DISCLAIMER: I don't own The Facts of Life or any of the characters represented in the show. They're owned by someone else who isn't me. No copyright infringement is implied/meant/deliberate in any way, shape or form, and no money is changing hands/no profit is being made, etc.
CHALLENGE: Submitted for The July Challenge. Answer to site challenge SFC#47.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Higher Education
By Del Robertson


"Come on, Blair," urged Jo, struggling to remove the debutante's skin-tight designer jeans, "We gotta hurry before the brats get back."

"Relax, Jo," admonished Blair, playfully slapping Jo's hands away. Not to be deterred, Jo advanced on Blair, pushing her back, causing her knees to buckle, landing flat on her back on the bed, her legs dangling off the edge. She eagerly resumed her attack, hooking her thumbs into Blair's beltloops, forcefully tugging. "They're on that field trip to New York. We have hours."

"Yeah, but I been waitin' weeks for this. Even circled it on the calendar." Jo let out a sharp wolf-whistle as Blair's skimpy panties came into view. "Finally, our chance to go at it without worrying if the brats are going to walk in on us."

Blair sniffed haughtily. "A lady does not 'go at it', as you so crudely put it, Jo. She makes love, she has a tête-à-tête, she may even schedule a rendezvous, but she never goes at it." Her words caught in her throat as Jo's palm covered her silk undergarment, calluses sending shivers coursing through her body. She just knew Jo would appreciate her new lingerie. She grinned impishly, crinkling her nose. "Now, if you'd care to fuck me, my little grease-monkey?"

Jo laughed heartily. "Thought you'd never ask, Princess." A mischievous glint sparked in her eye as she slipped one finger beneath the silk barrier.

Soft snores echoed throughout the room, sending repeated gusts of warm breath tickling through Blair's hair. Blinking, her eyes took in the soft hues of the room, bathed in shadows of light and dark. Fingers instinctively stroked through Jo's hair, curling thick, ebony locks.

"Jo?" she murmured. Jo mumbled, snuggled deeper into Blair. "Jo, honey, wake up," Blair commanded, her voice considerably stronger this time.

"Hmm?" Wearily, Jo blinked her eyes rapidly, attempting to focus on her surroundings. She was in their room, on Blair's bed - Oh, yeah - she remembered, planting a kiss on the golden thatch before her. She inhaled deeply, Blair's short hairs tickling her nose as she took in Blair's scent. She always loved the way Blair smelled. But, the way Blair smelled after sex - a broad grin spread across her face.

"Jo," Blair urged, jostling her shoulder roughly, "Natalie and Tootie aren't back, yet."

"That's one of the things I love about ya, Blair." Jo easily slipped two fingers inside, coating them with Blair's juices. "That insatiable appetite for sex you have."

"No, it's not that." Blair gasped out loud as Jo's magical fingers hit a particularly sensitive spot, causing her eyes to roll back. "Well, not just that," she smirked. She pulled Jo to her, catching her in a deep kiss. "I meant, it's late and they should have been here hours ago."

Jo's fingers stilled, eyes went wide. Frantically, her eyes darted about the room. She breathed a sigh of relief. They weren't there -

"Wait a minute!" Jo checked her watch. "It's past seven. Where are they?"

"That's what I've been trying to - " The shrill ringing of the phone interrupted Blair. Shoving Jo off, she stretched, reaching for the nightstand. "Yes, this is she." Jo got up off the bed, reached for her jeans. "I understand." She arched an eyebrow as Jo slid the denim up her body, over her bare backside. "No, thank you for calling." A worn t-shirt quickly covered naked breasts. "Yes, I'll take care of it."

"What was that about?" Jo asked, sitting on the edge of the bed, slipping her bare feet into her high-tops.

Blair sat up in bed, clutching a sheet to her naked form. "That was the school." She met Jo's suddenly concerned gaze. "Natalie and Tootie never got back on the bus."

"What do you mean, they never got on the bus?" Jo paced the length of the bedroom. "It's a school fieldtrip, for crying out loud! They had to get back on the bus."

"Calm down, Jo." Blair bit her bottom lip, casually flipped through the phone book. "They probably got caught up looking at the exhibits and missed the bus. You know how Natalie is." She picked up the phone, began dialing. "I'll simply call the operator and get the listing for the museum. I'm sure they're waiting at the security desk."

