Lost And Found 1½: Miracles

Info Smokey125
11 Sep. '16
Lost And Found 1½: Miracles

Originally published October 2015 as Smokey Saga #54

*****

Here is a companion piece to “Lost And Found.” If you haven’t yet read it, WHAT on EARTH are you WAITing for??! Seriously, though, while it starts as a sequel, the rest is backstory from a decade earlier. Therefore, this is not part 2, but 1½.” The original “Lost And Found” became one of my more beloved pieces in late ’14, accumulating requests for more of these gals. My girls and I are greatly enjoying our time at NovelTrove as well. And, Faithful Readers To Whom I Owe So Very Much, this isn’t the only story I’ve been asked to Pen a sequel to. There will eventually be another “Lost And Found” chapter after this. This one I call “Miracles.” We already had Cessy’s biography; here’s Penny’s. You may get a giggle, you may shed a teareither way, please enjoy.

*****

Springtime Of Love (Penny’s From Heaven)

Three months later: Monday, March 2nd, 2015, 9:19 a.m.

Iridescent sunlight danced through the swaying, translucent curtains in the mistress bedroom window at 16730 Randall’s View Terrace. Inside lay two 34-year-young slumbering angels spooning together, enjoying another sleepy morning. One of the spoons was a brunette waif known as Cecily, the other a blonde multimillion-heir called Penelope. The luxury nest’s other occupant, 4-year-old dachshund Hollaweenie, was curled up in his doggy donut, dreaming blissful canine dreams. Light, cold breezes swished, activating the windchime out in front. Weekday warriors started another slow, sloggy Monday. And spring was fast on the way to the fair city of Juniper.

As with most dawns, Penny was first to awaken. Since Cessy’d turned up on her doorstep with her baby Weenie back in November, Penny had taken her in and nurtured her. She’d given her shelter, nourishment and several varieties of love. And in the three months since, she’d come to the conclusion that after four months on the streets, she couldn’t blame Cesse for sleeping ten hours a night.

After celebrating Thanksgiving with Penny’s Aunt Tracy, they shared a bit more wine, made a little more love, lay face to face in bed and stayed up the entire night, talking about everything. It was so enchanting there in the glow of nothing but the outside Christmas lights. The night went so fast, before they knew it, brightness arose. It was astonishing. Any normal night, wine plus sex plus bed equaled utterly knocked-out sweet dreams. This, however, was not any normal night. It took a day and a half to sink in, just how incredible the reunion truly was. They were the same age, had first met when they were five, then at 23, and now here at 34. They truly were one another’s kindred spirits, soul-halves and fatemates, in the purest sense of it all.

As she did most morns about this time, Penny laid a short pattern of kisses on Cessy, from spine to shoulder blade, silently letting her know she’d be getting up to tinkle now. She crawled down off the bed, gingerly rolled the blanket up to Cesse’s ankles, and gave her feet and toes their morning tickle. Cesse twitched and giggled in her sleep, making Penny fall in love with her all over again. She trotted off to answer nature’s call.

Some mornings, Penny was undoubtedly in the mood. Some mornings, she was unspeakably amorous, and unwilling to take no for an answer. This was one of those mornings. Upon return, she slid the window open a crack, hopped back into bed like a cat, slunk up to Cesse, reclaimed her snuggly cotton pajama-clad body, and whispered.

Psst.”

Yes?” murmured Cecily.

Good morning, Tiggerit’s Lolita.”

Cesse’s eyes jumped open as her body coursed with steamy devotion. She knew what this greeting meant: Now that we’re both up, I want to play. And you will play with me.

Naturally, thought Cesse, who was she to say no? She rolled over to face her lover.

Well, hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo. Good morning, Loly.”

Taking a moment to savor one another’s magnificence, they eased in. Soft kisses, fluttering eyes, tender vocalizations. The crisp late winter-early spring air acted as a refrigerant when they got warm. They kept their peejays on for the moment, relishing the silky texture. They stroked, fondled and caressed, paws almost entirely concealed in the jammie cuffs. They whispered back and forth how dearly they loved each other, amidst pecks, nuzzles, and other morsels of affection. It was like opening up a container of Pringles; once they got started, they couldn’t stop.

They let their hearts take over, rubbing like kittens, till reaching the inevitable next level. Penny brushed back Cesse’s hair and pressed her lips to her ear. The warm breath sent tingles all over Cessy, overwhelming her with a first rush of passion. She squeezed Penny extra tight, grasping one of Penny’s legs between both her own, and clamping it in a territorial vise of love. Penny slid down from Cecily’s ear to her inviting neck. Cesse whimpered, rolling back her head, gliding the fingers of one hand up from Penny’s spine, through her satiny blonde hair, pushing tresses up and over Penny’s forehead, taking in its aromatics. Among others, her olfactory senses were pleased.

Penny sucked on Cesse’s neck until a prominent, mouth-sized hickey materialized on her delicate flesh. Head flung back on the pillows, eyes tranquilly shut, Cesse groaned, enjoying the tingling pulse. She loved that all she could see of Penny was the top of her head, fair golden strands spilling everywhere. It conveyed a message of diligence, an indication that Penny was engrossed in the task at hand, committed to a job well, well done. It made Cessy feel so special and important to her.

The lasses lay side by side, Penny’s body only slightly overlapping Cesse’s. Cesse brought her other quivering paw up to join its partner, hugging Penny about the neck, all ten fingers now toying with hair. It held just the perfect amount of thickness: enough to hold its body, but not so thick that her digits got caught. Penny made everything so accommodating and ac-Cesse-ible, without even trying. It was all part of what made life with Penny James so enthralling: be it curling up on the sofa for a good movie, reading poems in bed, dining by candlelight, a handheld stroll around the block, playing with Hollaweenie, or even outings like grocery shopping. Penelope Isabel James somehow managed to do it all with a smile on her face. She bore a sunny disposition towards her mate Cecily Selena Helmsley, and the rest of the world as well. Cesse supposed winning the powerball jackpot helped, but even still, money could do only so much. It could rent happiness, but couldn’t buy. Happiness came in installments.

Since November, Penny’d been nothing but wonderful to her. It made sense, being that Cesse reunited her with her best friend, little Weenie. But Penny surpassed her even most extravagant hopes in all areas: hospitality, friendship, generosity, compassion, resilience, loyalty, benevolence. She never wavered. She just gave, unconcerned with reciprocation or getting her fair share. She really was the most extraordinary person Cesse had ever met. Cesse didn’t know how different—if at all—it would be to fall in love with a real angel from the Afterland. But the distinction couldn’t be that notable.

She was no slouch in the lovemaking department either. Cessy purred as Penny worked her way down, unbuttoning Cesse’s jammie top. She nosed under to greet Minnie and Daisy, Cesse’s eager girls, whose nipples perked up noticing the pretty face just outside. Cesse blindly reached to help, but Penny gently took her hands, kissed and laid them to the mattress—her signal to say, Don’t worry about it, sweetheart. Just lie backrelax, and enjoy. You are my princess, and I wish to spoil you. Leave it all to me.

A spell later, Cessy felt her girls exposed to the cool air. This sensation felt pleasant, but didn’t compare to the euphoria she fell into after another minute. Penny took them in her hands, sucked them into her mouth…ever so lightly sank her teeth…and the air quickly turned from cool to very warm. As she could tell she was pleasing her, Penny shook her head back and forth, as if motorboating Cesse in slo-mo. Cessy giggled as Minnie and Daisy bobbed like toy clowns on either side.

