Greetings intrepid Jessa Meets Her Match readers!
The looooooong wait is over! The time for Jessa, Cathers, and Nick’s return is at hand. Chapter 8 is in final stages. I’ll be posting it in two days’ time, give or take.
As is painfully obvious, Chapter 7 went live over five months ago (July 3rd to be specific). I certainly did not anticipate leaving everyone hanging so long. My sincere apologies for that. But please know that BP Clavel has never not finished a story. I don’t intend to start. From here on out, I don’t expect to again leave you in limbo. I’m planning (knock on wood) to post every two weeks, give or take – from here to the end.
I don’t know how any chapters are left, but I’m fairly certain that we are past the halfway point – so maybe twelve chapters in all. Take that with a grain of salt. My estimates have always missed the mark, often by a gross amount.
Because it has been so long, I’ve written a chapter overview to help everyone get back up to speed. It is just below. Please understand that this is intended as a refresher for those who have already read the chapters. If you have not yet read them, please DO NOT read what follows. It is chock full of spoilers – spoilers of the worst kind. If you haven’t yet read chapters 1-7, then I encourage you to do so – at least give Chapter 1 a go. Here’s a link: Jessa Meets Her Match: Bates Pond (Chapter 1)
That’s the place to begin. Again, please don’t start with this overview. You’ll be doing both of us a disservice.
But for those of you have already read, here you go! Enjoy!
Blair P. Clavel
Chapter 1: Bates Pond
Jessa (Jessica without the ‘ick’) finds herself in Stonefield, Vermont. She’s not especially happy to be here, but she knows the area well, having spent many a summer here as a girl visiting her grandmother. Jessa’s now a 25-year old graduate student, and her grandmother has moved into an assisted living facility. She and her family are in Vermont to renovate her grandmother’s home, presumably to put it on the market.
That first day, Jessa wanders out to Bates Pond, an obscure swimming hole a short distance from grandma’s house. Because she didn’t think to bring a suit, she goes skinny dipping. Climbing out of the water, she sees a girl sitting near her clothes. Approaching, Jessa notices that she is also nude, but then she realizes that she can see through her. Grabbing her clothes, Jessa runs off, arriving back home quite shaken.
In the days to come, Jessa learns the girl’s story. Catherine (or Cathers as she was called) is a ghost. She was Jessa’s grandmother’s sister and just 25 when she met an unfortunate end. That was forty years ago, long before Jessa was born. Catherine is eternally nude because that is how she was ‘dressed’ when she died. She and Jessa are closely related and look very much alike, and as luck would have it, Jessa needs to be naked to be able to see and talk to her.
With Cathers along for the ride, Jessa visits her grandmother. It’s the first stop on Jessa’s fact-finding mission. After a decision making process that involves a bit of alcohol, Jessa concludes that she is going to attempt to find the killer. She has Cathers, a huge advantage that the police never had.
Chapter 2: The Stairway
Jessa learns that one other person that is able to see and talk to Catherine. That person is Dirk, her fiancé. Unlike Cathers, he ages, meaning that he is now 65. He was tried for her murder, but acquitted, and now lives in a mental institution. Jessa decides that visiting him is the next step.
In Dirk’s room in the institution, after closing the door, Jessa takes off her clothes so as to be able to see and hear Catherine. A short time later, a woman bursts into the room, catching Jessa nude. The next hour is very uncomfortable for Jessa as she attempts to extract herself from extremely incriminating circumstances. Ultimately, ‘Ms. Jessa Prostitute,’ as the woman in charge is calling her, is allowed to leave.
It takes Jessa a few days to recover enough to again strip off and talk to Cathers. When she does, Cathers reveals that she has remembered something. Hidden in her room, underneath a floor board (which is now also under carpet) is a diary with an entry from the evening of her death. Jessa finds it, along with a few other things, such as birth control pills and concert tickets, an unused pair among them.
That night, after midnight, Jessa embarks with Catherine for Stonefield. She has chosen to undertake the outing nude, so that Catherine can guide her. They retrace Catherine’s steps from that fateful night. Jessa is hoping that she will continue to remember more details, clues that might reveal the identity of her killer. On the other side of Stonefield, they arrive at the top of a stairway. That is where Catherine says her assailant grabbed her, pulling her down the stairs and forcing her into a car trunk.
