Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between womenFeedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 Geonn Cannon
"Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for crisis as they do for opportunity?"
-- Lisa and Homer Simpson
Rebecca Kenny stood in the doorway of the cabin, alternating between looking over the place and watching the man from the general store unload her things. She knew his job was supposed to end when he dropped off the groceries and he got paid, but he saw the baggage stacked in the bed of her truck and offered to help her unload. She was reluctant to let someone else touch her things, but she was far more reluctant to move everything herself. So she agreed, but she couldn't quite bring herself to leave him unsupervised.
When he put the last bag on the porch, Rebecca withdrew her billfold and said, "Let me give you something for your trouble. I do have American money." Most people combined her luggage and her British accent and assumed she only had foreign money, despite living in New York for the past fifteen years.
"Ah, it's no trouble, Ms. Kenny." He wiped his hands together and said, "You need anything else, just give me a call. It's kind of the back-end of nowhere out here, so..."
"Thanks," Rebecca said. She crossed her arms over her chest and said, "Well, th-thank you for your help. I really appreciate it."
He nodded. "No one wants to start a vacation with heavy lifting."
"It's not a... ah. Right. Thank you." Better to just ignore it than try to explain. It wasn't a vacation, it was a retreat. As in "get as far away as possible." But vacation made her sound less desperate.
She waited until the man was in his truck and backing onto the main road before she started carrying her things inside. She was sure half the bags would stay right next to the front door for the majority of her stay. No need for them to be dragged all the way inside, unpacked, and then repacked and dragged back to the front of the cabin in a week or two. Or maybe three.
She sighed and closed the door, putting off the unpacking until later. She stood on the raised platform just inside the door and surveyed her temporary home. The owner had gone through and dusted, opened the curtains, tried to eliminate the musty, ignored smell of a place left empty too long. The living room was furnished with large, plush furniture, the kind she remembered from her grandmother's house. A large picture window looked out over a lake that was almost hidden by overgrown wildlife. She could only see about a quarter of the glistening blue water, but that was enough for her.
The wall opposite the window had a brick fireplace flanked by overflowing bookshelves. She saw a set of encyclopedias, classics mixed in with contemporary novels, paperback thrillers, and mysteries that ranged from Edgar Allan Poe to Robert B. Parker. She pulled the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes off the shelf and thumbed through it. At least she wouldn't go mad for entertainment out here. The presence of the library relaxed her a bit; she felt she could trust anyone who had more books than shelf space.
There was no television and no room for one in the living room. That had been her one requirement when renting the place. She was going to nature to forget about the world outside, she didn't need to sit in front of a flickering box every night and be reminded of it.
Rebecca went into the kitchen and unloaded the groceries into the fridge. She checked under the sink and in the cupboards to make sure she didn't have any vermin-type roommates, and then made herself a tuna sandwich. She carried it out to the deck and brushed dry leaves off the Adirondack chair. She sat down, took off her sandals, and put her feet up on the railing. The fresh air was invigorating. It made the sandwich taste better, and it made her muscles gradually relax as she watched birds swoop from the trees down to the water of the lake.
One week, maybe two... maybe three, if she pushed it. She was sure it would do her a world of good.
She set up the laptop and fax machine in the extra bedroom that faced the front yard. She threw open the curtains and smiled, satisfied with the quality of sunlight. She wore khaki shorts and a tank top, her blonde hair gathered on top of her head. She wore the horn rimmed reading glasses she always wore when she worked and sat down at the desk, resting her fingers on the bottom edge of the laptop's keyboard. She tapped her middle fingers and stared at the blank screen. She chewed her bottom lip and stared until she could see her own ghostly reflection in the screen.
"Give me a break. I'm trying."
The cursor flashed at her.
She heard the rattling engine of the truck and, when it didn't pass by, turned to look out the window. A little white Jeep was parked on the incline of the ditch next to the entrance to her driveway. She stood up and went to the window, staying to one side so whoever it was wouldn't see her. She pushed the curtain aside and relaxed when she recognized the eagle on the side of the truck and the blue uniform of the man sitting on the typically-passenger side of the vehicle. He tossed a few envelopes into the mailbox, pulled out of the ditch and disappeared on down the road.
