Jane and Lance came into the office. I was sitting with Dale and Elspeth, reviewing our plans for our outdoor shots in downtown. Bekka and I had already worked out our bit of stunt driving, plotting out our moves on the street in front of the mansion at a slow speed. Jane said, "Hey Lenny, you guys aren't using the pool today, right?"
"Nope, free and clear. Why?"
"Lance wants to be a stronger swimmer, and I'm gonna coach him."
"She says she used to have to outswim alligators, so I trust her," said Lance.
The two kids went upstairs to change into their suits. I told Dale and Elspeth, "If that girl spent more time in the water, I'd check her for webbed toes."
Elspeth laughed and said, "So what's she gonna do when you're in your new place? Come over here?"
"Hell, she's got the entire Pacific ocean at her disposal at our new house. Who knows, maybe she'll take up surfing."
Dale changed the subject, saying, "So 'Private Extremes' is just about wrapped up. What do we do next?"
I held my hands out. "Bud, I don't know. I don't have a new script I'm working on, if that's what you're asking. We'll knock out some loops for a little while, until me and Vinny come up with something new. Don't worry, we'll keep everyone busy."
"Y'all got me spoiled," grumbled Elspeth in her Texas drawl. "Ain't no dialogue scenes in the loops. Where's the fun?"
I told her, "Sorry girl, you'll be crying all the way to the bank. Don't worry, I promise to match up you and Eddie as much as I can."
"'Kay. Say, we gonna do signings for this one?"
"Yeah. We'll probably have a junket up to LA for a few days, work the book stores up there. Nothing long distance. The Bay Area, maybe, but that would almost all be in San Francisco, and Angel and Vinny know better than to send me to that town unsupervised."
Jane and Lance came back down, ready for the pool. Lance said, "Excuse me sir, is it all right if I use your phone? Jane said she wants to take me out to dinner tonight."
I slid the phone over, saying, "Help yourself. News to me."
Jane said, "It's Tuesday, and we always eat out on Tuesday anyway." She leaned in towards my ear. "Besides, he's gonna see if they'll let him spend the night. That's okay if they say yes, right?"
I frowned at her. "I wish you would have told me about your plans earlier. What if his stepdad throws a fit?"
She put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. "Then all bets are off, no big deal. It was just an idea we came up with. You just tell them he'll be in one of the guest bedrooms."
"How were you planning on taking him to dinner?"
"C'mon, Lenny. You give me a hundred bucks every week as allowance. I'm not burning that much gas or hitting the taco stand that often. I've got about $250 saved so far."
I smiled. "Good girl."
Lance hung up the phone with a nervous grin. "Mom said okay about dinner, but she wants me to ask Richard if spending the night is okay. To be frank, I doubt he'll say yes."
"Let him talk to me, I'll cover for you."
Lance was surprised. "Um, really?"
"You don't think I think you spend all that time in her room talking Shakespeare, do you?"
He got red. He said, "Let's go get in the spa, babe." They went out.
Dale grinned. "Aw, that's sweet. Teen love."
"So are they fuckin'?" asked Elspeth.
"And how," I said. "Jane took his virginity, and is trying to mold him into her ideal lover."
"Damn. Lucky kid," said Dale.
"Unlucky us. His stepdad's a cop, and knows who me and Bekka are, and what we do. We aren't his favorite people."
"Indeed. Lance there doesn't know you two, but just by the association can figure out why you're in my office."
Elspeth asked, "So are you getting pressure from this cop?"
"Not yet. But I have a feeling it's a when, and not an if."
Dale said, "Man, at sixteen I would have loved to have been in that kid's shoes. I'm guessing they go to school together."
I said, "They're in drama club together, that's how they met. He's kind of a nerdy kid, which is fine with me. I'd rather have Jane getting with a nerd instead of some jock."
"Hey, I played football. Varsity."
"And now you make your living with your dick."
"Yeah, well.... I had trouble with college."
I leaned back in my chair and grinned across my desk at him. "So I end up with a good performer who can actually act. Not so bad from my perspective."
"So how long is that girl gonna be living with you?" Dale asked.
"A while," I said. "We plan on seeing her through high school, and getting her into UCB."
"I think it's crazy, you two living with a teenage girl. Eddie says you even bought her a car. How's she behaving?"
"She's an excellent housemate. She keeps her grades up, clean up after herself, and makes dinner four nights a week. We have no complaints about living with her. As you saw, she even has a boyfriend now to keep her distracted."
"Wild," said Elspeth. "Say Lenny, uh, you got anything to smoke?"
There was a joint in my desk drawer. Bekka had put it in there for de-stressing purposes, for when things weren't going well on any given day. I pulled it out, lit it, and passed it over. The joint began making a circle.
Jane and Lance came back in. Jane took the proffered joint as it came towards her, taking a good hit. Lance watched this with surprise, refusing a hit of his own. Jane said to Lance, "It's good for helping me relax, that's all. Wanna go upstairs, baby?"
