by Anj
(a.k.a. Azurenon)


All disclaimers in Chapter One


        I was able to get in one last sip of my tea, before she whisked me away to the garage. "Why are we in such a hurry?" I asked, moving along at a much faster pace than I was accustomed to.
        "I wanna get back before Brandon does," she answered, opening the passenger door of her shiny black Trans Am.
        "Where did he go?" I inquired, as she helped me inside.
        "I don't know, but when I left word that we were going for a drive, Sammy said he was gone."
        "I'm not afraid of him," I declared. "Why should you be?"
        "He pays my salary, Faith."
        "One which you don't need," I reminded.
        "Just get in," she muttered and started around to the driver's side.
        "I have money. We can move somewhere else and I can pay your salary," I offered, as she got in and closed the door.
        "Gimme the cane, I'll get it outta your way. It's just better that we don't tempt fate right now, alright? Alright?" she asked again, after putting my cane in the back -propping it between the seats- so it was within easy reach.
        "Okay," I agreed, looking over the infamous Rosa Lee, who was as clean as a whistle. "You always keep her this clean?"
        "I've been expecting you for some time now," she said, with a sly grin, as she put her hand on the back of my seat and backed out of the garage.
        We seemed to fly down the winding road leading out of Shady Grove. She braked to almost a full stop, waiting on the gates, which slowly opened. She steered around them and then off into the outside world we sped. It had been quite a while since I'd seen anything, except the grounds of Shady Grove. It felt good to be out from behind those gates. But most of all it felt good to be with Sara, alone.
        I gazed out at the surrounding countryside, wishing this were just a lazy drive in the country for us. Why did Brandon have to rule my life?
        I reached over and took her hand. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to snap at you," I said, softly. "I guess… I just feel frustrated. He controls my life and... I don't like it anymore, Sara."
        "I know. I don't like it, either, but until you're on your feet properly and can take charge of your life, he'll stay in control. Gaining your freedom, well… it might not be as easy as you think."
        "You talk about him as if you know him well."
        "I... uh... Sometimes I feel like I do," she confirmed, with a decided frown. "I can… sense things... I don't know what to call it. But, I just feel he's... Well, it's just not gonna be easy to gain your independence from him. That, I can tell, from the way he acts. He loves handling everything. Remember the exercise machine and parallel bars? I was all set to get you outta there, if only to the hospital and back, but… he didn't… he didn't care for you leaving the house. I guess it could be that he didn't trust my driving…” She glanced over at me very briefly. I'm not sure what expression she saw on my face, but evidently she didn't like it, because her tune changed somewhat. “Oh hell, maybe I'm makin' a mountain out of a molehill. All I know for sure is he's stubborn... very stubborn."
        "Like someone else I know," I offered, pointing to myself.
        "Yes, indeed," she agreed, as she glanced over at me once again and squeezed my hand.

        When we got to her apartment she disappeared down a hallway, while I looked around. The place was rather plain, simple, but decidedly neat. Everything was arranged to be functional for one person. Missing were any family pictures, which added a homey touch to any house. The walls possessed only the scenic paintings one could buy in any department store, obviously for decoration. There were no books lying open on the tables, no shoes lying in the floor and no shirt or other apparel draped across the chairs, as would be the norm for an active home. Or at least, would be for mine. I glanced into the small kitchen, and from where I stood, I saw no real evidence that anyone lived here, except for the one used coffee cup on the counter. It was obvious Sara paid rent here, but that was about all.
My legs were getting tired, so I walked over and sat down on the sofa. A few moments later, she came out dragging a large box behind her.
"One of his associates sent this to me,” she explained, as she dragged the box into the middle of the room. “It's from his office. I haven't gone through it, yet. I didn't think I needed to. "I've been meaning to take it to the house in Columbus, but I just haven't got around to going down there, yet."
        I eased down into the floor beside her, as she brought out a stack of papers. She halved the stack with me and we went through them. We found nothing pertaining to Sara. We then proceeded to go through all of it, but still came up empty.
