Loose Ends-Part Two
by Greek Warrior (Joan)
Disclaimers-see part one.
Comments welcome: XWPScribe@aol.com
“My parents said to tell you hello and to please stop by before you leave.” Amanda announced as Cody got in the car.
“I think I can manage that.”
Amanda hadn’t put the car in gear yet. “Cody, about your mom…I don’t know what to say.” She admitted.
“Most people keep saying, ‘Sorry to hear of your loss’, but what they don’t seem to realize is my loss was twenty years ago, not last month.”
“So you never kept in touch with her?” Cody shook her head. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Three years of talking about it to a psychologist, while she attended MIT, came to mind. The once a week, hour long sessions had been traumatic in themselves and it had taken awhile before she felt safe enough to talk about what she had been through. “Not now, maybe later.”
“Okay.” Putting the car in reverse, she backed down the drive. After several blocks in silence Amanda asked, “Where are you living now?”
“San Diego. How about you?”
“I’ve been staying here, with mom and dad, for the past six weeks. I’d been living in Japan for a couple of years before that and hadn’t gotten to see them very often.”
Cody debated. ‘Was it a job or a…wife, husband, boy or girlfriend that kept her there?’ “So, do you have a…significant other?”
Amanda took a quick glance at her passenger, puzzled by the hesitation in her voice. “No, I don’t. Do you?”
“Me? No. It’s kinda hard to have a relationship when my work takes me all over the place.” She wasn’t about to bring up the many casual affairs she’d had. Cody cleared her throat. “Was that why you were in Japan? Your work I mean.”
“Yes. I’m a producer for animated movies and comic books. Well, I was, right now I’m between jobs.” She saw the grin. “It’s okay to laugh, most people do.”
“Why, I’m a Disney fan. I think Robin Hood was my favorite, loved Sir Hiss. I also have a soft spot for Scooby and Taz and a few other cartoon characters.” She admitted. “So you’re just taking a vacation right now?”
Amanda smiled. “Kinda. There are four of us that got together to start our own company. We want to market a gay and lesbian series of movies and comics aimed at teenagers. We also have discussed a more erotic line for adults.”
“That sounds interesting. Does that mean you’re, um…a lesbian?” Cody blushed. “Damn it, I’m 34 years old and I’m still blushing around you.” She hung her head. “I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. And I still think it’s adorable.” Amanda laughed as she turned into the VFW’s parking lot. “And yes, I’m gay. Can’t you tell?” She parked the car and switched the motor off.
“Ah…no. I think my gaydar is busted, that’s if I ever had it to begin with.”
“Sounds like there might be a story or two in there somewhere.”
“Maybe. I might even tell you one or two, if you’re really, really good.” She winked. “Now who’s blushing?” Cody asked as she got out of the car, while Amanda put her hand on her cheek and felt the heat from her blush.
They entered through the side doors that opened directly into the large room where the reunion’s buffet dinner and dance was in full swing. The buffet and bar was set up at one end of the elongated room, while at the opposite end, the DJ was setup on a small stage in a corner of the room with the dance floor beside it.
“You want to see what they’ve got to eat?” Amanda asked.
“Sure.” Cody placed her hand on the small of Amanda’s back as they headed towards the buffet, and noticed the overt stares a few people gave them.
They fixed their plates, retrieved two glasses of surprising passable wine and sat down at an unoccupied table. They kept the conversation light while they ate, being interrupted by a few people that stopped to say hello, mostly to Amanda.
“Where is home going to be after you leave here?” Cody was hoping she and Amanda could continue their friendship and maybe see if something more could develop.
“Um, good question. New York is a possibility of course, with several publishing houses being there. LA, because of the studios and talent base. Sabrina, is the artist and computer graphics expert, she’s from Albuquerque. She was also working in Japan and is currently homeless, like me. Lawrence is the director; he’s from a small town in Wisconsin, but now living in LA. And Steve is the writer; he’s from New York and is currently living there.”
The way Amanda had rushed over the artists name, made Cody frown. ‘Wonder if there’s a history between Sabrina and Amanda?’ “Well, I for one, think Los Angeles would be place to be. There’s a lot more opportunity there.”
‘And not far from San Diego, or is that the opportunity you’re talking about?’ Yes, I think I might be lobbying for LA.”
“Amanda,” Fenton interrupted, “why don’t you join us? The old gang has a table over by the dance floor. Of course you’re invited too, Cody, it’s been awhile since all of us had a chance to talk to you.”
“Yes, it has, hasn’t it?” Cody agreed. “If I remember correctly, our last conversation involved something about the bleachers by the football field.”
Fenton turned beet red. Amanda stared quizzically at Cody. “Uh yeah, well whenever you want, we’ll be there…at the table over there, I mean, not at the… um…bleachers.” He walked away quickly.
“What was that all about?”
“That’s a story better told some place private.”
“Okay, but I’m gonna hold you to it.” Amanda warned. “We don’t have to go over there.”
Cody smiled. “Actually, I think it might prove amusing if we do.” She stood. “Shall we?”
“Sure, I’m game.”
The table was a large round one. Fenton and Bridget sat side-by-side with Hank on her left. His wife Tina sat next to him. Red was next, he had come alone tonight, he was wifeless, divorced from Penny not his old flame Rita. She had actually married Bobby. They sat next to Fenton. Cody and Amanda sat down with the blonde next to Rita. That left an empty chair between Cody and Red.
“It’s been so long since we saw either of you,” Rita commented, “why don’t we go around the table and state the basics. You know, married, divorced,” she smirked at Red, “or single, number of kids, job, stuff like that.”
Hank shrugged. “I’ll start. I work at the county jail in Buhl, I’m a deputy sheriff. Tina and I are married.”
Tina smiled. “We don’t have any kids. And I’m an office manager for a doctor here in town.”
“I married Bobby the year after we graduated.” Rita supplied. “We’ve got two boys, Jeff’s 13 and Bobby, Jr. is 16. And I work for Fenton down at the Wal-Mart. You next honey.” She looked at Bobby.
“You just told them, Rita.”
“Not where you work, dear.” Her smile was more a grimace.
