It was Allison that transformed the Primdale family. Had their secrets ever gotten out, some might say that she ruined their lives. Others might say she saved them. But not a single member of the family had any regrets.
When Gregory Primdale's wife left him, he took it really hard. There had been no warning signs, no fights or coldness or anything to indicate trouble in their marriage; she just one day announced that she was leaving him for another man.
Apparently the affair had been going on for almost two years behind Greg's back, until she had finally made her decision. Suddenly he found himself a thirty-seven year old divorcee raising three children by himself, and the laughingstock of all of his friends.
It was as much a blow to the family name as to his ego; the Primdales had been a highly respected, wealthy family for five generations without even the hint of a scandal to mar their reputation. Now, suddenly, rumors spread like wildfire, people gossiped behind their backs, and the incident even made the newspaper. The press loved a good scandal, and the fact that it happened to one of the wealthiest families in town made it all the more delicious.
He had at least had his way in divorce court, though that was small consolation. His ex-wife didn't even want custody of the children, which was a great relief, since he would rather die than see them in the hands of "that rotten bitch," as he had called her so often that it became a nickname for her in the Primdale household. The only matter that needed to be settled, then, was how much of the family fortune she would get. Out of spite, he hired a private investigator to dig up all the dirt he could on her, especially her marital indiscretions, and by the time he was through the whole town knew what a slut she was, and her reputation had sunk so low that even the judge was against her. She ended up with nothing; not the mansion, not the car, not even alimony payments. Out of common courtesy he let her keep her clothes, but other than that, she didn't get a dime. No, that was not entirely true; in front of half a dozen television cameras as he was walking out of the courtroom, he had a spontaneous impulse to exact one last bit of revenge on her. And so with a wide grin on his face, as he passed her he tossed a quarter in her direction. "That's for fifteen years of sex," he said. "I figure this is about the going rate for a cheap whore like you."
It wasn't like him to do things like that. He was normally sweet-natured and kind. But she had hurt him deeply, and worse, she had hurt the children. If it were just for his own sake, he could forgive her. But to tear apart the family, causing the kids unknown anguish, was something he could never forget.
He never saw her again after that, and good riddance. She had burned him, but in the end he had triumphed. The truth was that all that really mattered to him were the children, but there was nothing wrong with making sure she didn't get her hands on his nest egg. From the time she announced she was leaving to the time she disappeared for the last time was only two months, but it was two months too long.
The children took it surprisingly well. Melissa was fifteen at the time, old enough to understand the situation, and she helped to ease the burden for the other children, Geoffrey and Britney, who were thirteen and ten, respectively. She explained the situation to them in plain, almost childlike simplicity. In fact, it was due in no small part to Melissa that the others were able to cope with it at all, let alone so well. Still, he caught Britney, his "little angel" as he called her, crying several times, and tried to comfort her the best he could. But for some reason only her big sister could get her to stop crying, maybe because she could act as a surrogate mother to Britney. After that, Greg always had a special place in his heart for his oldest daughter.
Three weeks after the divorce was finalized, things had started to settle down and get back to normal again. The students at school had stopped asking the children questions, which was a relief, because he had been tempted to pull them out and send them to a private school to give them a clean start. His fellow board members at the corporation where he worked also stopped asking about the divorce; over half of them had gone through the same thing once or twice. He was able to get on with his job without distractions, though he continued to nurse a bitterness toward his ex-wife.
That was when Allison walked into his life and changed everything.
His first contact with her came in the form of a phone call. They were sitting down to eat dinner when the phone rang. He answered it, and was greeted by the voice of a young woman on the other end.
"Is this Greg Primdale?" she asked.
"Mr. Primdale, my name is Allison Craven, and I have... well, you might call it a business proposition."
"We're not interested," he said almost automatically, and turned to hang up the phone.
"Just wait a minute," she hurriedly insisted, and he returned the receiver to his ear.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I'm not a telemarketer. This is a proposition that I believe will benefit both of us. It has to do with your ex-wife."
"I will thank you to refer to her as 'that rotten bitch' when speaking to me," he scowled.
"All right, it has to do with that rotten bitch," she replied. "More importantly, getting your revenge on that rotten bitch."
Greg was intrigued, so he allowed her to continue.
