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This is the thirty-third John Lane story
Telephone held to her ear, Helen turned her office chair away from the computer monitor to face her assistant, who was waiting at the door. Into her phone, she said, "Absolutely. Consider it done. I’ll stay here late tonight if I have to. We’re just happy to be in business with you. Bye-bye." She hung up the phone and muttered, "What a windbag." To Marianne, she asked, "Yes?"
Her blonde legal assistant said, "Mr. O’Neill from the high school is on the line about a parent/teacher meeting. I need to know which excuse to give him."
Reading a brief on her desk, and a little annoyed, Helen said, "Which one of my children is it about this time?"
Helen sighed in tired frustration. "The buffoon is probably upset by something John drew in the margins again." A quirky smile very briefly passed Helen's lips. "Tell him I have to do my pro bono work with the animal research lab. That should get him off of my back for a while."
Marianne giggled at the remark. "That sounds like one of your daughter's lines."
"It is. I had Daria write some new excuses for me."
"So what did it cost you?"
"Will cost me. Her plans have priority for John's birthday next month."
"She's turning into a little romantic, isn't she?"
"Don’t tell her that."
Sensing motion behind her, Marianne said, "Yes, Helen, back to my transcriptions," and made a fast exit, slipping past Eric in the process.
He glanced over his shoulder and said, "I like how you motivate people to work hard, Helen."
Helen said, "Oh, Eric. I only try to set a good example to keep the firm number one."
Boastful, he said, "We are, and that’s what brings me in here today."
Helen accepted a pamphlet from her supervisor that read, "Quiet Ivy Spa. Renewal and Rejuvenation for the Spirit and Soul." She looked up in mild surprise and said, "The retreat?"
Eric grinned. "It’s your turn, Helen. The big dogs think you’re ready."
"This is such a…." she stopped as she read one particular line. After re-reading, she asked, "And my family?"
"That's right, Helen. We want to see you wearing all three hats; wife, mother, and lawyer."
"If we like what we see, it may just lead to hat number four: partner," he cheerfully said before heading back out of the office.
Helen watched him leave before saying in a low voice, "And what are they going to think when they learn my daughter's boyfriend lives in the next room?"
At dinner, Helen waited until John finished dishing up pasta and sauce to everyone. "Thank you, John." She then passed a pamphlet to each family member. "I have good news. The firm is sending all of us on a retreat."
Quinn happily said, "A spa? A facial would be really great."
"Don’t get too excited," Daria said. "It’s a spa for the soul. Damn, I could've gotten a better price for yours if I'd only waited."
"Ha, ha," Quinn said in return. "A facial wouldn’t be a bad idea for you, either."
Daria read from the pamphlet, "We exercise your inside instead of your outside." Looking up, she smirked and said, "I bet your pancreas could sure use a workout."
"Eww, Daria! I'm not one of your weird posters."
Helen gave Quinn a questionnaire from the spa. "Girls, this retreat is about family togetherness. You get to have fun while I get to show I’m partner material."
Daria took a questionnaire without looking at it. "Hmm, you're being graded on your family life. Are we supposed to be Alphas or Betas?"
Helen shook her head. "Sweetie, they just want to get to know us before we arrive. What's wrong with that?
"They only want to know who to include in their secret breeding program."
After Quinn laughed, Helen sighed and said, "Jake, I could use some help here."
A forkful of pasta halfway to his mouth, Jake turned to John, who was also concentrating on his dinner. "Tasty spaghetti sauce there, John!"
Helen reached across the table and moved her husband's fork down to his plate. "Jake, a little help."
"Sure Helen, great idea!"
She shook her head. "John?"
He shrugged. "Hey, could be worse. They could be sending my other family on this retreat."
Helen sat back and relaxed a bit. "Thank God for small miracles."
Daria sat, propped against the headboard of John's bed, while he sat at his computer, fiddling with a graphics program. She said, "Okay, your turn. Which animal would you rather be: a dog, a seal or a lion?"
He said, "Hmm, already said bat for you. How about…a parasitic wasp. You know, the kind Ms. Barch told us about that can eat a caterpillar from the inside while it's still alive."
"Oookay. Now explain your choice in a brief sentence."
"I don't want to make an effort to get my food."
"I could almost believe that," Daria said while writing his answer on the form, "If I didn't know better."
"Hey," he said in defense, "Cooking around here is survival. Unless you want to eat frozen lasagna or your Dad's attempts…"
"Point taken. Favorite pastime?"
