Sex, Death and Rock n’ Roll © 2009 By Cyberdyke

This story depicts a consenting sexual relationship between adult women oh and a man and a women too. There is occasional bad language and violence.
Disclaimer: All characters are fictitious and made up from the depths of my mind. Any similarities with living or dead people just sucks.

 

Sex, Death and Rock n Roll  - Part 2

Melissa looked at her watch. Only half an hour before she was off work. For the last hour she had been stacking twenty-five pound sacks of bark dust with one of her co-workers. Her employees always thought she was crazy for rolling up her sleeves and helping them with the dirty, heavy work. After all, managers weren’t supposed to do such things.

The work was monotonous, hot and backbreaking, but it had to be done. At least they had the radio to listen to while they toiled. When the announcer said, “Here’s the new one from Scarecrow,” …and Kris’ full, sultry voice came on, Melissa’s heart started to beat faster. She felt her face flush slightly, and she was very surprised at the strength of her reaction. The young woman she was working with began to hum along then looked over at Melissa. “Do you like these guys?”

“Yeah, they’re OK.” Melissa hoped her voice didn’t sound as pinched as it felt.

“They’re cool. Have you seen their new video?” Melissa shook her head no.

“Oh, you’ve got to catch this one. Kris is hot! I don’t think I really noticed her before, she always seemed to be in the background behind Rick and Tony, but in this video she is out front and ooo baby!” she finished with a lecherous smile. Melissa found herself feeling a lot of mixed emotions, including being a little angry with her co-worker in the way she freely lusted after Kris. That brought Melissa up short. Why was she concerned with the way this woman regarded Kris? ‘I almost sound jealous,’ she thought. Jealous? Where the hell did that come from? ‘One date, more like a few hours together, and now I think I have the right to be jealous? Yeah right!’ She was also fascinated by the way the woman spoke of Kris, with a mixture of respect and longing. It gave Melissa a feeling of… pride? ‘Man! I need to get a life!’ she scolded herself.

Sitting in traffic on the way home that night, her mind wandered to what had happened at work. Maybe it was time to admit that she actually felt more for Kris than she had dared to. How else to explain her reaction to what her co-worker had said? But this was crazy; she had spent only a few hours with Kris. That was almost a month ago, they hadn’t been in contact since, and as time passed it seemed more and more likely that she would never hear from Kris again. A wave of sadness washed over her when the radio played a Scarecrow song from the last album. She gazed at the radio, feeling like she was going to cry. Shaking her head to snap herself out of it, she said aloud, “Get a grip!”

When she arrived home, she was surprised to find Brandon and several of his friends gathered in the living room. The T.V. was on, loud, tuned to VH1. There was an empty pizza box on the floor and another one on the coffee table with a few pieces of cold pizza still in it. Empty pop cans littered the floor, completing the scene of a frat house. Melissa’s mood had not been good, and this just pushed her over the edge.

“Hey Sis! I saved you some pizza – your favorite, Hawaiian,” Brandon called cheerfully when she stepped inside. He got up off the couch and headed towards the kitchen, asking over his shoulder, “Coke or a beer?” His kindness stunned her into silence.

“Coke,” she answered, stepping over one of his friends and picking up a piece of pizza.

“Melissa, you’re looking really buff!” the guy on the floor she had just stepped over said, looking up and smiling.

Melissa warned as she chewed her pizza. “Don’t mess with me today Tad, I’m in a mood,”

“I’m sorry, I only meant it as a compliment,” Tad apologized. He flashed her one of his trademark smiles, charming and sincere and well polished for an 18-year-old. His trendy personal appearance gave him away as a youth, however, with baggy clothes and the currently ubiquitous haircut, short on the sides and long on top.

She took another bite of pizza. “It’s cool. What are you all doing, anyway?”

“We were going to practice, but Kevin couldn’t make it, so we thought we’d hang,” another guy spoke up.

“Skip, what exactly does that mean?” Melissa looked at him doubtfully. He wore a baseball cap that said “SexWax” on it, and his clothes were also very baggy. With a mouthful of braces and the hint of a goatee, he was a mixture of man and boy.

“You know, this.” He spread his arms out to encompass everything. Melissa had to laugh. Even though there were only a handful of years between her and Brandon, sometimes it felt like decades.

“We were just catching up with this week’s top 10 videos,” Brandon stated, handing her a can of Coke.

He noticed that she looked more interested than usual. “Oh yeah, where are we?”

“I think we’re on number seven now.”

“Who have they covered?” Melissa was trying not to sound really interested.

“FastBall, Shania Twain and Natalie Merchant,” Tad replied.

Brandon looked at her a little quizzically. “Why all the questions?”

“Just want to see if you guys are paying attention.” Melissa tried to sound casual, but was afraid that Brandon could see right through her. To her amazement, the next video up was “Corn Fields” by Scarecrow. She found herself absolutely riveted to the screen, unable to take her eyes off Kris. Her co-worker was right, Kris was hot! This was not the same woman she had spent time with in the bar. This woman took her breath away and made her heart pound. After the video ended, she knew Brandon was staring intently at her. She felt a blush travel up her face but couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“Man, that babe is hot!!!” Tad exclaimed.

Skip sounded very disappointed. “Yeah, too bad she’s gay!”

“Didn’t you have a crush on her, Bran?” Tad asked.

Brandon looked up, his eyebrows arched in surprised. “Me?”

“Yeah, didn’t you tell me that you wouldn’t mind spending a few quiet moments with her?” Skip teased.

Melissa looked at her brother with a mixture of anger and surprise.

“No, I said I wouldn’t mind spending a few quiet moments with Tony…”

“…But you have all those posters up in your room?” Skip persisted.

“Yeah, because she’s a drummer.” Brandon looked uncomfortable. Melissa felt relieved at his explanation, and wondered what was wrong with her. The doorbell rang and broke her reverie. Opening the door she was confronted by a deliveryman with a huge balloon bouquet.

He consulted a clipboard. “Melissa Davis?”

“Yes?”

“These are for you.” He handed her the bouquet, smiled and walked back to his truck. Totally surprised, she carefully let the balloons float to the ceiling as she removed the card.

“Wow!” Skip exclaimed as he looked over at the balloons.

“Let me guess, your mystery date again?” Brandon smirked, giving her a knowing smile. She shot back a look that said, “none of your business.”

The card read:

Melissa,

I hope you won’t think this too presumptuous of me, but someone had to do something. Forgive Kris for being, well… thickheaded. She is driving me CRAZY with her desire to get together with you again. Please be patient; she will call you – and soon if I have anything to do about it!

I have never meddled with Kris’ personal life, but I have never seen her act this way about anyone before.

Tony Rain Cloud (a.k.a. Cupid)

She stood under the balloons, card in hand, absolutely dumbfounded.

Tad asked, “What’s all this mystery date stuff?”

“I don’t know, she’s being very tight-lipped about this.” Brandon smiled.

“Ah, ain’t that quaint?” Tad said, laughing sarcastically.

“ Brandon.” Her tone was menacing and she looked at him with an eyebrow raised.

He acted like he was afraid. “I’m quaking in my boots! Don’t give me that Xena: Warrior Princess look!” He laughed, and she tried unsuccessfully to slap him on the shoulder.

“You are so childish!” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.

Tad spoke up. “Hey that reminds me. Last night when I came over, that same car was parked across the street.”

“Susan’s car?” Melissa asked, knowing the answer.

“The blue Pathfinder?” Tad asked, and Melissa nodded.

Melissa and Brandon exchanged a knowing look. “Hey thanks for saving me some pizza, I’ve got to get into the shower.” Melissa moved off towards her room. As she undressed and prepared to step into the shower, she thought about the implications of Susan stalking her. It made her feel very creepy, but she wasn’t sure what she could do about it. Oh sure, Brandon wanted her to talk to the police. “Hello, Police… Yes my ex-girlfriend is hanging around my house every night… what… Yes I did say girlfriend… Hello?” She imagined how the confrontation would go, and it didn’t make her feel any more secure. She was hoping that Susan would tire of this little game and leave her alone, but now it was looking like she was going to have to talk to someone about it.

10

“People! The bus is experiencing some mechanical problems, so we’re delayed for awhile,” Paul announced, listening to the groans of the band.

“Great! How long is awhile?” Rick groused.

“We’re a couple hours from help in just about any direction,” the driver supplied.

Looking out the window, Kris noticed how gray the day had become, stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Paul already had his cell phone glued to his head. “Hey… No the bus is broken down… A couple hours out of Calgary… I hope we don’t have to reschedule Minneapolis… No, go ahead with the schedule. I’ll let you know when we get someone out here to look at the damn thing… Later.” He closed his cell phone and looked at the schedule on his clipboard in front of him. If they missed tonight’s concert in Minneapolis, it was possible to reschedule it on the weekend, the band had a day off, but that would mean hiring a plane to get everyone back in this direction from Oklahoma. Shit what a nightmare; he certainly didn’t need this right now.

Tony wandered off to her bed. “I can use the sleep.” Kris watched her go and smiled, wondering what to do. Last night, for a change, she had actually gotten several hours of sleep, and today she felt very rested. Melissa! She was in luck; no one was using the bus phone. She held her breath and counted off the rings in her head, one, two, three... Her heart pounded and she was sure that no one was home.

“Hello?” Melissa answered. The silken voice sent shivers up Kris’ spine. Her breath caught in her throat and for a moment she didn’t think she’d be able to speak.

“Hello, Melissa?” Kris said, as the male members of the band all looked up at her in surprise. Feeling very self-conscious, Kris stepped off the bus.

“Yes?”

“Hi, it’s Kris. Kris Cutler.” There was an audible pause on the other end. “Hello?”

“I’m here.”

“I can’t believe you’re home! You don’t know how many times I’ve tried to call you, but somehow the timing was never right.”

The pause that followed was nerve-racking. “Thanks for the flowers,” Melissa finally said.

“Oh, you’re welcome. I am really sorry about all that mess. Rita had to restrain me from coming back to talk with you.”

“That was really frightening. Were you hurt?”

“Not really. The limo was a write-off and our clothes were goners, but that’s all.”

Melissa was trying unsuccessfully to get a grip on herself. She couldn’t believe that she was having a conversation with Kris Cutler! She didn’t want to sound like a schoolgirl gushing all over the phone, but at the same time her mind was a blank as to what to say to her.

“Have I gotten you at a bad time?”

“No! To be honest, you’ve caught me off-guard. I didn’t really expect to hear from you again.”

“Why?”

“It’s been a month since we met, and, well, you’re famous.”

“Hey, I really find you interesting and I want the opportunity to get to know you better. That is, if you’ll let me.”

“I would like that very much.”

“Good! Would you like to have dinner some time?”

“Tonight?” Melissa sounded shocked.

Kris chuckled as she looked around her the vast expanse of nothingness in every direction, “No, but soon.”

“That would be nice. Where are you, anyway?”

“You know, I have no idea. Our bus is having problems and so we have a lull in our schedule. That’s why I was finally able to call you. Right now I’m standing on the side of a road somewhere.”

“Oh!” Now Kris’ reaction made sense. “The next time you’re in town, we could get together.”

“Yes we could, but I was thinking about something a little sooner than that.” Kris walked back over to the bus and looked in the doorway for Paul, who was nowhere in sight. Putting her hand over the receiver she called to Rick. “Hey! Can you get Paul for me, please?”

Rick looked at her as if it were a huge inconvenience, but finally got up. Kris stepped back outside and closed the door.

“Are you still there?” Melissa asked.

“Sorry! I was trying to track down our schedule.”

“I’ve been hearing your name a lot in the press lately, and I was wondering how things are going since you came out?”

“OK I guess. I haven’t really had time to think about it, we’ve been really busy. I did get some nice telegrams from some of the other gay celebrities though. That was a great ego boost!”

Paul poked his head out the door and looked annoyed. “What is it, Kris?” She didn’t respond other than to grab the clipboard out of his hands.

“We really have a whole weekend in Chicago?” She looked up at Paul for confirmation. “What are you doing in a couple of weeks?” Kris asked, handing back the clipboard.

“Nothing special, why?”

“How would you like a free trip to Chicago?” Kris’ hands were suddenly sweating and her mouth had gone dry.

Melissa sounded a little out of breath. “Ah, that sounds like fun!”

“Great!! Don’t worry about a thing! I’ll set everything up. I’m glad you’re going to give me a second chance!”

“All right,” Melissa said reluctantly. “When will we get together?”

“We’ll meet you there on Thursday. I’ll have Candy call you with all the details.”

“Good! Kris, I’m sorry, but I have to go to work.”

“Right! Hey, it was nice talking with you.”

“Thanks for calling; see you soon.” 

“Looking forward to it!”  Kris was smiling fully.

“Oh and before I forget tell Tony thanks.” The phone went dead.

Kris’ brow was furrowed as she took the phone from her ear and pushed the END button.  What was that about? Kris stepped up into the bus looking deep in thought.

Rick’s eyebrows were raised. “Who was on the phone?”

Kris felt herself blushing a little. “What? Ah, no one that you know.”

“No one, huh? I don’t generally see you blush for no one,” Rick prodded.That made the blush go deeper. “Do I stick my nose into your business?” Kris countered.“All the time! Give, who was it?” Rick was really enjoying this. It wasn’t often that he got to make Kris feel awkward.

Kris noticed that Tony was sitting on the couch smiling slyly at her. Kris shot her a warning look. “I thought you were going to grab some sleep?”

Tony was trying very hard not to giggle. “You know, if Kris doesn’t feel like telling you, then she shouldn’t have to.” She addressed Kris, “I gave up trying its just too close in there today.”

“I knew it! It’s a girl!” Tom high-fived Rick.

“Well, you have a 50/50 chance of being right. If I tell, you’ll leave me alone?” It was more a command than a question.

Rick and Tom both looked at her solemnly and held up the Boy Scout salute.

Kris pointed a menacing finger at them. “You promised. It was a woman I met a while ago.”

“Dude you owe me, pay up!” Rick cried, holding out his hand in Tom’s direction.

Kris rolled her eyes as she sat down next to Tony. “You’re such children!”

Tony looked at her expectantly. “Well?”

“Well what?” Kris was puzzled.

Tony let out a sigh of exasperation. “Was that Melissa?”

Kris gave her an indignant look. “You’re as bad as they are!”

“You should see yourself; you’re smiling from ear to ear, your face is flushed and your eyes are twinkling. You look like you’re about to get laid for the first time. I was there when you met her, old friend, I would know these symptoms anywhere.”

Kris smiled in acquiescence. “Am I really that transparent?”

“Yes.”

Kris put her hand up next to her mouth and whispered into Tony’s ear. “She’s going to spend a whole weekend with me in Chicago! And she told me  to thank you; what’s that all about? You wouldn’t be trying to steal her from me now would you, old friend?”

Tony looked shocked. “Kris! I would never do that to you. Besides I’m straight, remember?” She laughed.

Kris looked unconvinced.

“I didn’t want you to lose her because you were being thick! So I sent her some balloons and a note telling her not to give up on you.”

It was Kris’ turn to look shocked. “Tony, what a very nice thing to do!”

“We’ve known each other a very long time, and I can tell that this is serious.” Tony was smiling slightly. “Hey, you have the right to be happy for a change, right?” Her smile grew, brightening her whole face.

Kris gave her a hug. “We all deserve to be happy. Thanks.”

11

Kris emerged from the dressing room to find Tom leaning against the wall reading the paper, and Steve standing nearby playing with his Gameboy. Her day had been fun-filled and jam-packed, with a photo shoot, an interview and the concert. Tonight they were staying in a hotel again, and Kris was looking forward to having the room to herself.

Rick appeared with a blond babe on his arm. “Hi everyone, this is Ilsa.” He made the introductions then added, “See you tomorrow. Don’t wait up!” Rick laughed as he and Ilsa headed for the door.

Kris stifled a yawn. “Where’s Tony?”

“Oh, she and some Adonis already left,” Tom stated.

Kris mumbled to herself, “She’s back to guys now?” She was going to have to sit down with that woman and have a talk.

“I knew she would be the one Studly would pick tonight!” Steve watched the couple heading down the long hallway.

Kris pulled her baseball cap lower over her face. “So, can we like blow this place, or what?”

“Yep,” Tom replied, as they started heading for the door.

“You going back empty-handed?” Steve turned and looked over his shoulder at Kris.

Stifling another yawn as she stepped into the cold night air, Kris said, “Yeah, I think so.”

“You’re welcome to come to the bars with us,” Tom offered.

“I’m way too tired, but thanks.”

“Alright people, let’s move ’em out,” Paul announced, emerging from the limo.

They all climbed on board. “Mail call! Steve, here’s your stack; Tom, here you go, and Kris you only get one thing.” Paul handed the bundles to the recipients. Kris opened her envelope mechanically.

Kris,

I didn’t really want to dump this on you while you are on tour, but frankly I’m beginning to get a little scared, and I thought you ought to know what’s been happening.

I’ve been receiving one of these about three times a week since about the time you came out. At first I passed it off as some kook, but the messages are getting more specific and graphic. I have a stack of them here, as evidence, and I’ve attached one of the more disturbing ones.

I really think you should let the police know, and tell your security people to keep their eyes open. I know I’m sounding paranoid, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.

                                                            Candy

 

FAX COVER SHEET

TO: Kris Cutler                                              FROM:

FAX #(213)-555-0009                                    FAX #:          

MESSAGE:

It just amazes me that you think because you’re rich and famous you can just take what you want! I am going to have to teach you a lesson!

You queers aren’t going to be able to take over the world. Aids is God’s way of rewarding you for your wicked ways.

I am going to hunt you down, and when I find you I’m going to hurt you bad. Cripple you so you won’t be rich and famous anymore. Slice your face up so you won’t be pretty anymore. Cut off your hands, and keep them in a jar. Maybe take an eye as well. I could give you aids, to speed up the inevitable.

Or I could just kill you, and dance on your grave.

Kris felt chilled as she read the message. Who would be thinking such thoughts? What did it mean, ‘take what you want?’ On the surface it looked like standard homophobic rhetoric. But that one reference made her feel this was aimed at her for a specific thing she had done. She racked her brain trying to think of something that she had taken, and couldn’t come up with anything. She would really like to talk with this person and find out what in the hell was going on, but bullies never had enough guts to leave a phone number or address. It certainly made her think. Re-examine everything that had happened in the last month, trying to see if anything that she had taken for granted could have been more serious. ‘This is ridiculous! I’m not going to start looking over my shoulder and go into hiding again because of one fucked-up individual!’ she admonished herself, replacing the fax in the envelope.

“Bad news?” Tom asked, looking up.

“Nothing I can’t deal with,” Kris replied.

 

12

Tony and Kris had sat down with Rita, not long after signing her on in Portland, outlining her duties and putting her in charge of “gay morale,” as Tony put it. Now, here in Minneapolis, Rita had found them a very nice gay bar with a het mix so that the boys wouldn’t feel left out.

Leaning her elbows on the long wooden bar at the back of the room, Kris sipped her bottle of beer and watched the band and the dance floor.

“They’re pretty good.” A woman standing next to Kris shouted to be heard over the music. She looked to be in her early twenties with very light brown hair, hazel eyes and a seductive smile.

“Yeah, they’re not half bad,” Kris conceded, returning the smile.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you in here before.”

“No, first time. By the way, I’m Kris.” She extended her hand.

“Lucy,” she introduced herself and shook Kris’ hand.

Kris flagged down the bartender. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure, beer is fine.” Lucy moved a little closer. Kris smiled at the subtle move.

“Are you from around here?” Lucy asked.

“No, just passing through on business,” Kris replied.

“Man, this place is hopping!!” Tony enthused, coming off the dance floor and stepping between the two women to retrieve her drink.

“Tony, I’d like you to meet Lucy.” Kris made the introductions and grinned as she watched Lucy’s eyes grow wide with desire for Tony. A tall woman with shoulder-length dark hair came over and asked Kris to dance.

Kris turned to the two women. “Would you excuse me?”

The band had been playing a good mix of older rock and new stuff. It was all good dance music, and Kris was happy to take advantage of it.

Coming back to the bar, she found Tony and Lucy talking and laughing, and generally looking like they were having a good time. Kris placed herself next to Tony with her back to the bar, watching the room and sipping her beer. She hadn’t seen the guys since they came in, and that was fine with her. She didn’t need her little brother ruining her good time.

The band suddenly started up a rendition of one of Scarecrow’s early songs. Although she was quite used to hearing their songs on radios, jukeboxes and Muzak systems, it took Kris several seconds to realize she was hearing a cover.

Tony jabbed her in the ribs. “Whadda ya know?!” She grinned wildly, getting into the song. Both women began to dance with full abandon.

“Come on, let’s go up and say hi!” Kris grabbed Tony’s arm and pulled her away from an astonished Lucy. Pushing their way through the crowd, Kris finally managed to get them right in front of the stage. She and Tony continued to dance with the music, mouthing the words. When it came time for the guitar solo, Tony played air guitar right along with the player on stage. They looked like mirror images of each other. The bass guitarist looked down at the crowd and her eyes met Kris’. Flashing her trademark smile, Kris waved when the solo ended. Suddenly Kris grabbed Tony and pulled her back through the crowd, with the bass player watching in surprise and confusion.

“Hey, what do you think of Lucy?” Tony asked, as they made their way back to the bar.

“She’s nice.”

Tony sounded disappointed. “That’s it?”

“Yeah, and I think she likes you.” Kris smiled.

“Oh right, she’s not blond, therefore not your type,” Tony kidded.

Kris had a faraway look in her eyes. “Well, that’s true. But I really only want to be with Melissa.”

Tony grumbled under her breath, “Here we go again.”

“She has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.” Kris was lost in her memory.