Rebecca pulled a lightweight housecoat on over her shirt, the sleeves dangling down to her fingers. She unlocked the front door of the cabin and ventured out barefoot. She forgot about the gravel until she stepped on it, hissing and jumping over to the grass.
The mailbox was a sturdy plastic construction with a rectangular red box on the bottom for a newspaper. Rebecca looked down the road and saw the mail truck rumbling around the corner in a plume of exhaust fumes. She opened the mailbox and withdrew the mail, sorting through it. Most of it was for the owner of the place, but one envelope was from Terrence in Manhattan. Sorry, pal, she thought. Not yet. She bent down to look into the red box and withdrew that morning's newspaper.
When she straightened, a woman on the bicycle was still about fifty yards away. She was riding on the opposite side of the road, her brunette hair threaded through the back of a baseball cap. She wore barely-there shorts and a T-shirt, her eyes hidden behind a pair of RayBans. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties, but the closer she got, the more years Rebecca added to her estimate. By the time the woman passed her, she was guessing mid-thirties. The woman smiled and nodded her chin. "Morning."
"Uh, yes," Rebecca said.
The woman rode on. It was almost impossible for Rebecca to tear her gaze away from the woman's legs, the muscles working as she pedaled.
Soon, woman and bicycle disappeared around the same bend as the mail truck. Rebecca looked down at the newspaper and mail in her hands. She turned back toward the house, looking over her shoulder as she went in case the cyclist returned.
The local newspaper was filled with safe news. City council resolutions, a mayoral race, a long story about whether or not recycling bins should be left on the curb on garbage day or on a different day of the week. It was refreshing, like reading the newspaper from some fairy tale world where nothing bad ever happened. No murder investigations, no crime reports, just a bland sheriff's log on the back page that had more false alarms than actual investigations.
She wandered through the house to avoid the mocking blank screen on her laptop. She made herself lunch and ate it on the deck. She watched the birds and pretended she could tell them apart. She decided the two big black ones were a couple, and the male was helping the female find food for their babies. She saw a vivid cardinal wandering in the grass at the edge of the property, but it fled when she tried to get a closer look.
Rebecca went to bed that night without writing a single word.
The next morning, her cell phone woke her with a call from across the country. She reluctantly answered after a half dozen rings; however bad the phone call would be, the voice mail if she didn't answer would be a thousand times worse. She stayed in bed and pressed the phone to her ear. "This is me."
"About damn time. Where were you?"
"It's six in the morning, Terrence."
"What? No, it's... damn it. Sorry. I'm sorry. I forgot about the time difference."
Of course you did. It doesn't affect your life, does it? She pushed her hair out of her face. "I'm sorry. I didn't even hear the phone ringing."
"I guess the fresh air up there is pretty relaxing, huh?"
She could hear a bit of concession in his voice. He had accepted that he was wrong to be mad, even if he wouldn't admit it out loud. "Yeah. It's like a whole different world out here."
"Look, you know I wouldn't disturb you on this... sabbatical or whatever it is, if it wasn't important. But I wanted to know if you got my letter."
"Yes, I got it yesterday. I didn't open it."
Terrence sighed heavily. "Well, what the hell are you waiting for, Rebecca? The publishers are jumping down my throat for this manuscript. Tell me you have the first chapter. Please, just the first chapter. Give me something to give them."
Rebecca looked at the laptop, sitting so innocently on the desk. She had moved it into her bedroom in the hopes she would be inspired during the night. No such luck. "Yeah," she said. "First chapter, and a little bit of the second."
"Great," he said. His voice seemed to sag under the weight of his relief. "Thank you, thank you, Rebecca. Can you email them over?"
"No internet connection out here."
"Good Lord, where are you staying, 1995? Okay, fine, you have the fax machine, right?"
Rebecca cleared her throat. "Yeah, but... the printer is screwing up lately. I think something happened to it on the trip." A plausible excuse. She hadn't unpacked it yet, so there was a chance something really did happen to it. "Look, I'll be back in a couple of weeks. Tell the publishers I'll meet their new deadline, no problem."
