Strange Brew, Chapter 21

  • Posted on September 7, 2023 at 3:28 pm

A quick recap of the Story Thus Far: Rural paramedic Nettie Hastings finds herself in the middle of a flurry of unexplained overdose calls and, with the help of her best friend and former lover, Terry Wilder, puts clues together to link the source to her own hometown. A DEA agent named Bridgette Ramscone is brought in to work the case, and she takes a special interest in Nettie who, in the meantime, has entered into a clandestine affair with Terry’s preteen daughter Halee. It turns out that Terry’s ex-wife Kathryn is the linchpin of the criminal enterprise behind the overdoses. A showdown occurs in which Halee is shot, and Terry taken hostage. Thankfully, Terry escapes, Halee survives, and the drug dealers are all arrested or killed.

For a more detailed breakdown of this story’s chapters, please consult the Chapter Links.

by Rachael Yukey

Terry flatly refused to be debriefed before he’d seen his kids. The DEA was less than thrilled, but Agent Ramscone herself made the call to cut him loose. “He won’t be of much use to us anyhow, not until he gets some sleep,” she said.

Terry and I were transported back to Bronning by helicopter about an hour after the mercenaries surrendered. I don’t remember the trip; I was too exhausted to stay awake for most of it. I got him home, shoveled his semi-comatose ass into bed, then stretched out on his couch. Even making my way to the guest room felt like too much work. Before I crashed, I set my alarm. I still had obligations to meet.

When the clock went off a couple of hours later, I staggered to the kitchen, got some coffee going, and called my mom. She cheerfully agreed to keep Dawn and Maya until I was ready to come get them. I got a cup of coffee and some toast into my gut, then drove to Chelsey Milne’s grandma’s house.

Natalie Milne greeted me cordially, told me the girls were in the bedroom down the hall, then settled down in front of the television, turning it up even louder than it already was. As I neared the end of the corridor, I could hear the muted sounds of girls giggling. I found my way to the door from which the giggling emerged, knocking lightly.

Instantly the giggling ceased, and I heard the sound of frenzied movements. “Hold on, Grandma,” Chelsey called out.

“It’s Nettie,” I said. There was a chorus of renewed giggles, then the sound of the door being unlocked from the inside. Naomi was staring up at me. I couldn’t help but notice that her blouse was buttoned crooked.

“Hi, Nettie!” she said, stepping back and ushering me in. I stepped inside and closed the door. It wasn’t lost on me that Naomi immediately relocked it. Chelsey was supine on the bed, covered to her chin with a blanket. I felt a grin spreading across my face; there was no missing what had been taking place here.

“We thought you were Grandma,” said Chelsey, smirking at me.

“Yeah, I thought so,” I replied. “Aren’t you worried she might hear you?”

“Hear us doing what?” Naomi inquired innocently, and both girls erupted in a fit of giggling.

“Grandma can’t hear very good,” said Chelsey, “so we don’t worry. Don’t you hear how loud she cranks the TV?”

“Any word on my dad?” Naomi asked, her voice suddenly anxious.

“He’s home,” I told her.

“YES! When can I see him?”

“He’s sleeping right now,” I told her, “but I’ll take you back with me. You can see him when he wakes up.”

Naomi looked at Chelsey, then back at me. “So do we need to go now, or…”

I chuckled. “Exactly what was happening when I knocked?”

Well,” Chelsey said in a saucy tone, “I just made Naomi come, and she was about to eat my pussy.” She threw the blanket off with her good arm, and I caught my breath at the sight of her glorious nudity.

I advanced towards the bed, suddenly overcome with need. Not a need to get off myself, but a need to touch this beautiful young body. I sat down on the edge of the mattress, running my fingertips from Chelsey’s soft young neck and down across her belly. The girl shivered deliciously.

“I’d like a taste of that,” I said. “If it’s okay with you girls.”

“Are you cool with that, Naomi?” Chelsey inquired.

“Oh, yeah, then I can watch,” Naomi said, her voice a bit breathy.

Gently I spread the girl’s thin young legs, running my hands up and down her thighs. Chelsey’s response was immediate, her breath harsh, hips moving. I bent to her, my tongue delicately tracing those smooth, almost hairless labia. I split her open with my fingers, a blissful sigh escaping my lips at the sight of her glistening, girlish treasure.

