Laurel woke to the smell of bacon. She had been in the middle of a great dream where she and Nicole had been at a theme park. They had been hunting cherries and whipped cream, but that oddity aside, it was a good dream.

She had forgotten what had happened the night before. The pain her stretching caused brought the events home in an instant. She rolled over to catch her breath. She heard Nicole humming in the kitchen. The photographer could not carry a tune very well, and resisting the urge to laugh took the bassist’s mind off her injuries.

Laurel literally rolled off the bed and crawled to her feet. She thought she remembered seeing Nicole put the crutches behind the bedroom door. They were there when she looked. She was only going to use them in view of the photographer. She hated crutches.

"So, is this going to be edible?" She teased when she hobbled into the kitchen.

"I hope so," Nicole turned around. "What are you doing out of bed?"

"I smelled something good, and thought that I’d come to investigate," Laurel grinned.

"Well, take a seat. Breakfast is served," Nicole divided the bacon onto two plates.

Laurel took a seat at the seldom-used breakfast table. It was a small, white and wooden table. Laurel had never seen the top of it. Nicole usually used it as a catchall. Apparently the photographer had taken pains to clear off half of it this morning.

"Over hard?" Nicole sat a plate of eggs, bacon and biscuits in front of her lover.

"Thanks," Laurel was pleased with the selection. It was just missing one thing "Got any honey?"

"Yeah, do you want jelly or butter or anything else?" Nicole rose from her seat and got the honey from the cabinet.

"No thanks. This is great, thank you," She added the honey to her biscuits. "So, are you going to chauffer me to and from class?"

"You aren’t going to class today," Nicole told her.

"Nicole, I can’t miss anymore school, and I can’t cancel my bass lessons without a good reason."

"Good reason? You could have been killed last night. I think that’s a good enough reason." Nicole was still trying to get over her nightmare.

"But I wasn’t. Life goes on, sweetheart. I can’t cut class today," Laurel was wondering how she could win this fight. "Look, we can both go to my classes. You can drive and we can hang out on campus."

"Are you sure that’s a good idea?" The idea was swaying Nicole.

"Sure it is, we can even meet Sheryl and Danny for coffee after my classes. And really, its only two," Laurel gave the photographer her most charming smile.

"Two what?"

"Classes, goofy,"

"Ah, ok," Nicole had momentarily lost herself in that smile. "Let me call the others. What time should we meet?"

"Lunch time works for me," If she had felt better, Laurel would have done a victory dance.

"Ok, I’ll call them after breakfast. What time are your classes?" Nicole realized she was not really hungry. She would not feel better until she found out just what had happened last night.

"I have one at 9:30 and one at 1:15. But I have two stand up bass lessons today, one at eleven and the other at 3:00."

"That’ll work," Nicole was looking forward to hearing Laurel play the big acoustic bass.

"Glad you approve," The bassist grinned and finished her meal. "Weren’t you hungry?"

"Not really, I did a bit of snacking when I got up," Nicole stretched the truth a bit. "Are you going to be able to take a shower?"

"Probably not, but I’ll figure something out," Laurel shrugged.

"Ok," Nicole started cleaning the kitchen. "I’ve already had a shower, so while you clean up I can call Danny and Sheryl."

"That’ll work," She echoed Nicole’s comment from earlier. "Where’d you put my clothes from the other day?"

"You get clean, and I’ll get your clothes," The photographer told her.

"Ok," Laurel pulled the crutches to her and hobbled into the bathroom.

She saw immediately that she would be unable to take a shower without hanging her leg out of the shower curtain. She did not think that would be a good idea. Instead, she settled for a variation of the sponge bath theme. She was even able to brush her teeth. There was a brand new toothbrush, still in the box, sitting prominently on the counter. She was not wearing anything but the cast when Nicole entered the bathroom.

"Here’s your clothes," The photographer stopped short. "Did you know that you have a huge bruise on your side?"

