Copyright (c) December 2000
See Part I for disclaimers.
Chapter XIV: Abbie's
It's been three days, and thank God the hospital never called. Gert's been getting
a little better each day and has been asking me how many shares of Disney I want.
I know she's feeling better. Sly's been staying with me for the past three nights,
and they have been the happiest and most torturous in my life. She makes me laugh
one minute and the next she makes me quiver with just a look, a smile, or a gentle
touch. Simply, Sly throws me totally off kilter. Totally. I don't know if that
is good or bad. All I know is that it's happening.
She reads to me and I to her. We've gone through one and a half Scappatone books.
Her voice mesmerizes me with its throaty, deep timbre. She ended up reading mostly
to me while sitting on the floor leaning between my splayed legs. That only added
to the torture. Believe me.
Religiously, Sly walks me to work. I feel protected from the shadows the casino
lights hide, from the twenties crowd of men, heading to the strip bars, who get
a little too boisterous sometimes. Like some dark swathed hero, she hovers over
me, stands beside me, refracting the dark she is so fond of and giving me a little
light. It's what I need. She's what I need. I have no problem admitting that now.
I don't give a damn about the stares we receive. Two women holding hands has become
natural to me.
Lola has been off the past couple of days. I miss her, but knowing Sly is sleeping
in my room has helped the past couple of nights fly by in a pleasant haze. When
I get off work and see her standing outside waiting for me with the waking sun
at her back, my heart does a flip-flop. She stands there tall and defiant, wearing
just about the same clothes everyday, a sweatshirt or t-shirt, well-worn jeans,
and that black coat. I don't care about that. I wash them for her, and I know
who she is under it all.
I have shifted my schedule at the Mission, allowing me to come in later. Stevie
and Pauly meet us at my building, and I take them up to my room to feed them some
of my meagre supply of Ramen noodles and mac and cheese. I wash their clothes
too. Got them as clean as I could in case security decided to hassle us again,
but we'll be ready for them this time.
I don't care that the other tenants gawk at the sight. They act as if they haven't
seen people before. That is who they are, people, who have become like a family
to me. After eating, we all walk to the hospital to spend a couple hours with
Gert. I hope she gets used to seeing me. I'm going to be around a lot. By the
time we usually leave the hospital, it is lunchtime, and we all make our way to
the Mission. I put my apron on, and they get in line for food. When I finally
get to sit down, Stevie and Pauly are gone, along with the rest of the crowd,
leaving Sly and me alone. It has been our routine for the past few days.
When we get back to the apartment, if she doesn't read till I'm asleep we talk
about everything and nothing until I get too tired. I have to sleep sometime before
work. Sly isn't shy when we talk. She is as bold as they come. I think I learned
that when we first met, but the notion is solidified now. With one question she
has the ability to ask me who, why, and how. One conversation stands out among
"What are you
doing here?" She asked me as if I was some ghost that could disappear at any
I smiled cryptically and replied, "I came from nowhere to nowhere."
Her gaze was long and intense before she whispered, "I know what you mean."
It is when the conversation started in earnest, and I opened up like a well-worn
"Grew up in the Midwest-Indiana, but I already told you that. My parents died
within a year of each other when I was kinda young, and my relatives didn't
want some teenager they hardly knew. So, I became a ward of the state. Foster
parents meant nothing to me. It wasn't that they were not good people. It was
impossible for me to feel that way again without ripping myself to shreds when
Her larger hand slipped around mine, swallowing it, and she leaned back against
my thigh allowing dark hair to brush against me like silk. It was fast becoming
her favorite place and mine. Her head was pillowed against me, angled upward,
and I could feel blue eyes studying me. Still, I expected to feel some twinge
of pain from going down memory lane but there was hardly none, only a sadness
concerning days gone by.
Flustered, but trying hard not to show it, I pushed on. "They didn't have much,
and I didn't want to take it so I worked for everything." Her hand squeezed
mine as if apologizing for my plight. "Grades weren't good enough to do anything
with. It was by word of mouth that I ended up here, from nowhere to nowhere."
I looked down to see her face full of sadness, and at that moment, I didn't
know who it was for. Unable to help myself, I reached down and brushed sable
bangs away from her forehead, where I longed to plant a kiss. I didn't, but
I'm almost sure that my eyes told her that I wanted to because hers darkened
and sparkled with secret knowledge. When she spoke again, her voice was thick,
"I take it you were close?"
I nodded and smiled grimly. "Yeah, we were. Everybody took a back seat to them.
My dad died suddenly from a heart attack, and I guess my mom just didn't want
to stay here without him. I couldn't even hold her here. When he died, all the
laughing, playing, and all the good times went with him. It was hard on both
of us. But, after losing her, I just couldn't invest that much feeling into
anybody or anything else." Somehow, my hands found their way through thick tresses,
smoothing them and messaging her scalp at the same time. While she is not the
shy one, I know that I can sometimes be, especially when emotions are involved.
It hit me right there and then, making the words come out in an ungraceful squeak.
"Until the mission. Until. . . you." I felt a flush redden my face.
Open book? Yeah, it was all laid bare for her to see. In a few words, I wanted
her to know she made me see again, feel again, and be again. Her eyes locked
with mine, and she brought my hand to her mouth, kissing the open palm. Her
mouth was moist, warm, making me shiver. Her words were simple, but her eyes---her
eyes told a different story.
"I know what you mean," she said again, huskily, but her eyes whispered, "Thank
you for seeing me, understanding me, and being with me." Cobalt orbs held all
the things that weren't easy to relate. I couldn't look away, so I just sank
in, treading deep water easily. Then, she spoke with a voice thick with emotion,
"You're lucky to have what you did and to be able to hold on to that memory.
I had everything and nothing at the same time. Rich parents who gave me everything
and wanted me to be their picture perfect trophy in return. They didn't want
me to feel or to act, only to do their biding. I did for a long time, and I
got everything money could buy in return, including cars, clothes, and Princeton".
"The only thing I didn't get or hear was, "I love you, Sloane." And that one
thing seemed like everything when you're young and not sure who your friends
are. When I told them who I really was, they called me every pervert in the
book. I found out real quick who my friends were, who cared about me. It wasn't
them. One of the first things out of their mouths was a conversation between
them on damage control."
