Disclaimers: See Part 1.
Emily wandered around the house with Abby looking for Parker the next morning, hoping to have breakfast with her before they had to head out to the airport. Her plane wasn't scheduled to leave for another three hours so they had plenty of time to eat and talk. The music coming from room beyond the kitchen led her to Parker. The dog stood in the doorway and waved a paw at her to get Emily moving.
Lying on a padded bench, the tennis player was doing bench presses. Emily admired the practiced fluidity of her movements, surprised that it took so much to play the game well. Parker was dedicated to keeping as fit as she could to prevent injuries.
"Good morning." Emily waited until the weight had put back before she spoke. It wasn't even seven in the morning and Parker was already sweating.
Parker looked up from the towel she had her face pressed into to see Emily standing in the gym in her pajamas. "Hey, did you have a good sleep?"
"Yes I did, thanks. You have a great house here, Parker, very conducive to peaceful sleeping. Are you almost done?"
"That was the last reps I'm doing today. Let me take a shower and I'll take you out for breakfast." Parker threw the towel in the hamper sitting in the corner before downing the rest of the juice she had been drinking throughout her workout.
"I want to cook for you if you don't mind me using your kitchen. Think of it as my thank you for all that you've done for me in the past couple of days. It's not much, but I would enjoy doing it for you."
"You don't mind?"
"I wouldn't have offered if I didn't want to. Go take that shower and meet me in the kitchen." Emily smiled and had a desire to hug Parker good morning, but her tall hostess hadn't made a move toward her as she headed out the door. Her thoughts stopped cold when she heard the banging on the back door. Parker stopped at the door and smiled in an effort to relax Emily. It surprised Parker that the idiot staying next door had taken this long to come over and bitch about what had happened.
"Why don't you sit and enjoy the view for a minute and let me take care of this." The wall of windows only went along the back of the gym and it faced the beach. Whoever was on the deck couldn't see in.
"You don't mind." The lost look on Emily's face was so far removed from the confident woman that had stood up to her on the plane that Parker was having time making the comparison.
"I wouldn't have offered if I didn't want to." Emily laughed at having her own words tossed back at her. "You forget I'm an expert when it comes to volley. Seriously though, I'm used to dealing with difficult women, Emily, trust me on that one. Gail is just a sore loser that needs time to cool down." Parker was trying to make Emily laugh but the opposite happened and tears sprung to the green eyes.
"I'm sorry, it's just that the last time we spoke it wasn't pretty, and I'm not ready to see Gail again so soon." Emily brought her arms up in an effort to comfort herself making the short sleeve of her top ride up enough for Parker to see her bicep.
"She didn't like the answer I gave to a question she asked," was all Emily could think to say. More tears fell down her face as she wondered how she had ended up in this situation.
"She won't hurt you, I promise." Parker moved closer and gathered the scared woman into a hug and tried her best to comfort her and make her feel better about the persistent knocker. When Emily relaxed against her, Parker whispered, "I'll be right back."
Parker could see Gail through the glass in the door. The broker looked like she had slept in the clothes she had on and there was sweat running down her face. She fell forward when Parker yanked the door open. Parker looked down on her when Gail used her taller body to steady herself. "Yes, can I help you?"
"Where's Emily?" Without the car Gail knew Emily couldn't have gone far without the help of her new friend. The tennis player just crossed her arms and stood just inside the door looking at her. "Look I just want to talk to her. We had a little falling out and I just want the chance to set it right."
"The next time I see her I'll let her know that you want to talk with her. It's her decision to make if she wants to do that so why don't you give her some space to think things out. Or at least for the bruise on her arm to fade." Parker waited to see if Gail was going to say anything else or if she was going to leave quietly. Parker wasn't worried about Emily's safety, only how she was taking this unexpected visit, it was the reason she had left Abby in the gym with her to keep her company.
"I'm not going away without a fight, Parker, just remember that. Emily's mine, and what happens between us is none of your business." Parker just slammed the door in the woman's face. Anyone that felt that way about women didn't deserve to be with one as special as Emily.
