The Stepmother, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 27 November 2002)


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This fictional account contains adult language and graphic sexual themes.  If
such language and themes offend you, please do not read further.  The persons
and events described in this work are purely fictional.  Any similarity to
actual persons or events is strictly coincidental.  Copyright 2002 by
SSTORYMAN.  All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby granted to reproduce
this story in any form and for any purpose as long as this notice is
reproduced and no financial remuneration is received, directly or indirectly,
by the person reproducing it.

THE STEPMOTHER

1.	Home Again - Sort of.

   Melissa Robertson sat stewing in the limousine.  Her sophomore year at
Pemberton Academy was finally over.  The 16 year old was returning home.  But
she had mixed feelings about this homecoming.  She couldn't believe her
father married Katie!

   Melissa was only 13 when her mom died.  Her mom was sick a year before.
It was hard to remember a time when her mom was well and things were normal.
So much had changed.

   The limousine pulled up in front of the Robertson mansion.  The twenty
acre property had everything; a swimming pool, tennis courts and extensive
grounds for hiking.  And for brooding, thought Melissa.  She did a lot of
that while walking their property the last three years.

   "Ah, mi amiga," she heard a familiar voice cry out.  "Hola!  Que tal?
Como estas?"

   A robust, dark-complexioned woman in her early forties approached the car.
"Consuela," Melissa shrieked with delight stepping out of the backseat.  "Oh
my God!  It's so good to see you.  I'm so glad you're here today!"

   The attractive Mexican-American woman looked deep into the teenager's
eyes.  "I am here all the time, Missy.  That new woman insists on having a
full-time housekeeper.  She hasn't fired me so far," she smiled.  "But who
knows how long till that happens?"  She made a face.  Then her smile
returned.  "Enough of that!  You are home, amiga.  I am so happy.  I haven't
seen you since -."  Her voice trailed off.  "Since the wedding," she added
with less enthusiasm.

   "I don't want to talk about that," Melissa said.  "I'm just glad to be
here and to see you."  A large black gentleman stood in the doorway.
"Edward," cried the youngster.  She hugged him also.  He seemed embarrassed
by her enthusiasm.  "God, it's good to see you, too, Edward!"

   "Yes, Miss Melissa," the tall gray-haired man nodded.  Edward called her
Miss Melissa for as long as she could remember.  "It's good to have you home.
Perhaps now things will seem more normal.  Here, let me take your bags."

   The limousine drove off.  Melissa, Consuela and Edward entered the large
residence.  Edward had been the family's groundskeeper for years.  As usual
he wore a dark shirt and plain work pants.  Consuela had on her customary
maid's uniform consisting of a plain black dress over a white blouse.  She
and Edward were only the family's domestic help.  But at that moment they
seemed like true kin to Melissa.

   "Well, where is she?" Melissa asked as she and Consuela settled in the
kitchen.  The kitchen was always Melissa's favorite room.  She loved to smell
Consuela baking things while they sat and talked.  Meanwhile Edward carried
her bags up to her room.  She didn't expect to see Edward again.  He rarely
spent time inside the house except down in the basement.

   "Missus Katie is shopping," Consuela shrugged.  "Things are different now,
Missy.  I do not like working here as much as I did when your mother - God
rest her soul - was with us.  But when you're old as I am, Missy, you learn
to adjust."  She smiled and took a pan of fresh baked cookies from the oven.
"I made these in honor of your homecoming.  They will hit the spot, no?"

   The cookies were chocolate chip, Melissa's favorite.  "God, they look and
smell just great," the youngster eagerly nodded.  She took one and poured
herself a glass of milk from the refrigerator.  "Consuela, your cookies are
the best in the world!"

   "Come here.  Let me look at you," Consuela smiled.  The housekeeper
scanned the youngster from head to toe.  "Dios mio, amiga!  You are becoming
more and more of a woman nowadays!  You look so grownup, so mature!"

   "Thanks, Consuela," Melissa blushed.  Her housekeeper's approval meant a
lot.  "I think I _have_ grown up this year at school.  And that reminds me.
There's something I need to talk to you about," she added mysteriously.
"It's an important new development."

   Before the discussion continued they heard a woman's voice from the front
hall.  "Is that Melissa?  Oh my God!  It's good to have you home, honey!"

   In the doorway stood an attractive, generously endowed woman in her late
twenties.  Her blond hair was perfectly coiffed, but she clearly was not a
natural blond.  She wore an expensive looking, perfectly coordinated outfit.