Her chuckle was derisive and caused me to cringe. It was my turn to do the squeezing.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When they opened again, there was
calm where there was rising storm before. "I shouldn't let it get to me anymore,
but it's hard when your parents treat you like you're dead. They never called
or showed when I got arrested. It was all over the papers. They should have
known. Part of me wanted to go to them and renounce my lifestyle to get a little
piece of my dignity and the pie back. It only took me a few minutes to realize
that I would completely abandon what dignity I had left if I went back. So,
here I am."
She lifted her free arm, spreading it wide in a sweeping gesture. "I still only
have that little piece left. It's the only thing I do have besides the friends
I tried to hide the disappointment in my eyes. Was I just a friend to her still
or something much more? I couldn't hide for long. I could feel her eyes boring
into the top of my bent head. She whispered my name reverently like it was some
sacred word only known between us. My insides melted as I looked up. The hand
that wasn't holding mine reached up to caress my cheek. I leaned into it, and
this time hid behind eyelids to conceal the longing to feel the fingertips brush
over my lips and neck. Part of my heart was ramming against my chest while the
other part shined in my eyes.
Sly wouldn't let me hide there either. "Little bit, look at me." I opened my
eyes again and could only guess at what was in them. I heard her gasp, and my
heart pounded harder.
"What are you feeling?" She murmured, hoarsely. I gazed down into eyes that
must have been as dark and glittering as my own at that moment. I opened my
mouth to speak and got one of my wishes. Deft fingers traced my lower lip gently.
I swallowed the whimper, but could not contain the ragged breaths. "So. . .
much. I can't think." Like I said before, off kilter, totally so. After a few
seconds of almost total quiet, Sly's fingers traveled to my chin, caressing
the rounded tip. "I know. I feel it too."
I swallowed then watched her do it in turn. "Sly, I-"
"Shhh, do you know what you are to me, Abbie?" She didn't wait for me to reply.
"Something I've never had before. Something I've been looking for, and something
I didn't think I could have." She paused and sniffed. "I wanted to tell you
that the other day, but was afraid it wouldn't come out right."
I didn't know what else to say with her eyes and hands touching me like that.
Instinct must have taken over. "You can have me." When I heard the words come
out of my mouth, I knew I meant it. It was the right thing to say too because
her face lit up like a child on Christmas morning, knowing he or she had received
the grandest of all presents. The look said it all.
Me and this woman are kindred spirits. We both know enormous pain with different
causes, but pain is pain. Together, I think we're trying to heal ourselves. I
would give everything to this woman because somehow I know that I would get that
and more in return. I knew right then that I was losing my heart to her, and it's
a part of me that I'm more than glad to lose.
Today hasn't deviated from our now established routine that's why I can't believe
I'm thinking about this right now, while I am, of all places, at the Mission.
Despite what I felt at first, I have come to learn that every person that comes
through the food line needs to be noticed, and usually, I am more than obliged
to do so. They need to know someone cares and respects them, but as I use the
scoop to pile mashed potatoes on Jeanie's (I think that's her name) plate, I can
feel Sly's eyes on me from across the room. I don't even have to look up. They
have been on me since we got here, and I think that I have been spaced out for
just as long, making it a good thing the line has thinned out. I can feel all
these emotions boiling inside me because of her, thanks to her, but for the past
few days, I've been feeling like I'm about to explode. To regain some sort of
equilibrium, I turn away and wipe fidgety hands on my apron.
I watch as Mike steps back from his post down by the meats to come see about me.
His face is drawn in concern. I don't know what I've done to make him think that
I am interested in him. All I do is smile. Even though he has seen me leave with
Sly numerous times, he has tried to give me a ride home or go out on a date. It
has sorta been that way from the first day I came here, but it kinda ended up
on the back burner with all the things going on with Sly. I've tried to ignore
it, and I guess that's what I'll continue to do because he hasn't really harassed
me. He doesn't seem like the stalker type after all. Still, today, his timing
is perfect. Sometimes this uncontrolled feeling I get around Sly is overwhelming.
Mike brings me back to earth quickly.
I feel his hand on my shoulder, but I step back from it. "You okay, Abbie? No
one's bothering you are they?" He asks.
He reaches for my arm, and I pull it away hastily. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just flustered
He smiles and adds, "Well why don't you let me take you out to lunch then? All
work and no play. . ."
I give him a tight smile before responding, "Nah, not hungry." The sound of someone
clearing their throat behind us makes me turn around. I guess the line wasn't
that thin after all. I smile genuinely this time and push the bangs away from
my forehead with my other hand before scooping potatoes on his plate. The frail
looking old white man gives me a toothless grin. I haven't seen him before, so
he must be new and there is nothing prestigious about being a new member of the
Within the few weeks I've been here, I've noticed a contradiction in what the
media portrays as the homeless and what I've seen so far. On TV, they show them
as elderly and minorities. That's not at all what I've seen. They've mostly been
my age, white, and sometimes younger. Everyone else is few and far between. But,
I imagine AC is a small sample. Yeah, right. Still, maybe we shouldn't believe
everything we see? It's just a thought.
Coming back to things at hand, my smile widens, "You're new here aren't you?"
He nods his head in a wide arc up and down and scratches under his beard. When
he lifts his head, I get a clear view of things that are growing or what has gotten
stuck in his facial hair. It is simply a tragedy for someone to have to live like
this. I hope my face doesn't show pity. It's not a popular emotion around here,
and I can understand why. Pity is for the weak, and these people are among the
strongest I have ever seen. They have to be to survive. By this time his grin
has become a full smile. "Yep, yep, I caught a bus outta Philly was lucky enough
to save nuff change. Name's Curtis," he finally says and sticks out his hand for
me to shake. I take it without hesitation.
That's another concept that's not welcome around here. It translates to second
guesses and afterthoughts of fear and disgust to the people around here. Still,
I can't help but think that maybe Curtis should have stayed in Philly. Anyplace
has got to be better than here. "I'm Abbie, one of the volunteers. You'll be seeing
me around." We chatted for a few more minutes. I guess Mike found better things
to do because he's not standing behind me anymore. I've come back to the ground
with a thump thanks to him and Curtis. Unfortunately or fortunately, I end up
glancing upward toward the right and see pale, amused blue eyes riveted on me.