Taking Kris’ arm, Tony guided her towards the bar. “It won’t be long before you two get to see each other.”

“I can’t wait!”

“Does that mean we’ll finally stop hearing you whine about missing her?” Tony smiled over her shoulder as she walked over and picked up her drink.

Kris laughed and slapped Tony good-naturedly on the back. “Hey, did you see the look in the bassist’s eyes when she realized who we were?”

“Yeah! That was priceless!! Hope they have the good sense not to make an announcement.”“Really! Riots suck!” Kris took a large swallow of her beer.

“You two seemed to be having a good time!” Lucy commented, draping her arm across Tony’s back. Kris noticed a spark of renewed interest in Lucy’s eyes. She wondered if Lucy had figured out who they were.

Kris heard something about the band taking a break as the noise level came down from a roar to a mumble, then the jukebox kicked in. She was draining the remaining beer from her glass when a tentative hand landed on her shoulder. Turning around, she looked into the sparkling green eyes of the bass player. The woman’s pretty face was tense and apprehensive, her brows knitted together in conjecture. She was taller than Kris by several inches, and was barely legal to be in the bar. Her yellow hair was cut very short and seemed to glow. Kris realized that it had been dyed an almost fluorescent yellow. Their eyes searched one another’s for a moment, then Kris pulled her into a hug and whispered in her ear, “Yes, I’m Kris Cutler. Please don’t give us away!” The women separated, and the bass player looked a little faint.

“Can I buy you a drink…?” Kris grabbed her arm to help steady her, pulling her closer to the bar.

Nodding her head yes, the woman finally seemed to find her voice. “Ah… Ronnie, thanks.” She gratefully accepted the beer and drained half of it right away.

“You know, you guys sound pretty good.”

Ronnie looked at Kris in awe. “That’s some compliment,” she choked out.

“Well, it’s true. A little rough at times, but you have definite potential. It didn’t take you long to find us here at the ba…”

“I couldn’t take my eyes off you,” Ronnie interrupted.

“Please make sure the rest of the band doesn’t call attention to us when you get back onstage.” Kris’ tone was serious, her eyes pleading.

“Oh, they’re never going to believe this!” Ronnie shook her head.

Kris snagged a pen from a nearby waitress. “Let’s make sure they do.” She wrote something on a napkin, then nudged Tony and slid the napkin and pen to her.

“Sign this,” Kris ordered, and Tony obliged before returning her attention to Lucy. Kris handed the napkin to Ronnie. Writing covered most of the surface.

Ronnie read it, her mouth falling open in surprise. “You’re willing to give us a shot at a record deal?”

Kris sipped her beer. “Sure. I’m always on the lookout for new talent.”

“This is fucking incredible!” The young woman drained her glass. “Hey, you want to hang after we get done?”

“Ah, I wish I could, but we have to be someplace in the morning.” Kris looked genuinely disappointed.

Ronnie glanced into the mirror behind the bar, and saw that the band was returning to the stage. “Thank you for a very special night.” She held out her hand. Kris grasped it warmly.

“Long live rock and roll!” Kris called out, watching the young woman head back to the stage. The band began another set, and a very stocky woman the same height as Kris asked her to dance. As they headed off to the dance floor, Kris was pleased to see Tony and Lucy’s heads close together, deep in conversation. Several dances later, she was even more pleased to see the two women kissing. Loath to disturb them, but desperately needing a drink, she returned to her place at the bar.

Suddenly a big man loomed behind Tony. He grabbed her shoulders, pulling her away from Lucy and tossing her into Kris.

“Get your filthy hands off her!” he bellowed. Most of the patrons nearby had no trouble hearing him, despite the band’s best efforts.

Tony put her hands on her hips. “What’s your problem, dude?”

“Garth! What are you doing?” Lucy stepped in front of him, angry and surprised.

“Shut up! Go to the car!” he ordered, looking at her with absolute disgust.

“That’s no way to talk to the lady…”

“No one asked you, lezbo!” Garth spat out at Tony. “Where do you get off kissing my girlfriend, anyway?” He closed in on Tony again, pushing her back into Kris. Kris saw Rita materialize on the edge of the gathering crowd.

“Hey man, if she’s kissing me, I don’t think she’s your girlfriend.”

Kris thought, ‘That was stupid!’ and hoped Tony was ready for a fight. The man’s right arm pulled back for a punch, but Rita grabbed hold of it before it could smash into Tony. Suddenly Rick appeared on Garth’s other side, with his hand tightly gripping the man’s shoulder.

“Why don’t we have a chat outside?” Rita calmly said into Garth’s ear, then she and Rick ushered him to the door.

Kris clapped Tony on the back. “You totally lucked out on that one, my friend!”

“Yeah, but I could’ve taken him.” Tony smiled sheepishly. Lucy walked past them without even looking at Tony.

Reaching out and grabbing Lucy’s arm, Tony said, “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“Let go of me!” Lucy hissed, wrenching her arm free.

Tony let go with surprise.

“This is all your fault!” Lucy stormed out of the bar, leaving Tony to stare after her in confusion.

Kris squeezed Tony’s shoulder, trying to comfort her. “I told you to stay away from those straight women.”

Rita was heading towards them. “Paul’s waiting outside, time to go.” Kris and Tony left the bar and climbed aboard the waiting tour bus.

 

13

“Melissa Davis?” Tess peered up into the private jet, seeing a woman about her own height with curly blond hair and blue eyes, dressed in faded blue jeans, cowboy boots and a faded jeans jacket.

“Yes?” Melissa answered expectantly.

“Hello, I’m Tess Foster, the assistant tour manager.” She extended her hand.

“Oh, nice to meet you.” Melissa shook the offered hand.

Tess led the way to a waiting stretch limo. “Right this way, Ms. Davis. We’re on a rather tight schedule.”

“Please call me Melissa,” she replied as she climbed into the vehicle. She was impressed by how luxurious the interior was, and how quiet the drive. She barely knew when the limo started moving. “What do you mean, ‘tight schedule’?”

“The band is filming a video today, and we need to get to the studio.”

“Oh. I thought Kris was going to have the weekend off?” Melissa’s brow was knitted in puzzlement.

Tess smiled condescendingly and as if speaking to a child replied, “I’m afraid I only have the complete schedule for the band for today.”

They road on in silence for a bit, Tess seemingly glued to her clipboard.  Melissa took the opportunity to watch the young woman whom she guessed was in her mid twenties, her shoulder-length strawberry blond hair was highlighted with deep red and platinum blond strands and framed her baby face.  She was attractive and a stab of jealousy went through her.  Whoa! Where did that come from?  I’m going to have to really sit down and examine my feelings for Kris.

Tess’ question brought her out of her revelry “Have you know Kris long?”

There was something about the underlying tone that pinged Melissa’s radar, “No not really.”  She watched as the woman seemed to relax somewhat. Her reaction although subtle seemed to signify some turf struggle might be going on.  She made a mental note to talk with Kris about it.  “And you have you been with the band long?”

Tess wore almost a plastic smile as she wondered who this woman was to Kris.  Kris had never had anyone meet her on tour before.  “About three years.”

“What does an Assistant Tour Manager do?”

Tess crossed her arms over the clipboard over her chest. “I’m mostly responsible for the roadies and the stage setup and tear down, equipment trucks.”  She held her arms wide with a sardonic smile, “Gofer.”

Melissa looked impressed, “Sounds like a lot of responsibility – must keep you very busy.”

Tess looked pleased, “Yes before and after a concert I’m the busiest person around.”

Melissa looked thoughtful, “Only before and after?  What do you do with the rest of your time?”

Tess smiled like a cat that ate the canary, “That is the best part of this job.” Turning the tables.  “And you Ms. Davis what do you do?”

Melissa gave a disarming smile, “Please call me Melissa.”

Tess’ plastic smile warmed a bit, “Thank you.”

Melissa answered the question, “I’m the manager of a gardening store.”

Tess couldn’t hide her surprise, “Well not the answer I was expecting.”

Melissa laughed, “Good I like to keep people on their toes.”

Wanting now to tear the can off this proverbial container of worms Tess was intrigued – but was informed by the driver that they had reached their destination.

Tess stepped out of the limo and offered her hand to Melissa, “Melissa is nice to meet you and I look forward to talking to you some more.”

Melissa smiled warmly and took the proffered hand, “It was nice to meet you as well, I look forward to talking with you again.”  She walked toward the chipped paint steel doors on what looked like a run down warehouse.  Well that was interesting – I certainly left her off balance.

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The studio was teeming with people. Cameras sat on large trolleys stationed around the stage area. A backdrop of an ancient village of thatch-roofed huts and a castle off in the distance hung from the ceiling. It was warm, even though the air conditioning was on. Melissa stood next to Rita, off to one side and out of the way.

“Paul!” shouted an angry male voice. It belonged to a very tall and handsome young man with platinum blond hair and the bluest eyes Melissa had ever seen.

Paul held the clipboard to his chest like a shield. “What?”

“Are they kidding?” Blue-eyes strode toward Paul, holding out some clothing.

The annoyance in Paul’s voice was evident. “What’s the problem Rick?”

Rick held the offending garment in one hand out toward the manager. “I’m not wearing pantyhose!”

Kris came up behind him, also holding a bundle of clothing. “I’ll trade you. You can wear mine and I’ll wear yours.”

Rick watched suspiciously while she unfurled the garment. It was a full-length teal velvet dress.

Rick smirked. “Right! I’d rather wear the pantyhose,”

Kris protested, “Me too! I won’t be caught dead in a dress!”

Tony explained, joining them, “Those aren’t pantyhose. They’re tights.” She was wearing a dress much like the one Kris was holding, but Tony’s was pastel yellow. Its contrast against her dark skin tone made her look gorgeous.

Rick’s mouth hung open. “Wow! You look fantastic!”

Kris rolled her eyes. “Close your mouth”

“Thank you! I do, however, refuse to wear this!” With a flourish, Tony pulled out a long pointed hat with sheer scarves trailing from it like streamers.

A pompous-looking man in a business suit approached them. “Now, let’s all remember that this was your idea.”

Kris’ tone was even and controlled. “Let’s clear something up right here and now. I never agreed with the idea behind this video, and I will walk before I put this degrading thing on.” Even from where Melissa was standing, she could see the anger flash in Kris’ eyes.

The suit’s patronizing tone made Kris’ eyes blaze. “Kris, Kris, Kris, I’m on your side.” When he tried to put his arm around her shoulders, she gave him a look that could kill. He retreated, cleared his throat, and smoothed his hair and said, “Could we get someone from wardrobe out here please?”

A very effeminate man joined the others, asking, “What’s the problem?”

Kris held out the outfit and asked, “Do you have something else, some pants that I can wear?”

He looked her up and down with a little smile playing at his lips. He took her by the arm and lisped, “Oh honey, have I got something for you.”

After Kris and the wardrobe guy left, the suit turned to Paul with a very knowing smile and said, with a laugh, “Artists!” Paul didn’t look very sympathetic.

Rick held up the tights. “Hey, what about me?”

Tony said, with a raised brow and smirk as she eyed him, “Rick, think about how much it will make your package stick out,”

Rick strode off to the changing rooms. “Yeah? Cool!”

Tony shook her head and walked over to where Rita and Melissa were standing. “Hey, you made it! I’ll tell Kris you’re here.” Tony smiled and patted Melissa on the shoulder.

“Thanks again for the balloons. That was really sweet of you.” Melissa smiled.

Tony ran a hand through her jet-black locks. “Oh, think nothing of it. Someone had to get you two together. Match Maker, Match Maker….” Tony sang as she glided away.

The director called from a chair near one of the cameras. “People, we’re burning daylight; can I get the band out on stage please?”

Band members trickled out to the stage. Tony had switched her pointed hat for a stylish beret type that looked stunning on her. Rick looked pleased in his costume, complete with tights. When the last three band members came out on stage, Melissa was surprised not to see Kris among them. Then she noticed someone who bore a striking resemblance to Rick, except for the height difference, and realized that it was Kris. Melissa thought she looked very hot.

“OK, let’s do one. Rick, you’ll be doing most of the singing. The focus is on Tony. Tony, you will be playing coy with this would-be suitor. All right, lights, speed, playback, action!” the director ordered.

The playback started and Rick began to lip sync with it. Tony was very good at playing coy, but then Melissa wondered if she hadn’t had a lot of practice at it with her looks.

Rick flubbed one of the words; the director yelled, “Keep going, we’ll fix the mistakes in editing.”

The rest of the band milled around and lip-synced the back-ups. The session went on and on, take after take. After the fifth take, Kris and the other band members began to rebel, playing little antics when they thought the director wasn’t looking. They threw straw at one another, made faces at the camera and at Rick, and when they tired of that they completely ignored the camera. Melissa felt bad for them, because there was nothing for them to do in this video and she wondered why they were there.

After the director yelled cut for what seemed like the hundredth time, Kris wandered off the set and was headed towards Melissa when the very angry voice of the director, through a blow horn, stopped her. “People! You all need to stay in costume and on the set.”

Kris gave him withering look, smiled, shrugged her shoulders at Melissa and returned to the set.

The suit turned to Paul and asked, “Who’s the girl?”

Paul shrugged as he read his clipboard. “I’ve no idea.”

“Really Paul, I thought you were in charge of these people,” the suit said, smoothing his hair.

Paul stopped what he was doing and gave the suit a “we are not amused” look, “Are you learning impaired? Do you know how hard it is to get them to do anything they don’t want to do? It’s like herding gold fish. I’m lucky that they show up when and where they are supposed to be.” Paul looked over at Melissa, “Probably some fan.”

After several hours had passed, Steve and Tom ended up playing cards on a hay bale near the edge of the set, and Kris was curled up on the floor near them, dozing.

“All right, that’s a cut!” shouted the director. The playback stopped and quiet filled the studio.

Paul walked onto the set with clipboard in hand. “I’m afraid our time’s up. We have to be at the hall in half an hour for a sound check!”

Kris sat up and yawned, and the others moved past her to the dressing rooms.

Paul fussed at her, “Come on Kris, we don’t have all night.”

She got to her feet, her voice showing her annoyance at the manager. “In a minute.” Going over to Melissa, she brightened. “Hi. Tony said you were here. I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to say anything to you before now.”

Melissa stifled a yawn. “Oh, that’s o.k.”

“I promise, we’ll have some time together while you’re here…”

“Kris, don’t make us late,” Paul urged.

“In a minute. If you need anything, let Rita know. I’ll see you in a bit.” Kris kissed her on the cheek and left.

The suit walked along beside her. “Kris can I have a word?”

Sigh’ “Ferry, what do you want?”

“I didn’t see a member of the press listed on the list.”

Kris looked confused. “Ok. I’m really glad that you can read.”

Ferry made a gesture at Melissa. “What publication does she work for?”

It took a moment for Kris’ mind to catch up to the conversation. “Freelance, hopes to sell the story to Rolling Stone.”

“Ah, well I should probably spend some time with her and put a plug in for the record company.”

Kris stiffened for just a moment, trying not to give him the satisfaction. “Actually, Rolling Stone is sending out a reporter to talk directly with you guys and get your story…”

He stopped walking and blocked her path. “Kris, it’s not really any of my business, but business and pleasure rarely mix. If you want to spend some time with some little chippy, I’m not going to get in your way, but do it behind closed doors. Let’s not have the fact that you’re a slut be splashed across the cover of every tabloid…”

Kris interrupted, “You know Ferry, you’re right. It’s none of your business. And if you don’t get out of my way I’m going to have to hurt you really bad.”

Ferry laughed heartily. “You guys kill me.” He slapped her on the back and walked away.

Kris made several rude gestures before she picked up something and threw it at the wall, where it smashed with a loud satisfying sound.

Tess came running over, “What’s up?”

Kris grabbed two handfuls of her own hair. “Gods, that Ferry makes my skin crawl!”

Tess smiled. “Well take heart, he’s leaving tonight.”

Kris looked relieved. “Thank the Gods!”

Paul called out, “Kris we’re waiting!”

The video session had taken all day. Melissa was absolutely wiped by the time they called it a wrap. She couldn’t imagine how the band members felt. It was so tedious watching them do the same thing over and over, ad nauseam. She couldn’t believe they had to perform tonight. All she wanted to do was crawl into bed for the rest of the night. She wondered if they would be performing this song again tonight, and thought if she heard it one more time today, she would scream.

The band began to file out of the studio, heading for the waiting limo. Two very large men, straight out of the Arnold Schwarzenegger School of bodybuilding and who could double as solid walls, led the way through the medium sized crowd of paparazzi. As soon as the door opened the media began to move closer to it, bringing their cameras up to their faces, readying their microphones and recorders. Flash bulbs began to go off like a fireworks display. As the reporters pushed closer to the band and shouted questions, the noise level was tremendous.

Melissa gasped as she began to blink from the sudden brightness of the flash bulbs. “Oh my!”

Rita pressed her hand to her right ear and then said, “Heads up, wolves at the door!”

Kris looked over at Melissa and saw the surprise on her face. Looking back out at the pack of wolves it dawned on her that Melissa was not used to the circus, which they all took for granted. “Duck your head down and cover your face with your jacket,” she ordered as they stepped outside.

“How does it feel to be out of the closet?” a reporter shouted as he shoved his microphone toward the band. The bodyguards easily rebuffed him.

Another approached. “Kris, is it true that you and Jodie Foster are having a child together?”

As the second one was being carried along for a moment another from the other side inquired. “Is it true that you’ve come out because you have A.I.D.S.?”

Rita had one arm outstretched to protect Kris and Tony who were at the rear of the group. With her other arm she had no problem pushing the reporters away. Tony grabbed Melissa and pulled her between Kris and herself as they all jostled their way to the limo.

“Rick, are you the father of Jodie Foster’s child?” a rumormonger yelled as the group began to climb into the limo.

Paul was doing a fair job of denying everything that was asked with a litany of, “No comment.”

“Rick are you the sperm donor for Melissa Etheridge’s children?”

Rick looked up at the guy and started to laugh, “Where do you guys get this stuff?” Flash bulbs went off in earnest.

Rita sat down in the limo and the door closed. The silence inside was deafening.

One last reporter shoved his face up against the passenger side rear window and shouted, “Is it true that your parents don’t agree with your lifestyle?” Kris, who was sitting next to that door stiffened and narrowed her eyes at him as he ran alongside for a bit as the limo pulled away. He didn’t see her reaction however because of the smoked glass.

Tom smiled broadly. “Hey Rick! When did you start donating your sperm?”

Steve chimed in, slapping Rick on the back, “Yeah man I thought you only offered it to the right woman!”

Paul smiled and shook his head. “Where do they come up with that stuff?”

Tony smiled as she poked Kris. “What’s it like to sleep with Jodie Foster?”

Squirming, Kris replied, “Like I know!”

“What are you going to name your child?” Steve asked, slapping her knee. Kris’ eyebrows were raised as she gave him a cool look.

“People, let’s get focused here. We have a sound check once we get to the hall, and then you have about forty-five minutes before the show starts. Management needs some more autographed pix from all of you.” As Paul was handing each of them a stack of 8x10 glossy photos of themselves and some pens, groans went up. “I know, but I have nothing to do with it.” His cell phone began to ring.

Tom and Steve were busily talking on their own cell phones as they dutifully signed the photos. Tony and Rick were also signing the photos, as Melissa noticed for the first time that rock music was softly playing in the background.

Leaning closer to Kris, Melissa asked, “Is it always like that?”

“What’d you mean?” Kris looked at her, confusion on her face. “You mean the media circus? Yeah for the most part.”

Melissa was really thinking out loud and was surprised when her question was answered. “How do you stand it?”

Tony looked up, smiling. “You don’t. But you learn to live around it.”

The rest of the ride to the concert hall was filled with quiet business and anxiety, the tension thick enough to cut. Though Kris smiled at her, Melissa could feel the tension radiating off of her in waves. Even though Kris had greeted her warmly, Melissa sensed that the relaxed person she had met that first night was not amongst them now. She hoped it wasn’t something that she had done.

When the band took the stage for the sound check, Rita noticed Melissa standing forlornly off to the side. “Hey, what’s up? You OK?”

Rita’s concern surprised Melissa. “Yeah, do I look that bad?” She smiled weakly.

Rita shrugged. “Sort of. Having second thoughts?”

Melissa drifted back to that first night. “Maybe, a little; Kris isn’t the same way I remember her.”

“Don’t worry about that. The band is always a bit tense and edgy before a gig.” Rita gave her a warm reassuring smile, but Melissa didn’t feel much better.

Paul announced, “Alright, now that the sound check is over, there’s a buffet in the dressing room if you’re hungry.”

The band marched past him towards the dressing room.

 

14

dividing image - a bomb

Light traffic buzzed along the quiet street, and only a few pedestrians moved about. The assassin watched the outside of the restaurant through a high-powered night scope on her rifle, from the top of the building across the street. She was determined that nothing would go wrong this time. She would take the mark out cleanly and be off. Her breath was a cloud of fog in the cold night air. She had been waiting patiently for a couple of hours, but the cold was starting to work its way into her bones. A nice hot bath when she got back to the hotel would take care of that.

Ever since that previous mistake, she had been almost afraid to try again. No, that wasn’t it; it was more like a nervous feeling about being able to do her job efficiently again. But tonight the feeling of confidence was literally humming through her body, the excitement beginning to build in the pit of her stomach like it always did right before the kill. Her body felt charged with electricity, just waiting to ease back the trigger, hear that ‘puff’ sound, and smell the gunpowder. Unconsciously, she licked her full lips in anticipation.

Suddenly she saw the doorman snap to attention as the doors opened and her quarry stepped from the safety of the building. One step, then a second. She held her breath and then released it slowly as she squeezed the trigger.

