When things fell apart in the Lancaster family, they tended to do so in extravagantly spectacular fashion. While everything had been proceeding rather smoothly, Carly's meet and greet was no exception to the family rule. This time, the unraveling all started with a little boy and a purple balloon.
They'd just called the winner of Rondell's catered meal and Carly's aunt reacted in typical fashion to the news that Greg Peters had even dared to bid in the first place. "I am not cooking for that man Stephanie" Rondell declared in defiance.
"Oh come on, Evil villains need soul food too" Greg mocked while chasing after Rondell. In the background amidst the adults chatting and waiting for the next raffle to be announced, several kids had started pulling balloons off the walls and tossing them up in the air. They were playing that game where everyone tries to keep all the balloons in the air without letting any of them fall to the ground. It was a perfect metaphor for how Stephanie was feeling at the moment. She just needed everything to go exactly right. Which is why she had no time to deal with Rondell and her latest tantrum.
Meanwhile Carly was doing an amazing job of being a charming hostess. She was doing so well, in fact, that she hardly noticed when Monica stepped off to confront a scruffy faced portly man with graying red hair who had immediately started sizing everyone up as soon as he stumbled into the room.
“Commissioner!” she called out to him with irritation heavy in her tone. “What are you doing here?”
“What happened to dad?”
“I’m on the job. Don’t tell me you came down here to babysit the babysitter.”
At Monica’s last comment, Danny became visibly ruffled. No matter what he tried, it seemed he could never get it right with Monica. She was either demanding that he back off, or chastising him for not doing enough when she was younger. “I came down here to show face, support a good cause.” He pulled a raffle ticket from his breast pocket and handed to Monica. “See, I even got you a ticket.”
But Monica wasn’t in the mood for daddy-daughter bonding time on the job. "It's not enough you stick me with this crap assignment" Monica barked. Despite herself she couldn’t keep her voice at an even keel. "Did you really have to storm over here throwing your weight around?"
“I had some free time” Danny interjected. “I just wanted to see you in action is all.”
"Why,” Monica fumed. “because someone threw paint at your little girl?" There was a pregnant pause as Monica waited for Danny to deny it. But no such denial ever came. "How am I supposed to get any respect with you constantly stepping on my toes?"
Back at the bidding table, Carly was busy trying to spot where in the crowd Lori had disappeared to. But it was like a colorblind person playing Where's Waldo. After tracing the same square so many times it made her eyes sore, Carly decided to distract herself with something else, anything else. Eventually, her attention landed on the balloon game. By Carly’s count there were now a baker’s dozen of balloons randomly bouncing up and down in the air. This she knew because every time one floated her way, she would do her part by tossing it right back up toward the ceiling.
At the center of the room Evan was in the middle of a heated exchange with Stephanie and Irene. “You didn’t tell me they were going to throw paint at her”
“Calm down Evan, it was just paint.”
“Stephanie it was paint thrown at my daughter. I’ve broken bones for less.”
“She didn’t suffer a drop” Irene interjected. “Monica saw to that.”
“I’m not playing these games with you Stephanie. You better clean this shit up.” Evan demanded with a pop of his collar.
But the more Evan demanded the more it made Stephanie want to be less compliant.
“Evan, sweetie. How many times do I have to explain that this is my game. You’re just lucky I let you collect two-hundred dollars every time you pass Go.”’
Senior started clinking a metal fork against his beer bottle. But with all the hollering and various arguments, hardly anyone heard him. “Listen up!” He instructed with as much projection as he could muster. “Listen up!” Still, hardly anyone turned an eye. Frustrated, Senior decided he'd try his luck from atop one of the tables.
"I said LISTEN UP!" he tried one last time. This time he had everyone's attention, especially Rondell.
"Daddy, get down from there before you hurt yourself."
"Well," Senior started, "We have officially surpassed our goal of $250,000." He paused to allow everyone time to applaud. "I'm gonna let everyone get back to what they was doing. But first it's time for what y'all all came here for." Everyone laughed in acknowledgment. "The piece-de-resistance, the big finish, the grand finale draw."
Stephanie just knew that Senior would have gone on forever if someone didn't stop him. Really, her finding a microphone and cutting senior off was an act of mercy. At least, that's what Stephanie told herself. As they wheeled out the spinning barrel, Stephanie stepped forward
"Thank you all for your generous contributions. Some, more generous than others." She started to spin the barrel full of tickets. Carly watched as she did, the whole time thinking of Lori's words "What part of this is supposed to be authentic?" At least half the tickets in that barrel belonged to Lori. She hadn't seen a single person other than Lori purchase more than a hundred tickets. There was no way for anyone else could win. Sure, it wasn't exactly even odds, or fair, but hey, at least she wouldn't have to suffer through a night with some rando.
She was schooled in the art of putting on a good show, but inside, Stephanie was jumping with unbridled glee at the feet she was just seconds away from pulling off. She opened the barrel’s latch, pulled the door open and stuck her hand in. “Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the date with my beautiful daughter is none other than…” Stephanie drew a ticket “Ticket number 65244!”
A steady stream of disappointed sighs followed. After a while, when no one else was stepping forward, Lori presumptively emerged from the crowd.
“Who in the hell let that gutter trash in here?” Stephanie muttered under her breath.
Carly stood from the table and smiled as she leaned forward to hug Lori.
“Do you have the matching ticket?” Stephanie demanded of Lori. “We can’t confirm anything without a matching ticket.”