It mattered not whether Cesse found this humorous. Penny was getting seriously turned on. Each and every day, she loved Cesse—her mind, her soul, her spirit, her heart, her body, her 36Cs Minnie and Daisy—and Tigger, too!—just as much, if not more. Cesse held her breath, trying not to burst at the light touches passing over her ticklish spots, and instead on the attention her erogenous zones received. She wasn’t sure how Penny’d react if she suddenly broke out laughing. Fortunately, Penny decided to flip around on her belly, unfasten her own pajama top, and set Hansel and Gretel free on her girlfriend’s tummy. Cesse was now treated to a view of Penny’s pleasingly round fabric-clad rump. But her vision grew fuzzy as she felt her inner thighs being rubbed…

…As well as Minnie and Daisy being toyed with, by the tops of Penny’s lotiony soft feet, toes teasing her nipples…

Cesse gasped at the wild tit-illation. “Oh my Goddess,” she muttered.

Down by her midsection, Penny grinned.

“Oh my Goddess.”

Penny slithered her naughty hand beneath Cesse’s bottoms and squeezed her naked thigh, brushing by Tigger’s Howse. Cesse moaned in pleading desire, and a bit of hunny oozed out of her pot. Penny grew excited at the warm feeling on her hand, especially since Cessy didn’t allow full pussy access every day. Penny had to respect her wishes, besides which, she understood. Much as she adored Cesse, for a host of reasons, they couldn’t make love twenty-four hours a day. The act would lose spontaneity, for starters. But the girls were keen on taking each generous opportunity as it came. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the afternoon, the evening…occasionally twilight. Sex after midnight lent its own air of mystic splendor. They liked to activate their red and blue lava lamps on these spicy nights, for a splash of hot and cool ambience.

The next thing Cesse felt was Penny kissing her pussy through the pajamas. Actually, Cesse couldn’t tell for sure, but she seemed to be French-kissing it. Or holding her oral grip and sucking. Whatever she was doing, it felt divine. Cesse gasped again as her juices surged. One hand still under her p.j.s, Penny groped and fondled, all the while suckling on her angel’s cunt through the fabric, turning her pink panties a nice shade of lavender, enthusiasm fueled by the groans of ecstasy behind her. Nothing made her happier than elating the queen of her heart. She was about to relieve Cessy of her jammie pants when she felt her feet being massaged.

It was Penny’s turn to melt. She’d shared with Cessy the deep, dark secret that rubbing her feet in just the right way turned her to jelly. Her feet were actually one of her weakest erogenous spots. She was putty. She found it intriguing Cesse would choose this moment to exploit her literal Achilles’ heel. In any event, she wasn’t about to complain. Indeed dizzy and intoxicated with passion, Cecily decided to toss a little love back Penny’s way, taking her feet one by one…rubbing…kissing…nibbling her toes…

…And transforming Penny James into a primal animal in the process. Penny went so fast from playfully turned on to ragingly blind horny, she was afforded no time to consider the effect. Only half-paying attention, Cesse too was unaware of the enormity she’d just added. Next she knew, Penny veritably ripped her pajamas and panties right off, in a single fell swoop. All four nipples twitched to rock-hardness almost instantly. Tigger and Lolita heated up and began bubbling like cauldrons. Ignited like wildfire, Penny went right in for the kill once she had Cesse’s wet red cunt exposed before her.

Cesse shrieked as Penny devoured her. The electrifying sensation blew her mind to smithereens. Penny’s brain had turned to gooey gray matter itself, but not so much that she couldn’t focus on her task. Cesse let go of her delicate hind paws, so she scrambled to the foot of the bed and spun around. She lost as little precious time as possible having Cessy’s pussy for breakfast, now with the privilege of seeing her face, the pleasure she was bringing. And quite the privilege it was.

Cessy whipped her head to and fro in passion-laced abandon. Each whip was accompanied by varying pitches of shouts. Wavy brunette tresses flew every which way. The ruffly pillows took plenty a wallop. Cesse grabbed one, twisting and throttling, just to give her crazed hands something to do. Penny now lay belly down between Cesse’s legs, pinning her feet to the bed.

She hungrily sank her teeth again and again until that flesh was ripe, and raw. All the blood having rushed to her cunt and clit, Cesse’s pussy had turned a beautiful shade of maroon. Penny gnawed and dug, as if squeezing fruit, draining more and more love juice from the deepest re-Cesses. Penny held her open with her hands, licking, eating, smearing her face in pre-cum. Cesse couldn’t take much more. It was all getting to be far too intense. Her lungs cut off her ability to scream any louder. But it would be hardly any longer now. It was too much. It almost felt like torment. Finally, at long last…Cessy felt the tip of Penny’s nose tickle her swollen clit…

…And the Earth exploded.

Cesse flung the pillow anywhere, and reached straight back with her hands to grasp the headboard. Her head tilted directly the same way. Verging on laryngitis, she gave her final feral shrieks, wordlessly singing Penny’s praises to the heavens. Penny shut her eyes, proudly and joyfully feeling her girlfriend’s cum spurt forth, christening her face. Sometimes they came on each other’s faces, sometimes hands, toys, vibrators…Cesse had once even her toes caked, in the fruits of an amazing foot job. They loved trying all kinds of methods together. After settling in back in November, they took semi-frequent excursions to the novelty shop, for giggles, to see what they might find. So depending on their moods, sometimes they played with external toys, sometimes their own built-in machinery. This morning, Penny simply opted to take on the role of cunning linguist.

Sometime later the same morning, after the smoke cleared and all maintenance was taken care of, Penny took a wobbly-walking Cesse downstairs, to whip her up a hearty brunch of gravlax in lemon and dill sauce.

*****

Had it been anyone else the hospitable Penelope had taken into her extravagant home, she’d end up in a tricky situation. That enigmatic Wednesday just before Thanksgiving, Penny told Cesse she couldn’t bear to turn her back out into the cold, and meant it. And with such a soft, giving heart, she’d have said—and meant—the same to any vagrant at her mercy. But while pleased to offer her roof, she wasn’t running a shelter. The upside was that her wealth opened literal doors to many alternatives, from an actual shelter to a hotel. Any persons in need would find themselves fortunate at Penny’s door, having arrived as Cesse did with the canine lad who’d become her best friend in the world.

Nine days before, on November 17th, she took Hollaweenie on an early evening walk. They were crossing at an intersection with a school on one side and a dense wood on the other. They started into the street when the sky abruptly went dark with stormclouds. A tremendous, torrential rain soaked them. The sudden deluge proved unnerving enough alone, but was joined one moment later by a vicious clap of thunder. It was too much for poor Hollaweenie, who yelped in fright and dashed off as fast as his little legs would take him. Penny was also caught off-guard, and lost hold of the leash. All she could see was him taking off in the direction of the woods, and she couldn’t hear a thing. It was a terrible circumstance. She couldn’t chase after him with so little visibility, and if she stayed out in this mess, she’d catch cold. She was forced to hurry back home, and spend the following days making calls and pinning up posters.

