Chapter XIV


Judith climbed into bed alongside Leigh, who was curled up wearing only an old t-shirt and her panties. She was facing away from her.

The bedroom was dark and quiet and held a note of familiarity that Leigh found soothing. Maybe sheíd find the restful sleep here that had eluded her for so many weeks.

Judith kissed the back of Leighís neck tenderly. The blonde stiffened slightly in reaction, but didnít move to stop her. "I like your hair like this." Leigh had cut it short the month prior. "It gives me easier access to your neck."

"Uh Ö thanks. It was Ö it was bothering me before, I guess."

"You can relax, Leigh," Judith whispered, spooning her body to Leighís. She drew her hand down the soft skin of Leighís thigh, her body easily remembering the many nights of unabashed pleasure theyíd shared. She was hard pressed not to moan out loud. "Iíve missed you Ö missed this."

Leigh didnít know what to say. She closed her eyes when Judithís touch drifted across her belly and pushed up her shirt. She hesitated for a split second, then shifted slightly so her shirt could be pulled over her head. Leigh gasped a little when Judithís warm hands replaced the cotton and continued their lazy stroking.

"Iím not going to hurt you."

Leigh swallowed. "I know." But her muscles were so taut the waitress figured she could bounce a quarter off her ass with little effort. With a light groan, Leigh turned over onto her back, allowing the sheet to pool around her waist.

Judith leaned forward and kissed Leigh lightly on the lips. The kiss was returned and she deepened it, the taste of Leighís mouth ringing familiar chords within her. But something felt different. She pulled back, nipping Leighís lower lip as she moved away. Leighís eyes met hers and in an instant a bone-deep understanding flashed between them.

Judith sighed. Her luck was never going to change when it came to this particular trucker. She would never be hers and Judith knew it. For a moment she gave serious consideration to kicking Leigh out of her bed and life for good. But this time Judith didnít want to be left with nothing. Beneath Tom Catís exterior was a woman she genuinely liked and wanted to get to know better. Tonight she wanted to get to know her breasts better. But she would live with just being friends. "Wanna tell me about it?"


"Donít screw with me, Leigh. Iím horny as hell and thatís just one step from homicidal. So I repeat, wanna tell me about it?"

Leigh sighed. "No."


Despite herself, Leigh chuckled. "Howíd you get so smart all of the a? sudden?"

"All of the a sudden?" Judith laid her head on her shoulder.


Judith took Leighís hands in hers. "So tell about who finally broke your heart."

Leighís pale blue eyes widened. "Damn. Could you always read minds too?"

"Of course. Iím a fabulous catch. You were always just too busy leaving me to notice."

Judith felt Leigh draw in a deep breath as it moved her body right along with it.

"Jesus, Judith. Iím so sorry," Leigh said honestly, her voice barely audible.

"Me too. So talk." Judithís arms tightened around Leigh as the blonde began her story with that first night she accidentally stumbled upon a diner in the mist.

They talked until the moon hung low in the sky.

"Wow" was all Judith could think to say. Leigh had long since rolled over on her side and the waitress hugged her tightly to her. "Thatís the most horrible story Iíve ever heard." She sniffed back her own tears.

Leigh nodded, the large lump in her throat making further speech impossible.

"When are you going back to her?" Judith asked, her warm breath tickling the back of Leighís neck.

Leigh rolled her eyes. She hadnít made her final decision until that very moment. Judith knew her far too well. "Tomorrow."

"I canít believe Iím saying this, but good luck."

Leigh took Judithís hand in hers and squeezed it gently. "Thank you."

The first rays of the morning sun and Leighís nearly incoherent mumble finally broke the dark, silent moments that had stretched out between them. "Judith?"

Judith blinked dazedly. "Hmm?"

"Sometimes love Ö" A long pause. "Som Ö sometimes love Ö it fucking sucks."

Judith rolled her eyes, then gazed fondly at her already slumbering friend. She sighed. "Tell me about it, Leigh."



RJ stood back and appraised her truck. She sighed and shook her head when a large glop of mud fell off the mangled bumper. After she had sobered up, she, Liam, and Patrick had managed to tow it out of the pond. It was then RJ realized that things had to change.

"Itís not that bad." Patrick tried to sound optimistic as he peered into the water-damaged interior. He opened the door and a surge of water poured over his shoes. A hapless fish flopped out and dropped dead on his toe. "Eww." He kicked it away.

"Yeah. Yeah. Itís going to take a long time to fix her back up." RJ dropped down onto the grass and pulled her cigarettes from her pocket. "Iím not sure I even want to."