Puff, puff, puff. The mark was down; she had taken no chances this time. A large puddle of blood began to form under the unmoving body where the head used to be. She watched for another moment, making sure that it wasn’t a trick with a look alike, and that the mark was actually dead. Silently she pulled her rifle over the edge of the building and began to dismantle it. A large smile graced her lips as she worked at her task. She felt alive again; it had all gone like clockwork. One unsatisfied customer taken care of.

With the weapon secured inside her winter coat, she made her way down to the ground.

Out on the street, she joined in the crowd of gawkers watching the commotion. After a couple of minutes she moved past the throng and down a side street, where she took a cab back to her hotel.

 

15

Rick shouted, raising both arms toward the crowd as the stage lights went off. “Thank you and good night!!!”

One by one, the band filed down the stairs from the stage to the floor of the hall. Once Kris was out of sight of the fans, her whole body slumped and she shuffled towards the dressing room, stumbling and nearly falling down. Melissa gasped at Kris’ condition. Then she seemed to pass by without noticing Melissa on the way into the dressing room. The dark circles under Kris’ eyes looked worse than they had at the video shoot. Her overall color was pale, and her hair was stringy and glued to her head. She was covered in sweat, her clothes dripping wet. Her mouth hung open and her eyes were half closed. She looked like the poster child for death.

Kris headed straight for the couch, but Rita grabbed her by the shoulders and steered her to the shower. Since this was a sports arena, the shower was a large room with a dozen showerheads sticking out of the walls. Kris stood under the flow of one of the showerheads, fully clothed. “Kris!” Rita called, tossing her a can of Coke. Kris stood under the spray, drinking deeply. Dropping the empty can and removing her drenched clothing, she began to bathe. Tony soon joined her.

Kris emerged from the locker room with damp hair and dressed in dry clothes. She dropped onto a couch in the communal area of the dressing rooms. She closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the couch. She looked only slightly less tired, which worried Melissa. She didn’t remember Kris looking like this when they met. But then again, they were in dark bars she reminded herself. Other band members filtered into the room, and Rick and Tony joined her on the couch. Someone had brought a blaring boombox, and Melissa noticed that Kris’ foot was feebly tapping to the beat. It was the only clue that Kris wasn’t asleep. When a more upbeat song began to play, Rick and Tony started moving with the music. After a few moments, Kris’ mouth began moving, softly singing along. Tony and Rick took the cue and they too began to sing. By the time the song ended, Kris was playing air drums, and Rick and Tony were dancing in their seats.

Paul and his clipboard entered the room. “People, are we all ready to move on?”

Kris’ eyes finally opened and she sat up, looking mostly alive. “What’s for eats? I’m starved!”

Paul consulted his clipboard; “We have a reservation for Chinese…”

“…We just had that the other day!” Steve protested.

“And your point would be?” Tony asked.

Kris made eye contact with Melissa and smiled warmly.

“I’m putting in my bid for dinner tomorrow – Italian!” Steve said.

Kris got up and walked past everyone to talk to Melissa. Several pairs of curious eyes followed her. “Hi, how ya doing?”

Melissa was so overwhelmed by everything that had happened; she wasn’t sure what to say. “Good.”

Kris stood with her hands in the front pockets of her jeans, her elbows locked straight, her shoulders up around her ears. “Sorry I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to you today.”

Melissa was feeling completely out of her element. “Oh, that’s alright.”

Kris was doing her best to make small talk. “Did you like the show?”

Paul tried to get back to business. “Fine, tomorrow we’ll have Italian.”

Melissa looked up into Kris’ eyes and felt that same spark she did the first night that they met. “Yeah, it was really good. Especially that acoustic set that you and Tony did. The crowd really seemed to eat it up,”

Paul herded the others toward the exit and the waiting limo. “Let’s get going.”

Kris wasn’t paying any attention. “Yeah. We weren’t sure that our fans would get into it, but…”

Paul nagged her, “Kris! The bus is leaving.” Kris looked at him in surprise, having completely tuned him out.

Melissa offered, “Maybe we should go?”

“Right!” Kris motioned for her to go first. The limo seemed more crowded than before; even though the same number of people were in attendance.  Everyone seemed to be talking at once.

Kris turned so that she was facing Melissa. “I hope you like Chinese. I’m sorry, I didn’t think to ask before now.”

“Chinese is fine. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?” Melissa sounded very concerned.

“Oh sure, never better.” Kris smiled.

Melissa tried again. “You didn’t look this tired when we met, or at the video shoot…”

“Well, the video shoot I had makeup on. As for when we met, it was the beginning of the tour.” Kris chuckled playing down the woman’s concern. “What else do you like besides Chinese?”

They were interrupted by the band loudly singing to the chorus of Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love”.

Kris yelled at the band and rolled her eyes, “Oh, very funny!! You guys are so mature!!” When the laughter had calmed, Kris admonished them; “Hey can you keep that down? I’m trying to talk here.”

Rick turned on the charm. “And who is this lovely creature?”

Kris gave him a warning look. “Oh I’m sorry, where are my manners?” Kris introduced everyone, giving Melissa the names to go with the faces she’d seen all day.

They descended on the restaurant like a pack of wild animals. The few quiet diners enjoying a late meal were treated to loud and raucous behavior, as well as the light show from the few die-hard photographers that had followed them. The Schwarzenegger look-alikes stood inside the door to the restaurant and kept the media at bay.

Kris slipped some greenbacks into the hand of the confused hostess. “Excuse me, could we have a table for two, away from them?”

Tom asked, looking puzzled, “Hey! What’d up?”

Everyone’s attention went to Kris and Melissa being seated off by themselves.

Rick called out, “Are you too good for us?”

Kris smiled and nodded.

Rick asked no one in particular as he sat down, “What’s gotten into her?”

Tony offered, opening her menu and smiling broadly, “Could be love?”

Rick gaped at her with his eyes wide.

Kris held her unopened menu and gazed at Melissa. “This isn’t exactly what I meant when I asked you out to dinner.”

Melissa smiled politely. “This is fine…”

“…No, don’t worry, we’ll lose the peanut gallery and actually have dinner alone while you’re here.” Kris noticed the subtle flashing bouncing off the walls and looked around until she caught Rita’s eye. The woman was at her side in a moment. “Rita, I would like to have a private dinner.” She nodded her head towards the window that was opposite them and the media gathered there, their faces and cameras pressed up against it like little kids.

Rita stood and spoke into what looked like a wristwatch. “Duke, no pictures and get the film.”

“Thanks! Make sure we aren’t disturbed please?” Kris smiled, as Rita nodded and disappeared.

Melissa watched Duke’s 6' 5' hulk appear at the window and start demanding the film. “Do you ever have any peace?”

Kris looked up from her menu and followed Melissa’s gaze. “Yeah, behind locked doors.” Kris intentionally made her voice light and smiled at the woman sitting across from her. “I’m really sorry about all this. I didn’t even think about this when I asked you to spend time with me.”

Melissa seemed to consider that for a moment. “Why would you, if it’s part of your daily routine. No need to apologize; I just need to get used to it.”

“Well, at least they don’t know your name…”

“Yet,” Melissa finished, smiling weakly.

Kris couldn’t help herself as she chuckled. “You’re catching on.” Then getting serious. “If this is going to be a problem, we can go back to the hotel and lock ourselves away from prying eyes.”

Melissa felt a slight blush rising to her face as she thought about being alone with this woman. A thought rose to the surface that had been in the back of her mind since the moment they had met. “If I’m going to be seeing you, then I will have to get used to it, right?”

“I like the sound of that.” Kris’ voice was soft as she smiled. It was a smile that Melissa was sure was only for her. It was warm and genuine and hinted at the vulnerability of this woman. Melissa guessed that for the first time she was getting to meet the real Kris Cutler.

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The ride back to the hotel was much more subdued. Music and light chatter filled the limo.

“Would you mind terribly if I closed my eyes for just a minute? They’re really burning.” Kris laid her head back against the seat.

“Not at all. Would you like to use my shoulder as a pillow?” Melissa was instantly afraid at what she’d said. Was it too forward? She didn’t mean to be, but something about Kris brought out her maternal instincts. Kris smiled at her and gently laid her head on Melissa’s shoulder. Within moments, Kris fell asleep. Melissa looked up and found Tony watching.

“It’s good to see her sleeping.” Tony smiled at Melissa’s apparent confusion. “I don’t think she’s gotten more than a couple hours of sleep the past week.”

Melissa’s brow furrowed as she looked down at Kris, and in a whisper asked, “Why?”

“She suffers from night terrors,” Tony explained, “And by the middle of the tour, she’s a zombie. Usually we have to resort to medication to get her some rest, so she doesn’t pass out on stage.”

Melissa looked very concerned. “I had no idea.”

Tony confirmed, “No one does.”

Melissa wanted to ask more about this, but they had pulled up in front of the hotel. “Kris, time to wake up.” Melissa’s voice was soft and comforting. Kris opened her eyes and looked up into Melissa’s face. It took a moment for her to smile and sit up.

Rick grinned knowingly. “Sis, are you going to the bar with us tonight?”

Kris laughed as she stepped out of the limo. “Nope, way too tired. Have fun – don’t become front-page news!”

Rita escorted Kris and Melissa up to Kris and Tony’s suite.

Moving as if she were underwater, Kris closed the door and took off her coat, dropping it next to the door.

Leaning back on the door, Kris said, “Excuse me,” Stifling a yawn. “Do you want something to drink?”

Melissa stood in the center of the room, watching Kris fight to stay awake. “No thanks.” Smiling, she said, “Kris, why don’t you sit down before you fall down?”

“OK.” She yawned again and made her way over to the couch, where she perched on one of the arms. “I’m feeling a little nervous,” she confessed.

Melissa laughed. “Really? Me too!”

“It’s been a very long time since I brought a woman back to my place, that I didn’t know up front wanted in my pants.”

Melissa raised an eyebrow, and smiled. “Not to put too fine a point on it, but what makes you think I don’t want that?”

Kris swallowed hard. Her heart jumped a beat and began to pound in her chest. Their eyes met, and Melissa moved closer to her. Kris could feel herself falling into those deep blue pools, and she knew she should stop herself, but she didn’t want to. Melissa’s face was very close to her own, and Kris’ eyes searched  Melissa’s for permission. Kris reached up a hand and tangled it in the silky softness of blond curls. She placed it on the back of Melissa’s neck, pulling her head lower. Melissa’s soft warm lips touched Kris’, and it was like an electric shock through her body. It was the same feeling she had had that first night of their meeting. Melissa’s lips were tentative at first, pressing lightly. Kris opened her mouth to allow Melissa entry, which she did, searching and probing. Soon the kiss became more passionate and deep, as Kris’ hand slid down the muscled back, resting at her waist, pulling Melissa closer. Kris could feel her entire body tingling as Melissa’s hands caressed her shoulders and back.

Kris broke the kiss to come up for air. “Wow, that was better than I remembered!” Then had to stifle another yawn. “I’m sorry, it’s not the company!”

Melissa was torn. She wanted very much to continue with her exploration of Kris, but she felt bad for keeping her up.

Kris stepped past her and went into one of the bedrooms. Melissa followed and sat on the edge of the bed, listening to the sound of running water. Kris emerged looking just barely more awake, and sat down next to Melissa. She reached up and rubbed the back of her hand over Melissa’s cheek, delighting in the soft smooth skin. An excited feeling grew in her stomach as she took in every detail of Melissa’s face. However, she was having trouble concentrating on anything more than Melissa’s face. She had the vague feeling that she should be doing something else, but couldn’t remember what.

Melissa watched Kris’ eyes glaze over while she stroked Melissa’s face. Melissa smiled to herself, then reached up and brushed her knuckles across Kris’ cheek. It took a moment for Kris’ eyes to react, their gaze locked.

“As much as I would like this to continue, I think under the circumstances we’d better take a rain check,” Melissa said.

Kris yawned again. She didn’t really want this to end, but she knew she was not being a very receptive partner. “I’m really sorry…”

Melissa put her fingers over Kris’ lips to stop her. “Its OK really. I understand. We’ve got the whole weekend, right?” Melissa smiled wryly.

“Absolutely! Did anyone ever tell you that you’re wonderful?!” Kris smiled and leaned forward to capture Melissa’s lips with her own. Melissa could tell, after awhile, that something was amiss. Breaking the kiss, she saw Kris’ eyes flutter open, and realized that she had fallen asleep. If she hadn’t been so cute, it would have really pissed Melissa off. She helped Kris to undress and get under the covers. Kris was sound asleep before her head hit the pillow. Melissa crawled in beside her and watched her sleep for a while. She was suddenly aware of how tired she was, as well. Curling up next to Kris, she let slumber wash over her.

The phone ringing shattered Melissa’s peaceful sleep, and she opened her eyes to the early morning gloom. She felt movement in the bed, and looked over in time to see Kris reach out and sweep everything off the nightstand, effectively silencing the phone. Kris’ head never left the pillow, nor did her deep breathing change. Melissa was sure that Kris was still asleep. She smiled, snuggled closer, and went back to sleep.

Melissa was rocketed out of sleep again some time later, when she heard Rick’s voice booming in the living room of the suite. “Hey girls, time to get up!” He pounded on Tony’s door, then assaulted theirs.

“Come on Kris, rise and shine!” he called from the other side of the door. Without warning, Kris’ left arm rose from where it was hanging over the side of the bed, opened the drawer of the nightstand, searched for and grabbed the bible, and with precision threw it at the closed door. A very loud ‘thunk’ resounded, and Melissa thought the door had been damaged. Kris rolled over with a ‘hummphf’ and continued to sleep.

Rick bravely opened the door and came in. Melissa covered herself and settled in to watch.

“Good-morning.” Rick looked a bit surprised to see Melissa. He produced an ice-cold can of Coke and held it next to Kris’ head, as he popped the top.

“Get up!!!” he commanded, then turned around and left. Melissa took the opportunity to reach out and place her hand gently on Kris’ shoulder.

“Good-morning,” she said softly. Kris’ eyes fluttered. She looked at Melissa through mere slits, then suddenly she jumped, eyes flying wide. After a moment, recognition filled her face. Melissa noticed that Kris still looked bone weary.

“Morning,” Kris croaked in a hoarse whisper, scrubbing at her face like a child. She threw back the blankets and slowly sat up, grabbing the can of Coke. After gulping nearly the entire can, she set it down, and stretched, and yawned a bit. She then polished off the Coke and tossed the can into the corner of the room. Getting up, Kris wove her way to the bathroom. Melissa sat up, puzzling over the strange morning ritual she had just witnessed. As she waited for the bathroom to be free, she wondered what she had gotten herself into. A few moments later, there was a knock on the door.

Tony sounded hurried. “Kris! Hey, you up?”

“Come in,” Melissa replied.

Tony tentatively opened the door. She was dressed, but her hair was still wet and clung to her back. “Hey, how you doing?” She smiled as she moved to the bathroom door and listened.

Melissa sat up with the blanket pulled over her chest. “I think she’s taking a shower.”

“She’s been known to pass out and even fall back asleep in the shower,” Tony replied.

Suddenly singing could be heard from inside.

“Great!” Tony looked satisfied. “Hey, breakfast downstairs, don’t be too long.” She closed the door and was gone.

“Weird, very weird!” Melissa mused.

Kris emerged a while later wrapped in a towel, still singing, her hair dripping everywhere. She strode over to where Melissa sat on the bed, kissed her, and said, “Good morning!”

“Morning.” Melissa returned the kiss, then trailed her hand down the exposed skin of Kris’ upper chest. “Mmm, you look good in a skimpy hotel towel! I’m going to grab a quick shower before breakfast.” She slinked off to the bathroom.

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Kris and Melissa found the band sitting off to one side of the dining room, taking up a very large table. Paul had his cell phone pressed to his ear, his ever-present clipboard at the ready. Tess was conferring with Paul and looking over her own clipboard. Tony sat reading a section of the paper and trying to ignore the discussion going on between the guys.

Tom was waving his fork about as he spoke. “Christy Brinkley was cuter before she married Billy Joel!”

Steve turned a page of the newspaper. “Well, that’s a given!”

Rick fiddled with the controls on his Mp3 player. “What I want to know is how did he end up with her anyway?”

Kris pulled out a chair for Melissa next to Tony.

“Kris!” Glancing up, Tom’s mouth hung open in mock astonishment as Kris sat down next to Melissa.

Kris looked warily at him, and then looked down at herself. Shrugging her shoulders she asked, “What?”

Steve looked up over the top of his paper at the commotion. “You look really different this morning.” The surprise was evident in his voice.

Kris glared at them without humor.

Rick glanced up, hardly breaking his conversation doing a double take, his face registering his surprise. “Yeah. The dark circles are gone, and there’s color in your cheeks. You don’t look like one of the undead!”

The corners of Tony’s mouth twitched as she averted her gaze from her friend. “Did you get some… ah… rest last night?”

Kris looked over at her, her eyebrow raised and a twinkle in her eye. “As if it’s anyone’s business.”

Rick laughed, looking pointedly at Melissa. “Rest?! That’s all you did last night?”

Melissa looked blankly at him.

Tom elbowed Rick’s ribs, joining the laughter, gesturing towards Melissa. “Man, you must be a great date!”

Kris shot them a smoldering warning look.

Melissa turned her attention to Tony and smiled. “Morning,” she said, then opened her menu.

Tess broke off her conversation with Paul. Smiling, she asked, “So, what’s the count this morning?”

Kris looked over her menu, not seeing the looks of surprise around the table. “One so far.”

Tony explained to Melissa, “We can usually judge how cranky Kris is by how many cans of Coke she’s had by the time she comes down to breakfast.”

Melissa nodded in understanding. “What’s the record?”

Tony smiled at Kris. “Our first European tour. After landing in London, we had a T.V. interview, and then a concert, got stuck in a transportation strike. By the time we got to our next stop we had been up for about 48 hours straight. I think that totaled a case, right?”

The waiter arrived and took their orders. “At least!” Kris agreed, hurriedly choosing something, her mind not really on food but on the blond sitting next to her.

Tom asked, “Where’s Tess?”

Steve replied, “Dude you know her and her obsession with architecture – we won’t be seeing her until the sound check.”

Tom slapped his forehead, “Man I totally forgot.”

Rick quizzed the new arrival. “Melissa, time for answers. Where did you and Kris meet?”

Kris advised, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture, trying to keep her calm, “Don’t pay any attention to them,”

Melissa didn’t like this attention. It made her feel like a bug under a magnifying glass. She noted that all eyes were on her as she addressed Rick. “We met in Portland, when you guys were there on tour.” She smiled, putting her napkin in her lap.

The surprise in Rick’s voice didn’t match the look in his eyes. “Well, that was fast!”

Melissa could sense something… jealousy, anger, protection? She couldn’t be sure.

Tom reached over and cuffed Kris on the arm, by way of welcoming her into their restrictive boys club. “You dog!!”

Kris glared menacingly at the males across the table. Speaking to Melissa, “Don’t mind them. They’re basically harmless.”

Turning on the charm, Rick asked, “What did you think of the show last night?” Staring hard at Kris, he added, “Since we weren’t able to visit with you last night.”

Melissa enthused. “It was very good!”

Still the inquisitor, Rick continued, “How’d it compare to our other concerts?”

Melissa looked nervously at Kris, whose eyes were full of comfort and strength.

Kris smiled ruefully. “Go ahead, tell them,”

Melissa felt embarrassed and quickly tore her gaze away from Rick’s baby blues. “I ah… I’m not really a fan.”

Silence descended on the table, and Melissa felt a blush rising.

Tom chided, bursting out laughing, “Hey Kris, don’t you know that when you get a groupie, you’re supposed to get one of your own fans?”

Everyone at the table joined in the laughter.

Melissa turned to Kris. “I’m sorry…”

Kris struggled to be heard over the din. “Why? It doesn’t matter to me. It’s going to make your stay with us a living hell, though.”

“Why is that?”

“Because you’re going to have to listen to an awful lot of our music!!” Kris laughed.

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In the limo, Tony stifled a yawn. “What time is the concert?”

Consulting his ever present clipboard Paul replied, “Tonight at 8 P.M.”

Tom sighed and questioned, “So where are we off to now?”

Paul replied in monotone, “Publicity, photo shoot,”

Tony stuck her index finger in her mouth pretending to gag, and rolled her eyes.

Kris added, “I hate these things. They really make you feel like a piece of meat!”

Tony tried to find the bright side. “These are the things that we get our album covers and magazines pictures from,”

Kris ran her hand through her hair. “But they’re endless.” Then acted like a photographer. “Smile, look down, look up, look sexy, look bad!”

Everyone laughed.

Kris crossed her fingers and told Melissa, “I’ll understand if you want to skip this.”

Melissa teased Kris. “No, I said that I would spend some time with you, that means going everywhere you go. No matter how boring it is,”

Paul leaned over, cell phone in hand. “Kris, phone. It’s your secretary.”

“Hi, Candy?” Pause. “Really? Wow! I don’t know, can I call you back from the hotel? Bye.”

Tony raised a questioning eyebrow.

Kris filled them in. “She says that all of the major talk shows want me to appear. And “The Advocate” and “Girlfriends” magazine want me for their cover next month.”

“No shit?” Melissa asked.

Kris looked amazed. “No shit!”

Sarcasm dripped from Rick’s voice as he audibly turned up his Ipod. “Great! My sister has finally made it onto the talk show circuit.”

Melissa wasn’t sure what to make of Rick’s actions, giving him a sideways look, she addressed Kris, “I can’t get over the fact that you have a secretary?”

“Hell yes. I don’t have time to put all this stuff together. We all have them. Cooler heads to deal with the day-to-day while we deal with the music.”

“So how many people do you have working for you?” Melissa asked. Kris looked over at Paul expectantly. Paul consulted his clipboard. “Right now, on this tour… 197.”