"They can't find you, so they're kicking my ass instead. I hope you appreciate me taking the bullet for you, Rebecca."
"Yes, you're a hero, Terrence. Thank you."
"Don't forget it," he said.
She hung up and swung her feet over the edge of the bed. The laptop mocked her silently. She walked past it without giving in to the guilt and took a leisurely soak in the claw-foot bathtub. No email, no internet, no television... it was like living at the turn of the century. The last century, not the millennium. When she finally got out of the bath, she dressed in sweatpants and a faded T-shirt. She went into the living room to find a book. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe called to her, and she carried the behemoth of a book into the bedroom with her. She sat on the bed, rather than in front of the laptop, and thumbed through the pages. She hoped that by ignoring the computer, it would inspire her muse to jump into action. It had worked in the past, after all.
She was in the middle of The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether when she heard the rattle and clunk of the mail truck. She dreaded the arrival of more correspondence from New York; maybe her publisher had decided to bypass Terrence and yell at her directly. Still, it was easier to dread a single letter than an email. Email could get you at any time of the day, from one computer to the next in the blink of an eye. Terrifying and a dreadful way to live.
Rebecca waited until the truck pulled away before she put on her sandals and went out to see what was waiting for her now. She had just reached the mailbox when she spotted the bicycle woman from the day before. The woman wasn't wearing sunglasses today, what with the overcast sky blocking the sun. She had a thin white headphone cord trailing down her chest to an iPod hooked on her waistband. She smiled when she spotted Rebecca and released the handlebar with one hand. She waved, wagging her middle two fingers. "Hello, again."
"Hi," Rebecca said.
The woman continued on her way and, again, Rebecca watched her go. The woman reached the bend in the road and twisted to look over her shoulder. She saw Rebecca watching, smiled, and waved over her shoulder as she took the curve. Rebecca blinked as soon as she was out of sight, the spell broken, and retrieved the mail - nothing but random notices for the owner of the house - and the newspaper. She read the headlines as she walked back up to the house. When she stepped onto the porch, she looked back at the road in case the woman on the bicycle had circled back. No such luck, she thought as she went back inside.
Well. Maybe tomorrow.
"It's not a vacation, Terrence."
"It's sure as hell what it feels like on this end."
Rebecca sighed and turned to pace back the other way. The living room was spacious, but she was tall enough that pacing was difficult. She had one hand on her hip, the other wrapped around the cell phone as if it was Terrence's throat. "Look, I just needed some time away..."
"In a log cabin in the middle of the woods in the middle of summer. Yeah, sure, not a vacation at all."
"It's not a log cabin, and it's..." She sighed and her shoulders sagged. "I just needed to clear my head." She walked to the front door and peered outside. "I needed to get out. To escape."
"Escape what? The deadline? Rebecca, we could have pushed that back."
"No, I just... shit!"
The woman on the bicycle rode past the house. Rebecca ran to the edge of the porch before she realized what she was doing.
"What happened? Rebecca? You all right?"
"Yeah, I just... it..." She pressed her lips together. "I didn't realize the mail had already come. I was going to send out a postcard."
Terrence scoffed. "You wrote a postcard. Well, it's better than nothing. It's not a letter, though."
Rebecca closed her eyes. "I have to go, Terrence. Inspiration waits for no woman."
"Okay. I want to see some of these pages if you have to read them to me over the phone."
She sighed. "Yes, fine. You've got it, Terrence. Lots of love." She snapped the phone shut and hurried down the driveway. She looked down the road but, of course, the woman was already out of sight. "Damn it." She patted the phone against her thigh, staring at the curve in the road as if it would make the cyclist return. After a few minutes, she convinced herself that she was being ridiculous and retrieved the mail and newspaper. She carried them back up to the house, feeling disappointed but not exactly sure why.