I slipped my tongue inside, enjoying the tangy flavor of her vagina before moving upwards to find her clit. I began to lick, slowly and gently at first, enjoying her response. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Naomi off to the side. She’d shucked her pants and was fingering her sweet hairless pussy, lips shuddering, mouth working soundlessly.

I slipped a finger into Chelsey’s tight little cunt, then another as she opened up for me. She moaned in response. Sensing her readiness, I really went to work, licking her clit and fucking her. In what seemed like no time at all she was crying out, then coming, grinding her pussy against my mouth.

Looking up, I saw Naomi masturbating furiously off to my right. I lifted my body until we were at eye level.

“Do you want to taste Chelsey on my lips?” Naomi nodded, and our mouths came together in a furious kiss. She threw her head back and wailed as she came.


“The locker, as near as we can figure, started out as a sort of science lab,” Bridgett was saying. She, Terry, and I were sipping coffee in his living room around noon. Terry and his girls had been reunited a little over an hour before, although Dawn and Maya, not fully comprehending the import of what had just happened, had gone off to play in fairly short order.

Naomi had been a bit more clingy, but when she’d received an invitation to go to the local clinic for what Chelsey referred to as her “brace removal party”, Terry had encouraged her to go and be there for her friend. Really, we figured Chelsey’s grandma would need help getting her in and out of the car. Finally, the kids mollified for the moment, Terry had agreed to tit for tat; he would talk if Bridgett would. He’d given his sworn testimony, and now it was her turn.

“They were experimenting with a new drug,” Bridgett went on. “According to Adam Bixley’s grandson David, they’ve been working in there since late December. They had the perfect setup; an entry and exit pathway nobody would remark on because it’s private land and no one knows the owners, and a location no one visits anymore. This stuff they were making… among other things, it uses ordinary sap from the sort of pines that grow around here, so that was definitely a bonus.”

“David must have been involved from the outset,” Terry said thoughtfully.

Bridgett favored him with a humorless smile. “My people arrested him last night, and it took all of five minutes to shake him down. Turns out, he and his wife have been involved in the distribution of meth coming up from Mexico for years, and they’d been integrating their sixteen-year-old son into the family business.”

“Jason,” I said.

“Jason,” said Bridgett with a nod. “If Fronse had the brains God gave a goose, it would have occurred to him at some point to wonder how David Bixley was making a living on a two hundred acre hobby farm. I think his grandfather must have suspected; he did the same thing with the meat locker for fifteen years. All Ms. Wilder had to do was channel some inquiries through her old contacts and find out who was distributing out here, then make overtures.

“This experimental narcotic is powerful stuff,” she went on. “I don’t understand it all, but basically it operates directly on the brain’s pleasure centers. It’d be like an hours-long orgasm. And it’s fairly safe while you’re using it; almost impossible to overdose on. The trouble is it’s addictive as hell, and worse, the stuff stays in your bloodstream. It goes inert after four or five days with no supply, and the inert form causes the kind of distributive shock with strange neurological symptoms that the two of you saw in your ambulance.”

“So what Sam Jensen told me was right,” I said. “It was withdrawal symptoms we saw, not the actual high.”

“Yes, but it probably looked like a high. And the stuff they found in the bloodstream was in its altered, inert state. At the time Jason Bixley had his accident, his dad tells me that they’d used up their first batch a few days prior. So the kids they’d been testing it on started to come down off the mountain, and go into withdrawal. Jason was just the first one it hit, and it was really bad luck it happened when he was driving.”

“So that’s why his parents protested the autopsy,” I said. “They were worried about what would come up in the blood tests.”

“That’s right,” said Bridgett. “They were devastated, but not so devastated that they wanted to go to prison. But they’ve had a few weeks for it to eat at them, and they broke down in no time when we questioned them last night.”

“What was the Milne sisters’ involvement?” Terry wanted to know.

“The Bixleys have been using them as mules for years, mostly paying them in meth for their own use. It was easy enough to incorporate them into the new venture.”

“So where does the heroin come in?” I asked.

“Kathryn Wilder is nothing if not an opportunist,” Bridgett replied. “She took note of the inconsistency of hard drug supplies in this area, and thought it would be a fantastic way to create a revenue stream while they were ramping up the new product. She hasn’t talked much since we arrested her last night, but we were able to establish that she went heavily in debt with various underworld financial backers to fund the whole thing.

“So she got in touch with some of her old contacts, and those people thought even bigger. They saw Bronning and the meat locker as an ideal distribution point not just for the area but for the entire region, including funneling product up into Canada. There’s an international drug kingpin associated with all this. It’s mostly members of his organization who were involved in the raid on Smokey Bear State Park last night.”

