cessy. She reached to open the door. "Well, shall we?"

George leaned forward and retrieved his wallet. "Actually, Miss, I apologize, but I'm afraid I've reached my free time limit. I've got another engagement to keep, but--"

He opened his wallet and removed a business card.

"Here, I'd like you to have this. There's all my contact info. If you need any more help or support with anything...or y'know, would just like some company, feel free."

"Oh, thank you, George!" said Cecily. "No kidding, thank you so, so much. I was so fortunate to meet you. Really, you couldn't have been more helpful. God bless you."

George shrugged with a smile. "Shucks, ma'am, it was nothing."

"Okay, boy," Cessy said, rubbing and scratching Hollaweenie's head. "We're here. Let's take you back home!"

*****

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 3:47 p.m.

George didn't want to leave Cecily alone in case the owner wasn't home, so they agreed on a cue. If she heard someone coming to the door, Cesse would flip around and throw him a wave goodbye. Which was what happened.

The door opened just as George's car was pulling away. On the other side stood a blonde woman in her mid-30s, wearing a light blue sweater with matching jeans and socks. When she saw the two of them, Cesse barely had time to get a word out.

"Uh, hi there," Cesse began to introduce herself, holding the dog in her arms. "Is thi--"

The woman gasped, and flung open the outside door, almost knocking Cecily on her tush.

"Weenie!!" she cried euphorically. "Oh my gosh, my baby!"

She bounded out and took both Hollaweenie and Cesse in a bear hug, ostensibly indifferent to squeezing a scraggly, disheveled, utterly unkempt 34-year-old homeless person. Cesse thought she heard the woman begin to cry. When the owner released them, Cesse indeed noticed the tears in her eyes at the return of her beloved pet.

Cecily let the happily panting, tail-wagging Hollaweenie down, chuckling as he scampered into the house. "I guess so!" she confirmed.

The grateful owner took Cesse by the hand. "Thank you so very much, ma'am! Please, please, come in!"

Cecily was surprised the woman was so eagerly unhesitant to take her into her home.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course! You found my baby! You have no idea how grateful I am!"

The owner led her in. Cessy felt obligated to at least remove her shoes at the entrance. She was debating whether to come right out with the truth about herself when the grateful hostess spoke again.

"My goodness, I have been oh so scared and worried, thinking about what could've happened to my poor Hollaweenie," the owner confided in her. "You don't know how happy I am right now that he's all right. He's my world."

Her words and genuine emotion made Cecily feel so good inside. This was turning into the best day she'd had in weeks as well. She watched with charmed eyes as the owner played with the dog: tossing a ball for him to go fetch and bring back, teasing him with a feather on a string, taking his front paws and dancing with him. Cecily could easily see the owner missed the dog to tears and was beyond elated to have him back. One reason she could tell this was because she seemed to have forgotten her visitor was still there. Cesse wasn't sure if she should stay or go.

Then she remembered: Oh yes. The, eh...reward.

Not that she wanted to just presumptuously demand it. But hopefully this could afford her a nice dinner, possibly a place to stay a night or two...

In the meantime, she wanted to sit down somewhere, but not to spread her dirtiness to the lady's furniture. She'd also desperately love something to eat--or drink--but again, wouldn't assume hospitality. She watched her cheerfully go on frolicking with Hollaweenie, wondering how to go about this.

Excuse me, Miss...I'm homeless. Could I just, maybe...?

No.

"He, uh, he came up and found me in a field," Cesse called. "I had some fun with him too. He brought a stick and we played fetch."

The owner turned back to her. "Oh, yes! Of course!..."

About to remind herself she'd mentioned a handsome reward in the lost poster, she regarded Cecily up and down, and another thought took the wheel in her mind.

"...Oh, my...goodness...um..."

Cessy nodded. She knew. She was a mess. She slowly spilled out her detailed guts. As the story went on, the woman gasped, placing a concerned hand over her mouth.

"Oh, how awful," she sympathized from behind her fingers.

"Yeah, so..." Cecily shrugged sadly. "Be honest, I feel a little funny even just...being here, in your...extraordinarily beautiful home..." She motioned in the direction of the door. "Um...maybe I should just, uh..."

The woman stopped her. "Oh, goodness, no, please!" she entreated. "I mean...you've-you've just done this wonderfully...wonderful thing for me..." She tried to think. She wasn't terribly good with words, or articulating herself, but she knew what she wanted to convey. "...And the least I can do is to repay your kindness. Let me get you something to eat. And offer you my shower. You can bathe, and, I'll wash your clothes for you. Really, please, I want to. To say thank you. It's the least I can do. Please."

"Oh my...gosh..." said an overwhelmed Cecily. "But, I...I don't even know your name."

"It's Penelope. Penelope Isabel James. But, call me Penny, please."

"...Okay, well...hi, Penny. Cecily Helmsley. And, call me Cesse."

"You got it. So then, Cesse, my dear...what can I get you to eat?"

"Well...gosh, Penny, are you sure?"

"Oh, please don't say no, Cesse. I couldn't bear to turn you back out into the cold knowing you had nowhere to go."

Cesse had to admit she was stunned. Never once in her four months of homelessness had anyone come remotely close to be so kind to her, or to take care of her. But then, she'd hadn't the chance to do the anyone in question such a marvelous good deed. She obliged, and Penny took her and her anxiously thrilled appetite to the kitchen.