The last novel in her series ended with the main character, FBI agent Thomas Templeton, admitting his love for his sometimes partner, CIA agent Simone Lethe. The next story was supposed to see them consummate their love just before Joseph Lethe - Simone's long-thought dead husband - returns from an extended stay in a Russian gulag. The three would then team up to take out a KGB agent who refused to admit the Cold War was over. Sexual tension and another wedge between her romantic leads, promising yet another book in the already bulky thirteen-novel series.
The only problem was she didn't want them to get laid. Having Thomas and Simone in bed together was going against every instinct she had. Thirteen novels of flirting and teasing and unresolved sexual tension, how could she change everything for the sake of a sex scene? She wanted to take back the ending of Temple of Chaos and leave it so they were still just friends and coworkers. Sex would just ruin the dynamic. It would kill the book.
She stared at her feeble attempt at a sex scene and highlighted everything. "Yes, Thomas," Simone said, her voice trembling with passion. "I've wanted this for so long."
Rebecca deleted the scene. "Then why did you fuck the MI-5 spook five books ago?" She leaned back in her chair and stared at the screen. Blank again.
She stood up and went to the window. She just needed to get through the sex and then Joseph Lethe would arrive. Simone would be torn, the mission would take precedence, and things would be fine again. She could squeeze another few books out of the series after that. And she would never again make the mistake of getting her agents naked together. If she could just get through the damn thing!
Maybe she could make Templeton finish early. He and Lethe are petting on the couch and, "Oh, no, this never happens to me, I'm so embarrassed." And that's when the Ex-Husband arrives. No, she couldn't do that to Templeton. He was the romantic lead. She couldn't emasculate him like that without having thousands of housewives at her front door with flaming torches.
If only she had realized the trouble this would cause before Temple of Chaos came out. She would have changed that damn ending and everything would be fine. She tapped her finger on the keyboard and watched as a series of Es appeared. She erased them and slipped her fingers under her glasses to rub her eyes.
She left the laptop running and put on her slippers. She went outside, even though the mail wasn't due for another hour. She walked around to the back of the house and down to the lake, crouching down and watching the ripples in the water. Were there fish in the lake? Did they really leap out of the water like in cartoons? She saw a pair of ducks on the other side of the water. One of them lifted his wing and attacked the feathers underneath with his beak. She smiled and rested her chin in her hand.
The entire plot of The Body Temple relied on the fact that Simone's ex-husband found her in bed with Templeton. It was the basis of the sexual tension, the love triangle. If he just walked in on them holding hands, the whole thing turned into some kind of Dawson's Creek bullcrap. She pushed herself up with a heavy sigh and walked back to the front of the house. She told herself she just wanted to see if the mail came, without any ulterior motives, but the woman on the bike was at the back of her mind as she opened the box and looked inside.
Either the mail hadn't been by yet, or she'd missed it and she just hadn't gotten any mail. She chewed her bottom lip, drummed her hand on top of the mailbox, and looked down the road. The past three days, the mail always came at ten-thirty. It was only a quarter after the hour. She crossed her arms and leaned against the mailbox. What could it hurt to wait for fifteen minutes? The fresh air would do her some good.
The mail truck came bumbling down the road right on time. She smiled as he pulled up in front of the box and handed the mail directly to her. "Morning. How're we doin' today?"
"Fine, just fine." She took the mail and the truck pulled away.
Rebecca pretended to go through the letters - damn it, something from her publisher after all. How did they find her? - and kept her eye on the road. She was about to give up and go back inside when the bike came around the corner. The woman didn't have a baseball cap this time, her hair flowing free like a banner behind her. Her tank top left her arms bare, the shoulders tanned and freckled, and she released the handlebars when she saw Rebecca waiting at the mailbox.
"Hey, you're back," the woman said.
"Hi. Uh, yeah..."
"Nice to see you."
Rebecca smiled and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. The woman was almost past her when she said, "Water?"
The woman skidded the bike a bit and extended her right leg. She stopped the bike with her foot and turned on the seat. "What was that?"
"Uh... water. Do you want a glass of water? It's kind of hot today."
She bent down and tapped a big blue bottle hooked to the lower bar of her bike. "Nope, got it covered. Thanks, though. Um...?"
"Hi, Rebecca. I'm Kirk."