She was heartbroken. The next week was a seven-day anguish: lying awake in bed wondering if he was all right, coping with the solitude around the house, the sad feeling while out and about knowing she’d be returning to an empty home, her heartbeat the only one around. Now and then arose the consideration to get another pet, but she just didn’t want to. She didn’t want another dog or cat, fish or bird, bunny or rodent, reptile or amphibian. All she wanted was her beloved Weenie. She’d only had the dachshund pup three weeks, since the end of October (hence his name). And when she brought him home that Friday afternoon, he was so friendly and adorable, she had to show him off. So she put him on his new leash, and they sat on the porch to greet trick-or-treaters. Late that night, after the kids had come and gone, she plugged in her Christmas lights, sat with him in the multicolored glow, and they watched holiday specials.

A week and change later, when a disheveled Cecily Helmsley appeared at her door with the sweet young pup, her downtrodden state was the last thing Penny noticed. She was so thrilled, she welcomed the vagrant in with open arms, offering her a shower, food, and to launder her clothing. It crossed her mind that the woman was a stranger, and hypothetically a number of dangerous things, but…she’d returned her dog. And the little guy obviously liked her. People to whom dogs took a liking were trustworthy. And her instinct told her anyone honest enough to bring Hollaweenie back, homeless or not, deserved gratitude and hospitality. It was the least she could do.

It paid off. The homeless woman turned out to be a delightful guest and, surprise of surprises, an early short-lived friendship. As children in the mid-’80s, the two lived on the same street in Green Plains—until the Jameses relocated across town. Eighteen years later, Penny’s luck had run down the drain. Her parents died when she was just nine. She was an only child with few remaining relatives, save for her Dad’s sister Tracy, with whom she lived the next several years. When she grew up and gained access to her inheritance, she put herself through a few semesters of college. She was living with some roommates till the money started running out. She got a part-time job at the Juniper Mall, but quickly found there weren’t enough hours to perform her job, keep up her studies and sleep. Something had to go. Sleep it was.

*****

And Now For A Not Quite So Brief Penny-Wise Flashback

Twelve years earlier: spring-autumn 2003

One night, a friend took Penny out to unwind. At 23, she enjoyed a drink or seven, and at some point went home with someone who wasn’t her friend. Her drunken stupor led to a one-night stand of which she couldn’t remember an iota. Worse yet, a few sleepless weeks later, approaching finals, she discovered she was pregnant.

She was so panicked she didn’t know what to do. She had no clue who the father was—much less how to get in touch with him—and nor did the friend who’d taken her out. But she did have enough presence of mind to realize there were eight months to figure things out, so she went ahead and finished studying for her exams. Unfortunately, things weren’t to look up yet. In fact, they’d get even worse before getting any better. As Penny knocked herself out studying, the lack of sleep took its toll. She could barely get herself to the mall, let alone perform her duties. And so it was goodbye job, hello unemployment. The meager benefits she received barely afforded food or gas after paying her roommates rent, and soon she couldn’t scrape together even that.

The timing couldn’t have been much worse. Once she left her roommates’, the first she thought to do, natch, was call Aunt Tracy. But this option was as soon discarded, as she recalled Tracy was on holiday. Penny didn’t have her key to the house. She’d insisted on returning it once she’d moved out, proud to be independent and on her own. Great; how stupid of me. Now what? She guessed she’d have to sleep in her car—an old thing, but at least long since paid off. This arrangement would do for now. It wouldn’t when the baby came, but that was still months away, and Tracy’d certainly be back by then.

In the meantime, she had to eat. Preserving the gas she had, she returned first to the mall, and filled out every application she could. She couldn’t make herself presentable for interviews, but she’d deal with that if the time came. It didn’t.

By autumn, life clearly wasn’t done treating Penny like she ran over its dog, because that was exactly the next thing it took: her car. Her only source of shelter and protection left. Once it finally broke down on her, she figured she could either wait for someone to come drag it away, or…no, that was pretty much all she wrote. Goodbye car.

She was beginning to really starve. Her belly and breasts were getting bigger, and the rest of her smaller. In addition, unusual pregnancy cravings crept in to compound her hunger. She had to wait for her aunt to return home, and difficult as it was, she could see she’d have to start asking strangers for handouts. Oh, God

Well, here goes nothing.

*****

Cold Stone-Bottom

Monday, October 13th, 2003, 11:37 a.m.

Five months into her pregnancy, the destitute Penelope James had begun spending the whole of her days begging folks for a bit of coin. Her noticeable baby belly helped, even if by means of emotional manipulation. But, whatever worked…

Unable to gauge any kind of result at first, Penny tried random individuals one at a time. Bit by bit, she encountered all sorts of different reactions to her plea. There were those who outright refused her entreaties, whether politely or otherwise. Others decided against donating cash, but offered instead to grab her a bite to eat, which she as gladly accepted. Rarest was the odd individual who chose to open his or her wallet, if only to turn over a single American greenback. But every little bit really did help.

One especially wet, dreary Monday morn, Penny wandered aimlessly, walking around, nothing to do but frown. She shivered, feeling awful for herself, wishing it wasn’t raining so she could prove her tears were real. The outside world could be so cold to the homeless—figuratively and literally. Just when she thought things could get no worse—

VROOOOOMMMsplash!

A wave of murky rainwater pelted her. Penny jumped, gasped, and out broke a sob.

Thank you!!” she tearfully yelled after the vanishing car. “That was just what I needed!”

She endured the next hour, until the rain inevitably tapered. As if at last shining mercy upon her, the sun came out. Grateful, but with still nothing else to do…she kept walking.

*****

A-Y-E—Five-Oh

Monday, October 13th, 2003, 1:25 p.m.

Wishing right about now her parents had named her anything that didn’t remind her she was broke, Penny dried off, but smelled still of mildew. The next corner she rounded brought her within sight of a shopping center.

Hmmmguess it can’t hurt to try my luck around this place as anywhere else. Let’s see, what have we here: Old Navy, Ulta Beauty, Barnes & Noble, T.G.I. Friday’s, Amish Market, Yankee Candle, GameStop, Hallmark, Harry & David

She did a double take. Harry & David?? Oh, goody! They give gourmet free samples!

She was about to make a beeline when something else caught her attention. Hallmark’s door jingled as a shopper bounded out. Penny did another double take. The girl who’d just exited skipped off the curb, and continued skipping. She was visibly about Penny’s age—young, but grown—smiling, literally skipping her way across the pavement. How…interesting, thought Penny. Her purse bounced at her side. Swinging from her hand was a purple shopping bag printed with ghosts, witches and jack-o’-lanterns. Penny deduced she must have been pretty happy about her purchase.

The unusual but charming display took Penny’s mind off gourmet food samples. Anyone this excited about a simple retail buy, it couldn’t hurt to at least ask. The lady slowed up skipping in her tennies as she reached her car and retrieved her keys. Penny rapidly mustered courage and hastened up behind her.

“Excuse me, ma’am!” she panted. The woman turned.

“I’m really sorry about this,” Penny began, trying to choose tactful wordage. “I don’t mean to impose on you, but…I’m…I’m, well…

“I’m homeless.”

The young woman’s mouth slipped open as her eyes clouded with reflexive sympathy.

“…And, um…I so hate to ask you this, but…is there any possible way you might be able to…help me out with…some…money?”

