Strange Brew, Chapter 3

  • Posted on December 9, 2022 at 3:45 pm

by Rachael Yukey

Around eleven the next morning, Terry and I were seated side-by-side on one of the conference room couches at the Bronning Ambulance station, each holding one of the laptops from the rigs. We’d just returned from a garden-variety lift assist, helping a fat lady get off of her butt and onto her couch. Terry was writing the report for that call, two paragraphs of fluff to justify billing for a no-transport 911. It didn’t take him long.

Me, I was writing the report for the Jason Bixley car accident the previous day. As it was an ALS report for multi-system trauma with cardiac arrest, it took somewhat longer.

I was just wrapping it up when my phone chimed, and I glanced at it in mild annoyance. Had it been a personal contact, I would have let it go until I’d finished the report, but a text message from the Chief of Police warranted an immediate look.

It read: Are you available to meet with me within the next hour? I’m in my office.

Quickly, using both thumbs, I typed Right across the street from you in conf room. Can be there in ten.

“George wants to talk to me,” I said to Terry, turning back to my report. “I told him I’d pop in after I’m done with this. You don’t have to wait for me; I won’t die of frostbite walking the four blocks back to your place.”

Terry shrugged. “I’ve already been waiting for what – twenty minutes? I can spend a little longer watching porn on the city’s internet.”

I leaned over a little to peer at his laptop screen. He was idly scrolling through a catalog of wargaming figurines. “That gets you hard, does it?” I said.

“Sure, why do you think I have so many of them in the house, but only allow one chick in at a time?”

“The miniatures never tell you no,” I pointed out. “If only they could speak. ‘No! Stop! I’ve been violated’!”

Terry chuckled. There was a light rap at the conference room door, and it swung open. Bronning Chief of Police George Fronse stood in the doorway. George is a short, lean man, his close-cropped hair and ramrod-straight posture more evocative of a career soldier than a small-town cop, especially when he’s in uniform.

“Figured I’d come to you since you were right across the street,” he said. “How much more time do you need?”

“Two minutes,” I said, turning my attention back to my laptop and typing furiously.

Terry closed his laptop, stood, and walked to the door. He extended his hand. “How’re you doing, George?”

George Fronse’s jaw tightened almost imperceptibly, but he shook the proffered hand.

“Good to see you, Terry,” he said, his voice devoid of inflection.

I sighed inwardly as I hit the submit button. The exchange was pleasant enough, but the expression on George’s face said it all. He’s a good man but straight as an arrow, and he disapproves of Terry Wilder.

“I’ll catch up with you when we’re done here, Terry,” I said, flipping the laptop closed.

Terry plucked the computer out of my hand. “I’ll put it back in the rig for you. Meet you back at my place? I’ll probably be in my office, so just come in.” He said it with a slight emphasis on my place, looking sidelong at the chief of police with just a hint of a smile. “Catch you later, George.” He left the room.

George moved briskly to the conference table, pulled out a chair, and turned it to face the couch upon which I sat. “First off, thanks for coming out to that accident yesterday, Nettie,” he said. “Believe me, everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when we saw you walk onto the scene.”

I looked down at my hands. “For all the good it did,” I said, lifting my head to meet his eyes.

George cocked his head to one side. “It actually did something very important. Because you were there, I can look the family in the eye and tell them that everything that could have been done, was. Did you know my brother used to date Jason’s mom in high school?”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“Well, it’s true. But it’s not just important to me personally — it’s a good thing for the city services that you were there. It’s good for Jessie and Robbie, too. They don’t have to wonder what they could have done differently.”

Jessie and Robbie, lest you’re wondering, are the two volunteer EMTs who were on call yesterday when the accident occurred. I’ve already mentioned Jessie Kramer; she’s a little blonde slip of a girl who’s only been an EMT for a few months. Robbie Wachinsky, on the other hand, is the director of the Bronning volunteer ambulance squad, a position he has held for over thirty years.

“Robbie knows better than that,” I said.

George nodded slowly. “He was dead when we pulled him out, wasn’t he?”

“He bled out,” I said. “You saw his legs. Both of his femoral arteries must have been ripped to shreds.”

“Do you think he was killed on impact?”

I hesitated for a moment before answering. I’d hoped nobody would ask.