She shrugged. "Last name. I don't like my first name."
Rebecca said, "What is it?"
Kirk chuckled. "Maybe after we get to know each other a little better. Hope to see you tomorrow, Rebecca." She straightened the bike and pushed her foot off the ground. It took a little doing for her to get up to speed, but once she did she was gone far too soon. Rebecca watched her go and walked back down to the house.
She had to go back an hour later when she realized she had forgotten the newspaper.
Rebecca wrote a first chapter where Simone and Templeton were groping on the couch when Joseph appeared. Surely being half-naked and tangled on the couch was just as bad as walking in post-coitus. As long as they weren't actually naked and there were no... naughty bits flying around, maybe she would be able to make it work. It would even endear Templeton to her readers. So close to what he had wanted for so long only to have it taken away at the last second.
Unless... crap, would that just frustrate everyone? She couldn't do that to the poor guy. The simple fact was that the time had come. Simone and Templeton had to have sex.
That didn't mean it had to be in the book. She could fast forward a couple of months and make them a happy couple. Maybe living together, past the 'sex on every horizontal surface of the house' phase, living comfortably. Yes, perfect, and maybe they could have a baby and a dog and she should just put a big fat THE END at the end of Chapter One because the series would be dead anyway.
She pushed her hands through her hair and sighed. She had never worked this hard to get laid in real life. Why was it so hard with fictional characters? Just take off their clothes and throw them at each other. A couple scenes of set-up, some flowery euphemisms for orgasm and genitalia, maybe some purple prose about how much they love each other... no problem. A couple hundred words of sweating and grunting and she would be over the hump. So to speak.
She looked at her publisher's unopened letter sitting on the edge of the desk. Where were their hundred-thousand words, please? They had a deadline, you know, and editors and whatnot. It was all waiting on her, the precious talent. No one could draw a paycheck from a book that wasn't even written yet. So she should get off her ass, get Templeton laid, and move on.
Rebecca stared at the page and said, "Maybe Templeton's gay and Joseph is his former lover."
The next morning, Rebecca started keeping track of her insane ideas on postcards. They littered her desktop - Simone is gay, Joseph becomes Joanne. Templeton and Simone invite Joseph to join them in bed (talk about your sexual tension). Templeton discovers Simone is his long lost biological sister (which would make the ice cave scene in Ice Temple obscene and disgusting). Simone is killed off-screen by a bomb meant for Templeton. None of the ideas appealed to her in the slightest. She decided she should have just ended Temple of Chaos with Simone giving Templeton a blowjob and all her troubles would be done.
She tapped the tip of her pen on the corner of a note card and scribbled - Templeton arrives for date with Simone, finds her in bed with Joseph.
Rebecca tried to cross it out, but couldn't. It actually kind of worked. Simone's husband, long thought KIA, appears on her doorstep. Emotions run rampant and she takes him to bed without thinking about Templeton.
"Yes, yes," she murmured, trying to fit all the pieces together as she leaned forward. She poised her fingers over the keyboard, almost trembling with excitement.
Templeton arrives. They haven't had sex because they want to take it slow. And then, to his shock, he finds Simone in bed with Joseph. She could almost hear the women at her book signings. "Oh, that poor Templeton. Will he ever get to be with the woman he loves?"
Her only fear was making Simone look like a slut. But it was her husband! What was she supposed to do, just turn him away? No one would look like the bad guy, and the world would be shaken just enough that she could hold off on Templeton and Simone actually having sex for another three books. At least! Maybe they would never consummate. She laughed and began typing, the sex scene between Simone and Joseph unfolding with ease. She kept the use of names to a minimum so readers could assume it was Templeton she was taking to bed, saving the twist for the end of the chapter. Oh, Terrence would have a heart attack when he read this. In a good way.
She was so involved with the story that she almost ignored the sound of the mail truck idling at her driveway. When it finally penetrated her writer's fog, she jumped up so fast she sent her chair skittering across the floor. "Shit. Uh... never mind." She hurried from the room, hopping on one foot to get her sandals on before she left the house.