“Really?” everyone in the car asked.

Melissa said, “I thought your life would be a lot different.”

Rick listlessly looked out the smoked windows at the urban landscape of yet another city. “You mean full of glitz, glamour and excitement?”

Melissa shrugged. “Well, yeah.”

Kris asked, holding her breath, “Are you disappointed?”

Melissa confessed, “No, I just thought it would be different.”

Tony flipped through a magazine, listened to headphones and participated in the conversation, all at the same time. “We’re basically prisoners.”

Kris fiddled with the radio dial. “But who has made us prisoners? The very people that made us famous in the first place. It’s a Catch 22 all right. But you know, if you think about it too much your head will explode.”

Tony looked at Melissa and asked, “You like your job?”

“Yeah, sure,” Melissa replied.

Kris kept a rhythm on her thighs of the song that was playing from the car speakers. “But sometimes it sucks, right?”

Melissa shrugged, nodding her head yes.

Kris explained, “Well, we like our job, too. Playing music, making people happy. But this is the part that sucks.”

Tony tried to reassure Melissa. “Don’t worry, it will be better tonight when we play,” Tony said.

Paul looked up from his clipboard. “Don’t let them kid you, this is about as good as it gets. Later they’ll be moody, and when they release all that pent-up energy after the concert, it will be like the Vikings have landed.”

Melissa said sarcastically, “Oh goody, something to look forward to,”

Paul painted a grim picture for the newcomer. “You can see, it’s already starting. Kris is tapping; Rick is playing air guitar to something he is listening to. Steve and Tom too have receded into their own worlds. Tony will be gone soon. They will be better after the photo shoot. But by tonight, it will be like walking on broken glass around here.”

“If it’s so bad, why do you stay?” Melissa asked.

Paul winked at her. “What? And miss all this? Who else is going to keep this date with disaster together?”

“Don’t let him kid you, he loves it.” Tony grabbed his clipboard, and then the entire band played keep-away until they got to the photo shoot.

Melissa sat out of the way during the shoot. She could understand why no one liked doing this. The lights were hot, the coffee bad. Someone chose your clothes, someone ‘did’ your hair, told you where to look and nagged you to smile, smile, smile. Every chance she could get, Melissa would catch Kris’ eye and do something to make her blush.

Tony sighed, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over for awhile!”

The band piled back into the limo. It was evident that all were tired, by their body language.

Rick collapsed back against the seat. “What a grueling session. How long were we in there, anyway? About eight hours?”

Steve nestled into a corner. “A little over three hours. I could use a nap!”

Reading the afternoon’s schedule, Paul announced, “Right. You have an hour break and then lunch. Meet me in the lobby in one hour!” The limo pulled up in front of the hotel, and the band members filed out. As they moved through the spacious and opulent lobby, they received disquieted looks from the other guests. Dressed mainly in jeans and T-shirts in varying states of disrepair, they looked like riff-raff wandering in off the street.

Tony entered the suite, Kris and Melissa following. Kris took off her coat and baseball cap and threw them over the back of a nearby chair.

“Wow, a whole hour. What are we going to do?” Tony looked knowingly at Melissa and Kris, then headed toward her room. “What channel is VH1 on?”

“Twenty-five!” Kris called out, taking off her sunglasses.

“Wonder what she means by that?” Melissa mused.

Kris kissed Melissa gently. Melissa kissed back, curling her arms around Kris’s waist.

Melissa leaned over and kissed the exposed skin at the base of Kris’ neck. “You know, ever since you asked me to spend this weekend with you, I’ve wanted you very badly. I think there is something to this groupie thing.” She unbuttoned the next button down and kissed the exposed skin there. The top of Kris’ cleavage was exposed, and Melissa took a shuddering breath as she felt herself becoming more aroused by the moment. She reached out the tip of her tongue and slipped it into the cleft. Kris’ head fell back as a moan escaped her throat. Kris’ hands began to caress Melissa’s back, with a mind of their own. Her heart was racing in her chest, and her breathing was becoming labored. She couldn’t believe how turned on she was. She roughly pulled Melissa’s shirt out of her pants with more strength than was needed. Quickly removing the shirt, she tossed it over her shoulder, where it fluttered to the floor, eager to get her hands on that creamy flesh.

Melissa had finished unbuttoning Kris’ shirt. Without being able to see her prize, she slipped her hands in through the small opening where the two halves of the shirt had separated down the front. As Melissa’s hands came in contact with Kris’ silky taut stomach, she heard her soon to be lover’s quick intake of breath. Smiling to herself, Melissa moved her hands up until they found supple breasts and erect nipples that she craved. Happily surprised to find them unencumbered by a bra, Melissa let her fingers do the walking. Kris moaned and ground her hips into Melissa as the blond fondled her aching mounds. Melissa pulled Kris’ shirt back and halfway down her arms, to expose what she had been previously been viewing only thorough her sense of touch. It was quite the package; broad shoulders, muscled and tanned upper arms, flat stomach and perfect breasts. Just the right size, a little more than a handful, with erect pink nipples standing at attention.

“Like what you see?” Kris asked in a throaty voice thick with emotion.

Melissa could only nod her agreement as she lowered her head and attached her mouth onto one of the glorious globes.

Kris could feel her skin tingling everywhere, and the need to have Melissa just exploded. With strength she didn’t know she possessed, she slipped her arms around Melissa’s waist and lifted her off the floor, moving them towards the couch. The arm of the couch ran into the back of Melissa’s thighs, and the two panting women collapsed onto the sofa.

Kris was never so happy to see a front closer bra in her life. With a quick flip of her wrist, it joined the growing piles of clothing scattered about the carpeted floor. Now her quarry was realized as her mouth closed around a wonderfully perky pink nipple. She felt Melissa arch her back and moan loudly, which only fanned the passion surging through Kris’ body. Roughly she unfastened Melissa’s pants and rubbed her hand along the cotton barrier between her and ecstasy.

Melissa’s hips were doing the ages old dance, and Kris slipped her hand under the underwear to roam through the damp curls. She looked up and found dark blue eyes full of passion watching her closely. Melissa was biting her bottom lip, a light sheen of sweat covering her skin. Without breaking eye contact, Kris slipped a finger into Melissa’s wetness. It was dripping and oh so hot.

Melissa’s hips rose to bring the needed contact again. The two still had not broken eye contact. Before Melissa had a chance to think, Kris inserted two fingers deep inside her. Gasping at the sudden feel of pressure, her mind was reeling as her center began to be stimulated. Rational thought was gone; all she could do was ride the wave of sensation that had taken over her body. Kris matched Melissa’s own rhythm, and before long Melissa was calling out Kris’ name quite loudly as she spasmed about in the throes of her explosion.

Waiting until Melissa had stilled, Kris slowly removed her fingers, which she brought up to her mouth and methodically licked each one, removing the nectar. Melissa watching her, with passion began to again grow.

Melissa reached for Kris’s pants. “Jesus, that’s turning me on!”

Kris laid her hand on top of Melissa’s on her fly. “You’re tired; don’t feel like you have to reciprocate.”

Puzzled, Melissa replied, “I’m the one that wanted you, remember? I intend to get my due.” She smiled, once again working on Kris’ pants.

“Here.” Kris got up on her knees and unbuttoning her fly, and pulling her pants off. The desire evident in Melissa’s eyes turned up the fire another notch in Kris. “Raise your knee.”

Brows furrowed in confusion, Melissa complied. Kris lowered herself down onto the raised thigh. Melissa couldn’t believe how hot and wet Kris was. ‘I did that to her!’ she suddenly thought with pride. Melissa began to move her leg in a rhythm that Kris soon matched. Reaching up, she tweaked the straining nipples on the swaying breast inches from her face. Kris began to moan, as a light coating of sweat was visible on her skin. Her eyes closed, her brow knitted in concentration, she suddenly began to buck wildly as she fell over the precipice. As the last wave passed the strength seemed to drain from her body, and she slowly slumped down on top of Melissa, her head resting comfortably on Melissa’s left shoulder. Drenched in sweat, they slept in each other’s arms.

Tony spoke quietly from where she stood near the couple’s heads. “Ladies, it’s time to get up.”

They were lying mostly naked on the sofa. It was very difficult for Tony not to stare. Both the women had really incredible bodies! The sight had lighted a flame of desire within her. She was going to have to pick someone up after the concert tonight; she only hoped she’d make it that long.

Tony found herself speaking a little more harshly than she’d meant to. “Kris, Melissa – wake up!”

The clothes were strewn about the room, looking like a demented dryer had exploded.

“What!?” Kris groggily tried to sit up, but her legs were hanging off the end of the couch and she was lying on her stomach on top of Melissa. “What time is it?”“Way past time for the two of you to be getting up. Paul will be here any minute now.” Tony kept her back to the women, watching silent music videos.

Melissa raised her head and tried to wipe the sleep out of her eyes. “Tony, do I have time for a shower?”

“If you get up right now and make it short,” Tony replied. Kris raised herself so that Melissa could slip out from underneath her. She kissed Kris and stood up.

Tony called to the departing perfect backside, “By the way, I really like your tattoo.”

“Thanks!” Melissa replied smiling over her shoulder as she strode off to the shower. She was totally naked and didn’t seem to care that Tony was watching.

Tony was shaking her head. “Damn!”

“What?” Kris was coming fully awake now, rolling onto her side as she waited for the feeling to return to her legs, so she could get dressed.

“That woman is one good looking-mama!!”

Kris balanced precariously on one foot, pulling on her 501’s. “Tony, am I going to have problems with you?”

Tony looked like a little kid in a candy shop. “I can look, can’t I?”

Kris buttoned up her shirt. “You know, I was always glad that I was gay, so I didn’t have to compete with you for dates.”

Tony turned her head to the side. “Why?”

“Why? Look at yourself! I could never compete with you.”

Tony’s face was filled with astonishment. “You think I’m better looking than you?”

Kris’ voice was filled with sarcasm. “Is the Pope Catholic?”

“That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” Tony laughed. Melissa emerged from the other room, wrapped in one towel and drying her hair with another.

“Melissa, I want to ask you something.”

Melissa removed the towel on her head. “Yes?”

Tony sounded very serious. “Now, I want a completely honest answer to this question.”

Melissa was drying the side of her head. “If I can.”

Tony pointed to the dark haired woman. “Kris here thinks I’m better looking than she is. What do you think?”

Kris, hunched over to tie her shoes, added, “Please feel free to answer truthfully. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

Melissa smirked. “Well, isn’t it obvious what I think? Not to hurt your feelings, Tony…”

Kris suggested, “It was unfair to ask her. Ask someone impartial. Ask the boys.”

Just then, Rick knocked at the door. “Hello…” he called, before slowly opening the door.

Tony called back, “Come on in,”

Kris gathered up Melissa’s clothes and hustled her off to one of the bedrooms. “We’d better not let him see you like this, it could be bad for his morale,” she explained.

Tony persisted, “Rick, I want you to answer this truthfully, this is a scientific question. Kris seems to think that I’m more attractive than she is what is your feeling?”

“Well duh!” He looked like that was a given. “Are you guys ready? Paul’s waiting downstairs, and that bull dyke Rita is in the hall…”

Coming back into the room, Kris threateningly shook her finger in his face. “Rick, take that back right now. Rita is a very nice person, and you have no right to talk about her like that!!”

Melissa emerged dressed in her faded jeans, brown cowboy boots, white Oxford long sleeve shirt and dark suede vest. She was stunning in these everyday clothes, and all heads turned appreciatively in her direction. Kris moved close to her and kissed her, reaching her hand behind Melissa’s neck to pull her close. Melissa’s hands caressed Kris’s shoulders.

Tony finally managed, shaking her head, to clear it of the feelings she was having viewing the image before her.. “Paul is waiting!” She moved towards the door.

Rick was rooted in place, watching the lovers. Tony slapped him on the arm to break the spell. “Don’t you know it’s not polite to stare? And come on you two, break the lip lock!” Tony demanded. Kris thought she detected a slight hint of jealously in Tony’s voice. They parted and Kris slid her arm around Melissa’s waist as they walked towards the door.

Out in the hall, Kris pulled herself back to the world around her and scolded, “Rick, don’t you have something to say to Rita?”

Rick stood with his head hung. “Rita, I’m sorry that I called you a bull dyke.”

Rita seemed not to have been bothered at all. “Hey, it’s cool.”

“Let me guess, Rick is the youngest?” Melissa asked Tony in a conspiratorial tone, while she arched an eyebrow in his direction.

Tony smiled delightedly. “How’d you know?”

Melissa smiled knowingly. “I have one at home.”

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Lunch was in the back room of a restaurant, with the same faces Melissa had seen at breakfast. The chatter and banter went on non-stop. Tony was sandwiched in between Steve, Tom and Rick. Kris and Melissa sat across the table from her, next to Rita.

Tom ogled a woman walking away from their table. “Woof! Did you see the ta-tas on that waitress?”

Rick smiled lasciviously. “The view as she walks away is nice, too! And talking about headlights, did you notice the hostess?”

Tony turned to follow their gaze.

Steve asked, from the other side of Tony. “The hostess with the mostess?”

Tom held his hands out in front of his chest as if he were holding two basketballs. “Va voom!!”

Paul sat down next to Kris. “Hey, what are we talking about?”

Kris and Melissa hardly registered his presence, involved in their own private discussion.

Tony answered sarcastically, pointing with her thumbs at the boys, “The all-talk, no-action wonder boys were just checking out the babes.” Tony focused her attention on Kris and Melissa. They were involved in their own little world, talking, and giggling, unaware of anything else. Tony watched the two of them. She had to admit that they were a very attractive couple, but then Kris had always had a certain weakness for blonds. The way Melissa looked at Kris made Tony feel jealous. Or was it just that Kris had a new friend that made Tony jealous? Ever since she had met Rick and Kris, it had almost always been just the three of them. They had become their own best friends and support system, the three musketeers against the world. She was glad that Kris had found someone who made her happy, but on the other hand she found herself increasingly angry with Melissa for taking most of Kris’s attention. She knew deep down that this was ridiculous, that Kris was just as much her friend as always. But it just didn’t feel that way. She felt like a kid sister, trying to break them up. She desperately didn’t want to do that! She needed to get her head under control. Maybe she should find someone to spend the night with, to distract her from these feelings.

Tom’s voice brought Tony out of her thoughts. “…Tony, I think you need to wipe your chin!”

Tony blinked, looking blankly at him. “What?”

Steve accused, “We saw you staring at the happy couple.”

“A penny for your thoughts!” Rick teased, and they all laughed.

Tony blushed in spite of herself.

Tom stated loudly and laughing, “I told you! Pay up, man!”

Grudgingly, Rick pulled out his wallet.

Tony’s tone of voice should have clued them in that she was not at all amused, but it was to hide her embarrassment at herself as well. “What’s going on?”

Tom laughed. “I bet Rick that you were sitting over there dreaming about a roll in the hay with Melissa.”

She fired back, angry now, “Well, I’ve gotten a lot closer than any of you ever will!”

“Ooh, do tell!!” Rick egged her on, leaning his elbow on the table and resting his chin in this hand.

Trying to one up him, Tony continued, “Well, I’ve seen her in the buff…”

Steve looked very surprised and quite interested in details. “…No! Does Kris know?”

All the guys leaned forward, listening intently.

Tony replied, very nonchalantly, “Oh yeah, she was right there; they had just finished doing it.”

Rick nearly drooled. “You are so lucky!”

Tom looked wistful. “What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall, next time they’re doing it.”

Wistful looks on all their faces as they looked at the couple, who remained totally absorbed in their own conversation.

Rick’s eyes were wide with excitement. “Tony, would you plant a video camera in their room for us?!”

Tony shook her head in total disbelief. “Guess again!”

Steve sat back, looking doubtful. “Hold on there boys! You’re playing with fire.”

Tony was incredulous. “Do you know what Kris would do if she found out?”

Rick looked at Tony as if to say ‘you’ll keep quiet, right?’ “But she’ll never know, will she?”

Tony responded, angrily and rather loudly. “Oh no, you’re not involving me in this! I’m not going to have my ass chewed off!”

Tom pleaded. “Oh come on, we need you…”

Tony’s voice was rising. “…You don’t need me, you can put it in their room just as easily as I could.”

Rick explained. “But it won’t look so suspicious if you walk in there.”

Tony got to her feet throwing her napkin down on the table “Forget it, I’m not getting involved in this! Why can’t you just leave them alone?” Tony stormed out of the room.

Kris drug her attention away from Melissa to find out what was going on finally noticing the commotion. “What’s going on?” Her voice was cool and she looked pissed.

A couple of the guys guiltily muttered “nothing,” unable to meet her eyes.

Rick managed to look put out as he fidgeted with the place settings. “Hey, we were having a private conversation here that doesn’t really concern you, all right?”

Kris looked at them very critically for a moment. Something was up, but she could tell they weren’t going to talk. “Fine, I’ll just ask Tony.” The look of terror in their eyes told her that she had hit a nerve.

Tony came back soon afterward, not looking as angry as when she’d left, and took her seat at the table.

Kris looked very serious. “Tony, the boys wanted me to ask you what’s going on.”

Tony stared at Kris just a moment too long. “I, uh, I didn’t have anything to do with it,” she mumbled, her eyes darting away from Kris’ gaze.

Kris’ tone lowered. “Do with what?”

Tony was anxious to get Kris’ scrutiny off of her. “It was all Rick’s idea…”

Rick was pointing, looking like a little kid that had just been busted. “…She started it!”

Tony put her hands on her hips and glared down at Rick. “Oh right, how did I do that?”

Rick's tone was defensive. “You were over there telling us about seeing Melissa in the buff.”

Melissa face reddened as she glared at Tony. “I beg your pardon!?”

Tony could only look down at the tabletop.

Kris looked disappointed. “Tony!”

Tony’s voice was a mere whisper. “I’m sorry; they were ragging on me… I lost my head.”

Kris turned her attention to her brother. “Rick, what was your idea?”

Tony was glad to see Rick squirming now. She felt like shit, and wondered what the hell she’d been thinking. And moreover, how was she ever going to apologize to Melissa?

“Well, I wanted Tony… to ah…to put a… a video camera in your room,” he finished in a rush. The table was silent. Kris stood glowering at him with hard and lifeless eyes, her jaw set and her face red. Rick noticed a bulging vein in her neck.

“Excuse me,” Melissa murmured, got up quickly and fled from the room.

Kris watched her go and was torn between running after her and screaming at everyone.

Kris was so angry; she could hardly get the words out. “If you ever… who the fuck do you think you are?” She slammed her fist down on the table. “My private life is just that: private.” She pointed an accusing finger at all that were seated. “You are all on notice – leave us the fuck alone!” Kris yelled as she stormed out of the room.

Steve’s voice was filled with awe. “Man! I’ve never seen her that mad!”

Tom was very glad it wasn’t him in the doghouse. “You’re toast, dude!”

Tony pointed out, “Nice going, asshole. Are you trying to break them up? Because if she leaves Kris, you’re a dead man!”

Rick chewed his lip and looked very worried. “Oh shit, I didn’t think about that!”

Tony looked astounded. “Really! How can you be so juvenile? Why don’t you all go out and get laid tonight, and leave them alone?” Tony left the table.

When Kris got to the suite, she found Melissa hurriedly packing. She leaned against the doorjamb and meekly said, “Hi”.

Melissa didn’t look up as she continued her packing. “Hi yourself.” Melissa’s voice was toneless, her back toward Kris.

“Melissa, I’m really sorry; I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.”

Melissa stopped what she was doing and slumped down on the bed in frustration. “I’m not sure that I would classify it as hurt. I’m disappointed and humiliated, but not really hurt.”

Kris kicked at the carpet. “I don’t know what to say. There’s always some hi-jinx, but that was above and beyond the call.”

Melissa looked as though she might cry. “Ever since I got here, I’ve felt like a side of beef in a meat market. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a bar where I felt this bad. I’m also getting waves of hostility and resentment from everyone. It’s really hard to focus my attention on you, with all this other crap going on. This whole situation is so strange!”

Kris came over and knelt in front of her. “I told you that…”

Melissa ran her hand through her hair. “…I know. But I feel like a mouse caught by a cat. And the cat is going to play with the mouse until he kills it.”

Kris sat down on the bed and rested her hand on Melissa’s thigh. “I’m not trying to make excuses, I just want to explain. You are the first person, man or woman, which any of these people have seen me with. I’ve had one-night stands, not many, but she was gone before dawn or we went to another hotel. I think everyone is just a little new to the idea. There’s a lot of issues here. I’ve never been ‘out,’ but I didn’t hide my sexuality either. It was kind of like Clinton’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.” Taking a breath, Kris continued, “Any time an outsider is brought in, they’re treated like you, though maybe not so harshly. We’re all adolescents with no moral character to speak of. A band is like a gang. To outsiders we are fiercely loyal to one another, no one had better cross us. But on the inside, there is a lot of joking and ribbing of one another. ”

Melissa laid her hand over Kris’. “Kris, it does take some getting used to. I’m not just with you; it seems like I’m with the whole band, all 197 of them! I guess it’s flattering that nearly everyone wants to jump me, but the only one I’m interested in is you.”

Kris wrapped her hand around the blonds and said, “…If I pull you close, would you run away? If I give you all of me, would you do the same? I will fight the demons with the power of your kiss.”

Melissa searched Kris’s eyes. “I have had poetry quoted to me but never a song, and especially not by the author.” She smiled, leaned forward and lightly brushed her lips against Kris’

Kris rested her head against Melissa’s forehead. “Melissa, I know we haven’t known each other for very long, but you have a hold on my heart like no one else ever has.”

Melissa pulled back to look in Kris’ eyes. “Kris Cutler. When I saw you that night in the bar, I could feel that we were drawn to each other. But this has been the strangest time I’ve ever had.”