        "Maybe his personal papers were at home," I said, starting to hand back the last stack. I caught a quick glimpse of his birth date on a form he'd filled out some time ago. September 6, 1947.
        "Yeah, I was afraid of that. Now, I'll have to go to Columbus," she uttered, with a frown. "I've never seen the house, ya know. I don't even know where it is. Oh well... that can wait for another time."
        "Good," I said softly, as I scooted over a little closer. "We're quite alone here... no prying eyes... no one's gonna walk in..."
        "Uh-huh." She glanced at her watch.
        "Forget Brandon, please, Sara. God, you made me wait so long and now we're here... alone... no one knows where we are and... you're still thinking about him."
        Her eyes darted back and forth searching mine. "I hope you're right, Faith. I hope... I don't ever cause any harm to come...."
        I silenced her with a kiss. Our passions ignited quicker than a match thrown into a pool of gasoline. Soon, we were in her room, on her bed, making love with great abandon. I didn't know it could be any better than the night before, but it was. We even took another shower together -standing up- and despite my handicap, she turned this into a very erotic and sensual encounter. The feel of her warm, wet, slippery body against mine was an experience I wouldn't soon forget.
        We ended up back on her bed; our bodies still damp, my hair quite wet. I could feel the moisture seeping into the comforter, even as I felt her warm, wet tongue leaving a trail down the front of my torso. I had no idea what she was about to do. Without warning that warm wet appendage flicked across my desire and set my loins ablaze. My hips arched involuntarily, begging for more of this tantalizing contact. And I was soon rewarded my first experience with what a knowledgeable tongue could accomplish. Sheer unadulterated bliss!
        A bliss I longed to share through reciprocation. And even though oral sex had always sounded like something I would never, ever want to do, I soon found myself going back on that erroneous conclusion. And going down on her.
        With the first stroke I was reminded of that tantalizing taste that issued from her nipples. It only made sense that these two areas were connected in some fashion. I'd felt this connection for myself. My taste buds yearned for more of this tangy ambrosia.
She moaned with pleasure as I feasted upon her succulent, sensitive flesh, my tongue delving inside at intervals to capture the exquisite taste of her unique and intoxicating liquor. I held onto her bucking hips and rode the glorious, undulating waves of passion, until she cried out in ecstasy. Her legs twitched, her whole body shuddered and then she went limp. I stayed right where I was, unable -or perhaps more to the point- unwilling to relinquish this intimate contact.
She shuddered once again from a long, languid stroke of my tongue. “Oh God, Faith, please…” she pleaded, slowly moving away from my eager mouth.
But, I'm not done with you, yet. I wanted to say, but instead held my tongue. At least, as far as vocalizing this thought. I could not, however, resist returning for more of the luscious sap, still oozing from between her legs.
“Oh holy hell!” she hissed, when I plunged my questing muscle deep inside, as if she were an ice cream cone; my tongue desiring to search out and savor every succulent drop of her creamy molten essence. I wanted it all! I couldn't get enough!
Her fingers slipped into my hair, stroking and caressing, while I gently lapped up the trickling juices. “Don't stop,” she pleaded now. “God, yes… like that… oh yes, just like that. Oh Faith… oh baby… oh g-g-go-od!!!” Her body shuddered once more, her legs trembling and closing tightly about my head. So tightly in fact, I was unable to continue my ministrations. “Dear god, Faith… cum'mere,” she requested, her hand moving around to my chin and lifting it.
I kissed each inner thigh lightly, in a parting gesture, quite aware of the moisture being transferred from my face, which was coated with her sticky juices. I wore this temporary mask of my ardor proudly, while maneuvering up her body, all my senses seemingly heightened by this awareness. She placed a hand on each side of my face, her eyes growing wide as the amount of moisture registered with her senses. She moved her hands over each cheek, removing the residue, then without warning, pulled me down and commenced devouring my lips.