“No,” I said. “He had significant smoke damage to his airway; I had a bitch of a time intubating him. He might have been gone before the flames got to him – I hope he was – but he was alive long enough for smoke inhalation to screw up his pipes.”

Again, the slow nod, followed by a long silence. I simply waited him out. If George needed to work himself up to whatever he had to say, I wasn’t going to hold his hand while he did it. Finally he spoke.

“His parents protested the autopsy.”

My eyebrows shot up. “For real?”

“For real. His mom made a hell of a scene about it at the hospital. Said her boy was gone, that’s all she needed to know, and she didn’t want him cut up any more than he already was. But you know how it is… in these kinds of circumstances the family doesn’t get a say.”

I pursed my lips, but said nothing. This wasn’t the first time George had interviewed me in the aftermath of a fatal accident, but the long pauses and the hesitancy in his voice weren’t like him at all.

“Anyway,” George went on, “I guess you’ve heard about all of the questions surrounding the whole thing?”

“Well, let’s see. He was out too early, going the wrong way, and the rumor mill has it that his parents didn’t know he was gone. Does that cover it?”

“Pretty much.” He fell silent again.

Suddenly I was weary of this game. “What do you need from me, George?”

“Your experienced eye. Did you see anything on the scene, or the patient, that looked wrong or out of place?”

I laid my head against the back of the couch, staring up at the ceiling as I gave it a moment’s thought.

“Not off the top of my head,” I replied. “The only weirdness that occurs to me is the fact that he swerved in the first place. Maybe he was playing with his phone?”

George shrugged, then spread his hands out on his lap. “We don’t know. We did recover the phone, but it was destroyed by the fire. We’ve put in for a warrant to check his phone account records, which we’ll get because there’s evidence of distracted driving and a $200,000 Peterbilt dump truck was destroyed. The insurance companies are going to have a field day with this. Nettie, did you see any evidence of substance abuse?”

“No,” I replied without hesitation. “Nothing like that. But you know that doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t necessarily have any way to tell.”

“I understand that.”

“George,” I said, “has it occurred to you that he probably just spent the night with some cheerleader, overslept, and was texting her heartfelt messages of love while rushing to get home before his folks realized he was out?”

George’s expression became distant. “Yeah. I sure as hell hope that’s all it turns out to be. If you think of anything else, you’ll let me know?”

“Of course.”

“And you’ll keep this conversation between us?”

“What part of it? You haven’t told me anything, George, except that his mom protested the autopsy. Speaking of which, you’ll find out if he was on anything when the report comes back. I’m hoping to get a look at it myself. As for the clinical details, it’s not like I’m going to talk about it to anybody who isn’t on the squad.”

“Which I suppose you’ve already done.” His eyes flickered in the direction of the door that Terry had exited through.

I felt my eyes narrow. “Terry Wilder’s not a problem here, George,” I said, carefully keeping my voice neutral. “He’s better at keeping things to himself than almost anyone else I know.”

“Which is one of the reasons I don’t trust him,” George shot back. I arched an eyebrow at the hardness of his tone.

“Listen,” he said, “I know guys like him. They can charm the little birdies right out of the trees, they know it, and they use it. And they’re too good at keeping their mouths shut. They play their cards close to the vest, all the time, and they only let you see what they want you to see.” He rose to his feet.

“I’ll be in touch, Nettie,” he said. “It’s part of an investigation, so I’ll have to get permission to let you see the autopsy report, but I can probably swing it by listing you as an expert advisor. Have a good rest of the day.”

I stared after him as he exited the conference room.


I raised my fist to knock, then remembered that Terry had told me to just come in. I stepped into the spacious foyer, sat on the bench, and began unlacing my boots. Hearing footsteps on the noisy old hardwood, I looked up just in time to see him stride through the dining nook at the end of the hall. I divested myself of the boots, shrugged out of the light blue Bronning Ambulance hoodie, and joined him in the kitchen.

“Want lunch?” he asked me, opening the fridge and eyeing its contents.


“There’s egg salad. You wanna see if there’s any bread in the cupboard?”

I popped open a cupboard door. It was the first time I’d hunted for food in this kitchen in months, but Terry’s a man of settled habits, and the bread was right where I remembered. I selected a loaf of sourdough and tossed it onto the center island, where Terry had just placed a large glass bowl covered with Saran Wrap.

