A Thousand Kisses

Part 6

By: Girl Bard


Disclaimer: Please see part 1. Enjoy!

Author's Note: This part has an additional disclaimer for violence. It is quite graphic, so please read with caution.

November 4, 2000

"Spots, we're going to be late!" I call as I slip on my shoes and grab my purse. She comes out of the bedroom looking gorgeous as usual in her black pants and crisp white shirt.

"I'm ready. Be good dogs!" She tells Bella and Bean firmly before smiling and patting their heads.

We close the door and proceed down the hall. "Do you think they'll be okay?" I ask nervously. We haven't left Bella out of her crate in the house yet and I really don't feel like coming home to a trashed house.

"They will be fine. Sam has worked miracles and if she thinks Bella is ready, then I trust her." Jaden answers, smiling condescendingly at me. "Don't worry so much, mom." She teases.

"Ha ha. Remind me of that when we're cleaning the house at 2:00am like last time." I retort as we get into Jaden's Explorer. "I'm glad we're seeing Sam and Eva. I wished we could have had more time with them at your party."

"Yeah, they both are really nice." Jaden muses as she navigates carefully through the snowy streets. "Winter sure hit early this year."

"I guess; I can't believe we have this much show before Thanksgiving." I add, admiring the gray-blue sky and white-covered trees. "It's pretty."

"Cold though. Especially in the middle of downtown Boston sitting on the back of a horse." Jaden adds and I giggle. She looks at me out of the corner of her eye and smiles.

Sam and Eva live close, only a few miles away and soon we are pulling up in their driveway. They have a small Federal-style house that looks cozy from the outside, especially with the newly fallen snow resting on the roof and windowsills.

Jaden takes my hand as we make our way cautiously up the walk, a bottle of wine in my hand.

Sam immediately opens the door and greets us warmly and as we enter the house a rush of warm air and deliciously smelling food welcomes us.

"Nice to see you again." I politely tell Eva who is shaking Jaden's hand.

"Same here, Grace. Thank you for the wine." She responds in a slight Spanish accent. "Come on in and sit, dinner is almost ready."

Their house is simple yet beautiful, tasteful furniture placed purposely in the right places and artwork and other interesting wall items creatively add interest to the walls. It is an inviting home and I immediately feel comfortable.

We sit in the living room and Jaden surprises me by striking up the conversation.

"Where did the two of you meet?" She asks and Eva speaks first. Her accented voice is lilting and beautiful to listen to.

"I moved here from Barcelona ten years ago and was lonely, not knowing anyone in a big city by myself. I went to the shelter to get a dog and ended up with a holy terror!"

We all laugh as Eva continues with her story. "So I didn't know what to do, the beast was shredding everything in sight. Then I saw in the paper a woman who trained dogs. I called her, and Sam showed up."

"And I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." Sam interjects, smiling proudly. "Here I was, almost thirty and I still hadn't met anyone I wanted to be with. I took one look at Eva and fell hard."

"Of course, I wouldn't give her the time of day." Eva continues and we all laugh again. "She was so forward and sure of herself that I enjoyed playing hard to get. But eventually she wore me down." She finishes.

"That's a beautiful story." I tell them, smiling. They make a lovely pair, and I can see why Sam fell so hard for Eva. She reminds me of Jaden; they are almost the same height and Eva has long dark hair like Jaden's except it's rather wavy. She has sparkling dark eyes and a beautiful dark complexion.

"And what about you? Sam tells me you have a wedding to plan?" Eva asks and I blush, looking frantically to Jaden who is just sitting there with her eyes widened in surprise.

"Um, yeah, I guess." I stammer and Eva looks at us, confused. I rush to explain, not wanting her to feel bad for saying something. "We haven't really made any plans yet, we don't want to rush into anything."

"I understand, it is a huge decision." Eva responds, smiling warmly. "Dinner should be about ready, shall we?" She stands and we follow her to the dining room, Jaden trailing behind me with a glazed look in her eyes.


I'm an asshole. For Grace's birthday, that was what, almost three months ago now, I propose to her; open my heart and spill my guts and tell her I want to spend the rest of my life with her.

And then I promptly shut my mouth and never say anything about it again. That's really shitty of me.

I didn't do it on purpose, it's not like I don't want to marry Grace. I do. I mean, I will. I mean I do, now, just not right now. Maybe after Christmas. Or even in the spring. Isn't that when everyone always gets married? In the spring?

But Grace will be starting her first semester at Pressman then. So maybe we should wait until the summer. Besides, people never get married right away after getting engaged. And we're not even technically engaged, I mean, she has my ring and all but I never asked her to 'marry me'. So there's no harm in waiting.

'Yeah, right. Keep telling yourself that Jaden. You big jerk.' The little voice in my head tells me. I try to tell it to shut up so I can focus on the conversation around me but it won't stop.

I really feel bad. I want to marry Grace, even though we can't get 'married' for real, I want to have a commitment ceremony with her and declare her to be my one and only for the rest of our days. I do. But the thought of it is really freaking me out for some reason.