"Butt head," Parker muttered to herself. She stood in the kitchen looking out the window to make sure Gail was on her way back to the house next door. Parker had wanted more time with the pilot before she left, but having the girlfriend she had just left right next door didn't make for the best of situations. She walked back into the gym to find Emily on the floor with Abby.
"Gail wants to talk to you." Emily had such a sad look on her face that Parker stopped any other teasing comment she thought of making. "She's gone so don't worry about it, Emily. We'll put Abby out for awhile just in case so smile for me."
"I should have put a stop to this relationship a long time ago. It's my fault really, I didn't love Gail the way she was expecting me to but it just got to be something comfortable. That wasn't fair to her for me to have stayed this long, but I'm just tired of the arguing we're constantly doing." Abby rolled to his other side so Emily could rub him some more. The small blonde found him waiting for her outside her bedroom that morning, and she was coming to like him as much as his owner.
"You don't owe me any explanations. The most important thing for you is to do what's right for you. Do you have a place to stay once you get back into the city?" If Gail was capable of violence, Parker didn't want Emily anywhere near her.
"Yeah I'm staying with a friend until I find a place. Let me go and get breakfast started and you go take that shower. No, Parker, it will help me take my mind off all this stuff." Emily spoke over the objection Parker was about to make. "I don't get many vacations so I think I should get to do what I think is fun, and for me that's cooking."
"You're the boss so have at it. Abby, go outside boy." The dog put his paw over his eyes as if he knew what Parker had asked would put an end to his massage. Both Emily and Parker laughed at the ham's antics getting him to move from his spot next to Emily.
Parker slipped on a robe when she heard Emily calling her to breakfast after she had finished with her shower. Her guest did indeed know her way around the kitchen Parker could see when she sat down to a wonderful omelet, toast and hash browns. To make Parker happy, Emily had made hot chocolate instead of coffee smiling when the blue eyes rolled at how good it was.
"What is it about you and hot chocolate?" Emily held her own mug of the hot brew watching the cloud that marred Parker's face for a moment. Parker looked like she reliving a nightmare and Emily was about to tell her it was all right not to answer, but Parker surprised her by telling her something very personal.
"When I was little it was the happiest memory I have of my father. We would be the first ones up and he would stand at the stove and make us each a cup of the stuff. Not the mix either, my dad shaved chocolate and stirred it in slowly with sugar until it was just right. Over the years it became our ritual every morning, sitting at the table and discussing all kinds of different things. Then at around sixteen or seventeen he found out that I was like Gray and Kimmie and he stopped talking to me all together. I would wait for him before I had to leave for practice, but he wouldn't step out of his bedroom until I had left. Maybe it was all for the best since when we did talk all we could do was scream at each other." Emily reached across the table and put her hand over Parker's. It seemed absurd to her that people who were so rigid and bigoted had children.
"I'm sorry for asking, Parker."
"It's all right. All those cups I had as a kid just make me love the stuff. My parents may not accept me now, but drinking hot chocolate reminds me of a time they did." The big smile Emily had seen on television a million times when she watched Parker play was being aimed at her from across the table. Things could have been better in her life, but Emily was grateful that her parents had accepted her choices without censor. They just wanted her to be happy and find someone that would share her life.
"You're a wonderful person, Parker, and in time your parents will come to realize that. I've only known you a couple of days and I have at least that part figured out." Parker turned her hand over and squeezed Emily's fingers. She was glad that she had offered the pretty blonde a place to stay the night. Emily would leave in little over an hour and she would in all likelihood never see her again, but she was still glad she had done it.
Parker packed all of Emily's bags into the trunk of the car after Emily had gotten dressed. She saluted the pilot when she came out of the room in her uniform getting a slap on the arm for her trouble. When they pulled out, neither of them saw the disheveled woman sitting on one of the dunes that separated the houses. It wasn't noon yet, but Gail held a glass of scotch in one hand and the scrap of paper she had found on the beach the day before in the other. She had just known that Parker was lying about Emily and seeing her girlfriend in the car just proved that.
"You can't say that I didn't warn you, Parker King."
Emily was in line for take off behind five other jets, so her thoughts turned to the last two days of her life. She had left Gail and met Parker; the latter made her smile. Parker had dropped her off at the airport and insisted on parking and walking her in. It was incredible how many people on the way to her gate recognized the tennis star walking with her.