Penny waited, holding out hope as her acquaintance thought it over. The woman looked from her pregnant belly up to her wet, messy eyes. Her deliberation went on so long, Penny began thinking she’d overstayed her welcome, as it were. She sensed she’d made her uncomfortable, and didn’t feel incredibly comfy now herself. She was just about to say never mind, apologize and leave her alone when—

The young lady reached into her purse, forwent her keys, and pulled out her wallet. Penny gasped with widening eyes.

Oh my gosh, really??

She was met with a smile, punctuated by a proud nod. “Yes, I can.”

Penny could hardly believe it. This really was her lucky day! But belief remained possible, until a moment later. Her new friend plucked out a single crisp bill. Penny closed her eyes, silently praying.

Five?...Ten?...Dare I hope…twenty??

She felt the money placed in her palm. She looked down. Her mouth collapsed open.

“And that is real,” she heard. “Not counterfeit. You can take my word for it.”

Penny could now no longer believe her own eyes.

“OHMYGOSH!” she squealed incredulously. “...Ohmygosh! FIFty DOLlars?!”

“Well, I can see you’re carrying another life inside of you, and so I presumed you’re not getting drunk, and…you look like you could use a couple good, nourishing meals. Besides, I’d probably just fritter it away on something unnecessary myself.”

Before Penny knew it, her eyes dampened once more.

OH my GOSH!...I c—…I can’t believe this! I…you…you’re an angel, lady! You must’ve been sent from heaven! You’re a wonderful person! God bless you!!”

She was two exultations away from giving it back and saying she couldn’t take it. She almost felt guilty, till her angel spoke again.

“No, no, God bless you. Now you put that in your pocket, or somewhere—anywhere—it can’t be seen. Then go ahead, run along and get some healthy food in that baby belly. I really hope things start looking up for you.”

Penny choked up. She swiped at her glistening eyes as tears blurred her vision.

“They already have. Miss…Unbelievably Sweet Lady, I…I…words…fail me. I…nobody has ever done anything like this for me before, and…you may not know me, but I don’t take anything for granted anymore. Ever. I have become the most thankful person in the world. I’d give you a hug, ma’am, but I don’t wanna get you all dirty. But I don’t know how to possibly thank you!”

The cherub only smiled benevolently.

“Hey, it’s okay. You can thank me by just enjoying yourself a nutritious meal.”

Penny watched with welling eyes as her human life preserver got in her car and waved goodbye. Again, she had to fight off the urge to hand back the cash. She did need this; she literally couldn’t afford to be selfless. She had to keep from getting carried away, reminding herself that she wouldn’t luck out and strike gold like this with everybody. She had to be calm and handle this prudently. She clutched the paper rectangle to her chest, wondering what to eat. Then she remembered: there was a T.G.I. Friday’s right here. Well, i.w.n. Friday, but Penny was still t.G. right about now.

Sorry, Harry & David, not this time!

She didn’t care if she attracted any uninvited attention. She didn’t care about suspicious stares or whispers. She was about to enjoy a fantastic lunch. Her day had been saved.

*****

Hormones And Horseshoes, Act 1

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003, 5:14 p.m.

The hearty meal at Friday’s two days before had eaten up only a fourth of her miniature fortune, and newly energized her. In contrast to Monday morning’s hopelessness, she afterwards felt much better. True, she remained destitute, and mustn’t forget it. But if one person had shown such unconditional charity this week, another person could do the same next week. It was always possible. Not incredibly probable…but possible.

She hoped Friday’s staff wasn’t offended she’d left no tip. But if her appearance was any indication, hopefully they understood. She soldiered on, wondering where her path led now. The next two days saw her continue metering out her money rationally and economically as possible, eating nourishing meals at decent bargains. Sojourning forth Wednesday afternoon, a standalone building with a gas station appeared to her right.

Oh, look over there, she said to herself. What’s that?

That looks like...oh, yeahCedar Convenience. One of those 24-hour stop-‘n’-shops.

Let’s go in there!

What for?

Maybe they sell lottery tickets!

Penny chuckled wryly at herself. OH-ho-ho! Oh, no, you don’t. I know what you’re up to, Pen. And the answer is no.

Why not?? We already got luckier than hell once this week; why can’t it happen again?!

You just answered your own question. When has lightning ever struck the same person twice in the same week??

ButbutI want to!

OH! You want to! Well, that changes everything! Of course, we have to now!

Penny had to admit, much as one part of her didn’t want to squander her money, another part reasoned it could be an interesting idea. Foolishly, perhaps, but like it or not, the remains of this $50 would be gone sooner or later. She could only hold out for so long before needing more nourishment. And how much could a lottery ticket cost? A buck? One smacker? A single simoleon? By swapping out an item or two, she could just as adequately fill her belly with $9 of grub as with $10.

Cedar Convenience was this region of Juniper’s answer to Royal Farms. Complete with the gas station, deli, island, and relaxing area beneath a TV, these Farms weren’t half common themselves. Cedar was upscale, carrying top brands at the nices’ prices. This was another good setting for Penny to pick herself up something yummy, sit, and enjoy.

And what a handy time at which this was coming. Much as she’d felt energized earlier, her legs were tiring once more. On top of which, she was feeling a bit lightheaded.

On top of top of which…

Ohhhhmy…goodness

Something else was suddenly happening. It was a semi-familiar feeling, but not the perfect time for it to come on. This was one of the things they’d told Penny would happen while she was pregnant, and frankly, she found it hard to believe at the time. Of course, this was at one scant week. After the first month, she believed it. This may not have happened to Penny as frequently as to other expectant Moms, but when it did, it hit hard. And it had a tendency to mess with her mind as well.

There were lots of unique treats here amid the big name snack foods. She wandered through the aisles, looking for something both healthy and tasty. She picked up a bag of salmon-flavored pita chips. She turned it over to study its contents and nutrition, just as another young lady turned the corner to join her. Penny heard her speak.

“Oh, I just love pussies, don’t you?”

Penny dropped the bag to the floor, feeling something tingle where it mattered.

What did you just say??”

The woman gazed at her a moment, a bit alarmed.

“…I said, ‘Oh, I just love those things…don’t you,’” she bemusedly explained, pointing at the bag on the floor. “The chips. They’re…good.”

Penny focused, took a moment to process this, and computed that her hormones were indeed playing tricks on her.

“Oh…oh-oh, yes! Y—…yes, of course,” she stammered, picking the bag back up. “I’m-I’m sorry. You just…startled me there.”

“Oh, gosh! Well, in that case, I’m sorry!” her companion giggled, patting and rubbing Penny’s shoulder. The gesture was merely cordial, but felt…better than it should’ve. Penny smiled and chuckled back, closeting the shiver going through her body.

She brought the bag to checkout. She’d buy it, hold on to the rest of her money for now, sit in the relaxation area, and savor these.

“This is all for me…for now.”

The cashier rang her up. “That’ll be $2.79, please.” Penny retrieved her funds.

“But, I will give you this item for free, with a strapon, if you can flash me two tits.”

Penny whipped her gaze back up.

“Excuse me??

She received her second awkward gape.

“…This…item comes with a rebate, Miss,” reiterated the cashier, turning over the bag to show her. “You see? If…you have a coupon, you can cash it in, for two bits. And then this particular bag is free of charge.”

“Two bits”?...Oh—a quarter. Again, Penny realized what she was really being told.

“O—…oh!” she exhaled. “Oh, yes, I see. Well, I-I have no coupons, but thank you anyway; I’ll certainly keep that in mind!”

