We arrived back at the mansion around a quarter to two, sacks of Mexican food at the ready. As the headlights panned over the front entryway, I thought I made out a shadow, but I wasn't sure. Fuck it, I was feeling punchy. I anchored the big Fury in the driveway and slouched out, grabbing the bags of food.
Walking towards the front door, Bekka suddenly blocked me off, quietly shushing me. There was someone on the front steps, unmoving. I gathered the bags in one hand and swept the Beretta out with the other. Bekka stepped forward with her Colt out and in position. We hadn't anticipated being out for so long and had not bothered with the porch lights. The shape didn't move at our approach. We drew closer.
I knocked the figure in the head with the Beretta and said, "You're covered. You'd better have something to say. Talk, and don't move around while you do it. Who are you?"
The figure said in a drowsy girl's voice, "Lenny? Bekka?"
Bekka said, "That's us, who are you?"
The figure said, "It's me, Jane, from Florida. You guys get home late. I've been here for hours, I think."
I stepped past the figure to the front door, opened it, and turned on the lights. "Wait a minute, Jane? From Gainesville?" I asked. "The girl we met in Fort Lauderdale on our honeymoon? Who I've been sending tapes to?"
"Hey guys," she said, standing up. "I don't mean to barge in, but it was a long bus ride out here, and a long trip up from the bus station. What time is it?"
"Just about two in the morning," said Bekka, sheathing her Colt. "Are you hungry? Come on inside."
We ushered her into the media room and unbagged the food. I cut my burrito in half and handed half to her, which she began wolfing down. "This is.... Wow, maybe I'm just hungry, but this is really delicious. This isn't like Florida Mexican food at all," she said between bites.
"Here's a straightforward question," said Bekka. "Do your parents know where you are?"
Jane wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and said, "They know I was headed for California. We kind of had a big fight, and they threw me out. I figured that I'd try my luck out here."
"If you didn't know us, where would you have gone?" I asked, scooping chips through guacamole.
"LA. I'd have figured something out."
Bekka laughed. "Listen little girl, we'll give you a tour of Hollywood, and you'll see where you'd have ended up. It's not pretty."
Jane glared. She said, "I wouldn't have ended up turning tricks, if that's what you're thinking. I'd have figured out a way to work, and get by. I've got some money, I'd have worked out something."
I said, "Yeah, you'd have gotten one up on all the other teenage runaways in Los Angeles somehow, all of whom show up in the same condition. I'm calling your home in the morning, I'm gonna see what they have to say about all this. In the meantime, do you want some coffee at this hour? It would seem we have a lot of catching up to do."
"You can stay here for a few days, but we want to talk to your parents," said Bekka. "Not that we're questioning that they threw you out, but we'd like to hear it from them. Nothing personal."
"So why did they throw you out?" I asked.
"They caught me in bed with a boy," Jane sighed. "I tried to explain that he didn't mean anything to me, but that only made things worse. They called me a slut, I told them.... Well, to go to hell, and then my dad is yelling at me to pack my things, that they wouldn't have someone like me under their roof. I was thinking, you guys are in porn, right? Maybe you could get me a job?"
"Oh hell no," chorused Bekka and I. Bekka said, "You're what, sixteen? You've got a couple years to go before you could work with us. You haven't even finished high school yet, much less turned eighteen. Those are both requirements we have for our performers, not to mention the ability to act. Listen pet, how long have you been stuck on Greyhound buses for, anyway? Three or four days? How'd you like to take a shower and sleep in a real bed? Tomorrow's Saturday, we can all sleep in."
"That sounds great," Jane said. "You can tell me what you guys have been up to."
"Are you still hungry?" I asked. "We've got some leftover pizza in the fridge."
Jane considered, and said, "Yeah, I could still eat. I've been living on chips and soda since Tuesday. And thank you."
I got a couple slices out of the fridge and onto a paper plate, and nuked them briefly to get them warm. I called out, "Do you want anything to drink?"
Jane called back, "Yeah, beer if you'll let me. Is that cool?"
"What the hell, we're already harboring a minor, may as well go whole hog. I'll give you some California stuff called Anchor Steam. Good stuff, you'll like it."
I brought her the pizza and beer, both of which she put down in record time. I asked, "So how did you get from the Greyhound station all the way up here?"
Finishing off the beer, she said, "I took the transit to someplace south of here called.... Um.... En-sin-eet-as? Does that sound right? Then I bugged a cab driver into letting me use his maps, and I walked."
Bekka and I were stunned. "You mean to say you walked from the transit station to here?" I asked.
"Yeah," she burped at me.
"Lord girl, that's a seven or eight mile walk," said Bekka.
"Yeah, but I had to do it. You guys weren't answering your phone, some cops were giving me the stink eye, and I didn't want to blow money on a cab. It wasn't so bad."
"At least you were wearing Doc Martens for your trek. Let's go upstairs, we'll show you to your room. I'll loan you a pair of my sweats so you have something to change into."
Going up the stairs, Jane said, "This place is a fucking mansion! You guys live here all by yourselves?"