She got to the front door just as the mail truck was pulling away. She ran down the driveway and stood by the mailbox, looking down the road for her friend. Her block was broken, and she just knew that the rest of The Body Temple was going to flow without problems. She would have five chapters for Terrence by the end of the week. Ten! By the time she got home, she would have the first three acts finished and ready for review.
Rebecca shifted her weight from one foot to the other, practically bouncing, smiling like a goon. She just wanted to tell someone, anyone, about her breakthrough. She couldn't tell Terrence without him discovering she was lying about her earlier progress. She swung her arms and snapped her fingers, craning her neck to look down the road. "Come on, Kirk," she said. "Get a move on."
She looked at her watch and saw it had been five minutes since the mail came. Kirk had never been that late, had she? Maybe she had been early. She looked toward the bend in the road and then in the direction Kirk always appeared from. Maybe she was taking a day off. Or maybe she was there on vacation, too, and she'd already gone home. Rebecca was surprised at how shattered that idea made her. She started walking down the road, thought better of it, and returned to the mailbox. She looked at the cabin and saw the glow of her laptop's screen in the bedroom window. She should go back and finish writing before she lost the flow. Eight minutes, and Kirk was still nowhere in sight. She most likely wasn't coming today. She had missed a day, so why couldn't Kirk? Yes, that was all. She went a little earlier since it was so hot out.
Rebecca started walking down the road. She didn't have a destination in mind. She had been cooped up in the cabin for so long, it would do her good to get out and get some fresh air. That was all she was doing. Stretching her legs. Enjoying the fresh air. She stuck her hands into the pockets of her baggy shorts and watched the birds in the trees. Way out in the middle of nowhere like this, it was easy to forget there was civilization not far away. It was easy to forget all her hassles and headaches waiting for her back in the city. She saw a rabbit by the side of the road, but it vanished before she could even think about approaching it.
The road was old and badly maintained, the edges overgrown with brush and grass in some places. There were cracks and potholes every few yards and she wondered how the mail truck managed to get down the stretch, let alone Kirk on her bicycle.
Rebecca had waked almost a quarter mile before she reached the fork in the road. She sighed and looked down the two options. It didn't matter which way she took if she was just on a random stroll, but if she admitted she was trying to find where Kirk came from... She pursed her lips and finally decided on the left-hand branch. She had only walked a few feet when she heard someone say, "Hey, is someone up there?"
She stopped and looked around. "Hello?"
"Kirk?" She turned and looked back the way she had come. "Where are you?"
"I'm in the ditch," she said.
Rebecca walked to the edge of the road and realized the ditch was practically a cliff. She hadn't noticed how steep it was because of the vegetation. Kirk was lying about ten feet down, her legs tangled around the frame of her bike. Her right leg had a nasty scrape, and her T-shirt was torn near the shoulder.
"Thank God. I didn't know when anyone was going to come by."
"How did you...?" Rebecca examined the edge of the drop-off and dropped into a crouch. She put her hand on the road and tentatively explored with her foot for something to step on. "Hold on. I'll get you out of there..."
Kirk said, "No, Rebecca, you'll just hurt yourself. Go get help."
"And leave you lying out here for the... bears?"
Kirk laughed. "Bears?"
Rebecca shook her head. "Or the mosquitoes or the heat or whatever. I can't just leave you down there." She eased herself down the cliff, taking her time and making sure of her footing before she shifted her weight. When she finally reached the bottom, she pulled the bike away from Kirk's legs - and they were such great legs, she couldn't help but notice - and set it to one side. Kirk groaned and said, "My left leg feels broken."
"That's not good," Rebecca said. She bit her bottom lip and applied pressure at different spots. About halfway up her shin, Kirk gasped and jerked. "Oh, God, okay. Right there. Uh-huh. You got it."
Rebecca blushed, remembering some of the dialogue she had just written. Kirk could have been quoting it.
"Do you have a cell phone with you?"
"No. I, uh, left it back at the cabin. Sorry."
Rebecca patted her own pockets in case she had absent-mindedly grabbed hers. No such luck. She didn't think Kirk should be moved, but she also knew that leaving her alone in this kind of heat was also a hugely bad idea. She looked toward the road and said, "How long until someone comes by?"
