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Author: winebabe
Title: Raise Me Up
Story: The Gemini Occurrence
Rating: PG-13 (Vague sex mention, inappropriate adult/teenager relationship dynamics)
Flavor(s): Cherry Chocolate Chip #26: stress; Poached Pear #22: older & wiser; Toasted Almond #27: no strings
Topping(s)/Extra(s): Butterscotch.
Word Count: 2,247
Summary: 1995. The cycle begins with 16 year old Evette.
Notes: Evette Neumann/Laurence Kessler.

Evette leans against the counter and looks out over the dining room, just watching the customers while she has a moment of peace. It’s hard to believe the diner is as busy as it is--the town isn’t tiny by any means, but it’s small enough, and Evette can’t believe so many people would come in, day after day, to eat their mediocre food and drink their coffee when they could just make stuff at home.

“Evette, honey,” Meredith says, placing a gentle hand on her back to get her attention, “the Whites could use some more coffee.”

“Right,” she says with a quiet sigh, grabbing the pot from its warming plate. The Whites are just about as poor as she is, an elderly couple living off their social security and nothing else, and they don’t tip more than a small pile of change. Still, Evette puts on a smile and walks over, holding the coffee pot out like it’s her damn job to refill mugs. “More coffee?” she asks, even though she knows the answer, and begins pouring when Judy smiles up at her.

“Thank you, dear. How are things at home? Is Heidi doing any better?”

Everyone knows everything, she has to remind herself, and forces a thankful smile. Evette knows she’s supposed to appreciate that people care, even if it means she has to keep answering the same questions over and over. “Nana’s holding up just fine, thank you. We’re getting her medicine and making sure she takes it. The doctor’s optimistic.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear. You know, as I always say, no news is good news. I’m sure I would have heard about it if she’d taken a turn for the worse.”

“I’m sure you would have,” Evette agrees, hoping she sounds genuine and not the least bit irritated, despite her true feelings. “I’ll let Nana know you were asking after her, though.”

Judy nods and dumps a packet of Sweet’N Low into her coffee. “Please do, honey.”

Evette doesn’t bother to tell her that, as Nana’s health declines, she’s started speaking exclusively in German and doesn’t remember a thing about the people in town. She won’t know who Judy White is, and even if she did regain enough strength to go back out into the community, she probably wouldn’t understand anyone. Of course, if people didn’t ask questions, Evette wouldn’t tell them anything to begin with.

The door jingles at the front of the diner, and Evette hurries to start another pot of coffee. From behind the counter, she watches as Laurence Kessler walks in, purposefully slowing down as he passes her to flash a brilliant grin. Evette can’t take her eyes off of him as he heads back to his usual table--the one in the corner, just beside the window--but everything about Laurence commands attention. His suit is perfectly tailored, never a hair out of place, and Evette has never seen teeth so straight and white. No one in town looks the way he does, and she knows that any time he walks into the diner, everyone else watches and wonders just what he’s doing there.

Laurence looks up and meets Evette’s gaze, beckoning her over with a wave of his hand.

“Can I take my break now?” Evette asks Meredith.


“You know,” Laurence says, lazily swirling the spoon around in Evette’s milky coffee, “I bet if you got out of this wretched town, you could make it as a model. If only it was the 1950s again--you’ve got that vintage beauty, like Marilyn Monroe with dark hair.”

Evette blushes and hides a grin behind her hand. “You think so? I don’t know anything about modeling.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t have to,” he assures her. “A face as pretty as yours? All you’d have to do is stand in front of the camera. Your beauty would speak for itself.”

She’s sure she’s red as a tomato, but Evette doesn’t want him to stop talking, ever. Her family tells her how beautiful she is all the time, but it’s just not the same. Of course her mother thinks she’s beautiful--they have the same bright blue eyes, the same dark hair. Of course her father thinks she’s beautiful--she’s his firstborn, with the same curls that run in his family, the same wide eyes that make her look so innocent. She never believed it, though, until Laurence came along and told her, point blank, that she was beautiful.

“Have you given any thought to my offer?”

“I can’t,” she says automatically, knowing it won’t do anything to dissuade him. It’s not the first time he’s asked, and she’s certain it won’t be the last, which is why she continues to turn him down. How long before he gives up, she has to wonder.

Laurence pouts, stroking the back of Evette’s hand. “But why not?”

“I have responsibilities here,” she protests. “I’m working here for my family, and my Nana probably isn’t going to live much longer. She’d be devastated if I left her.”

“Your grandmother barely knows what’s going on anymore,” he challenges.

“Yes, she does!” Evette frowns at him and pulls her hand away. “That’s a horrible thing to say. You really think she wouldn’t care if I was gone?”

“I think everyone would care very much, darling,” Laurence tells her, “but wouldn’t they be happy for you? Getting to leave such unpleasant circumstances while you still have your whole life ahead of you?”

“That’s very unfair.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “Everything my family does is for each other. I can’t be so selfish and just abandon them.”

“If we get married, I can take care of them, too. I know they won’t accept my help right now, not from a stranger. But if I’m your husband…”

He’s offered before, and Evette hates that it sounds like such a good idea. Her father never would accept help from anyone outside of the family, and she knows he might not even accept Laurence’s help if he was her husband, but God, she would give anything to see her parents worry less. Laurence could give up one-tenth of his money to them and he wouldn’t even miss it, but even one-hundredth would drastically change their circumstances. He’s only 30, and he already has more money than nearly the entire town combined.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to leave them,” Evette says, and Laurence nods.