Kris gave a small smile. “I feel that too, but since we’re both coming from such different situations, it’s going to take some time to find the fit. I understand that this is new and weird, but you and I need to get to know each other. I wish with all my heart that we could take off, just the two of us, and go somewhere alone to get to know each other. But it can’t happen with my schedule. I suppose if I really loved you enough, I should be able to throw this away and go for it. But I’ve worked long and hard to get where we are right now, and if I walked away in the middle of this tour, there would be far-reaching, catastrophic repercussions. That isn’t to say that your life is less important, it’s just that mine is intertwined with so many others.”

‘Did she say love?’ “Wow! That was a mouthful, but beautiful. So you have a mind as well as that exquisite body.” Melissa smiled and kissed Kris. “I agree; we need to get to know each other. I understand the demands on your time, I think we can work on it.”

There was a soft knock on the door, Tony called from outside, “Kris, Melissa, can I have a word please?”

Kris smiled sadly. “They’ve found us. Quick, hide!”

Melissa cupped Kris’ cheek. “Tony, come in,”

Tony stood in the doorway. “Hi, how’s things?” Her face fell when she saw the suitcase on the bed. “I want desperately to apologize,” she rushed on, hoping that she could help keep Melissa from leaving. “I’m a cad, pond scum, lower than a snake’s belly. I was jealous, and knew I could make those guys squirm if I told them what I did. It was stupid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you never talked to me again. Just don’t leave! Please stay; it would break Kris’s heart if you left. You guys are meant for each other.” She nervously played with her hands.

Melissa smiled weakly at her. “That was very nice. Apology accepted.”

Tony’s face went from despair to ecstasy. “Really?! Cool!”

There was a knock at the open door.

Rick stuck his head in the door. “Excuse me? I would like to apologize…”

Kris nearly exploded. “I don’t want to hear what you have to say. You are the lowest form of life! You’ve been parading women through here like grains of sand on a beach, and I’ve never said anything. I always figured it was your business. Sometimes it felt like you were rubbing my nose in the fact that I hadn’t been with anyone in a long time. Let me tell you, there were times when I would have killed to have your cast-offs, even for ten minutes. But since you’ve never in your life had to go without sex for more than 48 hours, you’d have no idea what it takes to control yourself when presented with temptation. That is, until now.”

Kris got up and stood in front of her brother. “I want the two of you to listen to this and listen good – Melissa is my lover. Mine and mine alone. She is not fair game for the band, she’s not your newest ‘toy’.” She poked Rick’s chest for emphasis. “No more jokes about sleeping with her, about video-taping us, or any other twisted male fantasies you may have.” She addressed both of them now. “Back off and give us some space to be alone and get to know each other. I swear if you fuck this up for me…” Kris made a fist and slammed it into her open palm.

Melissa had stood and was standing next to Kris. “May I say something?”

Kris swept her hand out toward Melissa. “The floor recognizes the lady from Oregon.”

Melissa smiled at Kris. “Tony, I’m flattered that you’re interested, but I’m not. Rick, I wouldn’t be interested in you if we were the last two people on the planet. I’m only interested in Kris. I’m here to be with Kris and no one else. It’s not that I don’t like either of you, but I need to get to know Kris, and our time is so limited…”

Tony made a hands-off gesture. “…Hey! Say no more, I understand.”

Melissa added, “Thanks. It meant a lot to me today when you left us alone. You’re really a good friend,”

A truly humbled Rick said, “Melissa, I’m really sorry; I’m an ass.”

Melissa nodded at him, not really feeling forgiving toward him yet, but knowing that burying the hatchet was best.

Tony shyly asked, “So does this mean you’re staying?”

They all looked at Melissa expectantly.

Melissa looked at each one of them and gave a small smile. “Yeah, I think so.”

Kris and Tony high-fived each other. “Yes!”

Kris put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes at her siblings. “By the way, what are you doing up here? Don’t you know I’m talking with my woman?”

Rick hustled out the door. “I’m out of here!”

Tony tuned to follow him. “Oh yeah, Paul says that it’s time to leave for the interview.”

The phone began to ring. Tony went over to answer it, in a sarcastic tone, “Hello Paul, we’re on our way down… What? Oh… Hi Dad.”

Kris quickly signaled that she wasn’t there, then grabbed Melissa’s hand and pulled her out of the room.

Melissa commented as they walked through the suite, “I take it you don’t want to talk to your brother.”

Kris smiled devilishly. “Let Tony deal with him.”

The elevator took them down to the service entrance, where Rick was lazily resting his back against the limo. Paul was pacing back and forth alone, talking on his cell and looking nervously at his watch. “Ah good, you’re here. Where’s Tony?”

Kris met Rick’s gaze. “She’s talking to Franklin.”

Rick looked interested. “Oh? Did you talk to him?”

Kris chuckled. “Nope, maybe later.”

The elevator doors opened and Tony came hurrying over.

Rick asked, “What did he want?”

Tony relayed the information a little breathlessly. “He’s not a happy camper. He wants you to call him the moment you get in.” Tony inclined her head in Rick’s direction.

Paul herded them toward the waiting limo.

Rick’s brow was furrowed in concern. “What’s up?”

Tony put on her brown leather jacket, pulling her hair out from under the collar. “He’s a little upset about Kris’ announcement….”

Kris rolled her eyes. “Jesus, what is it with the men in this family?” Then she raised an eyebrow and looked directly at Rick, a slight smirk playing on her lips. “Spineless wimps?”

He made a sour face back at her as he climbed into the limo. “Ha, ha, very funny.”

The limo pulled out of the loading dock. It was filled with the sounds of light chatter between the rest of the band floating over the rock music playing in the background

Rick looked very unhappy. “Fucking great! I’m not taking the heat for this one Kris!”

“Fine, don’t; no one’s asking you to. Why would this time be any different anyway?” Kris seemed a little tense.

Rick crossed his arms across his chest, as he settled back into the leather seat. “You were always around to take it for me.”

Kris looked away. “You are such a little chicken shit. Just get over it. ”

Rick’s jaw was set as he glared at his sister. “A little hard when it’s in my face and affects my life.”

Kris raised her eyebrow. “It only affects your life because we work together.” She took a breath; “If ‘it’ were in your face, I would have had a steady parade of women through here all these years, instead of being discrete. Unlike some people I could mention.”

Rick shot back, “That really bugs you, doesn’t it?”

Kris’ voice was calm. “It really bugs me that I lived in the closet instead of living my life because I didn’t want to rock the boat.”

Rick snorted, “You’re just jealous…”

Surprise tinged Kris’ voice. “Jealous?! Of you?” She snorted, “Please don’t make me laugh!”

Looking smug he replied, “Methinks she doth protest too much.”

Kris looked genuinely surprised. “You know Shakespeare?”

That got her chuckles from everyone in the limo and a high-five from Tony.

Rick slowly smoldered. “I never kept you in the closet…

Tony interrupted him, “Not really. But we all made Kris feel like she had to sneak around, and we never talked about it with her.”

Rick didn’t like getting it from both sides. “Whoa, hold on there. I’ve offered a shoulder plenty of times when her date ran off…”

Kris piped up, “Yeah, but you always made it clear that for public appearances I was not to be escorted by a female.”

Rick was pointing at his sister. “Well you turned down the idea of a male escort.”

Kris laughed at the absurdity of it. “How hypocritical would that have been? Besides, being on a date with a man has always made me feel uncomfortable.”

Rick grumbled almost under his breath, “Well, at least it would have looked better.”

Tony nearly shouted, “Ah, ha!”

Kris smiled sadly at her brother. “You just can’t stop doing it, can you? Why was it OK. that Tony went stag, but I had to have an escort?”

Rick looked back and forth between the two women. “Because everyone knows she’s straight…”

Kris threw up her hands. “You’re impossible!”

Melissa couldn’t stay quiet any longer. “Why does everyone know that Tony is straight?” Melissa met Tony’s gaze. “No offense.”

Tony tilted her head and looked questioningly. “None taken.”

Rick raised his voice. “You stay out of this…”

In a low and menacing tone Kris interrupted her brother, “Be careful.”

He was jabbing his finger in the air in front of Kris’ chest. “Don’t you shush me!” Then he turned his gaze to Melissa, “This is none of your business! You’re just my sister’s whore…”

Rick was never able to finish his sentence as Kris’ fist shut his mouth, as well as knocking his head back to bounce off the seat. His eyes looked glazed as he attempted to right his head, a small trickle of blood was running down the left side of his chin.

Kris reached across and grasped the front of his shirt in her fist, bringing her face within a hair of his. Through gritted teeth and with eyes blazing, she said, “Don’t ever say anything like that again!”

Rick’s face turned red with anger, as he tried to push her off of him. He gave up and grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled, forcing her face away from his. “Don’t tell me what to do!” He pushed her away from him and she landed unceremoniously on her butt on the floor of the limo.

Lunging at him, her fists swung madly, making contact with his unprotected body. He tried at first to stop the blows, then gave up and started fighting back.

Rita decided that both parties had been vindicated, and that it was time to stop the assault. She moved forward and grabbed one of Kris’ hands. This gave Rick the opening he needed; he connected with Kris’ nose and her head snapped back, momentarily losing her focus on the fight. Rita took the opportunity to move in and grabbed Kris’ other wrist pinning the two of them together in one of her own large hands. The small space of the inside of the limo was filled with an inhuman howl, as Kris began to flail, kicking out at her captor. Tony reached around and tried to pull Rita away from Kris, as Kris began to scream at the top of her lungs.

Tom reached over and pulled Melissa back away from the two combatants. “Get out of the way!”

Melissa was pushed off her seat and ended up on the floor of the limo as all hell broke loose. She sat on there, completely dumbfounded. ‘What the hell is going on?’

Steve yelled over his shoulder at the driver. “Stop the car!”

Everyone was shouting at once at the top of their lungs, and chaos ensued. Melissa watched as the scene went to slow motion. Tony was tugging on a confused Rita as Paul and Rick seemed to be watching Kris’ reaction in horror. Steve and Tom were yelling at Rita to let Kris go. Tony finally got close enough to Rita’s ear to clue her in. She let go of Kris as if she were being burned. Kris continued to struggle for a moment as Tony pulled Rita back so that Kris had some room. The limo came to a stop at about that time, and for Melissa time was back to normal. As Melissa was taking a breath and trying to figure out what happened, Kris crawled over Paul, threw open the door and bolted from the car.

The cold air rushed into the small space as it erupted with shouts, the angry horns of the traffic filtered in. Rita and Tony were like the keystone cops for a moment as they tried to get past each other and out of the limo. Rita won and was out the open door first with Tony pressed up against her like a shadow. Rick dropped his head into his hands as his elbows rested on his thighs.

Tom slammed his hand up against the side of the car. “Shit!”

Paul was screaming out the open door, “Go after her!” Into his cell phone, “No of course I don’t know where’s she’s gone or how long she’ll be.” Back out the door, “Bring her back!”

Of course he could have saved his breath because both women were hot on Kris’ heels. Melissa was next to a window and watched Kris run, weaving her way through the heavy traffic, her open black coat blowing out behind her like the cape of a villain.

Paul was pointing accusatorily at a stunned Melissa still sitting on the floor. “You! Wait here for them to return. Tell Tony we’ll meet them back at the hotel!”

Melissa had to blink a couple of times before she was able to make sense of what was being said.

All around them the air was filled with horns honking and angry voices shouting for them to start moving.

Paul snapped his fingers in front of Melissa’s face. “Is she awake? Come on, move it; we have to get going!”

Melissa crawled over to the open door and had barely gotten clear of the car as it sped off, leaving her to be the recipient of all of the hostile motorists. She wove her way through the stopped traffic and stood on the curb watching the black limo disappear into the ocean of moving metal, feeling oh so confused. She looked to her right and saw a sea of unfamiliar faces; turning her head ninety degrees produced the same result. She felt very small and insignificant, as well as a little scared. In this vast space, how were they ever going to find one another again? She didn’t really like the looks of the neighborhood; some run down buildings, out of business-closed storefronts, a few people lounging in the locked doorways. She decided that she made a better target standing still than she did moving and started to walk down the block. She wondered if Kris was OK.; she had never seen a reaction like that from anyone before. It was really scary, and she wondered if it happened often? Scary? ‘Let’s explore that for a moment.’ Was it scary because Melissa feared for her own safety? Now that she thought about it, no, she had been afraid for Kris. She had to admit to herself that she was really beginning to care for this woman.

Reaching the corner in the opposite direction that she had seen everyone run off in, she turned around and started back. She felt like a target in a shooting gallery as she constantly scanned the crowds for potential problems. It was dusk and in a very short time it would be dark, and colder. A shiver ran down her back, as she thrust her hands deeper into the pockets of her winter coat. As the other corner was a short distance away, she saw some dark figures emerge from an alleyway a few feet in front of her. Rita and Tony were walking on either side of Kris, all looking very unhappy.

As Rita realized that the limo had taken off, she took up a protective stance in front of the two stars. “Why did they take off?”

Melissa replied, “Paul said they needed to get to the interview, and we were supposed to meet them back at the hotel.”

Rita’s brow was crinkled. “The hotel, are you sure?”

Melissa shook her head yes. “Yeah, I thought it was strange.”

Tony piped up, “We will have to go back to the hotel.” She was motioning with her head to Kris.

Rita got the obscure message and mentally shook her head. “Fine, I’ll get us a cab…”

Kris emphatically stated. “No! I want to walk…”

Rita looked askance. “Walk? Are you out of your mind? Look around you, we aren’t exactly on Sesame Street here.”

Tony grabbed Rita’s arm and pulled her away from the two other women. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” Not waiting for an answer they took a few steps away. “Look, Kris is feeling pretty claustrophobic right now; give her a few and we’ll be able to grab a cab and get out of here.”

Melissa watched the two women walk away and confer in private. She turned her attention to Kris who had begun walking. She was pale and her bottom lip had a trickle of blood on it. Melissa reached up with a Kleenex that she had found in her coat pocket, to wipe it off. Kris grabbed her hand before it got close to her face, forcing the two of them to stop walking. With panic filled eyes, she met Melissa’s gaze.

Never dropping her eyes, Melissa said, “You’ve split your lip…. and it’s bleeding.”

Kris continued to hold her hand and stare at her, seemingly unaware that she had spoken.

Melissa tried a different approach. “How are you feeling?” She raised her eyebrows in question. “You look a little pale.”

Kris’ brow crinkled a couple of times, and her head turned on its side, making her look like an inquisitive puppy. She let go of Melissa’s hand and her eyes softened but a nervous darting stayed in them. “Thanks.”

Melissa reached up again, slowly this, time and removed the blood. “Are you OK.?”

Kris’ eyes darted away from the blond’s, and she snorted, “Depends on what your definition of OK. is.” She started walking again.

Changing the direction of the conversation, Melissa replied, “Thanks for defending my honor…”

Kris’ eyes captured Melissa’s and burned with intensity. Her voice was tinged with anger. “He had no right to say that about you.”

Rita was watching everything for danger as she and Tony talked a few steps behind the other two women. “Would you like to tell me what’s going on here?”

Tony met the other woman’s gaze, and was quiet for a long moment. “Kris has a few idiosyncrasies; one of those is never grab her wrists or try to restrain her in any way.”

Rita sounded less than pleased. “That would have been good information to impart to me in the beginning.”

Tony was tired and frustrated and wanted very much to be out of the cold. She ran a hand through her hair and pushed it back out of her face. “It’s really personal and something we would all like to forget.”

Rita blew out a breath in frustration. “OK, what else should I know?”

Tony was getting colder by the moment. “That’s about it.”

Rita looked less than convinced. “Why don’t I feel convinced by that?”

They had walked the length of the original block, and were starting up a second. Tony was feeling a little nervous about this. Not that a lot of their fans would be hanging out in this part of town, but if they were rushed it could get messy.

Melissa had been watching the play of emotions across Kris’ face as they walked along. Kris was very deep in thought, and Melissa wondered if she was even aware that she wasn’t alone. “I love to go for walks in the evening.”

Tony and Rita looked at each other, wondering where this had come from. As they got ready to cross the street, Kris blindly stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic.

Melissa reacted and reached out and grabbed her hand, halting her progress. “Kris, watch out!”

Kris stopped and looked down at their joined hands as the cab honked and swerved around them. Melissa pulled her back out of the street. Kris slowly looked up from their hands, searching the blond’s face.

Rita’s concerned voice interrupted them, “We OK here?”

Melissa smiled at Kris. “Oh yeah, we’re fine.”

They walked along in silence for a while before Kris said, “This is hardly the type of place one likes to walk through in the evening.”

Melissa looked up, a bit of confusion on her face, before she remembered that this was her topic. “Well I can think of prettier places to spend my time.”

“Really? I think the scenery here is spectacular.” Kris was looking directly at Melissa. Melissa blushed pink when she realized what Kris was talking about.

Kris took a deep breath, “I’m really sorry for what Rick said…”

Melissa reached over and put her hand over Kris’ mouth. “It’s OK….”

Kris jerked her head pushing her mouth out from under her lover’s hand. “No, it is not OK; he had no right…”

Melissa smiled reassuringly at Kris. “True, but don’t worry about it. I’ve forgotten about it. I’m more concerned with you.” She tilted her head and looked up with questioning eyes.

Kris had to concede to the sad puppy dog eyes. “Just tired…” She reached out and grabbed Melissa by the upper arms causing them to stop walking. As they faced one another, Kris asked in a very serious tone, “Why are you still here?”

Melissa blinked a couple of times. Had Kris forgotten that she had invited her personally? “Come again?”

Kris searched her face, “Aren’t you afraid?”

“Of being mugged? Yes.” Melissa smiled slightly.

Rita was getting very nervous as they stood like sitting ducks. “Ladies, could we keep moving please?”

Kris didn’t look amused, and made a dismissive move toward the bodyguard. “Go on.”

There was no way that Rita was going to leave them here. “I don’t really think that’s a good id…”

In a very commanding voice, and without breaking contact with Melissa, Kris replied, “Go on!”

Tony indicated with her head that they should move on. Rita, with great reluctance, moved on. But Rita kept looking over her shoulder at them until they were about a dozen feet away and then they stopped and watched.

Never taking her eyes off Melissa, Kris said, “I’m so, so very sorry. I should have told you this right away… but I guess I’m just chicken shit.” She ran her hand through her hair. “But you definitely have the right to know. I’m pretty fucked up…” Kris was tapping her index finder against her temple. “So if you need to bail, I understand.”

Melissa was trying to process everything that was being said, but felt she was missing something. “Why would I want to leave?” Taking Kris’ hands in her own she continued, “I’ll have to admit that I was concerned in the limo for you. Does that kind of thing happen a lot?”

Kris had to drop her gaze; her voice was almost a whisper. “No. Only a couple of times.”

Melissa reached up and caressed Kris’ cheeks, smiling sadly. “That’s scary. Do you know what causes it?”

Kris turned her head, looking off down the street, not able to look into the trusting eyes of her lover, also not able to tell her the truth. She ran her hands through her hair and then squeezed her head between them. Her face was scrunched up in a grimace of pain. She turned and walked over to a building and started to bang her head against the wall. All of the women ran over to stop her. Tony slapped Rita’s hands away from touching Kris, as she put herself between Kris and the wall, unwilling to actually touch the older woman for fear of her reaction. Kris was banging her head against Tony’s shoulder as the younger woman replied, “Whoa, girlfriend – take it easy!”

Kris was standing back from the wall, looking dazed. “Tony I’m so…” Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she rested her head on the younger woman’s shoulder. Tony engulfed the woman in a hug, and said reassuring things.

A few moments passed as Kris straightened up, and wiped her tear stained face with the back of her hand. Smiling nervously, she said, “Sorry about that.”

Tony smiled reassuringly back at her. “Don’t be, it’s OK.. Feeling better?”

Kris whispered, “I feel pretty stupid, and don’t have a clue what to say to Melissa…”

Tony leaned in close and whispered, “Try the truth, she seems pretty understanding.” She patted her friend on the shoulder and walked around her. Putting a hand on Rita’s shoulder she forcibly turned her around saying, “Rita, did you see this really cool building up ahead here?”

Rita was busy looking over her shoulder at Kris. “What? I can’t leave them alone…”

Tony leaned in and said, “Let’s let the lover’s have a moment to themselves, what do you say?”

Kris turned away from the building, looking very nervous. She had her hands stuffed deep down in her pockets as she pushed a piece of broken concrete around with her toe. Without looking up, she said, “Hi.”

Melissa looked at her and waited for her to look up. “Hi, yourself. How you feeling?”

Still not looking up, Kris replied, “I owe you an explanation…”

Melissa interrupted, “No, no you don’t.”

Kris looked up, meeting her gaze. “Yes I do.” Then her gaze shifted to the distance. “I just can’t do it now.” Her eyes once again landed on Melissa’s face. “Soon, I promise. Christ, could I use a drink.”

Melissa reached out and tucked an errant strand of the dark hair behind Kris’s ear. “If you feel like telling me, I’ll listen.”

Kris half smiled. “Would you like to get a drink someplace warm?”

Smiling, Melissa nodded her head yes.

Kris took Melissa’s arm as they caught up to the other two women. “Can we get out of the cold? I need a drink.”

Rita raced to the curb and whistled loudly for a cab.

The radio in the cab was on, tuned to a talk show, and the male announcer was saying, “It’s chic to be a queer in the music industry these days.”

Rita piped up, “Excuse me, can you turn that off please?”

The male driver turned around and looked at her like she was crazy, and then went back to his driving.

Both Kris and Tony shushed Rita loudly, giving her annoyed looks.

The female announcer commented, “You aren’t telling me that you are surprised?”

Male announcer: “Huh?”