Jo continued to pace nervously as Blair's call was connected. There was something wrong. She knew it in her gut. Girls like Natalie and Tootie didn't just simply forget to catch a bus. She turned sharply as she heard the phone returning to its cradle, caught sight of Blair's disconcerted look.

"They aren't there." She checked her watch; it was getting late. "The museum is open until eleven. They agreed to call back if Natalie and Tootie turn up." She was really beginning to worry now. Two girls - alone in the city - after dark. "Oh, Jo! What are we going to tell Mrs. Garrett?"

"Better yet," Jo asked, "What is Mrs. Garrett going to say when she finds out Natalie and Tootie skipped school?"

"Okay, calm down," Blair advised herself, stalking the length of the room. As the minutes had gone by with no further word, they had exchanged roles. Jo had become the quiet, reserved one, lounging back on Blair's bed, head propped up on the pillows, watching Blair pace a path back and forth on the hardwood floor, biting her fingernails with worry. "Mrs. Garrett won't be back from her sister's house until - " they both froze, listening as they heard the door downstairs open and then close. They heard a familiar humming tune wafting up the stairs. " - now," Blair flung herself on the bed beside Jo. "We are so dead."

"Not yet," Jo reassured, "Maybe she won't come up here?"

"Girls!" Mrs. Garrett's voice shrieked from the bottom of the stairs. "I'm back!"

The tell-tale creak of the third step announced Mrs. Garrett's approach up the stairs. "What are we going to do?" Blair whispered harshly at Jo. "She's bound to come in here!"

"Put pillows beneath the sheets and tell her Nat and Toot turned in early cause they were worn out from the fieldtrip," Jo decided, already moving to Tootie's bed, yanking the sheet down, bunching the pillows to resemble Tootie's form.

"Like Mrs. Garrett's going to believe that? Please. She didn't fall for it two years ago, she won't fall for it now."

Jo stopped what she was doing, folded her arms over her chest, glared at Blair. "Do you have a better suggestion, Princess?"

"As a matter of fact, I have a brilliant - " The sharp ringing of the telephone interrupted her. "I'll get the phone, you stall Mrs. Garrett," she commanded, shoving Jo towards the door.

Jo stumbled, tripping over the edge of the carpeting lining the upstairs hallway. She instinctively reached out, catching herself, bracing one hand against the opposite wall.

"Jo!" Mrs. Garrett exclaimed.

"Hey, Mrs. G," Jo smiled faintly, "Thought maybe we heard you come in."

"I came home early," the older woman acknowledged, carrying her overnight bag up the flight of stairs, "Seems Beverly Ann booked one of her all-night poker parties for tonight."

"Ah. You go bust early?" As Mrs. Garrett neared the top step, Jo took up a casual position, stretching her arm across the hallway.

"No," Mrs. Garrett twittered, "I've never much liked playing cards. No poker face."

She attempted to step around Jo, found herself blocked by Jo's body.

"You just have to learn how to hold your cards, think about something else other than what you've got in your hand." As Mrs. Garrett attempted to go around Jo's other side, the Bronx native shifted her stance, easily blocking her.

Once again, Mrs. Garrett tried to get around Jo; Again, Jo blocked her. "Jo!" Mrs. Garrett finally shouted, "Let me pass! I need to put my bag down!"

Meekly, Jo moved aside, letting the woman pass. "Let me get that for ya, Mrs. G.," she offered, snatching up the bag, carrying it into Mrs. Garrett's bedroom, placing it on the bed. She assumed Mrs. Garrett would follow her into the bedroom. She was shocked when she turned around and discovered she was alone.

"Mrs. G.!" she shouted, rushing out into the hallway. Mrs. Garrett paused with her hand on the door to the girls' bedroom, looked up in surprise. Jo slid to a halt in front of her, stretching her arm across the doorway, barring Mrs. Garrett's entrance.

"Jo!" she scolded. "You've done everything except throw me down the stairs to prevent me from going in this room!" She glared harshly at Jo. "And, I want to know why!"

"Why?" Jo looked at the floor, the door, the paint on the walls; everywhere except at Mrs. Garrett. "Why what?" she finally asked.

"Why won't you let me in to tell the girls goodnight!?!" Mrs. Garrett exploded.