Blushing—and starting to sweat—Penny toted the bag to the rest station and sat. Not meaning to appear standoffish, but she kind of hoped no other sweet pretty dollies talked to her. This was getting to be a bit much to take.

Unfortunately, her hope was in vain. They seemed drawn to her like magnets here today. The next young gal who approached her carried a magazine, drinking a slushee.

“Hi there.”

Penny looked up.

Oh, this girl’s hot too! God, for Your sake, why are You doing this to me?

“Oh, hello…um…how are you?” Penny asked, trying not to look directly into her eyes.

“Oh, just fine, thanks.” The next unknown doll turned to look pensively out the window.

“…Tickle your cunny with a feather.”

Penny’s pussy sprung a leak.

“What??”

Sure enough, here came awkward stare and pause number three.

“…I…said, particularly sunny weather,” the aback-taken girl repeated, gesturing to the window. “Y’know…’s real nice outside. ’S…hardly a cloud in the sky.”

Penny blinked six times in rapid succession.

Okay, seriously, God, pleeeease. This was kinda cute at first, but it’s not funny anymore. Enough is enough now.

“…Of course! Of course. Sorry, my bad.”

The young woman furrowed her brow. She slowly slid into the seat across from Penny.

“Are you okay?...I mean…my apologies, I know it’s none of my business, and I’ll leave you alone if you wanna be. You just…kinda look like something’s bothering you.”

Penny’s face softened. “Oh, you’re sweet. No, I’m…sorry, I’m just kinda out of it today.”

“Oh. Well, that’s too bad, but hey, nothing to be ashamed of. Anything I can help with?”

Anything you can help within theory? Um, yes. Realistically? I doubt it.

“Ah…” Penny gave a good-natured chuckle as she ripped open her bag of chips. The salmony aroma toyed with her nostrils.

Oh, goshI love salmon way too much. That is not gonna help get my mind off pussy.

“Well, you see, Miss…there is some stuff on my mind, but I’d prefer to ease into it. It’s the kind of thing that might startle folks right off the bat. So…I’m not really the sort to come right out with the fact that I’m bisexual, homeless and pregnant.”

The young lady dropped her magazine and cup on the table with a plat! and clop!

“My God! I…I am so sorry!” she sympathized. “W—I-I mean about the homeless part. That’s terrible!”

“Yeah, I’m not too crazy about it either.” Her eyes fell upon her newest acquaintance’s magazine. “What’re you reading?”

“Oh.” She turned it cover side up. “Have a look.”

Penny’s eyebrows jumped. For half a second she saw a cover image of Penthouse flash before her eyes. She shut them, blinked, shook her head and looked again. Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Oh, good lord, this is such tortureI’ve gotta make it stop somehow.

“Oh…oh, cool. You’re a gamer?”

“Yeah. There’s a great article in here on Halo. They’re working on bringing out a sequel, hopefully by the end of next year. And it looks like it’s gonna be huge. Major multi-player action. And I don’t just love video games, either; I love all kinds of games. One of the main reasons I dropped in here was actually to buy a powerball ticket.”

A-ha! crowed her impulsive side. Seeeeee, Pen??

Seeeeee what? What, we should automatically buy a lottery ticket just because this babe’s gonna? Thisthis super-smokin’ hot babe?...

“Oh…something of a gambler?”

The girl chuckled. “Well, if you mean someone who lucks out now and then, yeah. If you mean someone who can whip the house in Vegas, then, uh…no.”

They went on gabbing. Fueled by the hot estrogen injection and pregnancy hormones, Penny’s friend Lolita was soaking her panties and driving her insane. She started feeling like if she couldn’t have a release soon, she might just jump this innocent girl’s bones. Penny didn’t even know if she was a legitimate adult. She didn’t look a day over 20. The girl—whose name was Adia—for her own part, was none the wiser. She thought they were just having a friendly chat.

“So…what do you do?” Penny asked, trying to keep her libido’s aching hunger in check.

“I’m a student,” said Adia. “I’m majoring in science and biology. I love animals too. I wanna be a zookeeper when I get older.”

“Oh, that’s fantastic! I’ll have to come by your zoo someday.”

“Yay! Maybe I can give you a romp and make you drown in cum like a versatile whore.”

The chip in Penny’s hand shattered into a dozen small pieces.

“P-pardon me??”

Adia raised an eyebrow.

“…I said, maybe I can give you a comp, and take you around and come with me, eh…you know, like on a personal tour.

“…Or-or something.”

Oh my God, I think I just peed myselfohno, waitthat’s not pee.

Penny slowly nodded for the fourth time. But unlike her first three infernal temptations, this one wasn’t so easy to just giggle off. Her pregnancy hormones, coupled with all this imagined innuendo, had her blazed hotter than equatorial Africa. Her pussy was positively pounding. Her clit bulged unbearably. She couldn’t take it another second.

“I’m…I’m-I’m sorry, I’ve…gotta hit the restroom all of a sudden. Uh…really really bad. I’ll be back, uh…sometime later!”

She jumped up, praying Adia didn’t see the damp spots in the front of her pants.

“Want me to come with you?” she heard Adia offer.

“No, thank you!”

She hastened to the ladies’, praying it was empty. She got inside, darted her eyeballs all about, and detected no women. Or men. She dashed into the closest stall, smacked the door shut, latched it with one hand, jammed the other into her panties and sat.

Don’t look, unborn baby. Mommy’s gonna, eh…hand-le herself now.

Um, Pen, are we really about to do this?

What? Jill off like hell in a convenience store restroom? Can we say, “Duh”?!

Isn’t that a littlekindagross?

Maybe so! On the other hand, who cares?!

But, Penny

This is not up for debate. Either we cum in the stall, gosh-damn it, or we cum in the stall.

But

Zip it, and I’ll buy you a lottery ticket.

Deal. Give Lolita my best.

Already drenched, Lolita greedily gobbled the digits fed her, drooling for seconds as her owner retracted. Over and over, she teased herself, then granted the frustrated Lolita the passion she so craved and needed. As she sat on the royal throne plunging herself into oblivion, she revisited the lust-driven misunderstandings of the last few minutes.

“Oh, I just love pussies, don’t you?” she’d thought she heard the first woman say.

YES,” she mouthed intensely, picturing said first girl naked. “I do. And I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Is it tasty?

No objections here, Lolita opined, trying to swallow her owner’s fingers whole.

But I will give you this item for free,” came the cashier’s voice next, “With a strapon, if you can flash me two tits.”

You’ve got a deal, good kinky merchant,” Penny whispered, mentally placing herself back at checkout. She imagined whipping her top completely off, dropping her bra, freeing Hansel and Gretel, and subsequently asking the cashier to please grope them, sublimely, and thoroughly. Her girls swelled, nipples hardening at the illusory touch.

“Tickle your cunny with a feather,” Adia’s voice chirped sensually.

This one drove her crazy. Penny was a little afraid of feathers, because she was ticklish all over. Not that she’d ever been tickled in, on or around the genitals. But should it happen, Penny didn’t see herself holding up very long before going insane. It was her adventurous, daring side which viewed this scenario as a turn-on.

Tickle away, hottie,” she grinned, feeling the tingles intensify.

And torment me a little too while you’re at it, added Lolita. The big gal’s scared of feathers. They drive her crazy. I, conversely, love them.

