Disclaimer: These characters belong solely to me. Any resemblance to anyone real or fictional is entirely coincidental.

Sex, Drugs, and Violence: There is consenting sex between two adult women as well as drug use. If any of this bothers you, then move right along. 

Thank you to my lovely and talented betas: Nutty and Elsieaustin whose advice and suggestions are invaluable.

Subpoenas, theater tickets, directions to the nearest psych hospital: xenacast@gmail.com

The Last Good Day 
by Amy Boatman

Chapter four

Bailey was a goddess. For a moment, I forgot to breathe. The little part of my brain that didn’t want to die kicked my diaphragm, and I inhaled deeply.  

She wore a white cotton blouse covered with a black lace shawl. Her skirt was red. It fit snugly around her hips before flaring out and then dropping down to just past her knees. The barest hint of her belly could be seen between her blouse and her skirt. I imagined running my finger across the supple skin. An electric shock pulsed through me. “Hi,” I managed to squeak.

“Hi, yourself.” For the first time, I detected a hint of west Texas in Bailey’s voice. I didn’t recall it being there the last time we spoke.  

I stepped out of the way and gestured her inside.

She looked around appreciatively. “You have a great house.”  

“Would you like the nickel tour?” At her nod, I began leading her around the house. “This, as you can see, is the living room.” I opened my arms to indicate the large room. The front door opened into the large and spacious formal living room. I hardly ever used it because formal rooms intimidated me. Thoughts of plastic covered furniture and swats for putting my feet on the table always lingered here. The memories didn’t stem from this particular room, but I just couldn’t shake them. 

Her footsteps echoed off the hardwood floors as she walked in. “Wow, it’s beautiful. This furniture is antique, isn’t it?” She ran her hand across the top of the couch.  

“Yeah, my foster mother, Sondra, inherited some nice pieces from her mother. This set is from the colonial period, I think. As hard as she tried to get me interested in antique stuff, I just never really got it. I hardly ever use this room. It’s just too…well, formal for me. I’m not a formal type person.” 

She laughed. Gods, that was a beautiful sound. “Yeah, I gathered that about you. You strike me as the jeans and t-shirt type.” Her smile told me she was okay with that. “So, you live here with your foster mother?” 

“No. She died a few years back.”  

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Compassion floated from her eyes and drifted around me.  

“Well, it was a long time ago.” I turned to lead her into the den so as to avoid further discussion. I didn’t like to talk about Sondra. The informal den had comfortable couches and cozy fireplace. I led Bailey through it, through the small kitchen, and into the rumpus room. 

“You have a rumpus room? I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone in real life who had a rumpus room.” She was unable to control her giggle.  

“Hey!” I donned a mock indignant tone. “I love having a rumpus room. You never know when you’re going to have a good rumpus and need a room for it.” I smiled at her, and we both broke out in giggles. Our eyes met, and the giggling faded away. I noticed a little mole, really just a dark freckle, on her right cheek. Her blonde eyelashes were long, framing her light blue eyes in fine gauze. Those same eyes searched my face. Her gaze was like a touch stroking my skin. I was pulled into the depths of her eyes like a magnet to the north until our lips met. 

The kiss was sweet and lingering. Her lips were soft and smooth. I parted them slightly with my tongue, and hers came up to meet me. They danced briefly in languorous circles. I licked the inside of her lip as we parted. She had one hand on the left side of my face; the other was resting on my hip. My instinct to breathe took another brief hiatus as I stared at her in wonder. Her hooded eyes stared back into mine, a slight smile on those wonderful lips. As my body pulled air into my lungs, I came back to myself. My hands were holding her hips, my thumbs touching the exposed skin I had dreamed of just moments ago. I blinked my eyes to reorient myself to my surroundings. Her hand dropped from my face but our eyes continued the caress.

“Wow,” was all the speech I was capable of for that moment.

She smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling, and she chuckled. “Wow is what I was thinking too.”

I suddenly felt exposed in a way I hadn’t in years, not since Tricia had seen me for who I was. Fear rose in me as my rotting soul came too close to the surface. I looked around the room, no longer able to bear the intimacy of the contact we had just shared. It had been years since someone had looked at me like that. Hell, I wasn’t sure anyone had ever looked at me like that. Tricia’s eyes had taken without giving. Her gaze had been feral, animalistic, and greedy. Before her, there had just been a long string of bedmates. The looks I shared with them had been filtered through beer and tequila.