   "Oh, hi, Katie," Melissa smiled graciously.  "It's nice to see you."

   "Oh, it's so good to see you, too, honey," gushed Katie.  "I see Consuela
is taking good care of you with milk and cookies."

   "Yes, I am, Missus," replied the housekeeper politely.  "That fancy
boarding school back east does not feed Missy well enough.  She's too thin!"

   "God, I don't know about that," Katie said with a sly smile.  "Just look
at you, Melissa!  My God!  You look more like a real woman every time I see
you, girl."  She gave the teenager a suggestive wink.  It was almost
lascivious.  "Lookie here!  God, your boobs are so big and round, Melissa.  I
bet the boys back east drool every time they lay eyes on you and those big
tits, honey."

   Melissa blushed at her stepmother's blunt comment.  "I don't know.  Mine
are nowhere as big as yours, Katie," she replied with a hint of antagonism.
"But thanks for the compliment.  My roommate at school, Carla, has been
teaching me to pay more attention to how I look."

   "Yeah, I can tell.  And she did a good job.  You look fabulous.  Your dad
will be glad to see you!  Unfortunately he's out of town till Friday night.
That's pretty much par for the course."

   Melissa nodded.  Her dad traveled often.  "Business as usual," she sighed.

   Katie went on.  "I have an engagement downtown but I had to stop in to say
`hi' when I realized you were coming home today."  She turned to Consuela and
adopted a more businesslike tone.  "I won't be home for dinner tonight,
Consuela," she said dryly.  "I won't return until after you're gone.  You can
leave at the usual time tonight."

   "That's fine, Missus," the Mexican American woman said quietly.  "I'll see
you tomorrow morning then."

   "Consuela, tomorrow work on the great room," Katie added as she left the
kitchen with a flourish.  "I'm having that party Thursday night.  I want the
great room and back porch spotless.  Do you understand?"

   Consuela nodded.  "Si, Missus.  I will attend to it."

   With that, Katie left.  Melissa made a face.  "Oh my God, I hate that
woman," she sputtered in anger.  "Consuela, how do you put up with her?"

   "No lo se.  I don't know.  It isn't easy.  That's why I'm glad you're back
home, chica.  Having you back makes everything seem more tolerable to me.
Now, what did you want to talk about?  Before we were interrupted by your
stepmother?"

   Melissa grimaced.  "God, she _is_ my stepmother, isn't she?  Being around
her drives me crazy, Consuela.  It makes me want to -.  Well, that's what I
need to talk to you about."

   "Oh?  What is that?"

   Melissa took a deep breath.  "Dad sent me to boarding school hoping it'd
pull me out of my shell.  He says I never bounced back after - you know,
after Mom died.  At first I resented going to Pemberton.  But Dad was right.
It was good for me.  It forced me to finally start living like a normal
person again.  So this last year I made a lot of changes.  Some are ones Dad
won't expect.  And some of the changes he may not approve of.  That's why I
need to talk to you, Consuela.  I want you to understand.  I sure hope you
will," she added with trepidation.

   The older woman raised an eyebrow.  "Que es esto?  What are we talking
about?"

   She took a deep breath.  "Well, Consuela, this spring at school I started
smoking cigarettes.  I smoke now."

   The housekeeper was momentarily expressionless.  Then she laughed out
loud.  "Oh my!  Is that all?  Ah, that is not so serious.  I feared you'd
tell me that you stopped studying and flunked out of school; something truly
terrible!  Gracias a Dios.  Thanks be to God," she added, quickly crossing
herself.  "Smoking is not so bad.  In fact, for someone your age, Missy,
smoking cigarettes is not at all strange or unusual.  After all, you're 16
now."

   Impulsively Melissa gave her old friend a hug.  "Oh, Consuela.  I love
you!  I just knew you wouldn't be mad.  I knew you'd understand since you
smoke, too.  My roommate at Pemberton, Carla, she smokes.  All year she
begged me to try it.  Finally, after I got back from Dad's wedding this
spring, I did.  I finally gave in and tried smoking with Carla.  She was
right.  Now I really like it.  I like to smoke, Consuela.  Just like you."

   A careful perusal showed no negative reaction from Consuela.  So Melissa
went on.  "I suppose I shouldn't say this, Consuela.  Don't feel guilty or
anything.  But one reason I decided I wanted to try smoking, in addition to
Carla constantly haranguing me, was because I was curious after watching you
smoke all these years.  Each time I smoked a cigarette at school I somehow
felt closer to you.  I imagined you back here at our house doing the same
thing I was now doing - smoking!"