"Okay, okay." Jo relented. "See, we got this phone call and - "

The bedroom door suddenly opened. "And, it was Natalie and Tootie calling to say they missed the bus and they're stranded at the museum," Blair explained quickly. "And, well, Jo and I were arguing about going and getting them." Jo's eyes narrowed, shooting her a dirty look. "We figured it would be safer - and faster - for us to go pick them up rather than have them try to take a bus or a taxi. But, Jo was afraid if we left and you came back, you might think we were taking advantage of you being out of town to break the curfew."

"Is that why you wouldn't let me up the stairs?"

"Umm?" Jo shoved her hands in her back pocket, rocked on her feet, studying her high tops. Finally, she looked up at Mrs. Garrett. "Yeah?"

"So, what were you planning to do; leave Natalie and Tootie at the museum like some sort of exhibit over the weekend? What are they, School Girls In Autumn?"

"It's not Jo's fault," Blair interrupted. "We were trying to decide how best to tell you we'd gone after the girls when we heard the front door open. And, well, I panicked and asked Jo to stall until I could figure it out."

"You could have simply left a note and been on your way!" Mrs. Garrett admonished. Blair gave her best sheepish grin, shrugged her shoulders. "Go - now!" Mrs. Garrett shooed them down the stairs. "Oh, and girls?" Jo and Blair turned to look at Mrs. Garrett expectantly, "Take my car," she tossed the keys; Jo easily caught them one-handed, "I don't want you driving Blair's Porsche into the city. And, be careful!"

"Okay, Warner," Jo revved the engine, peeled out of the driveway, "Spill it. What the hell's going on?"

"Well, we had to have a cover story to get out of the house so we could go find Natalie and Tootie, didn't we?" Blair turned sideways in her seat, carefully studying

Jo's face as she pushed the pedal to the floor, aiming Mrs. Garrett's tiny blue Toyota towards the freeway.

A speeding eighteen-wheeler honked loudly, swerved suddenly to avoid Jo as she merged into his lane. "Let me get guess; you had a brilliant idea to search the entire city of New York for Natalie and Tootie?" Jo flipped the trucker the finger as he changed lanes, effectively cutting her off.

"Please! That's like asking if I'm wearing white after Labor Day." Jo eased off the gas, openly stared at Blair. "No," she explained, "While you were delaying Mrs. Garrett, that was Natalie calling on the phone. They skipped the museum for the Like A Virgin tour."

"That's ridiculous."

"You're telling me!" Blair flipped her hair over her shoulder. "If that tramp's a virgin, well then, this is my natural hair color."

Jo smirked, gunned the engine as she entered the freeway ramp. "No, I meant it's ridiculous that they ditched a field trip to catch a concert by someone who's going to be off the charts in about a year."

"And now that the concert's over, they don't have enough money between them to make it back to Peekskill," agreed Blair. "Maybe we should have just told Mrs. Garrett the truth?"

"Nah, friends don't rat on other friends." She checked Blair's reaction out of the corner of her eye. "Although, we could have used the alone time after you gave her a heart attack." Jo grinned. "We could have done it in the kitchen. I've been dying to lay you back and pull up a chair - "

"Oh, my!" Blair's face went bright red at the thought. "I'll never be able to eat at that table again!"

She turned in her seat, eyeing Jo appraisingly. Jo was an excellent driver, always confident, always sure with her hands. Her body was sleek perfection, smooth lines and strength. Muscles danced beneath the flesh of her forearms as she gripped the clutch, smoothly shifting into fourth. Her right hand stayed resting on the ball of the stick shift, ready to act at any moment. Her left loosely held the steering wheel, her elbow braced against the door.

Jo was a natural born driver. While most drivers their age were still following the text book rules, including keeping their hands on the wheel positioned at ten and two, Jo was using the rule book to wipe up oil stains off the garage floor. Of course, she used common sense and wouldn't deliberately break the law, but she wasn't the sort to be dictated to by anyone. Jo was the picture of wild and free.

There was just something -- untamable about Jo

And it drove Blair to distraction.

She unfastened her seatbelt, edged over nearer Jo. Jo caught the movement in her peripheral vision, noticed the mischievous smile tugging at the corner of Blair's lips. She felt fingers deftly fumbling with her seatbelt, loosening it. Hands crept to her waistband, fingers working their way beneath her shirt. Jo bit her bottom lip as a searching hand closed upon her breast. A swift pinch of her nipple caught her unprepared, expelling a sudden gasp, causing Jo to tighten her grip on the stickshift.