Terry stretched, then sipped more coffee. Despite his affected nonchalance, he looked gaunt and haggard, and I knew the experience would stay with him for years to come. I promised myself that I’d be there for him, come what may.

“So how did that play out?” he wanted to know. “There’s been zero press.”

Bridgett cast a surprised glance in my direction. “Didn’t you tell him?”

“Haven’t had a chance to yet,” I replied.

“Our people are preparing a public statement for tonight,” she said. “Until then, media blackout. The short version: you did us an enormous favor by ducking out of the cabin last night, Mr. Wilder, although there were a few tense moments going in to get you. The whole reason your ex-wife stayed in the Bronning area after the locker was raided was to try and find a way to get the heroin out of that tunnel. We think Darren Sanders was possibly on a mission to find a secluded place to burrow in and get at the goods from another direction. There was millions of dollars worth of product in there; the single biggest heroin bust in the history of the state. The people who provided it would have the person who lost it strung from the yardarm, so to speak.”

She sipped her coffee. “So anyway, a small army of soldiers for hire was sent in to retrieve Ms. Wilder, with enough firepower to back down the DEA and police forces that were cordoning the area. They dispersed into the woods and surrounded the place, probably right about the same time you slipped out the cabin door. It’s a miracle that you saw them first.”

“Not really,” said Terry. “I was trying to be quiet. They weren’t.”

“Fair point. But what they didn’t know was that there happened to be National Guard units conducting a field exercise nearby, and the governor agreed to call them up without wasting time on deliberation. They were given orders to deploy less than thirty minutes after the mercenaries forced the authorities in the area to stand down. It was one hell of a lucky break for us, needless to say.

“So… the mercenaries surrounded the cabin, identified themselves, and advised Ms. Wilder and her men to surrender peacefully. There was a shot fired inside the cabin. We discovered later that one of Ms. Wilder’s people shot and killed the guy with the wounded leg. He was already dead weight, and at that point he was calling for surrender so he could be taken to a hospital.”

“He almost got shot a couple of times while I was still with them,” said Terry. “Like you said, he was dead weight. They didn’t like him slowing them down.”

“I’m not surprised,” Bridgett said with a grim smile. “We don’t know all the details, but Ms. Wilder eventually surrendered to the mercs anyway. By this point we had you out, Mr. Wilder, and there was nothing else to stop the Guard from surrounding the place. The mercenaries had assault rifles, but the Guard units had armored vehicles, drones, body armor, and night vision. The mercenary unit commander said ’Get the fuck out of our way, we’re coming through.’ The Guard commander said ‘Make my day.’ The mercenaries realized the Guard was there in sufficient force to simply surround the cabin and starve them out. A few of them tried to fight their way through the line, with predictable results. The remainder surrendered shortly thereafter.”

Terry threw his head back and laughed. I looked his way with concern.

Bridgett’s eyebrows were raised. “Something funny, Mr. Wilder?”

Terry sobered, met her gaze. “Tell you what,” he said. “You stop calling me Mr. Wilder, and I’ll stop calling you Special Agent Perky Tits behind your back. What’s funny is that I got the girls out of LA partly to get them away from the drug culture, and the gang situation that goes with it. Then we come here, and it fucking follows us.”

Bridgett chuckled into her coffee. “There is a certain irony here, isn’t there… Terry?”

Terry shifted in his chair and picked up his phone. “If we’re going to be in Minneapolis when Halee comes back out of surgery this afternoon,” he said, “we’ll need to depart soon. But I do have one further question. What caused the explosion at the meat locker?”

Bridgett sighed. “Bad luck, aided and abetted by carelessness. It was apparent to them that somebody had put two and two together and alerted the police. David Bixley told me that last night. So Kathryn, her backers, and her suppliers all agreed to pull up the stakes and re-establish elsewhere. They actually did try to prevent any further withdrawals. The morning of the meat locker raid, they’d called as many of the kids as they could reach to come get something they’d developed that would help wean them off.

“By this time they’d consolidated all of their supplies and equipment into one room. Which was a terrible idea, because they had some different items stacked up together that caused a chemical reaction.”

Terry was shaking his head. “And of course it just happened to be the room Kathryn’s hired dickweed stuffed the kids into when they threatened to go to the fuzz. The timing is incredible.”

