Dylan lay awake, the hum of the room air conditioning the only sound she heard. Her left arm pillowed her head; her right was wrapped around the smaller woman that clung to her side like a limpet. All should be right with her world, she was home, safe, warm, fed and deeply in love. She could not understand why she lay there staring at the ceiling. Her mind was alive and refused to allow her eyes to close. Every time she felt herself drift off visions would appear in her head. Visions of her men, of the tank, of the men she had killed, and of her soul mate, beaten and bloody. She knew the visions were all in the past but she could not seem to convince her mind to leave them there. The incident today simply triggered the memories again and this frightened her. She was afraid of her response, she had lost control. What could have happened if Lura had not been there, what would she have done to the cops, those people in the McDonalds, hell even the thief. "I have to control this. I cant let it control me." Dylan lay there staring at the ceiling, seeing the incident repeat itself over and over again. That was how Lura found her the next morning, still staring at the ceiling, dark circles under her exhausted dull blue eyes.
"Dylan honey, you did not get any sleep last night, why dont you lay here and let me get us some breakfast. Then I want you to go back to bed and stay there." Lura said
Dylan looked up from her place on the bed staring into the eyes of her soul mate. At first she was a bit upset, not liking the idea of being coddled then she realized what Lura had said. "I will make a deal with you sweetheart. I will stay in bed if I am not alone." Dylan said wiggling her eyebrows and giving Lura a decidedly wicked grin.
The small blonde grinned back thinking that Dylan must not be too tired if she was having those kind of thoughts. Yipee! "I will be right back." She said grabbing her robe, she ran from the room to the laughter of her roommate.
As soon as Lura left the room Dylan began to remember again the horror of the dream. As she lay there her mind began to run through the events of the previous day again. What if I had hurt someone? What if Lura had been hurt? What could have happened to those people in the McDonalds? I could have really caused some damage. My God I could have hurt someone."
Dylan was so lost in thought that she did not hear the door open or Lura call out. Suddenly, she was just there.
"Dylan honey, I have the "
Dylan jumped and swung a fist towards the intrusion. She tried to stop herself but she was too late. The tray held by the smaller woman went flying, the hot coffee spilled down the blondes chest and she screamed slapping at her robe.
Dylan sprang from the bed grabbing the linen and dabbing at the brown liquid running down the front of the robe.
"Lura! Baby, I am so sorry. Are you okay? Please, I am so sorry, tell me if you are burned anywhere. I am so sorry. Please, Lura."
Dylan could not believe her reaction, it was everything that she had imagined in her nightmares, the only difference is that it had happened to the one person that she would give her life to protect. She sighed deeply and buried her face in her hands.
"Oh God, what is going on? I nearly hurt Lura. I have to get control of this thing."
Lura sat, watching the woman she loved, feeling the intense pain she was suffering but had no idea how to help. So she sat quietly rubbing Dylans back and offering her silent support.
Finally Dylan straightened and turned to Lura, "Can we get out of here for a bit? I need a break. I need some air. Maybe it will help get my head together."
"Sure sweetheart, lets get dressed and go for a walk, how does that sound. Hey maybe we can stop at that McDonalds and try a breakfast, okay?"
"No, not the McDonalds, I I .Im not hungry." Dylan never was a good liar and this lie was as clear as glass.
Lura looked at the worried expression on Dylans face and realize the problem. "Okay honey, no problem. Maybe you will be hungry after our walk." She said rubbing Dylans back in a soothing circular motion. "Tell ya what, there is a bagel shop right down the road near a park. We can walk there, pick up some breakfast and eat in the park. Maybe we will be hungry by the time we get there. How does that sound?"
"Great, that sounds great Lura. Yeah, lets get dressed and go." Suddenly she couldnt get out of the confines of her sanctuary fast enough. Dylan sprang naked from the bed and moved to the dresser. Finding and slipping into a clean bra and panties, she reached in again and pulled out a pair of black jeans and a sleeveless white polo shirt. She quickly slipped them on then reaching back into the dresser, she located a pair of clean socks and crawled under the bed for her Nikes. Finally dressed she stood by the door waiting, not so patiently, for her partner.