   "Ah, Missy, you are full of surprises today!  How much do you smoke now,
amiga?"

   "Oh, not that much," she shrugged offhandedly.  "Half a pack a day maybe."

   "Dios mio," cried Consuela.  "For a young girl like you, Missy, that is a
lot!"

   Melissa shrugged again.  "Well, I don't know.  I like it though."  She
made the statement without apology.  "But more important, Consuela, I'm dying
for a cigarette right now.  You see I haven't had one the limo picked me up
at the airport.  Can we -. I mean, do you mind if  we-.  God!  I mean, can we
go downstairs to your room in the basement so I can have a cigarette with
you?  I'd really like to."

   The older woman looked at the teenager inquisitively, as if she was
carefully studying her.  "Hmm.  Yes.  Missy, I see it in your eyes.  You are
hooked, aren't you?"  Before the youngster answered Consuela laughed.  "Do
not try to bullshit me, amiga, as you say.  You have that look, Missy, the
look of someone who really _does_ need a cigarette."  She sighed and crossed
herself again.  "My God, chica, I've known you since you were ten years old.
I cannot believe I am old enough for you to be able to smoke!"

   It was Melissa's turn to laugh.  "Now don't give me _your_ bullshit,
Consuela.  I know you let Angelina smoke when she was my age.  In fact you
let Angelina smoke when she was even younger than I am.  So don't give me any
crap!"

   Consuela nodded.  "Si, por supuestro.  I know.  But that was different.
After all, Angelina is my own daughter.  But you, Missy, you are your
father's daughter.  I could be in big trouble with your papa if he knew I let
you smoke.  Missus Katie, your stepmother, she already is thinking of firing
me."

   Melissa ignored the last comment.  "So, the answer is no?  You won't let
me smoke?"

   The dark-haired woman laughed.  "You silly gaupa!  Of course I will.  It
_will_ be a little bit strange the first few times I see you do it.  But I am
happy to smoke with you, Missy.  I've been smoking for thirty years and I
still love it.  I pay no attention to the way they frighten us about it on TV
all the time.  If it were up to me, you and all your friends and Angelina and
all her friends could smoke as much as you want."  She sighed.  "But in order
to smoke you and I now must go to the back patio, chica."

   "Why?  You always smoke in your room downstairs."

   Consuela shook her head from side to side.  "No longer, amiga.  Your
stepmother, she has forbidden all smoking in the house.  Even in my room
downstairs."

   Melissa was astounded.  Consuela's `room' was the servant's apartment in
the basement.  She didn't actually live down there in the servant's room, but
it'd been called her room for years.  In that room she'd always been allowed
to smoke.  But apparently no more.

   "That bitch," Melissa exclaimed with unashamed hostility.  "Katie makes
you go outside to smoke?  God, I don't believe it!"

   "Si," Consuela sighed.  "But as I said, I'd be happy have a cigarette with
you on the back patio, amiga."  She grinned.  "In fact I'd very much like to
see this.  Angelina first asked to smoke when she was only 15.  I told her
then that smoking is a sign of being truly grownup."  She wiped away a small
tear.  "And now you are growing up, too, Missy, just like my Angelina.
Excuse me.  It is just a little sad."

   Melissa laughed.  "For months I've been looking forward to telling you I
smoke now.  I figured with Dad gone so much and with Katie off doing her own
thing, you and I can spend lots of time smoking together this summer.  I
remember how I used to sit with you in your room and talk to you while you
smoked one cigarette after another.  Now, at last, I want to join you."  She
let out an edgy chuckle.  "And I _really_ would like a cigarette right now.
Just the thought of it is driving me crazy!"

   Consuela nodded.  "That is not surprising.  I suspect it's because you are
already hooked on the nicotine.  Claro que si.  I mean, of course.  Then we
must go to the patio, Missy.  Do not worry.  Edward will not say a word.  He
sometimes goes out there to smoke his pipe.  But he is loyal to you.  He will
not tell your stepmother or your father about this new habit of yours."

   Right away Melissa and Consuela went outside onto the large patio behind
the house.  They sat down at a table that had a big ashtray on it.  This was
apparently where Consuela took her smoke breaks now that Katie had changed
the rules about smoking indoors.

   "Do you want one of mine, amiga?"

