Chapter 25

How many hours she spent tossing and turning that night she wasn't sure, but when she woke up the next morning she stared into the digits of the alarm clock and groaned.

Not another day, oh no--was Father home yet? She feared the repercussions either way, and collapsed back on the bed, hiding her head under a pillow. She didn't want to face the day, not after yesterday. She couldn't take it, the tears, the pain, the torment that followed her like an unwelcome shadow everywhere she ran.

"Julia, wake up," the cold voice of her mother growled. "Before I pour ice water on you."

Reluctantly, she did as was told, numbly walking into the bathroom across the hall from her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She stared into the mirror, expecting to see herself aged with wrinkles---she certainly felt like it! But nothing looked different, not on the outside at least.

She proceeded to sit on the toilet and go to the bathroom, pondering whether she should be relieved or not. Relieved. Rationale says relieved. She wiped, flushed the toilet, washed her hands, opened the door, and went downstairs for breakfast.

Mother was about to head off to work, Dad nowhere in sight. "Did Dad ever come home last night?" Julia asked, reserved.

"Nope," Mother said, filing papers in her briefcase. While her earlier years raising Julia and Daniel were spent as a housewife, now she worked as a secretary in a doctor's office in the midst of young twenty-something girls who lacked any professional skills and gossiped like teenagers in front of the customers, much to her ire. She nearly got fired after taking things into her own hands and scolding the girls herself during break away from the customers. Nothing was said since about the incident, and she suspected the doctor was actually glad the secretaries weren't yakking constantly. Of course, that was her fair biased opinion.

Sadness filtered on Julia's face. Her father never did something drastic like this before...

"I wish he never met that Kendall guy," Mother grumbled to herself, back turned towards Julia.

Mother left the house, briefcase in hand. How am I going to get to school? Julia panicked. Calm, calm...who can I bum a ride off of? She thumbed through a list of numbers. Luke...last resort. Um...crap, he looks like a last resort...wait, there's Shana's number! She picked up the phone and dialed. One ring...two rings...three rings...four rings...answering machine kicks in..."You have reached 555-9898. Leave a message at the tone...BEEP!"

"Kelsey, it's me, Julia, and.."

She heard someone pick up the phone. "Julia?"

"Um, could you possibly give a ride to school?"

"Sure," Kelsey agreed.

"My mom left for work without giving me a ride and..."

"Julia, Julia," Kelsey said, trying to stop her friend's nervous chatter on the other line.


"I said yes. You don't have to justify."

A sigh of relief on the other end. "How soon?"

"Any time," Julia said.

"Give me five minutes to get out of the house." She could hear Kelsey put her hand on the receiver and yell, "SHANA! HURRY UP OR I'LL LEAVE FOR SCHOOL WITHOUT YOU!"

"Don't yell in my house," Mother Slevin growled.

Kelsey's voice came back on the phone. "I'll see you in about fifteen minutes then."

"Okay, bye."

Kelsey held the phone in her hand. I wonder if that was the wise thing to do. I'll be so damn angry if she starts preaching to me again.

She put it on the carriage, and stormed to the back of the house. "Shana, are you ready yet?"

"I still have to put on my makeup," the younger girl said.

"You look fine," Kelsey snapped. "We need to pick Julia up."

Shana sighed. "They'll laugh at me if I don't wear makeup to school!"

"No one has laughed at me yet," Kelsey said.

"No, they turn around and snicker behind your back about how you look like a bulldyke," Shana said, barb intended.

"So? At least I'm not a superficial bitch," Kelsey snarled back. "Come on, you can put your makeup on the way," she pleaded.

"The roads are too bumpy. Anyways, where's Julia going to ride?"

"We'll have to sit three."

"I won't have room to put on my makeup!"

"Stop whining, you'll have plenty of time on the way!"

"I'm leaving," Kelsey said, walking downstairs.

"You wouldn't dare! You'll get in trouble!" No response: Kelsey was very serious this time. "WAIT UP!" she said, throwing her backpack over her shoulder and running down the stairs.

Kelsey watched her irritating little sister disappear into the crowd of peers loitering about the high school. Hands stuck in pockets, she wondered what Julia was about to do---go find loverboy? The thought made her wince but her face remained stoic.

Her thoughts halted when Julia muttered, "Whatever happened between us? For a while we were close and then we drifted," she sadly lamented.

