'Truce.'

Stories and all other works of naturist fiction

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'Truce.'

Postby sirius631 on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:54 pm

ÔÇÿTruce.ÔÇÖ

David Lloyd, August 2012.

It was the middle of December, and Jess hadnÔÇÖt yet grown tired of exploring her new home. She hadnÔÇÖt been able to make use of the roof terrace as yet, due to autumn being particularly harsh, and she wasnÔÇÖt allowed to use the sauna unless in the company of either Jenny or Eddie, due to the increased risk of dehydration in the young. She had, however, mastered the programming of the houseÔÇÖs logic controller, and had created settings that played her favourite wake up music in her bedroom whilst slowly raising the light level and opening the blinds, at a set time.

Christmas was approaching, and Jess was looking forward to going Christmas shopping with Chloe and Scott, as she did last year. This year, however, there was Stuart. Jess stretched out on her bed and closed her eyes to relive the last time Stuart had her in his embrace, skin to skin, warmth to warmth.

JessÔÇÖs music choice faded, replaced by an urgent pulsing sound. This was her hurry-up signal. It was a school day, Tuesday in fact, and she had to get a move on. Jess went to her wardrobe, selected fresh items of uniform, and laid them out on her bed. She would only dress when she returned from breakfast, immediately before exiting the house.

The morning school assemblies were held by year group on Tuesdays, with year ten occupying the sports hall. Gone were the days of religious themes, replaced by a more secular program with meaningful stories, followed by announcements and updates. When assembly was over, the members of year ten formed a single line and began to file out of the sports hall doors. Just before Jess reached the doors, she was pulled aside by Miss Grundy, the Sports Mistress, who wanted a word with her. Scott and Chloe were together, further down the file, and each shot Jess a questioning look as they passed by. Jess returned one of her own, to indicated that she didnÔÇÖt know what it was about.

Chloe was well on with setting out her materials in art class when Jess returned, with an impish grin on her face.

ÔÇ£Well?ÔÇØ questioned Chloe.

ÔÇ£Oh, Miss Grundy wanted to give me advice about the dangers of using a sunbed. I told her that I was insulted, and that my tan was entirely natural.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£And then?ÔÇØ Chloe pried further.

ÔÇ£By the time sheÔÇÖd stopped choking and had cleaned the coffee off her laptop I was late for class, so asked to be excused.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£You are wicked, you know! What if that backfires? I donÔÇÖt want this affecting Robert in the way Anne's blabbing caused Scott's troubles."

ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt worry, sheÔÇÖs a teacher. WhoÔÇÖs she going to tell?ÔÇØ

As it was, Miss Grundy caught up with Jess at break time, and made it clear that she wasnÔÇÖt shocked by JessÔÇÖs admission that she tanned ÔÇÿau naturelÔÇÖ, just surprised at the frankness of her statement. What had prompted Miss Grundy to be concerned was that the difference in JessÔÇÖs tan across the summer break was quite distinctive, and she wanted to warn Jess of the health implications if Jess was to try to keep it topped up on a sunbed over winter. Jess thanked Miss Grundy for her concern, but stated that she had been allowed to tan practically all her life and had not once been allowed to burn. She then confirmed that she would be letting the tan fade until the sun returned. Satisfied with that, Miss Grundy let it rest.

Scott was quite amused when he heard the whole story at lunch time. He could just imagine Jess waiting until Miss Grundy had a mouthful of coffee before bluntly announcing that she sunbathed nude. Although he had never used one, Scott wasnÔÇÖt so negative about sunbeds. He thought that they required just about as much care as tanning naturally, and that anyone who didnÔÇÖt take the care needed was just asking for trouble.



ÔÇ£Oh, classic!ÔÇØ said Stuart, on hearing JessÔÇÖs story.

Scott, Chloe and Jess had met in Edenfield, and then taken the bus down into Bury on Saturday morning, to rendezvous with Stuart at the caf├® on the indoor plaza of the main shopping centre. Chloe and Scott werenÔÇÖt as taken with the cappuccinos at this caf├® as they were with the ones at their favourite coffee stop, but it was too cold to sit outside and there wasnÔÇÖt enough indoor space there. Besides, there was compensation; the cake selection here was to die for. Scott recommended the tiramisu.