*****

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 5:38 p.m.

One piping hot chicken pot pie, one nice cold glass of milk, one nice cold creamsicle for dessert and one piping hot shower later, Cecily Helmsley literally felt like a new woman. It was hard to believe she even lived in her same skin. The pleasure continuing to flow through her after the water turned off was unreal. Unfathomable. She was...clean.

Her tummy was full, and her body was squeaky clean.

And while her clothes were in the wash, her new friend Penny had left her a big fluffy pink bathrobe with a belt sash to go around the waist.

Wow, Cessy thought, noticing the robe as she picked up the towel to dry herself. Nicest, lady, ever. Period.

She still wasn't sure if all this came with a catch or what, but she'd deal with that if and when it appeared. She wasn't sure how long this divine nirvana might last, but she wanted to enjoy it while it did.

Passably dry wearing only the robe, she descended back down the stairs to see Penelope playing another game with Hollaweenie. She held one end of a bone-shaped toy in the air, raised it, then lowered it as the dog repeatedly jumped for it. Cesse noticed it was now dark outside, and that Penny had activated the Christmas lights strung around her windows.

"Oh, wow."

Penny looked up to see her.

"'Oh, wow' is right. You look like a new woman! Look at'cha, all fresh and pretty!"

Not exactly what Cesse was referring to, but she'd take it. She smiled.

"Thank you, about a bazillion and twelve times, Penny. I feel like it too.

"...I don't think I've ever actually met someone who turned their lights on before it was even Thanksgiving."

"Oh, they've been on since Halloween midnight," Penelope grinned proudly. "You're right, most folks don't plug 'em in till Thanksgiving, and that's fine, but--call me crazy--I think that kinda...'gyps' Thanksgiving, in a way. Y'know? I mean, by the time you get to November, you've got the two big holidays left. And I kinda think of them as...twins, in a way. And Christmas of course gets all the hype in the world, but Thanksgiving doesn't really get any. I think that's kind of a shame.

"I mean, yeah, Thanksgiving does have its purposes: stuffing your face, football, and that family ritual thing of, y'know, 'I'm thankful for this,' 'I'm thankful for that,' boppity-bop. But I still think we're kinda missing a bet leaving the lights off till afterwards. 'Course, I'm a real holiday-lovin' type of gal. If the novelty didn't wear off--and if it didn't send the electricity bill through the roof--I'd have 'em on all year."

Well, good...gravy, thought Cesse. She sauntered to the sofa and let herself down, careful with the robe not to flash any delicate areas. She watched them play until Hollaweenie decided he wished to dine himself, and ran off.

"Oh well," sighed Penelope, standing. "Well...oh, hey, can I get you some wine?"

Cecily let her head fall back on the sofa. "Oh, I love wine," she gushed. "Good heavens, Penny, I could just kiss you."

Penny smiled warmly as she again adjourned to the kitchen.

"That could possibly be arranged."

Five minutes later, Cessy had slipped into the second circle of eden with not one but two glasses of sumptuous, robust Cabernet. Penny started her second as well. Now that they were really loosening up, they settled into pleasant, casual conversation.

"You have the most beautiful home I've ever seen in my life," Cesse commented sincerely.

"Thank you, my friend!" said Penny. "It was an amazing stroke of luck in my legacy. What happened was--believe it or not--some years ago, I was actually homeless myself."

Cesse arched her eyebrows in surprise. Well, no wonder she was so welcoming.

"And at one point I actually had to start begging people for money. And it was astonishing--one time, I approached this lady, and asked if she might be able to help me, and, just...you are not gonna believe--are you ready for this?--right out of the blue..." Penny lowered her voice. "...She gave me...fifty, dollars!"

Cecily's mouth dropped open.

"I know, right?!" chuckled Penelope. "It was unbelievable! I didn't think she was for real at first! But...well, Cesse, you may not know this about me, but believe me when I tell you, I am the most thankful person in the world. I don't take anything for granted anymore. And she was totally on the level, and it was totally real money. The lady very possibly saved my life that day. 'Cause after I'd spent almost all of it, I was at this convenience store, and I had just enough money left for a lottery ticket."

Cesse gazed at her. "...I think I just filled in the blank."

Penny nodded back. "Powerball: $58 million."

Cecily almost spit took her wine. "Good Lord!"

"You can say that again about a dozen times. So, I saw a financial advisor to help me decide what to do with it, met with a few real estate agents, and..." She shrugged. "...Hop, skip and a jump later, here I am.

"And I owe it all to that angelic woman. She was almost like my fairy godmother."

Cesse could not believe it.

"I cannot believe it."

"I know!" Penny repeated. "Isn't that incredible??"

Cesse set down her wine glass.

"You have no idea, Penny."

"I don't?"

"Let me ask you something if I may, Penny...did this woman, per chance, have a baby blue Buick LeSabre?"

"Um..." Penny thought. "I know it was a blue car. But I'm not terribly good with makes and models and all that stuff."

"Uh-huh," replied Cessy. "And, eh...just a wild stab in the dark here--did you happen to be pregnant at the time?"

It was Penny's turn to be floored.