I'm soaring again.
Chapter XV: Sly's Eyes
I don't know what this food tastes like because my senses are otherwise engaged.
It seems that way anyway. I can't take my eyes off her. If this is some kind of
new disorder or disease, they need to put my picture next to its definition because
I have it, and I don't want to get rid of it anytime soon. Abbie is beautiful,
and she has no idea. I think this is one way my subconscious has chosen to tell
her. The other way is the little touches.
She is the picture of strength just standing there. Abbie has changed so much,
and I don't think she even knew that strength was there. I'm glad she found it.
It has changed a scared little woman into someone remarkable. Her eyes are open
to all of us now, not just me, and the people around her respect her for it. Stevie
and Pauly haven't been able to stop talking about her. They even have the audacity
to snicker like schoolgirls when they catch me staring. You see what I have to
put up with?
Anyway, the past few days have been like a whirlwind of ups and downs. There is
the thing with Gert. The doc says she is progressing slowly but surely, but I,
for one, have never seen her look so frail and vulnerable. Abbie has been a lifesaver
during all of this. Somehow she keeps my head up with just a word. I think she
does that with the guys too. They really like her, and so do I. Abbie has done
things for us that no normal person would even consider doing. She let Pauly and
Stevie come up to her room.
They looked at her in surprise, but I could only look at her with pride in my
eyes. They stink to high heaven, and they are loud. I can say this about them
'cause I love them, but she had them sitting on her furniture as if they were
the prissiest of guest. Unbelievable. This woman is totally unbelievable. She's
is fast becoming the glue holding us all together. Thank God that I have her that
we have her. I promised myself not to let anything, including me, come between
us again. So far so good.
I watch her smile and sometimes laugh at and with each person that stops in front
of her. Her nose crinkles in that little way I like, but I can't wait until they
all leave so I can see that special smile she saves for me. I know Abbie can feel
me staring. It's all in the way she refuses to look over here. It's kinda nice
to know that I can totally discombobulate somebody. I love the way she blushes,
and I wonder does she know that I catch that little hitch in her breathing when
I touch her?
I see Mike make his way over to her when she turns around, and I can't help but
roll my eyes. He's been sniffing around her for a while now, but he's a good,
totally harmless kid. There's nothing to worry about. I am more worried as Pauly
decides to shove me, hard, but I hear his guffaws as Stevie and him point toward
the food line. "Look there, Sly. You got some com-pi-tition!"
"Sho do. That lil white boy gone snatch her up!" Stevie adds with a laugh. I turn
to them with the intention of giving them "the look" before I remember that it
doesn't work anymore. They laugh harder. A little imp starts to play around in
my head. I let it. With a evil smile, I ask them, "Say, how do you think all that
food would look on your nice clean clothes? I'm curious to know. How about you?"
The glare at me in surprise and simultaneously scoot their chairs away a few inches.
It's my turn to laugh now. I give them a triumphant grin when Abbie turns away
from Mike, leaving him flailing. Maybe somebody needs to have a chat with him
I go back to my favorite pastime. There are others, but the big ones are sleeping
next to Abbie and reading to her. I haven't awakened with anybody holding me in
a long time. In fact, I don't think I ever have. The feeling of safety and security
shot straight through me. I'll never for get that first night. She has shown and
told me so much of herself, but I feel lacking in that category. It's nothing
but fear that's keeping me from showing her what she needs to see. I fear that
she'll be disgusted by the way I live. I fear that she'll see that it's too much
Something in the back of mind keeps reminding me that she sees the real me. She
sees beyond all of it, but I am only human and with that frailty comes insecurity.
I swallow as I realise that she needs to know, needs to see. It's a test we both
have to go through, and I have to have faith that we'll pass. Tonight, it has
to be tonight while I have the courage. I'll come get her for work a little early.
Unless, she lets me stay. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to.
Being near her is an addiction that I admit to having, and I'll take it anyway
I can get it. I smile at that, and I can't help it. I'm pathetic, acting like
a teenager with a crush. That's when I catch her, Abbie finally looks my way and
I can see her chest heave from here. I know how she feels. I don't think I've
breathed once since I sat down. Her eyes hold mine, and I see everything from
her struggle for control to her acknowledgement of the pull between us. God, I
want to go to her, and. . .ah, hell and do I don't know what. I can tell you this
much. It's getting harder and harder not to really touch her. The only thing that's
keeping me at bay is the belief that she's not ready, and something tells me that
once I start my heart won't be mine anymore. That's a laugh really because part
of it is hers already.
"You can have me."
When Abbie said it, I knew it was the truth, but I have to be so careful. Her
heart needs to be handled with kit gloves and tenderness. She doesn't deserve
any less, only a lot more, which is something I've never given-- more of myself.
I think I can give it to her, I mean, because she makes it so easy. These feelings
are new to both of us, and I pray we go in the right direction.
Our gazes are still locked, and I can see her hands shake from here, along with
the flush that covers her face. Abbie tries to hide her shakiness in the way she
bunches the purple apron, but I see it just fine. Her lips are partially open,
and I watch as she moistens them with her tongue. A liquid warmth starts in my
belly, and it's my turn to be flustered. The sudden heat in my cheeks doesn't
match the one in my stomach, but it is close enough. The need to go to her is
compelling now, and I procure a white knuckled grip around the fork that has been
sticking into the mystery meat for some time.
It's only another hard shove from Pauly that snaps me out of it. I ignore their
chuckles, as they finally get up to leave, to glance back up. She is looking down
at something that is no doubt interesting, growing in the potatoes. Whatever it
is, it has her total attention, but I can still see her chest heaving. Those potatoes
have got nothing on me.
People are starting to leave now, and they are taking down the food bins. I can't
wait to see my special smile.
