Note Terminology Correction:
CVA – Cerebrovascular Accident also known as a stroke.
( Spelling for this term has been corrected as Part 2 had the incorrect
condition listed for a CVA).
_______________ Chapter 9________________________
Pax sat upon the couch in her living room; she lazily clicked the remote to switch between the two channels. She attempted to watch two football games on one TV, her new forty-seven inch high-definition flat screen TV. Boney’s gonna be so jealous. I have a toy that she doesn’t.
Pax had decided to get the new TV when her other set started to flicker in brightness. As she milled around the electronic store, the beauty before her caught her attention. She had agreed with the salesman that now was the time to experience the football game with a larger screen and surround sound. That alone had been justification for the expensive purchase.
Hehe hehe wait till Boney see this. She’d have to do some pretty good begging to Jo-Santa to get one.
“What are you snickering about now?” Amanda asked entering the room from the kitchen. She was still in her flannel lounge pants and the small sweatshirt that barely reached her mid section. Pax turned to look at her friend and the sight almost stole her breath away. The attorney’s exposed belly button with the tiny ring was enticing. Amanda was without undergarments as her breasts had swayed lightly when she came to a halt in front of Pax. The points protruded lusciously against the gray, very worn cotton material. Amanda’s collarbone stood out against the open neck of the shirt and exposed even more skin through the v-cut she had made. Amanda shifted her stance; I see that look Pax Baldwin. Do not tease me.
When Amanda lifted her arm to rake her fingers through the flaming red hair, Pax glimpse the abdomen and slightly protruding ribs of the smooth pale skin beneath. Pax cursed herself for the uncomfortable twitch that vibrated below her waist. It has been too long. As hot and enticing as you are my friend, you are just that, my friend. So please, please stop doing that so that I can believe what I’m saying. Pax was saved by the knock at her front door.
“I’ll get it,” Amanda said.
“Thanks,” Pax whispered and inhaled deeply.
Amanda pulled back on the door and stood facing an open mouthed Boney. From Boney’s spot on the stoop, her eyes filled with the red hair sprayed across the shoulders the ragged sweatshirt. A shapely waist and the silver ring in her belly hugged the hips covered in what was most likely soft flannel. Boney couldn’t control her eyes as the nipples became like rock candies with the kiss of the cold air. She nearly dropped the twelve pack of beer she carried.
“Hi, you’re Boney right?”
Dumbstruck, Boney only nodded. “Pax told me you would be coming over. Come on in before you catch a cold.”
Looks like you caught cold already. Those things must be huge! What the hell am I saying? Oh God, no wonder my ass is still in trouble. Blink and close your mouth asshole, that’s where the fog is coming from. Boney stepped through the doorway.
“Oh, Boney,” Pax yelled from the other room. “I have a surprise for you.”
“God, what is she up to now?” Boney rolled her eyes as she hopped on one foot to remove her shoes.
“I’m not sure. I’m Amanda; we met a few days ago.”
“Yes, I remember. Nice to see,” her voice broke, “you again.” Embarrassed, Boney lowered her head and concentrated on taking off her shoes then her coat. I’m married. I have a wonderful woman. This is just someone’s bad voodoo medicine fucking with me, with us. No one is worth risking my Snookems.
Boney heard the roar of a crowd in the next room. She glanced at Amanda and then quickly made her way towards the source of the noise. When she entered the room, Boney froze, her eyes comically strained wide and mouth stood fully open.
“Holy shit girlfriend!” She looked down at an arrogantly beaming Pax.
“Close your mouth Boney. The room is warm enough and you’re about to drool.”
“Oh wow!” Boney stiffly walked over to the couch and plopped down beside her friend. Her eyes were glued upon the high-definition screen. The players appeared so real and clear it made her heart thunder beyond toleration. “I want one,” she finally spoke.
“I can put you in touch with my guy,” she teased and waved the remote in front of Boney.
The three of them experienced the last half of the U.S.C. Trojans versus the Stanford Cardinals game. Boney observed with heightened curiosity for clues as to what Amanda and Pax meant to one another. She watched Amanda pamper her friend making sure she did not get off the couch or want for anything. If it was another beer, Amanda was quick to unfold herself from the recliner to go to the refrigerator and back again. If the chips or dip were getting low, Amanda refilled them. Boney was almost enjoying the attentive woman herself. Who wouldn’t want to be doted on?
“I’m going into the kitchen, would either of you like more wings or anything else?” Amanda offered.
Boney watched as Amanda disappeared from the room and then looked at her friend studying the TV screen. Boney could only remain silent for a beat or two longer before she felt compelled to be nosy and speak.
“So tell me my friend…” Boney hedged.
“Yes,” Pax drawled out wondering how Boney held out this long.
“What’s up with that?” Her head tilted and nodded towards the kitchen.
“Why, whatever do you mean Boney?”
“Don’t play games with me, Pax Kattapoopoo Baldwin.”
“It’s Kattapolous, you hillbilly.”
“Whatever. Spill it.”
“You mean Amanda?”
“Ya see, I knew the teachers were right to pass you from the third grade.” Boney slapped her on the shoulder.
Laughing she did her best country bumpkin voice, “Izz gradiated too.”
“Smart ass.” She playfully shoved her friend. “So you two together or what?”
Pax was about to respond when the cell phone by the recliner chimed the music from Cannon in D. Amanda briskly walked through the room and picked up the cell. Pax and Boney remained mesmerized by the flow of the attorney’s body beneath the worn cotton shirt. Her face was flushed from the exertion. Pax and Boney noticed the pink coloring that had spread down to the exposed taut tummy as well. Boney turned to Pax questioning. Pax’s response was a wicked grin and a wiggle of a single eyebrow.
Boney shook her head sadly and took a swig from her beer. Poor Teela, she thought. You’re too late.
“Rippington…you are kidding me?… Where?… Be there shortly.”
Pax mistook the grievous look upon Boney’s face as a reference to her doggish behavior. behind Amanda’s back. She had no idea that their minds were actually on the same person, Teela. I know it’s bad to let Boney think something is going on between Amanda and me, but…I know she talks to Teela… I’ll be damned if she thinks that I’m pining away for her and not enjoying the fruits of Michigan.
“I’m sorry ladies.” She sighed heavily and raked her fingers through the already mussed hair. “I have to go. A client is in trouble.”
“Must be serious to call you in on a weekend,” Pax stated.
“Nature of the business sometimes. Excuse me.” Opening her cell phone, she made another call as she headed upstairs for the bedroom.
Pax could see the wheels churning inside of Boney’s mind. She was starting to see the smoke rising. I shouldn’t put her in this position
“So, Pax old buddy-old pal. Is she your girlfriend now?”
“Don’t beat around the bush Boney; ask me straight out why don’t you.”
“I tried that and you played dumb. What gives?”
“Why are you so interested Boney?” As if I didn’t know.
“Curious is all. You two seem pretty chummy.”
“Remember what curiosity did to the cat?”
“I’m a different kind of kitty. More lives.”
“So you are.”
Pax changed the channel to the Michigan and the Ohio State game. Outside of cheering, booing, or cursing the players on the field, there was no further conversation between them.
“Well, I’m ready to go,” Amanda stated as she entered the room.
Boney turned to see the attorney dressed in a dark blue suit with high heels. Her hair brushed to sheen and spread across her shoulders. Blue eyes flashed brilliantly against the color of her suit and the lilting scent of her cologne helped to hypnotize all in her presence.
Boney forced herself not to smile at the transformation of the attorney from being one of the girls in lounge pants to consummate professional suit with briefcase. Some lesbians loved women in uniforms, military, police or otherwise, but not Boney. It was the woman in a business suit and briefcase that made her salivate. It was the nylons, high heels and shapely legs as the calves flexed with each step. Her body naturally shivered in unbearable passion as her fingers ran the length of silky stockings, garter or full pair, Boney was not discriminatory. But they had to be silky smooth. For this reason, Boney always encouraged Jo to wear suits, even going as far as to pick out and purchase a few for her Jo to wear.
Boney grinned to herself, over the years she had rushed home from the warehouse just to be there before Jo walked in. Boney planned for a seductive sneak attack when she would see her beloved in the sexy suit and help her to change into her play clothes, or better yet, into her birthday suit for the night. These times Jo had easily and willingly succumbed to Boney’s premeditated passion.
Boney remembered the rift that remained between them and the crushing ache pierced her heart. She turned back towards the TV hoping her concentration would shift to something other than Jo’s distrust.
Jo, I miss you sweetheart. Boney shook out of her reverie to see Pax hugging Amanda and to catch the last remnants of their conversation.
“Aah yes. My apartment has been fumigated of the critters and it’s safe for me to return.”
“If you get there and it’s not. You can always come back here.”
“Thanks roomie.” She smiled.
“I owe you a lot, Amanda. You’ve helped me tremendously.” She lifted her bandaged arm. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
“I have been known to have the perfect timing and the issue with my apartment proves it.” She laughed and hugged Pax again holding on for a few seconds longer that she should have. “Boney, it was nice to see you again.”
“Same here Amanda.”
“I’ll call you,” Amanda promised.
Pax assisted Amanda out the door and then returned to her spot upon the couch. She rubbed her left arm hoping to ease the throbbing that had persisted for the past hour. Pax refused to take the pain medication that was prescribed by Dr. Griffith. It made her punchy drunk and then knocked her out. Besides, she had drunk two beers and should not take them now anyway. It was only after Boney ferociously cheered the Ohio State touchdown that Pax decided to open things up. She clicked the mute button and turned to her friend.
“Ok, what gives with you?” Pax eyed her.
“What is going on with you?”
“I believe I asked you that question a while ago. Your brain on TIVO?” Boney stalled.
“I am not amused, Boney. Every since you’ve got here, you have been quieter than usual. It’s eerie. Now you are cheering on Ohio State over Michigan? What’s up?”
She studied her hands for a while and let the pounding in her heart beat freely. She had held it in for too long. She did not want to do it anymore. Not caring how her friend would view her weakness for crying, she let the tears flow rampantly down her cheeks. Her chest heaved as her pain revealed itself in all its brutal glory. Stunned, Pax shifted on the couch and held her friend in her arms. Boney laid her head upon Pax’s shoulders and cried, unable to coherently talk, her words were jumbled and riddled with suffering.
“My God, Boney, what is it?” She had never seen her friend so distressed. She was becoming frightened for her. The normally sure, and sometimes mentally touched Augusta Jean Bonniker, had never shown such vulnerability in all the time that Pax had known her. “Is Jo all right?”
“I don’t know,” Boney sputtered pitifully.
“Boney, what do you mean you don’t know? Where is she?”
“Home I guess. Pax she isn’t talking to me. She won’t talk to me. She thinks that I’ve been cheating on her.” Boney’s cries broke though her chest again as her shoulders shook with the anguish.
“Oh god, why does she think that?” Then she remembered how Boney was watching Amanda. “Boney did you…”
“Hell no I didn’t!” Boney bolted upright. “How the hell could you think I would do such a thing?”
“Probably the same way that Jo does. What happened?”
Boney grabbed several of the napkins off the table, dried her eyes and blew her nose. She told Pax about Autumn. She told Pax the things that she could not tell Jo before but now wished she had. Boney cried as she told Pax about the kiss at the bowling alley and Jo coming in to catch her and Autumn. Pax was barely able to make out the rest of Boney’s story for the tears and choking sobs that wracked her friend.
“So I have been sleeping in the guest bedroom since then and frankly, I’m tired of it.” She turned reddened and swollen eyes to Pax. “I just want my wife back. But she won’t let me explain anything. She won’t even stay in the same room with me.”