"Just to put your mind at ease, it's nothing illegal," she said. "It's not even really unethical. But I'd really prefer not to go into details over the phone. I'd rather meet to discuss it with you in person. Is there a time when I can come to your house? I want to talk to you in private."
Something seemed very fishy about the whole situation, but the woman on the other end of the line sounded sincere and affable enough. Still a little wary, he said, "Why don't you drop by tomorrow at 7:30 pm?"
"Perfect," she said. "Thank you for your time. I'll be there."
The next day, she arrived just as she said she would, at 7:30 exactly. It was Jeff who answered the door. What he saw astonished him. She was a gorgeous beauty, with long brunette hair and the most beautiful bright blue eyes he had ever seen. She wore a casual blouse and skirt that emphasized her amazing figure wonderfully. But her most striking feature was her smile, the kind of smile that could melt hearts instantly. As the sun had long since set, the light from the interior of the house bathed her in illumination and caused her to almost look like she was glowing against the darkness.
He caught a whiff of her perfume, a sweet floral fragrance carried into the house on the chill evening breeze. The mansion had been built on a hillside, away from the lights and noises and smells of the city, and her perfume seemed to blend nicely with the natural odors of a mid-autumn evening. It was actually quite subtle; he thought that if this had been spring when the flowers were in bloom, he might not have even noticed it.
He stood there gaping at her, unable to pull his eyes away or even to speak. If there was ever such thing as a perfect woman, this was her, standing on his doorstep.
Despite the fact that she looked like some kind of fashion model, she drove a modest car. It was a simple gray sedan that looked almost pathetic next to his dad's Jaguar in the driveway. Of course, the Primdales also had a minivan, which helped at least to soften the contrast.
Jeff felt a little intimidated by her presence, even awed. He himself was a scraggly thirteen-year-old boy with unkempt, brown hair and a little too many freckles for his liking. He was a little on the thin side, despite having a healthy appetite and rarely getting much exercise. While he was far from ugly, standing in this woman's presence made him think of every last imperfection in his appearance.
"You must be Geoffrey," she greeted amiably. "I'm Allison Craven. I'm here to see your father."
"Hey dad!" he yelled into the background. "There's a mysterious and gorgeous woman to see you!" He didn't know why he said it like that; he was usually quiet and reserved. But there was something about this woman that made it seem like he could get away with saying things like that.
Allison laughed. "A mysterious and gorgeous woman. I like that. I can see we're going to get along fine. And I hope to change your impression of me very soon. At least the mysterious part. I'd like to remain gorgeous for as long as I can," she said with a wink.
Greg appeared and approached the door. From the look on his face, he was as taken with her beauty as his son was. He was a tall, handsome man with a quite muscular physique. For a man only a few years from forty, he looked rather young. He had straight, dark brown hair without even the tiniest trace of gray in it. Perhaps one day age would catch up to him, but for now he seemed to be still in the prime of his life.
"You're Allison Craven?" he asked, with a little more astonishment in the tone of his voice than he had hoped.
"I hope so," she replied. "I'm wearing her clothes."
Greg chuckled a little uncertainly, not entirely sure how to take this woman. "So what can I do for you, Allison? May I call you Allison?"
"Only if I can call you Greg," she grinned.
"Fair enough. So what can I do for you?"
"Is there some place where we can talk in private?" she asked.
"Certainly. Jeff, I'm taking Allison to my office. See that we're not disturbed." He turned and led her into the great hall. The house was fairly moderate for a mansion; they could afford better but they had bought it early in Greg's career when they didn't have quite so much money, and the children all loved it because it was the only home they had ever known. Besides, if it were any bigger they would need to hire a maid, a gardener, and probably a butler as well. Greg had always been frugal with his money, especially since he wanted his children to grow up as normal, healthy kids instead of the snobs and brats that too many of his coworkers had raised.
The mansion itself was a combination of classic Fifth Avenue style and modern touches to bring it into the twenty-first century. The ground floor was taken up mainly by the great hall, which opened to a large living room on the left and the kitchen and dining room on the right, with a couple of other rooms further down. A large staircase led up to the second floor, where balconies overlooked the hall below and half a dozen doors led to other rooms. He led her up the stairs to one of these doors, which opened into a large, comfortable study that he had converted into a home office for when he had to bring his work home with him. He closed the door, then sat down in his chair behind a large, oak desk, then indicated a comfortable chair in front of the desk.