Lura had been watching this entire exercise with amazement. She knew how fast Dylan could undress but she had just set a new land speed record for dressing. Shaking her head she finished tying her own shoes and stood, smoothing down the front of her green polo shirt and tucking the tail into the dark blue jeans she had chosen to wear.
Leaving the room the two quickly walked down the hall and into the next elevator. A smooth silent ride down took them to the lobby where the checked for messages and left their key cards. Since they were walking they didnt want to risk losing them.
They walked side by side through the busy town, past the McDonalds that was in the midst of the breakfast rush, and on towards the park. Lura was nearly trotting to keep up with her partners long legged stride.
"Dylan, Dylan honey, please slow down." Lura panted "My legs arent nearly as long as yours and I never was real good in track events."
"Huh? What was that ?" Dylan was distracted her mind a hundred miles away. All she could think of was the forest.
Lura reached out a hand and grabbed Dylans arm. "Please Dylan, slow down. Im out of breath."
Dylan stopped when she felt the tug on her arm. Glancing down she realized that Lura wasnt at her side. She stood for a second a bit disoriented then as if realizing something odd; she turned and saw her blond companion several feet away. Lura had stopped and placing her hands on her hips had tilted her head back and was sucking in large lungs full of air.
Seeing the obvious distress she had caused her mate Dylan looked down at her shoes in embarrassment.
"Um, sorry Lura, I guess I was a bit distracted with the idea of getting out." She stuttered. "Are you okay? Ill slow down, promise."
Lura waited catching her breath before she answered. Walking up to Dylan she placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled. "Hey, I understand, you have been cooped up so long Im surprised you didnt bolt sooner. Come on lets get to the park and then I can take a real break." She slid her arm through Dylans and turned them both in the direction on the park.
Wow, do you smell that? Lura asked Dylan.
Frowning, the taller woman paused and tilted her head closing her eyes to concentrate. "Oh Yeah, cinnamon and walnut, with just a touch of honey." She commented.
"How does she do that?" Lura asked, no one in particular.
Dylan smiled overhearing the comment.
They reached the bakery and Dylan held the door and with a bow and a wave, allowed Lura to enter first.
Smiling at the wonderful warm smell of freshly baking bread Dylan walked up to the counter and began examining the selection. There was quite a bit to choose from. Cinnamon raisin, honey and walnut, whole wheat, blue berry and the choices went on. Lura stood back a smile on her face as her partner selected first one then another changing her mind at least three times before settling on the cinnamon raison with honey walnut cream cheese in a separate plastic container. Lura selected the blue berry with strawberry cream cheese already on it. Smiling she paid for the bagels and took the brown bag from the extremely patient waitress.
"Honey?" Lura asked the silent smiling woman pacing next to her. "Um, why did you insist on your cream cheese be put in a separate container instead of on your bagel?"
"Well, the true bagel connoisseur knows that the only way to correctly eat a bagel is with the cream cheese slathered on all available surfaces." Dylan informed the curious blond.
"Slather? Is that really a word?" Lura asked trying in vain to keep the smile out of her voice.
"Of course it is." the tall woman replied with confidence, "I just used it in a perfectly good sentence didnt I? The only way to truly slather is if you have plenty of cream cheese. Thus the need for the separate container."
She wrapped her arm over the blonds shoulder and gave her a friendly hug as they continued on towards the park.
It took Dylan a good fifteen minutes of dedicated evaluation to decide on the perfect location to enjoy their meal. Lura was at the end of her patience and ready to find any handy spot of shade when the tall soldier finally settled on "the perfect spot", near the edge of a large field beneath the arms of several huge ancient oaks. Dylan explained in some detail how the only avenue of approach to their location was straight on and that she could handle any flanking maneuvers because she would have plenty of time to prepare. Lura simply smiled indulgently and nodded her agreement even if she didnt understand half of what she had just been told. If Dylan was happy, she was happy.