Kiddo, you know the answer to that, Kelsey thought to herself. Boyfriends are a huge commitment. You sacrifice everything else just to satisfy the status quo. "I dunno," Kelsey replied.

"I don't know either," Julia said, her blue eyes softening. "I'll always have fond memories of the Student Council Retreat though."

"And not-so-fond memories," Kelsey corrected.

"Well, yeah," Julia remembered. "And the fair at church," she continued. "Those were the days."

"And the time the three of us went to the movies," Kelsey added, face devoid of emotion as she burrowed her hands further into her front jeans pockets.

"What happened?" Julia asked again, which was beginning to annoy Kelsey.

That damn church, for starters, and then Shitface, oh excuse me, Justin. I knew better than to fall for a straight girl. "We just grew apart, Julia. Believe it or not, it happens."

"I wish it didn't," Julia confessed quietly.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Kelsey wondered to herself. I had a hell of a time not kissing her the last round. And that boyfriend of hers--ugh, i don't think he knows yet, or he would have verbally crucified me by now. "Life hurts, I won't sugarcoat that fact for you."

Julia felt crushed as her attempts to try to make amends seemed to not be taken. "Let's go to the Student Store."

Halfway through the hall, Justin ran into them. "Julia!" he exclaimed. "I couldn't find you!"

"Must you dog me 24/7?" Julia said, very annoyed he interrupted a fragile conversation.

Justin dropped his eyes. "I'll leave," he said dejectedly, scurrying off with his tail between his legs. Julia turned around to continue the conversation with Kelsey.

Only to see the redhead had already disappeared into the crowd.

"Ah drats," Julia exhaled. "Where would she have gone? Hopefully Justin won't bug me for a while." She thought where the redhead might have wandered. "I'll try the Student Store first."

Sadness befell her face to see Kelsey walking away with Jessie, a warm cup of coffee at hand. She blew it, she knew it in her heart, but a rare stubbornness told her to try again.

She hurried to get behind them, her long legs catching up to them quickly. "Kelsey," she forced out her mouth, but voice escaped. "Kelsey," she finally managed to utter, but the redhead didn't hear.

Jessie turned around. "Good morning, Julia, haven't seen you around for a while."

Kelsey heard the commotion and turned around. "Where's loverboy?" she said, realizing a little too late she sounded like a jealous ex. Shit!!!

"Home sick," Julia lied between her teeth.

"Really?" Jessie said, resisting the impulse to say something really nasty about him.

"Cut the crap, Julia, I saw him," Kelsey muttered.

"I told him it was rude to interrupt and he left," she said. "I am sick of him following me everywhere like a dog."

No shit, neither of us can talk to you when he's around, Kelsey thought. You sure he's not a possessive potential abuser? "I guess that's the price of love."

"It's a steep price," Julia sighed. "To be honest, I liked being single. But then I had no friends."

Jessie grinned. "Boyfriends are great to hang around with all the time for about the first week. Then you know them and you don't want them around, but they want to be around all the time, kind of like a fly at the dinner table."

It got a giggle out of Julia and a snort out of Kelsey.

"What? It's the way it usually works," Jessie said, defending herself.

"No, you have a point, Jessie," Julia said.

Kelsey turned around to properly face everyone else in the hall. She disliked having her back to the general populace, preferring to keep an eye on everyone. Out of the corner of a green eye, she saw suspicious movement; turning her head, it was Justin skulking about. He lifted his dark mane of hair and turned it their direction, as if he was awaiting Julia to leave her friends any minute. She bared a snarl that sent the shy boy packing out of sight.

I'll probably pay for that, Kelsey realized too late. Like I give a care anymore! The dark mane peeked again. She edged her line of sight to let him know he'd been seen, but bit back any snarl, but grinned, as if it was a game of peek-a-boo instead. With your mind, shithead.

She let her eyes wander back to the amiable conversation between Julia and Jessie. "He seems awfully quiet lately," Julia said sadly.

"You've heard the rumors about the church, right?" Jessie asked.

"No; my dad said he heard something," Julia answered. "Tell me, what's going on?"

Jessie gritted her teeth. "We all know rumors tend to be without fact, but the rumor is going on that terrible things are going behind closed doors in that church."

Julia gasped. "Like what?"

"I've heard molestation, animal sacrifice, to name the more outrageous ones," Jessie said.