"You have to. She was one of the sweetest trucks in Glory." Patrick joined his sister, taking one of her smokes for himself.

"Was being the operative word," RJ said glumly.

"What do you want, RJ?"

"I want Leigh."

"Thatís not what I meant."

RJ closed her eyes and leaned back, using her hand to brace her. "I know."

Patrick lit his own cigarette and turned his head to blow out the smoke. "Itís bad to want something you canít have."

RJ exhaled calmly. "And Confucius say kiss my arse! Since when are my brothers philosophers and head shrinkers? Iíll go to Pete if I want a bunch of annoying advice."

Patrick furrowed his brow. "Confucius?"

RJ dropped onto her back, moaning. "Mary, sweet Mother of Jesus, please help me not to drown my brother in that lovely pond," she gestured over her shoulder.

"Hey," Patrick protested, "you brought it up."

RJ shook her head. "That I did." Her eyes took on a determined glint. "Besides, Iím not so sure I canít have what I want." She crossed her legs at the ankles. "Iím going to ask to leave Glory."

Patrickís and Liamís jaws both dropped. "Youíre joking, right? You know Mother already triedĖ"

She waved him off. "That was Mother." Her voice dropped to its lowest register. "Not me. Iím going to ask." She plucked her cigarette from her lips and held it between two fingers. "Iím not happy here anymore, Patrick." Her eyes went a little unfocused. "Iím not sure I ever really was. My time with Leigh made me understand what Iíve been. Thereís no going back now. Not for me."

"RJ Ė"

"I know it sounds strange, but I really think that we were meant to be together. Iím going to find a way to make it happen."

The two men exchanged knowing looks. "Youíre going to get your heart broken all over again. What if youíre told no again?"

"I wonít be told no. I love her and Iíll follow her to the ends of the earth if I must." Her voice was growing stronger and more confident with every word. "Iím going to get out of Glory. Iím going to find her, drop to my knees and beg her forgiveness, and, God willing, Iím going to spend the rest of my days with her."

Patrick regarded his sister carefully for a moment. Sheíd always had an eye for the ladies. But this was obviously different. "Itís true love, is it." It wasnít a question.

"Absolutely." She nodded. "Iíve spent the last few months trying to forget and trying to convince myself otherwise, but it canít be done. Iíve tried to play by the rules and forget what I shouldnít crave. But I canít! She has my heart, boys. And itís time she knew that."

"Then I wish you all the luck in the world," Patrick said seriously.

"Youíre going to need it," Liam warned.

Patrick flicked his cigarette at his brother. "Be quiet, shit for brains. Sheís made up her mind. Have you ever known her not to get her way eventually once thatís happened?"

Liam happily picked up the cigarette and took a long drag. "No," he admitted finally. "I guess I havenít."

Patrick looked smug. "If she means that much to RJ, then they should be together."

"And we will be," RJ said firmly. "We will."



The rain came down in steady, endless sheets as Leighís truck speed toward Fitzís diner. The rhythmic swaying of the windshield wipers were only making it harder for Leigh to stay awake.

After a few hours of the most restful sleep sheíd had in months, Leigh had kissed Judith on her cheek and said her goodbyes. Properly this time. Sheíd said sheíd stop by again sometime, for a burger and some conversation. And Judith had nodded; though in her heart she didnít think sheíd be seeing this particular woman again, she had long ago learned to never say never.

That morning seemed far away to Leigh as she slowed her rig for a slow-moving car. She felt drained, but hopeful. Hopeful that she could talk RJ into giving them another chance, hopeful that her destiny was in her own hands and not someone elseís.

Leigh had replayed their last moments together endlessly since sheíd driven away from the diner. At first, she couldnít see beyond her own anger and pain. But last night as she told Judith what had happened, for the first time, she could look beyond her own emotions and focus on RJ. Not only on the words that had broken her heart. But on the taller womanís face. On her eyes. On the slight quiver of her chin and the way she ducked her head as she spoke. These were all clues that helped her wade through her confusion and resentment. She hadnít read RJ wrong. The woman was in love with her. Leigh could see it in those soulful green eyes, feel it whenever they touched. Now all she had to do was make RJ see it too. Nothing was going to stop her.

In her lap sat the small black bear. She lifted it to her lips and kissed it softly as her eyes grew impossibly heavy. The turnoff for the diner and Glory are around here somewhere. She yawned. I know it. Her thoughts began to drift to RJ and finding her. And her eyelids fluttered shut.