"You used the 'water into wine' bit, so I'm claiming talking to a burning bush."
John looked over at Daria. "You realize that they're going to try to lock us up for these answers."
"If they don't have a sense of humor, they have no business poking around in people's heads."
"I'll remember that while trying to wiggle out of the straight jacket."
"Didn't Max's brother teach you how to do that?" she asked.
"Stage magician or something?"
"Then how did he learn?"
"Considering it was Max's brother, it was better not to ask."
"I see," Daria said with a nod. "If they do lock us up, I'm expecting you to rescue me."
John smiled and spun his chair away from the computer to look at Daria. "I can't exactly picture you as a damsel in distress, but I'll see what I can do."
“Daria! John!” Helen yelled up the stairs. Her annoyance could almost be physically felt.
The call distracted John from the computer game and before he could recover, a zombie horde had overrun his character. “Dammit!”
Sitting on a chair next to him and close enough for their legs to touch, Daria rolled away and said, “Forget Zombie Slayer, Mom’s on the warpath, though becoming a zombie might be a preferable option to what she might do to us.”
Helen stood at the door, holding up their questionnaires. “With what you two are capable of doing, did you really expect me not to look before I faxed these to Quiet Ivy?”
“We were just having a little fun?” John said, knowing how lame it sounded.
“Very little.” Helen gave their questionnaires back to the teens. “This retreat is very important to me and I can’t afford for some psychologist to misinterpret one of your jokes as something serious. God only knows what kind of conclusions they could’ve jumped to with what you two wrote. This time, fill them out with some real answers.”
“Yes, Mom,” Daria said.
John nodded and said, ‘Okay, Helen.”
“I expect them before you go to bed,” Helen said before turning and leaving the room, her aggravation still readily apparent.
“Oops,” John muttered.
“Big oops,” Daria said. She reached for the computer mouse and closed out their game. “It looks like we have a change of plan for the next hour or so.”
“And I’d almost made it through level eight.”
“Next time,” she said and gave him a light kiss on the cheek.
John looked down at the form and said, “Um…I think we need to figure out how much we should reveal about our relationship. It’s not exactly what you’d find in a model family.”
“I don’t see anything in the questions that would be revealing.”
“Favorite pastime?” John asked.
“Damn.” Daria thought things through, then picked up a pencil, erased her first answer and proceeded to write a replacement. “We’ll be honest. Let’s face it, once we get to the retreat, you know that between five people, someone will say something and they’ll know about our relationship anyway.”
Daria gave him a slim smile. “Though under ‘favorite fantasy’, you might want to leave out the d’Artagnan bits.”
“You’re not going to let me live down those berry hallucinations, are you?”
“Nope. But hey, at least your fantasies don’t involve webcams.”
“Eww. With my luck, I’d get fan mail from prison inmates.”
Daria looked at his form. “I wouldn’t mention that, either.”
Squeezed into the back seat of the Lexus with Daria and Quinn, John squirmed and said, “Even though they’re hideous looking, minivans have a third seat. Something you might want to consider for the safety and comfort of your passengers.”
Speeding along the highway, Jake said, “Hmm. I need the Lexus to impress clients. Hey honey, how about replacing your car with a minivan?”
“Not until we pay off one of our existing cars,” Helen said. “Sorry, John, but even we have limits to how much money we can spend. After all, we really weren’t expecting another child when we bought these.”
Quinn also moved around, trying to get comfortable. “You know, John has a point. We’re really squeezed together back here.”
“Yeah, Mom,” Daria said. “Why don’t we trade places and see how much you like it back here.”
“I spent plenty of time squeezed into a back seat with Rita and Amy when I was growing up,” Helen said.
“Mom,” Daria replied. “We’ve seen the pictures; Grandpa had one of those station wagons that had room to land small aircraft on the roof.”
“Yes, and thanks to Rita, the back was always full of luggage and all three of us had to squeeze into the middle seat.”
“Damn,” Daria muttered.
“I survived, and so will you.” After Jake made a hard swerve passing another car that threw everyone from side to side, Helen sighed and said, “If your father’s driving doesn’t kill us.”
“Oh, and I suppose you can do better,” Jake growled.
“The fact that I’m not one ticket away from a suspended license says that,” Helen barked.
“Mom,” Daria tried to calmly say.
“That’s because the cops are out to get me and won’t stop you because you’re a lawyer!”
“Dad,” Daria again tried to calmly interject.
“No, they don’t stop me because I don’t give them a reason!”