Allison nodded toward a couple of couches against the wall in the corner. "If you don't mind, I'd rather be a little more informal. I'm a little nervous, and that desk reminds me of an interview. I'd rather make this a nice, friendly chat."
Greg shrugged. In truth, he preferred the more informal atmosphere as well; he had only chosen his usual seat because she had said that this was a business proposition. He got up and plopped down on one of the couches. She took the other one.
"All right," she began. "Before we get to why I'm here, you need to know a little about me. This is going to sound a little awkward, a little personal even, but please don't interrupt me until I'm finished, okay?"
"My name, as I've already mentioned, is Allison Craven. I'm twenty-three years old and an ex high school teacher. I graduated with a degree in Math Education, taught a couple of years, and am currently unemployed. Though I may not look it, I'm a bit of a computer geek and a bookworm, but my favorite hobbies are camping, cooking, and photography.
"You're obviously wondering where this is going. No doubt you're thinking I'm looking for a job and wondering why I'm coming to you instead of putting in an application at one of the schools in the area. Well, first, I'm not looking for a job, and second, there's not a school in this country that would hire me.
"I'm going to be perfectly frank, Greg. I was fired for having sex with one of my students. Needless to say the school board wasn't too happy. I still believe I did nothing wrong; the affair had no bearing on his grades and he was eighteen and therefore a consenting adult. I still could have gone to prison if it was a public school, but since it was private, all they could do was fire me. I'm not in any legal trouble. But I'm not going to be able to go back to work in a school again, ever. Especially since he had a hidden camera and put the video up on the Internet for everyone to see. There's no way I'm going to live this down.
"Now, I'm not ashamed of what I did. I could sue him to have the video taken down because it was posted without my consent, but the fact of the matter is, now that the cat is out of the bag, I don't have any problem with it being out there. Hell, I'll even give you the address to the web site if you want.
"I tell you this because I don't want to have any secrets from you. Judge me as you will. The point I'm trying to make is that my career is over. The end, adios, sayonara, goodbye. I have no prospects left. One stupid mistake, and I'm going to pay for it for the rest of my life.
"Now, I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I refuse to let this get me down. But I have to look at things realistically. I'm a damn good math teacher, but that's it. I work well with children, especially teenagers. Unfortunately, that limits my options. There's no work for someone with my skills outside of school, and of course, there's no school that will take me. I moved out here to California both because I needed to get away from the scandal back home, and because I hoped to find a more liberal attitude that might allow me to go back into teaching somewhere. But none of the schools I applied at are that liberal.
"So I have three choices. Number one. I throw out my degree and my experience, and I get some job waiting tables or bagging groceries, and I spend the rest of my life working as hard as I can just to pay the bills. Not a pleasant thought.
"Number two. My only other asset is my good looks. I put it to work for me. Maybe modeling, maybe something a little less respectable. I've ruled out Hollywood because I can't act and because the movies are filled with girls that look as good or better than me."
Greg could have argued with her; he had never seen an actress that looked as good as Allison. But she had told him to wait until she was finished, so he didn't want to interrupt.
"I could go to modeling school," she continued, "but fashion models have a short life span, and I've got a late start. By the time I finished school, I would work a couple of years and then end up right back where I started. I might make enough to pay off the loans for modeling school, but not much more than that.
"And so we come to option number three. And this is where you come in. I forget all about a career, I marry a nice millionaire, and live in luxury for the rest of my life."
"You what?" Greg asked, astonished.
"You heard me. And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. When I said this was a proposition, I suppose it would be more appropriate to call it a proposal."
Greg stood up. This was something he had certainly not expected!
"I rushed it a little, didn't I?" she asked. "Just for the record, I'm not in love with you, and I don't expect you to be in love with me. Let's not call this anything but what it is. A marriage of convenience. Look. You've just been burned by a woman you used to love. You're a little vulnerable right now. You're not ready for a serious relationship. On the other hand, you're a man, and that means that you're interested in cars, sports, and sex. Well, I can't help you with the cars and sports part, but I'm more than happy to give you all the sex you want. I'm not even the jealous type; if you want a mistress or two, you go right ahead. And I'd be happy to sign a prenuptial agreement so that you don't think I'm trying to scam you. So that's the deal. I get to live the good life, and you get a purely physical relationship with a beautiful woman. In the mean time, you get to show off your new trophy bride, and hopefully word gets back to that rotten bitch that you're doing just as well, if not better, without her. So what do you say?"