Chapter XVI: Smiling, Laughing,
I'm glad I don't work with Sly. Those blue eyes would be my undoing, and I would
never get any work done. I need to clean off the tables before I sit down, and
I can feel those eyes on me like cool fire. Good thing there are still a few people
left in here putting up food. I think that is what's keeping me from dissolving
into giggles. She's been 'pssting' at me for the past ten minutes. I wait until
the last person leaves before sitting down at her table. She's lounging there
like some lazy cat with her legs stretched out in the chair across from her.
Sly's grin is big and infectious, and I can't help but return it. A large hand
reaches out to touch my nose that I can feel scrunching. Then, long fingers caress
the slight lines around my smile. Blue eyes are studying my face as if committing
it to memory. I love it when she touches me. Each caress is getting bolder and
longer. I wonder if she's aware of this? I wrap my smaller hand around her wrist
and lean into the touch. A flush covers her cheeks before she pulls away slowly.
She is the first to speak. "Hey, saw you up there." She jerks her head toward
the now disbanded food line.
My smile gets bigger because I know her eyes hardly ever left me. I nod and say,
"I noticed that."
Silver blue eyes widened and her flush went up a notch. "Uh, you don't mind? I
can't help it."
She looks almost childlike with the admission, and I can't help but be truthful.
"No, I like it. It's just sometimes I can't breath when you do it." I reach out
and take her hand for emphasis.
Sly smirks as if I've told her something she already knew. "Mmm, good to know."
That would be arrogance on anybody else, but it's just all part of Sly.
"Mike likes you, not that I blame him. I like you too."
Whoa, that was a total three sixty. I bet my confusion is showing. Is she jealous?
I bite my lip to keep from grinning.
She holds up a hand and moves it emphatically. "I mean, I'm not jealous or anything.
Just making an observation."
The grin comes anyway, and I squeeze her hand. "Uh-huh, well, I think he's harmless."
Sly purses her lips and shrugs broad shoulders. "If you think so."
I lean in a little closer and reach out with my free hand to wound a thick, dark,
strand around my finger. "I like you too." I watch as that smirk comes back---the
one where the left side of her mouth lifts crookedly and her eyes sparkle. Why
do I get the feeling she knows all of this already? I like this. I've never really
flirted with anyone before. Don't know where I learned the skill. Maybe some of
Sly's boldness has rubbed off on me. "Will you read to me today?" I see surprise
in her eyes. She wasn't expecting that one.
"You want me to . . come back with you? I don't want to wear out my welcome."
I can't help but chuckle. "That'll never happen. Please?" Her eyes are warm as
she looks at me. I could get lost in them and wouldn't care less.
"Yeah, no problem." She gives me a toothy smile.
For some reason that makes me think of the toothless guy I just met not too long
ago. "Speaking of problems." I hate to end this. "Saw a new guy around that might
need your help. He's staying at the Mission, but. . ."
I could swear that I see disappointment in her eyes. Sly likes this banter just
as much as I do. Still, she nods her head, and I reclaim my finger. "But he may
not stay here for long. Most people go for the streets. It's a little less crowded
and we look out for each other. I'll ask around and see if I can find him a good
I squeeze her hand and give her a crooked grin, "I knew you were the one to come
see about that."
Sly cocks her head slightly to the side. "You really care don't you? When I first
met you, I wasn't so sure, but now. . .you do don't you?"
I am a little taken aback that she would ask me such a question, but knowing,
Sly, she has her reasons. "Well, yeah, how could I not? I'm human."
She laughs but it's without humor and it doesn't reach her eyes. "That doesn't
mean a damn thing these days. I'd say you're a little more than human, Abbie.
You're unique, and it takes someone like that to open your eyes like you have."
For some reason, after she says her piece, Sly refuses to meet my eyes. In fact,
her head hangs. She's worried about something, really worried. I duck my head
in an attempt to catch her eyes, but she evades me. So, I do it the old fashion
way and lift her chin with the help of a few fingers. "Sly, talk to me. What's
Her eyes are dark with emotion and I see her swallow before her mouth opens to
speak. "You've told me so much about yourself, Abbie. I feel that I know you.
I don't think I've told or shown you half as much."
I shake my head in confusion and wonder where this is going. "It's not a contest,
Sly. I figured you would open up as we go along."
"I want to, Abbie, but I'm scared. It's time though." Her voice has a note of
finality in it that causes me pause.
Still confused, I ask, "Time to what?" That's when I see it, her eyes are full
of fear. "Time for what, Sly"
"For you to see how I live."
It falls on me like a ton of bricks. She thinks I'll see something I can't live
with, and we'll be over. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, but then,
I rewind what she said about 'being human.' Now, it makes sense. I guess I'll
just have to prove myself. "If you're sure?"
Sly purses her lips and her expression is more than serious. "Yeah, I know you
need your sleep, so if we could leave a little early tonight? You're gonna have
to carry your uniform to work. Don't want you to get it dirty."
I see, now that she needs this too. "That'll be fine. Do I need anything else?"
"A flashlight. We'll get some batteries from here if you don't have any."
I pull her much larger hand into both of mine and smile to try and reassure her.
"Do you believe in me? Trust me?"
Her brows rise in consternation. "Of course, how could you even ask. . ."
"Then trust that it will be okay." I see that I have surprised her again, and
I want to leave her that way. I lean in and do something that I've wanted to for
days, I kiss her cheek before getting up. "I have to finish cleaning, and then
we'll go. We can give Gert's room a call and talk to the guys to make sure she's
okay." She doesn't answer, and I don't expect her to.
Even when we get up to my room, and find out that Gert is doing okay, Sly is still
quiet. I've got to do something to bring her out of this funk. Barely looking
at me, she grabs the light blue robe. "I'm gonna go take a quick shower. Didn't
get the chance to this morning," she mumbles. I sigh, nod my head, and turn to
give her some privacy. I hear the rustle of clothes being removed and folded and
resist the urge to look. Curiosity is killing me. I've never seen another woman
naked besides my mother and that doesn't count. Do I want to see Sly naked? My
breath catches at the thought of it. I thought I wasn't ready for a lot of things
a little while ago, but now, I'm not so sure. She does something to me, but now
is not the time to think about it.