Cody noticed that time had not helped Bobby in the smarts department.
“I work maintenance down at the junior college.” He supplied.
“That’s the only way they’d let him in the front door.” Red laughed.
“Yeah, well I don’t see no college diploma hanging from your wall either, smartass.” Bobby countered.
“You two knock it off.” Fenton punctuated his statement with a slap to the back of Bobby’s head.
‘These people haven’t changed in twenty years.’ Cody thought.
“Let’s see.” Fenton started. “We got married right after high school.” He put his arm along the back of Bridget’s chair. “Four kids, Cherry just turned twenty; we think she was conceived on our honeymoon.” He laughed. “We sure did it enough to make a baby or two.”
‘Or at the Stardust Motel.’ Cody barely kept that thought to herself. ‘Four kids and Fenton, no wonder she hasn’t aged well.’
“Cherry took after her mama.” Bridget said. “She was head cheerleader in high school, too.”
“Fenton, Jr. is…” Fenton stopped and thought.
“Eighteen.” Bridget supplied, then finished. “Ned is 16 and Clarice just turned 15..” She looked tired just remembering them. “I’ve always been a homemaker, but since the kids are pretty much grown, I’ve been thinking about maybe getting a job.”
“I’d hire you in a second, if I could, baby. But you know they don’t allow family to work together. I’m the night manager over at the Wal-Mart, like Rita said.” He explained for Cody and Amanda.
Amanda noticed Rita avoided looking at Fenton, who was avoiding looking at Rita. ‘I’d bet anything they’re having an affair.’
“I’m not married.” Red started after everyone glared at him. “Me and Penny got divorced last year. Two kids, they live with her. I’m a plumber. Me and my daddy are in business together.”
Everyone looked at Cody. “I’m single, no kids and I’m an engineer.”
“You mean their letting women drive trains nowadays?” Bobby asked.
Cody managed to keep a straight face. “You just never know where we’ll turn up next.” She wasn’t surprised he made a woo-woo sound for the whistle.
Amanda, who had been biting her lip to keep from laughing, cleared her throat, “I’m single, don’t have kids and I produce animated films.” Before anyone had time to pose a question to her, Amanda turned to Cody. “Would you like to dance?”
“How do you know I ever learned how?”
“Call it a hunch.”
“Your hunch is right and I’d love to dance with you, but only if I can lead.” She stood and held out her hand to Amanda.
“You turned out to be very good.” Amanda raised her head from Cody’s shoulder.
“I had a very patience first teacher.”
“When I think back on that, I think I offered just to be close to you. Amanda admitted. “Although I didn’t realize it at the time.”
“I know that’s why I accepted your offer. I was never planning on going to the prom.”
They danced in silence through the rest of the song then headed back to the table. “But it was very confusing time for me, to say the least.” Cody picked up their conversation.
“That’s understandable; you were only 14 at the time.” Amanda stated as they sat.
“We were all 14 once.” Rita said longingly. “A long, long time ago.” The others laughed and agreed with the sentiment.
The music stopped and was replaced by a humming and feedback from a microphone. “Okay folks, if I can have everyone’s attention, I think this may prove to be a most interesting part of the evening. Bridget, you want to join me up here?”
“Duty calls.” Bridget jumped up and joined Mr. Christopher on the small stage.
“I assume everybody remembers this.” The principle held up the school year book for 1983. A loud groan assured him they did. “Yes, I see you do.” He laughed. “I just want you to know, I had nothing to do with this; it was all her idea.” He pointed to Bridget.
“Chicken.” She took the microphone from him. “We’re gonna do a little reminiscing.
“That is not proper English. You received an A from me, Bridget, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten everything.” Mrs. Filbert, the English teacher yelled, which was followed by laughter.
“Take a day off, Mrs. Filbert.” Bridget retorted, followed by more laughter.
“Okay, does anyone remember that the year book committee voted that certain people would do or become specific things?” A few nodded their heads, others shouted yeah. “Well we’re gonna see how well they did.”
Bridget walked over to stand beside a table that held a projector. “First up is…Milton Hampton.” She turned on the machine and Milton’s senior picture was projected onto the screen behind the stage. Several groans, followed by laughter, were heard throughout the room.
“Let’s see, his senior year, Milton was president of the chess club and was voted, ‘Most likely to become president of something even stuffier’.” Bridget added a current photo.
“Hey, Milton,” someone shouted and pointed to his senior year photo that showed his close-cropped crew cut. “I think you had more hair then, than you do now.”
“Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up.” Milton patted his premature bald spot, which made everyone laugh harder.
“Okay, settle down or we’ll be here all night.” Bridget threatened. “The year book staff hit the nail on the head, as most of us know Milton is president of The Prattville First National Bank.”
“Moving right along,” Rita’s pictures replaced Milton’s. “Rita Hoffelmyer was voted, ‘Most likely to dump Red and join a convent’. They only get half a point on this one. She did dump Red, but she married Bobby Wiggins. Of course knowing what she knows now, she probably wishes she had joined a convent.”
Amanda leaned over and whispered in Cody’s ear. “Is she trying to piss everyone off or is she just joking around?”
“I think she’s trying to make everyone’s life sound more miserable than her own. But both Red and Bobby look pretty upset. Cody answered and they turned their attention back to Bridget.
“Next up is Hank Charmers. And as you can see, he’s anything but. Notice his long hair and the rebellious look on his face. You can see why he was voted, ‘Most likely to end up in jail’. And this is his mug shot.” His current photo was added. “So the committee gets another point.”
“Hey,” some who wasn’t a current town resident called out. “He’s not in jail, I saw him tonight.”
“Out on probation,” Bridget responded.
“Come on, Bridget,” another voice from the audience. “If you’re gonna do this, do it right.”
“You’re taking all the fun outta this.” She complained. “Okay fine, he’s not in jail he’s a sheriff’s deputy that works at the county jail. Happy now?” She consulted the paper in her hand.
Cody and Amanda looked at Hank, who wasn’t too pleased, but Tina was furious. They wouldn’t have been surprised if smoke suddenly started coming out her ears.