"Well... the mail truck always comes by at the same time. There are only four cabins out here, but only two of them are currently occupied."
"Oh. Okay. So we just have to wait for one of them to come by."
Kirk said, "Rebecca. Only two of the four cabins are occupied right now."
"And we'll wait until..." She closed her eyes, feeling like an idiot. "Both occupants are currently in this ditch, aren't they?"
"Yeah," Kirk said.
Rebecca crouched, her arms resting on her knees as she looked around. "Well... I-I'm not sure what to do, here. Should I go back to the cabin and get my phone or help you out?"
Kirk said, "You wouldn't be able to get me back up to the road."
"Sure I could," Rebecca said. She pointed and said, "Look, the ditch peters out over there. I could help you get over there, and then you'd just have to lean on me until we got back to my cabin. I could call for help from there."
Kirk twisted to look at the end of the ditch and her T-shirt was pulled across her breasts. Rebecca looked down and then looked quickly away. Now is not the time to cruise for chicks, Rebecca. You have a book to write. Not to mention the fact that she's hurt. She just wants your help and you're projecting your character's libido onto the situation.
"If you think you can carry me that far... I'm not light."
"I'm tougher than I look," Rebecca said. She stood up and held out her hands. "Come on. I'll help you. Careful of your leg." Kirk took Rebecca's hands and let herself be pulled up. She hopped and then pressed herself against Rebecca's side, one arm wrapping tightly around Rebecca's waist. "You okay?" Rebecca said.
"Yeah," Kirk said. "Just a little, you know, sore."
"All right. We're going to go very slowly. There's no rush."
Kirk nodded and said, "Easy for you to say. You have a nice couch in that cabin of yours?"
"Uh... yes, actually. Very plush."
"Sounds great. Lead the way."
They moved through the ditch, with Rebecca stopping every few feet to push branches out of the way. Huffing and puffing, Rebecca finally said, "So. Uh, what's your first name?"
"You want to have small talk now ?"
"Might as well. We've got our arms around each other breathing like an obscene phone call. Why not use this as a bonding experience."
"It's, uh... it's Ophelia."
Rebecca chuckled, a low throaty sound.
"You know how it goes. Parents were children of the sixties. They thought it was cool. I tried to go by Phil for a while, but, you know. It's hard when you have two male names."
"What's your middle name?"
"Desdemona. Just kidding. It's Rosencrantz."
Rebecca threw her head back and laughed. She tightened her hand on Kirk's hip and said, "Well, hopefully we'll end up better than any of your namesakes. We're almost there." They had reached the incline that led back to the road, and Rebecca moved around in front of Kirk and took her hands. "Okay, you're going to have to hop, I guess... I've never really done this before."
"It's kind of new to me, too."
"Okay, you ready? On three. One... two..." She pulled and Kirk hopped. She hissed, but shook her head before Rebecca could ask if she was okay. "One, two..." Another hop. They inched their way up the incline until Rebecca was standing on the road.
Kirk hopped up next to her, put an arm around her waist, and stopped to catch her breath. "And here I was, worried I wouldn't get my full workout today."
"To be honest, I think you can stand to miss a day here and there."
Kirk chuckled. "Flirt."
"It's just my accent. Everything sounds like I'm flirting."
"So how does anyone know if you're actually flirting?"
Rebecca smiled. "Oh, you'll know, Ms. Kirk. Now, come on. Let's get walking."
Kirk dropped onto the couch as if it took her last bit of strength. "God. This is a plush couch."
"I wouldn't lie to you," Rebecca said. She said, "I have to go get my phone out of my room. I'll be right back." She went into the bedroom and saw that the laptop was still on. The cursor flashed at the end of a paragraph and she moved to save the file and shut the machine down. The battery was probably close to dead anyway. When she moved the cursor across the page, she noticed that something wasn't right.
Simone traced her hand along Kirk's thigh, smiling at the way she reacted to the touch. It had been so long since she felt another woman underneath her that --
"When did I make Simone gay?" she whispered. "And 'Kirk'?"