"No I didn’t. Doesn’t hurt," Laurel turned in the mirror and looked. She did indeed have a large bruise about two hands wide and three hands long on her right side. "Wow, wonder when I got that?"

"I don’t know. Are you sure you have to go to class today?" Nicole was feeling protective again.

"At least take me by my professors and I can explain in person," Laurel gave in at the look on Nicole’s face. She finally understood just how worried her lover had been.

"Ok, I’ll still call the others and we can meet for lunch at Mabel’s." Nicole was relieved. Although she hated the thought of leaving the house at all with Laurel, she wanted to see what her friends had heard about the robbery.

"Sounds like a plan," Laurel hobbled into the bedroom to get dressed. Well she tried to hobble, but Nicole put her arm around the bassist and helped her to the bed.

"You want your pain killers?" Nicole asked as she watched Laurel get dressed. She wanted to help but knew that any assistance she would offer would soon turn into amorous play.

"Yeah I have some time to sleep before we meet them don’t I?"

"Yep, its just now nine," Nicole told her. "Wait here and I’ll bring them back."

Laurel stretched out on the bed and waited for her lover to bring her medication. She did not have long to wait, as the photographer appeared soon after Laurel had gotten comfortable on the bed.

"Here you go," Nicole handed the bassist one pill from each bottle. "And, I brought water," She grinned and handed Laurel a bottle of water.

"Thanks," Laurel was finding it easier to let Nicole care for her. "Now, I’ll be good and take these if you want to go call the others."

"Yeah, I’ll let you rest for a while too," Nicole leaned down and kissed Laurel, careful of the stitches.

"Ok," Laurel swallowed both pill with a sip of water. "What a fucked up situation," She whispered.

She lay back on the bed and listened to Nicole move about in the other room. Laurel looked down at her cast; a flimsy coating of plaster meant more to immobilize her ankle than support it. She tried to remember when exactly she had developed these injuries. She remembered feeling something snap in her foot/ankle area when she rushed Jody. She tried to remember if she had hit anything. Then she realized what had happened.

When she had rushed Jody, Laurel had not paid attention to the wooden stand BJ’s drum set sat on. She must have kicked that with the top of her foot. The bruise she remembered acquiring easier. One of the guitars had fallen off the repair table. Laurel felt fortunate that it did not fall from a great height. If it had, she would be suffering bruised or broken rib pain instead of the assorted aches and pains she had.

Figuring out how she had been injured brought the whole fight back to her with a crystal clear reception. She remembered thinking Jody was either drunk or stoned. She must have been correct otherwise they would not have tested the bassist’s blood for illegal substances. Laurel wondered what Nicole had made of that. Her past did not shame her, but Laurel had never thought how it would affect her lover.

That train of thought brought out the rare streak of self-pity in the bassist. Laurel wondered why Jody had attacked her. It made no sense to the rational bassist. However, she was well aware that drugs rarely make sense, and those on them often did the irrational.

All she could do was take it in stride. Laurel had been through too much to let an incident such as the attack get her down. She was a survivor anyway, but Nicole’s presence in her life gave her an added reason to live. The bassist wanted to spend the rest of her life with the photographer, and she did not want that life to end anytime soon. It was at that moment that she really understood her brother.

With the newfound understanding of Jon and the resolve to triumph no matter what life threw at her, Laurel drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

Sheryl and Danny were waiting at their usual booth when Nicole and Laurel entered the establishment. They were engrossed in conversation and did not see their friends until Nicole slid into the booth’s corner. Laurel sat on the outside and rested her ankle near the other side of the booth.

"Oh, my god," Sheryl took one look at the bassist and paled.

"It looks worse than it is," Laurel tried to reassure her. She failed.

"So, what happened? And why didn’t you call me?" The critic was not happy when she was out of the loop.

"Because we didn’t get back to my house until late last night," Nicole tried to reason with her friend. "I called Danny in case he was still at the station when it happened. So, what did happen?"