“Isn’t it?” Bridgett replied. “According to our forensics people, the stuff that went off would have taken roughly an hour to build up to a reaction. We’re thinking when they moved the kids into the room, something got bumped or shifted that caused the interaction.”

“So… wait a minute,” I said. “There were more of those withdrawal cases over the next few days after the raid. A couple of them died.”

“They weren’t able to reach all of the young people who’d sampled the goods,” said Bridgett, “and not all the victims knew each other. Some of them went to different schools, or weren’t in school anymore. The whole reason we had those kids from the raid kept in the hospital was so they could get fast treatment when they inevitably got sick. Even once they identified it, the docs couldn’t figure out a way to neutralize that toxin. They just had to wait for it to finally filter out of the bloodstream. The kids from the raid were able to identify some others who were at risk, and we rounded them up, but a few slipped through the cracks. Unfortunately.”

“What did they have planned for the heroin?” I asked.

“David doesn’t know, and everyone else has lawyered up. I imagine getting it out presented something of a problem. It would have taken them months to stockpile that much.”

“Wish I could have seen it,” Terry replied. “Fucking Adam Bixley. Who would have thought that old coot was a coke dealer?”

“It’s never who you expect,” Bridgett replied.

“All that aside,” Terry said, with an air of finality, “Naomi should be back any minute, and we have to be ready to roll at that time. I’m going to book a suite for the girls and me. Shall I get you a room, Nettie?”

It wasn’t lost on me that he wasn’t inviting me to sleep with him in the hotel, but this time it didn’t hurt. Some things can’t be undone. Terry’s my best friend, and I think I’m his, but maybe it’s better to draw that line between us. We’re great in bed together, but we’ve already tried and failed to make it as a couple. We both needed to move on.

Besides, I had other plans. I’d received a text from Hannah that morning that read: Don’t know if you are planning on coming back to see Halee today, but if so my calendar for the evening is open. 

“No need,” I said with a smile. “I’m staying with people tonight.”

We saw Bridgett to the door. She shook Terry’s hand. “I misjudged you,” she said. “For that, I am sorry. And I just want to add this: you have the balls of a tiger.”

She gave me a carefully restrained hug. “I’ll see both of you around town,” she said as we parted. “The follow-up here is going to take a week, at least.” She turned to go, then looked back, favoring Terry with a raised eyebrow. “Oh, and Mr. Wilder?”


“I think I like Special Agent Perky Tits. Continue to use it, if you want.”

Terry was chuckling as she walked away. I couldn’t help but notice how he watched her ass sway to and fro under that tight black skirt. That was okay, because I was looking at it in exactly the same way.


Hours later, I sat with Halee in her hospital room. Terry had taken the other three girls to the cafeteria. He’d offered to buy me dinner as well, but I’d pleaded not hungry. It wasn’t really true, but I wanted a little time alone with Halee. At least this time they’d deemed her stable enough to put her on the floor rather than ICU, so we had a reasonable amount of privacy.

“Remember what you said the other day, that the rules dictating who can do what with who are dumb?” I said.

“Yeah… why?”

“Did you mean that?”

She nodded, a suspicious grin on her face. “Yes, but where are we going with this?”

“What if we were talking about a mother and her daughter? Say, a girl Naomi’s age or older.”

She seemed to consider. “I guess I can’t see a problem, if they both wanted to. Now c’mon Nettie… what’s going on?”

I filled her in on my meeting with Hannah and Bethany the previous day, and my plans to spend the night at their house.

“You wouldn’t think I could get turned on right now, but this is making me kind of wet,” she said.

“So you don’t mind?”

“Of course not! It’s awesome. I just wish I could go with you tonight.”

I smiled. “I have a funny feeling that we might be able to offer you a rain check, once you’ve healed up a little.”

“Well,” she said with a smirk, “thanks for giving me something to look forward to. Maybe now I can muster up the will to go on living.”

We both laughed. “God, you have to knock that crap off,” I said. “You’re starting to talk way too much like your dad.”

She sobered. “Speaking of which…” She let the question hang in the air, but I knew what she meant.

“I think that’s over,” I told her. “He offered to get me my own hotel room tonight, instead of inviting me to sleep in his. And that’s probably best. We both need to move on.”

“If I know Dad,” Halee said with a roll of her eyes, “he’ll probably just end up screwing the hotel receptionist or something.”

I chuckled. “That wouldn’t surprise me at all, and good for him if he does.”