After they finished their drinks, the four toured the main shopping centre and then headed to The Rock, where the larger chain stores were located. The talk wasnÔÇÖt of Christmas shopping, but of the swim that evening. StuartÔÇÖs family hadnÔÇÖt attended up to that point, since Max was still uneasy about being nude when in larger groups. However, Max was back on the oil rig until just before Christmas, and Stuart wanted to expand his social experience of naturism so had persuaded his mother to take him and Ben along that evening.

Chloe and Jess had split from the boys after an hour of window shopping, so they could browse more discretely, but after another hour of fruitless searching on their own they grew tired, and agreed to take a break at the Costa Coffee in The Rock. It was crowded inside, but Chloe spotted a table being vacated, so directed Jess to occupy it before someone else did, whilst she went to buy the drinks.

They hadnÔÇÖt been sitting very long, chatting over what they were going to buy, when they were rudely interrupted. ÔÇ£Hey, you two!ÔÇØ commanded a bleached blonde of approximately their age. ÔÇ£YouÔÇÖre Stuart ClayÔÇÖs and Scott LowryÔÇÖs girlfriends arenÔÇÖt you?ÔÇØ

Chloe regarded the girl for a moment, sizing her up. She had badly applied makeup, a fake tan and a pair of heels in which she didnÔÇÖt even know how to stand. Chloe couldnÔÇÖt place her, but she knew the girl that was stood behind her; it was Nicola Kersey, a mousey girl from JessÔÇÖs form at school.

ÔÇ£Chloe, remember when we first went out with Stuart and Scott together?ÔÇØ Jess cut in.

ÔÇ£Oh yes,ÔÇØ said Chloe, returning to the girl, ÔÇ£the cinema. Scott said your name. Now, what was it? Deborah? No, Donna. But Scott just said that you werenÔÇÖt worth bothering with.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£That queer! Why should anybody listen to his opinion?ÔÇØ

Chloe remained calm, but stood and pulled herself up to her full height, a clear four centimetres taller than Donna, despite the heels, and starred down at her opponent. ÔÇ£YouÔÇÖve already conceded the point that IÔÇÖm his girlfriend, so you know youÔÇÖre way off target with that one. Perhaps IÔÇÖm closer to the mark when I say that he wouldnÔÇÖt give you a second glance. You are a fake, trying so hard to be what you are not, from your bottle blonde hair right down to those high heels in which youÔÇÖre having trouble walking. And yes, I do know a fake tan when I see one. You are obvious, and Scott doesnÔÇÖt go for obvious. He likes subtle and deep. YouÔÇÖre so shallow that a wet dishcloth looks deep by comparison.ÔÇØ

Donna was left speechless for a second, but then she gathered herself for another onslaught. ÔÇ£Why would I want a pervert who prances around with his thing hanging out to give me a second glance? I bet youÔÇÖre one of those nudists too. And what about darkie over there, do you two get naked together? I bet youÔÇÖre a couple of sluts who donÔÇÖt care who sees them naked.ÔÇØ

Chloe was primed to land a slap across DonnaÔÇÖs face, but just as she was about to let fly, a restraining hand captured hers, and another wrapped gently around her waist. It was Scott. Stuart had also arrived, giving Jess a warm hug and kiss.

ÔÇ£So Donna,ÔÇØ said Stuart, ÔÇ£did I just hear you correctly? Did I just hear you calling our girlfriends sluts? If you need to see a slut then you should look in the mirror.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£What do you know? YouÔÇÖre just pissed that I wouldnÔÇÖt go out with you.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I suppose I have to thank you for turning me down. As to what I know, just what were you doing in our shower room with Graham on the school holiday to Germany in year seven? No, donÔÇÖt answer that, because Graham told everyone, and I do mean everyone. He keeps a role of honour taped inside his locker of lads who put in a realistic claim of having had you. It covers an A4 sheet.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh let me guess whoÔÇÖs on it,ÔÇØ Scott jumped in, ÔÇ£Abdul Haleem?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£No, his religion wonÔÇÖt let him touch pork.ÔÇØ

Donna turned and ran out of the coffee house as fast as her heels could carry her. Nicola, who had stood there quietly all along, bit her lip in an attempt to hide a wide grin, but her laughing eyes gave her away.