"How on Earth could you possibly know that?!" she asked in awe. "Did I let that slip out subliminally or something?"

Cecily shook her head. "No. But...

"You did allow me to slip you the fifty dollars."

Penny's jaw hit the floor. Her eyebrows all but leapt off her forehead.

"NO WAY!!" she exclaimed. "It was you??!"

"It's not the wine talking. Honest, Penny-Lane...I'm just as blown away as you are!"

"WOWie!" laughed Penny. "That's awesome! Well...gosh, hi!" she giggled, shaking Cecily's hand. "How have you been?"

Cecily hugged her, squeezing with unexpectedly forceful affection. Her tone turned grave and fragile. In fact, Penny thought she even heard her voice crack.

"Now so glad I was nice and generous to you that day...you've no idea," Cesse reiterated.

Penelope was taken quite by surprise, but slipped her arms around Cecily as well.

"...I guess I don't," she quietly rejoined.

For a few moments, they let all sound and all the outside world fade away, sitting still in each other's arms in mutual astonishment, at the twist of fate that brought them together here tonight. So deep in awe were they of this chance encounter, Hollaweenie trotted through the room, began climbing the staircase and neither of them even noticed.

Finally, Cesse released her.

"Oh, gosh, I...uh...please excuse me, Penny," she apologized, a bit embarrassed. "I forgot what happens when I drink. I get a little...well...I guess wistful. And, then I get...kinda..."

Penny waited. "...Yes?"

Cecily blushed. "Well, then I become..." She finished under her breath.

"...Amorous."

The blush spread to Penny's cheeks as well hearing this.

"Well, that doesn't really surprise me, to be honest, Cesse. I mean, you're obviously a person with tons of love in her heart, who's probably been wanting to find someone to share it with for a little while. But...I'm just speculating here, of course; if I'm wrong at all, please, just kiss me to shut me right up."

Cessy whipped her gaze back up to meet Penny's.

"What?"

Penny realized what she'd just said. It appeared to Cecily once Penny had consumed enough, the wine also began to do the talking for her. She partially covered her mouth. But she knew Cessy had heard her right.

"Um...I said...if-if I'm wrong at all...hiss at me. And I'll just shut right up."

Their minds had clouded a bit. And a bit was about all it took. Cecily pulled her feet up onto the sofa and scooched closer.

"No, you didn't."

Penelope set her own wine glass down.

"Well, but, um, Cesse..."

Cecily batted her eyelashes. "Yes?" she murmured sweetly.

Penny had to choose her words very carefully here. Cecily again rested her hands on Penelope's body, which was now becoming a little excited.

"C-Cesse, w-we may or may not be about to...do something that, uh...we may or may not refwet," she half-warned and half-slurred.

Cesse smiled at her verbal slip-up. She dabbed and tickled Penny's nose tip.

"You're cute when you talk goofy," she purred. "Do it again."

Penny's heart beat faster. "But-but, C--...C-Cesse, this c--...this could be a mispake."

Cesse giggled. "You're so adorable, Penny." The next she caressed was Penny's pinkened cheek.

"Oh my gosh," Penny gushed, becoming turned on inside. "Oh, Cesse, you're...you're so pretty...and...you're so striking...but, I'm...I'm just not sure about...a-about doing something we may remember in the morning."

Cesse shook her head, suffusing Penny with sweet seduction.

"Morning doesn't matter, Penny," she uttered to her, permeating the atmosphere with as much sexy flirtation as she could muster. "The rest of this night doesn't matter. Not even the next five minutes. Right now, Penny...all that matters, is just that: right now. And you and I. And that's all."

Penelope felt herself gasp as Cesse swept a hand over her torso, ever so lightly grazing her supple breast through her soft blue sweater, in which she was suddenly beginning to feel quite warm.

Cecily edged in on her, nearing her inviting ear, half-protected by silky fair hair.

"Let yourself go with me, Penny," she heard Cesse whisper. Her eyes closed.

Her hand reached for Cesse's waiting body, as the space between them narrowed.

Penny couldn't bear to protest or wait any longer.

"Just let...yourself...go..."

Before she knew what was happening, Penny could do nothing but obey.

*****

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 7:11 p.m.

The first kiss was as intoxicating as the exotic vintage that led to it. Holding her like a baby in her embrace, Cecily gingerly but passionately brought her wine-tinted lips to Penny's own. Penny's mind surrendered, giving in to the flood of romance that crashed over her. She slid downward horizontally on the sofa, and pulled Cesse longingly to her.

A happy surge of pleasure too swam through Cesse's deepest reaches. Lips melded together, the alluring scent of oenoperfume toyed with their nostrils and dazed their senses for an exquisite combination. Their bodies heaved into one another as the kiss ran course. Hot doses of love pulsed through both hearts. Their lips finally peeled apart out of need for oxygen. Warm, gasping breath wafted over their soft, flushed skin.

Cecily's nipples twitched and nubbed their way closer to the edges of her bathrobe. She wanted to free her perked-up breasts, but didn't want to remove her arms from Penny's curvy, enticing frame. Penny's breasts were vastly enjoying the company of Cesse's ballooning up against them. Erotic heat radiated and tingled through their extremities. Finally, they temporarily pried their lips completely off each other. Cesse let her head drop beside Penny's, nuzzled and tickled Penelope's cheek with her nose.