   "No, I have my own," Melissa proudly smiled.  Opening her purse she showed
off a half empty pack of Marlboro Lights 100's.  She shook it decorously to
remove a cigarette.  She then put the long white cylinder in her mouth.
"What do you think?"

   Consuela laughed.  "Any fool can put a cigarette in her mouth, gaupa," she
teased.  "The question is, can you smoke it properly?"

   "Just watch," Melissa guaranteed.  She clicked a disposable lighter she
retrieved from her purse and touched the dancing flame to the tip of the
cigarette hanging from her lips.  Her cheeks hollowed.  She took a powerful
first drag.  As she removed the cigarette she breathed in deeply and pulled
smoke into the innermost recesses of her chest.

   "Oh my God," Melissa gasped inadvertently.  "Wow, that tastes _so_ good!"
She turned her head to intentionally exhale a thick stream of smoke.  "How's
that, Consuela?" she asked, clearly pleased with herself.

   "Muy bueno," the older woman nodded approvingly.  "I should've known,
Missy, that if you started smoking you would do it quite properly, the same
way you do everything else."

   Consuela followed the same ritual.  She put a Newport 100 in her mouth
from her blue and green pack and lit up.  Her first drag had more power and
force than Melissa's.  She followed her first hit with a second one,
performing a hard double-pump.  "Ah, yes, this _is_ such a relief," she
sighed contentedly, at long last releasing smoke into the breeze.  "But I
know you understand that, Missy.  I think you are a real smoker now, like me.
Si?"

   "Yeah, I am a real smoker, and it _is_ a great relief, isn't it?" Melissa
happily agreed.  She was glad to be smoking at long last.  If she was
embarrassed it didn't show.  With veteran moves she took a second hit on her
Marlboro, every bit as powerful as her first one.  "Oh my God, Consuela.  You
know what?  I _do_ love to smoke!"

   The housekeeper was impressed.  This young girl knew how to smoke, she
realized, and she clearly enjoyed it a great deal.

   "I'm impressed, Missy," she admitted.  "You look like a mujer who has
learned to _really_ smoke and who lets it give her much pleasure.  Es muy
bien, no?"

   "Si, I mean, yes," Melissa giggled.  She held her long white cigarette at
a ninety degree angle beside her pretty face.  "I  know you understand what I
mean when I say this, Consuela.  It feels _so_ good to finally light up and
smoke a cigarette."  She sighed and raised the Marlboro to her lips to drag
once more.  "I'm looking forward to smoking a lot this summer."

   Consuela tapped an ash from her one hundred millimeter Newport in the
ashtray.  "Tell me, muchacha.  Exactly how did this happen?  How did you
start to smoke?  Tell all about it."

   The teenager released a thick plume of smoke into the breeze.  "It's
actually Katie's fault.  I was so mad when she and Dad got married!  By the
time I got back to school I was beside myself.  Like I said, my roommate
Carla has been smoking.  She suggested I try it to calm me down and settle my
nerves."  She grinned.  "So I did.  Carla was looking for any excuse to make
me try it with her."

   "And?"

   "And I liked it.  I liked smoking with Carla.  It was fun.  Pretty soon I
was doing it all the time," the pretty teen smiled.  "It didn't take long,
Consuela.  No, it didn't take long at all!"

   "But surely they don't let you smoke in the dormitory at the fancy
Pemberton school?"

   "No, but there's a smoking lounge students can use if they're 18 or if
their parents give written permission."  She had a twinkle in her eye.  "I'm
pretty good at forging Dad's signature.  Remember when I called at Easter?  I
said if the school called for Dad for any reason not to give him the
message?"  The housekeeper nodded.  "That's why I said that.  I have a friend
in the administration office.  The school calls parents to check on written
permission slips about smoking.  But Dad's never home during the week.  I
figured if you never gave him a message they'd never talk to him and I'd be
free to smoke."

   "What if they asked me?"

   Melissa laughed.  She took another drag and sucked more smoke into her
chest.  "I knew you'd never blow my cover, Consuela.  But I wanted to
surprise you.  I decided if the school asked you'd tell `em I had Dad's
permission.  Because you wouldn't care if I smoke.  Right?"

   "Si, you were right.  I don't care," the housekeeper smiled.  "Perhaps I'm
too liberal about this.  But both my children smoke and they have turned out
fine.  And so have you, chica.  But tell me again.  How much do you smoke
now?"

   Melissa turned beet red.  "I told you.  Half a pack a day."

   The housekeeper continued to stare.  "I know you too well, Missy.  How
much really?"