She reached out and took my hand, wincing as she did so.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” she growled. “I can’t stop using my arms, just because my chest hurts.”

“If it hurts too much, the nurses can get you some more Dilaudid.”

“I know, but I’m not there yet.” She shifted a little, then settled in again. “You really like this Hannah lady… don’t you?”

I pursed my lips, trying to think of the best way to respond. More than anything else in the world, I didn’t want to hurt Halee. At the same time, I knew I couldn’t lie to her. “I do,” I said. “There’s an attraction between us that’s hard to explain.”

“Good,” said Halee.

“Is that really how you feel about it?”

“Yep. Remember what we talked about the night before I got hurt? I’m twelve… well, almost thirteen. I’m not ready for a forever thing. I probably won’t be for a long time. But you… you need someone, Nettie. And… can I say what I’m really thinking?”

I sat back in my chair, almost faint with relief. “Fire away,” I said, a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth.

“Don’t screw this one up, like you did with my dad.”

Three weeks before, I’d have taken offense. Probably been pissed off, as a matter of fact. Something had happened to me during that time, something I still can’t put into words. Sitting there in Halee’s hospital room, I felt like maybe I’d finally come to a place where I could go the distance with someone, and not fuck it all up.

“I’ll try not to,” I said. “But on another note, let me tell you a little something about DEA agent Bridgett Ramscone…”


Hannah picked me up at the main entrance to the hospital at six, waving through the windshield as she pulled up to the curb.

Terry, standing by my side, raised his eyebrows in appreciation. “Nice booty call,” he mouthed into my ear. I slapped his shoulder, but couldn’t suppress a grin.

“Stay put,” he told his girls, as both of us stepped towards the car. I got into the passenger seat, as Terry walked around to the driver’s side. Hannah obligingly rolled down her window as he bent low.

“Hi, I’m Terry Wilder,” he said, flashing her that same flirtatious grin with which he always favored beautiful women, and sticking a hand through the open window. “I hear you participated in my daughter’s care.”

Hannah shook the proffered hand. “That’s right. I did anesthesia for her surgeries, both yesterday and today.”

“I can’t possibly thank you enough,” he told her.

She smiled back at him. “My pleasure. She’s a trooper. Anesthesia can be really tricky with that kind of pulmonary damage, but I had almost no trouble. I think she’ll pull through just fine. On another note…” she hesitated, then plunged ahead. “I saw her date of birth when I was looking through her paperwork, and couldn’t help noticing she turns thirteen tomorrow. Is there something she would like for her birthday?”

“Halee needs company more than presents,” said Terry. “We’re having a birthday cake in her room tomorrow. Probably around three. If you’re able, come to the party.”

“I wouldn’t want to intrude…”

“Don’t be silly. You’re a friend of Nettie’s. She tells me you have a daughter Halee’s age; even better if she could drop in, too.”

Hannah pursed her lips. “If Bethany took a city bus from school, she’d be here by four.”

Terry shrugged. “I could push it back that far.”

“Then we’ll be there,” Hannah said with a brilliant smile.


“So that’s Terry,” said Hannah as she pulled away from the curb. She drove with her left hand, fingertips of the right coming to rest lightly on the back of mine. I wondered at the source of this incredible magnetism between us.

“That’s Terry,” I agreed, taking her hand in mine.

“I get it,” she said. “I’m gay as they come, but he has kind of an aura, doesn’t he? If I wanted to sleep with a dude, I’d have exchanged numbers with that guy.”

“I slept with him the day we met,” I admitted.

“Nothing wrong with that,” said Hannah. “Have you eaten yet, Antoinette?”

“Uh-uh.” Our fingers were intertwined now; our hands resting together on my thigh.

“Good, because there’s a roast in the crockpot. Bethany should have it ready to eat by the time we get there.”

It was a fifteen minute drive from Children’s to the pleasant little suburb of Bloomington. We spent it in light conversation, getting to know one another. I found myself admiring Hannah all the more as I learned about her life, and the struggles she’d faced to get to where she was today. The time flew, and before I knew it we were entering a neighborhood full of virtually identical split-level homes. I imagined on a drunk night, you could circle the blocks for hours and never identify which house was yours.

I followed her up the walk, overnight bag slung over my shoulder. As she opened the door, we were greeted by the wonderful aroma of roast beef and herbs. The entryway was typical of a modern split-level, with one short stairway going down, and another going up.