Jess only remembered DonnaÔÇÖs surname because she was with Nicola. She turned to Nicola. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm guessing that Donna is your cousin?ÔÇØ

Nicola nodded.

ÔÇ£Go after her, and make sure she doesnÔÇÖt do anything stupid. A revelation like that can do real harm to someone who relies on her popularity.ÔÇØ

Nicola nodded and turned to go.

ÔÇ£Oh, and Nicola,ÔÇØ added Chloe, ÔÇ£weÔÇÖll need to talk on Monday too.ÔÇØ

Nicola nodded again, in a more considered manner, and made her exit in the direction of a swiftly retreating Donna.

ÔÇ£Stuart,ÔÇØ began Jess, ÔÇ£I know I have no right to ask you this, but did you really ask her out?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah. It was a couple of months into year eight. Scott and I always used to watch the girls go by. Donna was always flirty, but Scott saw right through her and told me I could do better. I regretted asking immediately, not because she turned me down, but because I knew Scott was right, ÔÇÿcause I knew what kind of girl she was already. I suppose I got hooked by her flirting. I know I wasnÔÇÖt ready to date, but there was just so much pressure after Scott disappeared. ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt know about anyone else, but I need a drink,ÔÇØ said Scott, ÔÇ£and you ladies look like you need fresh ones.ÔÇØ Scott and Stuart joined the queue as Chloe and Jess returned to their seats.

ÔÇ£When we get back home, remind me to bring my manicure kit over,ÔÇØ Jess said to Chloe. ÔÇ£After the scratching you gave Donna, your claws will need a good polishing.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Meow,ÔÇØ laughed Chloe, making a scratching gesture towards Jess.



ÔÇ£Come on Stuart, you can do this.ÔÇØ Stuart said to himself.

But what if this is one of ScottÔÇÖs practical jokes, and he went out there nude only to find everyone else in swimming costumes? He told himself not to be stupid. He knew Scott, the girls and their families, and had been nude with them. HeÔÇÖd also spotted some people stripping off in the open.

Okay now, time to exit. One, two, threefour.

Stuart stepped out of the cubicle and, to his relief, found everything as it should have been. Breathing easily, he wondered what he had been worried about. Perhaps it was being nude in front of this number of complete strangers. He tapped on the doors of his motherÔÇÖs and brotherÔÇÖs cubicles, and they both emerged, nude, and evidently with the same trepidation that he had faced just a second or two ago. Stuart and Ben looked at each other and then dived in. Louise spotted Beth up at the shallow end, so walked the length of the pool and descended the steps into the water.

Ben followed his brother towards Scott, Chloe and Jess who were just treading water in the deep end, but peeled off to join Robert who was heading to join another family with younger kids, who were playing catch with a beach ball down the shallow end. Stuart and Jess began to swim lengths together, chatting as they did so. Stuart agreed that, although he liked the Jacuzzi at ChloeÔÇÖs place, swimming freely like this was a whole world better, with the best part being that he was swimming with her. Jess smiled at the cheeky charmer.

As the evening progressed, more adults took to the Turkish suite, so StuartÔÇÖs group joined in the game of catch as it expanded to the width of the pool, and played until it was time to go. Louise had spent most of the evening in the Turkish suite with Beth, Mike, Jenny and Eddie, since Susan and Mark had offered to stay in the pool to keep an eye on all the kids. As they were all packing up to go, Louise was singing the praises of the Turkish suite, saying it was the most relaxing thing she had ever experienced.



As cold as the air had been over the weekend, it was nothing compared to the biting cold of Monday morning. Instead of being kept out in the playground until just before registration, the kids at ChloeÔÇÖs school were immediately let into the form rooms. Since there was plenty of time before registration, and since what needed to be said was urgent, Chloe had Scott go with her to the 10H form room to meet Jess, in order to collar Nicola Kersey.

ÔÇ£Hi Nicola,ÔÇØ began Chloe, ÔÇ£we need to have that talk. Would you like to join us in the common room down stairs?ÔÇØ

NicolaÔÇÖs slight frame couldnÔÇÖt hide the apprehension that she was feeling, but she nodded and followed the three others downstairs.

There was a group of six chairs around a table that were unoccupied. Jess ushered Nicola ahead, then she, Chloe and Scott filled the first seats of the group so as to dissuade anyone else from joining them.