Then she was floating and dreaming.



Leigh trudged up a small hill, running her palms along the tops of the tall, wet grass as she walked. The sun was shining and a cool breeze gently washed over her. Every step was hard, but she knew down deep inside that if she could just make it over the hill Ö

At the top, she shielded her eyes from the sun with the back of her hand and peered down the other side. It was the edge of a town, quaint and clean. "Glory," she said excitedly. "It has to be."

In a far-off way she realized she was dreaming, that none of this was real. But she didnít care. It simply didnít matter as she ran as fast as she could down the long, gradually flattening terrain, teddy bear clutched tightly in her hand. The air smelled like summer blossoms and the wind was at her back, pushing her toward her destination.

Finally, panting, she stepped onto the damp sidewalk and slowed her pace. Spinning in a circle she looked around at the neat rows of houses and lush trees that lined both sides of the street. She could hear the faint music of an ice cream truck and the sound of children laughing and Leigh laughed. Itís a Stepford town, she thought wryly, deciding instantly that she really didnít mind.

A tiny weathered-looking woman approached her, shuffling along in the opposite direction. "Well," Mrs. Amos stopped and smiled at Leigh. "Itís about time you got here."

Leigh blinked. "What do youĖ"

"Never mind, dear." Mrs. Amos patted her arm gently. "Youíre here now and thatís all that matters."

Leigh shook her head a little. "Is Ö is this Glory?"

"Of course. And we had all our potholes filled last spring," she finished proudly. In her estimation it never hurt to show off that little fact.

Leigh stared at the woman. "Uh Ö okay. Glad to hear it. By any chance you donít know a Ė"

"Sheíll be in the park about now. Iím certain." Mrs. Amos extended her arm and pointed a gnarled finger in the direction Leigh had been heading. "Itís in the very center of town. You canít miss it. Thereís a lovely fountain right in the middle." She gave Leigh a little shove. "Go on now. I canít stand the thought of her moping another second. Itís only a block or so away."

Leigh grinned and took off running. When she rounded the corner she could see RJ and Pete sitting on a shaded bench, talking. She froze, suddenly unsure of what she was going to say. Thankfully, she was spared too long to worry over it because as soon as she came into view, RJís head snapped up and their eyes locked. RJ shot to her feet and she could see her gesture wildly and say something nasty to Pete, who flinched.

"Okay." Leigh licked her lips nervously. "Now or never." As fast as her feet would carry her, she closed the remaining distance between them.

RJ opened her arms and Leigh flew into them, her impact knocking the taller woman back into the damp grass. Each womanís lips frantically sought the otherís and they kissed deeply.

"Leigh," RJ breathed, backing away just enough to kiss the truckerís chin and cheeks. "What are you doing here, lass? God, you canít be here." She was shaking. "You canít."

Leigh kissed her again. "I am here. And Iím not going anywhere." The bear fell forgotten on the soft grass alongside RJ, and she pinned the larger woman with strong arms. "Get used to it, RJ. Youíre stuck with me."

RJ shook her head wildly. "Dammit! No!" She pried Leighís hands from her shirt and jumped to her feet to square off against Pete, who was trying his best to blend in with the background. "What the hell is this, Pete! She does not belong here." The words were nearly spat, and Pete couldnít help but back off a step.

"I belong with you," Leigh protested.

RJ grabbed Leighís shoulders and gave them a desperate shake. "You donít understand! You donít know what youíre saying."

Leighís eyes flashed. "I do know."

"RJ," Pete held both hands up in surrender. "She does belong here. Sheís right. Youíre meant to be together.

RJ advanced a step, her eyes daring Pete to retreat another inch. "Not like this. Sheís got a lifetime to live. No, Peter. You can undo this. You fix this!" she shouted.

Leighís head was snapping back and forth between them. Why should Pete care one way or the other?

"Thereís nothing to fix," Pete said firmly.

RJ closed her eyes and tilted her head back as she growled out in frustration.

Leighís gentle touch on her face drew her attention downward. "I donít understand," she said honestly. "I know you love me. Why wonít you let us be together?"

RJís heart clenched at the words. "You donít truly understand, Leigh. Or you wouldnít be here."

"But I want us to be together." Leigh stamped her foot furiously. "Why is that so hard to understand?"

RJ pulled her close. "You have to go back."

"She canít," Pete interrupted. His eyes softened as he spoke to his old friend. Flea, who had been watching the scene from her lounging spot under the large oak tree, jumped up onto Peterís shoulder and rubbed her face against his cheek. "Sheís been on the road to Glory for a while now, Fitz." He spread his hands out in entreaty. "Now is the right time, for you both. Accept it."