"I... I don't..." Greg stammered.
"Okay, look. You want to take some time to make up your mind. That's only natural; I did kind of spring this on you all of a sudden. Tell you what. You take twenty-four hours to think of all the reasons why you shouldn't do this, and I'll come back tomorrow and help you cross out everything on the list."
"Look, I don't think I can do this to my children. I mean, what would they think? Here it is only three weeks after the divorce, and I suddenly want to get married again?"
"Okay, that's item #1 on your list, and I can help you cross that one off right now. If you want, we can have a reasonable courtship. Say, six months? We can pretend we're just dating, and then announce the engagement at the end. Another three months or so after that, and we're married. No awkward questions, no scandal, and that will give the children time to get to know me. Tell you what. If at the end of the six months any of them object, we'll just call the whole thing off. We're talking no risk here."
"Well... I don't know."
"You drive a hard bargain, Greg," she said, then grinned seductively. "I think what you need is to sample the goods." With that, she stood up in front of him and started unbuckling her blouse.
"What? Stop that!" he exclaimed.
"Why?" she asked, removing her shirt and throwing it to the ground. Greg stared for a moment at her partially revealed body, starting to grow aroused at the sight. His ex-wife hadn't looked that good in ten years. Actually, she hadn't ever looked that good!
As Allison reached behind to unhook her black bra, Greg made one last futile attempt to put an end to it. "Look, there's no need..."
"Until you agree to marry me, there's every need," she smiled, and suddenly her bra came loose and she dropped it on the floor next to her shirt. God, she was beautiful! At least from the waist up, she had the most perfect body he had ever seen, even compared to the ones in the Lecher magazines that his ex-wife didn't like him looking at. Her breasts were large enough to be enticing, but not too large to hold up under their own weight. She had about average-sized nipples, very dark and well-defined. He felt his resistance weakening. With such an offer from such a woman, what man would be able to refuse?
She then went to work on her skirt, tossing it on the floor with the rest of her clothes. That left only her panties, her high-heeled shoes, and her long, black stockings.
He found his breaths coming in gasps now, and chills ran down his spine. What a gorgeous, absolutely perfect woman! He watched her in fascination as she slipped out of her shoes, then sat back down in the chair and lifted one of her legs to slowly, seductively remove one of her stockings.
"Enjoying the show so far?" she asked, and Greg nodded dumbly. He couldn't tear her eyes off of her!
After finishing with the other stocking, she stood up in front of him again. Then she hooked her thumbs into the waistband of her panties and slid them down partway, revealing her beautiful, shaved pussy. A little seductive wiggle sent the garment the rest of the way to the floor, and she stepped out of them, completely naked in front of him.
"And now for the fun part," she grinned, leaning over and pressing her lips up against his. From the first touch, Greg knew he was lost. Her lips were sweet and breathtaking, and she knew how to use them. Her tongue probed his mouth and he allowed himself to reciprocate with his own. Without breaking the kiss, she knelt down between his legs. Her hands went to his, drawing them up to place them on her breasts. It felt wonderful! Without thinking, he found himself massaging and fondling them, enjoying the feeling immensely. As he did so, she unfastened his belt and unzipped his pants. That relieved some of the pressure down there, but his cock was still somewhat restrained by his shorts. She drew her lips away from his and smiled at him as she slipped her fingers in the waistband. "Let's see just what I'm getting out of this," she said with a wink, then slipped his shorts down to let his member spring free. She glanced down at it, licking her lips. "Very nice," she grinned. "I'm going to enjoy this more than I thought." As she lowered her head, he realized what she was about to do.
"Oh my god!" he exclaimed through a haze of lust. His ex-wife had never pleasured him like that; she had always thought it was too disgusting. But he had fantasized about it numerous times. And now it appeared that his fantasy was about to come true!
