Something to be Thankful For

Part V

By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers: Same song, different verse. My characters, my ideas. Short story blooms out of control - news at eleven. Those of you who know me, know for a fact that I can't write "short." Words are like potato chips to me - can't use just one <wink>.

Again, there is a theme of two women who like each other - we may even get the "L" word used, you never know (depends on them, not me <g>). There are a few naughty words, probably no nudity, and we'll get to see more of the nasty relatives and other fun people to play with.

This story is for all of those wonderful folks on the CarriesCrossing chat and email list. ( Thank you for all your support and patience, you are all fantastic!

All comments, suggestions, or just notes to say hello can be directed to -

As always, my writing and my life are dedicated to my AJ, the brightest star in my universe.

Copyright December 2001 by Carrie Carr

Chapter 13

Kay sat in the steamy bathroom, running a brush through her damp hair. She was wrapped in a dark green towel, and her right leg was still incased in the large trash bag that Randi had fixed for her earlier. The vet had received a phone call right after Kay had gotten into the tub, but had waited until she had finished with her bath before leaving. With a turn of her head, she studied her profile and smiled. The gaunt look that had been such a part of her for the past few months had faded and a healthy glow was left in its place. "Guess falling in love has been good for me," she mumbled, then her eyes widened. Love? Who said anything about love? "Friendship, maybe," she decided nervously.

A loud bark at her feet caught Kay's attention. "What?"

Spike looked at her, then raced through the doorway and barked again. He ran back into the dressing area of the bathroom and circled around Kay. The rambunctious dog stopped and bowed in front of her, his tiny stub of a tail furiously wiggling while his rear stood high in the air. Another growl, a bark, and the small animal rushed from the room again.

"Now what's that all about?" Kay mused, reaching for the crutches and standing up. She was halfway through Randi's bedroom when her towel slipped and fell from her body. "Damn." A gasp at the doorway caused her to look up before she could grab the towel from the floor.

"I, umm." Randi stood in the doorway, her face completely red. "I forgot my wallet, so I…" She covered her eyes with her hand and turned around, bumping into the door. "I'm sorry, it's just that, I, uh, I mean," she stammered. Oh, lord. Her mind raced around the slender form that she had gotten a quick glimpse of. The younger woman's body wasn't muscular like an athlete, but she didn't carry much flab, either. And she's definitely a natural blonde, Randi's twisted mind teased her. "I'll just," she waved down the hall, "be in the living room, while you get dressed."

Watching the flustered woman walk away, Kay's emotions battled between being embarrassed and amused. Amusement won out as she struggled to contain her laughter. For someone as old as she is, Randi certainly gets flustered easily. She quickly dressed in the sweat pants and shirt they had bought after they left the park yesterday and hurried down the hall.

Randi sat in the recliner, her face buried in her hands. She heard Kay come into the room, but her embarrassment kept her from looking up.

"You okay?" Kay asked, sitting in her usual spot on the sofa. Even between the fingers covering Randi's face, she could tell her friend was still disconcerted.

A quiet grunt was Randi's only response.

Okay, how do I play this? Ignore it, tell her it's okay, or…Kay smiled. "Was I that scary?"

Brown eyes peeked from behind splayed fingers. "What?"

"Did you see something that you haven't seen before?" Kay teased. "Maybe I could give you a biology lesson," she offered, as she started to raise her sweatshirt over her head. "Nothing's labeled, but if you point out what you don't understand--"

"Wait!" Randi cried, leaping up and pulling the shirt down with her uninjured hand. "Are you nuts?" Her rebellious heart began to pound at the thought of seeing Kay's body again. Stop it! She's just trying to get you over your embarrassment, you idiot. As she sat down next to Kay, she willed her shaky hand not to touch the soft skin that was so tantalizingly close.

Kay watched Randi's face as the older woman battled her conscience. She could tell by the look in the brown eyes that Randi wanted her. Without hesitation, Kay leaned forward and pulled Randi's face close. Their lips met hurriedly and both women groaned at the contact.

Unable to control herself, Randi's hand snaked underneath Kay's loose shirt. Her fingers traced a heated path across the smooth skin, while she felt small hands thread themselves through her hair. Their lips continued to taste one another as their hands began to explore in earnest.

When an insistent hand squeezed her breast, Randi pulled back. "Kay, wait," she panted, trying to catch her breath.

"More," Kay moaned, grabbing another handful of dark hair and pulling Randi close once again. "Please," she mumbled before their lips met.