The two women found a shady spot under one of the huge old oaks and settled down to have their breakfast. Part way through they began to watch the young people playing Frisbee football on the field in front of them. Lura was amused at the intensity of her companions viewing, Dylan sat yelling out encouragement to the young would be athletes and laughingly cursing at their sometimes clumsy efforts. All in all it had turned into a wonderful morning.
Having finished her bagel Dylan stood and shook the crumbs out of her shirt. "Lura, Im going over to the rest room and clean the cream cheese off my face, slathering tends to be a bit messy." The dark haired woman smiled down at her companion bits of bagel and cream cheese still evident on her lips.
"Bend down a minute honey." Lura called reaching for the slender bronzed hand. She pulled Dylan down to her and gently but thoroughly cleaned the cream cheese from her mouth, much to the happy chagrin of the soldier. "Um, just couldnt let you walk around with slathering on your face darlin. " Lura commented with a heavy, sexy southern drawl.
"Oh, well, we cant have that now can we?" the laughing woman commented. She smiled down at her companion then with a quick kiss turned and strode off towards the restrooms.
Lura watched the tall slender woman, admiring the gentle sway of her hips and the rolling gate of her long legs. Momentarily distracted she did not notice the Frisbee game coming closer and closer. As she watched and waited for Dylans return her mind had drifted back to the oasis in the desert and that wonderful afternoon bath they had shared. She still remembered the tall beautiful soldier standing naked in the sun, the light glittering off the drops of water sliding down the beautiful bronzed body. With that thought in mind and a dreamy look on her face she continued to stare in the direction her love had gone and missed the young man running straight at her.
Dylan had just finished cursing at the hand blow dryers and had left the rest room when a sudden movement caught her eye. Her head jerked up as she saw a man struggling with her partner. All sound stopped as she heard Lura scream. She didnt remember running she just remembered suddenly being there. She reached down and pulled the man off of Lura and threw him against a tree, her strong hands locking onto his shirt collar and holding him off the ground, his feet dangling. "You will not touch her!"
"Dylan!" Lura screamed, "Let him go, it was just an accident. Let him go." Lura reached out her hand resting on a tense arm, the corded muscles straining in the effort to hold the man against the tree. "Please, honey, put him down."
The voice was calm and broke through the red haze in her mind, "Please, Dylan, please."
Lura watched the face of her lover change from anger to realization to shock as her words registered.
Dylan finally realized exactly what she was doing. She lowered the young man gently to his feet releasing his shirt and staring as he scampered off looking back over his shoulder as he reached his concerned friends.
"Boy that is one crazy, strong ass bitch." He said brushing off his shirt. Now, in the midst of his cronies, he felt his heart rate slow to a normal rhythm and was a bit embarrassed at his behavior and fear. His friends gathered around him patting his back and agreeing with him in an attempt to reassure themselves that he had indeed survived a meeting with a most dangerous adversary.
Dylan stood facing the tree, gazing down at her hands, the same hands that had swung at Lura, the same hands that had almost killed a thief, the same hands that almost harmed an innocent young man, those same hands that had taken so many lives. All she saw was blood.
Lura watched as Dylan froze in place her hands held palm up in front of her. Something was not right, she did not know how to help but she wanted desperately to. She couldnt stand to see the lost hurt look in the face of the woman she loved. Reaching out slowly she placed her smaller hands in the long slender powerful ones of the soldier and squeezed. "Lets get out of here honey. Lets go for a drive, better yet, lets go home."
"Home?" Dylan looked into the worried green eyes and thought of the word. "Yes, home." She said with a sad smile. She took Luras hand and led the way back to the hotel to pack.
By the time they reached the hotel Lura was exhausted the stress of the morning had taken a lot of her scanty energy and she knew that she needed to rest. "Dylan, honey, can we leave in the morning, I am really worn out and I want to help you drive. If we stay tonight, we can leave first thing in the morning and avoid most of the early morning work traffic."