“Hey!” Daria said in a voice that was not shouting, but carried through her parent’s argument.
“What?” Jake and Helen said.
“How about letting John or me drive?”
“No!” they said.
“Do you have any other ideas to get us to this retreat in one piece?”
Daria pulled the car to a stop in front of Quiet Ivy. “Here we are and somewhat intact,” she said.
Trapped between her parents in the back seat, Quinn said, “I really need to get my license.”
“Yeah,” John said. “Why should you miss out on all the fun?”
Helen muttered, “Maybe we do need to get a minivan.”
A pleasant looking woman came out of the front door and approached the car as everyone crawled out. She said, “Good morning, I’m Dr. Bacon and you must be the Morgendorffers.”
“Yes, we are. I’m Helen; this is my husband Jake, our daughters Daria and Quinn and our foster son, John.”
“Pleased to meet all of you. Welcome to Quiet Ivy. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your rooms while some of our staff will bring your luggage and park your car.”
“Hey, that’s some great service,” Jake said. Suspicious, he asked, “Um, how much should we tip?”
Dr. Bacon smiled. “No tipping, please. It’s all part of our complete client care policy.”
“Wow! I like this place already.”
Daria whispered to John, “That way, they have the car keys so we can’t escape.”
Walking through the tastefully appointed lobby, John said, “Pretty nice looking place for a loony bin.”
“It’s all a clever ploy to keep us off-guard,” Daria said. “I bet all of the people here are animatronic.”
“That would explain the happy faces. I wonder if they have our replacements ready.”
“The basic frame, but I bet they need to scan us in person to get all of the fine details.”
Last in line behind Daria and John, Quinn said, “Keep it up and you’re going to get all of us put away.”
Sitting in the guest lounge, Daria said, “Plenty of computers to keep us distracted.”
In the chair to her left, John said, “I think we should handle this like a meeting with Dr. Manson at school. Get in there, let the brain docs think they’ve poked around in our heads for a while and then make a fast exit. I bet with their computer connections, Demon Slasher Online will be a blast with no signal lag.”
“John, there are real shrinks here, not some diploma-mill quack like Manson. We need to be careful.”
“Ah, now I understand the procrastination about going in for our appointments.”
“Exactly. I don’t like people poking around my head.”
“I’m not too thrilled myself, but I think I’d rather get it over with than wait around in anticipation.”
“You always were a ‘jump right in’ kind of person.”
“And you like to torture yourself by going into to the water inch by inch.”
A man’s voice said, “I believe psychoanalysis is our job, not yours.”
Daria and John looked up to see a man and woman wearing lab coats. The man smiled and said, “I’m Jean-Michel Millepieds and I’ll be your counselor today, John."
"Hi," John said with a quick nod. There's something about that name…
The woman said, “I’m Carolyn Millepieds, and I’ll be working with you, Daria.”
Daria folded her arms. “I suppose it’s a coincidence that a couple was assigned to work with us?”
“No coincidence,” Carolyn said. “Your questionnaires indicated that you were a couple in a rather unusual situation and it was decided that Jean-Michel and I would be the most appropriate people to work with you.”
John turned to Daria. “Your mother had to catch our answers and make us rewrite them.”
“We often use humor to protect ourselves,” Jean-Michel said. “The rest of your family has already started sessions with their counselors.”
Daria stood and said to John, “Remember, we check each other for electrodes when we’re done.”
Carolyn gently placed a hand on Daria’s shoulder to guide her forward. “Oh, don’t worry. We use implantable ones now. You’ll never find them.”
Daria gave her a quick glance, smirked slightly and said, “Damn.”
Dr. Bacon looked across her desk and said, “All right, Helen. I thought we might start off with a little word association.”
Seated somewhat rigidly in a chair, Helen nodded and said, “Okay.”
Dr. Bacon said, “Magnet.”
“When the hell can I do that? Oh, wait, can I say something else?”
“It’s okay, your answer's fine. Next word, 'Child.'" When Helen only stared ahead and failed to answer, Dr. Bacon said, "Helen?"
"Oh, sorry," she said, shaking her head to clear it. "Too many things going through my head at once."
Raising an eyebrow while writing a note, Dr. Bacon said, "Marriage."
On a couch, Jake stared up at the office ceiling. "What do you want me to talk about?"
Classically sitting in a chair beside the couch, Dr. Hinkel said, "Anything you want."
"I want? I thought this trip was for Helen."