The telephone rang, causing them to break apart slightly. Randi started to move to get the phone but was quickly pulled back down again.

"Don't answer it," Kay begged, placing small bites on the older woman's throat. "Let them call back." Her mind was telling her to slow down, but her libido refused to listen.

Tilting her head unconsciously, Randi leaned back against the back of the sofa while Kay continued her assault on her neck. The phone continued to ring, and for the first time in her life, the vet wished she had an answering machine. "I can't," she moaned, breaking away regretfully. She picked up the handset and took a deep breath. "Hello?" After listening for a moment, she frowned and handed the phone to Kay. "It's for you."


"What are you doing there, Kay? Have you completely taken leave of your senses?" an angry voice husked.


Beth? "How did you find me? What do you want?" Kay saw the concerned look on Randi’s face and patted the older woman on the thigh to assure her.

"I went by your house to see you, and you weren’t there. Why did you leave, Kay?"

Kay shook her head to try and clear her thoughts. "It’s really none of your business. How did you get this phone number?"

"None of my business?" Beth cried. "You are my business, baby. We belong together. Silvia didn’t mean a thing to me, and you know it." She lowered her voice. "Come back to me, Kay. I went through a lot of trouble to find you, darlin’. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?"

"I’m sorry. But that part of my life is over. Please don’t call here again." Kay disconnected the call and looked up at Randi. "That was my ex-girlfriend, Beth. She said she wanted us to get back together again."

"D.." Randi cleared her throat, "do you want to get back together with her?" She steeled herself for the answer. After all, they both live in the same town, know the same people, even lived together for quite a few years. A history like that is hard to compete with.

Slowly so as not to startle the older woman, Kay reached up and placed her hand flat against Randi's cheek. "I have no desire to be anywhere near her, no." She caressed the soft skin and smiled. "But I have other desires, and I think you can help me with those."

"I'd like that, Kay," Randi whispered. Her mind kept trying to process what Kay had told her. Wait a minute. Did she say Beth? "Your ex's name is Beth?"

Kay nodded. "Yes. She was the tow truck driver that jump-started your car," Kay admitted. "Although I didn't find out about that until the other driver came to fix the flat."

"I guess that explains a few things," Randi noted.

"Like what?"

Randi pulled back, somewhat miffed that Kay had kept her lover's identity from her. "Like why she was so downright hostile towards me when she thought I was staying with you, and why she cheered up when she found out I lived in Fort Worth." She could feel the upset gnawing at her stomach. Get a grip. You have no claim on Kay, and she certainly owes you no explanations.

"Hostile?" Kay felt a sense of loss when Randi scooted away from her. She held out her hand and was relieved to have it grasped. "I'm sorry, Randi. I really wasn't trying to hide anything from you. I just didn't want you to get upset for no reason."

"No, I'm the one who should apologize." Randi pulled their linked hands to her lips and gently kissed Kay's knuckles. "I'm sorry. It was petty and unreasonable of me, and I have no hold on you."

An impish smile curled the younger woman's lips. She looked at their joined hands and the smile widened. "Oh, I don't know. Looks like you have a pretty good hold on me right now," she teased, trying to lighten the moment.

"You think?" Randi quipped, grinning also. "Well, just for the record," she leaned forward and hovered inches away from Kay's lips, "you've got me pretty well wrapped, too."


Kay watched as her friend tried to wrestle a coat over the splint on her left arm. "Randi, there's something I think I ought to tell you."

"What's that?" Randi asked, putting her wallet in her back pocket.

"Do you remember the other evening, when we fell asleep on the sofa?"

Randi grinned. "Oh, yeah. I sure do." She walked over and leaned against the arm of the recliner. "Why?"

"Well, when you took Spike out for his walk, I thought I saw something. Then I thought it was just my imagination." Kay exhaled heavily. "But now, I'm not so sure."

"All right. What is it that you think you saw?"

Kay beckoned with an outstretched hand. Randi took the hand and sat down next to her on the sofa, a concerned look on her face. "Like I said, I thought it was just my eyes playing tricks on me, since I was still groggy from our little nap." She looked up into the brown eyes that were patiently waiting. "I thought I saw Beth's tow truck drive by."

"Do you think she'd be crazy enough to drive all the way up here?" Randi asked. "It's not like you're still living together, or anything."

"That's what I thought, too," Kay admitted. "But after getting a phone call from her, I'm not so sure."