I said, "We have the top floor. The rest of the place is business focused. The second floor is studios, and the first floor is living space and offices. We've got an awesome swimming pool, though. You bring a swimsuit?"
"No, but I don't mind going buff. You guys are okay with that, right?"
Jane looked surprised. "What? I figured you'd be used to seeing people naked, with you guys making porn and all."
I sighed. "That's true enough, but you're like a little sister to us. You can borrow one of Bekka's bikinis. We'll be more comfortable, okay?"
We ushered her into the guest room. Bekka went into the penthouse suite to grab her some sweats. Jane flopped on the bed with her arms out. It was clear she needed a shower when she did. She said, "Pardon me, but I haven't been in a horizontal position since Tuesday. So you guys really make porn here, huh?"
"That we do," I said.
"Can I watch?"
"Hell no. We're already harboring a fugitive minor. Introducing her to the adult film industry is not a good idea. So your parents really did get that pissed off over finding you in bed with some dude?"
Still reclining, she said, "Yeah. And the thing of it is, he didn't mean anything to me. I just had the hots for him, and wanted to find out what he was like. It was no big deal, and they made something out of it. They probably wouldn't have freaked out so bad if they'd found me with my regular boyfriend."
Bekka had eavesdropped on this conversation. "So what about your regular boyfriend? Is he out of the picture?" she asked.
"I dunno, he was really pissed when I told him why I was leaving home. Like I said, the guy I was with didn't mean anything to me, I just thought he was hot and I wanted to take him for a test drive, you know?"
"I already nearly destroyed our marriage due to my indiscretion, so I can't give you too much support. Sounds like you fucked up, darling."
"I probably did," sighed Jane. "He wasn't that good, either, he was just eye candy. I was letting my pussy do my thinking for me."
Bekka coaxed her off the bed, saying, "Grab some clean undies, girl. You can use our shower tonight. It's got four heads, it's probably just what you need right about now. C'mon."
Bekka got her into our bathroom and showed her how to adjust the shower. Once Jane was in and getting clean, Bekka grabbed the bong and weed and threw herself onto the sofa. "So, we're harboring a fugitive minor," she said, loading a bowl.
"I'm fatefully aware," I said.
"You're serious about calling her folks in the morning?"
"You'd better believe it. I want to know how much of her story checks out. If there are too many discrepancies, she's going back to Florida on the first flight we can get out."
"And if her story does check out?" Bekka asked through a lungful of smoke.
"I dunno," I said, reaching for the bong. "I don't want to put her out on the street, but at the same time I'm too young to have a teenage daughter. We'll help her out how we can, get her back in school I guess, and play it by ear. Do you have any suggestions?"
"At the moment, no. Take her out for a good brunch in the morning. See what ideas she has."
We had each worked our way through two bowls when we heard the water stop running. After a few minutes Jane emerged, announcing "That was great and I smell weed."
"Do you smoke, Jane?" asked Bekka.
"Sometimes, yeah. I could use it tonight. May I?"
"Oh, what the hell," I said, loading the bong for her. "You won't need much of this, so clear the tube before you burn through the bowl." I handed over the bong and a lighter.
She fired up.... And launched into a coughing fit. "Jeez, that tastes strong!" she said. "People always brag about getting California weed in Florida, but it doesn't feel like that. Where's it from? Humboldt?"
"The Sierras," said Bekka. "It creeps up on you, so hold off before you take more than a few hits."
Jane bubbled her way through the rest of the bowl, and said, "Wow. I can already feel it coming on. I could make a fortune with that in Florida."
"Here. Smell this," I said, extracting a large bud from the bag. "I don't know the strain, but they grow it right in the mountains."
"Wow," she said, sniffing the bud. "This is way better than what we got in Gainesville. I could get rid of a pound of this, no problem." She giggled. "It hits way stronger, too. I smoked one load, right? No way could Florida weed get me this high from one bong load."
"One of the luxuries of California living," smiled Bekka. "From what I understand, we have better Ecstasy out here, too. You generally have better coke, though."
Jane flopped backwards on the recliner, a glazed look on her face. "I don't mean to be a bummer, but are you really calling my parents in the morning?" she asked.
I said, "Yeah. If you're fibbing to us about how you got out here, then we're putting you on the first plane back to Florida. You're a sweetheart, but do you have any idea how much trouble we could get in letting a runaway stay with us? We're talking prison time."
Jane huffed and said, "You can talk to my parents all you want. They ran me out, it wasn't my choice to leave."
Bekka said, "Speaking of running people out, we've had a long night and we need to get some sleep. Brunch in the morning sound good?"
"Sounds fine." Jane stood and wobbled. "So where were you guys, anyway? Out partying?"
Bekka and I glanced at each other. "No, Lenny shot a man tonight, and we had to spend some time at the police station afterwards," said Bekka. "We'll tell you about it in the morning."
"Are you serious?"
I pulled my Beretta out of my jacket and held it up. "Quite serious," I said.
"Whoa." She wandered towards the door. "I'll talk to you guys in the morning, okay? G'night."
As Jane pulled the door closed behind her, I said, "Why do I have the feeling that our lives just became that much more hectic?"