I hear her soft, "Okay." And I turn to look at her. She has two deep grooves of
worry in her forehead, and it causes me to walk up to her because I need to make
them go away. I try to smooth them out with my thumb, and she sighs before giving
me a warbly grin. Peering deep in her eyes, I see a sparkle return, especially
when I stand on tip-toe to try and bring us eyeball to eyeball. Sly chuckles at
my antics then adds, "I'm trying, Abbie."
I grin back. "That's good because there's nothing that could scare me away, not
She tweaks my nose and jerks her head toward the door, "Well, I'm gonna, you know.
Be back in a few minutes."
I sit heavily on the bed when she leaves, and it hits me. I've changed more than
I originally thought. I've never been outgoing, but somehow it's what I've become.
I've never allowed myself to feel, but now, I do. I feel so much. I've never allowed
myself to be attracted to anyone, and now, I am, unbelievably so. It's been so
much in such a little time.
I can't wait to see what happens next. Grabbing my book, I turn the page to get
to where we left off. Sitting it on the bed, I change into my sleepwear. I almost
hope Sly will have another nightmare, if only so I can hold her. I wanted to the
other two nights but didn't have it in me. So, now, I scoot back on the bed and
When Sly comes back in, she hangs her towel beside mine behind the door and rubs
a hand through her water slicked hair. I love it like that. The way it shines
and smells wet and just washed makes me want to play in it. I bite my lip and
smile at her hopefully. She returns it and takes her place, sitting between my
legs. Sly turns and pale blue catches me. Her eyebrows shoot up, and I wonder
what my face is showing. Thank God, she doesn't call me on it. "You ready to start?"
She asks with that damn smirk on her face.
I resist the urge to narrow my eyes at her and hand her the book. Our fingers
touch in the exchange, and an electric jolt shoots up my arm down to my stomach,
causing me to suck in a breath. I glance down and see that her fingers linger
against mine. A lone thumb caresses my knuckles almost absently. "Um," my voice
is a high squeak, so I clear it. "Um, I marked the p-paragraph." The smirk turns
into a grin that looks almost rakish.
"Okay, let's get started then, and I'll read till I know you're asleep."
I nod, deciding not to say anything, but at the last second, I add, "Okay, if
you get hungry or anything just help yourself to whatever's here."
She turns to the side and only nods. I feel the jolt again when drying, dark silk
caresses my thigh. It may be a while before I get to sleep.
Chapter XVII: Brooding
I'm doing it again. It's almost time for Abbie to get up, and I'm watching her
while she sleeps. If I didn't know better, I'd say this is getting a tad bit obsessive,
but I know better. She dropped off about an hour into my reading, and surprisingly,
I found myself napping too. Now, I'm awake and brooding. Worry is tugging hard
at my brain.
She said nothing would change, but that hasn't been my experience. Except for
the friends that I've made in my current condition, everyone left me when things
changed. It's what I'm used to, and dare I say that I don't know any better yet?
I hope she proves me wrong. There's that word again, and I'm putting it to full
I look down at her as I stand over the bed. She looks so peaceful, and I wonder
if this is the first time in years that, that peaceful look has carried over into
the waking hours. Abbie looked so tortured when I first met her. I hope I don't
cause that look again, when she gets her first look under the Boardwalk.
I reach out and shake her shoulder gently. She makes a noise that isn't half human.
"Mmrrfffp?" It is beyond adorable. "Little Bit, time to get up. I wanted to show
you some things, remember?"
Slowly, Abbie flips over on her back, and sleepy green eyes open to look up at
me. She smiles dreamily. Her words come out a little bit slurred. "Oooh, riiiight.
Can have a hug firsts?"
Way beyond adorable, especially with her hair sticking up in odd places like blonde
mountains. My heart lurches at her request. This is something new. I would be
an idiot to deny myself the experience. I've hugged her before, so I know what
I've been missing. I lean down, assuming she would meet me half way, but with
a hard jerk she pulls me down on top of her ,wrapping her arms tightly around
my torso. "Oooh nice, warm hugs." The heat of her body is incredible. It serves
to move mine up a few notches. In an attempt to rectify things, I push up with
my hands, which are planted on the mattress. "C'mere." I almost groan when she
pulls me down with a sharp smack. Thank the Lord she is covered. I don't think
I would survive her bare legs against mine.
Something must have happened. It is enough to wake her up. Our faces are as close
as they can get without kissing, and her eyes are staring into mine while her
lips form a perfect "O". With the help of the lamp, I turned on a few minutes
ago, I see her flush, deeply. I don't know what to say, so something just comes
out. "Um, hi?" And it is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. To top it all off,
my voice was two octaves higher. Her nose crinkles, and I feel it coming before
I see it, the giggles. In between them, she adds, "Fancy meeting you here, huh?"
I expected her to be embarrassed or even scared, but this is a total surprise.
I'm sure it shows on my face because she giggles harder. I feel my mouth twitching
before I can help it. Soon, I join her, but I don't giggle. They're chuckles.
I could have sworn I was brooding a minute ago. I have to ask, "Uh, this doesn't
"No, I've hugged you before. It feels nice, very nice, but I'm sorry I pulled
you down here. I get goofy when I'm real tired."
Very interesting, but somewhere way back in my mind, the scared part of me hears
a way out. "If you're too tired, why don't you get some more sleep? We can do
this some other time."
Abbie shakes her head no before she says it and smoothes away the worry lines
that I know are on my forehead. "No, I want to. I've got somethings to prove to
Well, I guess that settles that. The test is on. "Okay, I guess we need to get
dressed then." I move to get up, but not before I see her turn and bury her face
into my hair that has fallen past my face and onto her. She's smelling my hair!
I have to admit. I don't want to get up anymore, and I think it shows in my face
because wide green eyes turn to study me unexpectantly. They are wide, dark, and
her lips are parted and moist. I feel her chest rising and falling rapidly, or
is that mine? Either way, I am again thankful that she is wrapped in the covers.
It's getting way too hot in here. I promised myself that I wouldn't do this not
until she's ready. I won't know that until she makes a move. I watch as she closes
her eyes and takes a deep breath. "Okay, we'd better get moving." The timbre of
her voice is husky.
It's not the time.