"I didn't know you did drugs," said Lance.
"Sometimes. I'll smoke with Lenny and Bekka, and we'll have a couple beers while we're watching TV at night. No big deal. Don't tell Richard though, okay?"
"Don't worry, I won't. Let's go upstairs now, okay?" Off the two kids went.
"Lance's stepdad is a cop in Encinitas," I said by way of explanation. "Him and me have had to interact."
"Just great," said Elspeth. "So your adoptive kid's boyfriend is a cop?"
"He's plainclothes, a detective."
"That's gotta be creepy to deal with," said, Dale. "Can you afford to play fast and loose with her around?"
I gave him a confident smile. "We keep things tight around here. Lance isn't stupid, and he's officially addicted to pussy at the moment. Jane will keep him under control, no doubt."
Dale and Elspeth said their goodbyes and headed to their cars, happy to have gotten high with the boss. It wasn't a benefit everyone could count upon. For instance, I'd never gotten stoned with Eddie. Things just worked out that way. After about forty-five minutes, Jane came down and planted her on my lap. I gave her a hug and asked her how things were going.
"It's weird, Lance needs to pass out for a little while after we fuck. He's sound asleep on the bed. Don't worry, he'll snap out of it and want something to eat." She paused. "Did it freak you out a couple nights ago when I wanted to sleep with you and Bekka?"
"A little, yeah. I didn't know if it was another of your attempts to fuck me or not. You were a good girl though, even if I did have you grinding against me while I tried to sleep."
Jane said, "I was really scared. I had the worst dream. I needed to be around people I knew loved me, that's all."
I cuddled her and said, "You don't need to be scared when me and Bekka are around. We'll protect you from anything that can hurt you. We're your fucking guardian angels, okay?"
"Okay. I'd better go check on my napping boy toy."
I said, "He's more than a toy to you, isn't he?"
Jane giggled. "Yeah. But right now he has my pussy satisfied, so he rates as toy to me. I told you before, that toy Bekka bought me is nice, but it doesn't match the real thing. I want cock, and he's got it."
"Bad girl," I said. "Go and check on him. He's gonna want his gator bait next to him when he reaches consciousness. Go to him."
Jane scooted out of my lap and towards the stairs. "It's okay if he spends the night, really?" she asked down the hall.
"You keep things subtle, okay? That's all we ask."
I could hear her bare feet padding up the stairs. Five minutes later Bekka came down and ensconced herself in my lap, cuddling up to get warm.
"Baby? It's okay with you if Lance spends the night?" she asked.
"So long as he wakes up in the right bedroom, it's fine," I told her. "Why?"
"Just checking. Did you smoke that joint I left you in your desk?"
"Dale and Elspeth wanted to get stoned, so yeah. Can you really smell it that strong?"
"I can. That was supposed to be for emergencies. Anything happen?"
"Apart from our teenage ward letting us know that she's taking her boy-toy out to dinner, and they might be spending the night together, no, nothing new. Our lives are the same. Why do you ask?"
"It's weird. I can hear Lance and Jane fucking in our room, but not on any of the sound stages. I guess that's a good thing, right?"
I said, "Just so long as we're the only ones who hear them fucking. Like, we don't want their parents to hear them fucking. That would be a bad thing."
Bekka laughed. "I doubt her parents could hear them, and if they did, it wouldn't matter. It's what they expect from her, remember?"
"Yeah, but not from a ritzy neighborhood in San Diego county. They were fully expecting their daughter to to turn into a whore, then come crawling back with her tail between her legs. We threw them."
Bekka relit the roach sitting in my ashtray, dragging deeply. She said, "Yeah, we did at that. Their daughter isn't supposed to be at school, she's supposed to be working Hollywood Boulevard. If only we could do that for every teenage girl working the streets."
I suggested, "We could start killing pimps. That would be a good urban renewal project for us to take on."
Bekka puffed at the roach. "Killing every pimp? If you allot for the amateurs, that would take some time."
"So what, pimps are trash. We kill enough, the message gets through."
"You're an evil one, Mr. Schneider."
I popped my Scratch Acid tape in the boom box. Bekka sat there counting the acoustic tiles in the ceiling until Jane and Lance appeared. Lance looked animated, for which I was proud. Jane looked relaxed and satisfied, for which I was relieved. I cracked my knuckles in their direction.
"Headed to dinner?" I asked. "Where to?"
"We're headed to that Mexican place in Leucadia," said Jane. "The one with the really great carne asada steak."
"You go, girl," I replied. "We're gonna head for Evelyn's for steaks. You sure you don't want to join us?"
"No, we're good. You're sure if it's okay that Lance spends the night here?"
Bekka grinned. "It's fine, so long as he wakes up in the right bed. That's all we ask out of a school night."