Female announcer: “Oh it was so obvious, look at the way she dresses…”

Male announcer, laughing: “And she certainly can’t use her looks, not like she really ever could… Now that Tony, talk about a looker.” He made a low whistle.

Tony rolled her eyes, “I can’t believe he’s going with that old cliché…”

Kris waved her hands at Tony. “Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Female announcer: “Well, you know, when you don’t have any talent…”

“Turn that off!” This was not a request, as Tony looked very pissed.

Kris was flapping her hand at Tony to be quiet as she cupped her other hand to her ear, straining to hear.

Female announcer, sounding surprised: “Bob, I didn’t know you fantasized about anorexic rock stars?”

Male announcer, trying to defend himself: “What can I say? I’ve always been taken in by brainless brunettes.”

“Hey! Turn that trash off!” Kris yelled at the driver. This time it was Tony’s turn to shush the older woman.

Female announcer: “Well I think you will be very happy with that one! She fits the bill to a T!” Male announcer: “We’ll be right back after these messages.”

The women were all silent for a moment, and then Tony said, “Hey, how ’bout those Dodgers?”

The women all laughed, the tension of the day finally breaking.

Kris smiled slightly. “Nice segue, Brat.”

Tony was trying to look indignant, but a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Brat? Who are you calling a brat, Tia?” Kris chuckled. “You always know exactly what to say.”

Tony smiled warmly at the older woman. Trying to change the subject and clear some of the tension, she turned to Melissa. “How did your parents take it when you told them the news about yourself?”

It took Melissa a moment to shift gears and figure out what Tony was talking about. “I haven’t actually come out to them, if that’s what you’re asking,” she replied sheepishly.

Kris turned in her seat to face her lover. “What does that mean?”

Melissa crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, they are really open liberals, always involved in a bunch of stuff, participating in protests, that sort of thing. I’ve always felt that they knew, so we’ve never discussed it.”

Tony looked very interested. “Have you introduced a girlfriend to them?”

Melissa leaned out so she could see Tony’s face. “No, I can’t say as I have…”

Kris interrupted her, “So basically you’re a chicken about it?”

Melissa sounded a little defensive. “OK, if you want to put it that way, then yes.”

Kris looked at her for a moment without saying anything, then asked, “How many kids in your family?”

Melissa seemed to relax a little. “Five, I have three brothers and a sister. They’re all younger than me.”

Kris smiled. “A sister, cool.”

Tony flipped her hair over her shoulder, asking, “What are the age differences?”

Melissa looked thoughtful for a moment. “One, two, three and five years younger.”

Tony’s eyebrows were raised in disbelief that also tinged her voice. “Five years younger? What, are they in junior high?” Melissa’s face lit up. “Oh, aren’t you sweet? No, he’s in college. In fact, he’s been living with me while he gets his degree.”

Kris sat forward, her interest evident. “How do you like having your little brother living with you?”

Melissa smiled slightly. “Oh, we get along great! But it does put a damper on dating, although he’s really understanding about it.” Melissa pushed an errant strand of hair out of her eyes. “The worst part is when I’m between dates and he brings home these goddesses… You know what nubile college girls are like?” She stopped, and licked her lips.

All the women laughed.

Kris raised her index finger pointing it at her lover. “But wait, if you aren’t out, then your brother must be psychic?”

Melissa shook her head. “No, he knows. But we never discussed it – he just knew.”

Tony spoke up, “That must make it hard to talk about your life with your family?”

Melissa’s brow was furrowed in thought. “I don’t know, I’ve never really hidden my life from my family, I just haven’t sat them all down and said, ‘Hey I’m gay.’”

Kris softly said, “Oh, well that’s different then.

Looking at Kris sideways, Melissa asked, “Why, did you sit your parents down and tell them?” She was instantly sorry she had asked. The hurt that flashed across her lover’s face was replaced with anger.

Kris replied in a tiny voice, “No, I never got the chance.” She looked like a scared little girl.

Melissa’s maternal instinct kicked in, and she reached out and rubbed Kris’ upper arm. “You OK?”

Kris looked like she might cry, “I’ve had better days that’s for sure.”

Melissa kept rubbing Kris’ arm. “I’m here if you feel like talking.”

Tony was very surprised when Kris wrapped her arms around Melissa and gave her a fierce hug.

Kris whispered in Melissa’s ear, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Melissa pulled back so that she could look into her lover’s eyes. “So am I.”

Kris rested her head on Melissa’s shoulder, feeling for the first time in a very long time that she wasn’t alone, and safe. It was odd; if someone would have told her a month ago that she would be feeling this way for someone, she would have laughed herself sick. But it felt right somehow. She was afraid though; the last time she had tried this, things had gone very, very wrong. She certainly didn’t want a repeat of that, no sir! She wished that they were alone, and that the band wasn’t around. But this would be a very good test, if they could… what? What indeed, fall in love? Is that what she was talking about? Jesus, was that even possible for her? She had always felt that love was something she just wasn’t going to experience.

Melissa could feel Kris’ breathing pick up as she sort of jumped while leaning against her shoulder. Melissa wondered what had caused this reaction. She tightened her arms around Kris, trying to keep her safe. Keeping the world at bay. Trying to protect Kris from the narrow-minded hurtful public seemed very right to her.

Kris suddenly sat up and called out to the driver, “Dude! Stop at the next place where we can get some brews!” She looked over at Tony. “Shouldn’t the good people of Chicago get to hear both sides of the argument?” Tony’s face lit up. “I think that’s the responsible thing to do. After all we are supposed to be doing that interview.”

Rita sounded confused, “Paul wanted us to meet them at the hotel…”

Kris smiled devilishly, “That was before I got my right mind back – I think we owe it to our public to give them the full band interview.”

Rita threw her hand up and decided to not fight it.

The cab pulled over at a convenience store, and Rita got out and bought a couple of six packs before they continued on to the radio station and the interview that they were scheduled to do.

They pulled up at the radio station, and Kris upended her beer, as Tony crushed her empty can and then dropped it to the floor of the cab.

Tony’s smile was one full of mischief. “Ready?”

Kris looked a little worried. “Sometimes you worry me Brat!”

Tony smirked. “It’s not some gay thing, is it?”

Kris raised her eyebrows. “No, this has nothing to do with that.”

Tony slapped her hands on her thighs and donned a southern accent. “Good. ’Cause them damn queers make me sick.”

Kris stuck out her tongue, and Melissa kissed her very passionately.

Applause filled the car.

Melissa really enjoyed watching the behind the scenes stuff going on at the radio station. The interviewer was all business as she sat in ratty old jeans and a big oversized sweatshirt. Melissa was sorry and disappointed that the public couldn’t see all the hi-jinx going on during the interview.

Steve bounced into the limo. “Alright, another group of people corrupted!”

Tom laughed as he high fived Rick. “Yeah! Did you see the look on the station manager’s face when we were having those chair races up and down the hall?!!”

Tony added, “It’s always fun to screw with people’s minds! We can pull shit like that, and they don’t know how to handle it ’cause we’re rich and famous…”

Tom interrupted, “Yeah, they don’t dare tell us what to do or not to do!”

Rick laughed. “Perks of the job!”

Melissa observed, “You’re all a bunch of overgrown children.”

Kris leaned her mouth very close to Melissa’s ear and said, “Yep, and your point would be?” A shiver ran down Melissa’s back as Kris’s lips brushed her earlobe. Melissa looked at her, wanting to take her right there in the car with everyone watching. Her passion had been rekindled.

Kris noticed the look of absolute hunger in Melissa’s eyes; looking as though she were caught by the headlights of a fast approaching car, Work, I’ve got to keep my focus. Kris thought. Her voice was only loud enough for Melissa to hear. “I love the look in your eyes right now, but you’re going to have to hold that thought.”

Melissa wore a lascivious smile, “Oh you mean the one where I want to take you right here.”

Kris’ mouth had gone dry, her breathing picked up, “Holy shit woman!  You keep that up and everyone here’s going to get to see a show.”

Melissa moved closer, “Do I care?” She purred.

Kris savagely took the blond’s mouth with her own; a moan rose up and was swallowed as Melissa took control pushing Kris back in her seat.

Paul looked less than pleased as the couple was engaged in tonsil hockey.  “Do you think we could get them apart?”

Tony laughed, “Yeah pull over and I’ll get a bucket of cold water.”

Tom nudged Paul in the ribs with his elbow “Dude why do stop it?  I say let’s get some popcorn and just keep watchin’”

Steve took the bull by the horns and began taping Kris on the shoulder, “If this goes on much longer we’re all going to need a bucket of cold water.”

Slowly the lover’s broke their kiss, both breathing hard and unaware that they weren’t alone.

Paul broke the spell, “As much as we are all enjoying the show – do you think we could get back to business?”

Kris turned glazed eyes to him, her lips swollen from the kissing, “Huh?”

Rick sounded a little annoyed, “The show…tonight…the music biz, remember?”

Kris cleared her throat, “Right, right…I’m with ya.”

Paul looked less than convinced, “Ah yeah I’m sure you are.” He looked stern,  “Don’t make me separate the two of you.”

Melissa sat on her hands and physically turned away from Kris.  She was afraid if she didn’t she was going to do something they would all be sorry for later.  Damn if this woman didn’t bring out feelings in her that she’d never had before.  Exciting – it was that but it was rather scary as well.      

Kris replied, smiling weakly, “Show tonight, music, job, got it.” She closed her eyes and concentrated on the upcoming show.  Forcing her mind to ignore the wonderful warm distraction sitting next to her, she slipped a pair of earbuds into her ears and let the music wash over her, taking her away.  Soon her foot was taping out the beat and her head was nodding back and forth.

‘So it begins,’ Melissa thought as she watched start playing air drums. The rest of the band members fell into a similar pattern.

Melissa thought, I’m that easy to be replaced?

Paul suddenly spoke up, watching Melissa, “There’s a buffet in the dressing rooms up at the hall if you’re hungry.”

“OK good to know, thanks.”  She realized that they were the only ones not wearing earphones and engrossed in their own world.

Smiling, Paul explained, “They usually don’t eat before a performance. But the rest of us mortals get hungry.”

Rita tried to reassure her. “Just remember to stay out of their way when we get to the hall, and everything will be fine.”

“Right.” Melissa felt as though she had been dismissed, or discarded, she wasn’t sure which, and anger flashed through her. But then she realized that they were just preparing for their job mentally, like she usually did on the drive to the nursery every morning.

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The limo drove through the large doors and entered the hall, leaving all the paparazzi and protesters outside. After coming to a stop, everyone piled out. What looked like hundreds of people were milling about the large concert hall, still working on the stage.

Paul asked, standing in aisle of the front row of seats, “Tess, are we ready for the sound check?”

The blond assistant had come over to him. “You bet. I was just about to do the stage inspection,” she said, moving towards the stage area.

Paul’s cell chirped and he placed to his ear and began to walk away from the stage deep in conversation.

Tess could see several stagehands milling about near the stage. They smiled and she waved in greeting. Climbing up on the stage she quickly noticed that all the mic stands were in the correct places. Something caught her eye near the front of the stage. A pile of sand, which was near one of the mic stands, close to the front of the stage. Bending over to investigate, she didn’t see the person on the catwalk above her cutting the rope to the suspended sandbag poised right above her head.

Rick’s voice had a small tinny quality as he neared the stage carrying his guitar by the neck, having divested it from the case near the front row of seats, gesturing with his other hand, deep in conversation with Kris. “’m telling you that you’re wrong! Dave was much better than Sammy.”

Kris replied, “I don’t dispute that; I’m just saying that they had some really good songs with Sammy.”

Rick climbed up on the stage a head of his sister. Talking over his shoulder he said, “Van Halen was a much better band with Dave.”

Kris started adamantly climbing up on the stage. “Fine, but you have to agree that ‘Why Can’t This be Love’ and ‘Love Walks In’ are great songs.”

Rick waved his arm in a dismissive gesture.

Kris sounded annoyed. “Why is it whenever you lose an argument, you always do that? You know that pisses me off!” Kris moved next to the assistant manager. “Hi Tess, are we all set?”

Suddenly there was rushing sound as the sandbag plummeted toward the women.

Rick saw the impending disaster dropped his guitar, and screamed, “Look Out!!”

Tess looked up from her place on the stage. She began to move and get out of the way. Kris turned and glared at Rick, still annoyed at him. Suddenly she was hit broadside by him in a flying tackle. The two hurtled off the stage and landed in a pile on the concrete floor below.

The roadies near the stage moved quickly to the commotion, while still others ran over to help.  Lots of shouting filled the hall as the crowd quickly grew with anxious onlookers.

Tony knelt next to the siblings on the floor, she wore a panicked expression on her face while her voice was filled with tension. “Oh my God! Are you alright?”

Kris was struggling to catch her breath as she lay on her back on the floor; with Rick sprawled across her.

Melissa’s voice was filled with panic, which matched the look on her face. “Kris!!” She pushed Tom aside to get nearer to Kris as she dropped to the floor next to her lover.

Rick rolled off of Kris, clutching his leg. His face winced at the obvious pain he was in. “Shit! My knee!” He said through gritted teeth, as he took in a ragged breath.

Tess stood on the edge of the stage looking down at the pile of siblings.  Calling out, her voice tinged with worry, “Is everyone alright down there?”

Steve announced, a little out of breath as he jogged up to the tumult , “I’ve called the doc.”

Tess began to give orders as the highest level of authority in attendance.  “Don’t anyone move them.  See if you can find some blankets.  Get some ice.”

By the time the doctor arrived, Kris had gotten her breath back, and Rick was gingerly testing his knee. Most of the roadies had gone back to their jobs and the crowd was down to just the band members.

Paul was running down the aisle, panic and annoyance vying for dominance on his face. “What the hell happened?” he demanded slightly out of breath.

Tom pointed up to the catwalk. “Dude, like a sandbag dropped from the catwalk.”

The doctor came running down the main aisle, his flip-flops echoing in the now mostly silent hall. Doctor Emit Kimball, or Doc as everyone called him, was in his mid to late fifties. His hair was mostly white with some gray thrown in. It was long in back, tied into a pony tail and wispy on the sides, where it had begun to disappear. He wore a large full mustache, which was as white as snow. His skin was tanned but couldn’t hide the occasional age spot, and had begun to slip here and there. Under his chin was one spot. He had bags under his eyes that had started to slip into bigger circles on his face. He was dressed in a bright Hawaiian print short-sleeved shirt, jeans and flip-flops. His over all appearance was one of an over grown surfer boy.

He went over to the siblings and started to examine Rick. Looking up from his examination, he ordered, “Someone get me a wheelchair.” Turning back to Rick, he said, “Rick we need to keep you off your feet and iced up until show time; you should be able to make it through the show tonight.” He then turned his attention to Kris. “Kris, how are you doing?”

Kris was now sitting on the floor, instead of lying on it. “Fine I think. I got the wind knocked out of me.” Melissa helped her get to her feet. She and the doctor helped Kris over to a chair as he examined her.

Tess was up on the stage, looking over the sandbag. The rope was not frayed; it looked as though it had been cut. She decided that she’d keep this discovery to herself. She didn’t like the implication that it brought up. Someone was trying to either sabotage the group or kill one of them outright.

The doctor was looking at the six-foot drop off the top of the stage. “Well you’re both lucky you didn’t break you’re necks falling off the stage!”

Kris sounded very flip as she said, “Yeah well you know how hard headed we are.” She then smiled and stretched her back. “Doc Kimball, this is Melissa Davis.”

The doctor shook Melissa’s hand he gave her a quick smile. Turned back to Kris and looked serious. “You damn kids are going to turn me gray before my time,” he closed up his bag and with a quick pat on her shoulder he moved back over to Rick.

Melissa brushed Kris’s hair out of her face. In a very serious tone said,  “You scared me.” Kris looked up into very concerned blue eyes. ‘Yeah I scared myself too,’ she thought, as she was flooded with emotions.  Before she had a chance to say anything Rick rolled his wheel chair over to them. “Hey , you alright?”

Kris tore her gaze away from Melissa, “I’ll live….thanks.”

Melissa was looking at him with awe. “You saved her life.”

He colored a bit. “All in a day’s work.”

Kris kissed his cheek. “Thanks man, but you still owe me.”

Smiling, he said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Kris brightened. “Hey that could be a song!”

Kris and Rick laughed.

Melissa looked at Kris with concern. “Do you always have a doctor travel with you?”

“Yeah. It saves on embarrassing press coverage.”

Melissa’s concern turned to puzzlement. “What does that mean?”

Kris got slowly to her feet, stretching her back and pulling her arms over her head. “If you don’t have to have the hotel call a doctor in, then the press doesn’t usually get wind of it.”

Paul announced into one of the microphones on stage, “OK now that the stage is cleaned up again and I think our excitement is over with let’s get on with the sound check.”

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Watching the concert the night before, Melissa had spent the show backstage and had listened to the music and watched the band, mostly Kris. But tonight she had decided to go out front and watch the whole show. She found herself transformed into another of the thousands of screaming fans in the sea of humanity that filled the hall. She found Kris beautiful, caring and funny…. and was falling in love with her. But this Kris on stage was such a completely different person. Seductive, powerful, sultry – she played to her audience and with them. All the other band members did as well, but Melissa had never seen a drummer that wasn’t just part of the background.

One of the highlights came near the beginning of the show; Kris took off her shirt to reveal her tank top clad chest, much to the delight and consternation of her fans. She seemed to really enjoy their reaction. About halfway through the show, the guys left the stage and Kris climbed down from the drum platform and joined Tony center stage, as they did an acoustic set together. Kris was quite the masterful performer as she played to the whole hall, especially to front row center. It was almost like she was making love to the crowd. Melissa couldn’t be sure that she was being objective; she watched Rick and Tony as they performed, acting much the same way Kris had, but it was different. They didn’t seem to have the same hold over the audience that Kris had.

As the concert came to an end, Melissa quickly moved backstage; she couldn’t believe how turned on she had become during the show. She needed to possess this stage Kris, just as she had the other. She had never experienced anything like this before. Now she knew why groupies hung around, waiting for the chance to be with the band.

Kris had so much energy, she had floated right through the gig. It was probably the effect of having Melissa around. Of course the accident before the show had helped her make the decision to make certain changes in her life. It was time that she got involved in a serious relationship. All through the concert, she couldn’t get Melissa off her mind. As soon as they had played their last encore, she found Melissa backstage. She had wrapped her arms around Melissa and began to kiss her passionately. Kris plunged her tongue into Melissa’s mouth and felt the warmth, and moaned at the contact. Melissa’s back was pressed up against the wall as Kris kissed her. The band walked by on their way to the showers, oooing and ahhing. As they parted from the kiss, Kris knew she had to have Melissa right now. She could see the smoldering passion reflected in her lover’s eyes. She took Melissa’s hand, and without a word they headed for the stage door. It was like they knew what each other wanted. Kris climbed into a waiting limo, while Melissa climbed in after her and straddled her lap, facing Kris. Rita climbed in behind them as they headed off for the hotel. Kris was probing the inside of Melissa’s mouth with her tongue as her hands caressed the blond’s  body. Melissa reached out and held both of Kris’s breasts in her hands, kneading them through her tank top. The cloth was soaked and the dark circles of the areolas could be seen through it. Kris unbuttoned Melissa’s shirt and with some maneuvering managed to unfasten her bra, exposing her wonderful mounds. Kris reached over and placed her mouth on one of the creamy mounds and began to suckle. Melissa threw her head back and moaned softly. Kris quickly unbuttoned Melissa’s pants and slipped her hand inside. Melissa’s juices were seeping through her underpants, as Kris managed to get her fingers around the thin cotton material. Melissa gasped in surprise as Kris’s fingers touched her very moist lips.

Rita was feeling very uncomfortable as she tried not to stare, but with little else to turn her attention to, she had no choice. Melissa’s back was to her and occasionally she would see one of her ample breasts as the car turned a corner or they went over a bump. She had no idea when they got into the limo what was going to happen. The limo neared the hotel, and Rita could tell that the couple wasn’t finished yet, so she signaled the driver to drive around.

Kris’s fingers touched Melissa’s nub of pleasure as she moaned with delight. Kris began to stroke it; the abundance of juices made it easy for her fingers to slide up and down across the erect organ. Kris was still sucking Melissa’s breast, running her tongue over her rock hard nipple. Melissa’s breath was coming faster and more ragged, her hips pumping against Kris’ fingers. Melissa suddenly reached out and grabbed Kris’s head and writhed on her lap moaning and whimpering. Spent, she collapsed into Kris’s arms. Kris kissed her and held her close, her arms wrapped protectively around the woman. The limo pulled up in front of the hotel; Rita got out quickly, followed by the lovers. Kris had one arm around Melissa’s waist, the other was pulling Melissa’s shirt closed. Melissa’s head was resting on Kris’ shoulder as they walked to the elevator. Inside the elevator Melissa kissed Kris, plunging her tongue inside her mouth and caressing her breasts, backing her up against the wall. The elevator stopped and the doors opened, but the two women made no attempt to depart.

Clearing her throat, Rita said, “This is your floor.” Kris’ hand dropped from caressing Melissa and quickly produced a key. Rita took it and pulled them from the elevator. She unlocked the suite door and waited for the two lip-locked women to enter. Melissa ended the kiss and quickly pulled Kris into the room and then removed the tank top over Kris’s head as she ran her hands over the soft skin. Hearing a sound from behind them, Kris turned and noticed Rita standing there.

“Hello,” Kris said, as though she had forgotten Rita was there the whole time. Her head was resting against Melissa’s shoulder and she wore a pleased and tired smile, as Melissa held her close and stroked her hair. “I can depend on your discretion in this situation, right?” Kris’ voice was husky as they stood just inside the doorway.