“Oh Boney. I am so sorry.” She hugged her tightly. I wish I knew the magic words to make everything all right for you two, but I don’t. Question though, as a psychiatrist, Jo should know that this sort of thing isn’t good for a relationship. Doesn’t she?”
“She does. But when she is this livid with me, her professional side can’t break through.”
“Has she been like this very often before?”
“You mean,” she chuckled, “have I pissed her off this bad before? Twice in twenty years.”
“How were you able to turn things around? I don’t think buying her something nice will help this time.”
“Hell no! That is the wrong thing to do. I did that the first time and she nearly threw me out of the house. No, buying something is definitely out!”
“I just have to wait it out like the last time. But Pax, I know she thinks I am seeing another woman. That’s the part that truly tears me apart. I am not. I have shouted it through our bedroom door till I am blue in the face and she acts like she doesn’t hear me.” Boney found herself starting to get angry. “I have never, ever, in twenty years given her cause to think that my heart and soul did not belong to her.” She got to her feet and paced the room. “I have been everything that she wanted me to be, done what she wanted me to, acted the way she thought I should. And now she has the audacity to think that I am cheating. How could she?”
“She just went by what she saw Boney. Granted, she should have given you a chance to explain long before now.”
“That’s what I say. But she won’t.” She felt the anger dissipate a fraction and her voice softened. “I have no idea how to make her listen.” Then a momentary sparkled gleamed in her light brown eyes. “I could tie her in the kitchen chair so she couldn’t get away and she would have to then.”
“You could,” Pax laughed. “But she might think it’s another one of your kinky sex games.”
Boney stopped and stared at the TV. She had long since lost interest in who was playing. “I just want my Jo back, Pax. I don’t want anyone else. Haven’t since the day we met. You would think by the way we make happy bunny love all the time she would know. Wouldn’t you? It’s more than that.” The tears began to flow. “Pax, do you realize, sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up in a panic because I think she is not there? I actually bolt upright and have to touch her to make sure she is real and still there. I call her almost everyday at work, sometimes twice just to say hello and ask what she is doing. I am so hooked on that woman; I can’t imagine my life without her Pax.”
“Boney, she loves you too much. I don’t think you have to worry about that.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I have seen the way that you two are together. A love like that is so rare. It lasts a lifetime and then some. You two will work this out.”
“I sure hope so and soon. I haven’t been sleeping well. I know you think I’m tough stuff and all, but I really need Jo to sleep. She has this little whimper while she is sleeping, seems to sing me to slumber land every night. I can’t even get into the bedroom. She knows that I try because she puts something against the door and I can’t budge it.”
“Yeah.” She inhaled deeply resigned to her fate of another night in the guest room. “I am praying that she comes to me soon. We have that Christmas dinner party planned you know.”
“Yeah. I received the invitation the other day.”
“Are you gonna come?”
Pax reached for a corn chip and juggled it in her hand. It was something for her to focus on instead of revealing her true feelings. “Are you propositioning me Boney?”
“Any other time, I’d say that was a good one. This is serious Pax.”
“I know. I’m considering it.”
“We would love to have you for dinner. Despite what is going on or not going on with Teela. Jo and I want our friends around us once during the holidays.”
“Tell me there will be other people there to act as a buffer?”
Chuckling, Jo answered, “Harley and Emily, maybe Deanna if she can get away.”
Pax thought for a moment and then turned to her friend. “I still have feelings for her Boney,” she admitted quietly.
“I thought you did.” She returned to her seat grateful that her time in the confessional was over. She grabbed her beer and wet her parched throat.
“She is not to know any of this Boney. I swear if you say anything to her…” she pointed a sharp finger and growled a warning.
“Pax, I am hurt. You know I would not say anything to Teela about what we talk about.”
“Or Jo. They nearly had me cornered the other week. They were asking me about your leg. I didn’t tell them anything just like I promised. Of course,” she stated with a sly grin, “if you truly don’t want me to tell, that TV is mine.” Boney attempted her blackmail again with her good buddy. She had successfully used it a few times before to claim the biggest bass or the best golf shot.
Pax narrowed her eyes. “You are not getting my TV Boney.”
Boney shrugged her shoulders and said “It was worth a try. How is it by the way, your leg?”
“Numbness comes and goes. Same as before…”
“And now your arm... What have you found out about that?”
Pax responded, “Not much. The head of the department, Max, said they are still looking into things. They are stumped just like I am Boney. Everyone at Metro knew the reptile display was being remodeled. Those snakes were supposed to be locked away until then. Not many people have access to that area.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Same as you are. Someone wanted too hurt me or worse, wanted me dead.”
“That’s a weird feeling that someone out there might want you dead,” Boney shivered.
“Tell me about it.” She drained the last of her beer from the can.
“Got any guesses as to whom?”
“One.” Pax got up and left for the kitchen.
Boney sat there staring at the screen but not seeing the touchdown or the crowd of blue and yellow players piling in the end zone. “Who do you think it is?” She asked taking the fresh beer.
“Tanesha? How?” Boney cringed at the mention of Pax’s old nemesis. She and Jo had a good number of talks among themselves and apologized profusely to Teela for thinking that the psycho psychiatrist would have been a good match for her.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to answer. In reality it couldn’t be her because she only has access to any part of the zoo that the general public does.”
“Have you seen or heard from her?”
“No thank God.”
“Jo says she got a job with a private psychiatric firm.”
“She should make herself a patient,” Pax chuckled. She sighed and opened her beer. “Boney, I’m not an angel, I’m sure I have alienated someone at the zoo at some point in time or another. It could be anybody.”
“If it is someone you work with, you have a lot of dangerous stuff around you all the time Pax. What are you going to do?”
“Wait for the results of the investigation and watch my ass.” They clinked beers and drank in unison.
“Now,” Boney belched softly. “Back to Teela…”
“Teela wants me dead?”
“Ha ha very funny.”
Pax gave in and sighed heavily. “I meant it Boney. I admitted that I still have feelings for her. What more do you want?”
“But I can’t forget how she hurt me. How she completely closed me out of her life like she did. She shut me out so fast…”
“We tried to warn you how she was under stress, Pax.”
“That is an excuse for how she reacted! I don’t buy it. I was there for her outside that wall she built, Boney. I saw her looking at me and refusing to let me in. she did it deliberately. How am I supposed to forget that feeling?” She looked pleading at her friend. “Just how you feel about what Jo is doing to you, it’s ten times worse for me because she chose to stay hidden. Jo will come to you in her time. She lied to me Boney. She chose an unfaithful former girlfriend over me.”
“I know. Has she explained or said anything to you since then?”
“What else can she say besides that she lied and was deceitful? I haven’t wanted to hear anything she had to say.” I’m sure you know just how I reacted Boney. I’m sure Teela’s description of my behavior was heartening.
“Uh huh? I agree with you. She did lie and she was deceitful. I think you should continue to stew over the physical and emotional battering you took for the sake of love.”
“You should write poetry Boney.”
“Only for Jo,” she chuckled. “Let me ask you, what if she changed? Let’s say that she was full of remorse and vowed that she has been enlightened. What then?”
Pax shrugged her shoulders. “How could she? She was so good at being a liar and deceitful.”
“There is always that possibility that she could be really sorry for what she did to you. She really seems to have learned from her counselor.
“Yeah. She started seeing someone shortly after the funeral.” Boney tilted her head. “So ya see, she could really have changed.”
Pax studied the reddened brown eyes of her friend. She sensed her fishing expedition but did not want to even think of letting hope kindle. This time, she would see things through her mind and not with her heart. “Maybe, maybe not.”
“So you prefer to stew in your anger and broken love not wanting to know if there was a chance for salvaging. It’s not worth trying for?”
“I do and I don’t.”
“Sitting the fence, girlfriend, is going to give you hemorrhoids.”
Pax couldn’t help her laughter. “You can be so colorful hillbilly.”
“It comes in handy. I know I’m meddling but you invited me so – at the very least talk to her. Seriously sit down and hash things out before the dinner party.”
“That would be a wise thing to do.”
“It is not that far off.”
“Boney,” Pax hedged, “I know you will understand this, being that we are almost alike. Of course I am more mentally sound than you are.”
“Matter of opinion, but go on…”
Pax chuckled, and then swallowed hard. “Boney, when I’m around her she makes me feel so…so…”
“Yeah and at the same time…”
“Protective like a momma bear with her cubs.”
“Couldn’t have said it better even if I had tried, Boney.” Pax laughed her uneasiness in her friend’s depiction of her jumbled emotions within.
“I am a poet on the side.”
“The thing is…I don’t have a lot of resolve around Teela. This is in spite of how she treated me.”
“You have more than you give yourself credit for.”
“She said that you were quite angry with her when you came face to face at the ARCC.”
“That was easy. That’s anger. It took everything I had to keep that façade and not…” Pax paused and studied her hands. “What happens if I listen to her explanation and fold? I have to be able to trust Teela again Boney. That takes time to develop, but when I see her all I want is for her to hold me.” She turned grave blue eyes upon her friend. “I don’t want to give in. I want her to know how much she hurt me.”
“That I believe she knows. She also knows about Amanda.”
“Jo told her at bowling the other night. She seemed…surprised.”
“And jealous I hope!”
“I believe a little bit. She had this twitch in the corner of her eyes afterwards for a while.”
“Good.” Pax nodded and took a swig from her beer.
“Aahh, the age old game, eh Pax?”
“No Boney. Well, maybe. Besides, if you two thought that Amanda and I were together, you are the reason she is jealous.”
“Don’t twist things.”
“Sure.” She gave her a toothy grin.
“Well, I believe that after the anger clears, you will be able to listen to what she wants to tell you.”
“And the trust issue?”
“If you want to invest in the time, it will develop on its own.”
Pax looked at her friend and grinned. “You’re starting to make sense and that’s scary.”
“You have been hanging around Jo too long.”
“Not long enough, my friend. I want another fifty years with that woman.”
* * * * * *
While the Ohio State and Michigan game played out on the television on Dover Lane, across town Teela lounged on her couch and tried to listen to her mother, Caramella drone on about how disappointing Albert, her boyfriend had been both as a friend and a companion.
“I tell you dear, Albert may have been a handsome and endowed man,” Caramella grinned at her daughter’s cringe, “but he was definitely a bore in other matters.”
Teela rolled her eyes. She had yet to become accustomed to her mother’s bluntness. It seemed she delighted in discovering new ways of surprising her. Teela thought her mother probably stayed up late at night thinking of new ways. “I should not be privy to such information mother.”
“Nonsense dear, we are adults.”
“Ever hear of TMI, Mother, too much information?”
“Ooh pooh!” Caramella waved her hand and dismissed her prude daughter. “I had talks like this with my mother. It’s tradition. So I’m having them with you. Do you want to break family tradition?”
“Tradition my ass... Talk to Alice Freeman, that’s what best friends are for.”
Her mother’s smile faded. “Alice wouldn’t understand. She’s such a prude. Alice did not approve of Albert and her reasons were unacceptable to me.” Caramella’s pain was clearly visible. It was a terrible shock when she found out her best friend of twenty-five years was prejudiced.
“I never knew that. Mom, I’m so sorry.”
“Well if you called on you old mother sometime you would know what is developing in my life.”
“Besides Arthritis...” Teela laughed and ignored her mother’s guilt-laden comment.
“Don’t be a smart ass Teela. You must have gotten that from your father’s side of the family.”
“Sure mom, family tradition.”
“Anyhow, Alice has not been very helpful with my breakup with Albert.”
“Sorry to hear that Mom. Honest.”
