Subterfuge

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About one week later. "Ben, what's the big idea?" asked Calvin, wondering how sheer will landed him back on the Donovan's street and inside of Ben's house in just a few short days. Ben closed the back door behind them, beads of sweat dotting his brow.

"Teddi and I just wanted to be safe," Ben explained. "You know, in case someone saw you with her, particularly her grandmother."

"I understand about Teddi not wanting to get in trouble," he said, "but is there really a reason for me to sneak around? I'm allowed to visit a friend if I want to."

"But you aren't allowed to see Teddi."

"Like hell, I'm not. That old bag isn't in charge of me."

Ben shook his head. "I told her this wasn't a good idea."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. Let's just go into the other room and wait for Teddi."

Calvin quelled the urge to hit Ben for acting so smug and superior. What happened to that kid he used to boss around? At least, he was still a good three inches shorter than Calvin. And thin and pale to boot. He could take him if he had to. They rarely spoke to each other anymore, which wasn't something Calvin regretted at that moment.

When Teddi came through the unlocked front door, Calvin's words fell back in his throat.

"Hello," she said, holding his gaze. Her eyes were dark green with flecks of golden brown today. He noticed weeks ago that they were the kind that changed with the lighting or the person's mood. He could stare at them for hours.

"Hi," Calvin managed to return. He kept his eyes fixed on hers until Teddi cleared her throat and turned to Ben.

***

Ben looked both uncomfortable and annoyed, and Teddi was embarrassed. She was probably being too apparent about her feelings. She had to lighten the mood. "So, is there anything to eat?" she asked Ben. "I'm famished. My uncle and his wife just left on the train today and practically ate us out of house and home."

"Oh, right. Why don't you help me in the kitchen?" he asked. He had something to say to her. Teddi, however, did not want to listen at that moment.

"Are you sure you need me? I don't think we should leave Calvin in here all alone."

Ben shrugged. "He can help, too, I guess."

"Sure, no problem," Calvin said.

The two of them followed Ben into the kitchen to retrieve the inside picnic-style lunch Mrs. Holliday left for them—chicken sandwiches, deviled eggs, and, of course, her signature lemonade.

"We can just eat in here if you two don't mind," suggested Ben. "It'll be less hassle."

"Sure," Calvin said. "It's not every day I get a chance to forego the cold mush they serve at the orphanage."

Ben's eyes grew wide. He looked shocked, then full of pity. Calvin laughed.

"I was just kidding," Calvin said, his chuckles still bubbling over. "I had eggs and toast for breakfast. Relax, Ben."

"Got any Benny Goodman?" asked Calvin.

"Yeah!" Ben seemed to perk up at the idea of listening to the popular big band leader. "I'll be right back."

Teddi sighed. Finally. "I thought he'd never leave," Teddi mumbled, turning scarlet after realizing she'd said that aloud.

"Why, Miss Donovan, you little devil. You telling me you don't really want to hear Benny Goodman?"

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