Randi shook her head. "I think we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves, here. All she did was call you." But she couldn't seem to shake the unsettling feeling that they were going to hear more from Beth.

"True. But she never did tell me how she got your number, only that she had gone to a lot of trouble to get it." Kay squeezed the hand she was still holding. "Do me a favor?"

"Sure. Name it."

"Just watch your back, will you? Beth always had a nasty temper, and I'd hate for her to take it out on you." The thought of something happening to Randi brought tears to Kay's eyes.

Alarmed by Kay's tears, Randi released her hand and wiped them away with her fingertips. "Hey, it's all right. All she had to do was look up my contact information with the tow truck service - I filled out some paperwork and left my address and phone number. It's not like she followed us, or something."

Kay sniffled. "Still - I want you to be extra careful." She forced a smile onto her face. "I saw her break a glass out of a door once, just because her key wouldn't work right. She's big, strong and has a mean streak."

"Nothing to worry about there," Randi joked. "I'm a lover, not a fighter. And I can still run pretty well, too." She kissed the blond on the lips. "Everything's going to be just fine," she assured Kay after they broke apart. At least I hope so.


Several days went by with no contact from either Melissa or Beth. Feeling less paranoid after not hearing from either woman, Kay had happily accepted her friend's offer of a shopping trip in a nearby mall. Randi had worked shorter hours each day for the rest of the week due to her injury, and as the weekend arrived she was finally able to use her injured arm again without much pain. She huffed as she pushed the rented wheelchair up a particularly steep incline. "How about we stop for lunch?"

"That sounds like a great idea," Kay agreed. "I'm starving." And I know that Randi could use the break from wheeling me all over the place. She had tried to argue when Randi rented the wheelchair, telling her that she could walk for a while on the crutches before tiring too badly. But the older woman wouldn't hear of it; so here they were, several hours later with bags stuffed under the rented seat.

Randi guided the chair into the food court, which was a large U-shaped area in the center of the mall. Huge trees were scattered about, while colorful tables held a scattering of people. In the middle of the court, a wide stairway dropped down into a noisy game room, the electric sounds of video games echoing against the piped in music that blared from speakers in the trees. Restaurants dotted the outer walls, with everything from Mexican food to hot dogs being hawked. "So," she paused in full view of all the eateries, "what are you hungry for?"

"Mmm." Kay closed her eyes as the quietly asked question sent delicious shivers down her spine. If I tell her, think I'll get it? Bad Kay. Very bad. The heavy petting sessions that filled their evenings were beginning to take a toll on her libido, and Kay feared she would self-combust any day now. "I'm pretty easy," she admitted, turning in the chair to smile at Randi. "What sounds good to you?"

Oh, hell. She would have to ask that. After spending the morning with Kay's perfume teasing her senses, Randi's self-control was quickly dissipating as well. She blinked several times to try and get her emotions back on track. "Uh, yeah. How about some barbecue? That's almost always good."

Kay nodded. "Yum. I haven't had any barbecue in months - that sounds great." She allowed Randi to wheel her over to an empty table where she could watch most of the area, including people coming and going from the game room stairs.

"Anything in particular you're hungry for?" Randi asked, leaning over slightly so that she wouldn't have to yell over the noise around them.

"Just a sliced brisket plate, I think. Oh, and iced tea to drink." Kay patted the hand that Randi had rested on her arm. "And a salad."

Laughing, Randi straightened up and nodded. "Gotcha." She had walked several steps until she was almost even with the game room. Turning around to face her friend, she held out her hands. "What kind of dressing for the salad?" she yelled, walking backwards.

"Ranch," Kay hollered after her. Seeing a teenage boy running for the stairway, she raised her hand and started to stand up from the chair. "Watch out!"

The boy's shoulder grazed Randi's outstretched arm, and in almost slow motion she found herself falling back, her body angled to tumble down the steps. Her eyes met Kay's in that instant and she saw the fear for her reflected in the other woman's eyes. Heart pounding, the noises around Randi coalesced until all she heard was a steady roar in her ears as she toppled aback.


Voices mingled outside as medical personnel scurried to and from the emergency room. Doctors were constantly being paged from the overhead speakers by a harried voice, and a small child's cry could be heard over the din.

An impatient blond sat in one of the small rooms, her attempts to gather information fruitless. When an older woman dressed in scrubs came into the room and picked up a nearby chart, Kay could hold her tongue no longer. "Excuse me."