   "You do know me too well, Consuela," she laughed.  "Okay, recently it's
more like a pack a day.  Before exams I started smoking a lot more.  I almost
lived in the smoking lounge exam week.  That's why I had to smoke so bad
after I got home.  I only had a couple early this morning and just one more
at the airport.  I got used to smoking more the last few weeks.  But I really
do like it."

   "Of course you do.  I understand.  And where did you get your cigarettes
at school?"

   "There's a convenience store about ten minutes from the school.  Some of
my girlfriends who smoke at Pemberton know a guy who works there.  He never
cards us.  So on his shift we walk to town together to stock up.  The store
does a pretty good cigarette business with us Pemberton girls," she laughed.

   "So, many girls at your school smoke?"

   "A ton of them," Melissa nodded.  "Most girls can't use the smoking
lounge, though.  They have to smoke outside till they turn 18 unless they get
their parents' permission.  But, yeah, a lot of my friends meet outside every
evening to smoke and hang out together."

   Consuela smiled.  "Missy, you're too young to remember the TV cigarette
ads.  But you've come a long way, baby!"  She said it affectionately and
laughed at her own joke.

   "I'm glad you're not upset, Consuela.  I know Katie's gone a lot of the
time.  I'm looking forward to lots of smoke breaks with you, even if it has
to be outside here on the patio."

   "Missus Katie is indeed gone most of the time."  Consuela smiled
gratefully.  "She's very mean to Edward and me when she's here.  She's so
demanding.  Everything must done her way and it must be done right now."  She
sighed.  "I am very devoted to your father, Missy.  I always have been even
though he is away on business most of the time.  If it weren't for you and
him, I don't think I would stay on."

   "I'm glad you did stay, Consuela."  She appreciated her loyalty.  "I'd
like to figure out a way to get rid of that bitch."  She blushed.  "I'm
sorry.  I shouldn't call her a bitch.  But God!  I just hate her.  Dad is
such a dumb-ass!  I wish I could think of some way to get rid of Katie's
sorry ass and return things to the way they were!"

   "Don't apologize to me for talking that way," Consuela smiled.  "But I
cannot say such things or I am fired rapidamente!"  She crushed her cigarette
in the ashtray and slipped a second one from her pack.  "Do you want to have
another one with me?"

   Melissa smiled as she crushed hers in the ashtray, too.  "I was hoping
you'd suggest that, Consuela," she laughed.  "Let's have one more!  Then I
should go upstairs and unpack."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   Melissa lay in bed considering her plight.  Her stepmother was an
overbearing, sanctimonious pain in the ass.  Katie used to be her dad's
secretary.  He was no prude.  He'd undoubtedly been bonking Katie for awhile.
He was in his early forties.  It undoubtedly felt good having a beautiful 28
year old doting on him.  But in her view Katie was simply an opportunistic
gold-digger.  She didn't believe Katie really loved her dad.  He was
independently wealthy, a perfect mark for a beautiful unprincipled woman
seeking to secure her financial future.

   She gave her dad a little credit.  Before the wedding she saw the
pre-nuptial agreement he made Katie sign.  Katie was entitled to nothing if
he divorced her for any reason the first year of their marriage.  Katie had
to be on her best behavior till March, their first anniversary, or she'd walk
away from the marriage without a penny.

   That gave Melissa an idea.  If her evaluation of Katie was accurate, and
she was sure it was, eventually the female gold-digger would show her true
colors.  She'd keep an eye on her.  Eventually her stepmother would slip up
somehow.  If she could show evidence of any indiscretions to her father, he'd
throw Katie out, divorce her, and all would be well again.

   The question was how to get some damning evidence?  Unfortunately it'd
mean hanging out with Katie; getting to know her friends, learning how and
where she spent time and money.  Her dad was out of town all week almost
every week.  Katie had lots of opportunity to screw up.  She had to figure
out how to be there when a screw up happened.  Consuela would undoubtedly
help as long as her involvement could be discrete.

   As Melissa fell asleep she felt confident that eventually she'd uncover
something about her stepmother to bring her down.  She dreamed that night of
searching Katie's bedroom, looking through her personal things and her car,
frenziedly searching for something to use against her.

   The next morning Melissa awoke late.  At Pemberton her first class was at
eight.  The clock by her bed said ten after.  She smiled and stretched.  God,
it felt good to sleep late!  She'd enjoy doing that all summer long, she was
sure.