"Mmm...I like it here," she stated in a sultry whisper.

"I like having you here," came the equally steamy reply.

They alternated whispering sweet nothings, pecking and nipping each other's cheek.

"Penny for your thoughts," Cecily heard her murmur.

Cessy giggled. "How many people have you used that one on?"

"Believe it or not...just you. Just came to me."

A big, beautiful smile spread across Cecily's face. She felt special.

"This one's a little tougher to pull off, but...

"...I could very well see myself becoming ob-'Cesse''d with you," she giggled back.

Penny tossed her head back and laughed heartily. Cesse could tell she found her inane little pun genuinely funny. Or she was just infatuated, and drunk. The way she laughed made Cecily fall in love with her just a little tiny bit. She felt truly charmed and blessed.

"And that's because a Penny saved is a Penny earned," she added.

Penelope removed her arms from around Cesse, rested one hand on her cheek, and ran the other through her thick brown hair.

"That has a more truthful meaning than it may have seemed at first, my friend."

All four lips came together once more in sublime passion. Lying on top of Penny, Cesse tightened her grip with her arms, slipped her bare feet under Penny's leg, and gam-hugged her. It was true. She had very possibly saved Penny's life those eleven years ago, and now earned the grandest of reciprocations. Cecily's tongue discreetly approached Penny's and asked it to dance. Penny's graciously accepted.

There was something part of Cesse very much wanted to say after the next kiss, but wasn't sure if she should, if it was the right time. So she added a few words to it, and said that.

"I love making out with you," she purred.

"I'm having quite a bit of fun as well," Penny cooed back. "Remarkable for someone I just met for the first time today."

"Not true," Cesse reminded her.

Penny nodded. "Oh, that's right."

"You know what's funny too?" Cessy asked. "You also remind me of this little playmate I had when I was about five or so. She lived just a few doors down from me. I used to go over her house and we'd crawl under the bed together, mess around, tickle each other's feet and stuff. But she moved away when we were still little. I really missed her."

Penny stared at her wordlessly for a few moments. She didn't even blink.

"...Oh my God."

Cessy's expression went dead serious. Her eyes locked with Penny's.

"...No way."

"...Street name?" Penny proposed. "...On the count of three?"

The wide-eyed Cecily gazed back at her.

"Okay..."

"One...two...three."

They whispered in unison.

"Sequoia Avenue."

Perfectly flawless silence followed. Neither woman moved, spoke, blinked or breathed. Finally, Cesse shook her head.

"You know what?...This is just too...I-I...

"I am not even going to marvel uncontrollably about how blindingly...unreal this is, Miss Penny James. Since it is by now patently obvious that fate's been knocking its brains out trying to get us together--I am going to resume kissing you, and then, I am going to proceed to crazy-glue our hands together."

Penny chuckled. "Um...gosh, Cesse, uh...th--"

"Okay, okay, clearly, I was kidding about the crazy-glue thing," Cesse amended. "Regular ol' Elmer's should work just fine."

Penelope giggled again. She made love to Cesse's eyes with her own twinkling, sparkling baby greens.

"Cesse..."

Cecily crinkled her own amber-colored eyes. Penny went on.

"...My Aunt Tracy is flying in tomorrow from San Francisco. She's about the only living relative I have left. Anyway, I'd love for you to stay and spend Thanksgiving with us."

"Oh, how sweet!" Cesse replied, pecking Penny's lips.

Penny pecked her back. "So that's a yes?"

"Well, of course. I'm certainly glad you invited me, 'cause I was kinda figuring and hoping I was staying anyway!" Cecily laughed.

A moment later, they were thirsty again. They sat up, finished the wine, and Penny pushed to her feet. She held out her hand.

"Shall we, darling?"

Cecily delicately granted Penny her hand. Penny kissed it and pulled her too off the sofa. With a seductive glance back and a cock of the head, she led Cesse by the hand up the stairs and showed her to the mistress bedroom. It crossed her mind to say something bad, such as, "You've been a very naughty girl. Now you're going to my room!" But she didn't. She wanted tonight to be special and beautiful, and hoped Cesse did too. She'd save rogue naughtiness for another time. Besides, anything said on her blood alcohol level would come out a bit garbled up. It was very fortunate they made it to the bed when they did, as they were beginning to stagger.

They tumbled into the enormous mattress, trying to balance with the right amount of joie de vivre to keep the romance aflame. They flipped up the comforter and dragged it over themselves. Once snug, cozy and settled in, they took each other's faces in their hands.

"Oh," murmured Penny, as if they were meeting for the first time. "Well, hi there."

Cessy smiled. "Why, fancy meeting you here, stranger."

The next kiss refreshed the wine in their senses. Cesse was still wearing only Penny's pink robe. Penny was starting to perspire in her aptly named fuzzy garment. She let go of Cecily's cheeks, reached down, whipped off her socks and yanked her sweater up over her head. A light cotton short-sleeve top lay beneath. Cesse delighted in the way her blonde hair messily floated back over her face.

"Oh, hello, cuties," Cesse greeted.

"Cuties?" asked Penny. "Plural?"

Cesse looked back up to her face. "Oh, and of course you too!" she chortled, laying another peck on her.