“So,” he said as he peeled back the clear plastic, “what’d the long arm of the law want with you?”

“Give it a rest,” I said, digging in a drawer for a serving spoon. “George is a good guy. You didn’t need to antagonize him with that crack about me coming back here.”

Terry gave an unrepentant shrug as he opened the loaf of bread and counted slices out onto the counter. “It’s very hard to resist. Every time I see him, the guy is looking at me as if he’s just waiting for me to abscond with the silverware, or maybe his daughter.”

“You mean you haven’t gotten around to her yet?” I began spooning egg salad onto slices of bread.

The corners of his mouth twitched upwards. “Oh, she’s a delightful little dish to be sure, but I don’t screw around with women whose fathers carry guns all the live-long day.”


Retrieving a couple of small plates, Terry plunked two sandwiches on each one while I poured coffee. We carried everything into the living room and set it on the coffee table in front of the couch. The sandwiches were delicious, the egg salad augmented perfectly with crumbled bacon and finely diced onions.

“Let me guess,” I said after swallowing my first bite. “Halee made the egg salad.”

Terry let out a single laugh. “If I’d made it, all you’d taste would be mustard and mayonnaise.”

I knew this wasn’t precisely true; Terry’s a more than acceptable cook. But Halee has a true talent for the craft.

“So… what did he want?” Terry asked.

“Oh, the usual stuff. He just wanted to know if I saw anything unusual or suspicious.”

Terry made a face. “It sounds like a garden-variety car wreck to me. The kid was probably texting or taking a selfie or something.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said. And I think George is expecting to find out exactly that. But he has to investigate. In a case like this, both the state and county cops are involved along with the city. So he’s got to play it by the book.”

“And if he finds an excuse to arrest me while he’s at it, so much the better?”

“If you don’t knock it off,” I said tartly, “I’ll help him frame you.”

We lapsed into a companionable silence as we ate our lunch. Polishing off the last of his second sandwich, Terry took a sip of coffee.

“Any special requests for dinner?” he asked.

I felt a smile tug at the corners of my mouth. “Is that your idea of an invitation?”

“Something like that,” he replied, “but what I haven’t told you yet is that you have to cook.”

“Fuck you.”

“That’ll be fun, too.”


I ended up falling asleep on his couch. I’d expected a little afternoon sex before his kids got home from school, but one moment we were talking and the next I was easing back into consciousness with my head on his lap and a sore neck. What can I say; I’ve been on short sleep rations of late.

“What time is it?” I groaned.

“Almost three. The kids’ll be home in about twenty minutes. You’ve had a couple of texts over the past hour.”

I sat up, blearily retrieving my phone from where it lay on the coffee table. Two messages awaited me. One was from Bronning volunteer ambulance director Robbie Wachinsky, inviting me to the Crisis Incident Stress Management debriefing that he’d arranged for the people who’d responded to the Jason Bixley accident scene. Would be really beneficial for Jessie if you could make it, the message concluded.

I ran a hand across my face. Good Christ, I don’t need this. I’d been to exactly one CISM debrief during my seven years in EMS, and that was one too many as far as I was concerned.

The second text was from Greg Wahlberg, the operations director at Thormleton Ambulance, where I work. Please call me when you have a moment. Wondering what Greg could possibly want with me on a day off, I tapped the call button and held the phone to my ear.

“Hey, Nettie,” my boss’s voice said. On the phone, Greg always sounds so cheerful it’s disgusting.

“What can I do for you, Greg?”

“Well,” he said, “I just got off the phone with Robbie, your ambulance director up there in Bronning. He tells me they’re doing a CISM debrief for that accident — tomorrow at 1900, if I remember right. Are you planning on going to it?”

Goddamn it, Robbie. “God, no.”

There was a long silence on the other end. “Hey, Greg,” I said at last, “you still there?”

“Here’s the deal, Nettie,” he said finally. “There’s been concern voiced about you amongst the managers. Even Tim Thormleton has mentioned it, and when the owner starts getting involved, it’s past time to address the problem. Now…”

“Wait one damn minute,” I said. I saw Terry’s eyebrows shoot up, and dialed back my tone. “What kind of concerns? And who…”

“Calm down.” Greg’s tone had gone from chipper to rock hard. “Nobody’s questioning your competence. Nobody ever has. Now, you just keep your cool and hear me out.”