I cleared my throat, feeling awkward and unsure. “Well, shall we go to dinner?” I looked back at her and noticed a shadow of doubt pass across her face. I gave her my best smile and reached for her hand. She smiled, but traces of doubt lingered.

“We haven’t finished the tour yet.” She raised an eyebrow at me.

“Hmm, well, my office is through here and the bathroom is over there.” I pointed to each area. “What else is there?”

She just smirked at me.

“Why Miss Lancaster, are you asking to see my bedroom?” I put on my best southern belle accent. Her smirk turned into a full blown smile. “I believe you’ll have to buy me dinner first, ma’am. I don’t show my bedroom to just any ole body.” We both dissolved into laughter, and the tension was completely diffused.

“Alright, then, let’s go eat.” She gripped my hand and began leading us back towards the front door.

“I’ll be right with you. I just need to use the restroom.” I left her standing in the living room. In my bathroom, I looked in the mirror.

Jordan, this could be bad. She can see you. Do you really want that?

I couldn’t stop myself from liking this woman. This must be what freefall is like. The giddy rush of the air, knowing the earth is rising quickly to meet you, while you are unable to do anything but enjoy the sensations. The inevitable crash at the end was still too far away to worry about. At the moment, I would relish the wind washing over me and the wild race of my heart. I took two pills from one of the medicine bottles, downing them with a dry swallow. Let the freefall begin!

Bailey’s silver SUV glided to a stop in front of the restaurant. An eager young man approached her and took the keys. She slipped him a five as he slid behind the wheel. The interior of the restaurant was warm and inviting. The building had once been a home, and, as a restaurant, it still retained the cozy atmosphere. The front room contained five tables spaced far enough apart to allow private conversation. Each was embellished with a glowing candle in the center. The only other illumination radiated from recessed lights shining diffusely near the ceiling. Off to the left, in what had once been a bedroom, were four more tables, each as privately and romantically arranged.

The waiter approached us and gave Bailey an expansive smile. “Bailey, I was so happy to see your name on the list.” He leaned over and hugged her smaller body to him. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been great, Gary. You?”

“Can’t complain.” He turned and looked at me. “And who is this lovely creature?”

“This is Jordan Jameson. Jordan, this is Gary Baker.” I had to stifle a laugh as he took my proffered hand and kissed my knuckles. That wasn’t something you saw everyday.

“It’s very nice to meet you Jordan.” He leaned over to Bailey and whispered loudly enough for me to hear, “You have excellent taste, my dear.” He wiggled his eyebrows, and Bailey blushed. Gods, she was cute when she blushed.

Gary led us to one of the four tables, in the corner. Two other couples had been seated in the front room, but we had this one all to ourselves. He handed us each a menu and left with a bow.

I looked questioningly at Bailey. “Gary’s a friend of yours?”

“Well, I actually used to work here. This place helped put me through grad school. I’ve known Gary for a few years now. He’s really a great guy despite the whole pompous hand kissing thing.” We both giggled.

“So, think you can help me decipher this menu? There’s not a thing on here I understand. Oh wait, this means water right?” She giggled again as I pointed out the one word I recognized in a sea of unintelligible French.

“Would it be presumptuous of me to order for us both?”

“Hell no! It’ll save me the embarrassment of having to butcher these words. Or else I’d just look silly pointing and grunting. Just please no liver. I can’t stand liver.”

“Alright, no liver.” She motioned for Gary who came right over. She gave him our order in words I knew I would hurt myself trying to say, and then he was gone.

“I’m impressed. The only French I know I learned from a 70s disco song. Just enough to get slapped if not spoken in the correct context.”

She smiled at me again. Ahhh. “Well, don’t be. I only know enough to order dinner. Once we had a French couple come in here, and he was so excited to hear his native tongue, he just started rattling off who knew what. I was taking his order and, after I gave him a blank stare, he realized I had no idea what he was saying. I felt so sorry for him. I’m sure it’s not often you get to speak French with someone in the middle of Texas.”

