The Cuckoo's Progeny
06: Making Plans

Copyright© 2016 Vincent Berg. All rights reserved.

“What?” Al asked, confronting his sister’s silent stare.

Betty sat facing him as he drove, arms crossed and ignoring everything around them as she monitored his responses to her unasked questions. “You mean aside from risking both our lives, without waiting for backup to save our necks in situations like this?”

“Yeah, besides that. It’s not the kiss that’s bugging you again, is it?”

“Why the hell does every pretty girl we meet want to slobber all over you? And did you need to hold it for that long?”

Al rolled his eyes, something he hid from his sister. “I saved her best friend from death. It’s a simple thank you. She didn’t mean anything by it.”

“It didn’t look so simple to me. She could have kissed your cheek or shook your damn hand if she wanted to express her thanks.”

“Besides, there was no slobbering and the kiss wasn’t that long.”

“I counted three seconds.”

“You counted? Geez! You’re obsessed about this, aren’t you?”

“What about your promise to Gary and Delilah? You couldn’t wait a few minutes?”

“Not if I didn’t want a dead body on my conscience.”

“Like they wouldn’t have left you bleeding in the street?”

“I’d rather not become like them. If I can, I try to help people whenever I can. Besides, they wouldn’t have killed me.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“I could see it,” he reminded her. “I saw the alternatives to each of my actions, and in none of them did either of us die.”

“Oh,” she said, caught off guard. “How badly hurt were you?”

“In a couple of scenarios, pretty seriously. Nothing critical, but it might have been several weeks before I’d be walking again.”

She hesitated before continuing. “What about me?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“No, I do. This is something I need to be aware of the next time we face a situation like this.”

“You wouldn’t be injured worse than me, but in one I saw a broken leg, in the other you were fairly bloody but still standing. In the rest, you escaped unscathed.”

“Is that why you challenged him, to take the attention off me?”

“Yeah. I hoped you’d take the opportunity to flee and contact Gary so you could all pick up the pieces afterwards.”

“You should realize I’d never abandon you.”

“And what about your promise to Gary? You told him we’d both hang back instead of risking our lives, calling for assistance rather than confronting our attackers?”

She hesitated, chewing her lip. “It’s different when you’re involved. I couldn’t run.”

“Now you understand my position. If we hadn’t been nearby, we’d never have known Angeline was in danger. However, once I knew, I couldn’t ignore it.”

They both fell silent, considering the situation and its permutations.

“You need to call Delilah and tell them we’re heading for the Waffle House again.”

She fished her phone out. “She didn’t answer earlier.”

“She was probably driving or otherwise indisposed. Try Gary.”

“Hello, Gary?” she said after a couple rings.

“No, no. We already left. It almost turned ugly, but we were saved by someone else.” She turned and considered her brother. “Seems Al prefers kisses over breathing.”

Al could hear laughter over the phone. Betty frowned. “We’ll meet you at the Waffle House like we planned.” She was silent for a moment before continuing. “No, there’s no need to kick anyone’s ass. It’s best forgotten, though Al now has a new enemy eager to stab him in the back. I’m glad you agreed to join us a day early.” She paused a moment longer before signing off. “I’ll keep that in mind. We’ll meet you when you arrive.”

“I take it they’ll be delayed.”

“By about fifteen minutes. They didn’t reach the Burger Barn yet, but turned off the highway onto the local roads.”

“Good. It gives us a chance to decompress.”

“Just as long as you keep your eyes on the road and off any pretty girls needing rescue!”

“Well, we’re here.” Al unbuckled his seatbelt, opening his door. “Rather than wait, we might as well go in and get some coffee.”

“Sure,” Betty replied, “it’ll be a while before they show up.”

They exited the car, but before they reached the building, Betty stopped her brother after glancing around to ensure they wouldn’t be observed. “Excuse me, but I want to try something since everyone else seems to be.” She grasped his face in her hands, holding it steady as if he might bolt, and kissed him. When he didn’t resist, she slipped her arms around his waist and pulled him towards her. He raised his hands, shifting them around, unsure what to do with them. Several long moments later, her tongue pressed against his lips. Like a good brother, he allowed her entrance, finally grasping her hips and holding her steady. She broke her kiss a few moments later, grinning at her sibling.

“Care to explain what that was about?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said, not releasing him. “Since women seem compelled to kiss you, I wanted to see what the big deal was.”

“You already thanked me with a kiss, just like they did, but they didn’t kiss me like that.”

“Believe me, they wanted to. They just didn’t want to risk offending you. If you slipped them the tongue, they’d have been all over you.”

“That doesn’t answer the question. What were you trying to determine?”

She sighed, considering how to broach the subject. “You know we’ve always been ... especially close, and that I’ve never dated?” He nodded. “Well, I’ve always idolized you, so I’ve been searching for someone just like you.” He nodded again, so she continued. “Unfortunately, I’ve never felt anyone who makes me feel as safe, or who I’ve felt as comfortable with, so I never dated.”

“Are you ... making a pass at me or trying something?”

She shook her head. “Honestly, I’m not sure. Mainly, I was curious. I’m not about to do anything. After all, you’re my brother and the idea is ... yucky!”

“Thanks, but I agree.”

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