Her tongue came out, and she flicked it against the head, sending a wave of pleasure through him. Then she ran her tongue all over it, and he thought he was going to die of ecstasy. She gazed up at him with a smile as she continued to tease him with her tongue. This was heaven! He had never felt so good!
But it got even better. "This is your house, and I don't want to make a mess," she commented. "So I guess I'm going to have to swallow it."
The anticipation almost made him reach an orgasm right there. She was going to give him the ultimate pleasure!
When her lips wrapped around his cock and she began to suck, he thought he was going to pass out. She started out slow, taking it deep in her mouth then sliding her lips back up until only the head remained. Then she went deep again and repeated the process, over and over again, sending him to ever greater heights of passion.
"Oh, god, Allison!" he moaned. Hearing how much he enjoyed it made her work all the harder. She attacked his cock with wild abandon, driving him into a frenzy. He realized that all he had to do was agree to marry her, and he would get this same treatment as often as he wanted. She would belong to him. His Allison.
As he reached his peak, he knew he would not be able to refuse. He stuck a hand over his mouth to muffle his cry of pleasure; it wouldn't do to have the children hear what was going on up here.
Somehow, Allison managed to swallow every bit of his semen as his hips bucked and he shot load after load into her hungry mouth. He didn't even try to hold back, giving her everything he had. It was her idea after all, so he was going to enjoy it to the fullest.
Then the pleasure began to wane, and he collapsed in exhaustion back onto the couch. She continued to suck, coaxing every last drop out of his softening member.
A couple of minutes later, she let it slip out of her mouth, and she glanced up at him with a smile. "Looks like that's the last of it," she said as she stood back up and began to get dressed. He continued to stare at her beautiful body. The thought of this woman being willing to do that to him whenever he wanted was almost too much to handle. At that moment he felt that there was not a man alive who would refuse such an offer, himself included.
"All right, I'll see you again tomorrow to help you start crossing things off your list," she said once she finished dressing.
"What list?" he smiled.
She glanced at him, a smile forming on her face. "So you accept?"
"I'd be stupid not to!"
Allison laughed. "Yes you would, but I wasn't going to be the one to say it."
Then he thought of something. "What about the kids? What am I going to tell them?"
"Do you want me to tell them for you?"
"I don't know... maybe I should be the one."
"That is, of course, your decision, but I need to get to know them anyway, and this would be a perfect opportunity to meet them. Besides, if any of them have any objections, I want to hear it straight, so I can call this whole thing off if I need to. I won't do it unless everyone involved agrees."
"All right, go ahead and tell them."
"Good. You just wait right here. I'll be back in a few minutes. Oh, if I recall correctly, their names are Melissa, Geoffrey, and Britney?"
"Yes, but they go by Lissa, Jeff, and Brit."
"Got it. See you in a few minutes."
"So who's this Allison woman?" asked Lissa. She and Jeff sat on the couch, staring at the TV. Lissa took after her mother in looks, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. Her skin was fair and unblemished, which led to the family joke that Jeff had stolen all of her freckles. She had the tiniest trace of an overbite, or at the very least her front teeth were a little larger than average. But surprisingly enough, rather than detracting from her pretty face, it enhanced it. She had a very good figure for a fifteen-year-old, though it was usually hard to tell because of her fondness for baggy clothes. Their little sister, Brit, lay on her stomach on the floor in front of them, lazily kicking her legs in the air above her. If anything, she was skinnier than Jeff, which wasn't surprising considering her age. She was the beauty of the family, with long blond hair that she liked to wear in pigtails, and large, bright blue eyes. She was still a child, but in a few years she was bound to grow up into a gorgeous woman.
"I don't know," Jeff replied truthfully to Lissa's question.
"So what did she want?"
"She wanted to talk to Dad."
Jeff shrugged. "Work stuff, I think. A business proposition, I think Dad said yesterday when he got off the phone with her."
"So why not go to his office downtown?"
"How should I know? I just answered the door."
"Will you two be quiet?" interrupted Brit. "I'm trying to watch the show."
Jeff kicked her lightly on the side of the leg, for no other reason than that she happened to be where he could reach her. While her request had been reasonable this time, she was usually so bratty that he had just gotten into the habit of thinking she was whining every time she asked for something.
