Laurel was still in a good mood when she got to band rehearsal. Her lessons had gone well, and Nicole’s good news still sat well with her. Even though she was planning on going home alone after rehearsal, she felt it was a good day.

Rehearsal went well. All the songs sounded good, and the band felt happy with way they played. They disbanded on a cheerful note, feeling confident about their upcoming performance. It was what happened after the rehearsal that made Laurel’s day go from good to horrible.

"So, Lackey, where’s the girlfriend?" Jody purred from behind Laurel’s left shoulder.

"At home," Laurel’s skin was crawling from the proximity of Jody. "Why?"

"Just wondering. Tell me, can she fulfill you?" Jody grabbed Laurel’s elbow and forced the bassist around to face her. "I can promise you a night to remember forever."

"No thanks, Jody. Nicole is very skilled, and I’ll stick to that, thanks very much," Laurel tried to jerk her arm free, but Jody would not let go.

"C’mon, Lackey, all I am asking for is one night. It will be the greatest night of your life. I’ve wanted you for years." Jody had a strange look in her eye. Laurel looked around, but apparently no one else was around the garage.

"Remove your hand, or I will remove your arm," Laurel was getting upset. She could feel the bruise forming under Jody’s hand.

"Let me take you, you won’t regret it," Jody was practically on top of Laurel. "I will have you, eventually. I always get what I want."

"I think you’ve been watching too much TV, Jody. I would not touch you if someone put a gun to my head. Now let me go or I will make you." Laurel was wondering what to hit first.

"I always knew you had a violent streak in you," Jody’s breath stank of stale alcohol. She came closer and leaned in for a kiss. Laurel leaned as far back as she could, but she could not lean back far enough. Jody’s lips touched her own. Laurel kept her mouth shut and moved her head. She never saw the slap coming.

"What the fuck has gotten into you?" Laurel wiped the blood from her split lip.

"You’re no better than I am, convict." Jody raised her hand again.

"First off, I am not a convict. Second, if you hit me again you’re going to need a dentist." Laurel dodged the blow and delivered one of her own. Her fist impacted with Jody’s jaw and the woman’s head snapped back. Instead of knocking her down, the punch only enraged her.

"Oh, you are going to pay for that," Jody grabbed a microphone stand and raised it threateningly.

Laurel ducked out of the stand’s way. She looked around for something to use as a shield. Finding nothing, the bassist did the only think she could think of, she rushed Jody. They both fell back onto the ground. Laurel felt something snap in her boot, but she did manage to get the upper hand when she rolled them both over and ended up on top. The look in Jody’s eyes frightened the bassist; it was obvious that the other woman was enjoying their wrestling. Sickened, Laurel pulled her fist back again and delivered another blow to Jody’s jaw. This one produced the desired effect. Jody’s eyes rolled back in her head and she passed out.

Laurel crawled to her feet and grabbed her bass. She did not even bother with the case, but grabbed the instrument and left the building. She climbed into her truck and without thinking too much about what she was doing, she aimed it in Nicole’s direction.

The living room light was still on when Laurel pulled into the driveway. She discovered just how stiff and sore she was when she crawled out of the truck. She made it slowly to the door and knocked. It was several minutes before the porch light flickered on and the door was opened.

"My god, what happened to you?" Nicole asked when she opened the door. The light easily illuminated the bassist’s split lip and darkening eye.

"Jody thought she’d try a new way of rousing my distaste for her," Laurel told her simply. "So, can I come in?"

"Yeah, let me see if I have something for that," Nicole pulled her lover farther into the light and looked at her wounds. "It doesn’t look too bad. When did this happen?"

"About fifteen minutes ago," Laurel shrugged. "It doesn’t hurt. I’m a little sore from hitting the ground though, but I’ll be fine when I can work the soreness out."

"She knocked you out?" Nicole found that difficult to believe.

"No, she went after me with a mic stand and I caught her off balance. We ended up on the floor and I was able to knock her out and leave."

"Where was everyone else?"

"They had already left. It was odd, but no one else was there," Laurel was ready to move past the incident. "So, how were you entertaining yourself without my presence?"

"I was watching a movie I picked up at the store today. You are more than welcome to join me," Nicole indicated the flickering image on the screen. She had paused the movie when she heard the knock on the door. "Let me get some ice for that and then I’ll turn the movie on. I’d just started this one when you knocked."