Music was coming from upstairs… heavy music, which after a moment I identified as Disturbed. I’m not that into the extreme side of metal, but I can appreciate it, and it’s not everyday that I meet other young women whose tastes in music even remotely align with my own.

“Perfect timing!” a voice called out. Bethany’s face appeared a moment later, peering down at us over the railing of the upper level, red hair hanging down. I was struck by how much she looked like her mother.

“Dinner’s on the table,” she announced.

“Hi, sweetheart,” said Hannah. “We’ll be right up. There’s something I have to do first.” Then her hands were on my waist, her body pressed against mine. She turned her face upwards.

“I probably smell bad,” I warned. “It’s been a long day.”

She giggled. “Who cares? I’m still in my scrubs. We’ll get cleaned up after dinner.” Then she stood on her toes, elevating her open mouth to mine.

We came together in a lover’s kiss, exploring each other’s mouths in a leisurely, unhurried fashion. The kiss deepened, slowly but surely reaching a frenzy. Finally she pulled away.

“Okay,” she said, voice unsteady, “you keep kissing me like that, and we’re not gonna make it past the entryway.”

“I’d be down with that,” I said, trying to get my own breathing under control. I let her lead me up the stairs.

Bethany was waiting for us at the top, hands on hips. “I’m being deprived,” she declared. “That’s twice I’ve had to watch you two make out.”

Stepping boldly into my path, she wrapped both arms around my waist, tilted her head back, and gazed up into my eyes. “Will you kiss me?” she inquired.

I glanced towards Hannah, who rewarded me with a big smile and a nod of encouragement. I leaned in, bending the girl back slightly, and took her lower lip between my teeth. I sucked it in, then felt her tongue tracing my upper lip. Such a bold move from this delicate red-haired creature, barely into the early stages of puberty – almost drove me over the edge. I opened my mouth wide, letting my tongue dart between her lips. She met me with a lustful fervor, and I pulled her closer. Her hands dipped lower, cupping my ass, and I let my fingers trace her butt crack through the bottle-green leggings she wore. When I broke the kiss, her breath was coming in harsh gasps of deep arousal. She was kneading my buttocks, desperately hugging my body against hers.

Hannah chuckled. “I should have warned you: When it comes to sex, Bethany has an even shorter fuse than me, and that’s saying something. We’d better eat now, or that roast will be bone dry before she’s had enough.”

We parted, Bethany visibly struggling to get her desire under control. Truth to tell, I wasn’t in a much better state. I scanned the room, trying to focus my mind on something besides how Bethany would look divested of her clothing. Their home was a big, open-concept space, with the living room opening out directly before me, a dining table and chairs to my right, and the kitchen beyond that.

Peering into the living room, my eyes widened as they fell on the wall where the TV was mounted. There was a decent component stereo system there, with bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer. Nothing remotely on the same level as my own setup, or even on the same planet as Terry’s, but a far cry from the crappy soundbars they sell at WalMart. And there was a large rack of CDs. Physical media, as opposed to streaming. Wow.

Hannah saw the direction my gaze had wandered. “Bethany,” she said, turning to her daughter, “why don’t you find some music that’s a bit more suited for company?”

“No, this is fine,” I assured her. “I’m a metalhead myself. I’m more into the melodic side, but I can dig the extreme stuff.”

Hannah’s room-warming smile reappeared. “Cool! I’m the opposite. I prefer the extreme stuff, but can dig the melodic side. Who’s your favorite band?”

“Blind Guardian,” I said without hesitation. “What’s yours?”

“Lamb of God,” she replied. “Let’s eat.”

Bethany had laid out the roast, the potatoes, the carrots and the gravy in attractive serving trays, and properly set the table. There was also a chilled bottle of Reisling, with nice long-stemmed wine glasses. Bethany poured a glass each for Hannah and I, and grape juice from a pitcher for herself.

“It’s a special evening,” Hannah told her daughter. “You can have a glass of wine if you want it.”

“No thanks, Mom,” she said, making a face. “The last time I had one, it gave me a huge headache.”

As we dug into the food, Bethany was eyeing me speculatively. “Y’know, Mom,” she said, “if Nettie can stand the same godforsaken racket that you and I like, maybe you should just skip the whole dating thing and marry her.”

“Bethany!” Hannah said, but there was laughter in her eyes.

“What kind of music does Halee like?” Bethany wanted to know.

“She’s just recently gotten into punk,” I replied. “Indie bands, of the angry girl variety. Not my thing, but I don’t mind it too much. Her dad’s worse. He’s got like twenty thousand dollars worth of audio equipment, and only plays classical music on it.”