Maybe because I think I'll be rushing her into it. Not even a year ago she was still living in Ohio engaged to Scott and speaking to her parents. Now she's moved here and gone through so much shit, not even including the crap with her mother not being her mother, and I'm bringing up marriage?

We have to talk about this, I don't want her thinking that I don't want to get married and I don't want her to feel like I regret all those things I said to her on her birthday. We'll just go home tonight and talk about it and everything will be fine.

Now I can focus on dinner. I feel better. Who would have thought I would be able to resolve things and talk about my feelings? Not me. Miranda has helped me help myself so much.

"I'm not really sure what I eventually will do with my degree, but I want to help people. I know that for sure." Grace is saying to Sam and Eva who are listening avidly.

"Would you consider social work?" Eva questions. "I'm a doctor and you wouldn't believe the amount of cases that social services are called in on. They are constantly understaffed because it's such a stressful job, but you certainly seem to have the heart for it."

My Gracie a social worker? I could see her doing that, she's such a gentle soul but I think it would kill her. She cares too much about people and I would hate to see her get hurt and depressed by the system; it even upsets me.

I tiredly rub my eyes. I don't want to go to work in the morning. I can't even begin to explain how little I've actually said that. I love my job, hell; I've always loved my job. But for some reason it doesn't seem to be as thrilling as it used to be. Sure, I've always hated the paperwork aspect of it, but there's nothing better than being on horseback patrolling the city.

Or so I thought. Maybe I'm getting burnt out. It happens to the best of officers and I'm sure in no time I'll get over it. But it's strange, because I never thought I'd be in a phase where I am happier being at home than at work.

"We should get going." I hear Grace say apologetically. "Both Jaden and I have to work early tomorrow and I know that you're on call Eva." Grace stands and I again pull myself away from my thoughts and follow her lead, shaking both Eva and Sam's hands.

"Thank you for dinner, it was wonderful." I tell them and they both smile as they nod their thanks.

"Yes, thank you. Sam, we will see you on Wednesday evening for Bella's class and we would love to have the two of you over to our place for dinner the next time you're both free." Grace adds as she and Eva make plans to contact each other.

Before I know it we are back in the car and driving home. I rub my eyes again as I try to focus on the snowy road. Grace places a warm hand on my thigh and squeezes it.

"Hey, you okay?" She asks, concern evident in her moss green eyes when I turn to regard her.

"Yeah, sorry I spaced out after dinner. I was just thinking." I answer, feeling like a jerk.

"It's okay. What's on your mind?" Gracie questions, her voice soothing.

I shrug. "A lot, really."

She waits for a minute before urging me on. "Care to elaborate?"

"I just want to get home and make a fire and sit with you. Then we can talk." I answer as I take one hand off the steering wheel and clasp hers.

We ride the rest of the way in silence, our breath making little puffs of white in the cold night. Gracie offers to take the dogs, who thankfully didn't destroy the house, outside while I start the fire.

It immediately warms the chilled apartment and I put a pot of water on the stove to boil as I wait for Grace.

She returns quickly, stomping snow off of her boots as I help her towel off the dogs' wet legs and bellies. They eagerly scamper to the fire and lay down in front of it, each vying for the warmest spot.

"Hot chocolate?" I ask and Grace nods eagerly, a smile on her full lips. She goes to change into her pajamas as I sit on the rug next to the dogs with our cups of steaming cocoa in hand.

Returning, she sits next to me and I wrap my arm around her shoulders and lean back against the couch.

"I love you so much." I tell her softly and she smiles.

"I love you too." "Please understand that even though I haven't been making plans for our wedding, I still want it to happen. I don't want to rush you and although I can't lie and say the thought doesn't scare me, I still want to marry you." I tell her in a rush and she gazes at me with such intensity that I feel my heart constrict.

"I know." She answers simply and I look at her confused.

"You do?"

"Of course. Jaden, I want to marry you more than anything. But the timing has to be right and I don't feel it's our time yet. I know we'll always be together, why do we need to clarify it any more than that?" She responds, her eyes a deep green.

"We don't." I answer sensibly. "You're right."

"So stop worrying. Besides, I'm not giving this back." She adds jokingly, holding up the ring on her finger.

I smile proudly, loving the way it looks on her. "I'd never want you to."

She rests her head on my shoulder and I sigh in contentment. We sit, wrapped around each other, until the fire burns cold.


A knock at the door pulls me from our guests in the living room and I open it without checking who it is. No one is in the hallway.


"Who was it?" Jaden asks and I shrug, wondering if maybe someone got the wrong apartment. We turn our attention back to our small party and immediately become involved in the conversations once again.

Suddenly a loud crash from the bedroom causes me to jump with fright.

"What in the hell was that?" I ask, surveying the crowd and discovering that everyone one was there, including Kasey and the two dogs.

"Stay here, I'll go and see." Jaden answers as she stalks toward the bedroom; pausing to retrieve her gun from the kitchen.

"Kasey, come here sweetheart." Diana calls to the child seated on Kim's lap. She obediently goes to her mother who puts her arms around her in a protective hug. Joe defensively gets between them and the bedroom and the rest of us all huddle together.