        "Can I go with you to Columbus?" I asked, as we were getting dressed. I didn't want to let her out of my sight, at this point. I felt I would follow her to the ends of the earth, if she asked me to.
        "Don't I wish," she responded, glancing over at me. "But Brandon will surely become suspicious."
        "So what? I can leave Shady Grove anytime I want. I'm well enough now."
        "Let's not rush things, hmm? You may be well enough for all intents and purposes, but... leaving will… create a strain, right now. Just take it one step at a time." she replied, as she tied her shoes.
        "In other words, you aren't... you won't...." I paused, as tears filled my eyes. Evidently, she didn't share my enthusiasm over our time together. "It wasn't good enough was it?" I blurted out.
        “What wasn't…?” She glanced over at me and obviously reading my expression added, “Oh, Faith! Sweetheart…" She moved closer to where I sat on the bed. "Good lord, Faith, one has nothing to do with the other! Nothing at all. How can you think such a thing?” Her arm went around my shoulder. “I've tried to tell you, I don't wanna hurt you. I... Sweetie, listen… let me get this... or at least some of this messy past of mine squared away here, okay? Otherwise, I might not be much good to you or me. I mean… this is the first time, since the accident, that I've really considered delving into this. I guess I just kept assuming my memory would someday return, whole and intact, ya know.”
“Like the movies?” I suggested.
“Yeah, like the movies,” she acknowledged with a heavy sigh. “And I can't say that this won't still happen, especially now that I'm looking into it. And… I've been warned that it could be a very frightening and painful…” She paused. “Well… very hard on anyone I might be involved with, that didn't know me before. Can you understand that?"
        I nodded slowly. It was frightening now merely thinking that if her memory returned, she might well have a lover in her past and she'd want to go running back to her. Or him. The latter of which would be even harder to deal with. And I really didn't want to think about any of it, right now. I needed to concentrate on myself; getting control of my life and allow Sara time to focus on herself and her past. "Do what you have to do," I said, drying my eyes. "And I'll do what I have to do."
        "I don't like the sound of that, Faith. Sweetheart, Brandon isn't going to let you walk out of there that easily, I'm afraid."
        "How can he damn well stop me?" I retorted.
        Her eyes darted back and forth searching mine again. "I don't know how, but... I just feel he'll try. He dotes on you, Faith. And just like you and I wouldn't wanna give each other up, I don't think he'll give you up. He's made you his world for the last several months. And I doubt he'll give that world up so easily. Especially if you just up and take off so quickly… with me." One dark eyebrow arched skyward.
        I could hardly argue with her reasoning, even though she made Brandon sound more like a lover than an uncle. "Well, he's just gonna have to gimme more freedom. I can not continue to live like this… in fear of what he thinks or what he...." I paused, considering once again, why I feared him. "Sara, why do you and me... Jason, Celia… all the rest of us fear Brandon so? I've never seen him angry but once, when you weren't around that day in the hospital. But, he calmed down quick enough."
        She stared at me intently. "Honestly, Faith… I've seen a different side of him than you.” She looked away. “We've butted heads on several occasions over what's best for you; your emotional well being… your therapy. That's one reason I don't stick around when he's there.”
"I thought that's because you dislike each other."
        "That's part of it.” She frowned. “But, it goes deeper than that, I think. Much deeper. The way he…” She shook her head. “Well, he's just so damn pigheaded. Always insisting on having his way. It's either his way or the…" She paused, and waved her hand, as if dismissing this thought. "Oh never mind. You do what you have to do. I only ask one thing: gimme a few more days to check into this past of mine. Celia is my only link to my father right now. If you leave now, or he fires me... I lose that link. I know that sounds selfish, but... Faith, in all these years, I haven't really cared about my past, but now… because of you… because of us… I wanna know. I wanna have this behind us before we start a life together."