“I’ll do Fenton’s and mine together since they’re intertwined, just like us.” She smiled, which ended up being a sickeningly sweet gesture. “Fenton was voted, ‘Mostly likely to get a scholarship and be a star college football player’ and I was voted, ‘Most likely to go to the same school and become head cheerleader’, then we were voted, ‘Mostly likely to marry’. The committee gets a point for us marrying, but as you know, my little snookems couldn’t play anymore cause he hurt his knee his senior year in school.”
“Yeah, but we all know he didn’t get his knee injury from playing football. He got it jumping out your bedroom window the night your daddy almost caught you two humpin like bunny rabbits.” Red yelled out and rampant laughter followed, including Fenton’s.
“That’s not a very funny joke, Red. I don’t recall you being worthy of being voted most likely to do anything.” She ignored the remaining chuckles and consulted her paper. Bridget skipped several names on her list to get to the one that she planed on having the most fun with.
“Next on my list is Cody Lawson, who was voted, ‘Most likely to never marry and die an old maid’. Just looking at the school picture kinda explains that one.” Bridget laughed, but most of the crowd mumbled under their breaths. Making jokes was one thing, but Bridget was being down right cruel now.
“Since Cody moved away right after graduation, I didn’t have anything prepared. But she’s here tonight and she’s still single. And in my book, being unmarried in your thirties, equals being an old maid, so the committee gets another point.”
“You ought to go up there.” Amanda whispered. “You know she doesn’t have a ‘now’ photo.” Hank and Tina agreed. It seems they were a little more than fed up with their big mouth classmate. But Cody shook her head.
“By the way,” Bridget continued. “She said she became an engineer. Hey, Cody, do you get to blow the whistle and wear that cute little conductor hat?”
“Cody,” Amanda said, “you should explain what you’ve accomplished; at least it would wipe that smirk off her face.”
“You mean you’re not a conductor.” Bobby asked.
“Wait. I thought you looked familiar. I’ve seen you on TV, haven’t I?” Tina stated excitedly.
“What, you mean you’re some kinda TV star?” Fenton wondered how he could have missed seeing a beautiful actress like her.
“No.” Tina answered. “She’s like super smart.” She grinned and stood up. “Hey, Bridget, you’ve got it all wrong about Cody.”
“What do you mean wrong? She said she was single.” She glared at Tina. “Sit down. I’ve got a few more people to do.”
“Hang on, Bridget; we want to know about Cody.” Someone yelled out.
Another agreed. “Yeah, she just kinda disappeared back then and some of us wondered where she went. Besides, Bridget’s just trying to make everyone look bad.”
“Come on, Cody, tell us.” Someone else yelled.
Cody looked rather like a deer caught in headlights.
“Come on, Amanda,” Tina said. “You get one arm and I’ll take the other.” They half carried the tall woman up to the small stage and Tina stole the microphone from Bridget.
“This will have to be the ‘now’ photo.” Tina said, indicating the slightly nervous woman.
“She sure has changed. I didn’t believe it yesterday when someone said that was Cody.” A man at a table near the stage said.
“Yeah, how could someone change that much? The only things that are the same are the black hair and the height.” Someone else called out.
“No,” a shout from the back, “she’s taller than Cody was.”
Amanda took the microphone. “I’ll explain if you’ll settle down. I’m Amanda Norris for those you who don’t remember me.”
“She’s the one Cody tried to seduce.” Bridget helpfully supplied.
Amanda glared at her. “People change, sometimes a great deal, from their early teen years to their adult years.”
“Well sure, but not…what do you mean, early teens?” Came the reply.
“Cody was only fourteen when she graduated.” Amanda informed them.
“I told you she was super smart.” Tina grinned at the whispers and mummers.
“Hey, Cody, what’d you do after you graduated?” Someone sincerely asked. It seemed most people were fed up with Bridget.
Amanda looked back at her friend to see the nervous look almost gone. She smiled, nodded her head encouragingly and handed the microphone to the tall woman.
Cody stepped forward to stand beside the blonde and took the microphone. She placed her hand on Amanda’s back so she would remain by her side. “You really want to know?” She asked her classmates.
“Yeah… Sure we do… Come on, tell us.” Were some to the comments that were yelled.
“It’s nothing spectacular.” She warned, but they egged her on. “Um…okay, well Bridget was kinda right; I am an engineer, just not that kind. I went to college when I left here and spent three years at MIT and then three years at Vanderbilt studying engineering.”
“What’s the matter,” Bridget interrupted. “Did ya keep getting thrown out?” She wasn’t happy, Cody had insulted her yesterday in front of everyone and now she was stealing her limelight.
“No she didn’t.” Ms McIntyre stood and walked onto the stage. She remembered Bridget from the two years she taught at the school and knew how she humiliated Cody and some of the other students. She would apologize to Cody later for using her to put a stop to Bridget’s vindictiveness.
“Cody was just fifteen when she started at MIT and graduated in just three years with two masters’ degrees in engineering which is almost unheard of.” She winked at an embarrassed Cody. “But she didn’t stop there either. She then spent three more years at Vanderbilt University, graduating with another masters and a doctorate degree in engineering.”
“Wow! We went to school with a real Einstein.”
“Yeah, who knew?”
“Hey, Cody, looks like you should have been voted, ‘Most likely to succeed’.”
“Oh, and this one over there,” Ms McIntyre gestured to Amanda, “Is no academic slouch either. She graduated from UCLA in just three years and is about to form a production company.” She had learned Amanda’s story yesterday..
Bridget stomped off the stage and back to the table. “Fenton, I’m ready to go home now.”
“Well, I’m not, so sit down.” Fenton watched the tall woman as several people came up to talk to her. ‘Man, I wish I’d hitched onto her bumper after school, instead of getting stuck with a whinny wife and kids. Hell, maybe it’s not too late. She’s still single and didn’t come with anyone but Amanda. And I know she can’t be one of them lesbos, she’s too good looking.’ He grinned. ‘Although I surely wouldn’t complain if she wanted to hook up with another woman now and again, long as I can watch that is.’