“I know Teela; you are a good daughter when you want to be.”
“Thanks mom.” Teela gave herself a slight headache when she rolled her eyes too far this time.
“Speaking of relationships…”
“I saw Pax the other day.”
“She is free to move about the city mom.”
“Apparently so with a companion…”
What are you talking about? “I am not going to bite mother.”
“I am not asking you to. I am simply saying that I ran into her and another woman having a cozy lunch the other day.”
“She is allowed to eat mother and see whomever she wants.
“She should be seeing you dear.”
“You’re meddling mother.”
“If I can be so bold as to say something to you.”
“Like you really would really understand the word no…”
“This is true. You have been secluded away for months and that can’t be good.”
“I’m fine mom. I just don’t feel the need for a lot of socializing at this point. I have been working on other things.”
Teela remained quiet for a time then softly replied, “Me.”
“Having any success?” Her mother eyed her cautiously.
“Let her go completely Teela.”
Teela’s eyes flipped to her mother, as her first instinct was to lash back with a stinging retort. “Mom, I have. Bess is dead. She is resting in the mausoleum.”
“That’s true dear. You are free from Bess physically; you were before she died. Have you released her mentally?” She studied her daughter briefly. “Teela, your supposed ties to that woman have cost you so much.”
“I realize that mom.” She thought of the azure eyes that had captured her soul. The clear image had dimmed further under the resentful glares that she had received of late. “It’s one of the issues that Sterling has helped me to understand and try to resolve.” Her voice faded as she looked out onto her living room without truly seeing.
“You are so young to have experienced such regrets.”
“Yeah well, it’s self inflicted mom.”
“Have you tried to speak with Pax?”
“Mom, I’ll tell you like I told Jo and Boney. She would have none of it. I am not a glutton for repeated rejection.”
“Maybe not, but isn’t that what you had subjected her to?”
Faded green eyes turned upon her mother and the truth she spoke. Teela then focused on the loose string from the button on her blouse. “It hurts too much.”
“I supposed it does. I think you should go to her again, tell her what a foolish ass you were.”
“Mom, read my lips. I have tried,” Teela mouthed clearly as if conversing with a hard of hearing person. “It hasn’t worked.”
“Hmm.” Caramella thought and sipped her tea. “We were to have dinner the other night and she never made it.”
“Yes, dreadful really... She landed herself in the hospital and we never got the chance. A rattlesnake bit her. Did you know that?”
“Yes I did.”
“How is she doing?”
“Like I would know mom... She hasn’t returned any of my calls. You call her. She’ll speak to you obviously.” She frowned at the irony of it her ex preferring to spend time with her mother than herself.
Caramella grinned at her daughter’s confusion. “Maybe I will. Personally, I think you should go over there, check on her, and that will allow you a chance to speak with her. Maybe now she will listen to you, forgive you and kick that red haired woman to the curb.”
“Mom!” Teela groaned and threw her head back against the couch. Her mother was being exceptionally trying. “Mom, you want me to interfere in Pax’s relationship? I will not.”
“I’m saying go speak with her. Maybe she is not deeply involved with this woman.”
“She hate’s me mom. She really does,” Teela replied full of sorrow.
__________________ Chapter 10 ____________________
Boney pulled into the drive and waited in for the large two-car garage door to open. She drove in carefully and parked next to the maroon Monte Carlo. Boney cut the engine on her pearl colored Escalade pushed the button on the small remote that always remained wedged in the visor above her head. Boney watched the large door close and then stayed in her seat stalling rather than entering the house.
I hope she is ready to fix this. Boney thought with a grin. I should wait until she comes out of the bedroom and then board up the damn door. Where would she hide then? Knowing her, she’d use the guest room, computer room, and any room to not talk to me. I can’t board the whole damn place up.
Boney made her way into the house and stopped at the back door. She extended her hearing and listened to where her angry lover could possibly be in the house. My Spidey senses are tingling. She must be near. I have not thought about Spiderman in a long time. Well now is not the time unless I need the web slinger to web-tie Jo in a chair to prevent her from running away from me. Boney shook her head picturing her Jo in her favorite recliner her entire body wrapped in the silvery-white chord.
Boney kicked off her shoes and hung her jacket on the hook next to Jo’s. She could smell the faint scent of cologne coming from her lover’s coat. What is the name of that stuff? Gavi…something or another. I should know things like that.
Boney walked through the kitchen and stepped into the living room. Soft music from the stereo in the corner as Luther Vandross serenaded her lover. He was Jo’s favorite in any mood. It had taken Boney some time to appreciate Mr. Vandross’ music. When she had met Jo, she was purely a Country and Western gal in music and in the way she had danced. When they became lovers it was an experience in culture shock for the both of them. Two very different ways of life merged together and the process was not easy. The word “compromise” took residence with them in their first year as a couple.
Boney heard herself swallow as Jo’s eyes stayed riveted upon the pages of her novel. Boney straightened her posture and pulled her shoulders back. Enough of this shit already. You will talk to me woman and I will be back in that bed! With newfound confidence, Boney walked in front of Jo and sat crossed legged on the floor in front of her.
After several long moments, Jo finally spoke. “Why are you on the floor?” she asked without moving her eyes from the page.
“Because the couch is too far away. I have been away from you long enough.”
It was then Boney saw the beautiful hazel eyes that she had fallen in love with more than twenty years ago. Just as it had then, it did that very moment; her heart succumbed to the bewitching power of Johanna Karasi Forrester.
“It hurt Boney. To see you kissing another woman it hurt more than anything in the world. And then what she said about how you enjoyed it. Well, it was too much. So I ran. I was too angry and didn’t want to see you.”
“That’s just it Johanna, I was not kissing her. She kissed me. Autumn walked into the bathroom and attacked me,” Boney found herself pleading to make her lover understand she was truly innocent of wrongdoing.
“My eyes had seen differently. She was touching you all over.”
“I was not touching her. She had me pinned sweetheart. My hands were nowhere near her body. I swear. I have told her repeatedly that I was not interested.”
“Repeatedly? How long has she been after you?”
Oops! Oh well, now time to come clean with everything or risk losing everything. “A couple of months…”
“And you never said anything to me about it.” Jo felt irritation caused by the disclosure. She should have known something was going on from the first time she met Autumn at the bowling alley. Now that she thought back, Boney was nervous while the woman stood near her, but she had omitted that vital detail.
“No, I didn’t want you to worry or doubt me when I left for work.”
Jo paused and thought for a moment. I would have too, initially. Hillbilly, you have made me realize a part of my personality I thought would not be so vicious. That green-eyed monster reared her ugly head and robbed me of my sensibilities. It nearly cost me the most precious thing in my life, you. “I am so sorry.”
“Four days love, four days you left me.” Boney felt the tears spring to her eyes and she had not the power to stop them. “I have been worried that you were going to leave me for good,” her voice cracked and broke freely, “for something that I did not do, Jo. Why?”
“Jealousy,” she whispered and lowered her head with shame. “I thought that you might have wanted something different, younger.” It wasn’t until that moment that she realized the hurt she had caused her lover’s heart. As it broke in front of her, her own began to weep. “I guess I have some insecurity to work on.”
“I would never leave you Jo. Don’t you know that by now?”
“I get worried sometimes myself. You are still quite the stud muffin ya know.” She smiled weakly.
“Oh yeah right,” Boney chuckled. “Stud muffin in your eyes only.” She smiled. “Used to be but not now. Not after twenty glorious years with you.” She shook her head. “This,” she grabbed the small bulge around her midsection with both hands and shook it, “is yours. You caused this.”
“I gladly claim it.” She smiled. “I am truly sorry Boney. Can you forgive me?”
Boney scrambled to her knees and opened her arms wide. She had not held her partner in days and she needed the warmth against her for it was sorely missed. Jo lifted herself from the chair and reached for her Boney. As Boney’s arms encircled her waist Jo’s went to her lover’s moist face. Cupping each side, she used her thumb to wipe away the tracks the tears had caused. She searched those marvelous eyes, bloodshot from crying and fell in love again with the former debutante. Boney pulled her closed as her eyes had already burned a trail to Jo’s lips, now she wanted her own to feel the sizzle she knew was waiting for her.
The kiss was tentative and gentle, a way of making a memory against the backdrop of Luther’s I’d Rather Be. As he sang, Boney felt the swell of emotions rise within both herself and Jo flowing from one another making a lasting bridge between the barriers of clothing and skin, the former a mere obstacle that could be removed and the latter that was to be explored.
“I have been so wrong Boney!” Jo exclaimed as she hugged her lover tightly to her feeling the familiar muscles beneath the sweatshirt. “Oh how I have missed your touch, and the way you kiss me.” She let her hand snake up Boney to reach the nape of her neck. Lightly she caressed the sensitive area hearing the familiar gasp from her hillbilly lover.
“I love you, Jo. So very much it hurts when we are not together.”
Boney turned her lover so that she was able to lie back upon the floor. She positioned herself half-on Jo and studied the reddened hazel eyes. Boney lowered her head and kissed Jo slowly with such passion that it surprised even her. At that moment, the mix of emotions swirled too fast to ignore. She had seen the same in her lover eyes before they closed with the melding of flesh.
Jo moaned as Boney released her lips to find the spot upon her neck that guaranteed to ignite a sensual fire between her legs. To aid her cause, Boney reached over and grabbed Jo’s leg bringing it across her hip. It perfectly positioned Boney’s thigh against Jo’s center.
Boney groaned again at the touch of her lover against her thigh. The claws digging in to the back of her sweatshirt told Boney that her Jo was hot, and when Jo used her nails, it meant that she was going to be exceptionally wild and insatiable. Boney involuntarily shuddered. That would not be a bad thing. She loved make-up sex with her lover.
Boney easily matched the frantic movement of her lover’s body. She grinned evilly to herself with the thought of prolonging her lover’s wildness.
Boney suddenly stopped and pulled away from her stunned lover. She had thought that the pounding heart against her chest was Jo’s in her excitement. As she got to her feet panting, she realized the drum solo came from her own heart and not Jo’s alone.
“Boney?” Jo rolled to her back and looked up at her lover standing near the door.
“I don’t think I can Jo.”
“What?” She swallowed her passion and gathered her breath. “Oh, okay. We ahh…don’t have to, we…”
“I mean, are you worthy of the stud muffin’s services?”
Jo stuttered, “Worthy of the….” Jo narrowed her eyes and grinned back at her lover who stood in the archway doing muscle man poses. Boney turned and took off for the stairs. “I’ll stud muffin you,” Jo chuckled and ran after her.
Boney kissed Jo and swooned in the rare wine their essences had created. Boney sharply inhaled the tantalizing aroma of their mingled scent . It was a lasting aphrodisiac. Their lovemaking had been slow and reverent of the bond shared between them. Spent from the intensity of emotions they had release, Boney’s body molded itself alongside of Jo and laid her head across Jo’s chest. Jo lightly combed her fingers through Boney’s hair as her lover played with the fine hairs surround her around her navel. Jo twitched from the after shocks that coursed through her veins and from the tickling Boney caused.
They had spent the past three hours allowing their love to flourish and express itself in whatever fashion they created. Boney stirred. She wanted more. After pleasuring Jo with her lips, she wanted to do it again, at that very moment. Her nostrils filled with Jo’s spent arousal and caused her own to rise uncontrollably once more.
“Close you eyes Jo,” Boney demanded.
“What are you up to hillbilly?”
“Close your eyes.”
Doing as she was told, Jo closed her eyes and shortly after felt the bed dip when Boney climbed off. She was not gone long. As Boney returned to their bed, she kissed her lover deeply. Jo’s strong arms surrounded her neck and pulled impossibly closer. Jo heard her lover grasp and felt her body move in waves. Boney felt her own hips lifting in their search for Jo.
