Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Alex realized she was humming along with the radio as she pulled into the driveway. The contrast of feelings overwhelmed her for a moment, and she sat quietly in the car staring out into the darkness. The house, Alex thought, looked almost as it had that cool October morning, just before the blast.
The trees were bearing new foliage, covering their scorched and scarred limbs. The grass had been replaced, and new green growth filled in the barren spots. The day after the blast, a demolition crew had shown up, completely stripped away the blackened concrete, and replaced it with a freshly paved drive. After two days of endless questioning from Alex, the men had finally agreed, and told Alex that Sam had sent them to do the work. The bill was already paid, and she did not have to worry about anything. A few weeks later, when Sam still had not mentioned the new drive, Alex had quietly questioned her about it.
Sam had looked at Alex, tears running freely down her cheeks, and explained. "Alex, I'm sorry if I overstepped any boundaries, but I just couldn't let you come back to the house and face the carnage that those people inflicted. I knew there was nothing I could do to bring Feryle back home to you, all I could do was what I did."
Alex was openly crying by the end of the explanation, and Sam gently pulled Alex into her arms, and rocked her. Alex's mournful howls and primal moans echoed off the walls as she finally crumbled against the force of her pain. For what seemed like hours, Sam held Alex as she cried, softly speaking her name and encouraging her to feel the pain that was so evident in her heart...the pain she had refused to acknowledge lest it weaken her in some way to the evilness that threatened to consume her. "It's OK...let it go...I've got you...come back to us, Alex, get it all out, and come back to us." Until that moment Sam had not seen Alex cry, she had been too consumed with the anger to allow any other emotions to be expressed. The darkness that shrouded Alex had eclipsed everything except the anger and the hate that now seemed to consume her heart.
Finally, Alex had slowly calmed down, and her breathing returned to a normal cadence. Sam continued to hold Alex in her arms until finally their bodies screamed for relief from the cramped positions in which they had been sitting.
"Jesus, Sam...I'm sorry" Alex whispered with a look of total exhaustion on her face. "I don't know what happened, but...I...I just couldn't hold it together any longer...I'm really sorry you had to see me like this."
"Like what, Alex...human?" Sam gently asked. "I know you're hurting...no dying inside. You don't have to hide the pain from me Alex, I'm your friend, and I was Feryle's too. I'm sure I'll never know the depth in which you loved each other, but I do know how much she meant to you and you too her. She was your world...the only light that could take you away from the darkness you have to face everyday."
As Alex sat in the car and looked across the lawn, she remembered that night, and knew the new, deeper friendship she had formed with Sam that night would last a lifetime. She slowly got out of the car and headed into the house. Alex, too keyed up to go to bed, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and walked out onto the deck.
Sitting once again in the darkness, she thought about the past few hours, and realized that meeting Sam tonight had been a good idea after all. Maybe she was beginning to heal, not only outside but inside as well. Alex certainly could not remember the last time she had smiled, much less laughed as she had tonight.
Sipping her beer, she thought about Conner, and their surprise meeting at Mike's. Both had been shocked, to say the least. Alex wondered if she would have been as openly playful with Conner, as she had been that morning, had she known they would ever see each other again.
Finishing off the remnants of her beer, Alex wondered what had possessed her to ask Conner out Friday. Well, she hadn't really asked her out on a date...just a meal, and a movie, right? Alex ran her hand through her hair as she always did when frustrated or confused. She stood up quickly, as if trying to escape the question, and felt the muscles in her back scream against the sudden movement. "Damn," Alex muttered as she headed to the kitchen.
She tossed the bottle in the recycling bin and hobbled off to the bedroom, holding her back, feeling like an elderly old lady. She thought about, and then discarded the idea of taking a hot bath to sooth her muscles. "Damn right I'm not taking a hot bath...next thing I know I'll be scooping Epsom salts in the water, and knocking back Geritol shooters." She growled as she eased her self into the bed.
For the first time in weeks, sleep came easily to Alex and for the first time in months, the ghosts and demons of the night stayed outside.