"B – Blair, what are you doin?" Her voice cracked as she felt Blair's fingertips inching beneath the waistband of her jeans.

"Well, if you have to ask that," Blair's breath tickled in her ear, causing her to flinch, "then, I'm obviously not doing it right."

Jo groaned as Blair removed her fingers. She felt Blair tugging at her jeans, unbuttoning, then partially unzipping them. Jo shifted, pressing the gas pedal down farther, instinctively arching as she anticipated Blair's touch between her legs. She stifled a moan as she watched Blair slowly bring two fingers up, sliding them into her mouth, wetting them. Before Jo could even comprehend what she was doing, Blair had dropped her hand down to her waist, slipped her wet fingers into the opening of her jeans.

"Geez, Blair!" she shouted the second Blair's fingers connected with her clit. She reached down, capturing Blair's hand, attempting to still her wandering fingers.

"What's wrong, Joey? Don't you like it?" Blair whispered seductively in her ear.

"Yeah, I like it just fine," Jo answered through gritted teeth. "But, I can't concentrate on driving with you doing – " Those fingers momentarily escaped, causing Jo to gasp once again " – that."

"I have my credit card." Blair smiled wickedly, strumming her fingers across Jo's clit once again. "We could stop at a hotel," she offered.

"No, can't do that either, Blair," Jo barked out roughly between clenched teeth.

Blair extracted her fingers, slid away from Jo, moving to her own side of the car. Refastening her seatbelt, she stared out the window as the highway markers flew past. Damn, thought Jo, Don't tell me I hurt her feelings! Taking her hand off the stickshift, she reached out, tentatively taking Blair's hand within her own, squeezing lightly. "Hey, Princess. It's not that I don't wanna. Believe me, I do. But, we ain't got the time. We've gotta get to Natalie and Tootie and then high-tail it back to Peekskill."

"Please!" Blair rolled her eyes, snatched her hand from beneath Jo's. "If you don't want me, just say so. You don't have to make excuses." She flipped her hair over her shoulder, pointedly turned her head away from Jo, staring out the passenger's window.

"I do want you, Blair." Jo stretched farther, attempting to reach Blair's hand again. Blair easily shooed her off. "But, we just don't have the time."

"Hah!" snorted Blair. "The way you drive, you could get me off three times and still be at the concert with time to spare!"

"Yeah, and maybe we could've done that if you hadn't had the brilliant idea to tell Mrs. Garrett that Nat and Toot were at the museum!"

"And, just what is that supposed to mean?" glared Blair.

"That's supposed to mean that since you opened your big mouth, now we gotta go to the museum and pick up a souvenir to cover for Natalie and Tootie. You think Mrs. G.'s gonna buy our story if we show up without a trinket from the museum?"

"They probably already picked up something."

"They didn't plan their route home after the concert," Jo reasoned, "Do ya really think they thought about covering their asses once they got back to the house?"

"Amateurs!" Blair relented, reached out, catching Jo's hand in hers. "Oh, this is going to cost them, though. They're going to have to make my bed for a month. And iron my clothes. And cover my shift in the store."

"Easy there, Princess. Don't forget; they owe me, too," Jo laughed, already planning a suitable punishment for both Natalie and Tootie. She caught Blair's eye, winked playfully. "Hey, maybe we'll have some extra time once we pick up the souvenirs? If I remember right, the Museum of Modern Art has some of the largest bathrooms I've ever seen. And, they shouldn't be busy this time of night – "

Blair gasped, had the decency to look shocked. "If you think I'm going to let you press me up against the wall in the women's room and have your way with me – " She paused mid-sentence, crinkled her nose " – well, I guess just this once won't hurt anything."

Jo laughed, stepped on the gas, pushing the little Toyota faster, determined to reach the Museum of Modern Art in record time.

"I am so mortified!" Blair wailed, leaning her head against the glass of the passenger's window. She stared forlornly at the random buildings darting past as Jo maneuvered the streets. "I'll never be able to show my face in the museum again."

"It's not like you ever went there, anyway," Jo reasoned.

Blair smacked her in the arm. "I'll have you know, my mother is on the board. She's bound to hear about this!"

"Yeah?" Jo couldn't keep the grin off her face. "Well, if you hadn't screamed out at the top of your lungs that you were coming, no one would have heard about it."

"This is not funny!"