   Many of her old friends worked.  Her dad didn't care if she did.  Money
was never an issue for the Robertsons.  Instead of working over the summer
she had an independent study to complete, a Latin literature class, through
Pemberton.  She had to complete weekly assignments and email them to her
instructor throughout the summer.  Even the final paper was to be submitted
via email at the end of the summer.  So other than studying and getting
together with a few old friends Melissa looked forward to a summer of
leisure.  That is, leisure to investigate and uncover the truth about her new
stepmother!

   Laying in bed with the sun streaming through her large windows Melissa
felt a familiar itchiness.  She knew exactly what it was.  She wanted her
morning cigarette!  She and Carla used to smoke together on their way to the
first class of the day.  She wanted one now, and she didn't want to wait till
Katie left the house.  Consuela said Katie rarely was up before nine.

   She opened a suitcase and unpacked a small glass ashtray.  She smiled.
There was no smoking in the dorm but she used it there anyway.  Girls got
suspended for breaking the no-smoking rule.  But she and Carla sometimes
smoked in their room anyhow with the window wide open at night after lights
out.  She'd do the same thing at home.  The only person likely to come to her
room was Consuela.  If she smelled stale smoke she'd surely understand.

   Wearing a baby-doll nightie Melissa walked to the window and opened it
wide.  Cool morning air flowed into the room.  She smiled.  If she sat by the
window and blew her smoke directly outside no one would be the wiser.  And
she'd get her needed nicotine infusion!

   From her top dresser drawer she took her pack of Marlboro Lights 100's and
lighter.  She locked the door and pulled up a chair beside the window.  A
tingle of excitement ran through her still drowsy body.  One thing she loved
best about smoking was that she wasn't supposed to be doing it.  She loved
breaking the rules and getting away with it.  Being a spoiled rich kid
definitely had its advantages.  She clicked her lighter and touched the flame
to the tobacco end of her first cigarette of the day.

   She took a lusty first drag and felt the marvelous sensation of thick rich
smoke saturating her eager lungs as she inhaled.  She groaned with delight.
God, she loved the nicotine rush she got from the first hit of the day!
Beginning to relax, she pursed her lips and released a long thin stream of
smoke.  She did it slowly, almost reluctantly, out the window.  She then
quickly returned the Marlboro to her mouth, drew on it again, and sucked more
of the nicotine containing substance inside her ravenous body.  The blissful
feeling associated with a chest full of thick rich smoke pleased her once
more.  She smiled.  Yeah, _this_ was why she smoked!  She absolutely loved
drenching her lungs with the satisfying smoky substance over and over again.

   After she finished her cigarette Melissa went into the adjoining bathroom
to shower.  Returning to the bedroom naked from head to toe she sniffed the
air.  She smiled.  Already the smell had dissipated.  She'd definitely have
to do this again.  As long as she was careful she could smoke enough to at
least keep her cravings at bay, if not completely satisfied.

   She put on a tee shirt, shorts and sandals and toddled down the large
staircase to the kitchen.  Consuela was at work baking a cake.  Melissa
frowned.  Why was she doing that?

   "Because of Missus Katie's party tomorrow," Consuela explained as Melissa
poured herself some orange juice from the refrigerator.  "She won't use your
dad's caterer.  She says she has to save money.  She has me do all the baking
for her parties.  It keeps me so busy," sighed the housekeeper.

   "That's insane," Melissa objected.  "Dad always caters his parties.  It's
not fair to make you do all the food, Consuela."

   The housekeeper smiled.  "I do not understand it.  Missus Katie doesn't
need to count pennies.  She has mucho dinero - lots of money to spend.  I do
not understand why she insists on doing it this way.  She even makes me
organize the help for her parties.  My daughter Angelina, my son Jose and
their friends come to help.  They don't mind.  Missus Katie pays everybody
$100 for a night's work.  Jose and his friends tend bar, park cars and watch
them; Angelina and her friends serve food and drinks.  I work the kitchen."

   Melissa shook her head.  "God, she is so strange!"

   "Let me fix you breakfast, Missy.  Do you want muffins or eggs or what?"

   Melissa smiled.  "Consuela, I'm not used to eating much breakfast these
days.  I just want some coffee."

   "Ah, Missy," sighed her housekeeper.  "You drink coffee now, too?  Dios
mio, you _are_ growing up!"  She smiled.  "But now that you smoke cigarettes
I am not surprised that you also drink coffee.  I made some for Edward and
me.  I'll get you some."