“Keep your eyes closed. Just feel,” Boney breathed.
“Boney, I can’t go one more.”
“We will see.”
Boney shifted so that her back was to Jo while her right side pressed against Jo’s left ribs. Boney partially leaned against Jo with a majority of her weight was supported by her right elbow. Boney chuckled evilly as she lightly blew across the trimmed patch of tight curly black hair. Her grin broadened with the flutters she felt take flight within Jo’s belly. She reached out and played with several of the tight curls letting a finger brush against the still swollen center hidden beneath. Jo’s hips jerked and a moan escaped her lips. I know you have one more and I want it.
With her right arm encircled Jo’s right thigh Boney gave a light press of her fingers and Jo parted her legs. A firmer touch told her Boney wanted them as wide as her hip would stretch. The rush of cool air hitting her swollen center caused another shudder through her body.
“Boney…” Jo’s hands came to rest in the fine hair of the head upon her stomach.
Boney shifted and placed her lips onto Jo’s center, tongue flicked back and forth across the swollen gland. Jo’s hand sought purchase in Boney’s hair and held her in place. Her gasping didn’t quite fill her lungs completely. She felt her orgasm coming back to fruition before she has a chance to marvel in her lover’s tongue. Jo had been taken, unexpectedly with an overwhelming passion.
Suddenly the tongue, the mouth, and fingers left her empty and wanting. Her chest heaved and her fingers clawed at her lover to press her head back towards the place she needed her most. Jo begged for them to return to her as they had been. She was so close. She needed Boney to finish.
Boney groaned against the painfully sweet sharpness of Jo’s nails gliding down her back and over the layer of her skin. She arched and welcomed the wetness that flowed from between her own closed legs. Later, she thought of her Jo, later you will see what it is that you do to me.
Boney lowered her head just above her lover’s tight black curls and blew softly across the swollen ember. Jo shuddered and pressed further on the back of Boney’s head.
Boney’s grin deepened as she brought from her hidden side the toy she had retrieved from the dresser. She touched the flesh colored dildo against her lover. Jo gasped feeling the sensation in her wetness. Boney moved the length of the dildo through her lover’s moist lips and back down, turning it from side to side, ensuring that it was coated. Jo felt the small curve at the top of the dildo and knew which vibrator that her lover had selected.
Boney’s right hand cupped her lovers buttock check and opened her lover allowing the vibrator to glide in slowly. Jo was ready to receive it and began pumping her hips unable to control her sudden urge to be filled. Boney grunted her own arousal and slowly met her lover’s rhythmically grinding her hips. Jo let go of Boney’s hair for fear that her death grip would hurt her.
Boney pumped the vibrator in and out of her lover in the teasing manner she knew would drive her partner over the edge again and again. She turned the knob at the base and felt the soft vibration echo inside of Jo. Her own body began to hum in anticipation.
Jo let out a cry and felt her stomach tighten as her hip undulated in the air. Boney’s tongue snaked out and flicked the swollen bundle of nerves that protruded from its protective hood. It was larger than Boney had remembered. The loud moans and variations of “Oh’s” rang louder and louder in the room as Jo’s body trembled wildly. Boney lifted her left leg and dug her heels in as a brace.
Boney was more excited than she had ever been. She had never known Jo to grind so deeply and slowly. Her body was rigid and tense. Surprising herself with being able to manipulate the dildo one-handed, Boney reached to the end of the vibrator and turned the black knob to the next level and spread Jo’s buttocks wide to allow her faster thrusts. Jo’s right hand shot to the headboard and her tight grip gave her amazing leverage.
Somewhere from within Jo, a low grumbling sound reverberated and Boney felt it beneath her rib cage. Boney felt the rumble travel from that spot through her lover’s ribs and throat. She felt Jo’s limbs stiffen as she became suspended in animation from the waves she had been riding and holding onto better than any rodeo rider.
By the time her cry made it into the air filling the room, Jo’s left hand had found Boney’s opening and thrust her own two fingers deep within. Surprised, Boney moaned and her hips moved deeper onto Jo’s thrusting digits. She tried to hold the scream from coming across her lips wanting to hear her lovers passionate cries. Jo’s hips began to lower just as her fingers dove deeper into Boney pressing as far as they would go against the membrane barrier and turned upward.
Boney’s muscles trapped Jo’s fingers and her cry blanketed the room. Caught in the throws of her orgasm Boney did not stop the vibrator from continuing to please Jo. The sound of Boney’s release sent Jo over again into ecstasy. Together, they rode the pleasure that was created, sensuality born of twenty loving years.
* * * * *
Teela passed by the gray-sided house on Dover Lane three times before she decided to pull into the drive behind the large truck. She sat in her parked car for several minutes debating if she should go to the front door and knock. That is generally what people do when they pull up to a house, Teela. They go to the front door and knock. She warred with her inner voice. What is your problem? My problem is that she will laugh at me if I ask her to take me back; she has a girlfriend, probably some model type that eats nothing but lettuce. Get out of this car this instant! she screamed at herself and pulled the handle on the door.
From behind the closed blinds, Pax watched Teela’s war with herself in the car seat. Her heart happily fluttered seeing her again before she remembered the words she had spoken to Boney. Trust, not a hug. Pax walked to her front door and spied Teela as she walked up the path. Teela hesitated at the door. Her hand was poised to knock, when the door flung open. Startled Teela jumped and nearly dropped the duffle bag she carried.
“You scared me.” Teela attempted to calm her racing pulse and placed her hand over her heart.
“Sorry about that.” The smirk crept to Pax’s lips and quickly faded. “What are you doing here Teela?”
“I ahh… I came by to see you. I was hoping we could talk?”
Pax hesitated and then stepped aside to allow Teela inside. She closed the door and recognized the bag that Teela carried as the one she frequently used to take when she was going to spend the night. Pax ignored the small ache that stirred within her chest.
Teela entered the living room and immediately noticed the large TV. She watched, as the football players seemed to come to life on the screen and seemed to run towards anyone in the room. In that brief glance, she also took in the display of snack foods upon the coffee table. Teela saw the two sets of beer cans sitting in front of the couch cushions.
“Is that new? That was a stupid question. You ask questions for a living and that was the best that you could do?
“Yeah.” She looks good. A little peaked around the edges, but she looks wonderful to me. “I’ll be right back.”
Teela glanced about the room wondering if Pax’s love interest was still in the house somewhere. She stretched her hearing. Albeit not as keen as her mother’s, it was good enough to detect if another person may be in a nearby room. She closed her eyes and listened for footstep, voices, whispers, anything to let her know that the new woman in Pax’s life was around. A sigh of relief escaped through her lips as she heard only the sound of the refrigerator door close and the hiss of a beer can tab being opened.
Pax returned to the room. She sat upon the couch, clicked the remote to mute and turned to face her ex-lover. Silently, she sipped her beer and waited for Teela to say something.
“I didn’t realize that you had company,” Teela hinted and eyed the coffee table.
Pax shrugged and waited another beat. “Why are you here Teela?”
“I…ahh…wanted to return your things.” She held up the bag and placed it upon the couch. Pax had yet to invite her to sit so Teela remained where she stood and shoved her hands into her coat pockets.
“I told you that I did not need them. But thank you anyway.” So you prefer to stew in your anger and broken love not wanting to know if there was a chance for salvaging, Pax heard Boney’s voice.
Teela felt the piercing blue gaze freeze her to the spot where she stood. Pax was not relenting. She tried one more thing. “Actually, I wanted to see you, to see if you were alright,” she said pointing to the bandaged left arm.
Pax bored her blue eyes into Teela’s green ones. “You’ve been here. You’ve seen me and I’m alright. Anything else I can do for you?” She threw Teela’s words almost verbatim back to her, but with less disdain.
Both of them remembered the scorch marks those words had left upon Pax’s heart the night Bess died. She remembered all too well the night of Teela’s cruel brutality and total disregard for her emotions. I believe that after the anger clears; you will be able to listen to what she wants to tell you, Boney’s voice haunted her again.
Teela felt the sting of tears welling in her eyes. She deserved that, deserved Pax’s anger without question. Teela just never thought that Pax would in turn be as brutally unfeeling as she had been.
“Jo and Boney are having a Christmas dinner as I’m sure you are aware,” Teela began and watched for Pax’s reaction.
“We both are invited. I am going. I hope you will too.”
“I am considering it.”
Teela inhaled deeply and glanced at the television and summoned a courage similar to the men she saw on the screen display. “I had hoped that we could clear the…air between us so as not to bring a damper to their holiday cheer.”
Pax held her gulp of beer in her mouth as she watched her former lover fidget uncomfortably in her living room. She felt half of her heart reach toward the woman before the shattered half regained controlled. Pax swallowed audibly and did not replace the sneer across her lips.
“What could you possibly have to say to me that will clear the air Teela?”
“That I am sorry.” She held her breath. Her eyes are so cold. My God she really hates me. “I am so sorry for everything that I did to you when we were together.”
“When we were together... That’s a joke.” She twisted the beer can upon the table in thought. “What is it that you think you have done to me Teela?”
“Lie to you,” she did not hesitate in her answer. She knew the most devastating of truths. “Never telling you about Bess….keeping you at a distance when you should have been a part of me.” Teela lowered her eyes as the shame of her words pierced her heart again. The first time she truly felt the effects of what she had put Pax through had been during a session with Sterling. Teela shifted under the frozen gaze of her ex-lover that once held her captive and still could.
Aside from the nervous wisps of breath that seemed through parted lips, no other sound filled the air. Teela slowly turned to see Pax’s head dip beneath her shoulders in thought as she listened. Her eyes drifted shut and her lips drew to a fine line.
“In the past few months, I realized why I acted as I had and my treatment of you. It’s a little difficult for me to form into words so bear with me as I try.” She looked upon the silent zoologist hopefully. When she did not receive any hint of a response, a twitch of her eye, nod of head, gnashing of teeth, Teela turned away from Pax and walked a few paces away.
“Since Bess believed that I was an unworthy partner when she was well, I thought that I would show her just the opposite. I believed even as she had her strokes, it was my duty to be there in every way a partner would. Therein lies the problem. I was wrong. I was no longer her partner. She had told me so, and had proven it with the affair. On some level I knew it.” She paused and shook her head with sorrow. “I knew it, but on another level I simply chose to ignore it to believe otherwise.”
“What do you revelations have to do with me Teela?”
“You were the one who had offered and shown me a glimpse of what being a partner truly meant and felt like.”
“You wanted a glimpse?” Pax spoke through clenched teeth. “You wanted a glimpse so you caused my …” Pax pulled her lips back into their tight line. She felt them tremble partly with anger and partly with a desire to cry as Teela had told her she had been used. An experiment…
“Your pain… I am the source of your pain, physical pain because of the fights with Tanesha, emotionally because I became scared and used Bess as an excuse to run.”
“And what am I supposed to do with your self discoveries, huh?” Pax slammed her beer can upon the table causing it to crinkle at the bottom slightly. “You,” she pointed severely and stood, “caused me to bear a hurt more painful than my family ever inflicted.” Pax limped visibly as she paced the opposite side of the room. “I wept for you Teela. The nights when she was in the hospital I cried for the loss you were feeling. I prayed that you would come to me and let me hold you.” She paused, her chest heaving as she finally had the chance to release the hostility that had cradled her every night like a new lover since Teela had left. “You shattered me not only that night you told me to leave but also on the day of the funeral.”