He reaches across the table to take both of her hands in his. “I understand, and that’s perfectly fine. We need our family, and I wouldn’t dream of stealing you away from them. I just want to make you happy. I want to see you in a better life than this.”

Evette glances down at her coffee-stained dress, striped and dated like the uniform had been plucked from a vintage TV show set in a diner. Her nails are short and plain, the only bit of sparkle in her appearance the pearl earrings Nana had given her. She’d love to wear cocktail dresses, own real gold jewelry, finally be able to afford more than drugstore mascara and one shade of red lipstick. Laurence could give her so much more, and she knows he wants to.

“I would give you the moon and the stars if I could, Evette Neumann,” Laurence whispers, and Evette begins to cry.

“I wouldn’t even ask for that much,” she sobs, squeezing one of his hands in hers, raising the other to wipe at her cheek.

Laurence laughs and gets up from his side of the table to slide in beside her. “You absolute angel,” he says, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and kissing her on the cheek. “I promise, I’ll take better care of you than anyone else in the world could.”

It’s only been two months since he first sauntered into her diner, with his confident grin and wallet thick with large bills, but Evette has never been more sure of anything in her life. “I love you.”

Laurence beams at her, and pulls her in for a long, tender kiss. “I love you. Run away with me.”

“I just need some time,” she says, but she means that money isn’t enough. She needs a better reason before she’ll abandon her family.


Laurence picks her up after her shift ends, and they go back to his motel room in the next town over. Evette squirms in the passenger seat; she’s never been alone with a man before, and she’s never been outside the diner with Laurence. She knows exactly what he’s expecting--after all, there’s no reason for her to go back to his room otherwise--and it’ll be her first time.

She wants it, and she doesn’t. But they love each other, and she knows enough to know this is what lovers do--they make love.

And, since Evette can’t give him what he wants, she wants to give him something. Maybe her virginity is enough to buy her some time. Maybe if he has this as a promise, she thinks, he’ll wait longer, and they can get married later. Without her having to run away, without having to keep it a secret from her family. After all, she’s always wanted a big wedding. She’s always wanted a big family.

“Are you alright?” Laurence asks, reaching over to place a hand on her knee.

“I’m nervous,” she admits, and he smiles.

“Of course you are. Everyone is nervous their first time.”

She nods, but it does nothing to comfort her. Another man has never seen her naked before; will Laurence still think she’s beautiful when she takes her clothes off? Will he still think she’s an angel when she sins for him?

“I’ll be gentle,” he tells her.

Evette lets him help her out of his car, and then stands on the sidewalk outside of the motel room as he unlocks the door. It’s strange to see him, in his suit, standing outside a dingy motel, but she’s sure there really isn’t anywhere better to stay. He’s never explained his business to her, or why he’s out in the middle of nowhere for work in the first place, but Evette thinks it’s best not to ask too many questions. After all, she’s only a teenager. She doesn’t understand any job besides her own, and it’s likely that any answers he’d give would go right over her head.

She doesn’t want him to know how stupid she is, if he couldn’t already guess. He knows she’s a high school dropout.

“Well it’s no Maison Souquet, but it’ll have to do,” Laurence says, finally pushing the door open for her. Inside, there’s one double bed, a small television mounted on the wall, and a desk with a telephone. There’s a coat draped over the back of the desk chair, Laurence’s suitcase on the armchair beside the window, and a briefcase set atop the dresser.

It’s not very romantic, and not where Evette expected her first time would be, but she says nothing. It doesn’t matter where she is. It matters who she’s with.

“Darling,” Laurence says, slipping his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his chest, “I promise, this will be the last time you step foot in a room as dismal as this.”

“It’s fine,” she tells him. She tells herself the same thing.


Sex is not romantic, Evette decides, as she sits in the shower afterwards, trying to wash the scent of Laurence’s cologne and the remnants of the act from her body. She’s bleeding--Laurence couldn’t be gentle enough, no matter how he tried--and it hurt and she felt nothing in the end. There’s supposed to be a flood of hormones afterwards, and they’re supposed to feel close, but Evette feels none of it. Instead, she feels horrible for having done it. She can only hope Laurence loves her more for her sacrifice.


“I’ll be back in town in two months,” Laurence tells Evette, peppering her cheeks and lips with gentle kisses while they sit in the front seat of his car, two blocks down from Evette’s house, “so you’ll have until then to think about my offer--again.”

Evette nods. “I will,” she promises. Before she gets out of the car, she kisses him on the lips, lets him cup her face in his hands and whisper that he loves her against her mouth. And she says it back, because as terrible as she feels, it’s not his fault. He said the first time was always like that. It’s never perfect. She’ll enjoy it more with time.

“This is yours,” he says, pulling a wad of twenties from the pocket of his suit jacket. “It should last while I’m gone.”

“Thank you.” She hides the money in her bra and leans in for one final kiss. For a moment, she doesn’t want him to leave. She wants to beg him to stay, just one more night, so he can come into the diner in the morning and have coffee with her on her break just once more.

“Evette?”

She can’t ask that of him. “I’ll see you in two months,” Evette says and smiles. The engine roars back to life as she hops out of the car, and Laurence speeds away before she even makes it to the end of the block. Her house is lit up, and Evette self-consciously combs her fingers through her hair, terrified everyone will notice something is different about her. After all, she’s a woman now.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Jun. 19th, 2017 09:19 am (UTC)
I'm enjoying getting to see some of the backstory! And a new person to feel sorry for, as ever, of course...
winebabe
Jun. 19th, 2017 06:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! When I started writing this, I was like "I feel like lost_spook!" lol

And ugh, I know. One day, I'll write a character that nobody feels sorry for! Hopefully.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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