The flight home was long. And quiet. Of course, all three Tracy brothers, Gordon, Virgil and Scott, were thoroughly coated with vegetable oil with faces covered with five o'clock shadow. Of the three, Scott had the worst hangover of his life, compounded by embarrassment at hitting the morning tabloids. Only John, not a party to last night's debacle, was even remotely cheerful, or maybe Gordon, who was happy in the memory of a great bar fight.
John, of course, was enjoying the rare one-upmanship bestowed on him by having bested three of his brothers in the cleanliness sweepstakes without having to do anything at all. Worse yet, one of the defiled brothers was his big brother, long known for riding herd on the younger ones, the shining example, possessor of wisdom, giver of smug little pep talks… And the fact that Dad had broken down and told John that this was Scott's second time getting caught in the tabloids…..Scott just pulled his head in like a turtle and cringed at the injustice of it all.
Virgil just sat in his seat, clad only in boxers, still wrapped in the blanket he'd been given in jail. When the guards saw its condition, they had let him keep it but added the cost to his bail. Virg still looked greasy, pensive and vaguely embarrassed. Scott knew, oh how he knew, that the embarrassment would soon ripen into shame when the tabloids came out and Dad saw them. He remembered what that had been like.
He'd been new in the Air Force, his first posting was at Travis in California. As soon as he arrived, he knew he wasn't in Kansas anymore. His new, older, buddies had decided to take this farm boy under their collective wing and introduce him to the bright lights of the big city. Of course, all of Scott's explanations that he'd lived in England while he attended Oxford and had had a very active social life thanks, went past them. They just laughed at the egghead college kid and offered to show him how a real man entertains himself. They even doubted him when he told them he decidedly wasn't a virgin.
He had found himself in the Centerfolds Strip Club, picked by his buddies as the best place for beer, pretty women and general chaos. As soon as the hostess had scanned his ID, her eyes began to gleam. He realized then that she knew something about him that he hadn't told his buddies and had nothing to do with virginity. His Dad was loaded and Scott had unlimited credit. She quickly moved their group into the VIP area of the club. He could see her giving the high sign to the various girls in the room and he felt like chum in the water. And the sharks were headed straight for him.
Once they were seated, the waitress arrived for drink orders. Scott's order for a beer was quickly countermanded. "Oh no! Not beer. You need something better than that," insisted Hennessey. "The kid'll have a Retro Rocket, full strength, no ice."
Scott gulped. He'd promised his Dad, no heavy drinking and he also knew that he could get into trouble with his superiors if he did anything unbecoming to an officer. "Thanks, guys but I'll have a beer," Scott insisted to the waitress, handing her his credit card. "And this round's on me."
Hennessey laughed loudly. "All right, but if you're paying, I'll have a whiskey sour. No way am I drinking beer if someone else is paying, RichKid!"
Four rounds later it looked like Scott was going to be the designated driver. He'd been quietly sipping his beer while his buddies got plastered. A gorgeous brunette sauntered over and introduced herself in a throaty voice. "Hi, I'm Mandy."
Slater pulled some money out of his pocket and waved her over. "Mandy, this is RichKid's first visit to a strip club and we suspect him of being a virgin! Why don't you show him all you got!"
"Hey, wait a minute," Scott began with a blush but it was too late. Mandy had a wad of cash in her hand and fire in her eye. The next thing he knew, he was being give the lap dance of his, thus far, limited life. His buddies caught the embarrassed look on his face and started hooting with derision. Scott didn't know where to look. He'd been raised as a gentleman and, while the lady was beautiful, all he felt right now was chagrined. Well, two could play this game. He dug a couple hundreds out of his pocket and gave them to Mandy.
"Thanks, Mandy," he choked out, pulling his jacket to cover his lap after she moved away from him. "That was great," he said, handing her the money. Mandy's eyes sparkled with humor as she leaned in and gave him a long kiss.
"Glad to oblige," she said softly.
He never was sure afterwards how he managed to pour his buddies back into the car and get them back to base, but they all made it safely.