“I like classical music,” said Bethany. “I’d love to hear Bach on a twenty thousand dollar stereo!”

I snorted. “I can arrange that.”

The conversation continued this way and that, flowing easily around the table. I learned that Bethany was planning to follow her mother into medical practice, with an eye on possibly becoming a doctor. She knew a good deal about hospital life from Hannah, and proceeded to ask me some very smart, penetrating questions about how things are done in the prehospital setting.

“Sounds like working on an ambulance would be a good job to have while I’m in college,” she mused. “You’ve got to have some kind of medical work on your resume to get into med school.”

“Once you’re sixteen, I can get you in for a ridealong day to see what you think,” I told her. “If you’re still interested, we’ll talk.”

About halfway through the meal, Bethany excused herself and ran downstairs, returning a couple of minutes later. She and her mother exchanged secretive smiles.

Finally our plates were clean. Pushing her chair back, Hannah rose from the table. “Bethany, you wanna help me get these leftovers stuffed into the fridge?” she said. “Then we can introduce Antoinette to our idea of dessert.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Two!


26 Comments on Strange Brew, Chapter 21

  1. Sid says:

    You have no idea how often I check my email waiting for notice of updates to this story. It’s superb!

  2. Kim & Sue says:

    Well, after the hot opening, we had to finish reading the rest today. Good wrap up of the mystery. We still feel bad for Halee, and happy for Terry. And yeah we’re also looking forward to dessert. Actually we hope it’s a real dessert with sex afterwards. Or sex and then cake, pie, or pastries.

  3. Powertenor246 says:

    Call me as kinky as the sister-authors we enjoy here on JS but I’m hoping they are going in a Japanese direction with this and have several dessert dishes served on a beautifully just brazilianed sixteen year old lying all displayed nude on the coffee table downstairs. Cheesecake, Victoria Sponge, Pineapple Parfait, with strategically located Chocolate Lava Cake to boot. Oh My God, what I wouldn’t give to be non-diabetic and a special guest at that dinner. I’m going to have to go watch some of my “special” movies after this. Oh boy!!


  4. Erocritique says:

    I see a Nettie – Halee – Hannah – Bethany – daisy chain in the future. A lovely image indeed! I’m also wondering how dominant Bethany will be in the bedroom. She seems like a powerful force of nature. – Does Bethany wear the strap-one in the family??? The next chapter promises to be extremely hot! And the introduction of Bethany to Halee at Halee’s hospital room birthday party promises to add another romance to the story. I can’t wait! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  5. Captain Midnight says:

    I do hope there will be romance in the future.

    Do you think Terry knows, or can figure out, that Nettie and Halee have made love a lot?

    I wonder if Kathryn survived all this and testifying against her colleagues.

    I also wonder about Terry. He is a great dad, and his daughters are nowhere near ready to leave the nest. The two youngest ones were hardly mentioned, and appear to know nothing of what’s going on, other thsn Halee is in the hospital. Will he still be able to raise them? And would he eventually remarry so the girls can be raised in a two-parent home?

    This story looks like it should have a sequel in a few years!

    • sue says:

      You raise a good point. Is Kathryn really out of everyone’s life now, or is there an unpleasant surprise coming?

      • JetBoy says:

        After all this, Kathryn would probably end up doing life in the crowbar hotel. Drug dealing on a massive scale, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, murder and more, with potential charges from the local authorities AND the feds. Also, since the remaining mercenaries surrendered, her value as a snitch is much reduced.

        The only way she might turn up in a sequel would be to escape… but it strikes me that the last place Kathryn would return to would be the scene of her previous crime.

        Well, that’s the editor’s take. What say you, Rachael?

        • Rachael Yukey says:

          Thus sayeth Rachael: in the rosy aftermath of an unusually busy and successful summer season, I’m still in re-orientation mode. Cocaine showers and groupies of both sexes must be thrust aside so I might settle back into the day-to-day flow of the activities that keep the bills paid from September until May (okay, it really hasn’t been THAT exciting… but it WAS a damn good summer).

          The Strange Brew sequel is in roughly the same state as in May, which might best be described as advanced rough draft. Jetboy hasn’t even seen it yet, and therefore I shall say nothing. NOTHING I TELL YOU!!!