“Absolutely,” Rita assured her, smiling. “By the way, thanks for the show,” Rita commented as she looked down at Kris’s chest.

Kris followed her gaze and smiled. “No problem, any time.”

Melissa began to unfasten Kris’ pants. “Not if I can help it,” she growled, capturing Kris’ lips.

“Ah, maybe I should stay close by?” Rita offered, as the two began removing the rest of their clothes. They didn’t seem to have heard her. She stood in the open doorway unsure what to do next. She really wanted to watch but felt embarrassed to do so. Both women were now topless as they kissed and caressed each other’s breasts. Rita’s better judgment prevailed, and she let herself out, closing the door behind her.

 

16

They lay in each other’s arms, the sheets and bedclothes strewn about the room. The ambient glow of the city made shadows from the half-open drapes play across their naked skin. Her eyes fluttered open, and for a moment she was disoriented. Where was she? Then she remembered she and Rick had just finished making love. She reached out and felt his muscular frame lying underneath her. She could feel his washboard stomach and the rise and fall of it. She liked the feel of his muscles, the solidity of him. Slowly she glanced at her watch; she was going to have to get going. Moving ever so slowly, she swung one leg off the bed and then the other, feeling the softness of the carpet below her feet. Cat like, she crept across the room, stepping into the bathroom; the cold tile made her inhale sharply as she closed the door quietly and turned on the light. The warm spray of the shower brought her full awake; she felt relaxed and happy. Wrapping a towel around herself, she stepped back into the bedroom and began to dress.

Rick’s groggy voice came from behind her. “Why do you always sneak away in the dark of night?”

She sat on the edge of the bed, putting on her pants. “Because you sleep like a log, and I get tired of waiting around.”

Sitting up, he moved to her. “If you just get my interest up, I’d be wide awake in a flash.”

Buttoning up her shirt, she said, “Maybe sometime. But we’re both too busy for more than a once in a while rendezvous.”

He put his arms around her and kissed her neck. “Tess, when are you going to make an honest man of me?”

Tess looked at him sideways. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Rick swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat next to her. “Why can’t we just go steady, or whatever grown-ups call it?”

Tess slipped on a shoe. “I told you, I don’t think it’s a good idea if you make it public that you are dating the help.”

He ran his hand through her shoulder length strawberry blond hair. Her skin was so soft and dotted with freckles. He was really taken with her. Of all the women he had spent time with, Rick felt he could be very happy making this one the only one in his life for a while.

He got up and went into the bathroom. “What do I care what everyone else thinks? I’ve got nothing to hide.”

She finished dressing. “Well I don’t need a bunch of headstrong roadies making my job any harder because of our relationship.”

Rick emerged from the bathroom, standing at least a head taller than Tess and said, “Well if that were to happen, we could just fire them…”

“…And who would do their work?” she interrupted. He hugged her and replied, “Well if they give you shit, you just tell me and I’ll kick their butts!”

She slipped out of the embrace and was standing by the door with her hand on the knob. “Oh yeah, that’s what I need, for you to be fighting all my battles for me. No thanks.”

“Will you please seriously think about it?” he asked.

She nodded her head once. “Sure.”

He kissed her. “Thanks for tonight.”

She stepped out into the hall knowing that he was still watching her as she entered the stairs. Walking to her room, she was thinking about their evening together. She was scared that he was going to do something really stupid, like tell everyone that they were ‘dating’, and ruin all of her fun. She couldn’t decide which one she liked better, Kris or Rick. They both had their merits, both in and out of bed. She found Rick to be a bit too pushy and controlling at times. Kris on the other hand had her “quirks”, and that was getting old to deal with. She also liked the fact that she didn’t need birth control with Kris.

She had been attracted to Rick right from the start. Who could blame her with his looks! They had started sleeping together the first week she worked with the tour. But he became a bit too controlling, and Tess started to distance herself from him. That’s when she got to know Kris. Kris didn’t want anything from her except friendship. She was easygoing and easy to talk to. It was towards the end of her first tour with the band that she learned Kris’ secret. She had always been intrigued with the idea of a lesbian affair. She tried her damnedest to get Kris to sleep with her, but she just didn’t seem interested. The tour ended without success. Tess had decided during the break that she would just let it go. But when the next tour started up, she couldn’t help herself; she really wanted to have this affair with Kris. Finally after nearly a month of trying, it happened. It was wonderful, better than she’d imagined. Kris understood the dangers of letting the others know about their trysts. Tess’ ultimate high came when she managed to get Rick the same day she’d gotten Kris. Not an easy feat by any means! Since they were both on one bus, and she was always on another. The nights that they stayed at hotels were about the only time they were all in one place at one time. That had been nearly two tours ago. She could still get a rush thinking about one while with the other. There was something so twisted about it all. But Tess could sense that Kris at least was becoming weary of the game. She felt sad that this might be her last tour of fun and frolics.

 

17

Melissa began to swim up to consciousness; she could hear voices and music way off in the distance. Usually she was an early riser, but this morning it sounded like she was the last one up. She felt as though she had been under the hotel as it came down on top of her. It was almost more than she could do to lift her head off the pillow. The marathon love making that they had engaged in all night had left her less than bushy tailed; very satisfied and happy, but her energy reserves were gone. Swinging her legs over the edge of the mattress the carpet was rough against the skin of her feet. Her hands rested on the mattress holding her upper body up against gravities pull.  She ran one hand through her tangled locks, yawning she reached out with one foot and carefully with her toes, snagged her rumpled shirt off the floor.  Giving up on actually trying to button it correctly she climbing out of the completely unmade bed, and left the room. The television was blaring as Rick, Tony and Kris sat on the couch in front of it. They seemed hypnotized by it. They were all dressed in what passed for bedclothes for each of them. Tony was wearing a hotel robe, her naked feet propped on the coffee table in front of the couch; Kris was in T-shirt and boxer shorts, one bare foot resting on the couch in front of her . Rick was wrapped in a and white socks, with his headphones on around his neck emitting tiny sounds. They all looked like little kids, up before Mom and Dad with their hair all messed up and sleep marks on their faces. Melissa made her way over to them, standing in front of Kris.  It took the dark haired woman a second to lower her leg and pull the blond onto her lap.

Tony teased, “Hey, good morning, or should we say afternoon?”

Melissa curled her head up on Kris’s shoulder looking like a small child. Kris wrapped her arms around Melissa and held her close, resting her cheek on the blond’s forehead.

Melissa voice was gravelly with sleep, she ran her hand through Kris’ hair smiling at its unruliness. “What time is it?”

Kris kissed her lover’s lips and then replied. “Around ten.”

Tony instructed, “Commercial! Change over and see if the Tick’s on.”

Kris held the blond closer. “Did you sleep well?” Her voice had dropped a register and her eyebrow was arched, a smile twitching at her lips.

Melissa smiled wryly, biting Kris’s lower lip. “I’m not sure. Did we sleep?”

Rick turned the volume up and called happily, “Alright! It’s Bill!” He and Tony began to chant along with the show, complete with raised arms, “Bill… Bill… Bill… Bill!”

Kris finally broke the kiss and Melissa turned her attention to the T.V. to see a geeky looking guy in a blue lab coat and bow tie.

Rick raised his arm in salute, and shouted, “Science rules!!”

Melissa looked around and couldn’t believe these people were adults. She noticed that there were empty Yoohoo cans, Ding Dong wrappers, and potato chip bags littering the coffee table in front of them. Her stomach did a slow flop. “Is this what you’ve had for breakfast?” She gestured to the table.

Not taking her eyes off the T.V., Tony picked up a half full chip bag, offering them to her. “Yeah, want some?”

Melissa shook her head no, and made a face while she clamped her jaw shut.

Another commercial and Kris demanded, “See if the Tick is on?” Rick worked the remote as Kris ordered, “Stop! This is such a cool song!!”

As they sat and watched the video, Melissa noticed that at least one foot of each of the Musketeers was moving to the beat of the song.  Tony then began nodding as well; Rick’s fingers looked as though they were playing  his air guitar.  Kris’ hands were moving about doing a nice tattoo counterpoint to the drum part.

Kris enthused as the video ended, “Walking on the sun – Rules!!”

Melissa tried to grasp it through her tiredness. “What is it again that we’re watching?”

Tony explained as if Melissa were a small child, “The Tick. He’s a 400-pound 7-foot tall blue super hero whose only super power is that he is nigh invulnerable. That’s his sidekick, the former accountant, now turned super hero-sidekick Moth, Arthur.”

The blanket had slipped and exposed Rick’s torso as he opened another can of Yoohoo, shouting, “Spoon!!”

Melissa was smiling as she shook her head in disbelief. She asked through a yawn, “Do you do this every Saturday morning?”

Kris explained, happily as she chomped on some chips, “No we don’t get them off very often. This is a real treat for us.”

Melissa looked exhausted. “How can you be so full of energy?”

Kris looked roguishly at her. “It’s all your fault!”

The sound of a door opening behind them got Melissa’s attention as a young woman with short red hair and shapely legs, dressed in a hotel robe, emerged from Tony’s bedroom. She leaned over the back of the couch, running her hand through Tony’s hair.

Tony smiled brightly. “Good morning.”

The woman had a handful of Tony’s hair and pulled Tony’s head backwards, arching Tony’s neck, and then placed her lips over the dark haired woman’s. Kris and Melissa exchanged amused glances. Kris looked over inquiringly at Rick who was shrugging his shoulders as he glared daggers at the new couple.

Kris couldn’t resist teasing her brother. “Did you come home empty handed again!?”

He snorted, “Of course not. She left already.”

Kris looked slightly disappointed as she kidded him. “Pity. We could have all gone on a date together.”

Melissa cupped Kris’s chin in her hand and turned Kris’s face towards her, covering Kris’ mouth with her own.

Rick sounded annoyed, as he crossed his arms over his naked chest, “Do you mind? There are other people in the room!”

Tony broke her kiss, slightly out of breath her eyebrows raised in questioning as her voice broke. “Embarrassed?” Arching a knowing eyebrow in his general direction. Shifting her attention off of him. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet Paige.”

The woman’s eyes barely left Tony’s as she acknowledged the others in the room.

Kris chuckled as she addressed the dark haired woman, “looks like your trip to the bar was a complete success.”

Paige once again possessed Tony’s mouth.

Rick exploded, pointing an accusing finger at Kris, “This is all your fucking fault!”

Kris looked dumbfounded at Rick. Some of her good spirits evaporating.  “What?”

His eyes were filled with anger as he addressed his sister. “You heard me! If you hadn’t come out, none of this would be going on!” He looked pointedly at Tony and Paige.

Ignoring everything else that was going on in the room, Paige looked seductively at Tony. “I think I’ll go shower,” she purred and disappeared into Tony’s room. Tony sat transfixed on the closed door, as if she were having some inner turmoil.

As soon as the bedroom door was closed Kris pinned her brother with compassion filled eyes and asked. “What’s going on with you?”

Rick’s face was red with anger. “All this damn queer stuff and now you’ve got Tony doing it!”

Kris’ eyebrows rose in surprise as defended herself, “I didn’t have anything to do with Tony’s choice in dates.” She nudged Tony for a response.

Tony was absentmindedly staring at the closed bedroom door. “Huh?”

Rick continued with his rant. “You fucked with her mind until she crawled down into the gutter with you!”

Kris’ voice was calm, her face questioning, feeling just a bit hurt. “Do you really feel that way?”

An awkward silence grew. Melissa looked back and forth between the two siblings like a tennis match.

Rick’s gaze finally dropped as he awkwardly fidgeted with his hands.

Kris’ face registered her pain and questioning. “You do, don’t you?” This was a statement, not a question. “No wonder you were so angry when I finally came out! You’re as bad as Forrest and Angie!” Kris extricated herself out from under a surprised Melissa and stood up. “Excuse me.”

Rick jumped to his feet gathering his blanket up around him, as he reached out with his free handcatching Kris’ arm. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean….”

Kris shrugged off his hand; anger was written all over her face. “Didn’t mean to what… imply that I’m some twisted pervert?!”

Melissa cocked her head slightly, her brow furrowed. “I think I take offense at that!” Her anger was beginning to grow.

Tony finally caught up to the conversation, looking at all the players, mouth agape. “Just ’cause you’re pissed off at me for not being what you want me to be, doesn’t mean you can take it out on Kris!” Her dark eyes blazed with her anger. She stood up in front of Rick, and poked her index finger into his chest. “Whom I choose to sleep with is my decision. Kris had nothing to do with it. I’m very offended that you would imply that who we sleep with is dirty or wrong compared to whom you sleep with!!”

Kris was standing face to face with her brother, even though he was a good foot taller. “Apologize!” This was not a request.

Melissa and Tony were also standing, behind Kris, arms crossed across their chests, looking angry.

Kris and Rick’s gazes were locked on each other; menacing looks traveled from one to the other, waiting for the other to drop the challenge.

Rick broke first and finally said, “I’m sorry.” Lowering his eyes and taking a step back from Kris, he continued, “I don’t really think of you as a pervert. Your coming out really took me by surprise along with all these other changes.” He gave Melissa and Tony a sidelong look with just a hint of anger in it.

Kris’ voice softened as she met his gaze. “Rick, I am sorry that I didn’t tell you I was coming out, but it didn’t seem to be a decision that really concerned you. It was a spur of the moment decision, but I should have told you that I was considering it.”

He sat slumped down in an overstuffed chair. “I guess I’m being too hard on you. I understand, sort of, that living like you were was hard. And it was selfish of me to keep you from ‘coming out’ and turning my life upside down.”

Kris crossed her arms across her chest, lowered her head and raised an eyebrow at him. “Turning your life upside down? How does my coming out screw with your life?”

He wasn’t looking at her. “Because now whenever I do an interview, they’ll ask me if I knew, how I feel about it, what it’s like to have a sister who’s gay.”

Tony sat down on the arm of the couch near Rick. “Dude, this will all blow over, and in no time they’ll be back to asking you what it’s like to screw more women in a year than Kris has lusted after her whole life.” Tony winked at Kris.

He was pouting, and he didn’t meet their gazes. “That’s not all, the babes aren’t looking at me on stage like they used to…”

Melissa couldn’t help herself, as she sat down next to Tony on the couch in a state of surprise. “So you think that now that Kris is out, all the babes in the audience are gay?”

Rick nodded his head yes, looking even more like a little kid.

Kris was smiling and trying very hard not to laugh. “Did it occur to you that most of our shows for this tour were sold out before we left home?”

Looking annoyed, Rick asked, “What does that have to do with anything?”

Kris tried to reason with her sibling. “If you think the audience is predominantly gay, then it was that way before I came out; the tickets were already sold.” Kris couldn’t hold it any longer and started to laugh; she was joined by the other women.

Rick looked at them though narrowed eyes. “Why do you all think this is so funny?”

Tony was still chuckling. “Because you are being so cute…”

Rick got to his feet, gathering his blanket around him, voice raised. “This is not a game, this is serious.”

Tony was still chuckling. “It’s serious because the babes are more interested in your sister than you?”

“No, because there are people out there that would like to hurt Kris for this announcement.” His jaw was set as he made eye contact with each one of them.

Kris stopped laughing, looking serious. “Whoa, where did that come from?”

He crossed his arms across his chest and looked indignant. “I watch the news; I see the hate crimes against queers.”

Kris reached out and put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s nice that you care.” She sat down on the arm of the chair he had been  sitting in. “I won’t deny that the idea of being attacked physically didn’t come to mind after I made my announcement. But I’m a big girl, and as long as I’m not stupid, I should be OK..”

He sat down again, scrubbed a hand over his face. “God, I just couldn’t stand to see you looking like you did after…” He stopped talking as his head snapped forward. He looked first at Kris and then at Melissa; his eyes held worry and concern. “You know, in high school… again.”

Melissa watched as Kris stiffened, and her face darkened slightly for an instant, then it was gone.

Tony piped up, “Ooo I second that. Let none of us have to go through anything like that again.”

Melissa knew she was missing something vital but wasn’t sure she should ask. Her curiosity got the better of her. “Were you in a car accident or something?”

The silence that hung in the air was so thick you could reach out and touch it.

Kris gave an annoyed look at Rick, who wasn’t meeting her gaze. “Something like that.” Kris was silent for a long moment, before she ran her hand through her disheveled hair and without making eye contact with Melissa, replied, “I got into some trouble in high school and did time in juvy.”

It was obvious to Melissa that none of them wanted to talk about this, and it was driving her crazy not to ask, but she let it go.

Tony suddenly got to her feet. “Well folks, I’ve got someone waiting for me, so… later.”

Before she could leave, Rick got to his feet. “Wow, look at the time!” and nearly knocking Tony down  he made his way to the door and left.

Tony looked back at the two women, shrugged her shoulders, and went into her bedroom.

Melissa moved over behind Kris and encircled her waist with her arms. Kissing her neck, she said, “I’m sorry if I pried into something private.”

Kris’ body was still stiff as she replied, “No, its OK, it’s just not a time in my life I like to remember.” Kris turned around in the embrace and ran her arms up Melissa’s back. She ran one hand through blond tresses while the other landed on the back of Melissa’s neck as she pulled her in for a kiss.

Melissa pulled back with the need to get a breath. “How long do we have before you have to be someplace?”

Kris leaned down, and kissed the side of her neck. “Today…” She kissed a little lower, “is our day…” She stretched the neck of the shirt open wider, and kissed Melissa’s collarbone, “off…”

Melissa’s face split into a large grin. “Now that’s what I like to hear!”

The couple had moved back into their room, kissing and caressing the whole way. Once inside, Melissa kicked the door shut behind her as she began to strip Kris of her clothing.

As Melissa pulled Kris’ T-shirt off over her head, Kris teased, “Ooo, aren’t we being frisky today?”

Melissa gave her a slow sexy smile as she grabbed hold of the boxers her lover was wearing and with one yank sent them puddling around naked ankles.  She pulled her own shirt off and then wound it up and used it as a whip, cracking it loudly as it breezed by Kris’ naked flesh.

Kris was laughing as she climbed up on the bed and grabbed a pillow to try to hide behind. Melissa was smiling wickedly as she wrenched the pillow out of her lover’s grasp. Tossing both the pillow and the shirt aside, Melissa scrambled up on top of the bed so quickly Kris was caught by surprise.  Melissa began to tickle her mercilessly.

Laughing and trying to fend off her attacker, Kris’ feet got tangled in the unmade sheets and she soon found herself lying on her back with Melissa straddling her legs. Melissa leaned forward and kissed Kris’ stomach. Kris chuckled and squirmed as her lover’s breath tickled the fine hairs on said body part.

“If you won’t hold still, I’ll have to make you,” Melissa stated as she reached forward and grabbed Kris’ left wrist.

Giggling and half-heartedly keeping her right hand out of Melissa’s grasp, Kris replied. “I love it when you talk tough!”

Melissa laughed and grabbed Kris’ right wrist. Smiling and looking down with eyes filled with desire, she transferred both of Kris’ wrists into one of her hands, pinning the wrists together above Kris’ head. Everything happened in a flash; Kris’ face changed from one of happiness to one of pain and fear. She began to fight to free her arms, ripping them from Melissa’s grasp. Kris was bucking and thrashing about to remove Melissa from on top of her. Melissa landed hard on her naked butt on the carpeted floor, as she watched Kris curl up into the fetal position, whimpering and moaning. Melisssa shook her head trying to clear it, trying to make sense of what had just happened. She climbed back onto the mattress in front of Kris, not knowing what to expect. What she found was a woman whose face was contorted in pain, her eyes were shut tight and she had broken out in a sweat, her hair was already damp from it. Her hands were clenched under her chin, her knuckles white. Reaching out Melissa laid a tentative hand on Kris’ naked shoulder. Kris cried out as though she were in pain.

Melissa quickly pulled it away; in a very soothing voice she said, “Kris… Kris can you hear me?”

Whimpering and crying were her only answer.

‘What’s going on?’ Melissa ran a hand through her own tousled hair as she tried to organize her thoughts. As she looked down at Kris, it was obvious that something was going on in her lover’s mind that was not pleasant and probably had nothing to do with the present.

Melissa tried again, this time yelling, to try to get through to her lover, “Kris! Can you hear me?”

But just as before Kris did not respond to her.

‘How am I going to snap her out of this?’ Melissa getting off the bed she stood and began to pace, listening to Kris was beginning to make her stomach clench. She had to help her lover but how? She entered the bathroom and filled a glass with cold water; she then returned to Kris.

Kneeling down across from her, Melissa whispered under her breath, “I hope this works, sorry,” crossed her fingers and threw the water into Kris’ face.

Terror and panic filled eyes flew open, scanning the room, flicking quickly over Melissa and then back to the room.

Melissa flinched back slightly from the intensity in her lover’s eyes. “Kris, hey, you OK?”

Kris’ eyes swiveled back to Melissa’s face where they blinked rapidly. Kris’ breathing was rapid, her body coiled and ready for a fight.

Melissa’s voice was low and soothing, “Kris, it’s me Melissa, remember?”

Kris’s eyes never left Melissa’s, the intensity making it hard to keep the contact.

Feeling that she was getting through to her lover, Melissa tried again, “We’re in Chicago, with the band, Scarecrow, in the penthouse at the Hilton.”

Kris’ eyes flicked around the room again, her breathing sounded as though she was recovering from a five mile run. Kris slowly sat up and grabbed Melissa’s wrist, the look of confusion replacing the look of terror. The circulation in Melissa’s wrist was being shut off; she was just about to ask if Kris was OK, when Kris got up and bolted into the bathroom.

Melissa could hear Kris retching from behind the closed door as she rested her head against the wooden barrier. Knocking lightly she called out, “Kris, honey are you OK.?” Retching and coughing were the only responses that came from within.