At her gate Parker had handed over her bag and a card with all her numbers on it. Before their last good bye a woman had come over with her young daughter and asked Parker if she would take a picture with the girl. Parker handed the camera to Emily and posed with both mother and child. Emily almost teased the two that she was going to have to back up to fit their smiles in the frame.
Like the night before Parker kissed her gently on the lips then turned and walked away. Emily would go back to her flight schedule and Parker to her grueling practice schedule to prepare for New York and the Open. The voice from the control tower spoke in her ear and they were cleared for take off.
"Goodbye, Parker." Her copilot looked at her to see if she had said something but Emily was focused on getting the jet off the ground. Emily was sure that in the next two months Parker would forget her and move on to someone else. From the ground Parker watched the jet take flight as the same thought went through her head about Emily.
"You are ready, Boris. I think the other women at this tournament, they are in big trouble," said Natasha after their practice one day. Parker had used the month to work on all of her shots and to improve her stamina through workouts. Gary had planned for the higher than normal heat factor in New York that summer through extra running time.
"Thanks, Natasha, I'm feeling good and looking forward to playing. You promise you'll come up to practice with me?" Parker wiped her face off and packed her rackets after her last practice at home. They were taking the next couple of days off to take care of last minute stuff before heading to New York. Abby was staying with Nick for the next couple of weeks until her friend flew up to meet her and Gary in the city.
"I wouldn't miss it especially since Gray will be there. If I can't have you, my friend, then I will make a play for that sister of yours." With careful planning both of Parker's sisters would be there for most of the play. "If I'm lucky then I will get to compare her ass to the billboard of yours you did a while back."
"Please don't remind me of that. I'll put in a good word for you and I'll see you in two weeks. Gary set up some playing time for us once you arrive." Natasha kissed both of Parker's cheeks before leaving promising she would call once she arrived in New York.
Four days later the tennis player and coach arrived in New York and checked into the Renaissance Hotel. After they registered and unpacked the couple headed to the Stage Deli for sandwiches and a slice of cheesecake. It was their first indulgence after settling in.
The next day Parker walked over to Central Park for an early morning run. As she took time to stretch she couldn't help but notice the woman that was staring at her as she went through her own stretching routine. The letters threatening her life has started coming more regularly and Parker found herself looking around for threats whenever she was out alone. There had been more than enough arguments between Gary and her on the subject, but she refused to bend to what he and Nick wanted. If she started living her life in fear or altered the way she went about her routines, the idiots sending the mail would start to win in her opinion.
"I'm sorry to stare but I just wanted to say good luck." The blonde woman broke her silent staring and addressed Parker. When she straightened out Parker noticed that the woman equaled her in height.
"Thanks, I appreciate it." Before they could get into an in depth conversation Parker put the earpieces to her radio in place and started down the path. It was at this time of the morning that she missed the tranquility of the beach.
The next two weeks was like in any tournament Parker played in, the toughest. The waiting to play was the one thing she had never gotten used to, but it was she attributed to the fast starts that marked her style of play. There was one thing that was biting into that boredom this time though, and that was whether she would try to find Emily or not. The pilot hadn't called all summer and Parker was trying to figure out why that was. Had Emily moved on, or gone back to Gail? Even if she had, Parker felt the woman had owed her at least one phone call.
Parker finished her run then put in two hours of practice on the court. Gary found her in her room sitting by the window reading a book a few hours after they had gotten back. He hated to disturb the boxer and t-shirt clad player, but it was time Parker got out of her funk.
"Want to go out tonight?" He took the chair across from her after knocking her feet to the ground.
"Aren't you supposed to keep me indoors eating healthy foods and drinking distilled water, or something along those lines?" Gary laughed at the arched eyebrow aimed in his direction. "Not surely to lead me astray in the big city?"
"I was thinking dinner, Parker, not a night of picking up hookers."
"I don't know, a hooker can be a new bonding experience for us. I promise not to tell Nick anything."
"No thanks, how about dinner at Gotham instead? I got us an eight o'clock reservation." He laughed as he poked her with his foot over the hooker comment.