"Ok, sounds like a plan to me," Laurel took a seat on the couch while Nicole went in search of ice.

"Here you go," The photographer returned with several ice cubes wrapped in a dishtowel.

"Thanks," Laurel patted the seat beside her. "C’mere."

Nicole did as asked and curled up against the bassist. She used the remote to restart the movie. She even rewound it back to the opening credits. Nicole did not mind watching the first fifteen minutes or so again.

"Hey, baby, let me up for a minute," Laurel needed to visit the facilities.

"Sure," Nicole sat up and let her lover off the couch. She noticed that Laurel was limping badly, and she wondered if her lover were hurt more than she claimed. She also remembered their talk the night before when Laurel showed her the scar on the side of her head. It was possible that the bassist had reinjured something that was hurt during the car accident.

"Wanna head to bed?" Nicole asked when Laurel returned to the couch.

"Nah, I’m fine."


"Yeah, why?" Laurel was trying to put on a brave front.

"You’re limping," Nicole wrapped herself around her lover. "How exactly were you hurt in the car accident?"

"I hit the steering wheel and busted my head open, you saw the scar," Laurel told her. "I twisted my knee and bruised a couple of ribs."

"Are you sure you didn’t reinjure anything today?" Nicole was growing concerned.

"I don’t see how," Laurel was baffled.

"Regardless, we should get you checked out," Nicole was adamant.

"Nope, no emergency room trips for me, thank you. I’ll be fine in the morning."

"Alright, but keep that ice on your eye. What else hurts?" Nicole reluctantly gave in but felt compelled to find out what other injuries Laurel might be hiding.

"You’re not going to stop are you?" Laurel was amused.

"Nope. I’ll ambush you when you sleep and find out anyway," Nicole thought it was a threat.

"Oh, please do," Laurel laughed. "You don’t have to wait until I’m asleep though, if I get to play doctor on you too." She waggled her eyebrows in a parody of a seductive gesture.

"Alright, then let us retire to the examination room," Nicole was willing to use anything to make sure Laurel was all right.

"Oh, I love it when you talk medical," Laurel tried to joke. Nicole groaned.

Nicole walked into the bedroom while Laurel limped behind her. The photographer had her lover sit on the bed. Nicole made a great show of removing Laurel’s boots and socks. The bassist gasped when Nicole removed her left boot.

"Yep, looks like you sprained something," Nicole gently tested the swelling around the ankle. "We really should go to the hospital and make sure you didn’t break anything."

"I didn’t break anything. I know what a broken bone feels like, this doesn’t hurt as bad," Laurel reassured her lover.

"Well, we should ice it down and elevate it anyway," Nicole got up to get more ice. "Stay there, I’ll be right back."

Laurel waited as she had been instructed. Mozart joined her on the bed and laid his head on her lap. She scratched the big dogs ears as she waited. Her ankle was throbbing more than she cared to admit. The attention Nicole was paying to her injuries was something she was not accustomed to, but the bassist was finding that she enjoyed it.

"Ok, here we go," Nicole had placed the ice in a plastic bag. "Anywhere else it hurts?"

"Well, now that you mention it," Laurel grinned lecherously. "I know a place or two that could use some TLC."

"Oh yeah?" Nicole grinned. "Guess I’ll have to investigate it."

"Please do," Laurel pulled Nicole to her.

"So where does it hurt?" Nicole carefully sat on the bed. She did not want to cause more pain to the injured ankle.

"Right here," Laurel pointed to her lips.

Nicole placed a gentle kiss there. She looked closely at the split lip and the blackened eye after pulling away. She was happy to see that the swelling had gone down.

"Looks like it’s only your ankle that is really hurt," Nicole was pleased to report.

"That’s what I was trying to tell you," Laurel grinned in vindication. "Now, c’mere."

Laurel pulled her lover close to her again. They kissed again. Laurel quickly took the initiative and pushed Nicole back on the bed. Being careful of her tender ankle, the bassist rolled on top of her lover. Her amorous attack did not last long.

"Great good gods that hurts," Laurel rolled off in agony.

"Are you ok?" Nicole quickly recovered.