"Well, from what I’ve heard, and Sheryl here knows more, one Jody Richards and an accomplice robbed Sully’s One Stop last night. A cashier was wounded but thankfully not killed in the burglary. That’s all I really know," Danny waved over the waitress. "We’re going to need two more cups of coffee and menus please."

"Yes sir," The waitress hurried off to fill his request.

"Sully’s?" Laurel asked. Nicole had forgotten to tell her that.

"Yeah, I’m sorry hon. I told Mandy who told BJ. She never called back to say if it was Sam."

"I’ll call her back when we get home," Laurel knew that if it had been Sam, BJ might not have been in condition to tell Mandy. "Or we could stop by there and I could get some more clothes."

"Are you staying at Nicole’s then?" Sheryl asked. She wondered how long it would be until the two were living together permanently. She promised herself to have a talk with Nicole about that.

"Yeah for now anyway, I think she’s holding me hostage," The bassist joked.

"Well, someone has to take care of you," Nicole pointed out. "Anyway, what did you hear?"

"Well, first off they did not file your report Laurel," The critic told them. "I talked to one of the officers there last night. They didn’t feel you would want to be implicated in an attack by a lesbian."

"How very nice of them," Laurel’s tone was immersed in sarcasm.

"That’s what I thought. Anyway they also felt it was superfluous. But, what they can guess about last night’s events is that Jody and a friend robbed the store looking for drug money. The friend has not been identified. A cop happened to stop at the store while the robbery was in progress. He says he hit the friend, and we all know that he hit Jody. She was arrested at the scene and taken to the hospital along with the cashier. Her wound was minor, but apparently she faked it enough that the guard she had was lax. He went to the bathroom after she "fainted" and by the time he got back, she had the nurse with a scalpel to her neck" Sheryl paused for breath.

"That was stupid. Leaving someone in custody alone like that," Danny cursed the cop’s stupidity.

"Yes it was. It gets better. Apparently the cop was a rookie. He dropped his gun when she demanded it. Jody managed to get a hold of it and fired. Thankfully she was a rotten shot because both bullets missed the guy. Then the other cop, his partner, which we assume is the one that was interviewing the two of you, showed up. Jody was trying to make her escape down the hall. He warned her, fired one shot above her head, she turned and got off two shots. One of those hit him in the thigh, but he was able to take her out before she could figure out the chamber of the gun she held was empty. They’re going to do the autopsy today."

"How did you find all of this out?" Nicole asked. Sheryl rarely worked as a regular reporter though she was more than able.

"Your new friend Jeff was the photographer on duty last night. He told me the story this morning. He did not know that either of you were there. Apparently the police are keeping that quiet for your sakes," Sheryl laughed.

"Actually, that is a nice thing. Neither of us needs press at the moment," Nicole could just hear her family’s reaction. And after what Jeff had said about Laurel’s parents, Nicole did not think that the Kendrick’s needed to know anything about their daughter’s life. Least of all that she had been attacked by a woman that later robbed a store and was killed in a shoot out with cops.

"Guess she was more insane than I thought," Laurel shook her head. "Wonder what the band makes of this?" She asked no one in particular. She knew BJ would tell her later.

"Well, that ties all the ends together but one," Sheryl looked at Laurel. "What happened to cause that?"

"Well," Laurel took a sip of her coffee and looked at her menu. "I’ll tell you in a minute."

They placed their orders quickly. Danny and Sheryl wanted to hear the full version of events from an eyewitness. They also wanted to know about the fight between the bassist and Jody.

Nicole and Laurel took turns telling them what had happened. Laurel relayed the fight between her and the newly deemed insane woman. Both Danny and Sheryl were frightened and incensed by the occurrence. They sympathized with Nicole. Both of them were able to put themselves in their friend’s shoes.

"You were lucky, both of you. I’d hate to think of what could have happened had Jody found out you were in the hospital," Sheryl shuddered.