"Ah," clarified Penny, gesturing to her tits. "You were referring to the girls. Hansel and Gretel down here. Lucky thing Hansel doesn't mind having a boy's name."

Cecily giggled. "Your...uh...boobies are named Hansel and Gretel?"

"Well, what do you call yours?"

"Um...mine don't have names."

"Well, let's name them!" Penny decided. "What do you think of, oh...Wilma and Betty?"

Cesse laughed. "That's...cute," she opined, "But I think the three of us are a bit more partial to, say..."

She placed her hands inside the robe and pensively fondled and groped herself.

"...Hmm, uh...ooh, that feels good...they're telling me..."

She waited, then grinned back at Penny when her titties gave her their answer. She squeezed one to show Penny, then the other.

"...Minnie and Daisy."

Penny chuckled. "Very charming."

"Yeah, I'm more of a Disney kinda gal."

"Well, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" exclaimed Penny. "What do you wanna call your honeypot?"

Cesse smirked at her, feeling naughty. And suddenly a bit horny.

"Is that a serious question...or do you just wanna watch me put my hand in there, for your entertainment?" she asked. "Just wanna see me touch myself, to turn you on?"

"Mmm, little of both, quite frankly."

Cecily blushed. She wasn't expecting Penny to be that open and honest.

Penny grinned wickedly at her. "Mine's named Lolita."

Cesse stroked her hip. "I'd like to meet her sometime."

"She'll pencil you in."

"Okay." Cesse folded her hand in between her thighs, edged her fingers in between the lips, slid her fingertips down, up and in.

"Hmmm...uh...oooh." She closed her eyes, stroking herself, waiting for her pussy to give itself a name. Penny propped herself up on the elbow, enjoying the show. It was entertaining indeed. While Cesse was distracted, Penny surreptitiously turned the angle of her gaze to see if Minnie and/or Daisy wanted to come out and play. She leaned over just enough to detect Cessy's fragile, shadowy naked left nipple under the robe. She smiled sneakily to herself, feeling a premature spark of pleasure.

Finally, Cesse opened her eyes and grinned back at her.

"Her name is Tigger."

Penny arched her eyebrows in surprise. "Really? Tiggers hate honey."

Cecily mischievously waggled her own eyebrows. "Not mine."

"I seeeee...well, now that all the eight of us know each other..."

Penny pulled off her top, revealing her bra.

"...I believe Hansel and Gretel wish to say hello to Minnie and Daisy."

Cesse leaned in for another tasty kiss.

"Oh, I think we could make it happen."

As they engaged in this most recent liplock, Penny carefully unhooked her bra, and put her arms back around Cesse.

"They're awake."

Cecily groaned and smiled through the kiss.

"So're mine."

Cesse's nipples poked further erect in heightening arousal, brushing the bathrobe for a peek at what was going on outside. Both women's juices were heavy in motion. Their heartbeats sped and intensified until they were slamming a mile a minute. They again needed air, but couldn't draw their lips apart. When they finally did, the detachment made a popping sound akin to a suction cup. Penny's bra dropped to the mattress.

"Oh, my," commented Cecily, seeing the girls had come out. "Hel-lo, Hans and Greta!"

Penny grinned, jiggling her rack. Cesse untied and tossed off her robe's belt sash, then caressed Penny's naked flesh.

"Ohhhh...do come to me, my sweet," Cesse implored.

Penny moaned. "I can't believe we're doing this!" she squealed. "We've only known each other for, like...four hours!"

"I beg to differ," Cessy differed. "Technically, Penny, we've known each other almost thirty years. We've just been vastly out of touch for virtually every single one of them."

Penny shrugged. "Well, let's make up for it." They continued making out like bandits.

"You like my robe?" Cecily heard her ask.

She nodded. "'S comfy, yeah..."

The next thing Cesse detected was a fingertip gliding from her sternum, between her breasts, to the bellybutton. She gasped as a shiver ran through her. It felt so good.

Penny spoke.

"...The words 'easy access' come to mind."

Just hearing the phrase "easy access" from Penny's succulent lips in her smoky seductive voice triggered some moisture between Cesse's legs. She felt an impulse coming on. She took Hansel--the right breast--in her hands, leaned down, slipped the nipple into her mouth, gently closed her teeth and suckled.

It was Penny's turn to gasp. Her hands slid up from Cesse's sides to the top of her head, kissing, trying not to press down too hard, sifting through her hair. Cesse felt Hansel react to her teeth and tongue as Penny's arms hugged her neck. Cesse let go of Hansel, threw any remaining caution to the wind and whipped off her bathrobe. The robe rolled off the mattress, floated to the floor...and the next thing Penny knew, she had a naked girl in her bed.

Minnie, Daisy and Tigger were quite excited to be out, all the lot of them. Tigger leaked wet love onto Cesse's thighs, and Minnie and Daisy heaved against Penny's tummy, nipples stiffening, pressing to either side of the bellybutton.

In and around her moans, Cesse heard Penny make a request above her right ear.

"Cesse...sweetheart...Gretel wants some love now."

Cesse did as she desired and took Gretel in her hands and mouth. As she did so, she felt Penny pet the Tigger.

"MMMMM!!" Cecily replied, giving Gretel a hummer. She wanted to fold her leg over Penny's, but Penny politely asked she hold off till she removed her jeans and panties.