"No," Laurel hated to admit it, but she was in great pain.

"That does it," Nicole rolled off the bed and straightened her clothes. "Come on, its to the hospital with you."

"But," The bassist tried to protest.

"No, buts. We are going to the hospital, and you are pressing charges on Jody," Nicole put her foot down.

"Ungh," Laurel grunted into the bed. "There’s no arguing with you is there?" She tried one last time.

"No there is not," Nicole helped her lover from the bed.

Nicole helped Laurel to the car. She insisted that the bassist ride stretched out on the backseat to keep pressure off her ankle. The ride to the hospital was tense. Nicole, who was by nature a pacifist, was in danger of losing control and hunting down Jody.

She parked the car in the lot across the street and helped Laurel hobble to the emergency room entrance. Together they filled out the forms and waited for a doctor to take them back to the examination room. When the nurse asked how the bassist had gained her injuries, Laurel told her the whole story. The nurse promised to call the police for her.

"Ms. Kendrick?" The nurse called. "They can see you now, if you can follow me."

Nicole laughed under her breath at the idea that Laurel could follow the nurse. Shaking her head at the state of health care, the photographer helped her lover back to the examination room. Laurel was told to take a seat on the paper-covered table.

"So, how did this happen?" The young doctor asked as she gently tested the swollen area.

"I was attacked by some psychotic bitch after band rehearsal," Laurel began.

"Looks like I made it just in time," An older cop stepped into the room and interrupted her. "You are Laurel A. Kendrick?"

"Yes sir," Laurel was a little apprehensive about talking to a police officer. She remembered all too well the last time she had been interviewed by one.

"Ok, nice to meet you. Do you want to tell me what happened?"

"Yes sir. I was at band rehearsal this evening. After rehearsal, one of our ‘groupies’ for lack of a better word made unwelcome advances," Laurel pulled her shirtsleeve up and showed him the bruise. He called his partner in to take pictures. "Anyway, I tried to shrug her off when she back slapped me. I hit her back, and she came after me with a microphone stand. I dodged the blow and rushed her, hoping to knock her down and get out of the garage. We ended up wrestling on the floor for a few minutes until I was able to knock her out." She held up her bruised left hand.

The police officers took pictures of her hand, her face, and her ankle. The doctor attempted to complete her examination around the policemen’s questioning. She did suggest that the bassist needed two stitches in her lip. She also ordered x-rays for Laurel’s ankle. The doctor waited until the cops left the room before finding a wheelchair and taking the bassist to the x-ray room.

Nicole waited in the examination room until Laurel returned. She was definitely not happy about this turn of events. She seriously hoped that the police would take her lover seriously. She had read too many stories about discrimination to feel completely confident about the outcome.

Laurel was wheeled back into the examination room. She hopped back onto the table to wait the results of her x-ray. The doctor had given her something for the pain, so she did not feel as bad as she did earlier.

"Ms. Kendrick?" The interviewing officer returned to the room. "We’ve picked up your attacker. She resisted arrest and has been brought here. We advise you to stay in the room until someone can escort you out."

"How was she caught?" Nicole asked. She had not expected results so quickly.

"She was actually caught robbing a convenience store right outside of town. We think it was drug related. Did you two hang out often?" He turned to Laurel.

"No sir. The only times I ever saw her were at band rehearsal. I’m the bassist for blue gecko and Jody was one of our hangers on."

"Ms. Kendrick, you have a history of drug use, do you not?"

"Not really. The one and only time I had tried drugs I ran my car into a tree. I was on probation and under house arrest for a very long time. I have not touched any illegal substances since that night," Laurel told him.

"Do you mind if we take a blood test to prove that?" The cop looked apologetic as he asked.

"No, go ahead." Laurel noticed the doctor did not look happy with the added duties. She was grateful that the police here would not use a hair tests. She knew she would pass a blood or urine tests, but not one on her hair. She had not completely followed her probation.

The doctor had the nurse draw blood as she continued to clean the cuts on Laurel’s hand. They decided to wait before wrapping her ankle until they got the x-rays back. By the time the nurse had finished drawing blood, the x-rays were back.