Stomping down the hallway and into the bedroom, she stopped short. There, curled up on her pillow, was Magnum. He was obviously awake because she could see his beady little eyes, peering at her expectantly. Conner crossed the room and scooped the cat up in one swift motion. "No one, especially a man, sleeps in my bed without and invitation...got it?" Conner dropped the cat gently on the floor, trying her best to stay mad at the creature. She went into the bathroom, removed and tossed her clothes into the hamper, and proceeded to get ready for bed. Walking back towards the bed, she heard a quiet "meow" coming from the hallway. "Damn, now I remember why I don't have any pets, or kids, always wanting something."
Conner trudged back to the kitchen and plopped some food in Magnum's bowl. He immediately started gobbling it down. "Slow down, kid, you're just like you dad, never chews just swallows everything whole," she growled, and headed back down the hallway.
She crawled into bed, turned out the light, and lay in the darkness thinking about the evening. Conner had been stunned, embarrassed and, to her amazement, excited to see Alex tonight. After the initial shock had worn off, they had fallen into a comfortable conversation. Of course, having Sam there as a buffer helped ease things along. One thing you could always count on around Sam was conversation. It seemed Sam never ran out of things to talk about, unless of course it was something serious like their past relationship.
Conner thought the evening would quickly end when Sam left to go home to Kelly, but the easy rapport she and Alex had developed during the evening continued. They had both been surprised to realize that two hours had passed since Sam had left them there.
Conner thought back on the events Alex had shared with her concerning Feryle's death, and was a little surprised that Alex had opened up to her. Alex had not seemed like the kind to quickly trust another person. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was just time, she didn't know.
Conner's thoughts were interrupted by a soft thud on the bed. Rolling over she saw the fur ball sitting, and staring at her, half ready to bolt at her first move toward him. She could not help but smile. "C'mere, you little shit," Conner whispered as she gently reached for the cat.
"You're a very lucky little guy, because I had a great night," she crooned to the cat as she sat him on her chest. "Just this one time, you can stay, tomorrow it's back to the stinky shirt for you...got it?" Magnum just purred, snuggled between Conner's arm and torso, and went fast to sleep.
As Conner listened to the purring cat, she sighed. "Damn, you're getting to be a real softie, Harris." With that, she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of dark blue eyes and warm soft hands.
The waves crashing to the shore were hypnotic, and soon had Alex reminiscing of lazy morning like this with Feryle. They seemed to wake up almost at the same moment. Maybe it was the fact that they were so in tune with one another's mind and body. Whatever it was, they always treasured the rare morning that they could lie in bed together, watch the sun rise over the horizon, and make slow, gentle love to one another until a different hunger drove them from the bed.
Alex closed her eyes, trying to remember Feryle's touch. Feryle had been the gentlest lover Alex had ever been with. Often driving Alex to near insanity, with her slow caresses, and feather-light kisses, and only providing the relief she needed when Alex begged for release from the sweet torture. Making love to Alex like this was Feryle's way of pushing the darkness and evil from her life.
Sometimes, though, Feryle could sense a deep primal need within Alex to just release and purge her body of the demons with cold, hard sex. Alex was always surprised that Feryle could tell exactly what she needed, and how she needed it. At those times, their bodies came together with a fierce and powerful need, that only they could understand. A need so strong that, in the end, it left them sweating, exhausted, and gasping for breath.
Alex felt the heat spread through her body. A heat that had been absent since that last lazy Sunday morning. She hugged the pillow against her torso and buried her head. The tears were gentle, not like the ones she had shed so long ago with Sam but slow, tender tears that epitomized the loss of the love of her life. Alex drifted off to sleep, and did not wake again until almost noon.
As she lay waking up for the second time that day, she remembered the dream she had just had. Strong yet gentle hands, caressing her face. Tender, full lips gently kissing her neck. It was only when the woman lifted her head to claim Alex's lips did she realize it wasn't Feryle, she had been dreaming about but the mysterious, and intriguing Conner Harris.