"The family visit is about how your wife relates to her family. This session is about you."
After a long moment of silence, Dr. Hinkel said, "Discuss anything you like. You can even ask me questions if you like."
Jake rubbed his chin and said, "Hmm. Do you know any good recipes for low-fat lasagna?"
Seated on a comfortable armchair next to her counselor, Quinn said, "Hardly anybody sees how the Fashion Club booth is such a huge responsibility. I mean, people expect us to be there every day after school to help them with their fashion crises. We can barely keep up with the demand. It would be so much easier if they'd let us research Waif and the other fashion magazines during study hall, but no, Mr. DeMartino makes us do homework instead. Ugh, that's what later is for."
Priscilla, Quinn's counselor, looked at her watch and yawned, fighting to stay awake and look somewhat interested.
"And then there's Daria and John," Quinn said. "How can people that smart be so clueless? Don't get me wrong, them being together is really sweet and all, but I swear, sometimes I feel like I'm their keeper."
Priscilla cocked her head, becoming interested again. Quinn noticed the change and said, "Everyone knows they're the best behaved couple at Lawndale, if you know what I mean. But, they get so wrapped up in each other that they don't even see what's going on around them."
Daria sat on the edge of a couch while Carolyn settled down on an armchair and prepared her notepad. Daria said, "Here's the family dynamic in abstract. Mom resents that she has to work so hard and miss what's going on in her children's lives. On top of her guilt over her drive to make partner, I'm amazed that she hasn't lost it already. After being in a household full of X chromosomes for fifteen years, Dad's glad to have another guy around. But, he still swings from considering John his son to considering him the greatest threat to my feelings for Dad. So, he acts clueless, but John and I have seen otherwise. Quinn wears her popularity like a suit of armor because she’s afraid to allow anyone to get too close and see how fragile she can be. Instead, she tries to romantically live vicariously through John and me by helping us along at every opportunity. I've finally learned not to be so defensive and let a few people get to know me and not reject them before they rejected me, like I do everyone else."
"Uh-huh. What about John?"
John sat in a chair in an almost mirror image of Jean-Michel, only with a sketchpad instead of a notepad. The counselor asked, "You wanted to get directly to the point, correct?"
"Very well. How do you feel about living in the same house as your girlfriend?"
"Whew, there's no beating around the bush with you, is there?"
"It sounded like you wanted direct."
"I did say that," John admitted. "Okay, living with Daria is…the best thing that's happened to me, and the most frustrating."
"Frustrating? What are you frustrated about?"
"Do I really have to spell it out?"
"It helps me to understand if I hear it in your words."
John sighed. "Okay, it's sex. Daria's sister is in the room across the hall from her and my room is as close to Jake and Helen's as it is to Daria's. Everyone has gotten a lot better about giving us time together compared to when I first moved in, but there's always this doubt…"
"There's also my sister. She got herself pregnant in high school and I can tell you, it sucked to be her. I don't want that to happen to Daria."
"But I find her very beautiful and very attractive. I love Daria and I wish we could do more."
Jean-Michel wrote a note and then set the pad aside. "'Do more' implies you've done something."
"John, both of you have reached the age of consent in this state, anything you say is protected by doctor/patient privilege, and I'm not a pervert out to hear details. Just tell me what you feel comfortable saying. It sounds like you two have experimented, but not, using the common parlance, 'gone all the way.'"
"Yeah, that's a good description."
"Some experimentation is healthy and natural, and I must say your maturity is admirable."'
John looked up at the psychologist. "Thanks."
“Consider yourself lucky,” Carolyn said before sighing. “Some women never do.”
“Oh,” Daria said, suddenly embarrassed, both at her counselor’s hint and the realization of what she’d just admitted.
Conscious of Daria’s discomfort, Carolyn flipped a page on her notebook and changed the subject. “All in all, you seem to be rather well balanced…for someone still trying to survive high school. Everyone’s family has their, um, quirks. You have them and a boyfriend you deeply care about.”
“Um…can I ask you one more thing?”
“Certainly, that’s why I’m here.”
“Do you think we’re too young to really be in love? I know the odds are really against us. First romances…well, are firsts. First implies more than one and most people…don’t find the right person on the first try.”
“I won’t try to hide anything. You’re right, the odds are against you. Almost everyone will have a first love and a lucky few an only. The rest of us will go through a broken heart or two and learn to pick up the pieces. I can’t tell you what it will be for you. I don’t think anyone honestly can. But the alternative is never knowing. I don’t think you want that.”