“So, I know you speak food French, once worked in this lovely place, and went to college. Gosh, what else is there to know?”

“What would you like to know?” Her eyes held a hint of challenge.

I reached down and picked up the gauntlet. “Where are you from? What was your family like? Any siblings? What’s your favorite movie? What are your thoughts on this grand scheme we call life? And most importantly, great taste or less filling?”

She held up her hands in mock protest. “Okay, okay. Let’s get some wine before I unravel my life for you.” She gestured towards Gary, and he brought a bottle of white wine. He held it for her approval and, after her nod, poured us each a glass. He left the bottle with us before departing.

“I hope you like wine,” she said, belatedly.

“Just so long as you don’t ask me anything about it. I know there’s red and white. Other than that, I have no clue.” I sipped from my glass. It had a fruity sweetness, in sharp contrast to the dry, slightly bitter flavor I was expecting. “Um, this is good.”

“This is really a dessert wine. It’s tres gauche to drink it before dinner, as the chef here was always telling me, but I like the sweet wines.”

After a few moments of companionable silence contemplating sweet wine, I said, “So, the story that is Bailey Lancaster. Do tell.”

“Well, let’s see. I was born and raised in Cedar Falls. It’s a small speck in west Texas.”

“I thought I heard the Big Bend in your accent. I wasn’t sure since I only really heard it when you were at my front door.

“It tends to come out when I’m relaxed. At work, not so relaxed. At your front door, totally different story.”

“Well, I’m glad you found my door soothing.” I grinned and gestured for her to continue.

“My parents work at the high school back home. My mom, Betty, teaches English, and my dad, Bob, is the principal. I have two older brothers, Brett and Brandt.” She glared at me when I was unable to stifle a giggle. “I know, it’s kinda silly. But what can you do?”

I shrugged and shook my head. 

“What else? I moved to the big city in 1997 to attend the University of Texas and just never left. I got my masters in Social Work about eight months ago. I had done part of my internship at Brackenridge hospital, and once I was done with school, they hired me.” She moved her hands and arms in animated gestures as she spoke. “My favorite movie is Earth Girls Are Easy; I have a major thing for Geena Davis. My thoughts on life, hmm.” She tilted her head to the left and her eyes followed. Her brow crinkled in thought. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. “That one’s harder. I guess I’d have to say being happy is the most important thing. In fact, I think it’s the only thing. If you’re not happy, what’s the point? And great taste, definitely.” She finished with a smile. “Now it’s your turn.”

I was a master at the art of avoidance. “Oh my life is pretty boring.”

I was saved from further disclosure by the arrival of our salads. Gary arranged the plates and sprinkled fresh ground pepper on the salads.

“What made you go into Social Work?” I asked as I dove into my food. I hadn’t eaten all day and was suddenly ravenous.

“Well, when I was in high school, my best friend Jessie tried to kill herself.” Her manner became subdued. “She took an overdose of sleeping pills. She went home early from school and just downed a whole bottle of her mother’s pills. No one was supposed to be home for hours, and Jessie would have been dead by then. Luckily, her father came home early to get some papers he’d left, and found her. She had to spend some time in the psych hospital. I went to visit her everyday. The one person who was nice to her without fail was the social worker. Some of the other staff treated Jessie badly but not Mister Cartwright. He helped her more than the drugs or the programs. He was there for her every time she needed him. I decided I wanted to help people like that. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. So, I decided on Social Work. I’ve never regretted it. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to look into someone’s eyes and know that you made something a little more bearable.” Her eyes drifted far away and she nodded her head. “Yeah, it’s the most rewarding thing in life.” She returned her gaze to me and began eating her salad. “So, what made you become a paramedic?”

I hadn’t talked about myself in so long, I wasn’t sure I remembered how. “Something similar to you. I had to ride in an ambulance one time when I was young, and the medic was nice to me when no one else had been. She made me feel like everything was going to be okay even though I knew it wasn’t. Just the fact that she tried, though, touched something in me. I decided I wanted to pay it forward as it were. I’ve always felt a debt to that woman, and I try to pay it back every day.”