Bridget stormed off, unnoticed, during Fenton’s musings and Rita sat down beside him. “Hey, Fenton, Bobby’s over at the ‘Cody appreciation club’, lets me and you find an empty room. I’m in need of a little appreciation myself.”
‘Why not.’ Fenton thought. He wouldn’t be able to get near the tall woman for awhile anyway.
Amanda watched the two, walk off together. “I don’t think they’re fooling anybody but Bobby and Bridget.” Tina said as she stood next to the blonde.
“This place is a real soap opera.” Amanda mussed. “Of course any self-respecting soap would have Bobby and Bridget having an affair.”
Tina laughed. “Not quite but almost right.”
Hank joined his wife and Amanda. “Bobby is screwing around with Bridget and Fenton’s oldest daughter.”
“How do you know that?”
Tina explained. “I was taking a computer class at the junior college earlier this year, Cherry goes there, and I saw them in an empty classroom. They were doing it on the desk. Damn near walked in on them.”
“He’s old enough to be…well her father.” Amanda needlessly stated.
“Yep, but she’s legal age and unfortunately there’s no law against stupidity.” Hank said.
They watched Fenton and Rita re-enter the room. “That was quick.” Amanda commented.
“What was?” Cody asked as she walked to her friend’s side.
“Tell you later.” Amanda whispered as the group headed for the table. “So, how was it being the center of attention?”
“Unlike the past, this time it was good. Some of the people that use to pick on me actually apologized and have been very nice.”
“I’m another one that needs to make up for being a real shit in school.” Fenton said to her. “I’m sorry I was so mean to you, Cody. I did some pretty stupid things back them.”
‘Looks like you still do, Fenton.’ Amanda thought.
“Accepted.” Cody said as the DJ started the music back. “Want to dance?” She looked at Amanda, who smiled and stood up.
“Looks to me like they could find someone besides each other to dance with.” Bobby grumbled.
“I don’t see nobody else asking ‘em.” Red stated.
‘I’d be if my wife wasn’t here.’ Bobby thought. ‘They’re both lookers.’
“Maybe I’ll ask.” Red mentioned. “That Amanda is still real pretty.” He glanced at Rita. ‘Bet that would piss her off.’ He stood, hitched up his pants and headed for the dance floor, ignoring the amused chuckles from some of his tablemates.
“Uh oh.” Cody whispered. “Red looks like he’s headed straight for us. I think he’s gonna ask you to dance.”
“What makes you say that?”
“He’s been staring at you on and off all night.” Cody explained. “Do you want me to tell him to get lost?”
Amanda sighed. “No, I’ll dance once with him, if it’s okay with you. I actually feel kinda sorry for him. I think he might still have some feelings for Rita.”
Fenton was so surprised, just as the others were, that Amanda was actually dancing with Red, that he almost didn’t take advantage of the fact that Cody was now without a partner. He jumped up to intercept her before she could leave the dance floor.
“Oh boy, if Bridget comes back now, I know someone whose gonna be sleeping on the couch.” Bobby said as they watched Fenton and Cody dancing, or at least trying too. Fenton had never been known for his ability to trip the light fantastic.
“Fenton, why don’t you let me lead? I’m use to it.” Cody suggested.
“Okay, sure. It’s been awhile since I took Bridget dancin. Never did like it much anyway.”
“Hey look,” Tina pointed. “They’re doing better.”
“That’s because Cody’s leading.” Hank and the rest laughed.
“So, Amanda, you moving back to town?” Red asked.
“No, just visiting my parents.” Amanda answered. ‘He’s not a bad dancer.’ She thought. ‘If you ignore the fact that he’s waltzing to an upbeat country song.’
“So, you need a ride home or anything?” Red tried.
“No thanks, I drove and Cody came with me.”
“Oh…well, how ‘bout dinner tomorrow night? My treat.” He tried again.
“Thanks, Red, but Cody and I have plans.” She said and added to herself, ‘I hope.’
The song ended before he could ask her about Sunday night. And she quickly headed for the ladies room, with Cody not far behind.
“Red’s been asking me for a date.” Amanda said after making sure they were alone. “I think he’s trying to make Rita jealous. He must be one of the few that don’t know about Rita and Fenton.”
“What about them?” Cody asked.
“That’s right I haven’t told you. They’re having an affair. Tina and Hank said they thought that Bobby and Bridget were the only oblivious ones.”
Cody rolled her eyes.
“And that’s not all, Bobby the little cradle robber, is…you know…with Cherry.”
“Goddess, we need to get out of this town. I hope none of this stuff is catching.”
“I don’t know.” Amanda moved closer to Cody and slowly ran her finger down the front of her friend’s shirt. “I wouldn’t mind a certain two people catching a little of this hanky-panky spirit.”
They quickly jumped apart when the door opened.
After their second try in as many attempts at dancing, was again interrupted, the pair snuck outside.
They were standing in the shadows at the edge of the building, in each other’s arms, swaying to the music that they could just barely hear. “This may sound crazy, but it’s like we’ve never been apart.” Amanda sighed in contentment.
“Not crazy, I feel that way, too.” Cody admitted. “I was so angry at you when I left here all those years ago, when I thought you had betrayed me. Then it gave way to hurt.”
“I’m so sorry, Cody.”
“But you know what? I finally realized that it wouldn’t have hurt so much if I hadn’t felt like I did about you. I can’t say, at 14, that I was in love with you, I don’t think any fourteen year old knows what love is, but I most certainly had a major crush on you.” She leaned back to look into green eyes. “And now, seeing you again and knowing you didn’t betray me, I realize I still have feelings for you.”
Amanda smiled. “Do you think we can give this…us a try? I know it’ll be hard if the company decides on the east coast, but I really want to see if there can be an us.”
“I do too.” Cody lowered her head and covered Amanda’s lips with her own.
“There they are.” Fenton started towards the swaying couple.
“Wait.” Red grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop. “Look, they’re kissing..”
“Damn.” Fenton said. “That ain’t right.”
“Why? Just cause they’re women?” Red asked.
“Well yeah. You can’t tell me you think it’s alright.”