        Start a life together? Then there was hope. I knew I needed to carefully consider her request. She hadn't finished that sentence I assumed should have gone: “It's either his way or the highway”. I wondered how many times he had threatened to fire her? And if he ever did so, what might that mean to Sara's career, which she seemed to love?
I reasoned I'd lived with his firm hand on my life for several months now, what were a few more days? Especially since, if I was brutally honest with myself, it wasn't Brandon I was trying to escape, as much as Sara I was trying to run to; desperately desiring to be alone with her; have her all to myself. Which is something that would not be easy at Shady Grove. I was allowing my hormones to do my thinking again and that could be disastrous in the long run.
"Alright... a few days, then." I agreed, reaching down and tying my shoes. "How do you plan to go about finding out about your father?" I inquired, changing the subject.
        "His lawyer is on a retainer. I'm sure he can recommend a private detective. It's not just my father I wanna know about, I wanna know about my mother and the life I lost."
        "I suppose that's a good idea. But, can you afford one?" I asked, remembering she didn't like the idea of using her father's money.
        She considered this for several seconds, before answering, "My father told the lies in the first place… it's only right his money should be used to find out the truth, don'chu think?"
        She immediately got up and retrieved her purse, then went to the phone and punched in the numbers from a business card. In a very professional, no nonsense voice I'd seldom heard her use, she got the ball rolling. Where it might end up, she had no idea, yet seemed bound and determined now to find out. And I could hardly blame her.
        As I eavesdropped on her conversation, I thought back to the date I had seen on the form: 1947. I did the subtraction in my head. Her father would've been 45 when he died. And Sara was 32. It didn't take a genius to see that something was very amiss, unless he'd fathered her at the age of twelve or so. I suppose it wouldn't have been unheard of, but it was very unlikely. Then again, that could be the reason Amy ran off. But, it didn't answer the nagging question of why Tom had lied about where he had lived.
        When she got off the phone, I inquired about her knowledge of his age. "Did you know how old your father was, when he... passed away?"
        "No, why? What does that have to do with anything? Come on, we need to get back," she added, extending her hand for my support.
        "According to the birth date on one of those forms, he was 45."
        "So?" she said, picking up her purse.
        "So, that would make him 13 when you were born."
        She cut her eyes over at me, then she got that far away look and stared down at the floor. "Damn, it just gets more complicated, doesn't it? Seems the more I find out, the deeper the shit gets."
        "Are you sorry I started this?"
        "You. This all came about by accident remember? Celia's the one who turned over my little apple cart, not you."
        We rushed back to Shady Grove. When she drove up to the front door, saving me quite a few steps, I noticed Celia was outside, sweeping off the front steps. She looked our way, then the broom slipped from her hands, as her mouth fell wide open and she quickly clamped her hand over it. I started to laugh at her odd behavior, thinking she must be reacting to my being so bold as to go running off, without Brandon's approval. But then her reaction took an ominous turn: she crossed herself in the Catholic manner, her face turning as pale as a sheet. I glanced over at Sara, who had also noticed her peculiar behavior.
        "Celia?" I asked, as I opened the door. "What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."
        "Ye-Ye-Yes, 'mum," she stammered, continuing to stare at Sara, who was coming around the back of the car to help me. "I… I thought I had."
        "What? I know I don't look like my mother without that wig."
        "No, not you, 'mum. It's... Miss Sara."
        Sara turned to look at her, even as she offered me her hand. "What about me?"
        "For a moment, 'mum, I..." Celia paused, as she reached down and picked up her broom. "…I thought Miss Ashley had… cum back from the grave, I did."
        "Ashley?" I asked quite puzzled.
        "Do I look that bad you thought I'd risen from the dead?" Sara asked, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
        "Oh no, 'mum, I mean... f-forgive me, 'mum," she stammered, "But in those dark glasses, that car... your hair.... It just… it reminded me so much of Miss Ashley, God rest her soul." She crossed herself again and closed her eyes.