"I wonít!"

"You donít have a choice."

RJ shot Pete an evil look and focused her attention on Leigh. "Lass, you need to listen to me. And listen good." She cupped her cheek, stroking Leighís cheekbones with her thumbs. She looked tired and thin, and RJ ached for the pain theyíd both already endured. "You canít be with me. Youíd have to give up too much."

"Iíll give up anything," came the immediate answer.

"Your friends? Your job? Your whole life?"

"Yes." Her voice was resolute.

"You canít! We cannot be together." RJ felt tears well up in her eyes. "Not in this place. Not now."

"But why?"

RJ pressed two fingers against Leighís lips to quiet her. "Because itís not your time. This place is beyond the life you know. Beyond everything you know."

"I can do Mayberry!" Leigh protested.

"Why does everyone keep calling it that?" Pete whispered to Flea.

The cat meowed grumpily.

RJ let out a frustrated breath. But when she opened her mouth speak, it was Peteís stern words that broke the silence.

"Ask her, RJ."

"Damn you, Peter. Donít you say that! I donít have to do that yet. Sheís not ready."

Pete smiled sadly. Why did Fitz always have to be such a pain in the ass? "Ask her," he repeated patiently.

"You donít need to ask me anything," Leigh broke in. "I need to stay here. I need to be with you. I donít have a life on the road. I want you to be my family. Families should be together."

Hot tears spilled down RJís cheeks, and Leigh reached up and tenderly wiped them away. She bent over and retrieved the bear, pressing it into RJís hands. "Youíre my heartís desire, RJ. I love you and we were meant to be together. No matter what."

The words were still hanging when Leigh gasped and clutched her chest. Her legs felt wobbly, and it suddenly seemed as though she couldnít breathe.

RJ wrapped long arms tightly around Leigh, and the younger woman buried her face against RJís chest.

"Hang on, lass." She squeezed Leigh as close to her as she could, melding their bodies together and feeling Leighís pounding heartbeat begin to fade Ö


"Címon! Hurry."

"Done." The fireman lifted his welderís mask as he moved out of the way and a young paramedic scooted around him, dropping herself into Leighís partially crushed cab. The rain cooled his sweaty skin and after a moment he called down to the woman. "Is she alive?" He glanced past the milling fire, police and ambulance crew at the highway.


Tossing his wet mask aside, he peered down past the deflated airbag and the twisted pieces of metal. He spoke conversationally as the paramedic worked frantically. There was only room for one in the cab with Leigh so there was nothing he could do. "No skid marks. She didnít touch the brakes. Booze, do you think?"

"Doubtful," the woman answered as she fumbled for a chest tube in her bag. "Last trucker I worked on like this had me sitting on a mountain of beer cans. She probably just fell asleep."

"Little thing for such a big rig." He squinted and imagined her face without the blood. "Young and pretty too." He shook his head. "Damn shame." There was no answer but he didnít take offense. The paramedic was focusing on her patient.

"Shit. Sheís coding." The woman reached around the mangled steering wheel and pressed harder into Leighís throat, trying to find a pulse. "Weíve got to get her out of here now!"

Two other men joined the fireman at her words. "Paddles?"

"I canít." She tossed her bag straight up and it was plucked out the air by one of the waiting fireman. "Canít get the right angle. Now, Steve." Her voice had a renewed urgency. "Or itís not going to matter."



"Thatís it," RJ continued to hang onto Leigh, supporting nearly all of her weight. "Itís almost over, love."

Leigh suddenly gasped. Her eyes popped open as cool, clean air tinged with the scent of her loverís skin filled her senses and the pressure on her chest began to ease. "RJ?" she questioned weakly, trying to put some weight back on her own two feet.

"Iím here. Relax against me." A small smile touched her lips when Leigh instantly did just that.

"What Ė" she paused and swallowed, slowly pushing away from RJís protective arms. "What happened?" Leigh looked around with wide eyes. Her senses all seemed magnified, and she could feel the breeze caress the downy hair that covered her skin. Then she glanced up into eyes that had always called to her and fell all over again into their endless affection and warm devotion.

RJ thought for a moment about how to say this and then decided to simply be blunt. If ever there was a woman who appreciated blunt, it was Leigh Matthews. "You died."

Leighís eyes widened and her mouth formed a tiny ĎO.í

RJ reached out to steady her, but she didnít falter.