“Sure I do. I know what it feels like to love someone and not be allowed to show it. I loved Rita with all my heart but I couldn’t do anything about it, cause she didn’t love me. But what if she had, and people said it was wrong?” Red explained. “If they love each other, especially if they love each other, nobody should deny them being together.”
Fenton was shocked. And he wasn’t sure if it was because Red had been so insightful or because of what he said about Rita. “You really in love with her?”
“Yeah, well I was.” Red stuck his hands in his pockets. “Now I don’t know, I think maybe it’s more of a habit to try and make her jealous than anything else..”
“Jesus, man, I thought all these years you were just mad at her cause she wouldn’t let you boink her on prom night.”
They started back towards the door, leaving the two women in peace. “Well, there is that, too.” Red admitted with a sly grin.
“Let me tell you, Red my buddy, you deserve a lot better than Rita. You’re much too smart for her anyway.”
“How do you know that?” Red wondered.
“Cause boinking her boss is the only way she can keep her job.” Fenton explained.
“Mm, that was lot’s better than I remembered it.” Amanda grinned.
“Me, too. I guess it’s true, that some things improve with age.”
“You have any plans for tomorrow?” They wrapped an arm around each other’s waist and started for the car.
I thought I’d go by the cemetery. I found a bunch of stuff in the garage, looks like mom was keeping track of me for some reason. Makes me wonder if I should’ve gotten in touch with her.” Cody mused.
“I’ve often wondered if I should’ve gotten in touch with you before now. After I saw the documentary that interviewed you, I did an Internet search and tracked you down.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Amanda unlocked the doors and Cody held the blondes for her. Then she went around the car and settled in the passenger seat waiting for Amanda to answer.
“I was scared you’d turn me away. So I kept making up excuses not to.” She started the car, but made on move to leave.
“So why now?” Cody asked.
“It was time. I was still nervous, but I had to know if what I was feeling was wishful thinking or if it was real.” She explained and Cody reached over and gently squeezed her hand. “And I owed you an apology.”
“Would you come with me tomorrow? We could get lunch afterwards. And I’d like to stop by and see Reverend Billingsley. Your parents go to his church, don’t they?”
“Yes, they do. I didn’t realize you knew him.” Amanda said as she put the car in reverse and pulled out. “And yes, I’d like to go with you.”
“He came by the hospital to see me after my…after I was hurt. We had several conversations. He helped me a lot.” Cody explained.
“I remember when we first moved back here, listening to his sermons and thinking he was ahead of his time.”
“Mm…yes he was. I remember him telling me that God was a faith not a religion. And it didn’t matter if your God was male, female or however you perceived them. I even told him I thought I was gay and he said it was okay. He said that love was love no matter what.”
“Wow, you were only fourteen when you admitted you were gay? It took me until my second year in college to finally come out to myself and another two years until I told my parents.”
“But you said you liked my kiss.”
”Yeah, I did.” Amanda turned off the crowded boulevard and headed into the quieter residential section of town. “But I’d convinced myself that it was only because it was you and if any other girl kissed me, I would have run for the hills.”
“Sounds like there’s a story there.”
“Kinda; how about I tell it inside?” Amanda pulled into Cody’s driveway.
“That’ll work.” They got out of the car and headed for the front door. “I can offer beer, milk, juice, coffee or soda.” Cody stated and flipped on the kitchen light.
“Coffee sounds good. I have to admit, I’m addicted to the stuff. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Starbucks over by the junior college. I think I almost caused a wreck when I slammed on my breaks to turn in.” Amanda laughed..
“I found it after I’d been here a few days. Tracy always said if I ever cut myself, I’d bleed coffee. She couldn’t believe it when I told her I’d forgotten to go by there on my way home the other day.” Cody grinned at the memory.
“What would make you forget, and who’s Tracy?”
“You did.” Cody answered as the coffeemaker beeped. “How do you like your coffee?”
“Sweetener, if you’ve got it and a little milk.” She answered distractedly. “How on earth did I make you forget? I didn’t even know you were in town until yesterday.”
Cody handed Amanda her mug and got the milk out of the fridge. “I had gone to the mall to kill some time and to get lunch. And I, um…saw someone that I wasn’t prepared to see and it threw me a little.”
“It was you behind the paper, in the food court.” It was a statement, but Cody nodded in confirmation. “I felt like someone had been staring at me. But it had been a familiar feeling instead of a creepy one like you get when a stranger stares at you.”
“I was being a coward, I know. I’d looked in the phonebook and couldn’t find you. I didn’t know if you had moved or if you might be married. When all the sudden there you are, and I knew I wasn’t ready to see you.”
“I’m glad you decided you were ready yesterday.” They took their coffee and moved into the living room. “Now, who’s Tracy?”
They sat down on the couch and turned to face one another. “She’s my best friend. We met at Vanderbilt my first year and have been friends, ever since. She also lives in San Diego. Now finish your story.”
Amanda took a few minutes to gather her thoughts. “That summer after high school, I fluctuated between being mad at you for not asking me what happened, to feeling miserable for trusting Bridget. So, I didn’t spend too much time wondering about my sexuality. My first year at UCLA, I fell back on what was routine, dating boys. But I’d break it off with before the relationship could get serious. Or they would when I wouldn’t sleep with them.”
Amanda paused to swallow some coffee. “After I found out what happened to you…what your stepfather had done, I spent a long time being angry; then saddened when no one knew or would admit where you disappeared to. It’s dumb, but after I knew the whole story, every time I saw a tall dark headed woman I’d chase her down to make sure it wasn’t you.” Amanda laughed. “I know this one girl thought I was crazy; I must’ve chased her down three or four different times.”
“It’s not crazy.” Cody said. “I thought about you everyday and there were a few times that I’d see a short blonde head and my heart would stop. Then of course I’d kick myself for hoping it was you.”
Amanda had tears in her eyes, but blinked them away. She reached for Cody’s hand and laced their fingers together. “My roommate my junior year, had a close friend who was gay. And we became good friends. I was able to talk with her about my feelings and what happen between you and me.”
“Did you…fall in love with her? Is that how you knew you where gay?” Cody didn’t want to think about Amanda being in love with someone else and she considered taking the question back.