        Sara helped me to my feet then took off the glasses, placing them on top of her head. She squinted in the bright afternoon sunlight. "Is this better?" she asked, turning towards Celia.
        Celia merely stared at her and then glanced over at me. "Sara doesn't look like Ashley, does she?" I queried.
        "Yes, 'mum. I mean... No, 'mum. I... I suppose it's just the light. 'Scuse me, mum. My eyesight is not so good anymore. And… I 'spect my mind plays tricks on me, from time to time," she mumbled, as she started into the house, leaving the steps only half swept.
        Sara and I looked at each other. I shrugged. I didn't know what to make of it. "Ashley musta had dark hair," I offered. "Maybe even a black Camaro?"
        Sara nodded in agreement, but glanced back at Celia's retreating form, frowning.
        I ambled in the front door, half expecting Brandon to be waiting on me - hand on his hip- demanding to know where I'd been. I'd seen this pose many times, when I'd wander about the grounds by myself and he'd come looking for me. But, to my surprise and relief, he was nowhere within sight or hearing, for that matter.
        I slowly ascended the stairs, taking them one at the time, resting for a moment on each. The cane made walking up stairs much easier. Yet, I'd had quite a tiring day and my legs were complaining of fatigue. I took my mind off them, by thinking about poor Celia and her reaction moments before. Surely Sara didn't look like Ashley, did she? Then I realized I had no idea what Ashley looked like. I'd only assumed she had features like Brandon and Jason. Matter of fact, I didn't know what Vivian looked like, either. I decided this would be something to occupy my time, while Sara went off to Columbus. I'd ask Brandon for some old photo albums and get him to tell me more about our history. If I could, that is. Sometimes Brandon was more close-mouthed about the past than Sara.
        She soon joined me before I got two thirds of the way up the stairs. Putting her arm around me, she helped me the rest of the way. "I wish I could just sweep you up in my arms and carry you," she whispered. "But, I'm afraid we might not make it halfway down the hall."
        "You carried me in the pool," I reminded.
        "That was different, water creates buoyancy. Makes you seem lighter. Besides, you've put on a couple of pounds since the days when I carried you around." I pinched her shoulder for that one. "Ouch! I didn't say that was bad. Matter of fact, I think you've filled out rather nicely," she said, glancing down at my breasts.
        "Oh you, stop that. I have not filled out up there and you know it. They just look bigger cause your hormones are going wild."
        "You can say that again."
        "They just look bigger..." I paused, as she cut her eyes over at me and we both started laughing.

        Back in my room, she helped me into bed. Dinner would be served soon and more than likely, Brandon would be coming in. I touched the side of her face, as she leaned over me. I wondered what she'd looked like before the plastic surgery. Not that it mattered. The thought just happened to cross my mind, as I perused her lovely features. She'd said that her father had told her she looked like her mother. "Where's that picture of your mother?" I inquired, as she sat down on the bed.
        "In my room, why?"
        "Can I see it?"
        "Why?" she asked, suspiciously. "Oh don't tell me, Celia, right?"
        "Well, I never saw the picture. I just wondered what you might have looked like before the surgery. Kinda get an idea of how my looks might change."
        "Oh come on, you won't be having major plastic surgery. They'll just redo this right here," she said, tracing her finger across the path of the scar, which lay beneath my bangs. "And I don't think that'll change your beautiful features very much. It'll only keep you from being so self-conscious about it." She kissed me lightly on the lips. Then seemingly could not resist returning for more. I reached up and pressed the button on the remote, lowering the head of the bed, bringing her down on top of me. "Ah, God almighty, Faith! I gotta get outta here...." She pulled away. "You're a bad girl," she admonished, shaking her finger at me.
        "Yeah, but you love it."
        "Tease," she said, getting to her feet.
        "Sara," I called, as she started away. "The picture..."
        "Alright. To satisfy your curious mind, I'll get it. But, like I said, you can't tell much about her. And you have to promise to be a good girl, or… I won't come back."