"Thanks, I hadn’t even thought of that," Nicole gave her friend an exasperated look.

"Sorry, Hotshot, but its true," Danny added.

"Look, guys, we’re fine. I got a little banged up, but both of us are fine. There’s nothing to worry about," Laurel hastened to reassure them.

"I know, it’s just that after the fact thing when all the possibilities kick in," Sheryl looked at Nicole when she said that. She knew that her friend had been thinking of those possibilities since it happened.

"Yeah, but we’re handling it," Laurel was ready to move past the incident. "Hey, it looks like food is here."

The arrival of their food brought a welcome respite. Danny was ready to move past the incident too. He regaled them with tales of his request line hour from the past week. His smooth tenor attracted a lot of female callers, and he parodied them for his friends’ entertainment.

"So, this other one called and said if I played a certain song, she’d send me her underwear," Danny rolled his eyes. "Like I’d appreciate that."

"Really," They laughed. Nicole thought about Aaron and wanted ask if he ever called the show. Instead, she turned to her childhood friend and redirected the conversation. "Have you heard from Jessie?"

"Yeah, she got back to New York ok. She thought about transferring down here, but we don’t want to rush things, if you know what I mean," Again she gave the photographer a pointed look.

"Why don’t you come over tonight and we can track her down in chat?" Nicole suggested. She knew that Sheryl obviously wanted to talk. She figured that Laurel would be out like a light after dinner.

"That sounds good. I’ll call her and leave a message on her answering machine. Hopefully her roommate won’t erase this one," Sheryl smiled at the memory of hearing Jessie’s wrath directed toward the roommate. "What time do you want me over?"

"After dinner will work," Nicole was looking forward to it. She knew that Sheryl would understand how she felt.

"Hey, we need to go talk to my professors," Laurel was still hoping she could talk Nicole into letting her stay for her afternoon class.

"Yeah we do, and of course, those two need to get back to work," Nicole pushed her half empty plate away.

"Aren’t you going to finish?" Laurel raised her eyebrow at the remains on her lover’s plate.

"It wasn’t that good," Nicole used a lame excuse.

"Uh huh," Laurel wisely decided that Mabel’s was not the place for an argument. "Ready to go then?"

"Yeah," Nicole watched as Laurel used her crutches to pull herself up. "See you later," She told her friends.

They went to the counter and paid for their meals. Fortunately no one asked about Laurel’s condition. The bassist was tired of relating the story and she knew that she would have to tell her professors and her roommates. Her professors at least would accept a brief explanation.

"So is short but deadly sleeping?" Sheryl asked when Nicole opened the door.

"She’s taller than you are," The photographer laughed as she let her oldest friend in the house. "But yes, Laurel is sleeping. The meds kicked in a few minutes ago."

"She’s been taking them?" The critic let a hint of incredulity enter her voice. Nicole just nodded. "Funny, she didn’t seem the type to listen to doctors. Guess it must have been your influence."

"Maybe," Nicole thought that Sheryl was close to accurate in her reading of Laurel, but she had no wish to tell her so. "Want to find Jessie online?"

"Not just yet," The critic sauntered into the kitchen. "Want a beer?" She asked as she pulled a bottle of the reddish liquid from the refrigerator.

"Pretty arrogant offering me my own beer," Nicole knew that her friend also had the desire for a talk. Otherwise, she would have immediately booted up the computer.

"Well, at least you put your bonus to good use," Sheryl pulled out the bottle opener and used it on both bottles. "No more of that cheap domestic crap," The critic had all the potentials of becoming a beer snob.

"Yeah, I indulged myself after I cashed the check."

"Bout damn time," Sheryl laughed. "Wanna sit outside?"

"Sure," Nicole realized just how serious the promised chat would be. Sheryl rarely volunteered sitting on the porch to talk. She did not like being on display for the neighbors.

"So," Sheryl sat on the glider and pulled one leg underneath her. "When is she moving in?"