Alex pulled the covers off her body and slowly rose from the bed. She had learned by now that mornings were the worst moments of the day on her body. After lying in bed for hours, her muscles would get cold and stiff, and only gentle persuasion would get them to cooperate.
As she made her way through the house to the kitchen, she thought about the dream. It's only because I was thinking of Feryle, and our making love. Conner was the last person I spoke with, she argued to her self. "It's only a brain thing going on...it has nothing to do with her holding my hand last night," she mumbled to her self. "Sure, it felt good...hell, it felt great...but...oh hell, woman, pull yourself together. It was a dream, for god sake, just be thankful it wasn't like all the others," she growled as she walked into the empty kitchen.
Alex poured herself a glass of juice and walked out onto the deck. Leaning against the railing, she let the warm breeze wake her up. Just as she was about to step off the deck for a walk down to the water, the phone rang.
"Good morning, sunshine," Sam's voice literally beamed over the line.
"Good morning to you too. I'm surprised you're out of bed this early. It's only noon, and I know you didn't go right home and go to bed," Alex playfully kidded back.
"Yes, hell I did. Didn't get a lot of sleep though, and I'll have you know I've been awake for hours." Sam laughed as she teased Alex, knowing her friend's face had to be bright red at the moment. "Haven't gotten out of bed yet, but I have been slinking about."
"Enough," Alex cried. "God woman, you're a maniac. How's Kelly, did she survive the night?"
"Yeeees, she survived, my dear Alex. But hey, I didn't call to chat about my sex life, good as it is, though," Sam snickered. "I was calling to see how your evening went last night after I left. You and Conner stay for a while and talk?"
Alex could feel the heat rise in her cheeks. "Yeah, we stayed for a little while after you left, and finished off the beer."
Sam could hardly contain the snort she felt, and just could not pass up the opportunity to rib Alex a bit. "Hmmm, well I just got off the phone with Conner. Seems she just drug her lazy ass out of the bed, and told me she didn't get home until almost 2 AM. Must have been quite a party, but I'm not sorry I missed it."
Great, you were just busted, and good, Alex thought to her self.
"OK, OK, maybe, we did stay just a little longer than a little while, but...hey, don't you have more important things to be doing on a Thursday morning, than ragging on me? Don't you have to go to work or something?" Alex was clearly flustered at this point.
"Settle down, girlfriend. I'm just giving you a hard time," Sam said with a little bit of sincerity.
"OK, now for the real reason I called," Sam snickered.
"Gee, Sammy, I don't know if I can handle any more of your reasons for calling today." Alex laughed into the phone.
"No, really," Sam started. "Kelly and I were thinking about doing a little grilling out on Saturday, and wondered if you were game for a nice fat steak."
"Come on, Alex. I haven't seen you in ages," Alex could hear Kelly pleading.
"Enough already, OK. I'll bring the wine and dessert," Alex said in a surrendering voice. "What time is my presence expected?"
"Come early, say 4-ish. That way you and Kel can get caught up, and then we can concentrate on getting sloshed and going skinny-dipping in the ocean," Sam teased.
"No way, been there, done that, ain't going there again." Alex laughed, remembering the night the beach patrol had them cornered in the surf. It had taken a lot of smooth talking on Alex's part to get them out of an indecent exposure charge.
"OK, well we'll see you on Saturday. Oh and Alex, you'd better make that two bottles of wine...two large bottles."
"Hey, I'll take care of the wine, you take care of the steak. See you Saturday, bye."
Alex could not help smiling to herself. Damn that woman. Always up to something sneaky. I cannot believe I let her trip me up like that. "You're out of practice, Montgomery. Better shape up, and quick."
Suddenly Alex felt a surge of energy and decided to go for a long run on the beach. She quickly changed clothes and was out the door. She hit the sand running, and was at least a half-mile down the beach only moments later, when her phone rang.
Continue to Part Five of Storm Surge
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