“No, she was my first sexual experience and she was tall with dark brown hair, but she wasn’t you.” Amanda tentatively admitted.
‘Is she trying to say she loved me even then?’ Cody stared at a spot just above Amanda’s shoulder. But the blank beige living room wall couldn’t give her an answer.
‘That might have been admitting a little too much, too soon.’ Amanda changed the subject. “Cody, please tell me what happened that day. I wasn’t there for you then, but I’d like to be here for you now, if you’d let me.”
Cody’s eyes refocused on green ones. There was no need to clarify ‘that day’. She decided that if she and Amanda were going to have a chance, she needed to get everything out in the open. All the old anger and pain that she had pushed deep inside her, needed to be released. She told about the times Floyd had whipped her and degraded her. And about the times he had used a belt on her when he thought his hand wasn’t getting the message across.
Cody paused long enough to refill their cups before she told about the day of her ‘accident’, which it had officially been called. “When I woke up in the hospital, mom wasn’t there, but he was. He threatened me. Told me I’d never come home again or see mom again, if I told anybody what happened. I became hysterical and the nurses made him leave.”
“But what about the bruises on your arms? The belt marks?”
“It came down to my word against his. He claimed all along that he was in my parent’s bedroom when I fell and mom couldn’t say for sure, she came into the hallway after I had started to fall.”
Cody continued after a deep breath. “Ms McIntyre speaking up about the time earlier that year, and me becoming hysterical each time he was near me, was enough to pull me from the house. Especially since I was headed to college in the fall. The county agency spoke with a professor at MIT and social services in Boston and arranged for the professor to be my guardian while I was there.”
“How badly did he hurt you?” Amanda whispered, almost as if she was afraid to know.
Cody smiled. She wished Amanda had been with her at the hospital. It would have been one more person on her side. “Broken arm and collarbone, cracked ribs and a bruised and twisted knee. But what hurt more than those things, was that mom didn’t believe me. I told her what happened and she knew he… punished me with a belt.” She said bitterly. “But she kept saying that he wouldn’t have done anything to hurt me. She had always maintained that the ‘punishment’ hurt Floyd just as much as it hurt me.”
Tears were falling down both women’s faces and Amanda pulled Cody into an embrace. ‘Bastard’, she thought as she silently rocked the tall woman in her arms and let the tears come. Thinking of them as a cleansing, Amanda saw no need to try to stop them.
After several minutes, Cody’s tears stopped. “I should have known. I should have been there for you.” Amanda reached for the box of tissues on the end table, handing some to Cody and also taking several for herself.
“You would have, if I hadn’t screwed up and kissed you that day.”
“You didn’t screw up. And if you want to talk about ‘ifs’, there’s if I had stopped you from running away that day. If I had had more courage and admitted I was gay. If I hadn’t trusted and told Bridget.”
“Hindsight’s twenty-twenty, huh?” Cody said.
The evening continued with small talk, their serious discussing having drained both women, until Amanda stood and stretched. “About time I headed home, I think. What time do you want me to pick you up tomorrow, or can I talk you into giving me a ride on that monster of yours?”
“My baby is not a monster.” Cody firmly stated. “And you better be nice to me or I’ll tell her you said that.”
“So it’s a ‘her’, huh?”
“Yes, I sure as hell am not gonna allow a ‘him’ between my legs.” Cody grinned when she saw the blush. “Ooh, that’s another one for me.”
Amanda laughed and held her friends hand as she was walked to her car. “I didn’t know we had a contest going. And I plan on being very nice to you.” She leaned up and kissed Cody. She intended on a chaise kiss, but her mouth had other ideas.
After several heated minutes, Cody pulled back. “That was definitely ‘very’ nice.” She had to stick her hands in her pockets to keep them from wandering over the blonde’s body.
“Mm, yes it was.” Amanda’s breathing was slightly elevated. “Why don’t you pick me up tomorrow about 10 and you can introduce me to your baby. I’ll be on my best behavior, I promise.”
Cody watched her drive away before going back inside and heading to bed. ‘I know what my dreams will be about tonight.’ She licked her lips again, still tasting Amanda’s.
Cody pulled into Amanda’s parents drive at five minutes before ten. She had been unable to keep the grin off her face all morning. She had definitely had good dreams…nice vivid exotic dreams to be exact, all starring a certain blonde.
Cody managed to keep her eyes off Amanda’s ass while she spent several minutes talking with the blonde’s parents. While she had enjoyed the dreams, they had done nothing to satisfy her libido. Especially, now that Amanda was wrapped around her on the bike.
Cody pulled into the church parking lot. “I wanted to talk to Reverend Billingsley first. I thought he might know when and why my mother started keeping track of me.” She explained as she held Amanda’s hand to steady her as she swung her leg over the bike.
They walked into the reception area for the church office and addressed a smiling young man. “Hi, we’d like to see the Reverend if he’s available.” Cody requested.
“Sure. What’s your name, honey?”
She didn’t need any gaydar to know this guy was gay. “Cody Lawson.”
It didn’t take long, after she was announced, for a skinny older man with salt and pepper hair, beard and mustache to come through one of the office doors and exuberantly embrace Cody. “My word look how you’ve grown up. You’re photo’s don’t do you justice.”
“Reverend, this is Amanda Norris.” She introduced.
“Amanda.” He shook her hand. “I spoke to your parents for a few minutes this past Sunday. They said you were in town for a visit.” He looked back to Cody. “Both of you come into my office. Tim, could we please have some coffee and then hold my calls?” He requested.
“Since you’re here, I’ll assume Mr. Adamson tracked you down.” He said after Tim brought coffee and left. “We disagreed on which one of us should contact you with the news.”
She nodded her head. “He finally had to leave a message and I contacted him.” She stared down at her coffee mug. “I found some stuff that mother had collected,” she looked back up, “and I wondered if you knew anything about it?”
“Yes.” He now regretted his promise to Brenda, not to say anything to her daughter.. “She found out that I had seen you in the hospital and came to see me. It was about a year and a half after you left town.” He leaned back in his chair. “At first I was reluctant to tell her anything, but she explained that she now knew the truth and that she had hired a private detective to find you, I admitted that I heard from you once in awhile.”