"Please, is the doctor coming back in soon? I'd really like to know--"

The woman smiled gently. "She should be here in a few more minutes, dear. I believe she went to get the results of the x-rays."

Kay sighed. "Thank you." She looked up when the door opened again, and a familiar face came into view. "How did you get in here?"

"Told them I was your sister," Randi explained. "Have you found out anything yet?" She stepped into the room and stood at the foot of the bed, where Kay's leg was stretched out.

"Not yet. But it doesn't even hurt, anymore."

Randi shook her head. "I can't believe you ran across the food court like that." She touched Kay's leg above the cast. The plaster had a few tiny bits missing along the heel, but other than that looked none the worse for wear.

"I'll admit it wasn't the brightest thing I could have done," Kay admitted. "But when I saw you start to fall down the stairs, I freaked."

"That's an understatement," Randi agreed. She had only fallen back a few feet before she caught herself with the railing that ran along the foot of the stairs. Bruised but not seriously injured, she had heard Kay's screaming of her name and was shocked to see her friend standing at the top of the stairs. When the adrenaline had worn off, the younger woman had collapsed in pain and was quickly ushered to the emergency room to have her leg checked out.

The door opened once again, and a middle-aged woman with glasses rushed into the room. "Ms. Newcombe?" She accepted the chart from the nurse and quickly scribbled something on it before looking back up. "You are very lucky. There doesn't seem to be any new damage to your leg. As a matter of fact, it's healing quite nicely."

"Does that mean I can go home, now?" Kay asked, relieved. Although her leg no longer hurt like it had earlier, she was worried that her spontaneous run had done some serious injury to the limb.

Looking up from her notes, the doctor smiled. "Are you that anxious to leave us?" She turned her head to catch Randi's eye. "For the record, Ms. Meyers, no more acrobatics on stairways." At Kay's earlier request, she had thoroughly checked the dark-haired woman for any injuries, only finding a few bruises. "I've prescribed you some pain medication - you're going to be quite sore tomorrow, I'm afraid."

"Thank you, doctor." Randi winked at Kay. "Is it okay if I take her home now? I promise to make her behave."

At Kay's indignant squawk, the doctor chuckled. "Certainly. All you have to do is sign a few more papers, and I'll have you on your way."


Spike’s sharp bark caused Kay to open her eyes Sunday morning. She reached for her watch on the nightstand and was surprised to see how late it was. Eleven-thirty? Normally on the weekends, Randi’s attempts to sneak quietly through the house would awaken her long before now. Another shrill bark, and Kay grabbed her crutches and climbed out of bed.

Once she was out in the hallway, she realized that the barking was coming from Randi’s room. Alarmed, Kay pushed the partially-closed door open to peek inside. The tiny dog was standing atop the covers, barking loudly at the top of the bed.

"Go ‘way," a weary voice grumbled from beneath the bedclothes.

When Spike grabbed a mouthful of the comforter and pulled, a hand snaked slowly from its hiding place and gently pushed him away. "Stop it, you crazy dog," Randi growled. The giggle from the doorway made her pull the covers back just far enough to see. "Kay?"

"I’m sorry, Randi," Kay apologized, hobbling further into the room. "I heard Spike bark, and was worried about you." She waited until she was beside the bed and could look down into the other woman’s eyes. "Are you okay?"

Randi sighed. "Pretty much. I jus’ can’t seem to get out of bed," she admitted sheepishly.

Kay sat down on the bed next to her. "What do you mean, you can’t get out of bed? Are you hurt?" She was afraid that Randi’s fall yesterday did more damage than the doctor had been able to diagnose. "Should I call an ambulance?"

"No." Randi closed her eyes. "That’s jus’ it," she slurred slightly. "I’m feelin’ no pain. Took a pill in th’ middle of th’ night, and now I can’t get up." Her eyes opened and she smiled. "I’m verrry relaxed, as a matter of fact."

Relieved, Kay smiled back at her and reached down to brush the hair out of Randi’s eyes. "I’ll just bet you are." She looked over at the small dog, which was sitting on Randi’s chest staring at her, his head cocked at a comical angle. "I can take a hint, Spike. Let me get dressed, and I’ll get you outside, okay?" Two sets of brown eyes looked at her with the same expression. "Don’t tell me you need to go outside, too?" Kay jokingly asked her friend.

"Huh?" Randi blinked and frowned. "Why would I wan’ to go outside? It’s warm in here."