Bailey pushed her empty salad bowl aside. She reached over and rested her hand on mine. “And from what I hear, you do a damn fine job.” Her touch burned my skin, but I couldn’t move. Her warmth spread up my arm and into my chest. Her eyes probed mine, and I felt naked.

I knew there would be no hiding from her. The thought terrified me. She must have seen something in my eyes because she reluctantly pulled her hand away and placed it back on her own. My heart ached at the loss. I reached across the table, grabbed her hand, and brought it back to mine.

We sat for a moment gazing into each other’s eyes. I could see pain and a tinge of sorrow lurking beneath the surface. I recognized something in her. I had a feeling of shared horror. I couldn’t explain it, but I suddenly knew she had seen The Nothing.

Her eyes were so open, so honest, so present. She was not afraid of showing her pain. Every time I looked into the mirror, dead eyes stared back at me. Did she see that I was just an animated corpse? Could she tell that something had died in me a long time ago, and its putrescence still oozed from my pores?

“I know you’re afraid.” Her voice was barely more than a whisper. “The thought that I can see within you scares the shit out of you. But you know what, Jordan? It doesn’t scare me.” She continued to hold my eyes just as she held my hand. “I can’t deny that I’m intensely attracted to you. And I know you’re attracted to me too. I want to get to know you, Jordan. I want to know who you are, if you’ll let me. I sense something special in you. I’m not asking for anything from you except a chance. I can tell you’re about to bolt out of your chair and run away. How long have you been running, Jordan? Aren’t you tired yet? Aren’t you ready to stop for a minute, if only to see where you are?”

I was completely and utterly lost. I felt rudderless, set adrift on a storm-swept sea. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know what to say. My instinct, as she said, was to leave the table and run as quickly as possible, as far away as possible.

I sensed the Nothing opening up behind me. I desperately wanted to grab on to Bailey and let her help me fight it off. But I just couldn’t. My soul was as close to being exposed as it ever had been, and I could not bear to look at it. How could I expect her to? I felt my mind sliding away from it all. It was just too much.

I tasted blood and realized I had bitten my lip. My arms and legs twitched as my brain anticipated movement. My hands began to shake and then the tremors spread throughout my whole body until I felt as if I were having a seizure.  When my wildly spinning eyes drifted to my hand, still held by hers, I saw no movement. How was she still holding on to me? Surely, I had fallen to the floor by now. My ears were full of a buzzing that drowned out every other sound. My vision constricted until all I could see was a pinpoint of light. My nostrils filled with the scent of rotting meat, dead flesh. I felt my stomach heave, and I was suddenly horrified at the thought of throwing up in this restaurant.

Suddenly, I felt warmth on my face and an arm holding my head. Another arm stroked my back grounding me, bringing me back, showing me the way out of the tunnel. The buzzing in my ears became a quiet shushing sound. A slightly fruity, sweet smell wormed its way past the rotting meat and firmly took root in my consciousness. The taste of bile began receding, my throat muscles relaxed, my stomach unclenched. My arms were lead weights. I couldn’t lift my head, and I was grateful for the arm holding it lest it fall right off. My mind whirled in panic, unsure where to focus. What was going on? What had happened? The questions ripped through my mind but my mouth stayed securely shut.

“Can you stand?”

The words entered my ear and it took a second before my brain registered their meaning. Could I stand? I had no idea. Was I lying down? Was I sitting? I couldn’t tell. I didn’t even know which way was up. The warmth left my face and was replaced with coolness on each cheek.

“Jordan, open your eyes.” Bailey’s voice, I could at least tell it was hers, spoke in my ear again. I began to realize the coolness I felt was her hands cupping each of side of my face. I could feel the soft skin of her palms pressing into my flesh, lifting my head up towards hers. “Open your eyes.” This time, her words held a hint of command.

I felt the muscles in my eyelids contract and then there was light. Was this the white light come to take me away? Calgon take me away! I’ll fly away, Oh glory, I’ll fly away! Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. Grey skies are gonna clear up! Put on a happy face! I bet you wonder how I knew, bout your plans to make me blue.

I felt a sting on my cheek. “Jordan, stop singing and look at me.” The command was unmistakable now. Did she just slap me?