Pax let the words rush fort. She did not want to stop them. Like a train gathering speed so did the memories of what it felt like that night to be rejected in the purest sense, tossed aside and not needed. Momentarily distracted by the low ache in her left arm and right thigh, she gave each a brief massage.
“Those times Teela,” Pax continued quietly, “I mourned with you. You did not know it obviously because I was not allowed to be with you.” Teela turned to her with the silent tears she wept as she faced her tortured effect upon Pax. “It wasn’t until later that I realized…I was also mourning for us.”
They looked upon one another through watery eyes. Teela wanted desperately to walk across the room and enfold Pax in her arms, just to feel her and hold her as she cried, as they both cried because of her deceit. She faced Pax and watched her shoulders slightly shake and bend as she tried to control her sob that wanted to sound. She knew that was impossible. She hoped against everything she felt emanating from Pax that with her discoveries, she might see fit to give her once more chance.
To hell what she had declared to her mother that very afternoon. She would interfere if it meant that she would be able to have this amazing woman in her life. Pax Baldwin you are a remarkable and astounding woman. I know that now. I should have never been so callous with you or your love. Please give me another chance.
“You took my ring,” the simmering anger resurfaced and hissed about like steam through a vent. “You made a pledge to me you never intended to keep. So tell me Teela, what do your revelations mean to me?”
“To understand as I do about my behavior and who I was then.” She wiped at her eyes harshly. “To forgive me…”
“Forgiveness?” she huffed. “That is what is in it for you. Not me.”
“Some semblance of peace then… To forgive me and to forgive yourself for falling in love with that person…”
Pax’s eyes narrowed. She had not thought of being angry with herself for loving Teela. For falling in love with a woman she knew carried secrets and for following even after she had learned of Bess.
“If the situation were reversed, would you forgive me?” Pax questioned.
Teela’s smile did not reach her swollen eyes. “I am working hard on doing just that so my answer would be a little biased.” She paused. “As for the ring, you’re right. I did make a promise, but I had every intention of keeping it.”
“IT WAS A LIE TEELA!” Pax shouted.
“It was NOT a lie! I love you. The feelings that passed between us were real. You know they were real. You felt them Pax. You felt that charge and you saw the colors burst between us when we kissed that first time at Nettles in the bedroom.”
“Nettles? I don’t…” Pax trailed as her eyes softened and filled with more color as she recalled their kiss when they had entered the trailer for the first time. It was magnetic and it frightened them both. Pax’s breath hitched at the bond that had formed that very moment. It was then she knew that she was hopelessly in love with Teela.
Teela nodded. They had never talked about that moment, but they knew. “It was not a lie Pax.”
Fresh tears ran freely down Pax cheek as she whispered. “You threw it back at me and walked away.”
“After placing the ring in your hand, I had to walk away and start my journey, alone, or we never would have had a chance. With what was going on inside of me, it would have killed what was growing between us.”
Pax sniffed and held her gaze to solemnly reply, “It did anyway.”
Teela took a backward step as the last vestiges of her hope disappeared with the loud jingle of the doorbell. Pax wiped her face and dried her hands upon her sweats. She turned and limped painfully out of the room. Teela inhaled and covered her mouth with her hands to muffle the loud sobs. Just as quickly she forced herself into a level of composure that she could not maintain and let her shoulders slump once again.
“What did I expect?” Teela whispered to the empty room.
Pax paused and inhaled deeply three times and squared her shoulders. She reached with her right hand and opened the door. “You’re back.”
“Yeah. Is your invitation still open?” Amanda chuckled.
In the other room, Teela cringed at the cheerful greeting Pax had given the person at the door. Her heart then became the football the place kicker on the screen had pummeled through the golden posts. Her lover is back.
“You bet. Come on in.” Pax closed the door behind her and motioned with her head towards the living room in an attempt to give Amanda advanced warning.
Amanda walked towards the stairs and stood in the archway of the living room. Her mouth fell ajar at the sight of the small blonde standing in the room with a similar pair of red and swollen eyes as her friend had. This must be Teela.
Teela straightened her posture as best as she could. She spotted the overnight case in the woman’s hand and the garment bags across her other arm. Teela felt a sense of loss looking upon her replacement.
“Hello,” Amanda stammered.
Pax entered the room and stood just inside the archway and looked to Amanda with a small smile. “Amanda Rippington, Teela Pheamster.”
Amanda nodded in kind. She felt the heavy tension between the two women and sought shelter quickly. “Pax, I’ll just go and put these away. Excuse me.” She nodded once again to Teela before leaving them alone. Perfect timing Rippington.
Pax shoved her hands inside of her pockets and sighed deeply. She walked around the couch opposite Teela and picked up her beer. She absently gave her head a shake as if to clear it. Teela watched her and wondered how long she and Amanda had been together. Jealousy could not help but to rear its ugly head. This time, it would die without a cause to fight. She had not seen nor heard anything from Pax that would have kept her hope alive.
“Listen, I better go.” Teela arranged her jacket that she never had removed.
Teela paused before turning for the door. She heard the footfalls behind her. She waited as the hand reached around her and opened the door. Without turning she stepped out into the cold Michigan air. Pax’s chivalry turned the porch light on to guide her way. She was midway to her car in the drive when she heard the timid hushed, voice beckon her.
“Teela?” Pax waited until she had turned, something told her not to let her go completely. “Thanks for stopping by.”
Teela returned the faint smile. “Goodnight.”
Pax watched her get safely into her car and backed out of the drive. She sighed at the heavy weariness and fatigue she felt after crying. Her body already was sluggish from too many beers. She now had to dissect Teela’s revelations and what she truly felt for the social worker.
“Are you okay?” a soft voice asked from behind her.
Pax turned to see her friend standing there in her comfortable sweats and loose fitting sweatshirt. “I think.”
“Want to talk about it?”
Pax thought for a moment before shrugging. “Buy ya a glass of wine sailor?”
“Sure,” Amanda chuckled and followed her into the kitchen. Her friend looked terrible. Her shoulders were slumped slightly and she limped horribly.
It was only after she had poured Amanda a glass of chardonnay and opened bottled water for herself that Pax finally spoke. She told Amanda of Teela’s discoveries and how Teela seemed to be on a path of enlightenment. Amanda listened to how Teela had taken responsibility for her behavior and the treatment of Pax as a doormat. Her friend did not shed any further tears. Amanda suspected that she had been all cried out. Amanda recognized the numbness that poured from her friend. She had been there, still ventured there from time to time because of Toni. Amanda understood the fatigue that always followed.
“Ok. Aside from what she said. What did her body language tell you?” Amanda was a firm believer in reading the non-verbal messages that a person sent out. She had to. It was a component to being a lawyer.
“She was uncomfortable and awkward.”
“Maybe, my presence could have made her feel like that.”
“Before and after you arrived.”
“What do you think that means?”
“Well counselor,” Pax grinned. “I think that because she miraculously found insight, she wants to try to be with me again.”
“She says she did.”
“Do you believe her?”
“They are words counselor. Only words you know that. It needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with actions.”
“So that means,” Amanda summarized, “you are going to forgive her and try again.”
Pax thought a moment while she studied the half empty bottle of water. “I heard a car pull up and when I saw it was her, I…” Pax chuckled slightly. “I almost didn’t care why she was here. Only that she was. Ya know?”
“Uh huh.” She studied her friend’s face as it colored. “That did not answer my question.” Pax glared at her and received a wave of Amanda’s manicured hand. “I’m a lawyer. I know subterfuge when I hear it.”
Pax threw her hands into the air with frustration. She paced into the living room. “I don’t know.”
“Look Pax,” Amanda followed. “Since we’ve met, she is really all that you talk about, except for Cloe’s latest masterpiece.” She laughed. “You said yourself proof by action. For that to occur, for it to be seen, you’ll have to let her back into your life or you will never know.”
“Amanda, you are asking me to take one hell of a big risk.”
Amanda shook her head. “No I’m not. I am merely repeating what you are thinking and have already said to me.” She sighed. “Pax, I know that everyone in your life is meddling in your affairs. I refuse to do that. I will say this: you are asking yourself is she worth the risk. She is telling you she is. You, my friend, have to decide on your own.” She tapped Pax’s shoulder in finality. “Come on, I’ll help you clean up.”
If you want to invest in the time, Pax heard Boney’s voice.
* * * * * *
Tammy walked the corridor leading to the different animal houses in the compound she was assigned to. She heard the loud cry of an elephant and peaked through the slit in the locked door. She could barely see into the room, but was able to make out the beast behind a cage of metal bars.
“Hey fella, what are you doing in here? You should be out with the others.”
“No he shouldn’t,” came the voice from behind her.
Tammy jumped nearly knocking her small cart over. She turned to face the older man and tried to smile. “Hello Dr. Caldwell. I was just passing by and hear that guy in there crying.”
“I heard him too. Bomba is not a well fella at all.” He smiled patiently at the woman.
“Oh no? Is he going to be all right Dr. Caldwell?”
“When no one is around,” his smile changed to an inviting one and placed his hand upon her shoulder, “it’s Max remember?” Sheepishly, she nodded and smiled. “In time Bomba will feel better.”
“What is wrong with him?”
He looked at the Enviro Tech with faintly wrinkled brow. He had seen Tammy around the grounds the last few weeks working harder than the other Enviro Tech’s he had come across. She was also the most curious about the animals that were housed at the zoo. He wanted to get to know the tech more intimately but he needed to go slow, and be discreet. So what could be a more perfect way to reach that goal than to befriend and mentor the young woman? He could teach her about animal behavior, zoo or human animals. It did not make a huge difference.
“I take it you are wanting a lesson in elephants today, eh Tammy?” He squeezed her shoulder.
Her grin beamed into the face of her favorite staff member. Dr. Caldwell had always been patient with her. They had become fast friends shortly after she started working at the zoo. Tammy was able to read between the lines. She knew the lecherous old man was up to something else besides telling her what she wanted to know. She spotted him for the easy mark he was and until she finished, he would continue to be useful.
“If you have the time Max…”
“Well, sure.” He smiled lecherously and puffed out his chest with borrowed machismo. “Now, when I open the door, I want you to stay very still and not make a sound.” Max opened the door and peered into the room at the elephant caged behind the iron bars. He slowly motioned for Tammy to enter. She cautiously walked until she stood next to the vet. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and whispered as if he was telling her a conspiracy theory.
“Bomba is what we call a bull elephant. He’s a male about to mature or hit puberty.”
“Why are we whispering?”
“Bomba can become disturbed by loud noises sometimes.”
“Oh? So why he is in the cage then and not outside with the other elephants?”
“When young male elephants get near puberty, they experience something called Musth.”
“Musth. Sound painful.”
“Oh yes,” he whispered closer and inhaled the scent of her cologne. “It is like puberty but the bulls can become unpredictable and aggressive. Hence, Bomba is in here by himself.”
“He had this Musth?”
“Yes. Pax noticed his unusual behavior a couple of weeks ago.”
“Yes, she noticed the swelling in his trunk, and smell that?” He sniffed the air and watched her mimic his actions. Her face instantly crinkled at the stench. “That is the smell of Bomba’s sweat and urine. Those are only just a few of the symptoms indicating Bomba is in Musth. Pax noticed them and is trying to get him transferred to another zoo that can handle bull elephants. We don’t have the right space and know-how here at Metropolitan.”
“She is the only one that can work with Bomba at this point.”
“Why?” Tammy eyed the elephant looking back at her suspiciously. She noticed him pressing his head against the iron bars in a rhythmic rocking motion. Slowly, Tammy backed out of the room.
“It’s okay Tammy. He is safely locked away in the cage.”