Dylan, still in a daze, nodded her head in agreement and went to sit on the bed. Lura watched her mate concerned at the quiet forlorn attitude in the usually active woman. She was worried and hoped that returning home would eliminate some of the stress Dylan was under and allow her to let her body and mind heal.
She went to the dresser and removed the two sleeping shirts they habitually wore, handing the soft worn Army gray shirt to Dylan and slipping out of her own clothes and into the soft Tigger shirt that she loved. It was very early but she figured that they would probably not be going out again today so getting comfortable and relaxing was the only other option.
Having changed she turned to see Dylan still sitting on the edge of the bed, the shirt held forgotten in her hands. "Honey, why dont you change. I will see what is on television and we can relax on the bed. How does that sound?"
"What? What did you say Lura?" Dylan looked up confused.
"I said, why dont you change and we can get comfortable and watch television."
"Oh, yeah, sure, thats fine. Ill just change and we can get comfortable and watch a little TV, okay?"
"Um, sure Dylan, a little TV sounds good." The confused blonde said.
Dylan slipped out of her clothes and into her sleeping shirt; she pulled the covers back and slid in between the cool sheet. Holding her arms wide the invited Lura to snuggle. Lura couldnt seem to move fast enough to crawl onto the bed and into the strong waiting arms. Snuggling down into the warm embrace she sighed contentedly and smiled as Dylan reached for the remote and adjusted the picture.
Things are almost back to normal she thought. I am not sure what is going on in that beautiful dark head of yours but I need to get you somewhere you can think, my big bad warrior. Lura thought gazing up through sleepy lashes at her companion.
Dylan lay in bed in the dark, the only light coming from the television which now was showing a rerun of a Conan Doyle show. Her mind was a million miles away. She lay staring at the silent figures, she had turned down the sounds so as not to wake her bedmate. Though she was watching the host go through the motions of the interview, her eyes were seeing the scenes that had taken place over three yeas ago. Silent tears glistened on her cheeks and she made no effort to wipe them away almost unaware of them.
I have got to get a grip. This flying off the handle is really going to cause some serious problems. I just dont know what to do and how to handle it. I cant stay around Lura, look what has already happened. She glanced down at the sleeping woman and pulled her closer, placing a kiss on her blond head. I know who can help me. I just have to get to him. I have to find him.
"Sorry, I cant take you with me Little Falcon. But I will be back, or at least I will try to come back. I just cant stay around you any longer. I wont take the chance of hurting you."
Silently, Dylan slipped her arms out from under the mumbling woman and slid out of bed. She quickly dressed and packed her bag, she turned to walk out then gazed one last time at the beautiful sleeping woman.
I cant just leave. Ill leave her a note so she wont worry.
Sitting at the small desk in the room she opened the drawer and pulled out a pen and the hotel note pad.Little Falcon, I am not sure what is going on in my head, but I cant take the chance of hurting you or causing you any pain. My nightmares are becoming impossible to distinguish from reality. I need to go somewhere where I cant hurt anyone, especially you. Know that I love you and I will until the day I die. Your Hawk, Dylan
She placed a soft kiss at the bottom to seal the note then placed it on the pillow her head had been resting on scant minutes before. Reaching out with a long slender hand she caressed the soft cheek, her eyes tearing at the smile she received from the gesture. Then, quickly, before she changed her mind, she turned and walked silently out the door and out of Luras life.
Lura felt the cold air hit her skin, she had kicked the sheet off in her sleep and the air conditioning was working overtime. She was surprised that Dylan had not replaced the covers.
"Dylan? Dylan honey, its cold, come back to bed and lets snuggle." Lura called her eyes still closed.
"Dylan? Dylan where are you?" Lura opened one sleepy green eye and scanned the empty room. Climbing from the bed she staggered to the bathroom and peeked inside.
"Dylan are you in here?" That was a dumb question. She thought glancing around. Now where did that woman on mine get too?
"Dylan, Dy " she paused spotting the note on the cold pillow. Picking it up she quickly read through it.