"Never mind." Kay stood up and tucked her crutches underneath her arms. "Why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll talk later, okay?" She looked down at Randi, who was already fast asleep. "Sleep well, honey," she whispered, leaning down and placing a soft kiss on the resting woman’s brow. Straightening up, Kay started for the door. "Come on, dog. You can watch me get dressed. I know you like that," she joked.

Spike barked in agreement as he pranced behind her.

Chapter 14

"I can't believe it's time to go back," Kay lamented, watching the passing scenery. She took her attention away from the window and glanced down at the sleeping bundle in her lap. Spike had fallen asleep not long after they had left Fort Worth and hadn’t moved in over an hour.

Randi sighed. "I know what you mean. This was the shortest three weeks in history, I think." The thought of leaving Kay in Woodbridge brought a lump to her throat. "I’m glad you agreed to join me and my family for Thanksgiving, Kay."

"You’ve talked about your family so much, I feel as if I already know them," Kay responded. "Besides, I’m dying to meet your mom and see what kind of stories she has to tell about you."

"Great. That’s just what I need, my mom telling tales." Randi forced a smile onto her face and sneaked a peek at her friend. She looks so sad. And, even though she denied it, I could tell that she had been crying this morning before we left. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to leave her. Several different times she had started to ask Kay to stay with her, but didn't know how her request would be received. We've had a lot of fun getting to know one another, but it's unfair of me to ask her to uproot and move up here after three short weeks of being together. Randi forced herself to study the road ahead.

Kay could almost feel the upset coming from the other woman. She had a pretty good idea what it was all about, but like Randi, was afraid to say anything. These past few weeks have been some of the best I've ever known. I hate that they're over so soon. "You will come back and visit, won't you?" she asked.


"Yeah. Visit." Kay continued to stroke Spike's soft fur. "I know you're pretty busy with work and all, but I'd really like to see you again."

Idiot. Pay attention to the conversation, and quit feeling so sorry for yourself. "I'm sorry, Kay. Of course I'll visit - you'll probably get tired of seeing me."

"I doubt that."

"You say that now," Randi teased, trying to lighten the mood. "But wait until I show up on your doorstep every weekend. You'll probably want to move to get away from me."

Kay shook her head. "Not at all. The only place I'd move is--" Her words were cut off by Randi's curse as a tractor-trailer rig tried to suddenly swerve into their lane.

"Damn! Hold on," Randi advised, hitting the brakes and turning the wheel sharply. The Corvette skidded to a stop on the graveled shoulder of the road, as the truck with its oblivious driver continued on its way. After taking a shaky breath, Randi looked at Kay. "Are you all right?"

"I think so." Shaken, Kay pulled Spike up to her chest and held him close. "That was a nice bit of driving. Our little friend here didn't even wake up."

Randi smiled and ducked her head, embarrassed. "Thanks. It happens more than I care to admit."


"Sure." Taking a deep breath, Randi checked the road and cautiously started the car down the highway once again. "I'm not certain if this car is just an idiot magnet, or people are just getting less cautious when they drive. You'd think the bright yellow would be easy to spot," she muttered.

Less than an hour later, the Corvette pulled into Kay's driveway. Randi turned off the ignition and looked over at her friend. "Doesn't look any different, does it?"


Looks…lonelier, Kay thought to herself. "Not really," she voiced aloud. "Do you have a place to stay for the holiday?"

"I thought I'd just grab a hotel room somewhere," Randi admitted.

Kay reached across the car and touched the older woman on the arm. "No, don't. I know my sofa isn't that comfortable, but I'd love it if you'd stay here with me," she offered awkwardly.

Charmed by the offer, Randi couldn't see how she could refuse. "I'd like that. Your sofa beats a hotel bed for comfort, believe me." Lost for a moment in the hazel eyes, she struggled to gain her composure. "How about we get everything into the house, and I'll take you out for lunch?"

"That sounds like a great idea," Kay agreed. She picked the retractable lead up from the floor of the car and clipped it to Spike's collar. "C'mon, cutie. Let's stretch those little legs a bit."


Randi held the restaurant door open so that Kay could exit without much trouble. They were almost to the car when they noticed a large, red tow truck parked directly behind the Corvette. "What the--"

"Hello, Kay." Beth stood at the front of the yellow vehicle, leaning back against the hood, her arms crossed over her chest. "I figured this was your ride - not too many of these babies around."