"Hey!" she said, and kicked him back. Lissa sighed. It appeared that this was going to degenerate into another fight between the two.
But the fight never happened, because they were interrupted by Allison, who descended the stairs and entered the living room where the three children sat.
"Do you mind if I turn this off for a minute?" she asked, picking up the remote and switching off the TV. Fortunately it had been on a commercial, or Brit probably would have complained about it.
"I have something to tell you three," Allison said. "My name is Allison Craven, and your father and I are getting married."
"What?" asked Lissa and Jeff, but Brit, in her childlike innocence, came up with the direct question that neither of them had thought to ask: "Why?"
"That's a good question," Allison responded, "and it's complicated. Let's call it therapy. I'm going to help your father forget that rotten bitch."
"So you're going to be our new mother?"
"In a way, yes I am. But let's not have any nonsense about calling me Mom. I'm more interested in being your friend than in being your mom. So call me Allison. Think of me as a permanent babysitter. But not the kind of babysitter you hate; I'm sure you know the ones I'm talking about."
"Brenda," said Jeff under his breath, and Lissa elbowed him in the ribs.
"I want to be the best babysitter you've ever had," continued Allison. "I need your help, though. I can't claim to be perfect, so feel free at any time to let me know what I can do better. Of course we'll have rules--" All three children groaned at this, but Allison wasn't finished. "--because if we didn't, where would be the fun in breaking them?" she grinned. "So what do you say? Will you give me a chance?"
Jeff was more than happy to agree, and he nodded enthusiastically. She was absolutely stunning to look at, and for some reason he felt completely comfortable with her. She had that quality of making people want to be around her.
Lissa was a little more hesitant. For her father's sake, she wanted to like this woman, but she was not as persuaded by her charm as her younger brother was. True, the woman seemed friendly enough. But this was happening too fast.
Allison noticed her hesitation. "Melissa, what is it?" she asked.
"It's just that... it's so soon after our mother left. And you only met our father half an hour ago. Don't you think maybe you're rushing things a little?"
"Probably," the woman replied. "And I'm very glad you brought that up. You know, you're pretty wise for a girl your age. I know I was pretty stupid when I was fifteen, but you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. Would you do me a favor? Would you help me learn how everything works around here, you know, give me advice and things? I would be happy to put you in charge of the other two children, but I know little brothers hate having to take orders from big sisters." At this she winked at Jeff.
Melissa was flattered, but that made her all the more cautious. Was Allison just complimenting her to get in her good graces?
Britney tugged on her shirt. "I like her," she said meekly.
Allison noted the way the other children seemed to defer to Melissa. That was only natural; the girl had brains after all, and since their mother had left, Melissa had probably had to take on some of the family responsibilities. No doubt she had been forced to grow up very quickly over these past months.
"So we've got two in favor, and one against," said Allison.
"I'm not against," Lissa replied. "I'm just not in favor. Not yet. You haven't convinced me one way or the other."
"Okay, two in favor, and one maybe. But I'm not going to do this unless it's unanimous, because I want to start out right. If there's anyone opposed to me marrying your father, it's going to cause problems down the line."
"Come on, Lissa," Jeff said. "Just say yes."
"Jeff, would you and Britney do me a favor? Promise me you won't put any pressure on your sister about this. And if she decides against me, you won't get after her about it, or even mention it. I want her to like me for who I am, not because she feels obligated to. Would you do that for me, dear? Thanks."
"Well then, if Lissa's not convinced one way or the other, what do we do?"
"It sounds like we need time to get to know each other. I'll go tell your father to put the plans on hold until Lissa says yes or no." She left the room and headed back up the stairs.
The three kids stared at each other, wondering what to think.
They were still sitting silently when their father and Allison came back downstairs five minutes later. The two of them came in and sat down in two of the empty chairs.
"I know this is kind of sudden," said Greg. "Allison explained the situation to me, and said that she wanted to spend some time with each of you individually. So here's what we're going to do. First, I've invited Allison over for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. I had planned to have it just with our family, but as she's likely to become part of our family soon, I think it's appropriate. Friday, I'm going to take Brit and Jeff with me out of the house. Maybe we'll go on a picnic or something, up in the mountains."
"Do I have to go with Jeff?" Brit whined.