   Melissa was deep in thought.  Consuela poured her a cup.  "Oh, I should
tell you, Consuela," she said abruptly, interrupting her silent train of
thought.  "I plan to have a cigarette or two in my room first thing every
morning before coming downstairs.  I have an ashtray in my top dresser
drawer.  But I need some ziplock plastic bags to hide the butts and ashes
till I throw them out."

   Consuela rolled her eyes.  "You little devil," she laughed.  "I wondered
how you intended to handle smoking in the morning with your stepmother here.
Don't you worry she'll smell it?"

   "Nope.  I can sit by the window.  Anyway I can't imagine Katie will snoop
in my room.  But I didn't want _you_ to be surprised when you clean,
Consuela."  She smiled.  "Speaking of snooping, that reminds me.  I want to
tell you about my plan to get rid of Katie."

   "Dios mio," Consuela cautioned.  "Be careful, chica.  She might hear you."

   Melissa laughed.  "You said she's never up before nine.  I'm not worried."
But she lowered her voice.  "Before the wedding Dad made Katie sign a
pre-nuptial agreement.  If he divorces her before they've been married a year
she gets nothing.  I plan to snoop around and find something she's guilty of.
If it's bad enough and I show Dad the evidence, bingo!  She's toast.  But I
need your help Consuela.  Do you know anything she does that'd get her in
trouble with Dad?"

   Consuela slowly shook her head.  "I can think of nothing.  Nada."

   "What about her parties?  Does any bad stuff go on there?  I mean, you
know, like drugs with her friends or any screwing around?"

   Again the housekeeper indicated no.

   "Damn.  Look, Consuela, here's my theory.  Katie started sleeping with Dad
long, long ago."  In response to her housekeeper's look of surprise Melissa
smiled.  "Look, I'm no kid.  I know how the world works.  It runs on sex.
Katie originally came on to Dad at his office.  She's been fucking him ever
since.  Any woman who seduces her boss and marries him for his money is
probably guilty of other sexual transgressions.  Dad's out of town all the
time.  I bet Katie's screwing around behind his back while he's gone.  What
do you think?"

   Consuela looked nervous.  "I don't know, Missy.  Even if she is, Missus
Katie wouldn't do it here at the house.  That would be, how do you say,
insane?"

   "Right," Melissa agreed.  "But let's keep our eyes open for hints that
Katie's guilty of something like that.  I'll search her room and go through
her things when she's out to see if I can find anything like drugs.  We
should also watch her carefully at tomorrow night's party, and at all her
other parties she has when Dad's not here.  I want to know if she flirts with
guys, makes suggestive comments to them, anything.  I want to build a case.
By the end of the summer I'll convince Dad this woman is no good for him!"

   "I don't know, Missy.  Missus Katie is no fool.  She's not likely to make
a mistake."

   Melissa shrugged.  "Maybe.  But if she does screw up, I'll be waiting."
She paused.  "Hey, Consuela.  Did you say Angelina and her friends work at
Katie's parties?"

   "Yes.  Missus Katie always wants some girls here to circulate and clear
drinks and plates, keep the place picked up, that sort of thing."

   "And who comes to these parties?  Anyone I know?"

   "I don't think so, chica.  It is mostly Missus Katie's friends, not people
Mr. Robertson knows."

   An idea suddenly occurred to the pretty teenager.  "Consuela, how many
people do you usually have working Katie's parties?"

   "Four, plus me.  My son Jose tends bar; Angelina and her cousin Maria help
with food and serving.  Jose's friend Enrique parks cars and watches them out
front.  Why?"

   Melissa grinned.  "Here's the deal.  You should suggest to Katie that you
want to add one more person to the crew for tomorrow night's party.  Okay?"

   Consuela frowned.  "We are always very busy.  But who would it be?"

   "Me," she announced triumphantly.  "I can keep my eye on Katie better if I
have an excuse to be around the party and watch what's happening."

   The housekeeper shook her head.  "Your father will never permit it, Missy.
And Katie will be uncomfortable if her stepdaughter is working with the
domestic help."  She shot her a sly smile.  "She would believe it is beneath
you."

   "She won't know it's me.  Introduce me as one of Angelina's friends.  I'll
disguise myself.  Katie doesn't pay attention to people like you anyway." She
stopped.  "I'm sorry, Consuela.  I didn't mean that the way it sounded.  But
you know what I mean.  She doesn't think of you and Angelina as people at
all."

   "Si, I know," agreed the older woman.