I don't hear anything from Jaden and it immediately worries me. I glance to the small group with me, my heart in my throat, and leave them to follow Jaden.

"Grace, no." Stacey warns me but I ignore her as I head for the bedroom.

The door is slightly ajar and memories of finding Ian's body fill my head. Closing my eyes to get up my nerve I push my way through the door to find nothing.

Our bedside lamp is broken on the floor; the window open and the curtains are blowing violently in the winter wind.

Jaden must have gone out through the window. I peer out, unable to see anything through the inky darkness. "Jaden?" I call, hoping she is safe and didn't do anything to hurt herself.

"Jaden?" A mocking voice answers from behind me and I turn to see an older man standing in the bedroom.

"Who are you?" I ask, holding my hands up in front of me. He looks crazed, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

"Who are you, Grace?" He replies in the same mocking tone. "Do you know who you are?" He asks again and I don't reply. "You're a murderer. And you're going to show everyone here that you are a cold-blooded killer." He smiles, his narrow eyes crazed.

"What do you want?" I ask him, my voice loud in hopes that someone in the living room will hear me and call the police.

"What do you want?" He taunts me again, stepping toward me as he takes out a knife. "Can you kill with a knife? Lord knows you do fine work with a gun."

I don't back away from him, and instead look for a route of escape. When he steps wildly to the right and lunges at me I counter his attack and dodge to his left, running with all my might into the hallway.

"Get out! Everyone get out and call the police!" I yell to them, knowing the intruder is chasing me. They are all still frozen in the living room, the horror on their faces evident.

"Not so fast Grace. Here's your choice: you kill me or I kill them." The intruder says maniacally. "And don't think I won't. So do it, kill me."

"No." I tell him, my voice hoarse. He shrugs and approaches Kim, grabbing her arm and pulling her to him. He raises his knife to her throat and presses it against her, drawing a narrow bead of blood.

Kasey begins crying and the noise deafens my ears. "Stop!" I tell him and he smirks as he releases Kim.

My hands find a sledgehammer on the floor and I raise it and smash it into his skull. He laughs and howls as I continue to hit him over and over until his blood spatters over the entire apartment.

"You're a killer!" He shouts it over and over and it mingles with the screams of the guests and Kasey's cries. My arms and shoulders hurt from the strain of hitting him and as I bring the sledgehammer back behind my back for one final blow Kim stands in front of me.

"Let me." She tells me, taking the intruder's knife and plunging it into his eye socket. He falls limply to the floor and Kim and I stand there, side by side, with our weapons in our hands in case he gets up.

The next few weeks are a blur. Before I know it I'm standing in a courtroom in front of a judge. Then I'm being called to the stand and swearing to tell the truth.

"Grace McKenzie, did you kill him?" The attorney asks me and I open my mouth to speak.

"I KILLED HIM." I scream as I sit up in bed, tears streaming down my face.

"Gracie? Grace!" Jaden shouts as she wakes up, her normally calm face filled with panic. "Are you okay? What happened?" She asks as I try and get my breathing under control.

"I killed him, I'm a killer. I killed him, Jaden." I mumble incoherently and Jaden pulls me close to her.

"Shhh, sweetheart, go back to sleep. It was just a dream." She tells me sleepily but I pull away angrily from her.

"No it's not. I'm a killer, I killed him." I argue. "And I didn't even get a chance to defend myself."

"You didn't have to. You did nothing wrong." Jaden answers, her voice now clearly awake.

"I did. I'm a killer. That's wrong." I sob and Jaden takes me in her arms.

"You did what you had to do to survive. I know it was a difficult choice but you did it for your own safety, that's all." She tells me, rubbing my back as I cry uncontrollably into her shoulder.

"That's not true. I did it because I knew if I didn't he'd kill you." I manage to tell her between sobs.

"You were put in a position you never should have been put in. You did what you had to do at the time. But Gracie, sweetheart, you didn't do anything wrong. I know it feels that way and it's scary and you feel guilty, but you did you had to do." Jaden tries to reassure me but nothing will.

"I didn't want him to hurt you." I tell her and she holds me close to her. I can feel her long body racking with sobs and we hold each other and cry.

"I'm sorry." She whispers in my ear and I kiss her neck in reply. "I never meant to let him get to you." She tells me and I push myself up, taking her face in my hands.

"This is not your fault." I say fiercely, her dark violet eyes surprised at my intensity. "You did everything you could to keep him away from me. I have never blamed you for this and you can't blame yourself. I would kill a thousand people to protect you and if that makes me a killer, so be it. Nothing is more important to me than you are and I would die fighting for you."

Jaden says nothing as tears stream freely down her pale cheeks.

We stare at each other, not knowing what to say.

"Let me hold you." She whispers to me and I gladly fall back into her arms. Jaden curls her body around me, cradling me close to her as she pulls the covers up around us. "My sweet, sweet girl…how I love you." She whispers in my ear.

I feel her body relax into sleep a few minutes later, but sleep does not claim me. I stare out into the darkness throughout the night, finding monsters in all the shadows.

Part 7: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!


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