It was bright and early Monday morning. Tom was changing from his school clothes into his gym clothes. He tried his best to avoid the coach. Catching his eye, Tom knew he was in for it.
“Ericsen! In my office NOW!” Coach bellowed. Tom knew what it was about.
“Have you been in a fight? You know it’s against the rules to fight, and remain on the basketball team, whether it’s on or off school property.”
“No, Coach. No fight.” Tommy lied.
“Where did you get the black eye? You’re not gonna try and tell me you walked into a door are you?”
“No, Coach. It’s kind of embarrassing.”
“Well? Out with it. I can’t be breaking the rules for you even if you are the star player.”
“Ummm, my parents are very strict. My father believes in ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’. Sometimes the rod is his fist.” Tom knew that wasn’t a lie.
“You got quite a shiner there. What the heck did you do to deserve a slug like that?” Coach wondered.
“Can it get me tossed off the team?”
“Not unless you hit your father back.”
“I didn’t put the tack away in it’s proper place and I asked him what difference it made.” That wasn’t a lie either, his father had blackened his eye once for that.
“Well, I don’t know much about riding equipment, but you shouldn’t have questioned the authority of your father. I know that I like the storage room kept orderly around here. Nothing makes me crazier than to find volley balls in with the basketball equipment. Get out there, and practice, and don’t make your father have to discipline you like that again. Kids must learn to do as they are told.”
The Jorgensen household was filled with the lovely aroma of a dozen red roses sent to Renée by her sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. There was also a nice bouquet for her parents with a card that thanked them for allowing him to court their beautiful daughter.
Marta loved fussing with Renée’s hair. When she was well enough to work, Marta would tidy up and sweep the floor of the beauty parlor for minimum wage. Svein wasn’t very happy at first that his wife got the job, but with both of their children in school, she said she felt it was no burden on the family at all for her to work outside of the home. Everyone loved Marta, and her gentle personality. She would watch what the hair dressers did to make curls stay in place after a wash and set. She and Renée both knew that time was limited to get ready for the dance. It was too bad Valentine’s Day was on Friday this year, and not Saturday. But, no one on the committee wanted to have the dance the previous weekend, and having it after the date seemed useless. So Friday after school it was.
Renée felt like Cinderella in the pastel pink chiffon dress that Lydia had loaned her. It was strapless. Although Renée wasn’t overly busty, she filled the top nicely without having to add Kleenex inside the bodice to fill it out. There seemed to be no end to the fluff under the skirt, and what little of her legs showed, were shapely and firm. As Marta placed the last bobbi pin in her hair, she attached a ribbon with a bow that truly made Renée look like a fairy tale princess.
“My beautiful daughter will be the belle of the ball tonight when she arrives on the arm of her prince.” Svein admired how pretty his little girl was, and couldn’t help but remember what a beautiful woman her mother was before the illness took it’s toll. Marta was still a good looking woman, and he knew it, but so much of her spark was now gone. “I do not want to make a mess of you Renée, so please give Papa a kiss before Tommy arrives.”
Renée hugged her dad, “I love you Papa. You always make me feel so pretty.”
Marta’s face beamed.
Bjørn couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of his sister with all the attention she was getting from Mama fussing over her hair, and Papa telling her she looked like a princess. He kept quiet though, as he truly loved his younger sister, and always felt very protective.
“Bjørn, you look so handsome all dressed up in your suit! You never told me for sure, are you taking Carol to the dance?” Renée was excited to know.
“Yah, Carol is my Valentine. I bought her candy, and gave her a card. She is a good girl, and I am happy that she said yes to being my date for the dance. I must be going now.” Bjørn kissed his sister, and mother on the cheek, and patted Papa on the shoulder before leaving to get Carol.
Soon Tommy arrived. He had purchased a new PolaroidLand camera to give to Renée’s parents. He was still perturbed that his parents didn’t take any pictures of them for the Homecoming Dance. He would never give them a chance to take their photograph again. The Jorgensen’s marveled at how the picture began to appear right before their eyes. Tommy had them take two pictures of each pose so that he could have copies to hang up inside his locker door. He still felt Renée was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
Just as always, Tommy and Renée were the head turners as they entered the Valentine Paradise. It gave both of them a thrill, but their main joy was each other. They danced every dance, and rarely took their eyes off of each other. They did miss Animal and Lydia though. Poor Lydia was still having a hard time dealing with trauma after the rape. Animal was kind and caring, and totally devoted to making her feel safe and loved. Tom and Renée both admired his loyalty. They talked in very low voices about it as they danced each slow dance. Gazing closely into each others eyes to the recording of Elvis singing Love Me Tender, made them wish they could leave and go back to the hotel where they both felt the freedom to touch, feel, love and explore as they had the previous weekend.
“Tommy,” Renée whispered, “Tommy, I can feel our Viking pressing into me.” She pulled back her head and smiled into his eyes.
“Yeah, he is making a spectacle of himself isn’t he?” Tom grinned. “Renée, you are so beautiful, all I think about is you, and the love we share... Thirteen months and one week, that’s all. You will be my bride. I love you, my precious Renée.”
“And I love you, Tom.” Their lips met as they danced, and twirled on the dance floor.
Tom felt a tap on his shoulder, and couldn’t imagine who would be tapping him to cut in on this dance. None of the guys had ever had asked to cut in before. It wasn’t a guy, it was Mr. Finch.
“There will be no necking on the dance floor. Cut it out, or you will be forced to leave.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Finch. I couldn’t help but admire how beautiful Miss Jorgensen looks tonight, and my only thought was to kiss those luscious lips. I meant no disrespect, sir. I’ll control my self from now on.”