        "Cross my heart," I lied.
        A few minutes later she was back with a faded black and white snapshot. I immediately recognized my mother; for, I had seen many old snapshots of her. "This is my mother," I announced, suddenly feeling very peculiar about this whole thing.
        "Where?" she asked, as she leaned over to look at the picture.
        "Here," I replied, pointing to the woman on the left. "This isn't your...?"
        "Oh no, the other one," she assured me, as we both gave each other a puzzled look.
        How coincidental that our mothers had known one another. But, then again, this most assuredly meant that Sara's mother had been to Shady Grove and was more than likely friends, or at least acquaintances, with my mother back then. Yet, Celia had said she didn't remember Tom courting anyone named Amy Jackson.
        "Maybe if you showed Celia this picture, she might remember her. Who knows, maybe Celia didn't know they were... lovers."
        Sara raised her eyebrows. "According to that form you saw, my mother musta been much older than my father. What did she do, seduce a child?"
        "Maybe I was wrong about the date or... maybe it was a misprint or..."
        "He lied?” she finished for me. “I think he lied about a lot of things." She sighed, wearily.
        "Well, just show Celia the picture and see if she recognizes her."
        "That doesn't mean that she's my mother, though. He may have lied about that, as well." She turned the photograph over in her hands, nervously. "Why don't you show it to her?"
        "Your mother's in it. I mean, she might tell you more, if…. she recognizes her, that is."
        I nodded. Perhaps that would be better, I thought. Then I could sensor what I told Sara, in case it wasn't all good news. Now who's thinking about lying to protect someone else?

        About half an hour later, Celia arrived with dinner. As she wheeled the tray over to me, I asked my question. "Celia, may I ask a favor of you?"
        "A'course, 'mum. How may I help ya?" she asked, as she took a step back.
        "This picture," I said, holding it out towards her. "Do you know these women?" I didn't want to taint her perusal by telling her one was my mother. I wanted to see how bad or good her eyesight was.
        She took the picture and held it out at arm's length. Then she reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a pair of partial bifocals. Just as I suspected, her eyesight was failing.
        "This one here, is your muther, 'mum," she said, without further hesitation, pointing to the photograph.
        "Yes, I thought so. But, what about the other one?"
        "Umm... face is a bit blurry," she observed. "But, I'd have ta say this is more'n likely Miss Vivian."
        "Vivian?" I asked, quite surprised.
        "Yes, 'mum, 'pears to be." She studied the picture closer. "Oh yes, 'mum, that's Miss Vivian, alright. I 'member that outfit she's wearing. Your muther and Miss Vivian were fond of riding, they were. Seen 'em together quite often."
        "You mean Vivian liked my mother?"
        "Oh my yes, 'mum. Who wouldn't like your muther?"
        "She wasn't envious or jealous?"
        "Well now, who wouldn't be envious of your muther's beauty," she replied, looking over her bifocals at me. "But, Miss Vivian, she wuz a lady, she wuz. Never seemed ta let it show. Not in my presence. Best I recall your muther was Miss Vivian's only friend. Besides young Tom, a' course."
        "Tom? Tom Randall?"
        "Oh yes, 'mum. He took care of Miss Vivian's horse, ya see and... you'd often see 'em talking from time ta time. I 'spect she felt by Tom like he wuz a bruther."
        "A brother?"
        "Yes, 'mum, they's 'bout the same age, ya see. Mr. Neilson he… brought home a child bride," she said in a conspiratorial tone of voice, as she looked over her bifocals again. I could tell there was something she wasn't telling me. And from the way she quickly glanced back down at the picture I knew she wouldn't be doing so, either.
        "Are there any pictures of Vivian and Ashley here in the house?" I queried after a short silence, in which she handed the picture back.
        "Umm… Yes, 'mum," she said, a bit hesitantly. "In… Miss Ashley's room."
        "Ashley's room?"