Mentally biting my tongue, I sat back. “I’m listening.”

“We’re starting to worry that you’re not dealing with the stress of your job in a positive way,” he said. “You’ve had some bad calls lately. There was that hanging suicide, then the infant CPR just last week, just to name two. You didn’t go to the debrief for either of them, and you won’t discuss it outside of the clinical details. It’s not healthy, and part of my job is not letting you mess yourself up.”

I realized I was starting to squirm, and forced myself to remain still. Terry wasn’t even pretending to not eavesdrop.

“I appreciate that, Greg,” I said, “but the last time I checked, these debriefs weren’t mandatory, and this one isn’t even for a Thormleton call.”

“You’re right,” he said. “I can’t make you go. But people are starting to talk, and to tell you the truth, It’s not just the managers. You’ve been the Iron Lady almost since you started working here, but you wanna know what people have been calling you behind your back lately?” Greg paused, clearly expecting a response.

Fuck that. I waited him out.

“They’re calling you The Ice Queen,” he said at last. “And you’re not just a truck medic, you’re the clinical director. Do you see the problem here?”

The phone chimed in my ear, advising me that yet another text message had been received. I ignored it.

“Look,” said Greg, “if you attend, I’ve arranged it with Tim for you to be on the clock. Just put it on your timesheet and round up to the next hour. But whether you go or not, I’m strongly urging you to look after your mental health. This is unofficial for the moment, and I’d rather it stay that way. Fair enough?”

“Fair enough,” I said.

“Then I won’t keep you tied up any longer. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.”

Avoiding Terry’s eyes, I lowered the phone and opened the new text. It was from George Fronse. Could not get permission for you to view the autopsy report. Sorry about that.

“Damn,” I said.

“Problems?” Terry’s face was devoid of expression.

I sighed heavily. “Well, let’s see. Robbie thinks he can guilt-trip me into going to the CISM debrief tomorrow, and Wahlberg is going for bribery mixed with veiled threats. Screw both of them. In other news, George Fronse couldn’t get permission for me to see the autopsy report.”

Terry leaned back, looking thoughtful. “Is that what he said?”

“Yes… and don’t give me that look. I know you don’t like George, but–”

“The dislike is entirely one-sided,” he said in an icy tone, cutting me off. “The guy turns into Frosty the goddamn Snowman every time I get within a hundred yards, and it says more about him than it does about me. This doesn’t have anything to do with that.”

He drew in a deep breath. “Look, The accident happened within the township, right?”

“Yeah… just barely. So what?”

“And there’s no criminal investigation attached. So we’re within his jurisdiction, and that makes him the chief investigating authority. The county and the state would just be assisting at this point. If he wanted to call you in as an advisor or whatever and show it to you on that basis, he has the authority to do it.”

I stared at him, hard. “How the hell do you know that?”

“From the horse’s mouth, when I asked a jurisdictional question after that train wreck last week. George told me.”


I laid three fives on the dining nook table, and discarded a seven of spades. Halee Wilder snatched the card, laid it down with two more sevens that were already in her hand, and carelessly flipped her last card into the discard pile. She flashed me a shit-eating grin, then began counting up her points. I groaned aloud as I dropped my remaining cards on the table face-up.

“You’re killing me,” I complained good-naturedly. Terry’s daughter, having added up her own hand, leaned forward to inspect my cards.

“Whoa,” she said. “You went down sixty points. Doesn’t matter, though… I just hit 535. That means I win… unless you wanna double it and play to 1000?”

“Haven’t you already humiliated me enough for one night?”

“Oh, c’mon.”

I stretched luxuriously as I weighed my options, arms above my head, my long legs extended under the table. I was opening my mouth to say no when I felt my big toe brush along the side of Halee’s stockinged foot. I looked up, but Halee merely continued gathering up the cards, seemingly oblivious.

I spoke again, thinking to decline the extended game, but that’s not what came out of my mouth. “Sure,” I heard myself say, “but when I kick your ass this time, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.”

It was just the two of us sitting across from one another at the table. Six-year-old Maya had been in bed for an hour. Naomi was at play practice. Terry and eight-year-old Dawn were taking advantage of an uptick in the weather, playing fetch with the big golden retriever in the backyard as dusk fell. Halee’s dog, a little Boston Terrier named Lanie, was curled up in a dog bed by the fireplace.