‘She's going to feel pretty shitty when she comes out of there. The least I can do is try to make her feel as comfortable as possible.’ Picking up the phone Melissa called room service. As she hung up the phone she could hear the shower running. She slipped on her T-shirt and her underwear, and sat down cross-legged style on the bed to wait.

Kris emerged slowly from the shower, wrapping herself up in a thick white towel as she shivered from the cool air and the remnants of her ordeal. ‘Jesus! What the hell happened? Was that a flashback?’ she wondered as she rubbed the towel against her wet hair to dry it. Her stomach was still pretty shaky as she dropped the towel to the floor and reached for the door handle. She was dreading leaving the bathroom because she didn’t want to have to return to the empty room, but she really needed to lie down. She knew that Melissa was long gone, and she really couldn’t blame her. But that thought was making her heart break, adding to her overall feeling of crap. She opened the door and walked out into the other room, stopping in her tracks as she spotted Melissa sitting in the middle of the bed smiling at her and looking so beautiful. Her blond curls were disheveled, and the T-shirt was on backwards and inside out.

Smiling and trying to be encouraging and upbeat, Melissa spoke first, “Hi, I bet you’ve had better days. I had room service bring up a few things I thought might help you feel better.” Melissa got up and moved over to the table near where Kris was standing. She grabbed the blanket from the floor and wrapped the dark haired woman in it.  She noticed that her pale trembling flesh was covered in Goosebumps.   “We’ve got orange juice, hot tea, seltzer water, clear broth, and some dry toast.”

Kris felt that her mouth was hanging open; she could not believe Melissa was still here and that she was being so nice to her.  She gratefully pulled the blanket close.

“What’s up, you look like you’re seeing a ghost?” Melissa asked still smiling , as she steered Kris over to the bed and helped her to get in it and lie down.

Trying to get her brain in gear, Kris closed her eyes and took deep breaths. Her voice was raspy and wavered. “I was pretty sure you’d be long gone by now.”

Melissa’s eyebrows rose and she cocked her head to the side. “Why would you think that?” She sat down beside her lover, tucking the blanket around her Kris. Then it hit her. “Has that happened before?”

Kris kept her eyes closed and sighed but didn’t say anything.

An awkward tension filled the room, the only sound the heater cycling on. ‘What has happened to you my friend?’ Melissa nodded her head once, deciding to keep things moving, and hopefully the minefield they were about to cross wouldn’t be too messy. “OK well how about something to drink?” She once again moved to the table, coming back with a bottle of seltzer water, which she opened and handed to Kris.

“Yes.” Kris took the bottle but didn’t open her eyes to look at Melissa. “A couple of times.” Her voice was just above a whisper.

Melissa wondered if she looked like one of those cartoon characters with their mouths open in a perfect ‘O’ shape of surprise. But before she had a chance to comment Kris continued.

“I usually wake up sweaty, in the fetal poison, confused and alone.” Kris rose up on her elbow and took a sip of water. But what she really wanted was a nice tall fifth of something stiff. ‘How much should I tell her? What can I tell her? Wonder at which point she’ll run screaming into the night? If I trust her I can tell her everything, right? There’s the $64,000 question… do you trust her?’ Kris’ internal voice asked. There was a pause before it asked, ‘Has she done anything to make you think you can’t trust her?’

Kris thought about it ‘No, nothing that I can think of.’

‘Are you sure? Look what happened the last time you trusted someone.’

Kris argued back. ‘She’s still here, that should be proof enough.’

‘Maybe she just needs the closure and all your personal details for her article?’

‘I don’t believe she’s a reporter…’

‘But what do you really know about her?’

Not being able to help herself Melissa asked, “Why?”

Kris was brought out of the discussion with herself and slowly opened her eyes to face her lover. “Why not?”

Melissa had to blink a couple of times to get the feeling of complete dumbfound ness out of her head. “What I mean is, why leave?” Kris looked blankly back at her, as Melissa continued, “You are obviously in trouble, why not stay and help?”

In a voice completely devoid of emotion, Kris replied, “You have to be emotionally tied to someone to care.” Now it was Melissa’s turn to look blank. Kris continued, “When you’re only in it for a quick fuck, or to add a trophy to your collection, there’s no tie.”

It was just beyond Melissa that anyone could be that cold. “But still, you’re both human…” Sensing that a subject change was needed Melissa asked, “How are you feeling?”

Turning her gaze away from the blond woman, Kris replied, “Fine.” She absent-mindedly drank from the water bottle.

Melissa looked unconvinced. “Righty O!” Her brows furrowed and her eyes full of compassion she asked, “What happened?”

Kris swallowed a couple of times. She knew this was coming but she hoped like hell that maybe Melissa would forget to ask. “Ah… well…” She tipped the bottle up and emptied it. Stalling for time, which had run out. Gods she could use a drink! She knew when Melissa heard what was coming, the truth, she would be out of there like a shot.

Melissa rested her hand on Kris’ swaddled shoulder. “I get the feeling this is hard for you.” As if reading her thoughts she continued, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Kris looked up, surprise evident on her face. Mentally she took the leap into her own hell.“I guess you could call it a flashback.”

Melissa’s voice held surprise, “a flashback?”

Getting out of bed, looking like a Hollywood image of an Indian squaw and walking across the room she replied,  “This is not something I wanted to spring on you like this.” Kris’ back was to Melissa; she didn’t want to go down this road now. “I had hoped that a more… appropriate moment would arise for this.” Taking a deep breath she continued, “I spent some time in juvenile detention as a teenager, and got myself into some trouble.”

‘You got yourself into trouble IN juvie?’ Melissa wondered as she sat quietly on the edge of the bed and listened, afraid that any interruption would quell this confession.

The silence surrounded them as if they were sitting at the bottom of a vacuum. It was making Kris uncomfortable as she wrestled with her demons and how best to tell the woman she loved about the darkness of her past.

Taking a deep breath, Kris decided faster was better. “I haven’t ever told anyone the whole story, hell, I don’t remember all of it myself. But if the media hounds found out I’d be devastated.” She paused to scrub a hand across her face.

Melissa was compelled to get up and go to her lover. She stood quietly next to Kris in front of the window, her back facing it. Not looking at Kris, she said, “You don’t have to tell me if you really don’t want to.”

Kris turned her head and looked at the blond. Their eyes met; Kris saw nothing but compassion and understanding there. The tightness around her chest that she had felt since Melissa had asked what happened loosened a bit.

As Melissa looked into Kris’ eyes they were filled with fear. It made her stomach clench but she forced herself to continue to meet the rock star’s gaze showing, she hoped, compassion.          

Still holding her lover’s gaze Kris replied, “No, I want to be honest with you about my life… I just hadn’t worked myself up to this yet,” Kris thought ‘I always thought that maybe a couple of years from now, or maybe when we were 90…’ Taking a couple of deep breaths she continued, “I’m also not sure I can do this sober.” Kris leaned down pulling the blanket tight across her shoulders to keep it from falling she reached for her duffle bag lying next to them and noticed her hand was shaking. Rummaging around, she pulled a full bottle of Mount Gay rum from it.

Melissa watched idly. “I can’t really imagine how scary it is for you to tell someone you just met about your private life, but I want you to know that anything you tell me stays between us.” She made a motion of locking her mouth and throwing the key over her shoulder.

Kris smiled slightly. Gods how she wanted to believe that. She was pretty sure that she could trust Melissa, but this would be the test, and if it didn’t work she would be slashed to pieces by the media. She popped the top to the bottle and took a healthy swallow. Her stomach complained loudly and she thought she was going to lose everything. Sitting on her haunches the blanket puddling at her feet, she leaned her forehead against the wall with her eyes closed, waiting out the storm, she felt Melissa’s warm hand on her back encouraging and supporting her. Opening her eyes, she was looking into the blue that reminded her of a deep lake on a summer’s day.

Melissa’s voice was like silk. “Is it going to stay down?”

Kris could only nod dumbly as the beauty of this woman stepped up and struck her dumb.

Melissa walked over to the bed, lying down and stretching out on her side , propping her head up on her hand she faced Kris. Trying to keep the mood a little lighter, she asked, “Do you always carry around spirits in your luggage?”

Taking another sip, Kris replied, “Better these spirits than other kinds.” Turning to face her lover still sitting on her haunches, she smiled and held up the bottle. “You never know when you might need a drink, and sometimes you just can’t get to the Liquor Barn.”

Melissa tried to bring the conversation back on topic. “I just can’t picture you as a troubled teen.”

Kris leaned her back against the wall, “I certainly didn’t fit the type. I got good grades, came right home after school, was the proverbial ‘girl next door’.”

Melissa flexed her eyebrows and smirked. “Ah, how times have changed!”

Kris looked sad. “Yes they have.”

Melissa sat up, alarmed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to….”

Kris held her hand up, palm open, facing Melissa. “Its OK it’s just that I still wonder how things went from almost idyllic to a hell on earth.” Kris considered this as she took another drink, and standing she leaned her butt up against the windowsill, the blanket was open to expose her calerbones.

The curiosity was driving Melissa crazy, but she felt that Kris had to tell this in her own way and time. “So what changed?”

Even though Kris was looking right at her, her eyes looked a million miles away. “I discovered sex.”

Melissa smiled at first, but then she realized Kris wasn’t making a joke.

Kris took another sip and continued, “My parents and I had a… falling out when I was in high school and I ended up in juvenile hall…”

“A falling out? What caused that?” Melissa interrupted, feeling that she was missing part of the story.

“The condensed version – I met Jenny Gilmore my sophomore year, we fell in love, we got caught by her parents, I was arrested for statutory raping Jenny. Spent a year in Juvy, was brutally attacked…” Her voice broke off as she took a healthy pull on the bottle, nearly finishing off a quarter of it. When she continued, her voice was a whisper. “I was attacked… and… brutally ra…raped.” Even after all these years it was still hard to say that word. “I only remember bits and piece of it really. Shrink told me I had blocked the trauma from my mind.”

Melissa made a little gasp as she covered her mouth with her hand. She felt as if  a large mammal with a trunk had just fallen on her. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but this wasn’t it. Her mind was spinning. She looked at Kris, who was standing with the blanket wrapped tightly around herself, her face set and hard, staring intently at the floor. She looked so lost and alone. Before Melissa knew what she was doing, she crossed the room to where her lover was standing. Reaching out a tentative hand she laid it very lightly on Kris’ swaddled arm.

Kris pulled away her face hard and impassive. “Don’t…” Her eyes closed down to slits as she looked at the blond for a moment.

Melissa didn’t remove her hand, instead she began to caress Kris’ arm lightly.

Kris looked away. “I’ve done things… things that ‘nice girls’ don’t do… you shouldn’t get too close, ‘it’ might rub off…”

Melissa took a step closer until their bodies were touching. Then slowly, as if she was approaching a wild animal, reached up and took Kris’ chin in her hand and turned her lover’s head so she could see the stormy brown eyes. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m right were I want to be.” She watched Kris’ jaw muscles clench and unclench, another indication that something was bothering her.

Kris so wanted to believe the blond, but experience told her another story. But as she continued to look into the azure depths, all she could see was trust, compassion and something else she couldn’t put her finger on.

It hurt Melissa how much pain Kris was in, but she was afraid to move too fast and push Kris away. Trying again, she reached out and placed one fingertip on Kris’ arm. “Darlin’ I do know, you couldn’t have asked for that anymore than I could stop caring about you.”

Kris turned her head and met her lover’s gaze. Confusion and indecision raced across Kris’ face, to be quickly followed by doubt. ‘She cares for me?’ The thought almost paralyzed her. After what she had just told Melissa, how could she still care about her? Kris looked deep into the blue eyes, eyes the color of the ocean. These gentle eyes were not filled with hate, judgment or pity, they were filled with compassion, and sorrow and that ‘something else’ Kris had seen earlier. In a quiet voice Kris said, “But I’ve done things that… I’m soiled…”

“Baby, that was all in the past. You can’t change what’s happened…”

Kris’ voice was low as she turned to face the wall, resting her forehead against the wall and closing her eyes. “Not everything is in the past.” A deep sigh. “My past’s caused me to become a drug addicted.” She turned her head to look at her lover.

Melissa’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline. ‘Drugs? Kris?’ She couldn’t get her mind around that one. She found herself speechless; it just didn’t make any sense.

Kris was watching Melissa’s reaction very closely. ‘This is where we separate the curious from the serious.’

Melissa turned and leaned her back against the same wall Kris was facing, all the stereotypes of rock stars running through her mind. Pictures of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin flashed behind her eyes. They didn’t look like addicts from their pictures either.

Suddenly something came to mind. “Wait a minute. I haven’t seen you take anything but aspirin while I’ve been here.” Melissa’s tone was demanding as she turned, her eyes full of intensity onto her lover.

Kris sighed as she turned placing her back against the wall then slid down , resting on her haunches once again. “True. I use when I have a hard time sleeping.” Kris was focusing her attention on the rug. “I suffer from re-occurring multiple night terrors, making it hard to get much sleep.

Suddenly it was clear and Melissa couldn’t stop herself, “Your insomnia.”

Kris nodded her head yes as she continued, “The thought of waking up in terror every night sucks, so most nights I just stay up. That leads to being tired, which eventually leads to exhaustion – which leads to substance abuse.”

Melissa sat down cross-legged on the carpet next to the dark haired woman. She turned her head and looked at Kris. A million questions sprang to her lips. But she had to ask the right ones or the tightrope they were on would snap. “How long has this been going on?”

Kris took a sip from the bottle of rum. “The nightmares -  since right after I was… raped.” She took a longer pull on the bottle. “The drug problem started shortly after that.”

Melissa sighed in frustration as she played with the hem of her T-shirt. “What exactly are we talking about here? Cocaine, heroine…?”

Kris rested her head back against the wall, looking up to the ceiling, and in an even tone replied, “Downers, specifically sleeping pills.”

Melissa wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but that wasn’t it.

Kris stuck her arm out of the blanket, tucking it under her arms to keep it up. She  started to peel the label off the bottle. “I don’t believe that I’m addicted per se. I’ve been addicted twice before, and I know the symptoms. I only use the stuff when I’m so exhausted I can’t stand up. So I don’t have to remember the nightmares.”

Melissa was shocked. “Twice! How did that happen?”

Kris shrugged as she worked on peeling off the label, “After…” She waved her hand unable to give voice to it again, hoping that Melissa would get the picture. “Life was really hard; I wasn’t sleeping, and after I was told about the ra…rape, I had so many feelings. Didn’t trust anyone enough to talk to them, the drugs just became a way to be numb enough to get through each day, until my shrink cancelled my prescription.” Kris laughed. “She was afraid I was,” her voice and face turned serious, almost a caricature, “becoming too dependent on the sleeping pills.” Her voice returned to normal, and she looked sad. “That brought about my two attempts at suicide.” Kris took a sip before continuing, “The next time I got busted buying the stuff at the beach by Franklin.”

Melissa did a double take, her mouth literally hanging open. “Two attempts at suicide?” Almost to herself, she said, “It’s no wonder you have insomnia.” ‘Jesus! I can’t imagine what she must have been going through.’ Melissa couldn’t help herself surreptitiously  examining Kris’ wrists. Mmm, no scars?

Kris sat down cross leggeed across from the blond, the blanket pudling around her as she caught the look and raised her eyebrow in question.

Melissa felt chagrined at having been caught. “I guess I was sorta curious….” She didn’t finish the sentence and broke eye contact with the dark haired woman.

Kris’ brow was furrowed. “Huh?” She looked down at her wrists and then she understood; making a distasteful face, she continued, “Ick, I couldn’t have slashed my wrists – too painful.”

If it hadn’t been so serious, Melissa would have had to laugh at the absurdity of the statement. She pushed some blond locks behind an ear, “Too painful? You were committing suicide, remember?”

Kris looked over at the blond woman; bottle halfway to her lips, the humor of the comment came through, and she smiled wryly. “Yeah, and your point? I mean, I was seeing a shrink and committing suicide; I never said I was sane.” She took a drink and continued, “The first time I electrocuted myself in Bridget’s bathtub…”

Melissa commented with both eyebrows raised, “And that wasn’t painful?” Melissa shook her head and held up her hands like she was trying to get Kris to stop. “Wait, what where you doing in Bridget’s bathtub?”

Kris had to stop and think about that for a moment. “Oh right. Bridget and Franklin had taken me in after I was released from Juvy when my parents disowned me.” Taking a breath, she continued, “The second attempt was when I hung myself in Grand’s barn.”

Melissa’s eyes grew wide. “Well those certainly weren’t cliché.” Melissa took a deep breath. “You know, I think there’s a country song in that last one.  Who’s Grand?”

Kris regarded her for a moment, the corner of her mouth turning up in a smile. “I think you’re right. Grand is Tony’s grandmother.” Taking a sip of the rum, she went on, “What can I say, I’m fubar.”

Melissa turned and gave the older woman a side-ways look. “Fubar?”

Kris met her gaze for a moment before she dropped her eyes. “Fucked up beyond all repair.”

Melissa took Kris’ hand in her own and brought it up to her lips. “None of this changes my feelings for you.” She kissed the back of the soft hand.

Kris looked at her, surprised at the statement. “Why not? I’m damaged goods. My issues have issues. I’m a shrink’s wet dream….”

Melissa put her hand over Kris’ mouth to stop the diatribe. “Enough. Don’t talk about yourself like that. You didn’t ask for what happened to you, you aren’t responsible for what happened to you. You however, have moved past it and instead of crawling into a permanent fetal position and sending your mind out for popcorn, you have become a thriving member of society.”

Kris held her gaze. “Some wouldn’t consider a drug addicted rock star a ‘thriving member of society’.”

Melissa took the almost empty bottle from Kris’ grasp. “You pay taxes, right? You own property and contribute to the economy, yes?” Not waiting for an answer, she took a sip then handed the bottle back. “Thriving member of society.”

They sat there in silence for a while the heater cycling off loudly in the quiet, then Melissa asked, “How old were you?”

Kris took a sip and then replied, “Sixteen.” Running a hand through her hair, she added, “Sweet sixteen, isn’t that the saying?” Nervous laughter followed. “Well I got more than kissed, that’s for sure!”

Melissa brought Kris’ hand to her mouth again. “You realize that none of this makes any difference, right?”

Kris raised pained eyes to hers. “It would be too much to hope that it wouldn’t…”

Melissa leaned over and placed her lips on Kris’, silencing her. The kiss was not filled with passion, it was filled with love and support. After a few moments they separated. Melissa was caressing the side of Kris’ face, looking deep into her eyes. “It makes no difference in how I feel about you. It does clear a few things up though.” Melissa sat back and took the bottle again. “Is there more?”

Kris looked inquisitive. “Alcohol? Just a phone call away.” She ducked as Melissa swatted at her, then smiled wryly. “You mean this isn’t enough?” She gave her lover a sidelong look and replied, “No, that’s everything.” Kris looked deep into Melissa’s eyes. A torrent of emotions were coursing through her; she wasn’t quite sure what she was feeling, but she needed to let Melissa know that she liked her and wanted this to be more… more than what?

Kris internal voice piped up, ‘That was the question wasn’t it?’

Melissa was the first to break the silence. “You still haven’t said anything that has changed the way I feel about you.”

Kris’ face matched the surprise in her voice. “Really?”

Melissa chuckled. “Really.” She turned Kris’ face until they were eye to eye. “I am concerned about your substance abuse. But I think it’s something we can work on together.”

Kris lowered her eyes. “I have tried other things, but it always comes back to this. It’s not perfect, but it’s what works.” She met the blond woman’s gaze. “You are amazing, you know?”

Melissa smiled slightly. “On the contrary, you’re a remarkable woman Kris Cutler.” She traced Kris’ lips with her finger. “I doubt very much if I would be this together if I’d gone through what you’ve gone through.” She saw pain and wonder flash across Kris’ brown eyes before it was gone.

It never ceased to amaze Kris what came out of this woman’s mouth next. “I lo….” Kris froze, knowing that they both knew what she was about to say, but didn’t. Melissa’s face didn’t acknowledge it, but the pulse point in the hollow of her neck did. Kris’ mouth had suddenly gone dry, as her mind whirred trying to find a way out of this.

Melissa took a couple of deep breaths, never breaking eye contact, and said, “Look, this has been a very emotional time, and we’re both tired. Let’s pretend that you didn’t just almost say what you almost said. If later you still feel that way, then you can let me know, otherwise I understand.”

Kris couldn’t believe it. ‘She’s letting me off the hook! She’s not laughing in my face, she’s letting it slide. I know that it had some effect on her whether she wants me to know it outright or not.’ Kris cleared her throat and nodded. “Makes sense to me.”

Melissa got up and headed for the bathroom.

Kris stood also. “Melissa?”

Melissa half turned with a questioning look on her face.

Kris continued, having gotten her lover’s full attention, “Thanks for tonight… listening. Ah… for sticking around.”

Melissa smiled, slow and sexy, as she turned fully and walked back to Kris. “Sure.” She brought her arms up and rested them on Kris’ shoulders, her hands tangled in the dark locks. “I’ve got ties, I wouldn’t just let you fend for yourself.” Then she lightly kissed Kris’ lips, this time there was passion and promise in it, before turning around and heading to the bathroom.

When she emerged from the bathroom Kris was dozing in their bed. Melissa carefully crawled in next to her, and Kris instinctively cuddled up next to her.

In a soothing voice Melissa said, “I’ve got you; you’re safe here.” She was caressing the dark hair as she felt Kris relax completely and within a few moments she was asleep. Melissa continued to hold her as she slept. Melissa’s mind was too wound up to allow her to sleep. She was surprised at the strength of her feelings of protection toward the women in her arms was. She knew that she would move the moon and stars in order to keep Kris’ secret. And also to keep anyone else from hurting her again.

Continued in part 3

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