“He looks miserable.”
“He probably is,” Max stated closing and relocking the door.
Tammy asked, “So who is taking care of him while Pax is gone?”
“We’ve had a man coming from Indiana a couple times a week to take over Pax’s care duties for Bomba. The other caretakers put the elephants away in the main house and then he lets Bomba out to stretch while his cage is cleaned and other things. Pax should be back to work on Monday.”
“That’s a relief. I was worried about Bomba. How is Pax doing?”
“I phoned her yesterday. She is anxious to get out of the house and back to work.”
“That was a close call that she had with those snakes.”
“You have no idea. She was lucky it was a dry bite.”
“What happened? All I’ve heard is rumors.”
“They are just that, rumors. The board is still investigating that so I really can’t say.”
“That’s all right. It doesn’t really matter so long as Pax is all right.”
“This is true.”
“Well listen, Max. Thanks for tell me about Bomba. I have to get over to the monkey house. Should have been there ages ago…”
“Primate house,” he corrected and squeezed her shoulder again.
“Yeah. Later,” she stated and grabbed her gear she had dropped in the hall and left him staring after her. Keep dreaming, dirty old fucking man.
_______________ Chapter 11________________________
Teela sat patiently in her office behind the desk and forced her mind to focus on the distraught family before her. The images from her visit to Pax’s house several nights ago danced across her field of vision. In a dizzying circle came Pax’s icy blue eyes and rage-twisted face, Pax’s beautiful face wet with tears, and Amanda standing there with her overnight case and garment bag. Teela fought the urge to close her eyes and shake her head. Locked behind a dark door of her mind, the words they had exchanged relentlessly rammed and battered at the barrier that held them until it finally gave way. The ethereal likeness’ seeped through and freely tormented her consciousness. From the moment she opened her eyes the morning afterward, she’d been able to concentrate on nothing else.
Teela blinked rapidly and found two people in focus before her: John Laffenhauer and his sister Eva Williamston were the remaining two children of Samuel and Roxanne Laffenhauer. More correctly, as of that morning they were the children of the late Samuel Laffenhauer.
“So once we settled the business with dad at the hospital and funeral home, we called you. We’re not sure what to do about mom,” John said and twisted the handkerchief in his hands.
“I think we should tell her. She had a right to know,” Eva countered her brother.
“I don’t. I don’t think she will understand.”
“Of course she will John. They have been married for fifty-four years.”
“Eva,” he said gently, “she did not know us most of the time and she called Dad, Grandpa.” He touched his sister lovingly on the arm. “So you see Teela,” his reddened eyes turned to her, “we need your expert opinion as what to do.”
Teela detested these types of situations, especially when family members were not in agreement. They did want her professional opinion, but the Lafenhauer offspring also wanted her to make the decision for them. After she had listened to what each of their heart-felt beliefs were, she elected to do a little education hoping that would help them to understand their mother’s disease a little more.
“That is a tough question and a hard decision to make. So let’s look at this with all that we know,” Teela began.
“Okay.” Eva eyed her brother curiously.
“Your mom has Advanced Dementia. She is aware of herself and had some partial recognition of dad, or Samuel.”
“Dad said she would always smile and talk to him when he visited,” Eva volunteered.
“True,” Teela gave her a supportive smile. “However, if she perceived him as her father and she had a good relationship with her father, that may account for the nice visits.”
John’s left eyebrow rose to his receded hairline. “I see what you mean.”
“In a sense, dementia is a disease of regression. Essentially your mom is going backwards in her life experiences. You and I have people in our lives and we are able to put those people in the right context or group structure, and even the right decade. Your mom cannot do that because the dementia has damaged her brain and has caused her to regress backward in time. Therefore, your dad became her dad. She is probably at a point of being a teenager or younger. It is typical of the dementia process.” Teela paused a beat to ensure that she had not lost them.
“Sometimes the person will call out for their mom or dad. The person may start to cry because they feel lost. They feel their parents do not know where they are, and are worried that they may be out looking for them. If that is the case, unfortunately, then she would not recognize you or your sister, because you don’t exist. She is too young to get married and have children.” She watched Eva tilt her head as it finally made sense to her. “That is one of the horrific parts of the disease. John, you may be her uncle or brother or someone else important to her at that stage in her life. Eva, you may be the sister, the aunt, or cousin. Follow me?”
“Yes,” he replied solemnly, “I do. So that is why Mom does not know us?”
“It is one plausible explanation,” Teela confirmed sadly.
“So you think she won’t realize that Dad is dead?”
“I did not say that. People with dementia do have moments of lucidity. Those moments are unpredictable and may shock you when they occur. Your dad was a significant part of her life for fifty-four years. To be truthful, I have seen it either way. Some families tell mom or dad that their spouse is dead and nothing happens. For others, telling mom or dad each time that their spouse is gone can be a traumatic event for them each time they are told.”
“That wouldn’t be good for Mom.”
“For anyone really… For the past year and a half that mom has lived here Samuel had been here everyday with Roxanne. He had fed her, toileted her, watched over her care and made sure we did too. He used put her to bed for a nap. We cautioned him about doing that. He was lifting her and could have injured his back.”
“We know,” she chuckled. “He told us you scolded him for it several times.”
“Yes we did. I offered to set him up with lessons from physical therapy so they could teach him how to transfer her properly and not risk injury to himself or Roxanne.”
“Betcha Dad loved that.” John laughed knowing how stubborn his father could be. “It was his way or the highway.”
He employed the same philosophy when John and his sister were young kids. Unfortunately, he also used it in caring for their mother. Although he loved her, his way was doing more harm to his wife. Samuel believed he knew better than any fancy doctors what was best for his wife.
Then there were four Laffenhauer children, two have since died: one from cancer while their mother was still able to know them, the other, in a tragic auto accident after their mother had lost all recollection of whom they were.
John and Eva told Teela the day of Roxanne’s admission to the ARCC that they were almost thankful that their mother had landed in the hospital and then admitted to the nursing home. At the time, they could think of no other way to get their mother out of their fathers care.
“One thing I have noticed about Roxanne, is that in the three weeks that your father has been absent and in the hospital, she did ask for him once. We told her he was out running errands, and she seemed to accept that. She is eating fine,” Teela informed as she had checked with the other departments about Roxanne shortly after receiving the call from John that morning. “Per usual she is going to music programs and to bingo. She has not had any tearfulness or bad behavior as a response to his absence.”
“She has not changed since he has been gone? She does not miss dad?”
“She has not changed and she probably does miss Sam on some level that she cannot verbalize or understand,” she told him. “Now that is today’s report. Tomorrow may be a different story.”
“She doesn’t miss Dad?” Eva whispered sadly.
“Not in observable actions or mood at this point that we can tell,” Teela offered.
“So maybe we should not tell her,” John stated with more finality.
“Eva look, if mom is doing okay now, why risk upsetting her?”
“And what if she asks us about him?” They both turn to Teela.
“We can say that he is out running errands and will back later or something to that effect. Then redirect her attention elsewhere,” Teela suggested.
“That’s lying to Mom,” Eva replied indignantly.
“Yes it is, but like your brother said, why risk upsetting her needlessly? I cannot tell you with absolute certainty how Roxanne will or will not react to the news about Sam.”
“Does that mean that we should not take her to the funeral either?” Eva frowned.
“Not if you do not want her to know about Samuel.”
“I don’t think we should Eva. You know what a hard time she had getting over Wilbur when he died.” John reminded his sister about the severe depression that followed their mother with the death of her firstborn son.
Eva glanced between her brother and the social worker. “If she brings it up, then we should?”
“If she brings it up repeatedly,” Teela clarified, “then I will call you and let you know. You can make arrangements to tell her at that time if you chose.”
“I like that Eva. It’s better for her to think that Dad slipped away with the boys while out on an errand than that he is dead.” He grinned, “You remember how Mom would get so mad at him for doing just that? Taking off with his buddies when he was supposed to be going to the store…”
She paused then laughed. “Oh yeah mom would get so angry with him when he did that.” She thought for a moment and then nodded. “Okay, we won’t tell her.”
Teela smiled at both of them in agreement. “We will observe her for a few days to see if anything out of the norm for her happens.”
“I would suggest that you mention something to the relatives and friends that will gather for Samuel about not telling Roxanne.”
“Good idea Teela. We’ll do that.” He stood. “Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are busy.”
“I am here for you as well. I’m just so sorry to hear about Samuel.”
Teela chuckled, “Did he ever tell you the time I caught him lying on Roxanne’s bed under the covers asleep, while she sat in the recliner asleep as well?”
John laughed uproariously, “Yes he did. He was so livid with you for waking him up.”
“Yeah well, the staff was not too pleased with him I tell you. They had to strip her bed, sanitize it and then re-make it, after he decided to wake up and leave that is.”
“Dad was a character.” John chuckled.
“That he was.” Teela sobered. “He loved Roxanne so much. We all could see it. He was so gentle with her. Ya know?”
“Yes. He was.” Eva sniffed. “Thank you again.”
She walked them to the door and bid them farewell. Teela stepped up to the desk and located the daily report sheet. She flipped through the pages until she came to Roxanne’s name. Quickly, Teela make a note not to tell Roxanne about Samuel’s death. She asked the nurses to monitor her for the next few days and chart any unusual incidents or statements. Afterwards, she turned and made it back inside her office just as the telephone buzzed.
“This is Teela.”
“Hey Nica, I haven’t seen you all day.”
“Some of us work you know.”
“Ha very funny.”
“Have you seen Connie?” Nica asked about their new social worker.
“Me neither. Anyway, Frank called and said he wants a meeting with us in his office at one-thirty.”
“What about?” She hated when Frank called meetings on such a short notice. It meant that she had to take a chunk of time out of her unbearably busy day. Also to get called to Frank’s office was tantamount to having to go to see the principal in school.
“Don’t know. Kat said that she heard him in the Business Office talking about Forensics and the results of a criminal background check.”
“Maybe a new psychiatrist?”
She returned the receiver to the cradle. Just as she turned, she came face to face with Belle. Belle carried a whole banana firmly squished between her fingers. She linked her arm in Teela’s and led her from the office. Teela followed her favorite resident, as she needed to brighten her mood from the conversation with the Laffenhauer’s. She looked at the clock. She still had another five hours to the end of the day. Then she would be able to hurl her eleven-pound bowling ball down the lane and rejoice in the shattering pins. It was a great stress reliever.
Teela and Belle made it partially down the hall before Teela was stopped by a CNA and told that one of resident’s needed clothing and undergarments. She went another few paces and she spotted Mr. Hammerman inside one of the women’s rooms. He appeared to have wheeled himself in, locked his breaks, and proceeded to watch the news as the female resident of the room slept in her recliner chair. Teela signaled the CNA down the hall by pointing to the room. The young woman, probably not old enough to drink, waved at Teela in her understanding and started toward them.
Belle pulled Teela into the large recreation room where the music program was occurring. Teela glanced about the full room at the faces of a majority of the ARCC’s residents were focused on the band playing in front of them. A band was made up of volunteered retirees who loved to play music. The Diamond, as they named themselves consisted of banjo, acoustic guitar, violin/fiddle piano, and washboard players.
Belle immediately began to bounce to the country tune. Teela followed her beat and easily steered her to the sink at the back of the room. Teela enticed Belle to open her hand to release the mushy fruit.
After getting her hands cleaned, Belle was able to clap slightly off beat from the guitar and banjo playing. Teela watched as Belle had forgotten whom she came to the dance with and walked out to the open space. In the span of a moment a man in a wheelchair joined Belle. He stopped in front of her and clapped his hands. Belle’s smiled shown fully and her laughter was heard above the banjo and harmonica.