"Well, Ms. Kendrick, it appears as if you have fractured your ankle in this spot," The doctor pointed the place out on the film. So, what we are going to suggest a light cast, crutches, pain killers among other meds and bed rest for a few days," The doctor sent the nurse out of the room to collect the necessary equipment. "We’re going to rush the lab work on your blood so you can get home, but first we need to take care of that ankle."

Laurel nodded her understanding. She watched as they put the cast on her ankle. A few times she had to tighten her hold on the metal rails around the examination table. She smiled when she felt Nicole ease her grip and slip her hand between the photographer’s own. She spared a glance at her lover. Nicole looked tense.

"Told you I’m ok," Laurel teased.

"Yeah, you did." Nicole gave a tight smile.

"Ok, Ms. Kendrick," The police officer came back in the room. "Your tests were clean. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but we had to check all the leads we had."

"That’s ok, officer. I understand," Laurel was about to say more when they heard a loud crash from the hallway. Drawing his gun, the officer ran from the room. The doctor took advantage of the situation and stitched the gash in Laurel’s bottom lip.

The nurse closed the door when they heard screams. All four women were feeling heightened levels of anxiety. It was the gunshots that made them all jump. The doctor, mindless of her own safety, ran out the door. Nicole and Laurel were riveted were they sat. At least Nicole was. Laurel was tempted to go see what happened, but she had been told to remain absolutely still so that her cast would set properly.

They heard three more shots and more screams before someone came back into the room. Laurel was ready to dive off the bed and protect Nicole when the door opened. Fortunately, it was the doctor.

"Ms. Kendrick," She had a haunted look about her eyes. "It appears as if you won’t need to press charges. The police will tell you more. Now," She took a deep breath. "I am going to give you a prescription for pain killers. Do you have someplace you can stay where someone can watch over you?"

"Yes," She answered. She knew that both Mandy and Nicole would hound her relentlessly to take her medications and stay in bed.

"Ok, good, because these painkillers might make you a little loopy for a while. They will make you want to sleep, so you need to make sure that there is someone with you as much as possible." The doctor wrote out the prescription and handed it to her.

"Ms. Kendrick?" A different officer entered the room. "I’m Officer Johnson. I understand that you were going to press charges against our robbery suspect?"

"Yes sir."

"Do you know her full name?" He looked at his notes.

"No sir. I just know her as Jody," Laurel noticed how tense he looked. "Where’s the other officer?"

"He was wounded when the suspect took a nurse hostage with a scalpel. She was fatally wounded as a result, and I’m afraid I cannot give you more details than that. I would like to thank you for your cooperation, and to apologize for any inconvenience the blood test caused you."

"Thank you officer," Laurel did not know how to take the news. She decided not to question the officer anymore. She knew that he would not give her any answers anyway. "Can I go now?" She was anxious to get home and go to sleep.

"As far as I’m concerned, you are free to go," The doctor looked to the officer for confirmation. "All you have to do is schedule an appointment for a check up in a week to make sure that the fractures are healing properly. Ankle fractures are a little harder to monitor than femur breaks and the like. We can loan you a pair of crutches if you need them."

"Thank you, doctor," Laurel told her. "But I have a pair at home."

Nicole borrowed a wheelchair to take Laurel out to the car. The police had blocked the way they came in, so the pair had to go out a different exit. Nicole did not want Laurel to limp that far. The photographer almost wished that she had her camera with her. There was police tape everywhere and the blue lights from the police cars cast an eerie glow on the asphalt. It was a sight made all the more frightening because they had been present for some of it.

Laurel sat in the backseat on the way back to Nicole’s house. She was fighting to stay awake. Nicole pulled the car into an all night pharmacy to fill Laurel’s prescription.

"Hey, hon?"


"Can you hand me that prescription?" Nicole reached back for the piece of paper the bassist handed her. "I’ll be back in a minute ok?"

"Take your time."

Nicole entered the store and walked straight back to the pharmacy department. She handed the prescription to the pharmacist and waited until they filled it. She listened closely as they read the precautions to her. She picked up a few more items on her way out and paid for them all at the counter.

Laurel was asleep when the photographer got back to the car. Nicole placed her purchases in the front seat to avoid waking her lover. She turned the radio on to hear the news and pointed the car in the direction of home.