        "Yes, 'mum. Mr. Neilson he's... Well, he closed off her room," she nearly whispered, glancing around behind her, as if to make sure he wasn't close by. "I suppose that's cuz they never found her b...” She paused, clearing her throat. “I think he still holds out hope she'll return."
        "Where is her room?"
        She looked at me rather strangely. "Why… next door."
        “Next door? I thought Brandon said that was part of my mother and father's old suite?”
        “'Twas, but Miss Ashley requested those rooms after she came back from hospital. I suppose being in her old room may've been a bit too painful.” She put her glasses back in her apron pocket.
        "Thank you, Celia."
        "Yes, 'mum," she said, as she started away, then paused at the door. "May I say, 'mum.... don't let Mr. Neilson see you…” Her gaze went towards the bathroom door –the door to Ashley's room was on the other side. “He... he's rather particular 'bout anyone going in there."
        Now she was alluding to being afraid of Brandon, so I decided this was the prime time to ask about it. "When Brandon gets mad, Celia, is he…?"
        She shook her head back and forth rather rapidly, cutting me off. "No one likes to see Mr. Neilson mad. No one"
        "How come?"
        She was still shaking her head. "No, 'mum," she said, glancing down at the floor, head moving rapidly for a moment, as if shrugging off some unsavory thought. "Is there anything else I can do for ya?" she asked, changing the subject.
        I reasoned the type of behavior she was exhibiting came from years of practice at being a servant and knowing when to keep one's mouth shut. "No, thank you, Celia, you've been very helpful."
        "Yes, 'mum."
        After Celia left, a thousand different questions floated through my mind, as I picked at my dinner. Tom and Vivian? Now why had Tom given Sara a picture of Vivian and told her it was her mother? Was he merely trying to give her something, because she had lost so much? Then why not give her the truth? Or was the truth too painful? If so, too painful for who… him or her?
        After dinner Brandon came up and I hid the picture underneath my mattress. I didn't want to explain where I'd acquired it. He stayed until well after ten, never even mentioning the fact that I'd been out of the house. Evidently, he had some closed mouth servants. Or else, they just didn't like talking to him. He kissed me goodnight, but I knew -as did Sara- that he'd be back with a glass of milk. He showed up as presumed and I took a few sips before he left. Anything to get rid of him faster so I could talk to her.
When she came in, I imparted nearly everything Celia had told me. I thought she had a right to know all of it.
        "Damn, this digging up my past is something else. The hole keeps getting deeper and deeper, but so far I haven't found out anything that makes any sense. Other than the fact that he lied to me, big time," she said, running her fingers through her hair.
        "Want a diversion?" I asked.
        "Celia said that was Ashley's room over there.” I gestured towards the bathroom and the room beyond. “Wanna go in and have a look around?"
        "I don't know, get your mind off this for awhile."
        "You can take my mind off this, can't you? Besides," she said, unbuttoning the front of my pajama top. "I'll be gone all day tomorrow, the next day and maybe even Monday."
        "What? You didn't say you'd be staying that long," I whined, and stopped her on the second button.
        "Well, I can't just rush down and right back. I need to take my time and look things over. Maybe I'll find something that'll clear all this up. Maybe... he's not the same Tom Randall, I don't know."
        I sighed heavily. "I'll miss you," I reached up and touched the side of her face.
        She took my hand in hers and kissed the palm. Then she quickly got up. "Where're you going?" I demanded.
        She didn't respond, but merely walked over to the stereo and turned it on. She put a cassette tape -lying on top of the entertainment center- into the tape deck, pressed rewind and went over to the door. I heard the lock click into place. On her way back she pressed play on the tape deck. Soft romantic music, from a tape she'd made for us, filled the room.
        "You staying the night?" I asked, as she started towards me, untying her robe.
        She shook her head. "Long enough, though." She sat down again and began kissing me.
        I reached up and pressed the down button on the remote. The head of the bed descended slowly and so did she, right into my arms. And this time, she didn't run away.

Part 15

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