I dealt in silence, working up the courage to bring up the topic that had been left hanging in the air between us almost a week before. No matter how much I told myself that I was only trying to make myself available for any questions the girl had, I knew it was a lie.

“Halee,” I said, as we considered our respective hands, “do you remember what we were talking about the other day?”

Halee smirked. “I remember that it ended with you clubbing my dad over the head and dragging him upstairs.” She drew a card from the pile, considered it, and dropped it into the discard.

I looked down at my own hand… anything to avoid her eyes. Then I remembered something. I looked back up. “And with you listening in from your bedroom,” I pointed out. “I heard your door close.”

Her smile vanished. “You don’t think Dad heard, do you?”

“No,” I said, “but you got lucky. My hands were over his ears. Let’s not change the subject. You went up there so you could listen in.”

Now it was Halee’s turn to look down at her hand, a blush creeping across her cheeks. I made my play as I waited her out.

“So what?” she said at last, lifting her eyes to mine as she drew a card. “I’ll bet you were a little bit curious about that stuff at my age.”

I smiled as she threw out a fifteen point play and discarded. This was the opening I was looking for. I drew a card. “Last week you were asking me about what I’ve done with other women,” I reminded her. “You seemed interested.”

Halee looked down again. “Maybe,” she admitted after a moment’s silence. “How — how old were you when you started thinking you were — you know…”

“Bisexual?” I said. “It’s not a dirty word, Halee; you can say it.”

I gave her question a moment’s thought. “I was probably your age, maybe a little older,” I said. “I’d been having sexual feelings for awhile, and I started to realize that a lot of them were about other girls. Or sometimes grown women. It took a little while before I let myself fantasize about it, but that’s when it started.”

We continued the game as we spoke, but I don’t think our minds were really on it. I was starting to get more than just a little turned on.

“When did you start doing stuff with girls?” said Halee. “Or shouldn’t I ask?”

“You can ask me anything. My first sexual experience was with a girl… at least my first that wasn’t by myself,” I amended. I held her eyes. “Have you ever done anything by yourself, Halee?”

She looked away again. “Hey,” I said, “I’m being honest with you. You can be honest with me. I masturbate all the time, if that helps.”

She looked up again, and gave me a hesitant smile. “Me too,” she said. “Like, a lot.”

“And how long have you been doing that?”

“Oh, I guess about a year.”

“Really,” I said. “I started young, too. I was… I don’t even know. Pretty young.” I hesitated for a moment, a fog of half-remembered images, long suppressed, trying to force their way to the surface. I shook myself and pushed on.

“To answer the rest of your question,” I said, “I was fourteen the first time I had sex. The girl was a senior, and she was openly gay. I thought maybe I was a lesbian, too, for awhile. I didn’t really get interested in guys till I was sixteen. That’s when I first had sex with a guy.”

Why did I have the sense that there was more to it than that? Hazy memories tickled at the edges of my consciousness, memories that seemed just below the surface, but forever out of reach. As always, I shoved these impressions to one side and focused on the present. Right this minute, a delicate, beautiful, young creature was seated across the table from me, giving me a tantalizing glimpse of what might lie beyond a door that I’d always refused to open. Oh, how I wanted what was on the other side.

I threw down a final play, and went out. We both started adding up our points. As Halee began shuffling the cards, I reached across the table and lightly touched her forearm. She looked up at me, startled. She stopped shuffling, and we held each other’s eyes. Just like the week before, there was communication in that gaze that went beyond mere words. Any doubts I’d had vanished; Halee was as attracted to me as I was to her. Finally she looked away and began to deal. I withdrew my hand.

“Do you think you’re interested in girls?” I asked.

“I think maybe,” she said. “But it’s weird. Some are girls my age, and some are like — you know — women. Like my teachers. Other people too.” As she said that last, she paused in her dealing for a moment and stared straight into my eyes.

I had to take a deep breath. It took me a few seconds to be able to talk again. “That’s not so weird,” I assured her at last. “I had the biggest crush on my eighth grade music teacher. She could have had me any time.” We both giggled, and some of the tension drained from the air.