At that very moment, a police car passes by. Naked, barefoot even, Jessa takes off running. A game of cat and mouse ensues in a commercial section of town. Ultimately, Jessa is tackled and apprehended. It is again a very awkward predicament for her. Not wanting to be deemed crazy, she can’t mention Catherine, so she has no explanation for why she is naked and prowling around in the middle of the night.
Chapter 3: Rock, Paper, Scissors
After a great deal of embarrassment, Jessa, promising to retrieve her ID when they get there, talks the police officers into driving her home. All the while, she is talking to them about helping her solve her great aunt’s cold case.
After showing them her ID and receiving a citation, Jessa gets the younger officer, Officer Harris, to agree to meet with her. From Cathers, Jessa learns what the officers were talking about while Jessa was alone in their police car.
Two days later, Jessa goes to the police station to attempt to persuade Officer Nick Harris to look into the case surrounding Catherine’s disappearance forty years prior. To her surprise, he has already done that. But even though she has Catherine’s diary, a piece of evidence that the police did not know about, Jessa is ultimately unsuccessful at getting him interested in reopening the investigation into what is a very cold case.
Pivoting to a different approach, Jessa asks Nick to have dinner with her. She makes a picnic meal and they end up on a ridge to watch the sunset. Once they are into a second bottle of wine, Jessa decides that she has swallowed enough ‘liquid courage’ and strips off. Nick is quite surprised, but Jessa goes about convincing him that they aren’t alone. She does that by having Nick hold up fingers behind his back and having Catherine tell her how many. That progresses to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Ultimately, Nick seems to conclude that Jessa might be telling the truth, that the ghost of Catherine Marshall might indeed be present.
From there, they go to Nick’s house where Nick suggests that Jessa again strip — to again include Catherine in the conversation. They have dessert and Jessa spends the night. Before going to bed (in a guest room), she allows Nick to kiss her. Catherine counts the seconds as the kiss continues. As the two separate, Jessa slaps Nick, reminding him of how he mistreated her by handcuffing her naked in the middle of the night in Stonefield.
The next morning, Jessa returns home. She’s never had a good relationship with her mother and it doesn’t help that she catches Jessa coming home after spending the night with a guy she’s just met.
Chapter 4: The Junkyard
From there, the investigation begins in earnest. Nick brings the case files to his house, where the three of them (Jessa and Catherine both nude) pour over them. Nick orders pizza. When it is delivered, Jessa locks herself in the bathroom. The police records reveal no important new information; the police hadn’t really had much to go on.
The next day, Nick goes to visit Dirk while Jessa goes to the library to attempt to learn the address of the junkyard where Cathers believes the car containing her remains lies rusting.
That afternoon, the three of them head out of town to visit the location of the defunct junkyard. Nick drives, two naked blondes (one of them a ghost) in the back seat. The three of them find a way through the fence, but then they hear tires on gravel and Nick goes to investigate. Catherine follows him out to eavesdrop. Two police cars and three uniformed officers are there. Nick talks to them, but ultimately gets in his own car and leaves, stranding Jessa naked in the abandoned junkyard.
While Nick is gone, Catherine tells Jessa how she died. She hadn’t forgotten, she’d been protecting her – but now she has no choice but to tell her because Nick needs to know – for the sake of the investigation. The awful truth is that the monster that ended her life locked her in a trunk, welding it shut to remove any possibility of escape. After several (she’d lost count) unbearably hot days and freezing cold nights, she’d succumbed.
A few hours later, Nick returns with a lame excuse about leaving to draw the sheriff’s deputies away (to protect Jessa, no less). With Catherine leading the way and Jessa riding on Nick’s back, they wind their way back into the rows of rusting cars. Ultimately, Catherine finds the car and Nick confirms that the trunk is indeed welded shut. Not having the ability to open it, the three of them leave.
Tired and hungry, they pick up some burgers on the way back to Stonefield and eat them in Nick’s backyard.