   "So I'll run to town and buy myself a wig.  I'll get a different color
like black or something darker.  I'll also get some plain-glass eyeglasses.
Angelina can put makeup on my face to darken my complexion.  I'll wear extra
jewelry and a uniform like yours.  Katie will never look close enough to
realize that I'm her stepdaughter!"

   "Oh, I don't know, Missy.  You're a clever girl.  But I cannot believe
this will work."

   "So what?  If Katie realizes it's me I'll just say it's a harmless prank.
I was bored and wanted to do something crazy.  What can she do?  Nothing!
Consuela, this'll be fabulous!  I can help you, Angelina and Maria in the
kitchen, Jose at the bar, or Enrique with cars."  She giggled.  "Most
important I can watch Katie and her friends, listen in on their conversations
and gather evidence to use against her."

   Consuela let out a sigh.  "I know better than to try to talk you out of
this after you make up your mind.  Okay.  I'll suggest to Missus Katie that
we should add an extra person to the crew working the party tomorrow.  But
are you sure you want to spend money to disguise yourself?"

   Melissa laughed.  "Consuela, no one in this house ought to worry about
money.  Besides, it'd be fun to have a black wig.  You never know when it
might be good to have a disguise.  I can smoke walking down the street and no
one will know it's Melissa Robertson."

   "You win," Consuela conceded.  "It'd be very nice to have more help at the
party.  But I promise you this, mi amiga.  I will make you work just as hard
as the rest of us."

   "And I expect to be paid," laughed the teenager.  "Hopefully in more ways
than one."

   Katie agreed Consuela could add another person to her work crew for the
party.  So that afternoon Melissa drove to town to buy a suitable black
haired wig.  She looked totally different with her auburn hair covered.  The
wig cost several hundred dollars.  She didn't care.  She also bought glasses,
dangling hoop earrings and gaudy gold bracelets to complete her image.  With
dark foundation on her face she'd look like a Mexican-American friend of
Angelina's.

   Katie was gone when Melissa returned.  The youngster insisted Consuela
wait in her bedroom with her while she tried out her new look.  As she
changed in the bathroom Consuela sniffed around.

   "You did smoke a cigarette in here this morning, didn't you, chica?"

   "Yep," Melissa admitted behind the closed bathroom door.  "But Katie will
never come in here.  She doesn't even like me, for God's sake."

   "That may be.  But the smell will build up, mi amiga.  It isn't strong
yet.  But if you keep on smoking in your bedroom your father will smell it
when he comes back.  And _he_ will certainly visit you up here."

   "Buy me some air freshener," came a suggestion from the bathroom.  "I have
to smoke, Consuela.  You of all people understand that!"

   "I _do_ understand," sighed the housekeeper.  "But I do not want you to
get in trouble with your father.  And I may be in trouble if he learns that I
knew about it and did nothing."

   The bathroom door opened.  Straight black hair, large dangling earrings,
stylish glasses and gold bracelets transformed Melissa.  Consuela blinked and
looked again.

   "Dios mio," she gasped.  "Missy, I don't believe it's you!"  She laughed.
"That hair looks very real."

   "It should, based on how much I paid."  The straight black hair made the
youngster look a little like Uma Thurman's character in Pulp Fiction, but
with glasses.

   Consuela smiled.  "You look good, Missy.  I can barely tell it's you.  If
I didn't look close even I might be fooled.  You know something?  This might
work."

   "It'll work.  But don't call me Missy.  I need a new name."  She thought.
"Call me Carla.  My roommate at school would be proud.  Her hair's dark.
I'll go by Carla in this disguise."

   "Well, Carla, I must return to work now.  I have more baking to do before
tomorrow's party."  She smiled.  "With the hair and some makeup you could
pass for one of Angelina's cousins."  Consuela stood up to walk downstairs.
"I am going back to the kitchen."

   Melissa made a face and pouted.  "Carla wants a cigarette.  Katie's gone.
Let's go out back and have one together."

   Consuela laughed.  "Be careful Miss Carla.  You're smoking all the time.
When your father gets home he's going to figure out what's going on.  I don't
know if he'll be very happy."

   Melissa retrieved her pack of Marlboro Lights 100's.  "I intend to smoke
as much as I want.  Sooner or later Dad will find out, sure.  But you
underestimate me, Consuela.  I can keep him in the dark all summer, and
Katie, too, if need be."

   "All right," sighed the housekeeper.  "One cigarette on the back patio and
then I have to go back to work."

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