“Halee,” I went on, “when you masturbate, do you — finish? Do you have orgasms?”

I didn’t get an answer. We heard the front door open, and moments later a giggling girl and a big red dog burst through the dining nook and into the adjacent living room, Terry striding sedately in their wake. He tipped us a salute as he walked by. Moments later he and Dawn were seated side-by-side on the couch, Dawn hunched studiously over her math homework under her father’s watchful eye.

Halee and I quietly resumed our game. As she made a play, I extended my foot and swept it in a slow arc under the table, until it briefly came into contact with hers. I let my big toe linger just for a moment as it brushed past, then moved it away. Working to keep my face neutral, I considered the cards on the table. If Halee took note, she said nothing.

As I scrutinized my hand, I felt her big toe brush against mine. I darted my foot forward just a bit, placing my toe just over the top of hers, holding it there. I glanced up from my hand. Halee was gazing steadily in my direction, ignoring her cards, eyes wide. A moment later, I began gently caressing the top of her foot with my toe.

This is a bad fucking idea. I glanced back down at my hand, then off to my left into the living room, at Terry and Dawn. I could feel excitement building in me, and did Halee seem a bit flushed? This is a really bad, terrible fucking idea.

With an enormous effort of will, I pulled my foot away. Drawing a card, I tucked it into my hand and discarded another. I kept my eyes down, refusing to meet Halee’s gaze. Then I felt the ball of a foot graze the top of mine, pause, and begin to move in gentle circles.

Heat like a volcano was rising in me now. I glanced towards the living room again. I knew they wouldn’t be able to see the footsie action from that angle, even if they looked directly at us, but I still felt horribly vulnerable and exposed. The problem was, the perceived risk factor was making this whole damn thing even hotter.

Halee drew a card, laid three kings on the table, then discarded. My right foot and her left were now engaged in a slow, complicated, agonizing series of caresses. I drew my card and threw down a triple-ace play. I looked up to give Halee a triumphant smile, and froze. Her color was high, her eyes unfocused. Experimentally I ran my big toe up the inside of her ankle, and was rewarded with an indrawn hiss of air. Her breathing was becoming noticeably ragged. 

Time to end this thing. As I discarded I withdrew my foot, firmly tucking it, along with its mate, under my chair.

We didn’t play to 1000; I think we barely finished the hand. Without discussing it, we both knew the game was over. As I scooped up the cards, Halee stood up just a little too abruptly. “Lanie, come,” she said.

Her Boston terrier uncurled itself from the dog bed next to the fireplace and trotted over to her. “I’m taking the dogs for a walk,” she announced to the room in general.

“Ooh, I wanna walk Tink,” bubbled Dawn, still seated next to her father on the couch.

“Not a chance,” said Terry. “You’re going to finish these last two math problems.”

Dawn frowned, but turned her attention back to her assignment. Halee disappeared into the hall. I could hear vague sounds from the foyer as she leashed both animals, got into a jacket, and stepped out into the darkness.

As Dawn worked under her father’s watchful eye, I ascended the single step into the living room and joined them on the couch. Moments later, Naomi came home, bubbling with excitement over her upcoming production.

Finally Dawn finished her last problem, then dropped her pencil on the table. “Done.”

“And there it is,” said Terry. “You’re finished with school for the weekend. Now, would you care to take a guess at what time it is?”

“Time for Dawn to get her own iPad?” the little girl chirped up.

“Nooo — good try, but wrong. The correct answer is that it’s time for Dawn to take her tiny rear end to bed. Teeth and pajamas — go, go, go.”

Dawn threw him a classic pouty face and flounced towards the bathroom. The front door opened, heralding the return of two dogs and a pre-teen girl.

“Halee,” Terry called out to his eldest daughter, “I don’t really care how late you stay up, but you’re on your own tonight, kiddo.” He turned towards Naomi. “You can stay up one more hour. No more than that, all right?”

“Sure, Daddy.” She kissed him, and moved off down the hall.

Halee entered the living room, cradling her dog upside down like a baby and rubbing its belly. Setting the terrier on the couch next to me, she bent over and hugged her father, planting a kiss on his cheek. She straightened, turned towards me, and leaned in for a hug. Caught off guard, I froze for a moment, then put my arms around the girl’s shoulders and squeezed. I expected her to let go almost at once, but she lingered just for a moment, her cheek pressed against mine. Then she straightened with a mysterious little smile. Collecting her dog, Halee disappeared in the direction of the stairs.