The next day, Jessa returns to painting walls while Nick goes back to the junkyard. That afternoon, Jessa receives a text. They’d opened the trunk. Her remains were there. After crying her eyes out, Jessa asks her mother if she’d accompany her to visit her grandmother.
Chapter 5: Carved in Stone
Jessa and her mother climb into the SUV for drive. Not wanting to have to go through it all twice, Jessa drives in silence. Later, on the couch, between her mother and her grandmother, Jessa finally breaks down in tears. She tells them how the police had found Catherine’s remains that morning. Jessa knows her grandmother was hopeful that Cathers was alive and well – somewhere – but she needs to hear the truth. It is a difficult conversation. Because Jessa doesn’t feel she can reveal that she’s been in contact with a ghost, she’s forced to give the police (Nick) most of the credit for the progress.
That afternoon, Jessa is hosing off a stone monument that the family had made for Catherine when Nick drives up. He has surprising news. The human remains from the trunk had been analyzed. They are indeed those of a female of about the right age, but they aren’t Catherine’s.
Jessa’s mom comes out. After telling Nick to keep that development to himself, Jessa points out the stone to her. She and grandma had been keeping something a secret. Catherine and Jessa had both been born on March 20 – forty years apart, but they have same birthday. Explaining why they’d chosen not to burden her with that legacy, her mother adds yet another piece to the puzzle: the two of them had even been born in the same hospital. Just then, Nick gets a call. Two more cars with welded shut trunks had been found. Vermont has (or had) a serial killer.
Even though the revelations are horrendous, Jessa is feeling some measure of elation (or relief) due to the progress. Sure Catherine is dead, but Jessa feels as if she has the power to bring her back to life. All she has to do is take off her clothes. Back at Bates Pond, she does just that. She even lets Nick photograph her. That is something she has always done, allow boyfriends to photograph her nude. Nick and Jessa talk, deciding that they are now exclusive. They even discuss past sex partners and make plans to get tested so that they can proceed with a physical relationship. Nick finally opens up about his divorce.
The next day, the investigation shifts into high gear, the Vermont MCO (Major Crimes Unit) taking over. Jessa breathes a sigh of relief. She had a role to play. She played it. A few days later, the story breaks out onto national news. That evening, she and Nick go to dinner. Jessa doesn’t want to talk about the investigation. She doesn’t want to know anything more about the young girls whose lives were cut short. She then starts to wondering if she and Nick have any chemistry. Dressed, and not talking about the crime, there is little to talk about.
Saturday morning, Nick picks Jessa up early and they head out of town for a hike. Nick drives deep into a restricted area, explaining that it is a military compound. He then proceeds to attempt to get Jessa to agree to hike naked. Jessa initially sees no point. She’ll have to keep her boots on, meaning that she won’t be able to converse with Cathers. That was always her reason for getting naked. As the chapter concludes, Nick and Jessa are kissing, one piece of clothing after another, Nick strips her, placing each item in the back of the Jeep as it comes off.
Chapter 6: The Candy Necklace
Once nude, Jessa allows Nick to apply sunscreen. Nick brought a wet-look sunscreen which surprises her. Nick starts photographing her while Jessa’s mind wanders to her history of allowing boys to do just that.
Jessa tries to get Nick to put her clothes in his backpack. Instead, he carries her off into the forest and eventually she relinquishes. They end up having a wonderful time. The spark in their relationship is back, and the nudity does a wonderful job of distracting both of them from the stress of the murder investigation.
During a mid-morning break, Jessa takes off her boots. The first words out of Catherine’s mouth are, “You are so fucked. I don’t trust him. You shouldn’t either.” Catherine is sure that Nick is up to something. His response, “She’s very perceptive.” But Jessa decides that she does trust him and they resume their hike. She also knows that Catherine has good reason to not trust men. She had once been carried off kicking and screaming, but that had been by a man she did not know.
Six miles from the Jeep, they reach their destination, a high ridge with a view of Lake Champlain. Nick sets out three plates on a blanket he’d brought as Jessa takes off her boots to bring Cathers back into the conversation. Nick has a surprise for the girls – a bag of Damon’s Donuts. From reading all the case files, he’d learned which particular donuts were Catherine’s favorite. He has yet another surprise – candy necklaces. During the investigation, Catherine’s fifth-grade teacher had mentioned that Catherine came to school every day wearing one. Catherine was impressed, but said that she still didn’t trust Nick, “but the important thing is that you do.”