She noticed the yellow tape around Sully’s One Stop on the way. She wondered if Sam had been at work that evening. She resolved to ask Laurel to call BJ and find out after she woke up.

"Laurel, honey, we’re back. Wake up," Nicole reached around and gently shook her lover awake.

"Ok, did you get my meds?"

"Yeah, and a few other things. You have to eat before you take the painkillers, so I picked up some TV dinners. I also picked up a pair of crutches so we wouldn’t have to get yours tomorrow."

"Thanks," Laurel used one to leverage herself out of the car.

"Need some help?" Nicole was torn between getting her lover in the house and holding the dog to keep him from tripping her.

"No, I think I have it," Laurel grabbed the other crutch and propelled herself to the porch.

"Ok, wait here and let me let Mo out first," Nicole unlocked the door. The big dog rushed outside to see what was going on and to relieve himself in the front yard. He was well trained.

Nicole heated up the TV dinners while Laurel tried to stay awake on the couch. Nicole brought both dinners to the living area. They turned on the TV to see if the local stations had anything about the robbery and the shootout at the hospital. Nothing was said on either station, so Nicole called Danny.

The gregarious deejay had only heard vague rumors. He was shocked and worried when Nicole told him they had been at the hospital at the time of the shootings. She told him all she knew, including the name of the perpetrator. He promised to find out what he could and call her in the morning.

When she hung up with her old friend, Nicole called Mandy to fill her in. The redhead was concerned and Nicole barely managed to keep her from coming over and checking on the bassist. The photographer assured Mandy that Laurel was fine, if a bit banged up, and Mandy accepted that. However, she was shocked to find out about Jody’s involvement. She did not know if Sam had been at work or not. She woke BJ up and informed him while keeping Nicole on the phone. BJ did not know either, but he immediately went to find his girlfriend. Mandy promised to call when she found out any information.

After Laurel had finished eating, they managed to make it outside for a cigarette. She had to wait an hour after consuming food before taking the medication, so Nicole put the movie back on when they came back inside. Both struggled to stay awake until the hour was over.

Finally, Nicole opened the bottles of medication and made sure the bassist took both pills. Neither one had an opportunity to notice if they worked. They were asleep before the medicine could have kicked in.

Nicole woke a short time later. She had a vague sense of dread. After making sure that Laurel was still breathing, the photographer remembered what had caused her to wake. She had a nightmare that was fading from her conscious mind quickly upon the arrival of alertness.

Unable to go back to sleep, Nicole slid quietly out of bed and went out side. She lit a cigarette and let the full horrors of the evening descend upon her. She let the motions of the old porch swing soothe her as her thoughts went back and forth over the day.

It was sobering when she realized just how close to real and fatal danger her lover had been. Jody could easily have killed the bassist. It was a thought that shook Nicole to the core of her soul. It was that very thought that had inspired the nightmare that had interrupted her sleep.

Nicole, like her lover, had lost too much in her life. She could not bare the thought of losing Laurel. She was sure that theirs was a lifetime pairing. She could only hope that Laurel felt the same. She had her reasons to believe the bassist shared her belief, but she did not want to jeopardize or glamorize the relationship. However, she was determined not to let go of Laurel before she absolutely had to. She just prayed that would be a lifetime away.

Lighting another cigarette with the butt of the previous one, Nicole continued to rock the swing. She was still thinking about the effect losing the bassist would have on her. Somehow, she did not think she would be able to continue on like Mandy did. She knew that Mandy had loved Jon deeply, and his loss crippled her. She thought Laurel’s best friend was a testament to survival, though she fervently hoped that she would never have to go through that.

As it was, Nicole had already lost her parents. Though she barely remembered them, there were times when she felt the loss. Her family had embraced her and taken on the responsibility of raising her and that made the loss almost nonexistent. It was her disownment that made her wonder how different her life would have been had her parents lived.

She thought about the way things might have been. It was not something that she had done often. She came to the conclusion that she would not have changed a thing. She had no regrets, because every moment had led her to this, the love of her life.

Deciding it was time to get some sleep, Nicole went back inside. Laurel was still sleeping, so she slid back under the covers. The bassist must have felt her presence, because she spooned up to Nicole and murmured a contented sigh.

Nope, I wouldn’t change a thing, Nicole thought as she drifted back to sleep.

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