Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 32,330

“Besides, I’m not sure I like the name,” he pressed on. “Doesn’t it sound like the Patman Date Rape Crisis Center is for victims of ‘Patman Date Rape’?”

“No, I’m sure everyone will understand that Patman is modifying ‘Date Rape Crisis Center’ and not just ‘Date Rape,’” Elizabeth said quickly.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It could send the wrong message.”

“Trust me, it won’t,” Elizabeth said. “Just think about how many people you could reach if you do something to help them.”

Bruce ran a hand through his thick, perfect hair. He sighed. “Quit looking at me like that,” he said.

“Like what?” Elizabeth asked quickly, a slow blush beginning to creep over her face.

“Like a lost little puppy dog,” he said. “Do you honestly think that shit’s going to work on me?”

“I — I didn’t mean to,” she said, clearing her throat. “Anyway, I think using your wealth to do something good for the community is really going to help clear your name.”

“You know what I think is going to clear my name? Getting your dad to represent me,” Bruce said.

“But opening a date rape crisis center is going to be really good PR for you — and for Patman Canning,” Elizabeth said. “I promise it’s going to work wonders for your image.”

Bruce sighed. “All right, all right,” he grumbled. “Fine, I’ll do it. On one condition.”

Excited, Elizabeth placed the pointing stick down on the edge of Bruce’s desk and clasped her hands together, her eyes shining. “What is it?”

“You’ll let me have my way with you, right now,” he demanded.

Elizabeth laughed. “Done,” she said, unbuttoning her blouse and starting to cry.

* * *

Ken could tell something was wrong with Todd. All morning, he had been moping around the house. He hadn’t even taken Ken up on the offer of going to the gym and doing manly stuff, like shooting hoops and bonding in the locker room while wearing nothing but towels.

As Todd sat in his easy chair, distractedly watching some soap opera Ken had never even heard of, Ken moved up behind him and began to massage his shoulders. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Todd sighed and set his cold cup of coffee down on the end table. Ken noticed that it had barely been touched. “Nothing, really,” he said, but Ken could tell it wasn’t true.

“Come on,” Ken cajoled. “You can tell me anything.”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Todd said, his eyes focused dully on the television screen in front of him.

“Sure I would,” Ken said. “I can tell that you’re in pain right now. I acted the same way after Olivia was flattened by the Wakefields’ fridge.”

Todd laughed bitterly. “Wakefield — now there’s a name I’d like never to hear again,” he said.

“Oh, come on,” Ken said, kneading Todd’s shoulders. “The Wakefields aren’t so bad.”

“Elizabeth Wakefield is,” Todd exploded. “Can you believe she and — she and Bruce Patman, of all people — are fucking?”

“What?” Ken asked, gasping. “Elizabeth is screwing the Sweet Valley date rapist?”

“Yes,” Todd said, his voice tight. He pounded a fist into the palm of his other hand. “I thought she had more sense that that.”

“Are you sure you’re not thinking of Jessica?” Ken asked, furrowing his brow. “Jessica would definitely fuck a date rapist — willingly, I mean.”

“No, it was Elizabeth,” Todd said angrily. He pounded his fist against his hand again and again. Ken eyed the repetetitive motion warily. “She admitted as much to me this morning.”

Ken stopped massaging Todd’s shoulders mid-squeeze. “You spoke to her?” he asked. “This morning?”

Todd nodded. “I — I was helping her out to her car — Bruce’s car — with some big heavy chart or something,” he said. “That’s when I found out they were hooking up.”

Ken removed his hands from Todd’s shoulders. “Todd, I’m not sure I can continue this relationship with you,” he said carefully. “It sounds to me like you want to get back together with Elizabeth.”

“That’s not it,” Todd said, standing up to face Ken. “You have to believe me.”

“I don’t know what to believe anymore, Todd,” Ken said, turning his face away so Todd wouldn’t see the tears forming in his eyes.

* * *

Amy eyed the two little girls with disdain. They looked like they hadn’t been bathed in weeks. When I applied to be a foster mother because of the empty feeling in my womb, I didn’t think I’d be looking after Enid Rollins’ two raggedy-ass kids! she thought.

“Well,” she said, putting on her fake reporter smile, “let’s go see your new room.”

She led the two of them upstairs, past her own children’s bedrooms, to the guest room. Two neatly made beds were pushed up against opposite walls. Brandi and Nevaeh stared at them.

“Mommy never puts blankets on the beds,” Brandi said shyly.

“We don’t have any,” Nevaeh explained.

Amy kneeled down to the girls’ eye level. “Well, that’s because your Mommy is a crazy crackhead,” she said sweetly. “Why don’t you girls put your things away, and when you’re done with that, it will be time for lunch, OK?”

Nevaeh nodded. “Thank you, Miss Amy,” she said politely.

At least they learned some sort of manners, Amy thought as she descended the stairs. I don’t know where on earth they got them from, though.

In the kitchen, Amy opened the refrigerator and started pulling out everything she’d need to make lunch. I bet those poor girls haven’t ever eaten a decent home-cooked meal, she thought, shaking her head. From the living room, she could hear the sound of her own kids talking and laughing as they watched television.

The telephone rang, startling Amy. She rushed to pick it up. “Hello?” she asked, pausing to hear the person on the other end. “What? Missing? Are you sure? Yes, of course. I’ll be right there.”

She hung up the phone, rushing to the bottom of the stairs. “Barry?” she called. “I have to cover some breaking news. I’ll be home as soon as I can. Make sure to feed the kids, all right?”

I can’t believe Maria Santelli is missing, Amy thought as she grabbed her car keys off the marble table in the foyer. Something strange is going on in Sweet Valley.

* * *

Winston popped his head into Bruce’s office. “Hey, you guys are ready to hit the Unicorn Club, right?”

Elizabeth jumped up from under Bruce’s desk, smoothed down her disheveled hair and wiped at the tears flowing from her eyes. “Hey, there, Winston! We’ll be ready in a second, right, Bruce?”

“Right,” he said, pushing back from his chair and zipping up his pants. “I’m starving.”

“Me, too,” Elizabeth said enthusiastically through her tears. “I can’t wait to try the food at the Unicorn Club.”

Winston looked at her as if she were crazy. “It’s nothing special,” he said. “I mean, I guess it’s OK, for that kind of place.”

Bruce laughed. “Yeah, it’s not bad. We don’t exactly go for the food, though, do we?”

Winston laughed as well. “No, we go for the experience. Is your cousinbro coming?”

Bruce shrugged. “You know how lame Roger is. That glimpse of Lila in her underwear this morning was probably enough to sustain him for a couple of weeks, at least.”

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04 2011

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