"Yes you do, honey," he told her. "I want to leave Allison and Lissa here alone together all day. That way they'll have a chance to get to know each other better. Besides, that's just the first day. On Saturday, we'll do the same thing again, this time leaving Jeff with Allison."
Jeff liked that idea. He was more than happy to spend a day alone with her.
"And then on Sunday, it will be your turn, Brit. What do you think?"
"Oh, all right," she agreed.
"Good. Then it's all settled. Now I'm going to show Allison around the house, and then she has to get back home, but we can talk about it more after she leaves."
The two of them got up and headed out of the room.
"Can I come too?" asked Jeff, climbing up off of the couch.
"That's fine with me," said Allison. "Maybe Jeff can show me what he likes to do around here so we can make some plans for Sunday."
They first headed up the stairs so that she could see where all the children slept. The staircase led to a large balcony over the great hall, which led to the left and right to other smaller balconies along the wall. That much at least was somewhat traditional. In this house, however, the balconies continued further down, where they disappeared behind a wall and met around in the back. A glass door opened up to a small balcony overlooking the large patio and pool below.
Jeff's and Brit's bedrooms were on one side of the great hall, and Lissa's on the other. Jeff groaned inwardly when his father showed Allison his room; he wasn't the neatest person in the world. In fact, it was downright messy. "Don't worry, Jeff," Allison said. "One thing I'm good at is organization. I'll help you tidy it up some time." Not surprisingly, Jeff found himself motivated for the first time in his life to clean his room.
Brit's room was much neater, though Jeff preferred the chaos of his room to hers, with its pink paint, hope chest full of ceramic figurines, and walls covered in posters of kittens and the latest teen heartthrobs. Lissa's room was at least a little better. It was similar in motif to Brit's but toned down quite a bit.
The other rooms on the second floor were Lissa's bathroom, Greg's den, and another room that had been converted to storage space. One of these years, Greg promised himself, he would clean out the garage and the storage room, getting rid of probably ninety percent of their possessions.
They headed downstairs again, where he showed her the rest of the house. Further down the hall was the library with its impressive collection of books (one of Jeff's favorite rooms). Across from it was the master bedroom, which Allison said with a wink that she was particularly interested in. The bathroom just off to the master bedroom also had a door opening in the hall, and was used as a changing room for the swimming pool in the back yard. Jeff turned on the patio lights to show her the pool. Unfortunately they had already covered it for the winter; nobody but members of the Polar Bear Club would want to swim in it in the middle of November. Allison said that she liked to swim, and Jeff was secretly glad; it meant that he would have plenty of opportunity to see her out here in a swimsuit. Since the house was on a hill, the deck just outside of the sliding glass door in the back of the house was elevated above the pool, and large enough for the occasional barbecue party. Because the Primdales owned pretty much the whole hillside, they also had room for a sandy volleyball court and a basketball half-court, each enclosed by a chain link fence. The rest of the yard was grassy, with some shade trees in one corner surrounding a large guest house.
Then they headed down to the basement. One door led to the laundry room, but most of the basement had been converted into a rec room. There were couches and other chairs in the middle of the floor, including a bean bag chair that Jeff mentioned was his favorite. Off to the side, a pool table stood in one corner, a ping-pong table in another, and a wall-size TV and entertainment center against one wall.
After that, the three of them headed back upstairs. Jeff returned to the living room, and Greg walked Allison to the door. "See you Saturday," he told her. She smiled and disappeared outside.
The children had all kinds of questions after that, but their father was just as cryptic as she had been about why they were getting married. They somehow got him to admit that she was marrying him for his money, but that he didn't have any issues with that at all. The rest of the questions were about her personally. Yes, she liked kids. No, she wasn't like the wicked stepmothers in the fairy tales (that was Brit's question). No, she wasn't going to send them all off to boarding school (also Brit's question). Other than that, he really didn't know much more about her than the children did. But they all agreed that she seemed nice enough. Even Lissa had to concede that.
After they exhausted all of their questions and received surprisingly few answers, Greg scooted them all off to bed. Tomorrow was Monday, and they had school after all. The children reluctantly climbed the stairs and headed down the hall to their respective rooms.
It was no surprise that Jeff dreamed about her all night.