"That's bull!" Julia said, automatically leaping in defense of her church. Julia, has there been any unusual behavior in Western Baptist? I want you to call me the instant inappropriate behavior occurs, the echoes of her father's voice the previous night echoed in her mind. She shrugged in reaction. "An outstanding man like Kendall wouldn't do anything terrible like that."

Kelsey quirked a brow. You've been had, she thought with a grimace. There's nothing outstanding about that troublemaker except perchance his troublemaking, which some consider a holy duty he assumes rather than runs from. If that isn't a load of bullshit, I don't know what is!

"Earth to Kelsey!" Jessie nattered.

"What!" Kelsey muttered back. "Is it a cardinal sin to think?"

"Well, no, um.."

"I didn't mean to snap at you, Jessie," Kelsey apologized.


Julia interrupted, mentioning, "Accusations of deeds that horrendous are just urban legends that have been circulating since Roman times, if not earlier."

"Yeah, I suppose we fell for the 'satanic panic' syndrome, didn't we, Kelsey?"


The red haired girl eyed Justin at the edge of her vision, and kept her eyes there, pinning the hapless lad with razor eyes. He slithered out of sight once more, and she stifled a giggle. She heard someone call her name. "What?"


Kelsey shrugged, not giving a care what they might have been talking about. The bell right above them decided to ring, all three of them cowering at the decibel level of the bells as they rang endlessly.

"I suppose that's our cue to go to class," Jessie sighed.

"Yeah, see y'all later," Kelsey said, leaving.

As soon as Kelsey was a good ways down the hall, Justin mysteriously reappeared. "That psycho bitch gives me the creeps," he hissed, nodding his head where Kelsey and Jessie were headed.

Chapter 26

"No devils as decor!" Luke Garner protested adamantly during Student Council. "That's satanic and a bad rap for our school!"

Natasha shook her fist. "Oh, stop being such a hardass!" she lectured. "Every school uses a devil! Little furry red guy with a pointed tale and trident! What's the harm in that?"

"EVERYTHING!" Cassie snarled in a fury.

Jessie whispered, "Just like old times."

Kelsey couldn't help but smirk at the irony. "God versus the devil debate. Yep, no kidding," Kelsey said. "They're so vigilant they'll even rob the devil of his lone holiday!"

They both looked at each other, and giggled; they didn't believe in any of the religious trash circulating around school.

"What's so funny?" Julia asked.

Kelsey pointed to Luke and Cassie ganging up on Natasha. "Just like old times, isn't it?"

Julia shook her head. "I think Luke's over me."

Kelsey turned her head, and saw a flicker of sadness. "Over you?"

"I'm glad he's over me," Julia said, lying through her teeth. A certain sadness befell her; it was secretly flattering to see her ex boyfriend pain over her loss. A sick realization, Julia realized, and winced, clearing her expression of the frightening epiphany before anyone noticed.

"That demon encourages rowdiness and rioting on campus! It simply is intolerable!" Cassie shouted, banging her fist. "Ouch," she muttered to herself, Natasha stifling a giggle.

"Fuck you," Cassie hissed.

"Enough," Mr. Eldon said, his head up for a moment to growl at his constant disciplinary problem, then snapped back down, as if he was ignoring them, although everyone knew Mr. Eldon knew what was going on and let them dish it out among themselves; in the adult world there was going to be no teacher to tell them to shut up and behave.

"The kids are going to be rowdy and troublesome anyways, devil or not," Natasha countered, unable to supress a grin as Cassie searched to find a retort, since the fiery brunette couldn't let any remark go unreturned with a spark of gunpowder.

"It's satanic and a bad influence!" Luke growled.

"We should have done a hell house instead of a haunted house," Cassie mumbled. "Say, Julia, how is the one going at *that* church of yours?"

"Pretty good," Julia said, leaning back and confidently crossing her arms.

"It isn't too late to do one ourselves, is it?" Luke said, a devilish grin creeping upon his face.

"We have to keep secular, guys," Jessie reminded them.

"Fuck separation of church and state," Cassie growled, "it's just a code word for promoting satanism in our schools anyways."

"I didn't know this was Theology 101," Kelsey joked.

"Shut up, you satanist," Luke growled. "Holding black masses and aiding Jessie in that abortion of hers!"

Angry brown eyes pinned Luke. "Stop slandering my name," she softly but forcefully growled. "One more comment and I will have you in court."

"Oh really?" Luke mocked. "And how are you going to prove this?"