"Oh my God. No. DYLAN?!" Running to the door she jerked it open startling the maid cleaning the room across the hall.
"Um, sorry, have you seen a tall dark haired woman leave this room?" The maid smiled and glanced at Luras sleep shirt.
"Uh, no maam, I havent. You might try the desk, but I would put on some clothes first if I were you."
Blushing Lura thanked the maid then went back to her room. Sitting on the bed she picked up the note and read it again slowly. Her fingers brushing the soft lip prints left by her Hawk.
Where have you gone? How will I find you? Dont you know I cant live without you? Teardrops struck the paper blurring the ink and causing Lura to cry even harder. Suddenly, the phone rang startling her from her thoughts.
"Yes? DYLAN?" she asked
"No dear, its your mother." Came a cheery Southern voice on the other end. I just finished reading the article about you in the paper. We are proud of you dear being nominated for that nice little writers award. But enough of this nonsense now Lura, your father and I have been waiting for you to come home. When might that be dear? I need to plan a proper homecoming celebration? Your sister is here visiting and we just cant wait to see you." The voice on the other end of the line exclaimed.
"Mother? How when what?"
"Well dear we have now covered the four critical issues havent we? When are you coming home sugar?"
"Today mother, I am coming home today." Lura thought dejectedly crumbling the note in her trembling hand. If Dylan didnt want her anymore then so be it. She told her mother that she had to make some arrangements but she would call later with the plane departure and arrival information.
"Wonderful dear, your father and I will be there to meet you. You be careful now. You dont know what sort of strange people you might meet in those public waiting areas." With that remark the phone went dead.
Lura stood there for a few minutes staring at the receiver, unsure of what to do next. Then she felt the paper in her balled up fist. Lifting her hand she started to throw the hated piece of paper into the trash bin but could not bring herself to open her hand and release it. Slowly she sat back down on the bed and carefully flattened out the wad. She read the short note again and again, but the words didnt change. Dylan had left her.
Finally she pulled herself together. Home, I have to go home, I can think there.
Now, having made the decision, she couldnt move fast enough. Kneeling on the floor, she opened her suitcase and noticed the single set of toilet articles where there had earlier been two. They had just repacked everything yesterday with the idea of leaving today. Well, the plan really had not changed only instead of an US decision it had been a ME decision. In a slight daze Lura removed a pair of soft jeans, some under things and a pale yellow polo shirt. Slipping out of her nightshirt she quickly tossed it into the bag and pulled on her street cloths. Glancing around she looked for her Dockers. Finally rooting though her bag again she found them in the bottom of the suitcase. Holding them she sat on the bed and reached for the phone dialing a number from memory.
"Reservations please." She wiggled into her shoes into her shoes while she waited to be connected. "Yes, I need a ticket to Richmond, Virginia, one way."
Dylan stared out the window of the bus as the road signs whipped by. All she could think of was Lura. Was she awake yet? Was she all right? Her heart skipped as she thought of the events of the last few days. Im doing the right thing, I know I am. So why do I feel like shit.
She listened to the hum of the tires and the muted music coming from her seatmates headset. The young man sitting next to her was in uniform, a brand new soldier. She sighed and wondered if he really knew what it was all about. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eye she noted the crossed rifles of the infantry insignia on his lapel and smiled. A grunt. He had his rifleman badge proudly displayed shining on his left breast pocket right below his Army service ribbon, The walkin and breathin ribbon. Probably just finished boot camp and heading home to his girl." Dylan thought, smiling sadly.
Looking at this young boy soldier with his short cut hair and his freshly shaved face brought back memories of another young man, a young officer who had just begun to live. The California boy, who died before he reached his 23 birthday. Dylan closed her eyes, seeing the fresh suntanned face again, the strawberry blond hair and the contagious smile.
"Um are you alright maam?" A voice startled her from her memories. She opened her eyes and realized that the young soldier was speaking to her.
"I just well I kinda saw you were crying. Is there someone bothering you? Is there something I can do?" He held out a clean handkerchief, the sound of genuine concerned in his voice.