"Did you say something?" Kirk called from the living room.
"No," Rebecca called back. "Just, ah, talking to myself. Just a second." She saved the file and made a mental note to change things later. She found her cell phone in the pocket of her housecoat and went back into the living room to call for help.
It took forty-five minutes for the ambulance to show up, but the EMTs were professional. They got the full story from Kirk, gave her leg a splint, and loaded her into the ambulance so they could take her back to town and get an X-Ray. Rebecca followed the gurney down the driveway, unsure how far her responsibility went. Kirk said, "Thanks for everything, Rebecca. I really don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come looking for me."
"What can I say? I missed you. I'll, ah, keep missing you for a while, since I guess you won't be riding for a while."
"Maybe I can come out and see you anyway. But I'll have to drive."
"That would be nice," Rebecca said. "But focus on getting better first, all right?"
Kirk saluted as she was loaded into the back of the ambulance. Rebecca backed up to let the EMTs pass, and stood on the edge of the driveway as the ambulance executed a three-point turn and headed back to town. Rebecca exhaled once they were gone, stretched her arms out, and walked back into the cabin. It felt empty without Kirk, and she was surprised to find how high her spirits were. She actually felt good for the first time since... well. Since the reason she left New York.
She went into the bedroom, booted up the laptop, and opened The Body Temple . She reread what she had written that morning and saw that she had, indeed, at some point turned CIA agent Joseph Lethe into Ophelia Kirk. The first few books in the Templeton series hinted at Simone's bisexuality, but it was quickly dropped when she decided to focus on her will they/won't they relationship with Temple. Maybe it was time to bring that part of her life into the spotlight. Who said all of Simone's pasts conquests were men? She straightened her shoulders and began to edit what she'd written so that Joseph was transformed completely into a leggy brunette named Kirk.
"This was not funny, Rebecca."
"I know," she said, pacing the living room again. She was barefoot, and the hardwood felt wonderful. She wore a baggy flannel shirt and faded blue jeans that were frayed at the cuffs.
"The publishers were crying for your head. They thought you'd run away because you hit a block. Next time you want to surprise us like this, just... you know... do it . Making Simone gay is--"
"I didn't make anyone gay," Rebecca said. "She has always been bisexual. I just didn't write about it."
"Right, right, whatever." She heard him flipping pages. "This thing is going to fly off the shelves. You might get some controversy from middle America. They might call you a smut peddler. But you know what that does. Bulks up the sale numbers. Maybe we should leak some pages to a few internet groups."
"Do whatever you feel is best, Terrence."
"How're you doin' on the rest of the book?"
"Fantastic. I'm closing in on fifty thousand words, and I have the rest all plotted out." And this time, she was telling the truth. Templeton, Simone and Kirk were in Siberia. Simone, mindful of Templeton's confession to her, couldn't ignore the fact that Kirk needed her. Kirk needed Simone to help her heal. She was well aware of the fact that she was projecting the real-life Kirk's situation to the story, placing herself in Simone's shoes as rescuer. But whatever got the words on the page. She would most likely change Kirk's name before the manuscript went to the editors, but for now it was helping the muse. "I'll have a manuscript ready by the time I leave."
She heard an engine and went to the front door to look outside.
"Great to hear, great to hear. Listen, Rebecca, I know I blew a gasket when you left, but I understand you had to get away from the city to clear your head after Laura, well... you know."
"After Laura dumped me," Rebecca said. She opened the front door and saw an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway. Kirk smiled at her through the windshield and Rebecca waved. "You can say the words, Terrence."
"Well, still. I'm glad you went out there. It seems like it did you a world of good."
Rebecca chuckled. "Yeah. It's amazing what a little fresh air can do." She watched Kirk pull herself from the car, struggling to get the crutches under her arms. She closed the door with one crutch and started a slow trek up the driveway. "Look, Terrence, I gotta go."
Rebecca shrugged. "More like research." She closed the phone and stuck it into the pocket of her jeans as she stepped off the porch to help Kirk get the rest of the way to the cabin.