While Penny and Lolita did not always see eye to clit, there were no actual feathers in the ladies’ room, or in Penny’s pussy. All Penny had to do was imagine the blade of one of those evil little plumes swirling near her weak spots, and she was on fire.

OHHHGOD!” Penny shrieked, prior to the realization that she wasn’t in the privacy of her own home. It would seem her naughty pussy had made her cry out. “Um…whoops.”

Hee hee heeeeeegotcha, lady.

Be quiet, Loly.

I’ll be quiet when I want to be quiet, slave; I own you. And just for that

“Maybe I can give you a romp and make you drown in cum like a versatile whore.”

Penny gasped and whipped her head back so sharply, it smacked against the wall.

Rats, that’s gonna hurt later.

Never mind that, Penelope. Listen up; this is your pussy speaking. And you will do as I say. G-spot. NOW.

Penny indeed felt the stirrings deep down and up in there, willing her to take it to the level of no return. She knew she couldn’t resist. Columns of sweat ran down her forehead and dripped off her face. She strained, cringed, reached up inside for her magical billion-dollar spot, desperately pumping to get at it. Lolita insisted she replay the suggestive phrases she thought she’d heard earlier. They echoed against one another, words bumping about. The intensity grew and grew, built and built, with each replay.

Flash me two tits” “Tickle your cunny” “I love pussies” “Give you a romp” “Strapon” “Whore” “Feather

CUM.

And as if precisely on cue, Penny hit her g-spot just as Adia’s voice purred the magic word. The first wave of utopian bliss, more powerful than any orgasm she could fathom, nailed her…head on…like a speeding bus.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!

Penny thought someone must’ve heard that one, but paid zero heed. She could see through walls right now. She was in the throes of the orgasm from the future, and no silly little thing like reason or caution would stifle it. Penny couldn’t believe such a facet of life as being pregnant could bring on such incredible bouts of hidden, unknown, unbeLIEVable torridity. Such unbridled sizzle. Such raw, primal, blindingly hot…hot…

…Hotness. She was out of nouns. She was so far gone, she was losing parts of speech. Faculties dropped left and right. Once her fingers touched her g-spot, they all but literally shot off sparks in her blood-engorged cunt. As the digital lasers electrified her pussy, cum began splattering out. Her glistening face grimaced in howling madness. Her back arched over the flush fixture. Her synapses fired off like a pinball machine gone haywire. Her heart beat a lightyear a minute to circulate the blood. Each nerve ending sent crazy signals of white heat to her brain. The next thing she knew, Lolita gushed out a waterfall to bring the whole show to its marvelous firework ending.

Penny didn’t know she was done cumming till a minute after it happened. She whined, groaned, and gasped for breath, catching it as she wound down. Without concept at the moment of time, space or matter, Penny was compelled to wait for her eyes to roll back in position. Unfortunately, she hadn’t a towel, but she unraveled a generous amount of toilet paper and tidied up while her blood redirected. Finally, she discarded the tissue, flushed, peeked outside to a luckily still empty ladies’ room, and washed.

Good God Almighty, I cannot believe I just…jilled myself off…in a public restroom.

Well, I do believe I TO—

Don’t you dare say you told me so.

Okay, fair enough. But you still owe me a lottery ticket. Promises are promises.

Yes, yes, fine. But if we starve, it’s your fault.

Yeah, ’cause one lotto ticket costs a fortune.

Oh, hush the hell up; I’m done arguing with you. You make me tired.

Oh, I make you tired. And draining our coochie just now had nothing to do with it. Right.

*****

Hormones And Horseshoes, Act 2

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003, 8:22 p.m.

When Penny at last emerged from the ladies’ room, she was stunned to see Adia still sitting in the rest area.

“O—…oh my gosh, Adia, you’re still here?”

Adia looked up from her magazine to see her.

“Oh hey, Penny! Well, someone sure was a busy little beaver, huh?”

Penny’s eyes went wide, fearing she’d been caught.

“What do you mean??” she asked with alarm.

Adia turned confused again. She darted her eyes around a bit before answering.

“I…just meant you were ocupada for a good little while, jumpy! Why, what’d you mean?”

“Oh…nothing! Nothing at all! Just…same as you!” chortled Penny.

“Be honest, I was a little worried about you, girl,” said Adia as Penny rejoined her. “I mean, well, I didn’t really have much else to do today…and when you told me you were homeless, I felt so bad for ya, I wanted to be able to give ya a, uh…little companionship, I guess, if nothing else. And, well, not to toot my own horn, but I thought if you came out and I wasn’t here anymore, you might be a little disappointed.”

“Aw, that’s really sweet, Adia! Well, I’ll be honest too then. I mean, yeah, it wouldn’t have made my year if I came out and you were gone, but I’d understand. I mean, I’d figure you had stuff to do and all, and I’m actually kinda surprised you stuck around. But in a good way, definitely. I really do feel touched.”

Adia smiled modestly. “Oh well, there’s another thing too,” she added, gesturing to her mag. “Once I start into reading about video games, I can sit for frickin’ eons. Put me on a two-day flight, give me a few issues of Nintendo Power, I’m set.”

Penny laughed. They sat and shot the proverbial breeze a while longer. The sun had gone down while Penny was making love to herself. Adia, as mentioned, had little else to do, and Penny had little choice. They got to know one another actually quite well. Adia Zuri Bethwell—whose name meant “beautiful gift” in Swahili—was 20, and indeed a gifted young lady. She was a lesbian, of Kenyan descent, young and idealistic, intelligent and quick to learn new things. She was equally talkative, able to contribute something to just about any topic Penny could drum up. They went through some more snacks and ate deli sandwiches for supper. Before they knew it, it was almost 10:00.

“Oh gosh!” Adia realized. “We’ve only got an hour till the drawing! I gotta get my slip!”

Oh yeah, Penny thought. Well, now or never.

“I’ll come with you.” Penny was less than familiar with lotto playing, so Adia showed her how to purchase them. She offered to treat Penny to one, but Penny assured her it wasn’t necessary. They cost only $2, and she didn’t want to push any luck she still had.

“So when do they do the drawing?” Penny asked as they resumed their seats.

“Right around 11:00.”

“Great, so what do we do?”

“Basically, just randomly pick five white numbers on the top part up here, and one red powerball one at the bottom. Then we give our slips to the cashier and she’ll print out our tickets. Then we wait for the drawing and see. And if they draw at least three of the same ones we picked, or our powerball number, then we win!”

“Oh, cool, how exciting!” Penny commented. “Okay, any five?”

She did as Adia instructed on her play slip. They took them back and got their tickets.

One hour later

“Here we go!” grinned Adia, rubbing her palms. “Feeling lucky, Penny?”

“Hee hee,” Penny giggled at the ways that could be taken. “Well, I guess we’ll see.”

“Penny, I just want you to know that if I win, I’ll share with you. I don’t get the chance to help homeless people every day.”

Penny’s heart melted. “Awww! Why, that is so kind, Adia! That’s so…that’s wonderful. Well, I’d like to say I’ll share with you too…”

Adia waved her off. “No, no, Penny; I’m fine. My family’s not exactly loaded, but we’re doing okay for ourselves. You bought that ticket yourself. What’s yours is yours. I insist.”

“Well…this would normally be where I’d say, ‘If you insist’…but you kinda just said that.”