Chloe began in a low voice. ÔÇ£There were a few things said on Saturday that we would rather not go any further. One was a baseless accusation put about by bullies, the other, although true, being something that can be harmful when misrepresented by bigots. Do you understand?ÔÇØ

Nicola thought for a moment, and then replied in her usual, shy voice. ÔÇ£Yes, I understand. I mean, I know that no way is Scott gay, but although IÔÇÖve seen yours and JessÔÇÖs beautiful suntans in the showers after games, and guessed that you sunbathe nude, I donÔÇÖt understand what Donna meant by calling you nudists.ÔÇØ

Jess took this one. ÔÇ£Imagine your best friend sharing a secret with you. We are told itÔÇÖs a shameful secret, one that can never be shared with anyone. In everyday life itÔÇÖs like we hide ourselves behind clothes, as if we are hiding a secret. Well, the three of us have been brought up differently; weÔÇÖve been shown that our bodies are not a shameful secret. But we also know that there are people who we canÔÇÖt trust and who will do us harm because they can only see nudity as being sexual. Contrary to what Donna said, we do care very much who sees us nude. We are only ever freely nude with those we love or our very best friends. If we are in a situation like on a beach or at a naturist swimming session where there are strangers or lesser acquaintances, then we will be accompanied by our parents. I personally prefer the term ÔÇÿnaturistÔÇÖ to ÔÇÿnudistÔÇÖ, but they both refer to someone who, given the proper circumstances, would prefer to be without the shield that is clothes.ÔÇØ

II dont think I have a friend like that, said Nicola. I mean someone who I can share such a secret with.

ÔÇ£Nicola, it doesnÔÇÖt really matter what we are or what we are not,ÔÇØ Scott said. ÔÇ£The problem is that there are people out there that want to climb the pecking order by picking on any little difference. They will magnify it, twist it and tell outright lies to build their standing at the expense of others. IÔÇÖm sure that Chloe, Jess and I can withstand anything that is thrown at us, since we have each other. But there are others that could be harmed if things turned nasty. I am feeling doubtful, since you were with Donna, but I need to know that this will go no further.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£About Donna and me; we used to be really close up to the age of ten, but then she started to be really horrid to me. Our parents keep putting us together; she even stays at my place on most weekends. They say that I could do with learning her self-confidence, but sheÔÇÖs the one undermining me all the time. When you all tore into her the other day and she crumbled, I was like ÔÇÿYESSSS!ÔÇÖ I donÔÇÖt know you, Chloe, or you, Scott, very well, but Jess has always been kind and friendly to me. If only to avoid being bad to Jess, I promise never to let anything from Saturday or now get out. IÔÇÖve not told anyone what I thought about your suntans, and that was from September.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt know about you two,ÔÇØ said Chloe, turning to Jess and Scott, ÔÇ£but I think Nicola is good confidant making material.ÔÇØ

Jess stood and opened her arms to Nicola, wrapping her in a hug, ÔÇ£You know, if you do need a friend to talk to, youÔÇÖve got one now.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Two,ÔÇØ cut in Chloe.

ÔÇ£Come on, weÔÇÖd better get back to registration or they will mark us as absent,ÔÇØ called Scott, ÔÇ£but I think we need to discuss any implications for Stuart at lunchtime.ÔÇØ

The group rose, exited the common room and hurried back to their respective form rooms.



Chloe, Jess and Scott were all in higher sets than Nicola, for all subjects, and since Nicola was in Kay House, rather than Peel or Grant, she was assigned to a different dining hall than the others. This meant that the four of them didnÔÇÖt get back together until after lunch was served. The air was still biting cold, but it had also begun to hail, resulting in outdoor time being cancelled. Everywhere was crowded, making a private conversation difficult, but Scott pointed out that they didnÔÇÖt need to talk in detail, so they found a table in the 10D form room and gathered to one end.

ÔÇ£How was Donna when you got back home?ÔÇØ Jess asked Nicola.

ÔÇ£In pieces,ÔÇØ replied Nicola, ÔÇ£she wouldnÔÇÖt come out of my room nor allow anyone in until my Aunt and Uncle were ready to take her home. She missed tea and the repeat of her favourite T.V. show, and thatÔÇÖs something that never happens.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I think we need to check in with Stuart. A wounded animal like Donna is likely to be dangerous.ÔÇØ

Scott fetched out his mobile phone and selected Stuart from his list of contacts. There were about ten rings before Stuart picked up.