"Yeah, it kind of is," Jo snickered. "Relax, Princess. You paid cash for the souvenirs in the gift shop. And, it was almost closing time, so there wasn't that many people around. I doubt if anyone recognized you."

"Not recognize a Warner?" Blair snorted. "We were born to be recognized!"

"All I'm saying is, it was dark and - "

"I see them!" Blair shouted excitedly, pointing at two girls standing huddled together on the sidewalk. "Not a word of this to them," she warned.

"Like I would tell anyone," Jo grumbled. She slowed the car, signaled, pulled over to the curb. She peered out the window, noticed the gang of rough-looking punk girls standing next to Natalie and Tootie. They each sported leather jackets, emblems and patches covering the arms, blue jeans with rips and safety pins in them. "Looks like trouble. Stay here," she warned, unfastening her seatbelt, opening her car door.

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Blair rolled down her window, leaned halfway out, waving. "Natalie! Tootie! Over here!"

Jo mentally cringed as Blair's shrill shout broke the near-silence. The five girls surrounding Natalie and Tootie turned, staring at them. Or, more accurately, Blair.

One of them stepped away from the pack, sauntered towards the car. I can probably slam her head into the door and get back to the driver's side before the rest of them can react. But, what about Nat and Toot? We can't just leave them –

The punk knelt down, resting her forearms on the doorframe. She grinned, the light from the streetlamp reflected off a solid gold tooth. Jo took a step forward, hesitated, unsure of whether she should rescue Blair first – or Natalie and Tootie. Blair first; before she says something that'll get us all killed.

Taking a deep breath, she approached the car. Her walk, her manner, the cockiness of her grin did nothing to betray her inner doubts. She could take two of them on, possibly three – but all five? If it was just her, she wouldn't be worried. She'd been in tougher scraps. But, she wasn't a loner. Not anymore. She had to think of Nat and Toot – her gaze shifted to the blonde being chatted up by the gang leader – and Blair.

"Hey," the punk nodded at Jo, rising to her full height, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Hey," Jo responded, keeping it just as cool.

"This your girl?" she asked, nodding her head once at Blair.

"Yeah." Jo flicked a look at Blair. To her credit, she was rooted to the front seat, not saying a word.

"Cute," acknowledged the gang leader. She glanced at Natalie and Tootie. "They yours, too?"

"Yeah," Jo acknowledged, never taking her eyes off the punk with the gold tooth. She'd had run-ins with all-girl gangs before. They were rougher, tougher than the guys who used to run Jo's neighborhood. They'd chat you up, get your guard down, let you turn your back, then take a switchblade to the back of your leg, slicing muscles and tendons alike. No, she knew better than to turn her back.

"Yo, Rita!" the punk shouted, nodding at what Jo guessed was her second. "Bring them over!"

The other girls surrounding Natalie and Tootie edged forward. Tootie calmly walked towards the curb. Five paces away, Natalie broke and ran, rushing up to

Jo, throwing her arms about her. "Jo! I'm so glad you're here!"

Jo disentangled herself from Natalie, glancing her over from head to toe. She appeared scared, but otherwise unharmed. "Get in the car, Nat," she ordered.

Natalie opened the door, quickly slipped inside. Jo kept her body between the gang and the back door, buying Natalie some time. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the door slam. Now, if she could just get Tootie in –

Tootie stopped at the car, wrapped her arms about the gang leader, pulling her close in a tight hug. "Thanks for everything, Sandy!" she gushed.

"No problem, kid," the gang leader grinned. "Go on, get out of here!" she shoved the younger girl towards the car.

Tootie hugged each of the gang members in turn, waving to them as she climbed into the backseat. Rita and the other three waved briefly, flashing half-smiles before stepping back into the alley, disappearing into the shadows. Sandy waved once at the car, turned to go. Jo caught her by the arm, stopping her. Slowly, she turned around, staring at Jo's hand on her leather sleeve.

"Hey," Jo dropped her hand, "Thanks." She jerked her head towards the car, making sure Sandy knew what she was grateful for.

"Hey, no problem. It ain't good for young girls to be out on these streets alone, ya know?"

Jo nodded. "Yeah." She watched as Sandy tossed one last smile at the Toyota's passengers, her gold tooth flashing. Then, she turned, jogging towards the darkened alley. Jo watched until she disappeared from sight. "Yeah, I know what you mean."