Jessie unfolded a paper. "Evidence." It was a poor photocopy of Luke and Cassie's smearing campaign a month ago. Luke's aggressive demeanor turned timid in the bat of an eye.

Cassie wasn't fazed. "Gimme that!" she hollered as she stormed up and rushed Jessie, using one hand to shove her face away from the paper she tried to pry out of her hand.

"Stop attacking me!" Jessie bellowed, trapped in her desk by the support that attached the desk to the chair. A little more force and the desk tipped, sending Jessie crashing to the floor.

"YOU FUCKING BITCH!" Kelsey yelled, yanking Cassie away when she saw her lunge for her best friend. The brunette jerked in her arms, and was about to pull Kelsey's hair when she saw Kelsey aim her fist back.

I'm in for it now, Cassie realized, blindly grabbing for her hair as a last resort to avoid one angry punch.

Only to blink her eyes open when she felt the pressure lifted from her shirt. Julia had stepped in at the last moment. "I hope you're happy that Jessie isn't exactly conscious right now," she growled at Cassie.

All three sets of eyes gravitated to where Jessie was uprooted. Mr. Eldon was kneeling by her side. "Jessie, do you hear me?" Julia's fierce blue eyes darted to see Audrie on the phone to get help.

"Uh?" she moaned. "Uh..."

"Don't move. Luke, could you get me the paper towels?"

The silent, shaken lad silently brought the roll over, where he tore off a couple and applied them to her head to ease the bleeding. "My head," she mumbled, her voice sounding as if she had marbles in her mouth.

Kelsey walked over and knelt next to Jessie. "Shh, we'll get you taken care of."

She noticed Jessie's pupils weren't even. That's not a good sign, she sighed inwardly to herself. That bitch is in for it; as the Viking philosophy in life is, no wrong shall go unavenged.

Julia watched Cassie like a hawk to make sure she didn't run. Was that fear on her face? Better be, she was facing a hell of a lot of trouble now. If not from the courts, then from the school; if not the school, she knew at least Natasha and even normally mild mannered Kelsey had it in for her. Kelsey almost knocked her lights out as it was only a minute or two before. I should probably teach her a lesson myself. But a strange sense of betrayal filled her veins---would she abandon Cassie for some pagan sinner?

She mentally rolled her eyes. Cassie has no right to get away with what she did, regardless, she growled to herself to stop the voices.

"So Cassie lunged across the room and knocked her desk over?" Justin asked, increduled. "That girl is psycho."

Julia sighed, inspecting the Western Baptist Hell House before they opened up for the evening. "When Jessie toppled over in the desk, she managed to hit her head on the desk in the next row with a lot of force. Kelsey says she has a mild concussion."

"That bad? Man, the girl should try out for the football team!"

Julia let out a small laugh. "Poor Kelsey, though," she sighed. "She's not taking it too well."

"Best friends, right? Or something more?"

"Just friends, Justin. You think everyone is sleeping around, don't you?"

"Usually they are," he replied deadpan.

"Boys," she mumbled to herself.

"What?" he asked.

"Mr. Eldon joked that boys think of sex every three seconds."

Justin laughed.

"See?" Julia replied, grinning.

"No, I don't see."

She let the joke drop, it was his problem he was a bonehead. She got the laugh on him, and that's what mattered. Justin had a nasty mind for being such a pious Christian, usually manifesting itself with lurid accusations of the most unimaginable atrocities a human could think of. Bestiality, necrophilia, you name it and he accused someone of doing it. Even necrobestiality, whatever that was. He should work for the Jerry Springer Show. There ought to be a position open for someone with that "talent." She made a sickly face at the whole thought.

She couldn't joke her way out of her worry for Jessie though. Kelsey left at lunch to see how she was doing and said she was improving and would probably be released by morning, spending the night in the hospital for observation. She hoped to see Jessie too, she was pretty anxious to see how she was doing, but it wasn't likely.

Her face drooped to a disappointed frown, as she got on the ladder and fixed up the cobwebs on the beams. Too bad she didn't know Kelsey's email address. She would have emailed her otherwise and asked.


She turned around, to see Justin's face, again. "What?" she asked impatiently.

"Dad and I are going to Mickey D's to get some food. Wanna come?"

"Sure," she said, getting down from the ladder. I hate heights!!!

The Hell House was closed for the night, leaving Julia, Justin, the Reverend and five other kids to close up. "You have a ride yet?" Justin asked, waiting outside with her.