“’Tis better to have loved and lost,” Daria said.
“True, but I can say this. In times past, people married earlier in life and many did fall in love with each other at your age, so it’s not impossible.”
“In other words, a resounding ‘maybe.’”
After checking the clock on the wall, Carolyn said, “Our session is almost over and you covered a lot of ground. I don’t think I need anything else and so can set you free a little early.”
Daria stood, saying, “After I’ve revealed my deepest, darkest secrets to you.”
With a half-smile, Carolyn said, “They may be your deepest, but I don’t think they were your darkest.”
“I still can’t believe...” Daria then recognized what had happened, crossed her arms and said, “Oh, you’re good. Even my mother couldn’t have got me to, um, talk about what we talked about without some kind of extreme and probably illegal hypnosis.”
“It’s my job to listen when a patient needs to talk. Sometimes, you need to be a little patient to get them to talk.”
“You might be right; I needed to talk. I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling Jodie. Saying anything to Brittany would be the same as getting on the school PA, and Monique…well, John’s brother is her ex-boyfriend.”
“I can see where that would be awkward.”
Quinn was just outside the counselor’s office when John left. She looked inside and said while falling into step with him, “I knew I'd heard an accent. How did you get the French guy?”
“Lucky, I guess,” he said. "But then, I also noticed that they assigned women to the women and men to the guys."
They started walking toward the guest lounge. "How was your session?" John asked.
"Good different or bad different?"
"You'd have to be there. I wonder if Daria's free of her shrink yet?"
Quinn pushed the lounge door open and looked in. "She's already on a computer."
John went to Daria while Quinn looked around for someone interesting to speak to. Not finding anyone, she chose a seat that had a discreet vantage point to watch her sister.
John pulled out the chair next to Daria. "Hi."
She closed her web browser and said, "Hey."
"How'd it go?"
Daria looked down at the keyboard. "A little more open than I planned."
"Yeah, I know the feeling."
"You're too comfortable; I don't think you do."
“After talking about your family and us, I talked about mine and how screwed up they are.”
Daria hushed her voice. “I talked a lot about us. In detail.”
He followed suit. “Detail? What kind of detail?”
“When Mom and Aunt Amy were drunk…”
John’s eyes bulged. “Oh.”
“So you didn’t say anything to your counselor?”
“He let me stop at saying ‘we’ve experimented’ and I was happy to change the subject to my family. Knowing you, I’m surprised you said anything.”
“You’re surprised? Once I started, I kept talking. She even knows about your sneeze. I’m glad I’m protected by doctor/patient privilege.”
“Your secret’s safe with me, too.”
“Our secret. I know that in the long run Mom would understand, but I’m not ready for her to find out, yet.”
“You’re not ready?” John said. “I’m the one likely to lose body parts.”
Daria faintly smiled and leaned over to kiss John. “And I don’t want you to lose them.”
Curious, and feeling like teasing her sister, Quinn walked over and said, “What are you two being so hush-hush about?”
Daria jumped and then said, “Nothing that you need to worry about.”
“Uh-huh,” Quinn said with a smirk. “A little nervous?”
“Surprised,” John said.
As a lead-in, Quinn said, “What kind of dirt did you spill on Mom and Dad?”
John shrugged. “Nothing really bad.”
Daria said, “Certainly nothing worse than they could say about each other in their couple’s session.”
“What about yourselves?” Quinn asked, enjoying their flash of discomfort as she hit her main point of interest.
Daria countered, “Aren’t you worried about any dirt on you?”
“On me?” Quinn said, tapping fingers against her chest. “There isn’t any.”
Daria stood and whispered in Quinn’s ear. The younger girl blushed and said, “Um, yeah, there is that. But your session is over.”
“We still have the family session.”
“Yeah, I’m curious,” John said.
Quinn quickly looked between the two. “You wouldn’t!”
“Probably not,” Daria said. “But…it is there.”
“Okay, for now,” Quinn replied.
Daria returned to her chair. “Good. Now, let’s hope Mom and Dad don’t completely freak out on each other.”
Quinn looked back toward the counselors’ offices. “I hope so.”
The entire family, plus Dr. Bacon, was seated around a table in the retreat’s main dining room. Daria and John were to the doctor’s left, Jake and Helen to the right and Quinn directly across the table. John looked at the plate of food that appeared special but he was sure was as lacking in flavor as any other institutional food.
“Finally, I’m starved,” he said, digging in and finding his speculation to be correct.