Nervousness assaults me as we move along the Boardwalk, but it is her hand in
mine that's keeping me from skittering away. This place really is beautiful at
night with the moon hanging clear, and low. The water now looks black in the darkness
but I can hear it lap against the sand and smell it perfuming the air. It is a
shame to show her such ugliness on such a pretty night.
We pass a couple of Boardwalk cops. All they do is whisper because when I'm with
her, they see me. Right now, I don't care what they see, and I don't think Abbie
does either. She moves closer. "Check the flashlight," I whisper to her. "We're
almost there. We'll wake Pauly and Stevie. They'll grumble at first, but they'll
I watch as she takes the flashlight from underneath her folded uniform. "It's
okay." She stops, making me do so too. "And we will be too."
I want to believe her, but as I see a familiar stretch of sand, doubt resurfaces.
I swallow and nod my head instead of answering. We're there, and she follows me
down the ramp onto the beach. I don't look back, but I hear a click and see a
beam of light on side of me.
I stop abruptly as I see other beams of light and two people, shining the beams
into my home. As I get closer, I hear whispers and realize that they aren't Stevie
and Pauly. They sound too young. I pull Abbie behind me and watch on. The two
men bang on the wood and start yelling, "Hey assholes! We know somebody's in there.
We're taking this spot so get the fuck out!"
Someone else calls out from underneath, "The fuck you ain't!" It's Stevie, and
he sounds mad.
The two men turn to each other and whisper some more. My blood starts to burn
when I see one of them crouch in an attempt to crawl under. This is our home,
our territory. This is shit, and I don't take it. Turning to Abbie, I grab the
flashlight from her hands and whisper heatedly, "Stay here!" I take off before
I get a reply. Running as fast as I can in the sand, I make it just as the man's
feet are about to disappear. His partner turns to me, and before I get any closer
I smell them. It's the horrid stench of boose, urine and puke. They're the guys
who give homeless people bad names.
I shine my light in his face as he screams, "So'ma bitch! Who da fuck are you?!"
"I'm the head asshole that lives here," I growl in reply.
He cackles, and I hear him spit in the sand. "Well, lookey here. Got myself a
girl. Wish Bob could see dis, but he's a busy kicking yo friend's ass! I'm gonna
teach you some manners, girl!" He steps forward, but I hold my ground. Still,
stinky decides to take a swing. Unfortunately, the sand makes me slow, and the
punch connects with my jaw. It's hard enough to make me fall on one knee. The
flashlight fell in my attempt to move away. Now, it's spinning somewhere near
me. Where, I can't see.
Stinky moves toward me again, but before he could get any further I hear a screech
of, "NO!" And from what I could see, he falls to the sand with a groan. I look
up from my kneeling position to see Abbie reflected in the flashlight beam. I'm
angry and elated at the same time. "I thought I told you to stay put!"
She gets down on her knees in front of me and yells back, "I never said I would!"
Good point, but I don't tell her that.
"Well, thanks, but we need to get under there. That other guy. . ."
"Yeah, I saw. Let's go."
I watch in silent pride as she gets on her hands and knees then to her belly.
I don't doubt it anymore. I think she's here to stay.
I slide in beside her, but before we get half way, I hear Stevie scream, "Bastard!"
Then there was a clunk. Fear races through me, and I wiggle under as fast as I
"Stevie! Paulie! You two okay?!" I hear another thunk.
"Yep, we are now!" Paulie calls back. "But we need you to help take out the garbage,
Sly!" To my consternation, I hear them both cackling like arrogant roosters. You
see? What I have to put up with?
I sigh in relief. "Well, me and Abbie will take care of that just stay put!" Like
I have given her some silent order, I see the flashlight pan around until we both
see a still figure.
"There he is," Abbie whispers. "You two didn't kill him did you boys?!" There
was another cackle. Would you look at her, adding fuel to the fire. You'd almost
think they're enjoying this!
Finally, we get Stinky 2 out. With Abbie's help, we drag them near the ramp, make
noise, and run as the Boardwalk cops come. Walking back on the sand, I watch through
the darkness as she rubs and claps her hands to get the sand off. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine. You? I saw you go down. Scared me to death." She is breathless.
I'd forgotten about that. I flex my jaw then suck in a breath at the pain. "Yeah,
he got me good. Gonna need some ice." She was something out here tonight, and
I have to tell her so. "You did good, Abbie."
"Just protecting you. I hope I didn't hurt him. Well. . .bad." She turns toward
me and takes my hand. "Don't worry about your jaw. After we make sure the guys
are okay, I'll take care of you back at my place."
Shocked, I blurt out, "But, Abbie! You're gonna be late for work."
She squeezes my hand. "It's okay. I'll just call from the pay phone and tell them
I'm gonna be late because of a family emergency. One point won't hurt. I don't
When my heartbeat slows, I know that this woman will do anything for me. It's
a heady feeling. "Um, okay."
We slide back under the Boardwalk, and I reach to take the flashlight from her.
I want her to see everything now. There's not a doubt left in my mind. In silence,
I show her my little area, cornered off with cardboard. I open the door to allow
her in, and I crawl in after her. Without a word, I give her free reign, and watch
her pick up my copy of Catcher in the Rye.
Abbie's fingers trace over my radio gently as if it's the most fragile piece of
China in the world. She treats each item like that. My heart constricts as she
finally looks up at me, and her eyes are so full of sadness and pride that it
floors me. Sadness yes, but I did not expect her to be proud. I open my mouth
to speak, but she shakes her head and points toward the cardboard door. Again,
I crawl out behind her where she waits for me and takes back the flashlight. She
pans it around until she comes to a jumble of blankets and cardboard. "Gertie's,"
I tell her, and I hear her hitch in breath. Is she crying? Why?
A minute later, I crawl after her as she heads for Stevie and Pauly. They've remained
remarkably quiet. I think they know how important this is. Abbie moves the flashlight
around until she has them in her sights. I hear the hitch in her breath again
then a sob. Oh God, she is crying. "Abbie?"
She shushes me, and I hear her swallow like she's trying to regain her voice.