ÔÇ£Hang on a second. I have Chloe, Jess and Nicola here. IÔÇÖll just put you on speaker phone. There! How are things today?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs cold, wet and dull. Why?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I mean on the Donna front.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh, itÔÇÖs quiet. She didnÔÇÖt turn up today. That little reality check on Saturday probably knocked her for six.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£We were worried that sheÔÇÖd come back at you for bursting her bubble. Say, that list, is it for real?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sure. IÔÇÖve seen it myself, but I wouldnÔÇÖt believe that any of them got lucky, even if they put their names down. I donÔÇÖt even believe Graham, and it was me that nearly caught them.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs funny how a lie can be allowed to ruin someoneÔÇÖs life.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hi Sweet,ÔÇØ called Jess. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm wondering, just how is it for Donna at your school? Does she have any real friends?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hi Hon,ÔÇØ Stuart replied. ÔÇ£She has a clique. They are all the same drama queens, but they would knife each other given the opportunity.ÔÇØ

Scott nodded, remembering how it was.

ÔÇ£With friends like that you donÔÇÖt need enemies,ÔÇØ said Chloe.

Jess turned to Nicola. ÔÇ£Do you have DonnaÔÇÖs mobile number?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah, I sure do.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Good. Would you send her a text message and see how she is?ÔÇØ

Jess then turned back to the phone to speak to the group as a whole, ÔÇ£Like it or not, weÔÇÖre probably the best friends that Donna has right now. I think we should offer her an olive branch. If it goes right, we should reduce the risk of Donna wanting to get back at Stuart.ÔÇØ

The others grudgingly agreed to hear Jess out.

ÔÇ£Firstly, we should draft a message to Donna, purportedly from Stuart, to call an end to hostilities. Although Stuart had told her about the list, itÔÇÖs this Graham and his cronies that needed to be taken down for creating it. We should express our doubts about the veracity about the claims on the list, and promise not to let it go any further. Secondly, Nicola would send the message to DonnaÔÇÖs e-mail account, since I doubt Stuart would want Donna to have his e-mail address, in case things went pear shaped. Thirdly, Stuart has to be the one to blow the whistle to the school over the list, but only with DonnaÔÇÖs say so.ÔÇØ

Scott terminated the call to Stuart so that he, Chloe, Jess and Nicola could go down to the computer room. They quickly composed the message and phoned Stuart back for final approval on the wording. Nicola composed a header note, explaining how it came about that she was forwarding the message, cut and pasted the message text into place and sent it to her cousinÔÇÖs e-mail address. Nicola hadnÔÇÖt received a reply to her first text message, so she sent another simply directing Donna to pick up her e-mail. Jess gave Nicola her e-mail address so that Nicola could contact her if there were any developments.



It was Tuesday morning, before registration. Stuart, Malc and Connor were having a kick about in the playground at their school in Heywood. Suddenly Malc stopped, looking back over StuartÔÇÖs shoulder.

ÔÇ£Stuart.ÔÇØ

Stuart turned. It was Donna.

ÔÇ£LetÔÇÖs do this!ÔÇØ Donna said.

ÔÇ£Now?ÔÇØ asked Stuart, in amazement.

ÔÇ£Yes, now. No time like the present. LetÔÇÖs get it over and done with, and then I can get on with my life.ÔÇØ

Stuart tossed the ball back to Malc and Connor, and waved Donna towards the school offices.

ÔÇ£Leave the first part to me,ÔÇØ Stuart told Donna as they strode towards the main entrance. ÔÇ£They will probably send me away before they talk in detail with you. Perhaps I should go in first, alone, so as not to embarrass you any further.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, thanks.ÔÇØ

Stuart knocked on the hatch door of the secretaryÔÇÖs office and waited a brief moment for it to be opened. ÔÇ£We need to speak with Mrs. Mathers please, itÔÇÖs important.ÔÇØ

The secretary dialled the Deputy Head MistressÔÇÖs extension, spoke briefly, then directed Stuart and Donna to take a seat down the teachersÔÇÖ corridor. Mrs. Mathers had only been at the school a year, having been hired in to improve pastoral care after the failure over ScottÔÇÖs case. Her door opened and Stuart rose to meet her. Mrs. Mathers looked back to Donna, quizzically.