"How pray tell did you manage that, Coach Gary?" The book in her hand snapped closed so that she could give him her full attention.
"That's easy, I made the reservation in your name. It comes in handy for me to know the tennis god so well. Come on, you've looked a little flat lately so this might be fun. We can get dressed up and hit the town." Gary gave her his best pleading look.
"Sure, what could happen?"
The cab dropped them off in front of the restaurant fifteen minutes early so they had to wait in the restaurant bar until their table was ready. Sprinkled throughout the eatery were enough celebrities to take the pressure off Parker, so she was looking forward to trying the much talked about restaurant.
"Welcome, Ms. King, and thank you for joining us this evening. If you and your companion are ready please follow me." The hostess led them to a table almost at the center of the restaurant. A few people nodded their heads in Parker's direction but otherwise left her alone to enjoy her evening.
Parker took the chair facing the door and accepted her menu from the waiter. When she glanced up she noticed the same woman from the park that first morning, only now the woman was wearing a light summer suit and her hair was pulled into a bun at her neck. The fan stepped into the bar and sat at one of the stools as if waiting for someone by the way she was looking at her watch.
"What are the chances of seeing the same person twice in a city the size of New York in different locations?" asked Parker. She put her menu down and reached for the wine list while Gary turned around to see who she was talking about. "The Opus One, please." The waiter nodded and left to retrieve her selection.
"Who are you talking about?" Gary turned almost completely in his chair to get a better view of the patrons seated around them. Parker was about to complement him on his superb table manners when a group of people walked through the front door. Two she recognized right off.
"Holy shit, what in the hell was I thinking when I asked what could happen? I should have stayed in and finished the chapter I was reading."
"What?" Gary did another quick visual inventory stopping on one woman surrounded by an entourage.
"Holy shit," was all he could think to add to the moment. If I had this kind of luck for the lottery, I could retire from coaching, thought Gary as he continued to stare towards the entrance.
Emily stood off to the side in her pilot's uniform watching as the staff fell all over the pop sensation Alicia and the group that had come in with her. She spotted Bobbie in the bar and walked over to meet her. The tall blonde she was living with wrapped Emily in a hug and kissed her hello.
"How was your trip over from the airport?"
"Not too bad, it was a slow traffic night. It seems more crowed in here than on the street." Emily took in the happenings of the restaurant from the circle of Bobbie's arms. The touching greeting wasn't missed by the blue eyes at the center table, it was the main reason Parker missed Alicia's spotting her sitting with Gary.
"Ah, poor baby," the tall blonde said kissing the Emily again.
"Park, heads up, man." The waiter had just poured their glasses of wine after Parker had told him the bottle was fine giving Alicia ample ammunition. Parker turned her eyes from the second kiss exchanged at the bar to see the irate singer standing next to her.
"The fucking least you could have done was to blow me off yourself, asshole, not have your flunky do it." When she wiped the Merlot from her face she couldn't help but think how good it tasted. If the first glass Alicia had thrown made Parker think that, Gary's glass only confirmed it for her. The restaurant manager was the only thing that prevented the scorned woman from dumping the rest of the bottle in Parker's lap.
"How about Chinese to go with all this good wine?" Parker wiped her face again and asked the question as calmly as possible. Gary couldn't help but laugh as Parker's white shirt stuck to her collar.
"Sounds like a doable plan, Parker, let's go." Gary threw two hundred dollar bills on the table and they got up to leave. The manager wanted to give him his money back, but they insisted on paying. It wasn't the restaurant's fault that Alicia had exacted her pound of flesh.
Emily almost pushed Bobbie down to get to Parker before they left. The tennis player had not looked in her direction and Emily was surprised into inaction for a moment when she saw that Parker was with Gary instead of with a date. For weeks she had convinced herself that Parker had moved on and had tried her best to try and deal with the fact their little summer fling was just that. One nice evening that would turn into nothing.
There was a couple getting out of a cab when they walked out and Gary held the door for Parker. He saw the person run out of the shadows when he turned around to tell Parker to hurry. The distance between them prevented him from doing anything but watch helplessly, but the shocked look on his face made Parker turn.
A dark blue ski mask covered his face but the large hunting knife in his hand was very visible. All she heard before the pain bloomed was, "Death to those who go against God."