“Why didn’t she contact me?” Cody seemed more bewildered than upset, but Amanda reached over and placed her hand on top of Cody’s. She gently squeezed, then brushed her thumb across the young woman’s knuckles.
“She didn’t think she had any right to.” He answered and sighed deeply. “I think she was punishing herself. I do know she was very proud of you, of what you had become and of what you had accomplished.”
Cody leaned back in her chair. She wanted to believe that her mother had finally seen Floyd for what he really was, but she was still apprehensive. “How did she find out the truth?”
“Believe it or not, he confessed.” He was both sets of eyes widen in surprise and chuckled. “Yeah, it amazed me too. Floyd started drinking,” he explained. “And as abusive and self-righteous as he could be sober, he turned out to be a scared and paranoid drunk. It took awhile, but she finally pieced together his mostly incoherent mumblings; then confronted him when he sobered up.”
“But she stayed with him…why?” Amanda blurted; then looked apologetically at Cody for butting in.
“Yes, she did, but it wasn’t out of love. I believe it was more of a punishment for him, than being sent to jail ever could have been.” The Reverend finished his coffee and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his desk.
Cody wrinkled her brow in confusion. “How was that a punishment?”
“Because she knew his secret and could expose him at any time.” He explained. “He was a bully who beat a young girl. But he saw himself as less of a man because through it all he never gained control over you, then hiding behind your mother’s skirt, so to speak, because she stood up for him. Punishing a child is one thing, but losing control the way he did and beating them, is totally different. Even in the eyes of his friends and colleges. If the truth had gotten out, he would have been humiliated for not being ‘the man of the house’. And not able to face his peers and losing his image, at least to him, was a lot worse punishment than serving jail time. He lived in fear each day of Brenda exposing him.”
“That’s true. He was so scared that it would get out that I was queer and he wouldn’t be able to face anybody.” Cody remembered the last confrontation with him.
Later at the cemetery, Amanda gave Cody time alone at her mother’s grave. The fact that she had chosen to be buried beside Cody’s father and not Floyd, seemed to convince Cody even more than what Reverend Billingsley had said, that her mother regretted what had happened.
“You seem more…at peace; I believe is the right way to describe it.” Amanda stated. “Are you?” They were sitting in an Italian restaurant eating lunch.
Cody smiled. “Yes I am. I regret not being in touch with mother, but I’m not sure I would have listened to her if she had tried to contact me. And even if I had, I’m not sure I would’ve completely forgiven her.” She paused when the waitress cleared the empty plates from the table. And there was still that one other thing about her mother, she buried deep inside herself.
“Would either of you like desert?”
Cody looked to Amanda, who shook her head. “No thanks, just the check.” The dark haired woman said.
The waitress slipped the check into a black binder and placed it on the table. “I’ll be your cashier when you’re ready.” She stated before leaving.
Cody continued with their previous conversation as she pulled several bills from her wallet. “I think I’d have been too angry and too hurt to listen if she’d contacted me earlier and if she had waited until recently, I’d probably have told her it was too little too late. The part of me that’s still the hurt teenager would have wanted to hurt her as much as I had been hurt. I believe it was a no win situation anyway you look at it.”
“I think you are being too hard on yourself.” Amanda said as they left the restaurant. “Eventually you would have listened.”
“Maybe.” Cody shrugged, not totally convinced.
They had lingered over lunch and it was now mid-afternoon. “What are you doing tomorrow?” Amanda asked.
Cody was silent, staring off into the distance, then said, “I need to start back home tomorrow. I have a meeting Tuesday afternoon that can’t be postponed.”
“Oh.” Amanda knew that they both had lives to get back to; professional lives anyway. “Could I come over and fix you dinner tonight? I’d like to spend as much time with you as I can.”
“Yes, but you don’t have to cook. We can order something.” Cody smiled. She wanted to spend more time with Amanda too.
“I’d like to cook, that is if you have any left to cook with.”
“Yes, I still have kitchen junk. That’s some of the stuff that I promised to leave there, so the new owners could go through it.”
Cody dropped Amanda back at her parent’s house. Amanda promised to be there in a couple of hours after stopping by the store.
After arriving at the house, Cody called Tracy and filled her in on the day’s revelations. “Go on.” Cody said when she finished. “I know you’re dying to say it.”
“Cody, honey, I’d never say I told you so. But maybe from now on you’ll listen when Dr. Tracy gives you advice.” She laughed, picturing blue eyes rolling. “I’ve got news of my own.”
“What?” Cody checked the time; she still wanted to shower before Amanda got there.
“I’m gonna take a few weeks off, then do one more movie. And if it still feels more like work than fun, I’m gonna retire and concentrate on my business.” Tracy had taken most of the money she’d made in the first several years of making films and started her own accounting firm.
“Really?” Cody grinned. “Trace, I think that’s great. It’s about time you used that degree of yours.”
“So do mom and dad. I think they were actually dancing in the streets when I told them.” She admitted. “Go take your shower before your date arrives. We can celebrate when you get back.”
“You’re on and it’s my treat. I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. Cody stated. “So start thinking.”
“I will. Tootles.”
“Bye, Trace.” Cody hung up and raced up stairs to the bathroom, the grin never leaving her face.
Cody was sitting at the small kitchen table watching Amanda as she fixed dinner. The blonde said without turning around, “You still owe me a bleacher story.”
“Oh that.” And she proceeded to explain.
After Cody finished, Amanda turned around, the knife she had been chopping onions with, held in a white-knuckled death-grip. “That worthless…sorry…son of a bitch.”
“Amanda.” Cody stood up and looked alarming at the knife. She carefully pried it out of her friend’s hand. “Hey, it was a long time ago. And I really don’t think they would have done anything. He was just trying to embarrass me and look macho in front of his friends.”
“Damn it, Cody. You were only 14.”
“They didn’t know that, sweetheart. They only found that out the other night, remember?” Cody held the older woman’s face in her hands, rubbing her thumbs over soft cheeks, soothingly.
“I forgot, I…” She smiled. “You called me sweetheart.”
“I take it, that’s okay.” She returned the smile.