"Um," The question caught the photographer off guard. "We haven’t discussed anything like that yet. Mandy really seems to care for her, and I don’t want to interrupt their home or anything," Nicole smiled at the memory of seeing the feisty little redhead tear a verbal hole through Laurel when they had stopped by there that afternoon. "Sides, it’s a little soon, don’t you think?"

"Yes, I do think its too soon," Sheryl agreed. She had been worried that her friend would rush into something too fast for both Nicole and Laurel’s emotional comfort. "Neither of you have ever had what can almost be called normal long term relationship. I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket, but I just want to make sure you are not jumping head first into the shallow part of the pool."

"She won’t hurt me," Nicole remembered the last time her and Sheryl had this type of conversation. It had been right after the photographer had met Annie.

"I don’t think she will," Sheryl admitted. She had seen the emotions Laurel tried to hide for the photographer in those clear grey eyes. "But, caution can be good in moderation."

"Yeah, I know," Nicole lit a cigarette. "I just don’t want to be too cautious. It’s a fine line, and we’ve already done the I love you thing."

"Who said it first?" Sheryl had always thought it was an important point.

"She did," Nicole’s face lit with joy as she remembered hearing those words. Laurel had looked as if the words had rebelled and popped out before the bassist could have stopped them. She did not look as if she regretted saying them though.

"Really? Wow," Sheryl grinned. They had not had the time to get all the important details straight in New Orleans. "So was it her friend in the store during the robbery?"

"No, Sam was not at work that evening. BJ said she was at home watching her kid." Nicole did not mention that Sam was in fact the drummer’s new girlfriend.

"So how did the events of last night really make you feel?" Sheryl changed the topic. She knew that the photographer needed someone to talk to about it.

"It was surreal," Nicole said after a long sip of beer. "She showed up at my door bloody and bruised. Man, I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but Laurel was the epitome of cool. She limped a little, so I had to practically force her to go to the emergency room. She still managed to talk me into sitting through one of her classes and two of her lessons today."

"Too butch for her own good?" Sheryl grinned. She had never thought Nicole would fall for someone so different from herself. Especially given Laurel’s family history. The critic had once dated a student from the Coast who had told her stories about the Kendricks. She doubted Laurel had told Nicole the truth about her upbringing.

"Something like that," Nicole was able to laugh. If felt good to laugh after all the concern she had felt for her lover. "Anyway, it was scary at the hospital too. Jody must have been doing drugs like Margie does."

"Never understood it myself," Sheryl shook her head. "I remember when Greg got us pot laced with something and we were convinced the dorm room was the only thing that existed on the planet."

"I remember that," Nicole laughed. "We were in his room and David showed up and we thought he was a god cause he crossed the void to get to us."

"I remember he laughed at us and then called all the other people on Greg’s floor to come in and laugh. Poor Danny was convinced we were in an alien spaceship and they were there to do tests on us."

They sat outside and related more stories. They were laughing so hard at some of them that they never heard the phone ring. Regardless, it helped ease Nicole’s tension. Sheryl was glad; she hated seeing her friend upset. They had helped one another through adolescence, broken hearts, and now they would see this through as well.

"Nicole," Laurel stood in the doorway. She had hobbled to the door without her crutches. Her foot and ankle did not bother her as much anymore, and already she was impatient for the plaster to be removed.

"Why aren’t you on your crutches?" Nicole asked in a disapproving voice. "And why are you out of bed? We don’t need you harming that ankle anymore than it is," The concerned lover became protective mother.

"You have a phone call," Laurel hopped down the steps and set on the swing next to her lover. "It sounded important," She said as she reached over and stole a cigarette from Nicole’s pack.

"Ok," Nicole hesitated a moment before walking into the house to find the phone. She was slightly puzzled. Two of the three people that normally called her were at her house. Danny was the other. The deejay was filling in for one of the other program hosts this evening, so she knew it would not be him.

next part

Return to Main Page