The kids decided to take a break from the dance floor, and get some refreshments. Tom filled an imitation crystal cup with fresh fruit punch, and handed it to Renée. He was filling a cup for himself when he saw Marsha accidentally, on purpose, bump into Renée as soon as she’d lifted the cup to her lips.
“Oh, excuse me! I didn’t notice anyone there!”
Red punch was everywhere. It dripped off Renée’s chin, down her chest, between her breasts, and all over the front of her gown, ruining it completely. There was total silence in the immediate area wondering what was going to happen next. Renée looked straight into Tom’s eyes. He could see she was seething mad even though he’d never seen her angry before. There was a very tense moment. Renée chose to do nothing that would embarrass herself, or cause Tom any trouble that would jeopardize his chances at a scholarship. The name Renée Ericsen echoed in her mind, and she thought of what a woman of breeding might say, or do in this situation. She set down the now empty cup on the table, and turned to Marsha. She spoke in a voice only Marsha and Tommy could hear, “It is okay Marsha, you are excused. It is only a dress, it can be replaced, just as you have been replaced. I am sure that seeing my brother here with another girl after being as intimate as you have been with Bjørn, has you more upset than anyone else could possibly know. Just like you, this dress is used.” Renée smiled sweetly.
Marsha was livid. She was getting ready to give Renée a shove when Mr. Finch walked up. “Miss Hendricks, I believe you owe Miss Jorgensen an apology. I witnessed what happened. It’s obvious to me and the other chaperones that saw you, that what you did was intentional. You will also compensate her for the dry cleaning of the gown, or replace it if necessary. Now, apologize.” He ordered.
“I’m sorry!” Marsha snapped, and stormed out of the Valentine Paradise transformed gym.
Bjørn was unaware of what happened inside the gym. He was waiting for Carol to come out of the powder room when he saw Marsha storm out, and flop down on a bench. “Hello Marsha. Who are you here with tonight?”
“Brad Hinkley. So, what’s it to you, big mouth Bjørn?” Marsha was practically hissing.
“Not much. Just wondered if you wanted to get it together again one of these nights. You know we shared some magic moments on the back seat of my 50 Chevy.”
“After what your sister just said to me? You talked! How could you?”
“Simple, I do not lie to my sister, she asked who I went all the way with so I told her.”
“Well, your sister has a big mouth! How dare she throw it in my face! She may be on the arm of the richest, cutest boy in school, but down deep inside she’s still just a rag doll, and I hate her!”
“This is a free country. You can hate whom ever you choose. My sister is a beautiful girl, and Tommy Ericsen is a lucky guy to have her as his girl friend. But putting that aside, if you ever need to get your jollies off, know that I am willing to accommodate.”
“Shut your big fat trap!”
“Miss Hendricks! You were told to leave! Have you called your parents to come pick you up yet, or should I call them for you?” Mr. Finch was not pleased to see Marsha still in the building.
“Mr. Finch, if Marsha needs a ride home, I would be happy to drive her if you will see that Carol is attended to until I return.” Bjørn generously offered.
“That is fine with me, Mr. Finch. Bjørn knows where I live.” Marsha answered.
Marsha walked right out to Bjørn’s car. He politely opened the door for her, and she got in making sure all of her crinolines were tucked safely inside before he closed the door. “Where are you taking me?” Marsha asked once they were on the road.
“Home. Isn’t that what I told Mr. Finch I would do?” Bjørn answered matter of factly.
“Well, I thought you said you wanted to you know what with me again.”
“But, you did not say that you wanted to do it with me again.”
“You and the first boy are the only ones I’ve done it with Bjørn.”
“Really? You mean to say that you have not had any since we...”
“No! I have not!”
He slowed the car way down, then made a U-turn in the road, and headed toward the abandoned warehouse on the north side of town. Soon Bjørn was enjoying pleasuring Marsha. She kept calling his name each time he pushed into her. Sensing she was near, he slipped his hands under her hips, pulling her up to him, driving her home, before driving her home.
“Oh Bjørn, that was sooo good. Why don’t you take me out more often? I would do anything for you.”
“You already do. You let me put my kuk in you, and I know that you like it. I will always satisfy you, but I’m afraid your rich boyfriends will have to wine you, and dine you. If you want more of this, it will have to be another time. I need to get back to the dance.”
Bjørn drove Marsha home, and walked her to the door. But, just like when they did what they did on the car seat, he did not kiss her.
“Tommy I hope that I am not embarrassing you in this stained dress. I am tired of those girls doing things to run me off. I do feel very bad about
Lydia’s dress. I will pay her for ruining it even if Marsha does not.” Renée said as they once again slow danced together.
“Renée, Lydia will understand. She is one of the kindest girls I know. I feel bad she wasn’t here tonight, enjoying the evening with us, and with Animal.”
“Yah, I feel the same Tommy. I wish that those horrible boys had not hurt her like that. I hope that I can talk to her about what happened before she gets it too locked into her head that she is ruined. In Norway, people don’t think so much that having relations before marriage is as being ruined.”
“Renée I don’t think of Lydia that way. Maybe your beautiful heart is rubbing off on me.” Tom smiled and handed her a small box.
She opened it and saw a beautiful 18 karat gold bracelet with a heart shaped charm with both their initials engraved upon it. There was also a necklace with the first name initial “T” that he placed around her neck. “Renée, you have given me unconditional love. That’s what I have craved all of my life. In my opinion your heart of gold is more pure than this one.” He clasped the bracelet on her wrist, then kissed her hand. Evidently, Mr. Finch found nothing wrong with a kiss on the hand. There were smiles at the chivalry of Tom, and the graciousness of Renée.