Parker held the assailant's hand with the knife in it by the wrist, it was the only reason it prevented the wicked looking blade from going in all the way and causing more severe damage. From where Gary stood he could see the red stain commingling with the purple of the wine on Parker's shirt and jacket. Before he could get his feet to move the attacker ran back into the alleyway and out of sight.
The cut was almost in the middle of her chest as if the guy with the knife was aiming for her heart and it was deep enough that blood ran through the fingers of Parker's hand she had pressed to her chest. The inane thought of not being anemic crossed Parker's mind as she saw how dark her blood was against the white of her shirt.
"I'm thinking maybe some tapioca pudding from the hospital is in order, Gary. And take a note down for me as a reminder, to never accept a dinner invitation from you again. You are like a walking magnet for disaster when it comes to me and women," teased Parker.
Her voice shocked Gary into moving and helping Parker into the cab. Emily walked out just in time to see Parker's grimace as she bent to get into the vehicle; the blood covering her hand was visible to her in the light outside the restaurant. The tennis player and her manager never saw Emily, as she stood frozen in the entrance to the restaurant.
"It's not fatal, that's the good news. The bad news is that I'm going to have to put in a minimum of six stitches to close the cut." The emergency room doctor had cleaned the wound and was in the process of deadening the area before he started his suturing as he gave them his diagnosis. He was still giving thanks to any deity that happened to be listening for being at the desk when Gary walked in with a pale Parker.
"Will it affect my play?" asked Parker.
"Well, Ms. King, I wouldn't recommend playing at least until these come out."
"You are kidding right? I haven't busted my ass all summer to watch the U.S. Open from my hotel room." Parker was about to get up and walk out in search of another hospital if the guy's answers didn't change.
"No, one pull from playing tennis and these babies I'm about to put in could rip. I would advise against playing until you are healed."
"Parker, could you just lie there until the nice doctor is finished? The tournament isn't for another two weeks, we'll be fine." Gary was busy studying the bulletin board in the room in an effort to keep his eyes off Parker's bloody chest, and the wicked looking slice running along her ribcage on her left side. The police had been called, but without a description of the attacker they were at a loss as to were to begin.
"These are going to take longer than that to come out," the doctor added as he probed the area with his fingers trying to decide if it was all right to proceed.
"Just start sewing and let's get this over with." Parker wasn't about to argue her playing capabilities with some guy she had just met who looked like the ink on his diploma was still wet.
"I really enjoyed your play at Wimbledon this year." The ER doctor started suturing when the local he had administered had taken effect. The last person he had expected to see during his shift was Parker King.
"Doc, don't take this the wrong way ok, but more suturing and less talking would be good. I appreciate what you said but I really would like to go back to my room and lie down. Religious zealots with large knives do that to me, so please forgive me if I'm being rude." Parker just watched after that as the young attendant placed ten small neat stitches in her chest. She had put the attack out of her mind as she buttoned her stained shirt back up and concentrated instead on seeing Emily again.
Small world indeed, Captain. What were the odds of sharing her morning run with the woman Emily was now sleeping with? Parker's gracious acceptance of the woman's good wishes that morning was polite, but did not invite any further invitation for a long conversation. She wondered now if the knowledge she had now would have changed that since she had felt the tall blonde's presence running just behind her for almost the two hours she was out there. I wonder if Emily told her that she knows me? Parker figured they were having a good laugh at her expense now.
"What, I'm sorry?" Parker finished dressing and looked up to a worried Gary.
"Are you ready?"
"Yeah, let's go. Doc, thanks for the great service. If you need tickets just let Gary know and he'll set you up," said Parker shaking hands the man and signing a few autographs for the nurses before leaving.
The next morning Parker woke up with a throbbing pain in her chest and someone banging on the door of her room. "Gary, we are going to have to talk about these accommodations, man." Parker grumbled to herself as she got up and opened the drapes so she could find her robe. With an impatient yank, she opened the door pulling her stitches a bit. "What?"
"You royal bitch." More than one guest was standing at their door so they could watch Alicia scream at Parker having been awakened by the pounding. The tennis player smiled and waved to one young woman standing at her door in just a t-shirt and a smile of her own.