Jake started eating and after a couple of bites said, “Needs something. Hey John, how do you think a little wasabi-bacon powder would work on this?”
Dr. Bacon interrupted them by saying, “All right, Morgendorffers. I’ve analyzed the data from your individual sessions and I believe I know our next step.”
“Pedicures?” Quinn hopefully asked.
“No,” Dr. Bacon replied. “I was thinking about a little role playing.”
“Eww! On the ground?” Quinn said, though John and Daria caught the quick wink she sent their direction.
“I mean, you will take on each other’s roles. Act like someone else.”
Quinn’s gaze went from her parents to her sister. “You mean like Daria and John act like Mom and Dad.”
“Very good,” Dr. Bacon said and looked at Daria. “Why don’t you and John start?”
Daria shot Quinn an “I’ll get you,” look before sighing. Letting a fraction of her mother’s voice creep into her own, Daria said, “I suppose. You know, this would be a great family bonding experience, don’t you think so, Jake?” The last was directed at John.
John was startled and said, “Oh, um…sure honey. Hey, do you think my new clients will like my feta cheese chutney casserole?”
Daria said, “Perhaps a nice lunch at…” Daria stopped and held her hand next to her face as if holding a cell phone. “Hi Eric. You left your briefs at the strip club again? Let me take care of something at home and then I’ll call the private investigator to retrieve them.”
Helen uncomfortably chuckled.
Daria rolled her eyes and moved her hand away from her face. “As I was saying, perhaps lunch at that new sushi place might be a good idea. Some people are a little uh, uncomfortable with avant-garde cooking.”
“Great idea!” John said. That leaves more for the rest of us! Better than your idea of meat and potatoes seven nights a week, old man!”
“Excellent,” Dr. Bacon said and then turned to Jake and Helen. “Now you, John and Daria.”
Helen hesitated, then moved her chair closer to Jake and reached out to hold his hand. She looked around a couple of times and said, “Looks like we have a few minutes alone.”
Jake seemed confused for a moment before he seemed to lose sight of everyone else and held up Helen’s hand and kissed it.
Helen leaned against him and said, “I feel pretty lucky.”
“Me, too,” Jake said, moving from Helen’s hand to kiss her lips and then they sat back, looking contentedly into each other’s eyes.
Without thinking, Daria reached over and held John’s hand, feeling that her parents were beginning to understand how she and John felt about each other.
Sweetly, Jake and Helen moved into a close embrace and kissed again. Without breaking their kiss, they became visibly more excited and slid to the carpet between the chairs as everyone else looked on in surprise.
Recovering first, Daria looked down and pointedly said, “We are not like that.”
Quinn said, “Yeah, you two are way more tasteful.”
“And besides, the floor is too hard,” John said, earning glares from Daria and Quinn.
Dr. Bacon said, “Helen? Jake? Hello? You’re upsetting the other guests.”
Back at home, John knocked on Daria’s door and came in as she was unpacking from the trip. “If that’s really the way your mom and dad thought about us, no wonder they were so paranoid for so long.”
“No kidding, though they did act rather sweet before their hormones kicked into overdrive,” Daria said. “I have to admit that after recent events, they might know us better than we thought.”
“I can see that, but we don’t do things in public.”
“When we notice,” Daria corrected. “Don’t forget the school dance where everyone was watching us and we were as oblivious as your brother to the world.”
“But the floor is right out.”
Eric entered Helen’s office and stood by her desk, reading the last of the report from Quiet Ivy. Helen looked up from the paperwork she’d been reading and said, “Eric, about the retreat.”
“I have the report right here,” he said.
“Oh,” Helen said, looking at her desk.
Eric read from the report, “Helen Morgendorffer exhibits a complex mix of aggressive devotion to career with an equally determined devotion to her husband and family, both of which can, at times, can only be described as ‘extremely enthusiastic.’”
“Yes,” Helen said, trying to understand what had been said.
Eric placed the report on Helen’s desk. “Congratulations! You’re just the kind of go-getter we need to show that a woman can get ahead in this firm and still have a family life. Damn, you’re going to make us look good. We’re putting you on the partnership fast-track!”
“Yes! We’ll show that State Women’s Association. Now, let’s go to court and kick some ass!”
“Yes, Eric, just a moment.”
After he left, Helen read the report and sighed. “I suppose I could be called worse things than, ‘extremely enthusiastic.’”
Dialog from: Psycho Therapy by Neena Beber
Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.