ÔÇ£We decided that I should go first, so as not to embarrass Donna more than necessary,ÔÇØ Stuart explained.

Donna waited, worrying that she had put her faith in the hands of her worst enemy. No, he wasnÔÇÖt her worst enemy; that was Graham. Stuart had only ever tried to be nice to her, even after she had turned on his best friend. She knew Scott never liked her, and maybe thatÔÇÖs why she had turned on him. No, she only joined the name calling at the prompting of John Maitland, and he turned out to be only interested in one thing. Donna remembered actually being horrified when news broke of the assault on Scott.

The door opened. ÔÇ£Thank you, Stuart. IÔÇÖll call you again if I need anything more. Donna, come in dear.ÔÇØ

Donna rose and headed towards Mrs. MathersÔÇÖ office.

ÔÇ£Be brave,ÔÇØ said Stuart to Donna. He then headed off to registration.

There were few witnesses to what happened over the first period that morning. There was Mrs. Mathers and two police officers. Graham Stott was hauled out of lessons to open his locker; one police officer standing by with a set of bolt-cutters in case he refused. There were few who observed the steady stream of boys, deprived of their mobile phones, being escorted out to the offices adjoining the sports hall, throughout the day. The number of parents who came to remove their boys from school also went unnoticed.

It felt like it had been a long day, and Stuart was ready for home. He was just about to retrieve his football from his locker when Mr. Dawson, his form tutor caught up with him. He was wanted in Mrs. MathersÔÇÖ office, and Mr. Dawson was to escort him there. Stuart put his ball away again, hung up his jacket, closed the door and snapped the padlock closed. It was a bit of a trek from the year ten locker room to the front offices, and, even though Stuart knew he had done nothing wrong, the time taken to get there just increased his anxiety. Mr. Dawson showed Stuart straight in and left. Mrs. Mathers was there, accompanied by two plain clothes police detectives. It was made clear that he wasnÔÇÖt being cautioned, he could have legal representation if he wished, but Mrs. Mathers would act as an appropriate adult if he didnÔÇÖt want a lawyer. For a second the thought of asking for JessÔÇÖs dad flashed across his mind, but it occurred to him that the time taken to get him would be time wasted, and he had nothing to hide anyway. Stuart agreed to let Mrs. Mathers stand in. The detectives wanted to know what Stuart had seen in Germany. It was Donna that had told them about that episode, going back further than Stuart had anticipated, and had already made it clear that Stuart was not involved in the incident. What Stuart remembered was not to be repeated to anyone.



Friday morning came and Nicola burst into 10DÔÇÖs form room before morning registration, with Jess in tow. She had news. ÔÇ£Donna wants to meet with you, to make peace. She says she has a lot to get off her chest. Please say youÔÇÖll meet with her.ÔÇØ

Scott looked at Chloe and Jess, trying to gauge their feelings. ÔÇ£Two oÔÇÖclock tomorrow, the same place?ÔÇØ

Chloe and Jess just nodded.

ÔÇ£So we have a time and a place, IÔÇÖll see if Stuart is available.ÔÇØ



Scott, Chloe and Jess made Saturday morning another attempt at Christmas shopping, with Stuart joining them just before two. Scott and Stuart bought the usual coffees for themselves and the two girls. Chloe and Jess found a low table surrounded by two armchairs and two two-seater sofas, and then they all waited. Shortly after two Nicola entered, followed by a small girl, with mid-brown hair, cut in a short, stepped style, wearing no makeup. Jess and Chloe recognised Donna first, despite their relative lack of familiarity with her. Donna approached the friends at their table whilst Nicola went to buy the drinks.

ÔÇ£Hello,ÔÇØ said Donna, nervously. ÔÇ£Thank you for coming.ÔÇØ She installed herself in one seat of the vacant sofa.

ÔÇ£I like your new hair style. It suits you,ÔÇØ said Chloe.