Finally, Leigh muttered, "Wow."

Leigh ran a hand through her hair. "Oh, man. Oh, man. Are you sure Iím not just insane? Iím not going to wake up hungover someplace?"

"No, darliní. Youíre really here." RJís gaze slid sideways to Pete. She saw the question in his eyes and nodded quietly. It wasnít what she wanted for Leigh. But there was no way on earth she was going to give her back now.

Pete smiled and reached up to pet Flea, grateful that he wasnít going to have to find a new place to live. RJ was not the sort of person you wanted pissed off at you for an eternity.

The pilot let Leigh have a moment to at least scratch the surface of a process that would take a while, knowing sheíd have a million and one questions but hoping to convey the most important stuff first. She had half-expected Leigh to freak out. That hadnít exactly happened yet, and somehow RJ found that infinitely scarier. "Are you all right?"

"I Ö um Ö" Leigh took stock of her body. She felt lighter and stronger than ever, though a quick look at her body confirmed that she now had back the weight sheíd lost over the past three months. A bird flew overhead and his call sounded sweet and pristine. It was as though she had been viewing the world through a light fog and now the fog was simply gone. Every last bit of her, at least physically, felt fabulous. "Yeah. I donít know how thatís possible. She pinched herself. "Ouch."

RJ laughed. Everyone did that.

"I feel great," Leigh said in amazement. She reached out and laid her palms against RJís chest. She felt a heartbeat and her chestís steady rise and fall. Then she removed one hand and placed it against her own chest and frowned. "My heart is beating? But Iím still dead?"

"Yes. And you eat and sleep and do all those things you did before. Only youíre not quite so ruled by your physical self. Iíll explain it all.

"And youíre dead too?"

RJ nodded and let out a slow breath. "For sixty years now. Though I was allowed a second chance at life with you when we went our trip. When you dropped me back at the diner our time together was finished, Leigh. I swear, I didnít want to leave you. But I had no choice."

Leigh put her hands on her hips. "So thatís why you dumped me like yesterdayís trash? Because you were some sort of ghost?"

"I am no such thing." RJ looked aghast. "And just remember, whatever it is I am, you are too." Her face went serious. "I did what I thought would give you a life, Leigh. Because I love you. And for no other reason."

Leighís eyes narrowed. She reached out and grabbed and handful of RJís shirt, pulling them nose to nose. "Weíve got a lot to talk about. But this very second there is only question I have."

"Yes?" RJ asked reluctantly.

"Are we in this Ö" She gestured broadly. "Whatever you call it. Life or next life ... together?"



"Thatís two questions."

"Shut up."

"Gladly." RJ pulled Leigh into a crushing embrace and occupied her mouth with something far more pleasurable than talking.

Leigh moaned her approval at RJís choice and hoped it was one her lover would make for lifetimes to come.

Pete sighed. It wasnít unmanly to shed a tear for true love, was it?

Flea jumped off his shoulder, and they both began strolling toward Peteís car. Over their shoulders they heard Leigh exclaim delightedly, "I knew I could never love anyone who owned a piece of shit!"

Pete laughed. "I guess she finally got a glimpse of RJís truck in all its glory."

Flea padded along quietly, ignoring Pete and already thinking ahead to the next glorious time she could finagle two more squirrels into Glory.

"Maybe we should change the name." Pete opened the door and Flea jumped in, taking her customary spot on the dashboard.

She looked at Pete.

The big man rolled his eyes. "But everyone already calls it Mayberry! Why fight it? And no, I will not submit the request to you in triplicate. I donít care what you say."

Flea licked her paw with an air of boredom and superiority that could only be possessed by a cat.

"Fine," Pete huffed. "But donít blame me if you drown under a mound of paper work."

Flea closed her eyes for a short nap. They were serving liver at the diner tonight, and she wanted to be rested and ready when it came time to chow down. She had her priorities.

"And another thing Ö"

If Pete didnít stop droning on and on and on, Flea was going to be forced to do something drastic. The last time that had happened the world ended up with the platypus. And that was before sheíd really gotten creative and learned what antifreeze could do.


"So this is your brilliant plan?"

"Weíre not currently being digested by Flea, are we?"

"No," the male groused. "I suppose not."

The male and female squirrels scampered across the hot roof of the garage that sat next to Fitzís diner, heading for the forgotten hammer theyíd seen from their nest. "The human female should really be more careful. Leaving a heavy object on a slanted roof could be dangerous."

"For our sake, youíd better hope so." The female plopped herself down next to the hammer, breathing heavily. "Okay, do I need to repeat myself?"