“Are you kidding me, I bought all the tickets. Well close to all.” Lori insisted.
Out of curiosity, Monica reached into her belt and pulled out the one ticket her father had given her. She nearly hit the floor after reading the number off in her head. Stephanie wasted no time taking note of Monica’s facial expression.
“Monica dear, you look stunned. Do you have something to share.”
Though Monica could smell something fishy from a mile away, she felt pressed between a rock and a had place. Something in her just did not want to see Lori win.
“I, ugh, I have the winning ticket” Monica stammered, her voice shaking with indecision. She walked forward and displayed the ticket for both Lori and Stephanie to confirm.
At the sight of the ticket Lori stormed off. “You have got to be kidding me!” she hissed, making sure to flip Stephanie off as she stomped away.
Monica couldn’t help but notice the sudden change in Carly’s facial expression. She felt bad, but there wasn’t much time for explaining or apologizing because Stephanie was already grabbing her arm and pulling her into a photo-op.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Stephanie announced. “Monica O’Rourke, our lucky winner!”
Stephanie insisted on a photo of Monica and Carly hugging. It was exactly as awkward as hugging someone who was clearly disappointed to be stuck with you should be. Monica decided to use the photo-op as an opportunity to clue Carly in.
“I don’t actually want to go.” She tried. “So, you don’t have to worry about that.”
But that did nothing to change Carly’s cold shoulder. “Yeah, I’d hate for you to be stuck with a crap assignment any longer than need be” she retorted. Her mother had always teased her for being a softie, and Carly was sure on some level that Stephanie had a point. But that didn’t take away from the fact that she’d thought they connected in the restroom. Not that she needed a bestie, but she at least thought they respected each other.
Carly was still posing for pictures with Monica but her eyes were fixed on Lori exiting toward the parking garage. Even after Lori was good and gone Carly couldn’t help glancing wistfully toward the exit sign.
A single purple balloon came floating by and Carly reached up to bop it back up, Monica stretched her hand out at the same time so that they were both responsible for keeping it afloat. The sudden flash of a camera distracted them and the balloon came tumbling downward.
“Perfect” the camera man declared, admiring the image he’d managed to capture of Monica and Carly seeming to work together wordlessly.
A little boy ran forward to catch the balloon before they let it fall. But in his haste, he slipped on a loose floor board. Carly took notice and jumped out to brace the little boy’s fall. She got to him just before his head hit the ground. However, the balloon could not be saved. It hit the ground just before the little boy and his foot landed atop of it, popping it instantly.
At the sound, half the room panicked and hid under the available tables. Some men suffering from excess testosterone drew weapons they had previously been concealing. Even Monica had her hand on her holster for half a second.
“Relax everyone” Carly instructed. “It was just a balloon.”
An alert buzzed on Carly’s phone. It was Lori.
Meet in the garage when you’re ready. I’m not good at being patient.
As a result, Carly had to make quick work of making sure the little boy was okay before she darted off to the parking garage without giving Monica an opportunity to object.
When she got to the garage, she found Lori standing at the center, her hair tossed to the side, looking every bit her usual overly confident self. But Carly knew better. All that bravado was just an act, an act Carly had been bending over backward to peel away.
“What do you want?” Carly demanded
“Isn’t it obvious?” Lori scoffed. “I want you, Carly.” Without another word she marched forward and pulled Carly in to her by the hips. She kissed her swiftly and forcefully. Lori felt pleasantly surprised to have Carly return the kiss. “I missed you.”
“It’s been two weeks” Carly laughed. She could barley hold it together with the way Lori was tracing every exposed inch of her skin with her lips.
Lori had her hands tucked inside the waistband of Carly’s pants. She made quick work of teasing her fingers downward until she could feel the entrance of Carly’s lips. At the touch of Lori’s fingers Carly jumped excitedly. No matter how much she protested, the two weeks had been torture for her too.
Lori would never tell Carly, but Carly Lancaster had a tell right before she was going to climax. Without failure, no matter what position, she would always find a way to bite Lori’s neck. It didn’t take much after the neck bite for Lori to finish her off. So, this time, when Lori was fingers deep inside of Carly and she felt the tell-tale love bite, Lori pulled out immediately. This all to Carly’s confusion and disappointment.
“Don’t stop” she begged. But Lori shook her head in protest teasingly.
“Don’t go on the date” Lori whispered into Carly’s ear.
“What?” Carly blurted with genuine confusion.
Lori simply repeated her demand. “Do not go on the date.”
“I have to, it’s for charity.” In a fit of frustration Carly tried to finish herself off. But Lori stopped her.
“As hot as you doing that is, I can’t let you off that easy.” Lori explained while snatching Carly’s hands away.
“Apparently not” Carly shot back.
Lori had her hands tightly pinned to her sides so Carly couldn’t move them unless Lori let her. She carefully maneuvered to remove Carly’s belt then used the belt to wrap her hands together. As a result, Carly’s pants slipped down just enough to expose her underwear.
“Freak” Carly hissed.
“You mean, you don’t like it?” Lori mocked, knowing full well that Carly loved it.
That much was true. Carly was loving every bit of Lori’s naughty antics. However, she couldn’t shake the feeling of something nagging at her. As much as she wanted Lori, she also needed an explanation. Somehow, standing in a public parking garage with her pants down and her hands tied up didn’t feel like a position from which she could argue her case. She knew, the only way to get Lori to listen was to make a power move of her own.