“Oh yeah, more than okay.” She laid her head against Cody’s shoulder and hugged her. “I don’t want you to leave tomorrow.” Amanda quietly admitted.
“I don’t want to leave you either.” She sighed. “I don’t suppose…you would…could, come with me. I mean for a visit or something.” Cody stumbled through her words. “What I’m trying to say and not doing a very good job, is that I know you’ve got a business to start and partners to consider, but I’d really like it if we could spend more time together.”
“I’d like that, too. But I think I’m gonna be rather busy this coming week.” Amanda leaned back and looked up at the taller woman.
“Oh…well its okay…I understand.” Cody tried to pull away but Amanda wouldn’t let her go.
“I’m going to be busy convincing three people that San Diego would be the perfect place for a new production company to locate.” Amanda grinned at the surprised expression on her friends face.
“Yes, really. And if they don’t agree I’ll just explain to them that’s where I’m gonna be. It is the electronic age after all. We don’t always have to be in the same city.”
Dinner was a somewhat subdued affair with the impending separation hanging over their heads.
After cleaning the kitchen, they spent time just sitting together on the couch, holding each other. Amanda leaned up and kissed the dark haired woman. Cody moaned, as the blonde’s tongue slipped between her lips and explored her mouth.
The seductive sound sent shivers through Amanda. She pushed Cody down and covered the longer body with her own.
“Wait, Amanda…baby, listen please.”
The blonde paused. “Huh?” Her concentration was definitely on Cody, just not on what she was saying.
“I want you, I really do; but not here in this house…in this town. I want us to be somewhere with no bad memories. A place where we can start fresh.” She explained while trying to catch her breath.
Amanda looked down into sincere blue eyes and gave a frustrated sigh. “I got carried away.” She admitted. “I understand what you’re saying and I do agree. But it’s hard to wait.”
“I know, believe me, any other place and I probably would’ve initiated this. But I think one thing I’ve learned by coming back here is that patience is a virtue.” They returned to their original positions of sitting beside each other.
“Well that explains it then.” Amanda stated.
“Explains what?” Cody was confused.
Amanda grinned. “I have no virtues; therefore you can’t expect me to have any patience.” She laid her head back against the couch, both women chuckling.
Cody paced back and forth, waiting non-too patiently, just short of the security checkpoint. Amanda’s plane had landed and taxied to its gate. It had been two weeks since Cody had seen her and she realized she was nervous. They had been in contact everyday by phone and e-mail. She remembered Amanda’s squeal of delight two days ago when Cody answered the phone and the blonde had informed her that she had finally convinced the others that San Diego was indeed the perfect place to located their new company.
Cody stopped pacing when a sea of humanity began to flow towards the concourse exit. She caught a familiar blonde head popping up every few steps and smiled. Then sparkling green eyes were gazing up at her.
“Hi, yourself. This is for you.” Cody held out a single red rose.
“Thank you.” Amanda learned up and kissed the taller woman on the cheek.
“Do you have any bags?”
“Just this.” She shouldered her carry-on. “I shipped everything else. It’s still okay if I stay with you a few days, right?”
“Of course.” They made their way towards the airport exit.
“It shouldn’t take me too long to find a place. I’ve also been given the chore of finding office space or a small building to lease.” Amanda commented as Cody steered them along the streets towards her house.
“I’ll help. I’ve cleared my calendar this week so I’m all yours.” Realizing what she’d said, the tall woman blushed. Cody was glad Amanda was watching the passing scenery and didn’t notice. ‘Goddess, I’ve got to get this under control.’
Cody’s house was located on the beach in La Jolla. It was a single-level, three bedroom, two-bath stucco house. The best room, as Amanda discovered, was located along the back and ran the length of the house. The room had a wall of windows that overlooked the ocean and the twenty-yards of beach that separated the house from the water.
“I bet this is where you are every day at sunset.” Amanda gazed out at the blue sky and waves gently caressing the sand.
“I try to be. It’s an amazing sight.” Cody wrapped her arms around the shorter woman from behind. “What would you like to do tonight? If you’re tired, we can stay here.”
Amanda leaned back into the solid warm body. “I’m not tired, but I’d like to be here, in this room with you when the sun starts to set. And as those magnificent colors weave their way across the sky, leaving an imprint of wonder and amazement, I want us to be making love and leaving our own imprint on each other.”
Amanda turned in Cody’s arms to find a breathtakingly beautiful smile on the dark haired woman’s face. “That was the most incredible thing anybody’s ever said to me. I would like that too.”
They spent a long time sitting together in the sand and walking along the water’s edge. It was calm even though the tide was coming in. Just before dusk, they made their way back to the house, fixing sandwiches and opening a bag of potato chips for a quick dinner.
The setting sun found the women in each other’s arms, staring through the windows at the explosion of colors painting the sky. “You’re right, it is an amazing sight.” Amanda marveled.
The kiss was heartfelt and passionate, as Cody lowered Amanda onto the blanket that had been their dinner table and now served as their bed. Both women were surprised by the tenderness in which they touched one another, considering the hunger that coursed through their bodies.
Clothes were slowly removed until heated flesh came together.
Amanda moaned Cody’s name as the tall woman’s mouth left her neck and found an erect nipple to suckle; her hand lightly caressing her skin, moving down her side, her hip and her thigh, leaving a trail of stimulation in its wake.
Cody had never been able to orgasm from just touching someone, but she was close now. The feel and taste of the blonde woman’s skin was very exciting to her and when Amanda’s legs spread in invitation, she felt her need pulsing between her legs.
“Please Cody…touch me before I go crazy.” She opened herself, hoping for the contact that she craved.
Cody lifted her head, looking at the inflamed expression on her lover’s face. “Goddess, you’re beautiful.” Her hand moved to stroke Amanda’s heat and desire.
Amanda felt fingertips stroke her passion into a burning flame. “I need to feel you…your weight…your body touching mine.” Amanda guided Cody down to her. And their bodies began an erotic dance, melding together as skin caressed skin; desire slid together and then withdrew. Over and over again until the crescendo built to dizzying heights and they crested, riding the wave of their release, together.
Continued in part three
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