Indignation arose from my stuporous brain. “Did you just slap me?” I heard the words, but was unsure if I had spoken them.

“Yes, I did, and I’ll do it again if you don’t look at me.”

My eyes slowly opened to reveal a pair of worried blue eyes. Her face belied the commanding, irritated tone of the words she had spoken.

“Good. I knew you were still in there somewhere. Now, can you stand?”

“I don’t know but let’s give it the old college try.” The eyes of Texas are upon you all the live long day.

“Jordan, why are you singing the UT fight song?”

“I was giving it the old college try.” How could she not have understood that?

“Well, how about less singing and more moving? I want to get you to the car.”

I felt a strong pair of hands grip my waist and another pair slide under my arms. I squirmed and giggled. “Stop! I’m ticklish.” I heard an exasperated sigh. The hands pulled, and suddenly I felt taller.

“Oh, I’m standing.” Wow, this was cool. Standing was good. I saw that the hands on my waist belonged to Gary.

“Hey, Gary. Whatcha doin?

“Just here to keep you from falling.”

“Oh that’s mighty nice of you.” I giggled again.

“Now move your feet.”

I turned to see Bailey standing behind me holding me under the arms. I felt my knee move and then my foot slid forward. Oh yeah, walking. I remember that. I continued to feel the movements in my legs. I was walking. Walking on down to the river. Gonna get me some…

“Jordan, please stop singing.”

“Oh, was I? Sorry.

Gary was now in front of me holding the restaurant door open. The cool night breeze swished around my face, and I felt some clarity drop back into my brain. Confusion was close on its heels.

“Bailey, what’s wrong with me?”

“I think you got a little too overloaded. It’s my fault. I’m sorry.” She stood in front of me holding my arms as I swayed. Her eyes were full of worry and concern. “Are you going to fall over?”

“No, I don’t think so.” My equilibrium was slowly returning, and I finally gained my balance. The swaying stopped. Bailey moved her hands up to my face and lowered it to hers. She searched my eyes and then nodded.

“I think you’re going to be okay.”

The young valet brought the car, and Bailey hovered around me as I slid in. She shut the door and then came around to the driver’s side.

She talked as she drove. “Jordan, I’m so sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me. I’m not usually that direct.”

Everything she had said to me bubbled to the surface of my mind, and I began to cry. I buried my head in my hands, feeling completely and utterly humiliated. I hadn’t cried in years. I felt the car swerve to the right and then come to an abrupt stop.  Next, I felt Bailey’s strong arms encircle me and pull me tightly to her. She gently rocked me and shushed in my ear as I sobbed.

My heart felt ripped in half. I was unable to stem the tide of emotions that rushed through me and flowed out of my eyes. For years, I had been able to hold the torrent at bay. I had walled myself in, safe from any thing that might overwhelm me. But I was totally powerless against this onslaught. I had never felt so out of control, and I was terrified.

How could this possibly be happening? Everything had been so neatly catalogued and put away. The iron chest had been locked, and I didn’t even know where the key was.

I had lived in fear of this moment for years. She would see me for who I really was, and she would turn from me or worse, she would hate me for what I had become.

Why did I even care? I had only met this woman two days ago. What did it matter what she thought? Because she’s different. The answer floated into my thoughts unbidden. The voice did not sound like my own. Because she’s seen The Nothing too. My sharp intake of breath startled her, and she clutched me tighter. The feeling comforted me, and I allowed myself to sink into her embrace. The tears continued to bleed out of me, draining me of every ounce of strength.

I awoke to find my head in Bailey’s lap and her hand gently stroking my hair. She looked at me with such empathy, with such understanding, it caused a physical pain in my chest. No one had ever looked at me that way. Not even my grandmother who’d been the closest thing to a loving parent I’d ever had. The biggest marvel was that she was still here. How could she still be here? Hadn’t she seen enough to make her run?

She had found a handkerchief and was wiping the tears from my face. My eyelids were swollen, and my eyes burned. “How long have we been sitting here?” My voice was barely more than a croak.

“Only about twenty minutes.” Her voice was soft and soothing as if afraid to scare away a skittish animal. “You didn’t run.” She continued to stroke my hair.