We are sitting up as much as we can. Finally, she speaks. "Sly? Remember today
what you said about the human race?" She doesn't wait for my answer. "You were
right." Her voice is thick with tears. "But, it goes for all of you too. You all
are beyond human. No regular person could survive this. No regular person would
want to, and I am so grateful," she pauses, and I hear another sob. "I'm so grateful
that you guys have included me in your family. I would do anything for you guys
because I don't think you could even begin to know what you've done for me."
I wait a minute, but she doesn't speak again. There are only sniffles. I follow
the sound of them and take her in my arms as much as I can under here. It ends
up being a one armed hug, but she holds on for dear life. There is silence. I
imagine that the guys are as flabbergasted as I am. She's here to stay, and we
all know it. I do the only thing I can think of and whisper thank you over and
over in her ear. We all passed the test.
"Damn, lil un. You sho something else." Stevie adds. His voice is deep, husky.
"Yeah, you gotta good heart, Abbiegirl." Pauly inserts. We all are.
We lapse into a peaceful quiet, and I know it is getting late. So, I ask, "You
I could hear Stevie scratching his beard. "Yep, reckon we are. Damn shame about
that bottle we broke over his head tho."
Pauly and Stevie dissolve into chuckles. I couldn't help but roll my eyes. My
eyes round when I feel the giggle bug bite Abbie. Unable to stop it, I join them.
Chucking not giggling.
After a few minutes, I remind her, "Abbie, you need to go call your job."
She jumps, "Oh yeah, almost forgot. I need to get my uniform first. Left it right
outside. Then, I'll take care of you." She sniffs and adds, "Um, I'll see you
guys in the morning."
She found her uniform, and we said our byes. This is turning into quiet a night.
I guess there is more than one newbie in town. Pity, they picked with the wrong
family to mess with, and Abbie, my God, she's more than I hoped she would ever
be. For once, I have someone to protect me and cherish me. I feel like I'm flying.
Chapter XVIII: Abbie's
We got back to my room in record time, but I am still reeling from all the emotions.
It's a combination of what happened here, the fight, and all the other stuff.
One minute I'm aroused, next I'm in a fight, then I'm crying, followed by laughing.
I feel like my blood is boiling. All the excitement is still right here in front
of me. It's Sly, and I want to fall inside.
Regardless of how I feel right now, something changed tonight. She knows that
I'm on this road for the long haul. I don't know how because she couldn't really
see my face. I guess it was something she felt. She didn't really explain that
part to me while we were walking here. Everything I said back there I meant. Everything.
I would have scratched that guys eyes out if he had hurt any of them. It feels
good to have that again, and I will fight tooth and nail not to lose it. It's
a promise that I'm making to myself right now.
I watch her as she moves around the room. She seems just as high energy as I am
right now. I know how she feels now, when she does it to me. It's like I'm absorbed
in her and everything around her. I can't take my eyes away, until I remember
that I have to call my job. "Hey, get the first aid kit and have a seat on the
bed. I don't have ice, but the least I can do is bandage that cut." We both didn't
realize that there was one until we got into the light. I go to take care of the
When I return, she looks up at me expectantly. "Told you it was okay. I told them
I would be about an hour or so late. I'm gonna have to take a shower." I walk
slowly toward her, keeping her in my sights. Something is brewing inside me, and
I don't know if I want to stop it, especially since it involves Sly. She watches
me move toward her, and I pause right in front of her. Sly has to look up at me,
but her eyes hesitate somewhere.
I swallow because I don't care where. I just need them on me right now. Reaching
down, I take the band-aid and alcohol pad from her fingers. We touch, and my breath
catches. I know she heard it because I can see her eyes darkening with secret
knowledge. She knows that I want to touch her, be touched by her. I have to ask
myself when did this happen? When did I become so greedy? There is an answer.
The first day she touched me.
I kneel down, and blue eyes follow me just as my gaze is locked on her. I take
hold of her thighs to steady myself, and I feel her whoosh of breath disturb my
hair. Somebody needs to stop this or step forward. I don't know how to stop it
or start it. So, I try my best to remain neutral even though I don't feel that
way. "We make a good team. Don't you think?"
Her eyes are drowning me, and I fall helplessly. She only nods to my question.
Maybe she doesn't know what to do either. I try again. "I'm glad those two are
okay. They had me scared there for a while. Shoulda known they'd take care of
She nods again, and I fall further inside the blue ocean. Help me. No, I don't
mean it. I cup her cheek and move her head to the side. Her skin is like fire,
but it's a burn I like. I lift the alcohol pad to my mouth and rip the top off.
She watches the whole time. Her throat bobs and chest rises. Falling, and I don't
care how far as long as she catches me. I brush the cut with the alcohol, and
she jumps and takes hold of my shoulder, as I swab the whole area. The wrapper
and pad fall to the floor, and I tear away the covering of the band-aid, putting
it on as quickly as possible.
Moving my hand away, I whisper, "There." Then abruptly, all breathe and speech
leaves me as her large hands push through my hair, sensitizing my scalp. Am I
ready for this? My whole body quakes in a way that can't be missed. God, yes I
am. I need to tell her. With ragged breath, I watch as her lips open to speak
before mine do. "Abbie."
I hear it, and I whimper as heat curls its fingers deep in my belly. It wasn't
that she said my name. It was the way she said it like an ache or a need. "What
are you doing to me?" I ask huskily as I push up from the floor in attempt to
meet her. I come to my feet completely but shakily, and she wraps her fingers
in the empty belt loops of my jeans, pulling me closer.
"The same thing you're doing to me." She replies. It's enough for me. I go without
hesitation and lean forward as I do so. On a husked breath, our lips meet softly.
My hands mesh in her hair, and I groan at the fell of it. My lips cling to her
and hers to mine. There is no move to deepen the contact because just like me,
I think she wants to savor this moment. This perfect moment. After a few long
seconds, I feel her hands snake up my back, and she kneads the covered skin then
balls the cloth into her fists.
Somehow I think our eyes open at the same time because I suddenly find myself
staring into hers. Her pupils are large, dark, and I see it. She wants more, but
is letting me lead. For some reason, at this, heat slams a fist in my stomach,
making my breath come out in a gasp. This is need. It has to be because I am compelled
to brush her lips with my own. I brush and lift several times before I feel her
fists flex at my back. Sly's mouth opens. She moans, and I slip my tongue inside,
needing to taste. It feels like it belongs there. My heart slams against my chest.