The bathroom door swung open and Dawn came out, stomping a little as she made her way towards the hall leading to her bedroom. She stopped in front of the couch, spread her feet apart, and placed her hands on her hips.

“How come Halee gets to stay up as late as she wants?” she demanded to know.

“Because she’s twelve and you’re eight. Your time will come. Did you brush your teeth?” She folded her arms across her chest at him, but nodded.

“Good, said Terry. “C’mere.” The pouty expression stayed glued to her face, but she settled into her father’s lap readily enough, allowing him to hug and kiss her.

“Okay,” said Terry. “Move out. Get your pajamas on, and you can read one story before you kill your light. If I go in there half an hour from now and the light is still on, you are unlikely to enjoy what takes place afterwards. Questions?”

“Um… what if it’s a really long story?” Dawn asked.

“Read a short one. Anything else?”

She shook her head, slid off his lap, and set off towards her bedroom.

Terry turned to face me. “So you’re not going to the debrief tomorrow?” he said.

“Jesus, not you, too.”

“Hear me out, Nettie,” He paused for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts.

“This one sucks,” he said. “A teenage kid died, and it was a kid everyone liked who played on — well, fuck, one of the sports teams, and who was related to half the damn county. There are a lot of emotions flying around, and a bunch of the people who responded yesterday are probably feeling shitty about it. I know Jessie is. Now, I think those meetings are mostly pointless myself, but this is an ever so rare instance where one person could walk in there and have a positive effect for a whole bunch of people. And I’m looking at her.”

“So, you’re jumping on the guilt-trip train.”

“You know I’m right.”

The problem is, I do know it, I thought morosely. The people at that briefing needed someone to tell them that the broken body lying on a cooling board somewhere wasn’t the fault of anybody who had responded to that accident scene, and I was the one person who had been there who could say that with authority. And if Jessie was as bad off as I’d been led to believe — dammit, this isn’t my job. Except that it sort of is, and I knew that, too. Terry was still gazing steadily at me.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, turning my eyes away from him. “If I do go — if– I reserve the right to hit the first person who utters the phrase, ‘will of God’.”

“No arguments here.”

He cupped my chin, gently turning my head to face him. “What’s on your mind, really?”

I sighed, and fought back a reflexive impulse to tell him to mind his own damn business. He knows me too well, I realized, and that makes me uncomfortable. Is that part of the reason we can never seem to get our shit together?

“It’s the autopsy report,” I said at last. “Why would George not want me to see it?”

“Why don’t you ask him? I probably will if you don’t.”

“Don’t be an idiot. You’re too new around here to walk up to the chief of police and call him a liar. Hell, I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’m not sure I want to go there.” I ran my fingers restlessly through my hair, pulling it back. “But he lied to me this afternoon, didn’t he? I Googled the jurisdictional thing, and you’re right. He doesn’t need authorization. Why the hell would he tell me that he does, and can’t get it?”

Terry looked thoughtful. “My exceptional intellectual powers, which are exceeded only by the length of my reproductive organ, cry out to me that the best way to answer that question is to get a look at the report. They further suggest that George is not your only avenue towards achieving that goal.” Terry’s  mock-formal, vaguely sarcastic manner of speaking never fails to lift my mood. I had to suppress a giggle.

“That’s what I was thinking,” I said. “I’m planning on making a couple of phone calls in the morning. I should at least be able to get a summary from Doctor Murphey in Johnstown.”

“And there you have it.” He rose to his feet. “I’m going to grab a shower.”

I thought for a moment to join him; it’d be an easy way to tame my raging hormones without hating myself. But something held me back. A dividing line had been crossed, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it yet.

“Meet you in bed,” I told him.

When he arrived there, I pretended I was already asleep.

On to Chapter Four!


26 Comments on Strange Brew, Chapter 3

  1. Kim & Sue says:

    Wonderful chapter. Love the realism and atmosphere. The pace of the story is very good also. Great detail as well.