“And our jackpot prize this evening!” intoned the announcer on the TV set, standing between the ball-spinning machines. “For all five winning numbers, plus the powerball…

“Fifty-eight million, three hundred twelve thousand dollars!”

“Good lord!” Penny shouted. Adia clapped her hands in anticipation.

“Good luck, ticket holders, and as always, play responsibly,” the announcer went on.

“And your first winning number in tonight’s drawing is!...”

The first white ball rolled down the chute. “…39!”

“Oh my gosh, I’ve got 39!” Penny said.

“Wow, good job, babe!” said Adia, patting her hand. “’Kay, here comes the next one.”

“Second number…29!”

Penny gasped. “Twenty-ni—oh my God, I have that one too!”

Adia’s eyebrows jumped. “Are you serious?”

“Here’s your third number…6!”

Penny shrieked. “No way!” she cried, showing Adia. “I have 6 too!

“Omigod, Penny, you won!” Adia exclaimed. “Wait, wait, they’re not done yet!”

“Your fourth ball…is 52!”

Now focused only on Penny’s ticket, both girls screamed.

“52! You gotta be kidding me!” Adia hollered.

“Fifth and final winning number ball is…”

“9??” Adia shouted at the screen.

“9!” joined Penny. “Please, 9!

White ball number five rolled down the chute and plonked beside its four predecessors. It looked like another 6…but underlined on its other side.

“…9!”

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!” Penny and Adia chorused. They leapt from the table in a hopping embrace, as the first five picks were repeated.

“Oh my God, Penny, you’re rich!” said Adia. “Whether you get the powerball or not, you just won a million dollars!!

“A MIL—…”

Penny started to cry with joy. “Oh my goodness!...You mean my problems are over??”

Is it okay now to say I told you so??

“Wait! Wait,” said Adia. “What’d you pick for your powerball?”

“Oh, uh…” Penny checked her ticket. “…8!”

They turned back to the TV. The first machine was stopped. The second machine, containing the red balls, had subsequently spat one down its own chute.

“Those winning numbers for you, once again, ladies and gentlemen—

“6…9…29…39…52…and your powerball, 8!”

The girls’ hearts all but stopped dead in their tracks.

“Congratulations to all our winners!” the announcer concluded. The lucky numbers again appeared onscreen, one by one. To say that the girls couldn’t believe it merely aspired to understatement. Penny Isabel James had just won the powerball jackpot.

Oh God, Penny…” Adia whispered in dumbfounded shock. “Ithink you may have to change your name, ’cause

“…You just won fifty-eight million dollars.”

Penny lost control of herself and fainted straight forward. Adia just barely managed to catch her before she crashed to the floor.

*****

It Could Happen To You, Too

Thursday, November 27th, 2003, 4:24 p.m.

“Homeless Expectant Mother Saved By Powerball Miracle,” Penny read to her Aunt Tracy from the newspaper. “On October 15, pregnant Penelope James, 23, took refuge at Cedar Convenience store, in the city of Juniper, Minnesota. Reportedly, on a whim, James spent her last funds on a powerball lottery ticket, to find that she would choose each winning number drawn, for a grand prize jackpot of $58,312,000.”

“And quite a story it is indeed!” Tracy assessed. They toasted with Juicy Juice. “Fifty-eight million congrats, Punky!”

It was Thanksgiving. As was tradition, Tracy had Penny come to her house in Rochester. The James family was never enormous to begin with, and had unfortunately bid most of their kin farewell. Penny’s paternal Aunt Tracy, however, made it clear she planned to go nowhere, and would be with her beloved niece for a long time to come. Understandably close to her one remaining relative, Penny was happy to hear that.

Calling her “Punky” was also sort of a tradition just between the two of them, having watched the show together in the ’80s. Punky Brewster’s real name was also Penelope. Penny pretended it annoyed her, but secretly thought it was cute. She played along.

“Thank you, Glomer.”

“Punky” James, in the meantime, had been living in a lovely Statler apartment. Thanks to her miracle, she could afford just about anything. So when Tracy returned from vacation, she took Penny to a realtor, who handled things from there.

“I am so thrilled for you, sweetie!” Tracy grinned, clasping her hands. “Everything’s gonna be just fine now. Just promise me you won’t let the wealth go to your head.”

“Oh! Nothin’ to worry about there, T.,” Penny emphasized. “Trust me, I had time-a-plenty to think about it. And I’m gonna do exactly what I planned if I ever came into this kind of money. I’m gonna get a nice, comfy place—big enough for me, my baby, and probably a dog—put the rest in the bank, and look into some charities to donate to.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Pens. Babies and pets cost a fortune, but, well, you’ve won a fortune. And I love the idea of charity. Hey, maybe you could found your own one day.”

“Maybe…but not before the little dumpling here comes along.”

“Oh, yeah…so when’s the little dumpling due?”

“February 8th! Oh, my little dumpling! That’s what I’m gonna call her. ’S gonna be my nickname for her. I’m so excited!!”

“Me too, Penny. You’re gonna be a wonderful mother.”

“Aw, you really think so?”

“I sure do. Just remember a few things. A: don’t plan to sleep through the night anymore.”

Penny laughed. “Noted.”

“It won’t be so funny six months from now. B: when you change the diapers, expect to see colors you never imagined.”

Penny did not laugh. “…Noted…”

“C: unless you have a penchant for incredibly extreme pain, have the doc anesthetize your bottom half beyond natural belief.”

“…Oh my…gosh. Is it…uh…is it really that excruciating?”

“More. D: have fun!”

*****

On January 3rd, 2004, Penelope Isabel James’ life would change forever. It was not her baby’s due date, and it was not her baby. In the middle of the night, she awoke to what she thought at first was nature’s call. But it was not this either. She did not recognize this feeling. She clicked on the light, and gasped in horror at what she saw.

Her bedsheets were soaked in blood.

She grabbed her phone and dialed. The next few hours were a dizzy blur as she was rushed to the ward. The last and only thing she remembered of the terrible twilight morning was a nurse coming in to address her.

“Miss James…”

“Yes? What?? Wh—…what’s wrong with me??” She could likely have pieced it together herself, were she not so freaked out.

“Miss James…I am so sorry…”

“…What?

Penny’s heart froze. An eternity seemed to pass before the horrific next sentence.

“…I’m afraid you’ve had a miscarriage.”

Penny went numb inside. She felt as if she had just died. Tears almost instantly spilled from her eyes like a broken dam. This was the one possibility she never wanted to consider, even for a second. She didn’t know what she thought all that blood was if not this, but here it was, in nightmarish living color.

“…WHAT?!...But…but, I thought miscarriages only happened in the first trimester!”

“Most do. However, terrible as it is, there are exceptions. Women have miscarried and had stillborns right up to the due date. Again, I’m so awfully sorry.”

“…No…

“Oh, no…no, no, no…n—”

“Miss Jame—”

NOOOOO!!” Penny buried her face in her hands and bawled hysterically.

“This can’t be happening!”

The nurse felt so horrible for her, but there were only so many things she could say and do. Penny raised her head, her face covered in tears.

Tell me this isn’t really happening! Tell me this is a nightmare! Tell me I’m dreaming!”

To her dismay, the nurse remained silent.

“PLEASE!!” she begged and sobbed. “PLEASE, tell me this isn’t really happening!!”