Stopping a few feet away from the burly woman, Kay was thankful for the comforting presence of Randi directly behind her. "What do you want, Beth? Haven't you bothered us enough?" When Beth stood up straight and took a step closer, she fought the instinct to recoil back.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Katie. All I did was call, just to make sure you were okay." Beth glared at the woman standing behind Kay. "Especially since you took off with a practical stranger. That's not very smart."

"You're wrong. The only 'not very smart' thing I've ever done was hooking up with you," Kay spat. She felt a calming hand grip her shoulder from behind, and reached up to cover it with her own hand. "Please move your truck, Beth. I don't have anything more to say to you."

Beth took another step forward and grabbed Kay's arm. "Don't get so bitchy with me, Katie."

"Let go of her," Randi growled, stepping around Kay to face the larger woman.

Laughing, Beth released her grip and poked Randi in the chest. "What are you going to do about it, old woman? I could kick your ass."

"Aren't you a little old to be playing school yard bully?" Randi asked, her own face breaking into a very unfriendly smile. "You lay another hand on Kay, or me, and I'll have your ass in jail before you could say redneck." She walked around and opened the passenger door of the car. "Now move your truck, before I call your boss and put in a formal complaint."

Her face reddening, Beth stalked to the large rig. "Bitch," she yelled, climbing into the truck and backing it out of the parking lot.

Kay allowed Randi to take her crutches from her and help her into the Corvette. "That was good," she complimented. "I've never seen Beth back down from a fight before."

"Yeah, well. Like I told you," Randi commented as she got in behind the steering wheel, "I'm a lover, not a fighter. And I wasn't about to get into a fistfight with a woman that was at least ten years younger than me."

"Not to mention a whole lot uglier," Kay joked as they drove out of the restaurant parking lot. "Thanks for standing up for me." She placed her hand over Randi's, which was resting on the stickshift. "No one's ever done that for me, before."

Randi smiled at her friend. "You're welcome. I'll always stand up for you, Kay." She turned her right hand over and twined her fingers with Kay's.


"What do you mean, you won't be coming with us this year? Our family always has Thanksgiving dinner at Ray's Cafeteria," Louise complained. "He gave us free pie last year, because you flirted with him."

Rolling her eyes, Kay gripped the phone tighter, trying her best to ignore the looks she was receiving from Randi, who sat on the other end of the sofa. "That's not true, Aunt Louise. He gave us free pie because you wouldn't shut up until he did." After an enjoyable evening spent quietly at home with Randi, Kay had decided to call and break the news to her aunt that she wouldn't be joining them for dinner the next day.

The older woman huffed. "You always were a selfish one, Katherine. I really had something to talk to you about, but I guess it'll have to wait, now. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with you." She began to cry, which caused her daughter Nancy to take the phone away from her.

"Katherine? What did you say to mother? She's practically inconsolable."

Try tossing her a cookie, Kay thought bitterly. "I told her that I had other plans for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so I won't be joining you two at Ray's for the all-you-can-eat turkey buffet."

Overhearing the conversation, Randi almost rolled off the sofa while trying to control her laughter. Kay's warning finger only added to her mirth, and the older woman finally gave up and walked into the kitchen, where her outburst could be heard quite clearly.

"What was that?" Nancy asked, still upset that Kay had caused her mother distress.

"Nothing," Kay assured her. Spike jumped down from her lap where he had been perched, and followed the sound of laughter into the kitchen. He started barking at Randi, which caused her to laugh even harder.

"Is that a dog barking I hear? When did you get a dog?"

Kay felt the beginnings of a headache coming on. She rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. "It's not mine," she explained as calmly as she could. "He belongs to a friend who's staying with me for a few days."

"Oh? Is this that friend of yours, Mindy Something-or-other? The one who you went home with?" Nancy sounded thrilled at the thought of gossip she could hold over her cousin's head.

"Her name is Randi," Kay patiently corrected. "And yes, he's her dog." She looked up as a repentant Randi came back into the living room, carrying a cup of hot chocolate as a peace offering. Kay smiled and accepted the offering. "If you don't have anything else, I've got to go."

Nancy sniffed. "Well, I suppose that if you're going to be that way--"

"Goodbye, cousin. Happy Thanksgiving." Kay quickly disconnected the call before Nancy could say another word. She looked up at Randi and shook her head. "I don't know why I continue to put up with those two," she sighed.