"You're just lucky that Jo and I were able to cover for you!" Blair continued her tirade. Natalie and Tootie looked suitably chagrined, both slouched low in the backseat. When the lecture had first began, they were blatantly defiant. But, after the first half hour, they'd slowly come to realize that Blair's anger would only be lessened by a certain amount of contriteness on their part. "And, you'd better be glad Jo convinced me to stop at the museum and purchase some souvenirs so Mrs. Garrett wouldn't catch on to your little scheme!"

"We're sorry, Blair," Natalie mumbled, arms folded across her chest.

"Yeah, we just wanted to see the concert," added Tootie. "We'll pay you back for the souvenirs."

Blair exhaled loudly, rubbed a hand over her face. "Don't you see, Tootie; This isn't about the money!" Stretching, reaching across the back seat, she grabbed Tootie's hand, squeezing it. "You and Natalie alone on the streets of New York – anything could have happened!"

"But, nothing happened!" protested Tootie. "Sandy and Rita – "

"You were fortunate," interrupted Blair. "What if it hadn't been Sandy? What if it was someone else – what if it had been – you could have been kidnapped – or raped – or killed – or worse."

"Worse than killed?" asked Natalie.

"Yes!" Blair responded. "You're just lucky that it was Sandy's gang - "

"It could have just as easily been Sandy's gang," Jo interrupted, meeting Tootie's and Natalie's shocked expressions in the rearview mirror.

The entire car fell silent. Those had been the first words Jo had spoken since they'd gotten into the car. Her words hung heavily in the air, each of them in turn contemplating how the night's events could have gone.

I guess they've got a point, Tootie thought, staring out the window as the lights from The Chug-a-lug came in sight, We might have never seen Peekskill ever again. Or our schoolmates. Or, our parents.

I guess that was pretty stupid of us. Natalie saw the line of school buses parked in the lot as they passed Eastland. My parents would kill me if I showed up dead in some alley! Wonder if I can turn this into a story?

I can't believe how calm Jo was. Blair looked across the seat at the other woman. Reaching out, sliding her hand along the seat, she placed her palm over Jo's, gently squeezing. I was so scared – my heart was beating so fast – and then, Jo was there – I'm so lucky to have found her.

If it hadn't been for my ma sending me off to Eastland, if it hadn't been for Mrs. G. – Jo looked down at the hand resting atop of hers. – Blair and the others. That could have been me. I could've been Sandy, running the streets with a gang – always looking over my shoulder –

"Everyone out," Jo announced, throwing the car into park, "We're here."

Mrs. Garrett was downstairs, sitting in her easy chair, her feet propped up on the coffee table. The late, late movie played on the television set. Her eyes jerked open as the front door closed.

"Girls, you're back!" she exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "Everything okay?"

"Fine," Natalie and Tootie answered simultaneously, shuffling towards the stairs. They climbed each step slowly, dragging their backpacks behind them.

"Everything's fine," Blair agreed. "We're just a little tired out from the drive and all." She reached into her purse, placing a brown bag in Mrs. Garrett's hand. "Natalie and Tootie got this for you." She edged for the stairs, stifling a yawn.

"Jo?" asked Mrs. Garrett.

Jo was still standing, leaning against the closed door. I could have been Sandy. Her gaze focused on the stairs, where Blair was standing against the railing, waiting for her. She turned, looking at Mrs. Garrett, sitting in her easy chair, unwrapping her trinket. She smiled, "Yeah, everything's fine, Mrs. G.," she moved past Mrs. Garrett, stepping onto the bottom stair with Blair. She leaned into her, content to simply take comfort in her presence before placing her hand in the small of Blair's back, guiding her up the steps.

"Girls?" Mrs. Garrett's voice wafted up the stairs. Jo and Blair halted, turning around, looking back at the elderly woman. She stood at the bottom of the stairs, holding the porcelain replica in her hand. She adjusted her glasses, studying the statue closely. "I wasn't aware The Museum of Natural History had started selling souvenirs of Venus De Milo." She smiled, winked at the two dumbfounded young women before placing her new prize back in the paper bag. Humming lightly to herself, she pushed her way up the stairs past Jo and Blair. "Turn the lights out when you come up," she ordered, "And, set your alarms for five. You'll want to get started on the yard work before it gets too hot."

"But – " Jo wisely clamped a hand over Blair's mouth before she could make matters worse.

"Oh, and tell Natalie and Tootie that I'll discuss their punishment with them after they've served your breakfast in the morning."

The End

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