"No," she sadly sighed. She had hoped maybe Mom or Dad would come, but neither had appeared.

"I'm sure my dad can give you a ride."

"Okay," Julia said pensively.

"Okay," Justin said, "my dad'll be out in a moment."

She saw a set of taillights pull into the parking lot. Who the hell?

She saw a tall, graying figure in a business suit, his shoulders sturdy but not too broad, a well chiseled face silhouetted by the lone light in the parking lot.

"Ready?" Justin asked, his face then taut with panic. "Oh crap, who's that in the parking lot?"

Chapter 27

"DAD!" Julia cried when she could make out the face, tears streaming down her face.

"What the..." Justin muttered. "Hmm."

She ran over to him and gave him a hug, hanging on for dear life. "Daddy, I was so scared you'd never come..." she sobbed, bawling on his shoulder.

"Shh..." he cooed softly. "Julia, I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I'm so sorry I ran out like that, I promise never to do that again."

Julia finally pulled away. "I got your shirt wet."

"Don't worry about it," he said. "Say, let's go get a pizza."

Pizza equals sin! No, no...yummy though, i haven't had pizza in years...come on, let it slide...Pizza is bad! But...PIZZA IS BAD! GREASY! SINFUL! GLUTTONOUS! ...if I don't eat I'm going to starve. "Sounds good!" she exclaimed.

"I'm glad," Justin mumbled, "See you tomorrow?"

"Yeah. Bye!" she said, turning her back towards him, missing sad eyes closely following her.

"Goodbye," he sadly whispered, fearfully resisting the impulse to flinch when the Reverend Kendall put his hand on his shoulder.

"Let's go home," Kendall said.

They sat across from each other at Round Table pizza, enjoying the King Arthur Supreme. Julia looked at her first slice and felt the bile in her throat threaten to overtake her. How dare you eat that!

She closed her eyes. I *can* eat. Keeping her eyes shut, she brought the piece closer until she could take a bite, savoring the blend of spiced tomato sauce, the crispy crust, exotic black olives and a fleck of green bell pepper. She tentatively chewed it, as if she was in shock that she actually did the dirty deed; she chewed it more, extricating every bit of flavor she could from it, then swallowed when it was paste in her mouth. She brought the slice to her mouth again, to repeat the process again. Oh my God, I am eating.

Rhett saw the incredulous look on his daughter's face and was puzzled. She wasn't one to comment on her food; no, he couldn't recall her being of the sort. Considering how his wife was shaming Julia about food when she thought he wasn't looking, he wasn't surprised that Julia disassociated taste from food. Sheesh, taste a rice cake and "tasteless" is elevated to a whole new level! he thought to himself, thinking of his wife's favorite snack food to put in front of Julia. Maybe this is why Julia won't eat, he sadly realized, then feeling guilty for letting his wife do this to his daughter and get away with it.

"So how was school today?" he asked between bites.

"Crazy," Julia replied.

"What happened?"

"In Student Council they got into the usual fight--" meaning Cassie and Luke ganged up on Natasha "--when Jessie had to remind them of school guidelines and they burst a blood vessel at the suggestion."

"What was the suggestion?" Rhett asked.

"Luke and Cassie were wanting to do a Hell House for Student Council," Julia said.

"What's wrong with a hell house? It's plenty scary," Rhett said, taking another bite.

"The purpose of a church hell house is to scare people into believing, which Jessie says goes against the principle of church and state."

"I also believe Jessie has personal reasons for it, too."

Luke had of course babbled Jessie's non-conventional religious preferences when they were going out. "Well, yeah, but she had to remind them, else the administration would."

"And what did Luke and Cassie do?"

"You really want to know, Dad?" she asked him.

He looked at her. "What?" he asked, alarmed.

"They've been slandering her for the past month, saying she's a slut, a whore, and aborted a fictional baby of hers at a black mass," Julia said, anger in her voice.

"They set a poor example of Christian behavior," Rhett sadly remarked. "So, what did they do to burst a blood vessel?"

"Jessie reminded them that slander is actually a crime," Julia said. "She's been getting harassed on and off campus and her parents are about this far--" she indicated a small amount with her fingers "--from taking Luke, Cassie, and the school to court with it."

"How are they going to prove it?"

"Too easily," Julia replied. "They had a poster campaign. There's witnesses who watched the whole slandering conspiracy unfold. I warned them they were going to only screw themselves over."

"So what happened from there?" Rhett asked, taking another slice.