When both were finally naked, Penny plucked Gret from Cesse's mouth and they lined their bodies up. Subsequently, they proceeded to proverbially go to town on each other. Thrusting bodies vigorously together, their boobs mingled aggressively, and their legs scissored into a lovely, mutual thigh-hump. It felt so good they put all their arm strength into squeezing tight as possible. They tried to reach a point of contact at which every square inch of each body was touching some portion of the other. The more touching, the more divinity achieved.

"Mmmm...ohhh...this is so beautiful," exhaled Cessy as their sweat trails mixed, transferring sticky strands of hair between them.

"This is the most wonderfully special thing that's ever happened to me," smiled Penny as they nuzzled each other.

Cecily hesitated momentarily.

"Penny...I wanna tell you I love you...

Penny's face filled with surprise.

"...And...I know what an emotionally charged phrase it is, and I know it's not to be taken lightly...but it feels so right to me at this moment."

Penny looked dreamily at her, blinking devotion into her eyes.

"It's okay, Cesse. You can say it. I'm not sure I'm ready to say it back just yet, but if that's the way you feel...aces, babe."

"...I think I'd like to visit Lolita now."

"Mmm...she's dying for some company at the moment."

Cesse glid her fingertips down Penny's belly, waist and pelvis until she reached Lolita's home. She vibrated her tongue against her palate to make a reverberating vocal sound that simulated a cat purring. Penny flashed her a sexy grin.

"'S that your way of telling me your Tigger wants a, uh..." She wiggled her fingers over Cesse's skin. "...A little Piglet, in her house?"

As Cesse and Penny began making manual love to each other, the mattress heated and collected with a tracing of light sweat around them. Searing hot breaths floated back and forth and swirled over them in an invisible heart-shaped plume of oxygen.

"I-I...I know we're in the middle of a hot, passionate moment here, Penny," Cesse breathed, "And I know we may not be in our right minds. But, angel, I want you to know that I really...really...REALLY like being here with you right now."

"Oh, Cesse...I never want you to leave my bed. In fact...I may just have to tie you to it."

Cesse nodded with her own smirk. "That satisfies kinky desires I may have...though it may present a bit of a problem when certain, shall we say, other needs arise."

Penny laughed.

"Oh, Cesse...sweetie...I love you."

Cessy gasped with an abrupt shriek in her voice. "OH my GOSH!" she cried.

"I know, I know! It's overwhelming, isn't it?"

"No, no!" said Cesse. "W--I-I mean, yes! Yes, of course it is! But...oh my goodness, Penny, when you said that, I...I think you actually just made me cum a little inside!"

Penny marveled with excitement. "Really??!" she squeaked in delight, unable to help herself from repeating it. "I love you!"

Cesse screamed. "Freaking stars!!" she exclaimed. "There it was again!"

"Holy mackerel!" Penny giggled. She sang teasingly, "I found your se-cret!" vehemently rubbing and stroking Cesse's pussy inside and out. "IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyou!!"

Cecily started wildly quaking and trembling like a volcano. Her soul blasted through the heavens. Her libido and her insides blazed up as if all the wine they drank poured over the flames. Her squeals slid right up into falsetto range and loudened into screeches. She didn't think it possible to achieve such an explosively intense orgasm in such a short span of time making love with this woman. Then again, she couldn't remember the last time she'd had a big 'o' of any magnitude. An almost completely unknown feeling of euphoric, titanic release ripped through her, engulfing her body in torrid sizzle, wreaking havoc on her lungs, and destroying her vocal cords.

"OHDEARGOD! OHDEARGOD! OHDEARGOD!! OHDEARGOD!!" Cecily repeated again and again, as wave after orgasmic wave invaded and rocked her world. "OHMYGOD! PENNY! MARRYME! MARRYMEEEEE!!"

Penny laughed, gleefully keeping up the ardent stroking till she could see Cesse's wild journey had crested, and the ride was slowing down. Though she'd already gotten off.

Much as Penny was enjoying the view of the underside of her chin, Cesse's head and eyeballs eventually lolled back into place. Her eyelids slammed shut like unpropped windows. Penny took her sudden unconsciousness as the enormous compliment it was. She kissed Cesse's face a total of eight times: forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks, lips, chin.

"Good night, honey-baby," she whispered, stroking Cessy's hair. "Sleep well and dream sweet for me."

Penny was a little too worn out to perform any magic on herself, using her own hands or Cecily's. Besides, however long it had been since Cesse's last climax, sending her through this hidden dimension of the bountiful promised land made Penny feel just as satisfied, fulfilled and happy as any orgasm could.

"I really do love you," she silently mouthed to Cesse. "You're even more precious when you're asleep. I never wanna leave here."

Minute after glowing minute passed before Penny finally fell asleep along with her.

*****

Thursday, November 27th, 2014, 10:12 a.m.

After staggering down the stairs to her kitchen at the crack of 4:30 to throw the turkey in the oven, Penny returned to bed, snuggled up to Cessy and pulled the blanket back over them. Cesse quarter-consciously smiled and cuddled her in return.