  2. Erocritique says:

    The slow build up is killing me – in a good way. The mystery surrounding the accident, and the tension surrounding the taboo interaction, makes the wait for resolution twice as painful. – Hooks are painful. I can’t wait to have a few of them removed. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  3. Captain Midnight says:

    An incredibly intriguing mystery about the death of the young driver, coupled with a human tale of Nettie being the closest thing the girls have to a mother figure, and the attraction of Halee and Nettie to each other.

    Rachael Yukey, if I compare you to Letoria as a writer, that is the highest compliment I can bestow. You are the closest anyone has come to matching her insight into human nature. If she had been your best friend as she was mine, you’d see how that worked.

  4. Levon Tostig says:

    Three chapters is probably far too short to call Strange Brew a masterpiece, but it’s certainly trending in that direction. This should be a textbook in writing slow build, slow burn erotica and by the time we get to the actual sex, the heat in this narrative will be off the charts.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Wow… I don’t know about masterpieces! If I can manage a decent story, I’ll be more than content. Thank you so much!

      • Levon Tostig says:

        I certainly haven’t read EVERY piece of lesbian erotica in existence, but I’ve read enough to recognize when something special comes along, something makes everything else seem ordinary and pedestrian. Call it a hunch, but I think when we see Nettie and Halee consummate their relationship, its going very, very special indeed.

  5. Mo says:

    Another excellent chapter in this evolving story…Real characters acting in believable ways. I too enjoyed the taboo table play alongside considering the motivations of George and Terry.
    Love this Rachel and can’t wait for chapter four!

  6. David says:

    I love the story line so far, the realism of the story and the affection she has for Halee are all tying together well. I love the build up and the anticipation of what is coming next. Great job so far and looking forward to the next chapter.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Thanks, David! I had a blast writing it, too.

      • David says:

        Do you have other stories written already I could read?

        • JetBoy says:

          Rachael does indeed have another lengthy story up at this site, entitled “Pages From a Diary.” HOWEVER… that story was never finished. Once “Strange Brew” is done, we will be reposting
          “Pages” in a sparkling new version with the missing parts complete at last. My advice to everyone here is to wait for that one. It promises to be a gen-you-wine corker.

        • Rachael Yukey says:

          JetBoy beat me to it. I was unable to finish Pages at the time for reasons I shall not go into, but I’m on the home stretch with it now. Once Strange Brew is up, we’ll be re-posting the whole thing, as i shall be streamlining some of what’s already there.

          • Erocritique says:

            As a huge “Pages” fan, I would advise against “streamlining” such a special work. Please reconsider.

          • Rachael Yukey says:

            Let me clarify: the work with my previous editor was not as collaborative as what I’m doing with JetBoy, and some significant typos, alterations of what I thought of as essential italics and other forms of emphasis, and just plain spelling/punctuation errors got through. Mostly we’ll be cleaning that stuff up.

            A clarification of the clarification: I loved Poppa Bear to death, and we shared a lot of very special personal communication. But he lost his wife during the time that Pages was going up, and I got the idea his own health was failing. I think those things had an effect on the workflow. Nothing I said above should be taken as an indictment of him; I thought he was a lovely man.

          • Levon Tostig says:

            Do you have a sense yet of how many chapters Strange Brew will have?

          • Rachael Yukey says:

            I can answer that question with great precision: Strange Brew is twenty-three chapters long. It’s all written, although there’s still editing to do.

  7. Jack says:

    Absolutely loving this superb story! Can’t wait for the next chapter! The detail is perfect–meaning that while there is a lot of it, it fits the story and the pace like a glove. Thank you for your efforts so far, Rachael!

  8. Eloquent delinquent says:

    Still charging ahead on all cylinders, this story continues to impress me. The erotic tension spiraled up in the footsie scene, while the mystery seems to be sprawling out in a direction that whiffs of conspiracy. All of it is rich with detail, every character and setting distinct and recognizable.

    As things develop, it’s easy to see the peril in running two different genres of plot concurrently, but so far you’ve proved more than equal to the task of keeping the pace moving in both. I’m sure you can tell from these comments just how much we’re enjoying this. Thanks for all the skillful work!

  9. Powertenor246 says:

    Ms. Yukey, I can and will say your writing style reminds me very strongly indeed of a cross between James Patterson and Lillian Jackson Braun. With a double pinch of Eddings for flavor. Keep up the good work, I can only speak for myself when I say I richly appreciate it.

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