* * * * * *
Nica came to a stop in the archway of Teela's office door. She looked at the crown of her co-worker's head bent over the large blue three ring binder they called the clinical record. Teela threw her pen down in frustration and rubbed her eyes.
“I feel the same way.”
“Is it time to catch the plane for the Bahamas yet?” Teela asked.
“Yeah, but who will do all of the wonderful paperwork while we are gone?”
“Kat.” Teela chuckled.
“Oh yeah right, it will have to be redone. So we might as well not escape to the Bahamas.”
“You are no fun.”
“Sorry. How about we go have some fun in Frank's office?”
“Is it that time already?” Teela glanced at her watch and moaned.
“Yep. Come on.”
“Okay. Did you find out what happened to Connie?” She stood and came around the cluttered desk.
“Yes, she called in today.” Nica's brows wrinkled in disapproval.
“She sure is sick a lot.” They left Teela's room and headed towards the Administrator’s office for the meeting that he had called with his social workers.
“Yeah right, more like stuck to her new boyfriend.”
“Is her new boyfriend going to support her when she is unemployed? She's been here less than four months and this is sick day number what?”
Nica raised her hands in uncertainty. “Frank knows this and he is not a happy camper.”
“I'm sure. The assessments that she has not completed have caused the monthly billing to be late. She had better get her act together quickly or she will be out of a position Frank won't tolerate much more of this if anything. The other downside is that we will be filling in until they hire another social worker.”
“I hear that.”
“So do you know what the pow-wow is about?”
“I think we have a new psychiatrist. Kat told me that she saw them enter Frank's office a little while ago,” Nica supplied.
“Good, that Scott Nonski didn't seem that committed.”
“I got that vibe from him too.”
“He bothered me for some reason,” Teela confessed.
“I don't know why,” Nica grinned. “He seemed to like you well enough.”
Teela slapped her friend playfully upon the shoulder, “Oh please.”
They reach his office door and heard laughter from the other side of the door. Nica and Teela look at one another and shrugged their shoulders. Nica took the initiative and knocked. At the sound of Frank's jovial command to enter, Nica turned the knob and pushed open the door wide enough for them to do as instructed.
“You wanted to see us Frank?” Nica asked.
“Yes I did come on in.”
Teela followed behind Nica and spent the few extra seconds to close the door and make sure it latched. Sometimes, Frank's door closed but did not catch completely. To prevent the door from drifting open, Teela made certain that she heard the click. When she turned her colored paled briefly and mouth hung ajar for a slip of a second before her teeth ground tightly together as her jaw clamped shut.
What the hell is this? What is she doing here? The hammer pounded into her stomach and the blood rushed between her ears threatening to make her faint in her boss’s office. Just as quickly Teela recovered her professional demeanor as her eyes came level with Tanesha Evans.
Teela fought to control her breathing. She skillfully hid her panic and turned to Frank for some clue as to what was going on.
“I'm sure you two know Dr. Parellis,” Frank began. The social workers turned to the doctor who nodded at them with a plastered smile.
“Doctor” Teela and Nica spoke in unison.
“Veronica Jhorengson,” Frank extended his hand towards Nica and then to the woman seated across the table. Dr. Tanesha Evans. Tanesha took that moment to stand and beamed a professional smile at Nica.
Extending her full smile, Nica took the hand in her own. “Dr. Evans, nice to meet you.”
You wouldn't say that Nica if you knew what an evil bitch she truly is. Teela thought.
“My pleasure.” Tanesha dripped. She released her hand just as quickly before turning to her sparkling dark brown eyes upon Teela.
“Teela Pheamster, Dr. Evans,” Frank introduced her proudly.
Tanesha provided her hand across the table. “Hello Teela, so nice to see you again.”
Teela hesitated and ignored the three surprised faces that darted between herself and Tanesha. She'd rather have her hand severed at the wrist than to touch the woman. However, to refuse would raise questions that she would rather not have to answer. “Dr. Evans,” Teela replied tightly through a thin smile. She gave Tanesha's hand a quick shake and then withdrew. She found it hard to resist the urge to wipe her hand along her slacks.
“You two know one another?”
“Yes, we have mutual acquaintances.”
No we don't you malicious bitch. Teela silently corrected. Teela recovered her senses but left the forced smile upon her lips. “Dr. Evans, I thought you were with the Women's Center?” She desperately hoped she sounded at ease. You never mentioned to me that you knew about geriatric psychiatry. I thought you dealt only with women and teens.
“I was, but when the opportunity arose to work with Dr. Parellis full time, I couldn't resist his offer.”
“For the past three years I have tried to convince Dr. Evans to come work for me. She was always so committed to the Women’s Center. However,” He turned to her and smiled. “I finally made her see that her talents as a clinician were being wasted.”
“Thank you Doctor,” Tanesha humbly replied. “Although I loved the diverse practice and experience at the Women’s Center, I also kept my skills current in geriatric psychiatry with periodic consultations for Dr. Parellis.”
Lord, help me. Please don’t let this be happening. Teela pleaded silently.
“Your credentials Dr. Evans are impeccable and you have a glowing review by your superior,” Frank said.
I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t work with her. Not now, not ever. Teela screamed in her mind. I thought I got you out of my life and now you’re back. I have to talk to Jo. Ha, what can she do?
“Teela, can you explain to Dr, Evans about our psychiatric needs and what our processes are.”
Taken off guard, Teela glanced from Frank to Tanesha. She cleared her throat and began to explain their policy on Mental Health. Throughout the remainder of the meeting, Tanesha was professional and did not indicate to the group that she and Teela had been anything more than acquaintances and now professional colleagues.
When their eyes would meet over a point it was then that Teela could read mischievous planning in the darkened brown eyes. She also saw the hint of lust from a wink disguised as a momentary eye tick.
Teela prayed for Dr. Cummins speedy recovery from his auto accident. But damn Dr. Parellis why did you have to replace him with Tanesha? The ARCC patients will have psychiatric services every other week. Unfortunately a majority of those patients that needed such services were housed upon Teela’s unit.
Frank scooted his chair backward and stood after an hour. He thanked both doctors and social workers for the wonderful relationship that was just forged and suggested that Teela take Dr. Evans on a tour of the ARCC and provide orientation to the charting system and other key personnel. Teela agreed and followed Nica and Tanesha out of the office.
“Nica,” Teela began and met both sets of brown eyes. “I really have to check on my new admission from yesterday. She wanted to discuss a problem with me.” She focused her gaze upon Nica and willed her to understand. “Can I get you to take Dr. Evans around and introduce her for me?”
Nica watched her co-worker struggle to remain in the doctor’s presence. She had noticed right away that Teela was uncomfortable around Dr. Evans. She wanted to know what was wrong with her friend, as she had not personally received any unusual vibes from Dr. Evans.
“Sure, don’t worry Teela.” Nica smiled. “I read the papers on that one. You have you hands full with both her and the family.” Nica made sure that Dr. Evans was not watching her when she winked at Teela to let her know she understood. “Call us even for that conference I asked you do to.” Nica smiled.
Laughing, Teela said, “You still owe me half for that.” She turned to Tanesha and unconsciously stiffened. “Welcome to the ARCC. Let Nica know when you are free to come back for your visit and how long you will be available that day. We can adjust the number of consultations as need be.”
“Thank you Teela. I look forward to working with you.” Tanesha smiled broadly.
Teela turned on her heels and walked briskly to her office. She did not stop to answer any of the queries by the nurse’s aides and only nodded in greeting to the resident she passed. She made it to her private office and closed the door. Her breathing increased as she tried to steady her racing pulse. God, I am going to be working with her. What am I going to do? She sat in her chair and placed her hands in her head.
Teela’s head shot up and she got up to close her office door. As she rounded the desk once again, she reached for the telephone and punched in the number to the Women’s Center.
“Johanna Forrester, please.” Teela waited and tapped her pen upon her blotter.
“Hey Teela, you caught me at a perfect time I just finished with my last client for the day. I should go get Boney…”
“Jo!” Teela nearly screamed cutting her friend off. “Tanesha is working for Dr. Parellis now.”
“So, she is now the psychiatrist for the ARCC, Jo. I have to work with that bitch!”
“Oh God, you’re kidding.”
“I wish I were. Every other week, she will be here Jo.” She paced the small distance that the cord on the phone would allow. Teela nibbled upon her nail as she spoke to her friend.
“Can you request someone else?”
“On what grounds?”
“I don’t know,” Jo replied just as frustrated.
“When did she quit the Center? Why didn’t you tell me she knew about geriatric psychiatry?”
“I told you the day I found out that she quit Teela, but you were too preoccupied with your own stuff to really listen. I didn’t know that she knew anything about old people.”
“Well, apparently she has been doing consultation work for Dr. Parellis and is working for him. Now I am stuck with her.”
Teela heard her door open and turned to see a frantic looking CNA beckoning her “Teela!”
“Hold on a sec, Jo.” She said into the receiver. “Yeah what is it?”
“It’s Belle. They think she fractured.”
“Oh God no, not Belle.” Teela gasped. “Where is she?”
“At the back station, they have her on the floor but she won’t stay still to let them check her. She’s fighting them. The ambulance has been called. The nurses wanted me to get you to help.”
“Jo, see you tonight.” She hung up the telephone and hurried behind the CNA to Belle.
Teela barely held back her tears at the look of such pain in Belle. Her usual pink coloring had drained and left her a pasty white. Her forehead distorted with wrinkles and her mouth would open sometimes without emitting a sound. Belle wept, held out her hands to no one in particular and would repeat, “Honey it hurts.” It destroyed every staff member’s heart who looked on.
Belle had obviously broken her right hip as her right foot was laying at an odd angle and she would let loose a blood curling scream each time the nurse palpitated the area. The ambulance was quicker than usual in their arrival and had secured Belle to the gurney. Teela remained where Belle could see her and kept talking softly to her favored resident.
Everyone in the ARCC, in all of the departments knew Belle. She was the kind of resident that you were glad to have around because her smile made you create one of your own. Her carefree disposition was infectious and made you want to experience a piece of that if only for a little while. Life at the ARCC for the next few days would be lonely without a hug or a kiss from Belle. Life would be forever changed if Belle did not recover and come back to them.
Teela returned to her office with tears in her eyes and her heart aching. The trauma for Belle would be horrific, as she did not understand what had happened to her or what would happen when she reached the hospital. Years of experience had taught Teela that the staff of General Hospital did not know how to deal with people like Belle. They'd likely sedate her to keep her still. Teela did not want to think about the possibility of them using physical restraints on her.
She had her back to the door with her head in her hands and began to think about Belle’s loving children. They were very attentive to Belle and had kept to their schedule of visiting her. Each child had a day to visit and then would e-mail a brief report to the others following. They loved their mother very much. This news was going to devastate them.
Teela stiffened at the voice behind her. She sniffed and turned around, lips drawn and teeth clenched. “Dr. Evans, may I help you?”
Tanesha grinned. “I just wanted to tell you that I find the ARCC amazing. The people are so friendly and seem to genuinely care for their patients.”
“They do. We all do,” she replied coldly.
She paused and let her eyes wander unabridged over Teela’s legs and then travel upon slowly to meet her eyes. Her grin widened. “I am looking forward to working with you.”
Teela shuddered and felt the bile rise from the abyss of her bowels. Her eyes flickered behind Tanesha and did not see anyone near the desk. She would take the chance anyway. “I don’t know how you manipulated your way in here to be near me, but let’s get something straight. You are here to do a job. If you do not do your job, I will take great pleasure in making sure you get removed. Understood?”