Five and three-fourths hours later, they got up and made the bed. Cesse was a little dizzy, slightly headachy and just a tidbit hungover, but her happiness far outweighed the minor discomfort. She'd just woken from the first really good, full night's sleep she'd enjoyed in months--induced by the first monster orgasm she'd enjoyed in heaven only knew how long--and in an actual bed, no less. A beautiful big, big bed. Besides, a hint of hangover was nothing to worry about, Penny assured her. After a nice, nourishing breakfast, she'd be literally better than new.

"Well, here we are," said Penny. "Thanksgiving. Thursday, Thovember the Thenty-Theventh."

Cesse laughed. "You are so darned adorable."

Penny adored cooking. It was her favorite passion and pastime. Being served a heaping plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and even a couple of pancakes, Cesse felt as if she'd just ordered a huge sampler at the IHOP. Penny sat with her, turned on the TV and they found an old Thanksgiving comedy called Planes, Trains And Automobiles. Following breakfast, the dishes were returned to the kitchen, and Cesse and Penny--Hollaweenie soon joined as well--huggled on the sofa to finish the movie.

Aunt Tracy wouldn't be to visit until 4:00-ish. And they couldn't do much in the way of shopping at an array of establishments that weren't open for business today, so Penny gave Cesse her freshly laundered clothes back, a tour of the house, some additional bundle-up garments, and took her outside to host a handheld walk around Randall's View Terrace.

"This is surreal," Cecily gushed, inhaling the chilly autumn air. "It's cold outside, and I'm actually comfortable!"

Penny smiled. "I'd like to think you'd never be too cold with me by your side, sweetie."

"Ah; a valid point as well, dumpling."

Penny suddenly stopped walking. Her face turned solemn. She looked to the sidewalk.

"Hm?" Cesse noticed her abrupt shift. "W--...Penny?...Wh-what happened?"

Penny shut her eyes, somberly crinkling and furrowing her brows. Cesse was uneased.

"Oh...Penny, are you okay?...Was it something I said?"

"Um...um..." Penny sniffled and gave her eyes a wipe. It wasn't the type of sniffle induced by cold weather.

"Wh--...oh my gosh, Penny, what's the matter?" Cesse asked, taking her other hand. "I'm sorry! What did I say? I'll take it back!"

Penny shook her head. "It's-it's okay, Cesse...you couldn't have known."

"Known what?"

She sighed. "Oh, I...really don't want to tell you this story."

"Well...I mean, you don't really have to. I'm just...sorry if I said or did anything wrong."

Penny brought her tear-glistening eyes back up to meet Cesse's.

"...Cesse...do you remember...all those years ago, when, uh...when I was homeless, and you gave me that money that day?"

"...Yeah?"

"And the, uh..." She gestured to her belly in a circular motion. "...Condition I was in?"

"Um, yes?"

"Well...right up until it was time...I was so, so excited. I figured I had everything made. I'd won the lottery, I had this new apartment I was staying in--until I decided on more permanent arrangements--and I thought, this is it for me! This is the start of my brand-new life! I'm gonna have a baby!

"And I called Aunt Tracy...and...uh..."

She paused. Cecily had grown increasingly curious by now, but she didn't want to push, so she patiently waited to hear more.

"...And...she was so excited too I was gonna be a Mom. Then she asks me a question.

"She goes, 'So when's the little dumpling due?'"

Cesse arched her eyebrows.

"And the answer at the time was just about another two or three weeks. And Tracy and I were so thrilled. We found out it was gonna be a girl, and..."

Another sniffle.

"...We started referring to her as my little 'dumpling.'"

Another.

"It became a thing, y'know? 'What a sweet little dumpling.' 'Look at the little dumpling in the sonogram!' 'I can't wait till the little dumpling comes!'

"But, um..."

Penny's voice cracked.

"...It...it didn't happen."

"What?" Cesse asked. "What...didn't happen?"

"Cesse...

"I lost her...inside me."

Cecily's heart broke.

"Oh, no," she gasped. "You...you had a misc--"

Penny held up her free hand. "Oh, please...please don't say that terrible, awful word."

Cecily almost burst into tears on the spot. No wonder her original use of the word "dumpling" had thrown poor Penny into such a tumultuous turmoil. She threw her arms around Penny and held on tight.

"Oh, Penny, my love, I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed. "How horrible! I can only imagine how it must have felt."

"Oh, thank you, Cesse," said Penny. "It's a pain I'll carry with me all the rest of my days. In the meantime, I've been too scared to try again. I can't go through that a second time. It would just kill me. That being said, if it's cool, let's...uh...just try, if at all possible, to avoid that 'd'-word...uh, well, unless we're at a buffet or something, that's different," she appended with a subtle chuckle, just to lighten the mood. "But otherwise...yeah."

Cesse nodded sympathetically. "Of course, Penny. Anything for you."

"Thank you, Cesse. You're so sweet. Well, so, anyway...at least until time heals the wound some more, I got little Weenie to keep me company. And I couldn't ask for a more loyal and wonderful companion in my life, Cesse. He's just the best. He's-he's just always so happy, he's always glad to see me, whether I've been out of the house or just in another room, he gives me nothing but unconditional love, and just the excited look on his face when I play with him...oh, Cesse, he's just such an angel. The best non-biological child I could ever have wanted."