"To what do I owe this pleasure to this morning, sweetheart?"
"Don't sweetheart me, you bitch, how could you?" Alicia slammed the tabloid she had rolled up into Parker's chest before walking passed her into the room. "Oh my God, I'm sorry, Park." The small singer went back to help Parker back into the room since she was doubled over in pain. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, but if you insist on hitting me any more this morning, I will be forced to ask you to leave." Parker leaned on her former lover and walked over to the chairs by the windows. She could understand why the woman was upset with her, but after the wine incident from the night before Parker thought the temperamental artist had gotten it out of her system.
"Come on, Park, you know I didn't mean it but I saw that trash this morning and I was upset." The news rag Alicia had brought with her was lying unforgotten by the door. Alicia went over and picked it up handing it to Parker. When she unfurled it, Parker felt like she had been hit for the second time that day.
The headlines read 'Lovers' Quarrel Lands Player in Hospital and Singer in Jail.' The picture underneath it was of Parker and Gary leaving the ER the night before. The photographer had gotten a great shot of her wine and blood stained clothes as they stepped through the door of the emergency department.
"Come on, sweetheart, people aren't going to believe this garbage." Parker smiled and held her hand out to Alicia. She let out a small chuckle when all Alicia did was cross her arms over her chest and tap her foot.
"I am many things, Parker King, but easy isn't one of them." Despite her words, Alicia moved closer to Parker but stayed out of reach.
"I don't think you're easy, just like I don't think you are a rabid ex-lover who stabbed me." Parker held her hand out again and this time Alicia took her up on the invitation. She sat in Parker's lap getting reacquainted with how great Parker felt.
"You hurt my feelings."
"I'm sorry. You're right, I'm a bitch. I was heading home for the summer and I figured that's not how you wanted to spend yours so I bailed. I'm just a tennis bum with a couple of good years left if I'm lucky, while you have years in the limelight. This was my way of helping you out."
Alicia let out a laugh of her own for the lame explanation before standing up and pulling the tie of Parker's robe open. She dropped to her knees and placed a gentle kiss on the swollen patch of skin that was help together by the black stitches. As her hands caressed the long legs at her sides, Alicia asked, "You know something, Parker?"
"You're so full of shit." Alicia leaned forward again and bit down on an inviting nipple. She sucked at it until she heard Parker moan. "You know something else?"
It took Parker a moment to pick up the pieces of her brain that formed coherent speech before she could answer. She was betting that every guy and gay woman that had seen Alicia on stage would give their right arm to trade places with her right now. "What?"
"I happen to find that an adorable trait in you." Slowly Alicia rose from her knees and stood before a now aroused Parker. "You like what you see?" Parker nodded her head as Alicia raised her arms over her head and waited. This was the part where the beautiful scorned woman usually said 'too bad' and walked out she was guessing. Alicia surprised her by stripping off the tight pullover she had on followed by the jeans. With the slow sexy walk that drove her fans into a frenzy when she did it in her show, Alicia moved to the bed and laid down. "Then come on over here and see how much better it feels."
Parker hesitated. She wanted nothing more than to make Alicia happy, but it was only sex. Do I want to continue to go after relationships I know won't last? She liked Alicia but there was no chance for love. Alicia saw the uncertainty that clouded Parker's face and helped her out.
"No strings attached, lover, none at all. Call it pity sex since you're hurt."
"It's the least you can do since you stabbed me and all." Parker threw the paper toward the bed getting Alicia to laugh. When she got up and dropped the robe, Alicia sighed.
"You're a bitch, but goddamn if you aren't the best looking one I've ever laid eyes on." The wetness between the singer's legs doubled when she felt Parker's skin cover her own when the tennis player laid down and covered her. I'll make it harder to walk away this time, Parker. Alicia couldn't believe how much she had missed this with Parker.
She had spent her summer moping through Europe until they finished the tour. This was the first thing on her to do list and it was working out perfectly. If getting Parker back into her life was as easy as getting her back into her bed, Alicia was planning on a ring for Christmas. It was the last thing that flew through her mind as Parker put her hands to good use.
Continued in Chapter 5
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