On the way down, Jessa is leading the way when they encounter a woman. As Jessa panics, attempting to conceal her naked bits, the woman introduces herself, “I’m Kim. That’s Kimberly, but without the ‘berly.’” (It’s Jessa’s line)
Jessa, realizing that she’s been set up, runs off into the forest. She’s steamed, but fortunately, she knows not to go far. Without a phone, without GPS, she wouldn’t be able to find her way back. And without clothes, she probably wouldn’t survive the night.
Nick explains to her that Kim is not only a fellow police officer, but also a friend, a very good friend and that she and her husband have a cabin nearby. According to him, they are all to have dinner there that evening. Jessa is incredulous. She takes off her boots to consult with Catherine.
Cathers reminds her of her words, that she’d said she trusts Nick. In Catherine’s opinion, it is time for Jessa to do just that – to trust Nick – and to try and have fun.
Chapter 7: The Cabin
Pissed at Nick, telling him that it was good while it lasted, Jessa walks out to meet his friends in nothing more than her hiking boots. Not having any better explanation for why she’s naked, she decides to not rock the boat. Nick had told them that she was an exhibitionist – Jessa decides to try and go with that.
After a walk and a bumpy, breast-bouncing Jeep ride, Jessa, Nick, Kim, and her husband Brent all arrive at their cabin. Once on the deck, which overlooks a small stream, Jessa takes off her boots to confer with Catherine. Not seeing her, she walks down to put her feet in the water.
After a glass of lemonade with the others, Jessa goes in search of a restroom. Catherine still hasn’t made an appearance. Once she’s relieved herself, she does a little snooping and finds a terry cloth robe. A short time later, wearing that robe, Jess returns to join the others on the deck. She wants them to say something so that she can give them a piece of her mind, but they don’t.
Tired and needing a rest, Jessa walks to a hammock along the creek. Nick follows her, floating a lame excuse – that the visit, like the donuts, was intended for Catherine. That he wanted her to meet Kim and Brent, which of course requires Jessa’s nudity. “You’re an asshole. End of story. Now leave me alone,” Jessa says, dismissing him to take a nap.
After her nap, Jessa ends up in the kitchen watching Kim prepare dinner. Kim apologizes, telling her that Nick had assured them that it would be alright. As they talk, Jessa learns that Kim has just started a new position. She’s now working for a charity that sets up college trust funds for the children of fallen police officers.
That evening, they grill steaks for dinner. Jessa partakes of the wine that is offered. During dinner, Brent asks about a magic trick that Nick had mentioned – Rock, Paper, Scissors. Jessa can’t believe that she ever trusted the guy.
Later, they light a campfire down near the stream. Three hours have elapsed since Jessa had last looked for Catherine. She’s very worried. She slips off the robe to have a look around. Still no sign of Catherine. Deciding that she wants to be able to see her if she shows up, Jessa leaves the robe on the porch, returning to the fire naked. Minutes later, she notices some splashing in the stream. Cathers was back. Jessa yells at her. “Where were you, goddamn it?”
Kim and Brent are completely confused, but Nick and Jessa add a fifth chair and a wine glass to the circle around the fire. A short time later, Catherine and Jessa do what Nick had termed ‘Jessa’s magic trick.’ An extended game of Rock, Paper, Scissor, Lizard, Spock, leaves both Kim and Brent in a state of bewilderment. From there, Nick explains to them Catherine’s background and her relationship to Jessa. The details of her rape and murder in 1985 are also discussed as well as how she led them to her remains as well as those of two other victims.
A bit later on, Jessa whispers to Catherine that she doesn’t want her to leave, but that she’d like a little privacy later on as she is planning to give Nick a BJ. Looking up, Jessa realizes that she hadn’t said it softly enough. Everyone heard. Was she really considering giving Nick a blowjob? She’s not sure. She did enjoy pleasing men in that way, but she’s still mad at Nick. And then a short time later, the two of them are in Kim and Brent’s guest bed.
Chapter 8: posting soon. Most likely December 16.