Randi sat down next to Kay and patted her leg. "Because you're a good person, and family is important to you."

"Maybe," Kay hedged. She frowned and stared at the phone. "Aunt Louise said she had something to tell me, but she started blubbering before she could tell me what it was."

"We could always stop by tomorrow on the way over to my grandmother's. Maybe take her some flowers, or something." Randi reached around Kay's shoulders and pulled the younger woman close to her. And, maybe after you meet my family, I'll have the guts to ask you to move back to Fort Worth with me, permanently.


Kay manipulated her way up the pitted walkway, doing her best to dodge the weeds that had broken through the concrete walk. She reached the steps of the rundown old house and turned to look at her friend, who was carrying a huge spray of flowers. "I can't believe you picked the most expensive bouquet," she chided. "They're really not worth it."

"I was hoping they'd be so overjoyed at the flowers, they wouldn't see us leave," Randi joked as she tried to peer around the bundle in her hands. "Let's just drop these off, give our apologies, and run."

"Good idea," Kay agreed, climbing the steps slowly and ringing the doorbell. She had never felt comfortable in the old house, so even though she had spent several years living here, she still rang the bell like a stranger.

"Who is it?" Nancy's voice sing-songed on the other side of the heavy oak door. The sound of several locks being turned clicked loudly and the big door opened wide. "Well, well. Look who decided to drop by." She turned and yelled behind her, "Mother! Katherine and her friend are here." She wrinkled her nose and stepped back. "Don’t just stand there, come on inside. Don't want our neighbors to think we turned away family on a holiday, do we?"

Kay allowed her cousin to lead them into the living area, where Louise was entertaining a middle-aged man with a silly story. She looked at Nancy, who shrugged and dropped down into a nearby chair, ignoring her guests. "Aunt Louise? I'm sorry to come by unannounced, but we thought we'd bring you these flowers by." She motioned to Randi, who took the not so subtle hint and handed the heavy vase to Louise.

"Mrs. Weatherby, I wanted to thank you for graciously allowing Kay to spend this holiday with me and my family. I hope you can forgive me for taking her away from you today." Randi gave the matron her most charming smile.

"Oh, you sweet girls," Louise gushed. She sat the bouquet down on the end table next to the sofa and engulfed a shocked Kay in a firm hug. "That's so thoughtful of you, dear. Please, sit down for a moment. I'd like to introduce you to someone." She waited until the two women were seated, then held out her hand to the gentleman who had stood up when they entered the room earlier. "Mr. Richard Stone, I'll like to present to you my favorite niece, Katherine Newcombe."

The tall, slightly balding man reached down and shook Kay's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Katherine. Your aunt has told me so much about you." He looked over at Randi, who held out her hand.

"Randi Meyers. I'm a friend of Kay's," she explained, taking her hand back and fighting the urge to wipe it on her slacks. The limp, sweaty grip of the older man gave her the creeps.

"Charmed," he nodded.

Louise smiled as he took his place next to her on the sofa. "Richard is a bookkeeper," she explained to the newcomers. "And he's graciously offered to let you come to work for him, starting this Friday."

"What?" Kay sat up, alarmed. Although she knew her savings would have to be carefully monitored in order to last until she was back on her feet, Kay didn't think she wanted to work for a man she had just met. Especially if that man was a friend of her aunt's.

Richard smiled at the younger woman. "I wouldn't call it gracious, exactly. I need someone who is skilled in entering data into a computer, and your aunt told me you needed a job. It will be a permanent position, and I can guarantee top pay."

"Then it's settled," Louise stated. "Your cousin has already agreed that she'll drive you, until your leg is healed."

"I don't know what to say," Kay stammered. She could feel her world spinning out of control, and couldn't find the words to stop it. Maybe it's for the best. At least this way, I won't be a burden to anyone. And I can keep my savings intact to buy a car, whenever I can start driving again. Maybe even make a few trips to Fort Worth.

Nancy watched the emotions cross Randi's face, and fought back a smile. That ought to keep you away from my cousin for a while. Now she won't be so dependent on you, will she? Looking over at Kay, her smile widened. "You don't have to say anything. I'll be more than happy to drive you until you can get around again on your own. It's the least I can do, since you took such good care of Mama while I was gone."

So much for asking Kay to come back with me. Randi struggled to keep a neutral look on her face, while Kay's aunt and cousin chattered on about how happy they were for her. This day can't get any worse.

To Be Continued in Part 6

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