"No! I started paying attention after the fourth time you went over your instructions." He puffed out his chest. "I can handle this. No problem."

The femaleís blood went cold at his words.

"Really," he insisted.

"Uh huh."


"Fine." She moved away from the hammer. "Hang your head over the edge and see if sheís still sleeping down there."

Her mate peered warily over the edge of the tall roof. "Yup. The fat cat is lying there sound asleep." He laughed gleefully. She was about to meet her maker.

The female shrugged. "So, push the hammer over the edge and squish her."

"Itís a brilliant plan."

She beamed. "I know." I knew there was a reason I married him.

The male spit on his hands and began to push.

The hammer didnít move.

He gave it a withering glare and then threw his scrawny back into it, grunting loudly. "IÖ" Grunt. "CanítÖ move." Grunt. Grunt. "Move it."

"I can see that."

He stood up, sweat pouring off his furry brow. "Help me! I need your bulk."

"Ooooo, that sounds so sexy!"

He winked charmingly. "Later. After the felinocide."

The female began to push on the hammer along with her mate and little by little the heavy tool moved closer to the edge. Where it stopped.

The male burst into tears. "Why canít any of our plans succeed? Itís not fair!"

The female uncharacteristically joined her mate and burst into tears too. How much could one rodent be expected to handle? "I donít know!" she sobbed. "But letís try one more time."

They both began to push with all their might, and magically, somehow, the hammer began to move. Unfortunately, so did Flea. At the last second the female tried to stop the hammer and change its trajectory. But she lost her balance and stood helplessly, teetering on the very edge of the roof.

"Help! Help!"

For a long moment her mate was paralyzed by fear. Okay, he was really deciding whether or not to give her a good shove. But figuring that it wouldnít get rid of her permanently, he decided to save her. Sadly, he tripped along the way. The male fell straight forward and slammed into his mate, sending them both off of the roof and careening toward the ground at frightening speed.

"AHH!!" the tangled Ball OíSquirrel screamed.



"AHH!!" Randi sat bolt upright in bed, sweat dripping liberally from her face and neck. Panting and wide-eyed, she flicked her gaze around the shadow-filled bedroom.

Mac threw her hand across Randiís lap. "Go back to sleep," she slurred tiredly, never bothering to open her eyes.

"I canít." Her chest was heaving. "God, I Ö it was the most fantastic dream."

"Thatís nice," Mac answered into her pillow.

"You were in it, but your eyes were the wrong color and you were a truck driver with a naked woman on the side of your truck." Randi looked down at her naked lover. "She was hot, by the way."

Mac only grunted.

"And I was a handyman in heaven or some other screwed up place where you go when you die." She made a face. That part had never been very clear. How pathetic. "And the squirrels from the park, the ones who spy on us, they were there too."

Mac lifted her head tiredly. Her hair was plastered to the side of her face, and she opened one eye to stare at Randi. "I told you to stop going to that park and talking to them. Itís creepy."

"It is not."

A pale eyebrow lifted.

"Okay, it is. But I swear theyíre talking about us. I just know it."

Macís head flopped back down. "Theyíre rodents, Randi. They canít talk."

"Thatís what you think."

"Yes," she pushed herself up again and kissed Randi gently on the lips, smiling at the sweet contact. "Thatís what I think. I also think that Iím going back to sleep and that you should too." She sighed. No more burritos before bed for her.

Randi looked annoyed but didnít have a real reason to argue. It was the middle of the night. "Okay. Good night, stalker."

"Donít call me that," Mac mumbled softly.

Randi straightened their covers and glared at the fat, black cat with golden eyes that was lying at the foot of their bed. She sneered. "I hate you."

The cat purred happily.

"I donít care if Mac did run you down with that godawful Volkswagen of hers," she grumbled petulantly. "Youíre going to the pound tomorrow."

"Stop lying to the cat," Mac interrupted unexpectedly. "She knows it was you that hit her. Not me. And sheís staying until sheís healed. Go to sleep."

"Fine." Randi lay back down and pulled the sheet up to her neck. She glared at the feline. "Stop mocking me!"

"Randi," Mac warned.

"Okay. Okay. If she has to stay at least we can give her a name."

"I already did that this afternoon while you were calling all the shelters and cursing them out for not taking injured cats."

"Well, what is it?"

Mac rolled over and fluffed her pillow before closing her eyes again and groaning inwardly. She had to work the next morning. "Flea."


Unseen in the darkness, Flea just grinned.



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