This is desire. She is sweet to the taste, so I go back for more, moaning when
her tongue touches mine.
The kiss never changes cadence. It remains deep, soft, but needy. Both my hands
grasp the back of her neck, lifting her head in search of a different angle. It
continues on for what seems like forever before my lungs burn with the need to
breath. With a whimper, I pull away to draw in air. Leaning in, I lay my forehead
against hers, and I hear her sucking wind also. I open eyes to see hers still
closed, but I do see full lips, swollen and moist. As if Sly knows she is being
watched, baby blues open, and the need I see in them makes me want to kiss her
all over again.
Her hands find their way to my face, cupping my cheeks, running over my chin and
lips. It was as if she thought I was going to disappear. "God, Abbie, I wanna
kiss you again, but you gotta get to work." Her voice is a pained whisper.
She is right, but I don't want to. For some reason, I get an attack of shyness,
and I close my eyes. "Can we. . . do this again?" I ask quietly.
Sly touches my lids, bidding them to open. I can't resist her, and I see the most
beautiful smile shining back at me. "Any time you want," she answers.
I really don't want to stop. "Right now?" I feel the grin tugging on my lips and
let it come. She throws her head back and laughs. I love the sound.
I don't think I've ever had so much trouble getting to work.
At work, now, even the roar of the vacuum cleaner does not stop me from reminiscing.
While Sly walked me to work, we held hands, but all I wanted to do was feel her
lips again. I don't think I'm ready for much more, but this is quiet the beginning.
We talked along the way, and she told me how nice it was. Sly even told me that
she never had a kiss like that. I guess it's a first for both of us.
I raise the bed covers to get under the bed. It's been an easy night so far. I
don't think I care either way. She's waiting for me, at home, and I know I'll
get to see her wrapped in the dark trench coat, waiting for me. For me. I'm so
glad she finally knows that I see past the way she lives, the way she dresses
to the outstanding person underneath.
Flicking with my foot, I stop the drone of the vacuum cleaner and turn around
to see Lola leaning against the door. I smile at her what must be the goofiest
smile ever, and she raises a blond brow. "Oookay, I've been standing here forever.
Is lunchtime, girl. Chu ready to eat?"
She walks in because I know the smile is still there. Her eyes narrow. "What cloud
chu hanging from, Abbie?"
I come back with a graceful, "Huh?"
Lola rolls her eyes and throws up her hands. "What chu don't speak no English
today? Maybe I'll try Spanish, no?" She chuckles at her own joke. Snapping out
of it, I join her. "No, I'm okay. Just a little dazed I guess."
She moves closer and continues the squint. "Uh-huh, what's going on with chu?
Chu have this look. . .about chu."
I bite my lip and try to move past her, but she reaches out her arm, wrapping
it around my torso. "Ah, ah, is that woman isn't it? What her name, Sly?" A weird
smile starts to play around her lips. "Oooh, did chu rub monkeys wit her?!"
Oh my God, this woman! I can feel my face turn a horrendous shade of red. "Rub
monkeys?! No, we did not!" Breaking free from her hold, I made my way out of the
room with her close on my heels.
"Hey! Don't chu run for me! Did chu rub something?"
I put my head down in order to walk as fast as I could. I don't think she'll give
me a chance to eat tonight.
Chapter XIX: Inside Sly
I woke up to the pitter patter of rain against, Abbie's window. It's a good thing
I have this coat with me. Only my hair is soaked. The rain seems to roll off the
coat. I need to hurry because I don't want her to get too wet, so I speed into
a run. My thoughts race through my head just as fast.
Look what happens when I let her take the lead? I guess she was ready. . . just
a few hours later. Still, I did not expect that! It felt like my head was going
to explode and implode at the same time. I didn't know a kiss would move me so,
but when you think about it, I should have known that Abbie's kisses would because
she moves me. Everything that is wrong in my life felt like it was set right with
her touch. I can't help but think we're helping each other, changing each other.
I run harder as I pass the Sands casino. I'm almost there. The sound of the Rolling
Stones, blaring from The Hard Rock Café's speakers, meet me as I round the corner.
Seeing her at the side entrance, I come to a stop, letting the rain pelt me and
sting my eyes. I don't care. Abbie is huddled against the wall, trying to avoid
the fat raindrops, but she isn't very successful. Her hair is slick with it, and
so is one side of her uniform. As if she senses me, her head jerks up and our
eyes meet. Her arm lifts in a wave as her lips do the same in a smile. It pulls
me forward, and I go to meet her. Abbie's smile makes me forget about the rain.
"Hey," she says. "It's raining."
"Is it? Barely noticed."
She rubs her hand through my wet hair. "Uh huh, sure. So how are we going to do
this?" She points at the crying sky.
I open up a side of my coat. "Slowly. You can get under here. Good thing it's
She nods and flattens her hands against my chest. It rattles me, and I grab her
wrists, holding her to me. I look down in her eyes. They are dark but pulsating
with her own brand of light. I could live in them forever. Following the path
of her gaze, I notice that it leads directly to my mouth. I smile because I can't
help myself. "Abbie, it's raining."
"No it's not. You said so yourself. You said anytime I wanted too, remember?"
She grins, and her nose crinkles. "Pleaase?"
Who am I to deny her? I nod, and before I know it, she is dragging me by my coat
back toward Sands and The Hard Rock Café. The sounds of "Me and Bobby McGhee"
meets us as she pulls me into a shadowed corner. I raise an eyebrow at her inquisitively.
"Here? Someone will see."
"I don't care." Her voice is husky, and I believe her. Without preamble, Abbie
wraps her hands in my hair and pulls my head down. Our rain moistened lips meet,
and she tastes sweeter than before, needier than before. Her mouth opens under
mine without my asking. I take the invitation. She whimpers into my mouth, and
I swallow it. Just as she does mine a second later. The rain, Janis Joplin, and
kissing Abbie---I think I found a new favorite pastime.
Hope you really enjoyed this
one. Let me know at Minerva