          Okay, I relent. A little. The main theme of the sequel (which as yet remains untitled) is Nettie’s journey to face and conquer her demons. All of the characters you’ve come to know and love will be featured in various capacities. Kathryn Wilder will be discussed, but not featured.

          In the meantime, we have two more chapters of Strange Brew to edit and publish. We’re almost there! After that, we’ll being reposting Pages from a Diary, with the editing problems that plagued the original fixed. But wait, there’s more! The original was left uncompleted at seventeen chapters, and it is now finished, coming in at a total of twenty-nine chapters. In those additional chapters you’ll meet Nettie Hastings as a child, and learn the source of her terrible trauma.

          By the time we have all of Pages online, I expect to have the Strange Brew sequel ready for editing and publication.

          • Captain Midnight says:

            Rachael, your stories are wonderful mixtures of high drama and lovemaking. The sexual attraction translates into relationships.

            In this chapter, I particularly enjoyed the fact that Nettie truly loves Terry–as a family member. It was wonderful to depict Bridgett Ranscombe as coming to regard him with the ultimate respect. Both Nettie and Bridgett wish him the most equal and loving relationship with another woman down the line, while admiring greatly how he is as a dad. He’ll be very well off.

            This leaves Nettie to find love from girls and women. Again, they are attracted to her out of tremendous respect. Nettie has never thought of being a mother figure to these girls. Maybe she isn’t, but she is there to help them grow up and face the challenges faced by every female teenager. The girls, in turn, will help Nettie find greater peace, as a dear friend. She hurts in her heart for want of love, perhaps the girls will give it to her.

            I have suspected that Terry knows deep down that Nettie, Halee and Naomi have become lovers. And he really is okay with it. Nettie will take good care of the girls, providing the grown-woman figure they never had in their lives, while preparing them to fall in love with somebody their ages. At the same time, he hopes the girls and women will bring Nettie out of the dark realm where she always has to overachieve, where she is never satisfied with herself, where she indeed always fears she is inadequate on some personal level.

            Distant hugs to the woman who gave these girls and women such vibrant life. You and Letoria would have loved each other’s work.

            I will be so thrilled to see Pages From a Diary rebooted, and follow Nettie that

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      Sequel well underway…

      • ClitLicker says:

        I for one am very much looking forward to reading about Nettie’s childhood – and, no doubt, sexual awakening. Great news, Rachael 😘😘

  6. dw says:

    Just tremendous, all of it! Thank you!

  7. Carol Anne says:

    Well as always, your chapters just keep producing exciting reading. This has been one of my favorite stories to follow and like a lot of the others here, I am always looking for the next chapter. Sorry to hear that it will end in 2 chapters but am so excited to hear about a sequel.
    Looking forward to dessert and also the 13th birthday party for Halee and hopefully a great reunion when Halee is released from the hospital and able to have some fun! I love your work Rachel and I know I will always be satisfied when I read the next chapter.

  8. Mike says:

    I’m so glad that Terrys okay & Halee is going to be completely fine, Nettie seems to be doing extremely well in the female companion department. Just as an interested audiophile can I ask what make,model you envision are Terrys & Netties hi-fi please.

    • Rachael Yukey says:

      I see Nettie as running budget high-end stuff like Adcom, or maybe Emotiva before they started concentrating almost exclusively on the home theater market (I have the old USP-1 preamp in my own system, and love it). When she moves into her Dad’s house, in my minds eye I envision her swapping out an old refurbished Denon for a Rega Planar 3 (which is also the turntable I have). Her speakers are B&W.

      Terry I see using stuff like Parasound and Macintosh. You wouldn’t see a component in his system that cost less than $3000.

      • Mike says:

        Thanks Rachel, that’s sounds superb at 16 I started off with a second hand gear Rega planar 2, Naim Amp & Mission 770’s then later a Linn Sondek with Ittok arm & Asik cartridge. My highest setup was Arcam FmJ Cd player, Arcam pre amp & 2 monoblocs & B&W speakers. Had to sell it & get a more modest Dolby Atmos setup Marantz cinema 50 av amp mission mx2 rears Acoustic Energy 109’s front Acoustic Energy centre & acoustic Energy Evo sub (active) with 65 inch LG G3 OLED TV & 4K Panasonic blu ray player. My friend who runs his own digital studio has a setup that costs over £200,000 including a pair of Martin Logan Neolith speakers & Krell Pre amp & 4 monoblocs a Goldmund Record Deck & Krell Cd Transport with off board power supply & separate DAC. It has to be heard to be believed lol.

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