Two weeks later, Scott had to run an errand in Sacramento. Grandma's sewing machine was a Meissner and she'd heard that the factory was located in Sacramento. She'd asked him to pick up a part for her along with a packet of needles from the factory. Knowing that she'd get the part much faster if he ran the errand, he told her he'd do the job gladly.
When he parked the car, he knew he was in the right place. The factory had a giant, two-story sewing machine needle set up next to the front door. He blinked then shrugged and made his way in. The clerk was efficient and quickly found his order. Making his way to the car, he saw a beautiful young woman in stiletto heels standing next to a blue sports car, looking mournfully at the flat tire.
"Having trouble?" Scott asked.
She turned her sparkling green eyes on him then smiled. "Oh. I remember you!"
Seeing her in full daylight, she was even more gorgeous. "Uh...Mandy, was it?" he asked, suddenly feeling warm.
"Yes," she replied. "My car has a flat and the auto club can't make it for an hour. I'm sort of stuck here."
"If you've got a spare, I'll change it for you," Scott said, rolling up his sleeves.
"I'd never turn you down," she replied, giving him the eye. Clearly she thought he looked better by daylight too.
He had the tire changed in ten minutes and their first date was set for the following evening on her night off.
Unfortunately, her night off happened to be a Wednesday, so Scott's plan to sweep her away to San Francisco was not going to work. Fortunately, he discovered that Sacramento had some nice restaurants and quickly made reservations for two aboard a rebuilt Mississippi river boat turned hotel and restaurant, the Delta King.
Admiring all the old trees and majestic houses, he picked her up at her modest apartment in an old Victorian in Mid-Town. Her green eyes sparkled when she saw him, then brightened even more when she saw the car, his prized Maserati. They drove, with difficulty, over the original cobblestones of the Old Sacramento dock where the Delta King was a permanent fixture. Wondering briefly whether the alignment of his Maserati was going to suffer, he handed the car key to the valet and helped Mandy out of the car.
Their table was in a quiet corner, overlooking the river. Admiring the lights, Scott smiled at his date. "So, would you like some champagne?"
"I wouldn't say no," Mandy smiled back. "Do you always drive a Maserati?"
"If I didn't have it with me, my youngest brother would try to drive it and it would be a pile of parts when I got home next," Scott admitted. "Usually, I drive a Mazda for day to day use."
"So," she said. "You're one of those Tracys, aren't you? I think I've seen you in People Magazine. Bachelor of the year, weren't you? Before the Air Force haircut."
Scott felt himself blushing. You'd think he'd be used to Dad's status as one of the richest billionaires on the planet. "Dad didn't make it big in business until I was eighteen, so I'm used to a pretty ordinary life," he admitted, toying with his champagne flute. "I mean, we all went to public schools in Kansas while Dad was in the service. Sure, he was an astronaut, but so was the father of every family we socialized with. It was just Dad's job." He smiled. "And he had a lot of business trips to exotic locales." He took a sip. "And how about you? I was picking up some sewing machine parts for my grandmother at the Meissner store. What were you doing there?"
"What? You think a lap dancer doesn't sew?" Mandy asked archly. "In point of fact, I'm a full time college student at Sac State going for my business degree. Working at the bar pays well and is putting me through college. Ultimately, I want to own my own business." She tasted her champagne. "I was there to get a new machine. I make my own clothing and have a costume business on the side. I sew mostly for friends who are belly dancers."
Scott leaned back, blue eyes dancing. "Belly dancers? And do you dance too?"
"You should catch me at the Renaissance fair some day," she shot back. "Scott," she sighed. "Why did you ask me out, really? You must know that I'm not a call girl."
"I didn't think you were," Scott replied. "But I also know you aren't some boring society girl anxious to make a 'good' marriage either. When I changed your tire, I thought you might be someone I'd enjoy spending time with. Are you willing to put up with me even if I am one of those Tracys?"
She studied him at length, then said," Okay. As long as you leave the Maserati home next time. And the next date is on me."