A half hour later, Penny began to stop crying, calm down and accept the reality that had just occurred. It had already happened; she couldn’t go back and erase it. She never knew anything could feel like this. The despair and agony were unreal. Greater than she ever could’ve believed. Her heart was crushed to sand. She wanted to die. Her unborn baby girl had been taken from her, poached from her womb before she ever had the chance to hold her in her arms. She didn’t want to live if her baby didn’t.

But…

Somehow, she reasoned with herself, she had to find the strength to continue with her life. To go back home when all this was over with, turn over her mattress, and line it anew. She couldn’t wash her sheets clean, and she didn’t want to. She only wanted rid of them, of the now everpresent heartbreak and tragedy they represented. Somehow…somehow, chillingly impossible as it seemed right now…

…She had to go on.

Right now, however, in this hospital bed, she couldn’t grasp a harsher truth. She was torn. A part of her wanted to stay here, clinging to the last morsel of hope that this all still could be a surreal nightmare. Another wanted out. Out of this place, this despicable experience, every memory of the entire ordeal. And a third part didn’t know what to do.

It’ll be okay, Penwe’ll get through it. We survived being homeless; we’ll survive this.

Are you serious?? Are you really comparing a few months on the streets to what just happened now??

One thing was for sure: she’d need time to be able to recover from this. A lot of time. She was a firm believer in the philosophy that time healed all wounds, all pain, but, oh…this was a rough one. This would require a wealth of time before she felt purely happy again, fulfilled with the things she had and the keys to live her life.

Probably about a decade oughta do it.

She reminded herself that she’d just won the lottery. That she could do just about anything she wanted right now, that fortune had smiled upon her and blessed her with such a bounty…that she could have whatever her heart desired…

…Except…a baby.

Money couldn’t buy her this lost child. Not even $58 million. The lotto jackpot now seemed empty and meaningless. When she found out she was pregnant back in June, she was scared, but in a good way. She wasn’t yet homeless at the time, and with such a shortage of leftover Jameses, she very much wanted to continue her lineage. Several months in, even through the swelling, the morning sickness, the soreness, and everything else, she had her heart set on giving birth. Well, maybe she’d get another chance at some point in the future, but…

Oh, no. She couldn’t think about that now. She’d been hit too hard, and all she could fathom was the possibility of losing another unborn child. No, she’d definitely have to let a long, long while pass before she could even think about something like this a second time. She was still young, only 23. She’d have more chances…wouldn’t she?

This was so difficult to consider. It hurt so bad, on so many levels. What to do now? Just go on living? She had the money, but what to do with it? Charity? Perhaps, but…somehow, after this, she didn’t feel in such a charitable mood anymore. And she needed something more substantial to fill her time. Something to keep her occupied.

She stayed with Tracy a bit longer, not wanting to be on her own just yet. One morning, Tracy fixed them sausage and eggs for breakfast. Penny took one bite and loved it.

Mmmm!” she exclaimed. “Oh my God, Aunt Tracy, this is amazing!”

Tracy smiled modestly. “Glad you like it, hon.”

“Can you teach me how to make it?”

“Well, sure, sweetie, but it’s not very complicated at all. Just a few eggs and sausage patties. Anyone could do it, really.”

“Well, then, could you teach me to make more stuff? I’d love to learn to cook like this.”

So Tracy shared some culinary skills and tricks with her eager niece. To Penny’s surprise, thinking she’d merely fancy cooking a bit, she fell in love with it. Penny didn’t remember her folks doing very much cheffing, but the talent was apparently in her genes. Because when she served them her first dish—Salisbury steak with steamed veggies—Tracy commented with one mouthful that it was absolutely delish. That Penny should be a professional chef. Well, actually, what she said at the time was—

“Oh, Pehwwy! Difw ifw afhuhloohwy delihw! Iu hwuh we uh bruhfefwuhfwul hwef!”

Naturally flattered and proud, Penny didn’t think a world of it yet. She just liked hanging out with Tracy. And she wasn’t very keen on going back to her cold, empty apartment, with that mattress and its melancholy memories. She’d flipped it, laid new sheets and disposed of the old as planned, but the mattress remained tarnished with irremovable stains of blood and heartache. She was afraid sleeping on it would cause déjà vu nightmares. There was also a couch in her flat, but Aunt Tracy’s guest bed was much comfier and more welcoming. And Penny liked knowing she wasn’t alone in the house.

Also, her small apartment didn’t have much of a kitchen. Now with her newfound intrigue and prodigiousness in the culinary arts, Tracy gladly passed over her generous kitchen for Penny to cook to her heart’s content. But there were only so many things Tracy could teach her, and Penny soon went from student to full-fledged graduate in her aunt’s own private academy. She started bringing home cookbooks and surfing the web for recipes galore. And Tracy started being able to look forward to whatever her gifted niece decided to whip up. Penny was all too eager to get creative with her dishes.

Once she’d absorbed all she could in the one-chef operation at her aunt’s, she became hungry (pun intended) for some interaction. To take her craft to the next level. This was wonderful for keeping her busy, but she enjoyed it so much, she wished to be even busier. So she joined a weekly-meeting cooking club just outside Minneapolis. Before she knew it, she was making friends, sharing recipes, trading tips, and coming home to DVR’d Food Network programs. Then came her turn to host at her humble abode—as all members did—which was a little nerve-wracking, but fun. She threw herself wholeheartedly into it through the rest of her 20s. It wasn’t often she found things she loved, was genuinely good at, and that carried weight in the socioeconomic world. Unfortunately, she joked to herself, only one field would pay her to jill herself into magnificent orgasms. And she wasn’t prepared to go near that field.

The memory of what happened a decade ago was a boulder that wouldn’t budge. Not that she expected it to, but Penny could now at least camouflage its presence, hanging things around it. This way she wouldn’t forget, but had enough hobbies and interests that the boulder didn’t plague her life. And after the same decade with her beloved aunt, they mutually decided that Penny should have her own space. Besides which, craving warmer climates, Tracy herself was relocating, to beautiful San Fran, California. So once more, they met with the realtors, who now had good news to share.

In the middle of town, the Twelve Pines suburb, a new development property named Hect’s was going up. Construction was just finished on one of the residential lots, called Randall’s View Terrace. Soon the dwellings could be moved into. It was extravagant, but that was okay. Penny’s responsibility over the lottery money never waned, and so it remained no object. The minute Penny and Tracy walked in, they knew it was perfect. Case closed. Three weeks later, she’d gotten almost all her belongings in.

It was hard to say goodbye, but Penny was in her 30s now, and could stand on her own feet. And Tracy’d still fly up to see her on holidays. By now the summer of 2014 was approaching. Without need to seek work, Penny was free to essentially do as she liked in her two-story nest. With really no rush, she gradually unpacked her boxes, spending most of her leisure time frolicking in the kitchen with her pots and pans. She went on meeting with her cooking club, eager for the next hosting to show off her new pad.

The rest of the time, she more or less just vegged out and took it easy. Finally, by the time October arrived, she’d grown just lonely enough to want some company. It was time to get herself a doggie companion. And so on Halloween morning, she went to the shelter, fell in love with, adopted and took home a dachshund puppy to be her new live-in best friend. To love, cherish and treasure it as if it were her own child, which it was.

And is.

To be concluded, in “Lost And Found 2: Where The Heart Is.”

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