Dylan stared at the small white cloth, and was startled to realize that she was crying. "No, but thanks for the offer and the hanky." She said, taking the cloth and wiping her face.
"No problem maam, you keep that." he said pushing the handkerchief back at her, "I will be close by if you need some help. Okay?" He offered, puffing out his narrow chest with confidence.
Dylan smiled remembering all the young men she had killed over the last three years. I wonder if any of them had girls back home waiting for them? Outwardly she thanked the young soldier again and turned back to the window to continue her silent vigil. Watching the landscape change like the setting sun, from the congested traffic and tall building of the city to the open freedom and evergreen scent of the country. She was going home.
The drowning of the tires seemed to be chanting Going home, going home, going home." The clean scent of pine even over road the faint smell of the diesel fuel floated around the bus. Finally, with her head resting against the cool pane of the window and the hum of the tires rumbling in her ears, she nodded off.
At that same moment Luras flight was taking off for Richmond. The pull of the planes powerful engines reminded her of another flight, one much longer and into the unknown. The end of that flight had led her into life threatening danger and the death of friends. While those thoughts were painful on bright memory shown through it all. That flight had also led her to the woman she loved. The one person she believe to be the other half of her soul. Now, she was on another plane, and this trip was very different, she knew exactly where she was going. There was no threat at the end of it and the only death she would face was the death of her heart. She could not understans how a heart torn in so many pieces could continue to beat. She sat going over the last few days in her head. Her mind was so distracted she wasnt sure what day it was much less aware of the fact that the plane had landed and all the other passengers had already left.
A voice broke into his thoughts and she looked up to see a smiling stewardess calling her, "Miss, we have landed. Are you alright, do you need some help." The concern in the womans voice made Lura aware of the tears streaming down her face.
"No, no, Im fine, just a bit stressed." She states taking an offered napkin and wiping her face. "Sorry, I didnt realize we had arrived. Ill just get my bag and be out of your way." She stood and reached into the overhead compartment and pulled out her small carry on bag. Sighing deeply she shouldered the bag and made her way out of the plane.
The lobby of the airport was crowded and noisy; the airport authority had gotten the passengers into long lines to clear airport security. She moved into one of them and waited patiently for her bag and identification to be checked, her mind was reading the note over and over again. She still had one question, why? Why had she left? Her heart hurt with every beat and she felt so alone. There was no one waiting, no blue eyes smiling at her. She was alone. Finally leaving the long lines behind, Lura looked around for any familiar face, she saw a stranger holding a sign with her name on it.
Thomas looked around, hoping that the person he was sent to pick up would hurry, he had a cold dinner and a hot wife waiting at home. He noticed the small attractive young blond approaching; she wore a pair of faded jeans and a pale yellow polo shirt. A small bag was slung over her shoulder and she pulled a larger matching bag behind her.
"For someone who just got back from vacation she sure dont look happy." He thought, "Well, that aint my problem I just got to get her home in one piece." Aloud he said, "Ms Grant? Lura Grant?"
"Yes" came the soft reply.
"Um, your folks sent me to pick you up. Im the new chauffer, my name is Thomas." He held out his hand for her bag and was surprised to find her hand grasping his in a firm handshake.
"Nice to meet you Thomas. Where is the car parked." The quiet woman asked looking into the startled brown eyes of the young man.
He reached again for her bag but she turned towards the street looking for the car. He was finally able to pull the larger bag from her grasp and was surprised when she didnt protest. "Right this way maam, I have the car parked right outside. Do you have any other bags?"
"No, I have nothing." Came the soft reply.
Somehow, I dont think she is talkin about bags. The young driver surmised.
They reached the stretched Lincoln and he held the door open for the slender woman to enter. He ran to the rear and with the flick of a switch popped open the trunk and stored the larger bag in the back.
Lura sat gazing out the window as they pulled out, listening to the hum of the tires. They seemed to talk to her, Shes gone away, shes gone away, shes gone away." The tears began again.
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