Donna searched ChloeÔÇÖs face for signs of sarcasm, but found no trace. ÔÇ£Thank you. I wanted a new look. What Stuart said, about the list, brought it home to me as to how I was really seen, and the old look was part of it. I looked cheap. Those boys made me feel cheap.ÔÇØ

Stuart sighed and started slowly. So the listI take it Mrs. Mathers ran through it with you?

ÔÇ£Yes,ÔÇØ said Donna, with an audible sob. Jess retrieved a tissue from her purse, and swapped sofas to sit next to Donna, handing Donna the tissue. ÔÇ£There were so many names, and the comments. All lies!ÔÇØ Donna dissolved, with her face in her hands to hide her shame.

Jess placed her hand on DonnaÔÇÖs shoulder, and spoke. ÔÇ£Not long back, someone tried to make me feel cheap. I only got through it because I had friends who I knew loved me. Stuart said that your school friends are not like that.ÔÇØ

Donna lifted her head and wiped her eyes. ÔÇ£No, I think we are as bad as each other; always trying to out-do each other on the boyfriend stakes. My God! It was like an arms race. The lad with the car, he was sweet at first, but I could see where it was leading, so I suppose I should thank you, Scott, for inadvertently saving me. Yes, I was angry, especially when it got round school that IÔÇÖd been dumped.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah, about that,ÔÇØ said Scott, ÔÇ£sorry, that was my idea. I wanted to exact a bit more revenge. It was unworthy of me.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hey, IÔÇÖm the one who came to apologise. I was so hung up on John Maitland that IÔÇÖd do anything he said, and the name calling was his idea. When I found out that they actually attacked you, I was sickened, and dumped Maitland immediately.ÔÇØ

Nicola arrived with drinks for her and Donna. Donna wrapped both hands around her tall latte, and took a big gulp.

ÔÇ£So, what about last week? You werenÔÇÖt under anyoneÔÇÖs control then, were you?ÔÇØ snapped Chloe.

ÔÇ£I was still simmering about news of me getting dumped. When I recognised you, I felt embarrassed, and I flipped.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hang on,ÔÇØ said Stuart, ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt get the point of all this. I can see why you might want to smooth things over with me. But to go to this length to apologise to people who you wonÔÇÖt have to deal with again? ThereÔÇÖs something youÔÇÖre not telling us.ÔÇØ

II was getting to that. Donna nervously took another sip of her coffee. After my parents talked with Mrs. Mathers, it was concluded that the lies and my reputation meant that I couldnt stay at that school. My parents wanted to move us, since we live so close to school, but our house is worth less than what they owe on it, so were trapped. The only solution that school and my parents could come up with was for me to go and live with relatives. I wont go and live with the family of my mothers brother, so Im going to live with Nicolas parents.

But that means Scott stalled, and then sprang to his feet with anger burning in his eyes. No. No, No, NO! No freaking way! That is not going to happen.

Chloe rose, and joined Scott, and they wrapped their arms around one another.

I cantI cant do this, whispered Scott to Chloe.

ÔÇ£Scott, please give me a chance,ÔÇØ pleaded Donna. ÔÇ£I really have got no other choice. I canÔÇÖt go back there; there are too many lies flying around. This is the only possible solution for me. Nicola has told me what you made her promise. I will promise the same.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Look, Scott,ÔÇØ whispered Chloe. ÔÇ£You told Nicola that you, Jess and I could withstand anything because we have each other. Without us, sheÔÇÖll only have Nicola, and thatÔÇÖs a relationship that needs some repair work. She needs help to stay away from the wrong crowd. We extended the olive branch; please donÔÇÖt let it drop now. I actually donÔÇÖt think weÔÇÖve got a say in the matter, but IÔÇÖd prefer that we have an understanding with Donna than not.

Scott held Chloe for a moment or two longer, considering his position, and then turned to Donna, ÔÇ£When do you start?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Monday,ÔÇØ replied Donna.

ÔÇ£At the first opportunity, you and I, together with Chloe and Jess, pay a visit to our Deputy Head in charge of pastoral care. We lay out all our history, including the name calling, the attack, the fact that Chloe, Jess and I are naturists, and the promises that weÔÇÖll be making to each other. Is that agreed?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs agreed.ÔÇØ

Scott presented Donna with his hand, to shake. ÔÇ£Truce,ÔÇØ he said.

Donna stood, grasped the offered hand and shook, ÔÇ£Truce.ÔÇØ
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