“No, I did worse.” I was embarrassed by my meltdown. I turned my face away, not wanting to see the disappointment and pity I was sure she felt.

She moved her hand to my cheek and gently turned my face back to hers. What I saw astounded me. There was no disgust, no condemnation, no fear. She stared back at me with acceptance and awe.

“You didn’t run. You let me help you, and that means a great deal to me.” A lone tear made its way down her cheek.  

She leaned down and pressed her lips to my feverish forehead. They felt cool and soothing. She kissed my cheek and then moved down to my mouth.  What began as a comforting gesture quickly blossomed into passion.

Her tongue touched my lips, and I readily opened to it. I sucked it deep into my mouth and licked it with my own. My arms snaked up and wrapped around her neck pulling her into me. I suddenly couldn’t get close enough to her. I wanted to merge with her, bring her into me, fill myself up with her.

My hands found the edge of her shawl and pulled it off. I slipped under her blouse running my palms along the smooth skin. I felt her muscles shift as she lifted my upper body enough to pull my shirt over my head. She deftly unhooked my bra, and it joined the shirt in the floor board. Her hands explored every inch of my torso as her tongue found every part of my mouth. She massaged my shoulders, moved down my sides to my stomach, and then lingered on my hips. She left a trail of fire everywhere she touched. She was a skywriter, her hands writing her name on my body.

She slid her hands up to my breasts, and I could not contain the moan that escaped from my occupied lips. I broke contact and inhaled deeply, exhaling a groan filled with years of longing. Her hot, wet mouth found my nipple and sucked it in. Her tongue swirled around it as her teeth softly nipped. Her right hand cupped my other breast while her thumb moved across the hard nipple. I continued moaning in her ear, my hands frantically pulling her close to me.

“Oh Bailey. Oh yes.”  A low growl escaped her mouth as I continued whispering her name in her ear. The biting became harder until I cried out in pleasure tinged with pain. My body was alive, every nerve straining to pull her in. I let out a soft moan of protest as her mouth left my breast. She licked and kissed her way to the other nipple, sucking hard on the tender flesh.

“Bailey, I need you inside of me.” I whispered in her ear. “I need to feel you. Please.”

She brought her mouth to my ear and breathed, “Yes.” I writhed under the sensation of that one word curling into me. She nipped my ear lobe before bringing her mouth back to mine. Her hand moved down and rubbed my stomach. My hips bucked, my core aching and straining for her touch. She slowly unbuttoned my pants and then slid the zipper down. Her hand lingered at the base of the zipper, her fingers running through my hair. I opened my legs wider to give her access. She slowly dipped her fingers between my lips, spreading them. Her fingers moved across me until I could no longer tell where she left off and I began. She teased me until I was ready to explode and then she thrust two fingers deep inside of me.

My mouth left hers and an ecstatic yell escaped my raw throat. I screamed her name as she moved her fingers in and out, stroking deep inside me with every inward thrust.

“More! Oh please, Bailey, give me more.” I held onto her neck burying my face in her chest as she inserted another finger inside me. I bucked and writhed under her touch falling into her rhythm.

“Yes, yes, yes!” I had no control over my body now. I felt the waves approaching and then they washed over me again and again as I climaxed into a shuddering, heaving mass of spent desire.

As the last of the scream faded, every part of me gave way, and I sunk into her lap completely sated. I tightened my muscles around her fingers feeling them inside me, drawing them in a little deeper. She started to move the tips. “No, don’t. Just let me feel you for a minute.” I was not ready for the emptiness she would leave behind.

Her left hand cupped my head as she brought her lips down to meet mine. The kiss was soft and slow, the heated desire satisfied for now. She moved her fingers and looked at me questioningly. I nodded and felt the growing void as she separated from me. She trailed her hand up my stomach, grazed across my breast, and then brought it to rest on my neck. I reached up and caressed her cheek. “What have you done to me?” I asked gazing intently into her deep blue eyes.

“The same thing you’ve done to me,” was her quiet response.

“Well, technically that’s not true. Why don’t we head to my house so we don’t make a liar out of you.” I smiled up at her and pulled her face to mine. We shared one last lingering kiss before she put the car into drive, and we headed off into the night.

To be continued in Chapter 5

Return to the Academy