Chapter 16

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"And just what exactly is going on here?" Lenny demanded.

If not for the fact that Evelyn was in shock at their early arrival home, not to mention her instant regret with having Brandon try to sneak out her bedroom window as opposed to simply running to the kitchen and looking casual, the sight of Lenny's enraged face would have been comical. Blood red and tilted slightly downward, the look exaggerated the double chin he tried so hard to hide, while the thinning hair around his bald spot stuck nearly straight up in windblown tangles. As he stared at the couple over his glasses, perched precariously on the tip of his nose Evelyn suppressed a giggle. She couldn't help but think he looked like an angry psychiatrist out of a children's cartoon.

"I was... I mean, we were just..." Evelyn said, stumbling over her words while attempting to suppress her own mixed emotions. It was hard to think of a reasonable excuse as to why she would have a boy sneaking out of her window when she was struggling to hold back both laughter and tears. No good excuses came to mind.

"Both of you," Lenny said, pointing to each in turn, "kitchen. Now." Without another word he turned on his heel and stormed into the kitchen, leaving the pair to face down Becca's disappointed glare. A rare expression that was somehow worse than any fit of rage Lenny could muster. All of Evelyn's humor melted away at the sight of it as the weight of Becca's raw emotions pressed against Evelyn's chest like a band of lead. Evelyn steeled herself for the inevitable yelling, but it never came. Becca didn't say a word, she merely sighed and followed Lenny silently to the kitchen, shooting Evelyn a look that was once again worse than any yelling Lenny could produce.

"Oops..." Brandon said, "so much for a good first impression, huh?"

"Yea, you could say that." Evelyn sighed. "Well, let's go and get this over with, and hopefully smooth things over a bit." She looked over to find Brandon still hanging half out of the window, his usual humor replaced with the grinding sensation of shame. Somehow it helped, knowing he cared enough to actually feel ashamed of his actions as opposed to simply being annoyed at the inconvenience of getting caught. She held out her hand and helped him back inside, selfishly enjoying the quick tingly rush of excitement coming from Brandon as their hands touched.

"Where's Puck?" Brandon whispered, glancing around the room nervously.

Evelyn chuckled. "Don't worry about him, he has a way of vanishing when he needs to."

Brandon nodded, brushing off his pants in what was obviously more of a delay tactic than an actual need. "How much did you say they knew about him?" He asked, nodding towards the open door.

"Like I told you before, they knew about my past, and the part he played in it. But to them he was never a real part of it, at least as far as they or any other grown-ups were concerned. Since he was always thought of as my imaginary friend who got me into trouble, he was never exactly someone they liked me to bring up."

"That happen a lot?"

Evelyn couldn't help but laugh. "Yea," she said, "you could say that."

"What part of 'now' didn't you two understand?" Lenny called from the kitchen.

Brandon winced. "He sounds pissed."

"More like disappointed," Evelyn said taking Brandon's hand, "come on, let's get in there."

Both Lenny and Becca were already sitting behind one end of the table with two chairs pulled out at the other, giving Evelyn the impression that they were about to sit down to an interrogation. Becca's disappointment was still thick in the air, overshadowing Lenny's anger and filling the air like a cold, grey fog. Evelyn shuttered, closing off the flow of emotions. A trick that was mercifully becoming easier by the day.

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