Jane got a familiar grin on her face. "I'm hoping I cook breakfast for two in the morning," she leered.
"Go get dinner, Gator Bait," I said. "We'll see you in a while. We can watch some TV, if you two aren't too busy."
Lance looked amazed. "Um.... Do they know about us....?"
Jane laughed and said, "Hey Lenny, you know that Lance is fucking me, right?"
"Fully aware," I replied.
"Do you care?"
"So long as you're staying safe, it's not my business."
Bekka threw in, "Follow your instincts, kids. Have fun. Lick each other raw."
Lance threw up his hands and said, "I don't.... Ohh...."
I said, "All we ask is that you keep this a secret from your parents, okay. What happens between you two is between you two. We just want to know how many plates to put out at breakfast, okay?"
And Jane said, "And I cook a mean breakfast, baby. C'mon, let's go get something for dinner, sweetie." She pressed her mouth against his neck. The two of them headed for the door. Jane already had the keys for the Cutlass in her hand.
Bekka and I headed up the stairs and cracked a couple Anchor Steams . Not half an hour went by before the phone rang, on the back line, the number we'd given to Jane for precisely this reason. Bekka picked up.
"Hello, Detective Ross! Glad to hear from you!.... Yes, they went into Leucadia for dinner. None of our business, really.... No, we're done working around here, Lenny and I had an evening of TV in front of us.... Just me and Lenny watching TV, why do you ask?.... Okay, we'll let him know. Most kind of you, the two of them will be up to the wee hours discussing Shakespeare. He'll be at school on time, leave that up to us.... No doubt.... We'll take care. Talk to you soon, I'm sure. Yes, she's driving her car. Why?.... I see.... She's a good driver, I don't think you'll have any troubles. Okay, goodnight, and thank you."
Bekka hung up the phone. "It's okay with him if Lance stays over, believe it or not. He expects a full report from Lance in the morning, however. How complete that report is depends on Lance. I doubt that Jane will give up on her nightly bong session just because Lance is here."
"We'll have to see how things go when they get back," I said. "Knowing Jane, they might head straight up for bed and work out the rest later."
"Hopefully they'll be a little social," said Bekka. "Screw going out for dinner, let's order pizza and watch TV."
So that's exactly what we did. The delivery showed up on time, and we munched. We cracked open a couple Anchor Steams and celebrated the relative calm that had descended upon our lives. We had a teenage pet to worry about, but she wasn't causing any trouble that we knew about.
At eight or so the two returned. Their timing was good, we'd just pulled out the bong. Jane was elated.
"I've been trying to explain to Lance that weed is harmless. You two run a business, and you smoke it at night all the time. It's no big deal, right?"
I said, "It's like anything else. You can let it run your life. It doesn't matter if it's surfing, or sex, or weed, or dope, or anything else. You stay on top of it, and don't let it rule how you live. What brought the subject up?"
Jane said, "Him seeing me take a hit off that joint in your office."
"That was nothing," said Bekka. "Now, the two people who were in the office with Lenny? Sex runs their lives. It runs my life too, but I keep it separated from how I live. Everyone has their addictions. Lance, you groove on Shakespeare, right? Does that distract you from how you live?"
Lance looked red. He said, "No ma'am, I don't like to think so."
Bekka laughed. She loaded the bowl of the bong and passed it to Jane, who grabbed it and the lighter. She said, "There are distractions. You have one. It's a healthy one, stick with it. What me and Lenny and Jane do in our time off probably isn't healthy. We do it anyway. If you're smart, you'll keep it out of your life and stay on the straight and narrow. Believe it or not, we're fuckups. Get me?"
"Yes, I think I understand, ma'am," Lance replied.
Bekka said, "Stop calling me ma'am. I'm Bekka, Bekka the porn slut. So long as you're getting to know Gator Bait here, you should know me. I only bite when it's asked of me. Get it?"
Jane finished her bong load and handed it off to me. "So should I start calling you porn slut?" she asked.
"Hell no. Lenny gets to call me that, and in private."
I finished loading the bong and fired up. I said, in a lungthrough of smoke, "So how was dinner?"
Jane said, "It was nice. They didn't serve us, but that's okay. We talked and ate well."
"And your plans for the evening?"
She gave me a pleading look. "Is it okay if we get naked in the spa? Is that all right with you guys?"
I smiled and said, "Grab fresh towels on your way out. That's if we're not embarrassing your friend here."
Lance said, "She already dropped her cigarettes in front of me, and has discussed oral sex in a crowded restaurant. I'm not sure what there is left to make me embarrassed."
Jane giggled, in only the manner a horny teenager would. "We'll keep things subtle while we're out there, okay? And I got someone to keep me warm in bed tonight."
Bekka said, "So long as you two aren't late for school, okay?"
Jane gave her a look that only women understand and said, "Promise."