Julia swallowed her bite. "Cassie lunged at her."

"She physically lunged at her?!" Rhett asked.

"Yeah, she toppled over the desk, Jessie hit her head and had to go to the hospital. They're keeping her overnight for observation, I've heard."

Rhett was shocked. Sure Cassie had an attitude but this? "Do you want to stop by the hospital and see if they'll let you visit? You look awfully shaken."

"Could I?" she asked, hopeful.

"Sure," he replied. Anything to make up being such a jerk last night.

She walked down the hospital corridor, a few slices of pizza at hand in case Jessie wasn't too fond of the hospital food. She braced herself and appeared at the edge, where Jessie's mother was, watching TV alongside her daughter. "Um, Mrs. Vilmos?"

The mother didn't recognize her but Jessie greeted, "Hey, Julia. Come on in."

"Feeling any better?" Julia asked.

"Yeah," Jessie said, "pretty much. At least I'm not seeing double anymore!"

Julia smiled in sympathy. "That's good to hear. Hungry?"

"Yeah," she confessed. "They had bland chicken topped with white sauce! It was nasty! No salt, nothing!"

"I brought this," Julia said. "My dad and I went out for pizza."

"You had enough?" Jessie asked. "You got to eat, you know," she half teased.

"For the record I gritted my teeth and actually enjoyed four pieces." A tremendous feat, especially for the girl who wouldn't even touch it normally.

"Wow," Jessie said. "For the girl who eats less than a bird, you claim to pack away a lot."

"I was hungry."

"About time you figured it out," Jessie said.

"Hmph," Julia said, her eyes darting between Jessie, whose skin was a slightly better hue than it was earlier, and flashbacks of what had happened earlier. Without provocation she lunged at her...

I could have stopped her, her thoughts countered. Cassie's a bit violent.

Aggressive? Yes. Prone to brawling? No. I could not have foreseen this!

Yes you did! Remember leadership camp? She felt like a bucket of bricks hit her in the stomach, as the cat fight between Natasha and Cassie came to mind, and she cringed.

"Julia?" Jessie asked, querying the strange, pained look on her friend's countenance.

"Oh, sorry."

"So, enjoying running the Hell House? I hear yours is the scariest one in town."

Julia blushed. "Um, thanks." She scratched her head. "It's a lot of work. They make such a mess, and people vandalize it."

"It happens," Jessie says. "People can't respect others differences. They feel entitled to rip it to shreds."

"Yeah," Julia replied. Cassie comes to mind... "Those satanists graffiti it with 666's and pentagrams and..."

"Those aren't really satanists," Jessie replied. "They're just doing it to piss people off."

Julia shrugged. "And how would you know that?" she queried.

"Real satanists don't do that." Putting her hand up when Julia was about to interrupt, Jessie elaborated further. "One of the teachers at our high school is a member of the Temple of Set."

"Oh my God," Julia said, face blanching, then whispering, "It's Mrs. Mandrake, isn't it?" she said, referring to one of the art teachers.

Jessie laughed. "No, no, no, Julia, that's the stereotype, my friend. Satanists come from all walks of life. You can't single them out from a crowd. Police officers. Teachers. Cashiers. Lawyers. Construction workers. They look like everyone else. That is what a real Satanist looks like." [See

"Oh my," she said again. "I would never have figured." She sat there in silence for a few moments, then asked, "Is Natasha, well, um, a Satanist?"

Firmly replied Jessie, "No."

"That's reassuring," Julia exhaled. "Um, I better go let you get some rest. You look wiped."

"I feel wiped," Jessie replied. "Goodnight."


Walking down the corridor, Rhett asked, "What was that all about?"

"Jessie sure knows how to mingle with non-traditional people," she said, a half chuckle.

"Well, a good father would say to be careful of people like that, but..." a sad tinge in Rhett's voice, "she seems to be such a nice girl."

"She is a nice girl, Dad," Julia said. "And she's taught me to question the prejudices the world has cast upon me."

"Really," Rhett said. "That's kind of rather interesting way to put it."

"We don't realize how prejudiced we are until we have to run headlong into contradiction. It's like saying all Jews are greedy misers until you come upon one who spares you a quarter so you can ride the bus home instead of walk in the rain because you were short a quarter."

"Well, yeah," Rhett said.

"So see?"

Rhett nodded. "Let's go home before we worry your mother sick."

[ Chapters 28-30 ]

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