Cessy gazed at Penny with all the love her eyes could hold. Now she understood Penny's stark despair in having lost Hollaweenie, and the boundless joy in her expression when she saw Cesse with him outside her door. It made perfect sense, of course; losing him in the first place must have felt in a way like losing her unborn child all over again. Her heart remained broken on Penny's behalf, but things would be okay now. They were together. She found herself wanting to take Penny and Hollaweenie in a great big group hug and never let them out of each other's sight again. She felt sad and sorry for Penny about her miscarriage, but reuniting her with Hollaweenie did make her feel better, knowing the immeasurable joy he brought her.

And while she was taking stock, Hollaweenie's missing poster, she realized, was right. For finding and returning this precious canine, she was indeed bestowed a very special, generous reward. She'd assumed it had been a monetary reward--and had anybody else brought the dog back, it probably would've been--but the poster mentioned nothing about cash. Just a reward. And what a reward it was. Without intent to do anything other than be a happy carefree dog, Hollaweenie had brought the two of them together and put a roof over Cesse's head.

Soon, despite the hugging--

"Penny...thank you for the extra clothes you gave me, but...I'm starting to feel a little chilly."

"My sentiments precisely, Cesse. Let's go home."

Home...

All of a sudden, Cessy could cry again. Her emotion was back. And how she wanted to. She wanted to cry a river of happy tears.

She got to go home.

*****

Thursday, November 27th, 2014, 4:11 p.m.

Cesse helped Penny set the table. She was a little nervous, hoping Aunt Tracy would like her, and vice versa, though Penny assured her there was nothing to worry about.

"Trust me, sweetheart," she said. "Tracy's not one of those old weird aunts with fifty cats, drawn-on eyebrows and homophobic beliefs. She's cool. No kidding, she really is. She's a beatnik-y Woodstock hippie."

"Wow, that is cool!" remarked Cesse. "So, is she your Mom's sister or your Dad's sister?"

"My Dad's. He and Mom were really into all that '60s stuff too. Unfortunately, it couldn't keep them alive through the '80s. But I guess I should be happy they were able to stick around long enough to pop me out, huh?"

Cecily could hardly believe it. This woman was remarkable. She'd endured so much trauma and tragedy in her life, and was just so resilient. Not only was she able to withstand and carry on through it all, she could ironically quip about it at this point in her life. Cesse wanted to tell Penny how amazing she was, but wasn't sure she trusted herself to do it tactfully.

She was saved by the bell. Aunt Tracy had arrived.

When Penelope opened the door for her, Cecily saw what she meant. This lady was cool.

Tracy James was in her early 60s, and still a siren. She had Bonnie Raitt hair, with that prominent silvery streak running through it, and perfectly circular, rose-tinted John Lennon sunglasses. The rest of her ensemble consisted of a translucent top, a leather jacket, a peace necklace, a pair of plaid slacks and knee-high leather boots under them to match the jacket. The outfit struck Cesse as magnificently unique, definitely one of a kind, and somehow, Aunt Tracy totally pulled it off.

They exchanged pleasantries. Penny was right about her. When she introduced them, Tracy threw a hug on Cesse that kicked any and all doubts about her right past the curb. She was a delight. Cesse was guessing that Penny's Dad was the same way and that she got this whimsical fun-'n'-hip gene from the two of them. Soon enough, out came the chairs and the food.

They formed a triangle around the table and began loading up their plates. An idea struck Cesse.

"Um, just a second, please," she requested.

"What's up, Cesse?" Penny asked.

Cesse looked back and forth between the two of them. "I'd...kinda like to do something first, if it's okay. Could we maybe...hold hands and do a little dinner blessing, please?"

Penny nodded. "Sure, sure, if you'd like to, Cesse. Just, eh...let's don't, y'know, let the grub get cold."

They chuckled. "I'll keep it short," Cesse promised.

They joined hands. Cesse bowed her head, shut her eyes, and spoke.

"To Whom it may concern. Bless the aforementioned grub, and bless Penny and Aunt Tracy. And please also bless my friend George who gave me a ride here yesterday, and Hollaweenie, without whom none of this would have happened. As for myself, I don't greatly feel the need to ask, because I already do feel blessed. Yesterday, a miracle happened. I found a sweet little lost dog, and then I found my old childhood playmate, and my present-day soulmate. So those are the things I'm grateful for on this special day. Most of all, bless this beautiful home. Because I've been taught a harsh lesson this year. I've learned that one's home is something to be treasured, and not taken lightly. As we all know, both Penny and I have been without a home at different points in our lives. And I can't speak for her, but any decently shelter-offering home would have been a welcome change for me up until yesterday. And if You're out there, and if You're listening, I'd just like to kindly request help for my fellow human beings sans residence to put a roof over their heads. Penny and I may have lucked out, but...many others aren't quite so fortunate. So that's my wish, and my prayer: that everyone could be granted the privilege of a comfortable place to call home." She looked up. "Amen."

"Aw, why, Cesse, how sweet!" said Tracy. "You truly have a great deal of love in your heart."

"Hey, why do you think we met those multiple times in the past and again just now?" Penny chuckled.

"Fate," smiled Cesse.

"That scamp," giggled Penny.

"What a rascal," added Tracy.

"All right, I think we're all set then," Penny announced. "Dig in!"

All three of them agreed.

It was the best Thanksgiving they'd ever had.

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