The chuckle was low as she stepped further into the office. Her brown eyes bored down upon Teela pinning her where she stood. “Poor self absorbed Teela…. You think this is about you? Don’t flatter yourself. You had your chance. You blew it. I am here to provide a service,” she stopped and let her eyes glance over Teela seductively once again. Then they quickly filled with mirth. “And you are not the intended.”
Teela stared at her smugness and sensed something unsettled about Tanesha. What could she tell Frank? What she experienced with Tanesha was personal it would only amount to slander. I’ll talk to Nica. Teela narrowed her eyes and peered at the woman.
“Good. Let’s keep it that way.”
“My we do have an ego issue don’t we?”
“No, I just have an issue with you.”
“Something you want to resolve?” She grinned evilly and looked about the office. Tanesha sighed heavily before turning her eyes back upon the social worker. She decided to change her approach. “Look, this is going to be difficult for the both of us. You were surprised to see me I understand that. I wanted to call you and warn you about the meeting Joseph was putting together, but I felt it was not my place. I didn’t think that you would answer the telephone knowing it was me.” Sincerity came through her voice and she watched Teela shift her weight to the other foot. “We do need to work together for the benefit of the patients here at the ARCC. Can we at least agree on that?”
“It’s the most important issue Tanesha. I will not place them in jeopardy in any way,” she warned softly.
“I am a very good clinician. Check the records that Frank has if you do not believe me.”
“That is not what I am concerned about.”
Tanesha paused and looked at the numerous binders on the bookshelf. She felt her defenses weaken slightly before regaining her strength. “About how I was earlier, I…I didn’t mean any of it. It was an act. I was scared actually.” Tanesha filleted her feelings open upon the desk for Teela to see. “I do have feelings for you Teela, but I understand that they are not returned.” Her eyes met the social worker’s with a fraction of hope. She witnessed the coldness of the green focus upon her. “I just hope that we can be professional colleagues and…friends.”
Teela thought to what she knew of Tanesha. She was ashamed to admit that their brief relationship had not yielded much personal information or she would have known that Tanesha’s practiced extended to gerontology. Their time together mostly consisted of short dinners, occasional golf outings with Jo and Boney, and sex. There was no comradeship or a sense of friendship as one might think. It never developed. She knew very little about Tanesha career or her college days. They had never broached that point during their time together to discover whom the other was.
Come to think of it, Teela never truly wanted to know.
Tanesha inhaled deeply ending with the corners of her lips turned upward slightly. “When would you prefer my first visit to be?”
Teela shook her head to free it of the confusion she had concerning Tanesha. The different emotions that she experienced in a brief period of time were too disorienting and Teela could not decipher them completely. For the current time, she focused on familiar territory. “Next Wednesday. We had several people with psyche consultation orders and several that need medications reviewed.”
Tanesha sat the leather satchel in the chair and opened the planner she carried in her hand. She quickly punched the buttons upon her PDA then used the stylus to input the information. “How about ten to three? Will that be enough time to get things caught up?”
“That sounds perfect. I know that I have approximately six or eight to be seen myself. Nica I believe has nearly that many as well. We will prioritize for you.”
“Good. I’d like that.” She reached inside a pocket of the day planner and produced her business cards. “These are my numbers, should you or Nica need to reach me.” Teela watched her expertly press the clasp shut on the day planner and place it inside the satchel. She donned her coat and shouldered the bag. “I will see you next Wednesday then. Good day Teela.”
“Tanesha,” she replied curtly and watched her leave but did not see Tanesha’s ear-to-ear grin.
Teela felt her legs weaken and she found purchase on her office chair quickly. The mercury on her emotional meter was at the top and threatened to spill over Teela sat back and rubbed her eyes as the scene unexpectedly played through her eyes again.
Perfect. Just perfect! she screamed silently. Just when I am on the verge of getting things straightened out, she shows up. Teela groaned and wished she were at home curled up on the couch with a good book and Thumper snoring on the floor. What else could possibly happen today? She wondered too soon as an out of breath CNA appeared in her door.
“Oh no,” she groaned. “What do you want?”
“They need you in Nona Reece’s room.”
Teela stepped into the room of Nona Reece. The housekeeper was busy cleaning up the shattered glass where the large mirror used to be above the sink across the room. Teela sighed with relief when she noticed that the roommate was not in the next bed. The regal older woman sat defiantly in her wheelchair and angrily shook her fist in the air on her left side. Her face contorted in fury she spoke unintelligible blend of English and German.
“Du Sohn eines Weibchens get out!” You son of a bitch get out!
Teela took in the disarray of the room. Nona had thrown everything that was within her reach about the room. Teela noticed the roses that had sat beautifully in the heavy vase thrown haphazardly into the housekeepers waist bin.
“Hello Nona, it’s Teela.” Her lips curled into a full smile as she came to a stop a short distance away from the woman.
Nona turned and glared at her, lips pursed tightly together so that they were wrinkled lines. Teela realized that she did not have her upper or lower dentures in place. She glanced at the counter and did not see them or the little blue container that they soaked in. Teela saw the plastic cup on the floor in the corner. Next to it were Nona’s teeth. Teela surmised that when she ran out of things to throw, she threw them.
“This is a private matter,” she slurred her dismissal of Teela.
“I’m sure it is. Maybe I can be of some help.”
“You can call the undertaker because ich bin, deisen bastard zu töten.” I am about to kill this bastard. Nona frantically glanced about her immediate area, Teela recognized that she was looking for something to throw again.
“Nona I don’t understand German. Can you speak to me in English please?” Teela asked sweetly and eased herself onto the edge of the bed.
Nona rolled her eyes impatiently before turning the cold brown eyes upon the social worker. Teela being vertically challenged could not afford to lose any more stature. However, Nona’s penetrating gaze stole inches from the social worker as she mentally shrank from the older woman.
“Nona, I can see that you are angry, but I don’t know why.”
“Him!” she screamed and pointed to her left.
“Diese zwei festfetsen Wilbur.” That two timing Wilbur.
Wilbur, her husband, oh no he’s come back for a visit. I thought we got rid of him. The last time that Wilbur had come visiting his wife it was because she had a raging urinary tract infection. It made Nona hallucinate his presence for several days. Nona’s urinary analysis had confirmed the infection and a course of antibiotic therapy was ordered by her doctor. Once the infection had clear, Wilbur had disappeared.
“What did Wilbur do, Nona?”
Nona let out a toe-curdling wail and she cried the tears of a woman whose heart had been broken. Through her hiccups and broken German, Teela discovered that Wilbur had been unfaithful to his wife during the war. That he had come home to tell her so but to also beg for her forgiveness. That she had given him. Then, Nona went on, that he was unfaithful again later in their marriage and she had found out about his hidden mistress. Nona clutched her heart and continued to cry. Teela took a chance and gave her the box of Kleenex and hope that she would not throw it. Nona threw her used tissues at Wilbur instead.
Cassandra found her way to Nona’s room and they talked just outside of her door. The nurses had sent a urine and blood sample yesterday to the lab with stat orders. Both tests were negative. Cassandra was on the telephone speaking with Nona’s physician requesting a one-time order for a medication to calm the distressed Nona. Cassandra looked to the social worker and told her the order for a small dose of Ativan to be injected and an order to admit her to the psychiatric unit. Teela vigorously shook her head and Cassandra returned to the received to speak with the doctor. When she cradled it, Teela was right there to object.
“Okay Cassandra, I might half heartedly agree with the psyche admission order but not the injectable. How are you guys going to get near her with a needle?”
“I agree Teela. The doctor changed it to the oral dose, and if she refuses then use the injectable.”
“Okay. Did he mention anything about doing the first certification form for admission?”
Teela drew a deep breath and loudly exhaled. “Okay, then. I’ll call him back and start things rolling.” She groaned inwardly, this process was always so difficult to coordinate. She turned back towards her partner on the unit. “Cassandra, how about another option?”
“What are you thinking Teela?”
“How about if we give her the Ativan, see how she reacts and then reassess her in the morning? Maybe she had a bad memory or something? This is the first time that she has acted out since last time. Right?”
“This behavior is coming out of nowhere. Let’s see how she is overnight and then go from there?”
“You don’t think she is a danger or would harmful be to others?”
“Gut feeling, no. Evidence-wise, could be. Fact is she is reliving a moment in her life when her husband was unfaithful on more than one occasion. How would we react if it were us?” She paused to let her argument sink further in. “We could keep all sharps and things out of reach. Place her on suicide precaution measures over night. For meals we use Styrofoam and probably finger foods tonight. I can call her daughter and see if she is willing to come in and help us with a visit for a couple of hours to give the staff a break. What do you think?”
Cassandra looked at Teela and sighed. “I don’t want to see her go to psyche anymore than you do Teela. Are you sure you want to take the risk?”
“Think about it Cassandra. This is a catastrophic reaction to a past event. We get her over the initial emotional hurtle and then seek a way to manage them in-house. We have,” she swallowed the name, “Dr. Tanesha Evans as our psychiatrist. If Nona is stable tomorrow, I can call and ask if she would be willing to do an emergency consult.”
“I don’t know Teela.”
“The other thing is this. Nona doesn’t have any money. The family will not be able to afford to hold her bed while she is away at psyche. That issue always gives us trouble no matter if the family knows the person needs to be at inpatient psyche.”
Cassandra chewed on the end of her pen as she thought over the social workers plan. She hated to admit it but Teela could be right. She glanced at the clock. She was supposed to have been home a long time ago and it was nearly five already.
“You get it approved by Hazel and set it in motion.” Cassandra lifted the clinical records towards her.
Teela beamed, “Thanks Cassandra.”
“You’re good Teela, I’ll give ya that.”
Teela’s smile beamed wide and her eyes sparkled. She grabbed the chart and made her way to the office of the Director of Nursing.
___________________ Chapter 12 __________________
Emily sat in the back of the Internet coffee shop waiting. She sipped her chocolate cappuccino and closed her eyes against the nightmares that threatened to invade her waking hours as they had her nights.
An eerie glow covered the concrete to the highest building of the city blocks where Randy and Emily were pinned under gunfire. The acrid stench of smoke had long since permeated her nostrils and stung her eyes red. In the far distance Emily heard Randy screaming her name. The dream sequence began as Emily darted from between the parked cars into the open empty street except for the moaning from the body of a fellow cop and her friend Jimmy. Gun held high, her eyes never wavered from his body. She grabbed the collar of his jacket and began to drag him backward towards the safety of the park cars.
“Hang on Jimmy!” she shouted to him.
Emily back peddled with the dead weight as fast as she could. She slipped once, jumped to perch upon one knee and quickly scanned the area before she resumed closing the distance to the safety of the cars. The sound four of extremely loud firecrackers exploded in succession into the night. Emily knew that the sound was not firecrackers at all when she felt the sting in her neck and another bullet pierce the bicep of her gun arm. Her aim remained high but she could not lock a target for the violent shaking.
Emily ignored the burning in her neck and arm. She ignored the wet liquid that seeped down the inside of her shirt and the coppery scent of blood. Several more shots split the air as she back peddled and dragged Jimmy closer to the cars. Emily yelled out as her right shoulder crashed onto the cold cement. Pain suddenly erupted and radiated through her right thigh. Her left hand snapped to cover the open bleeding wound from the snipers bullet. She clenched her teeth and flipped onto her back. Knees bent and open, Emily used her left hand to raise and steady her gun arm to give her some semblance of an aim. She began to blindly shoot into the windows and doors across the street. She had emptied her entire clip and continued to pull the trigger unable to recognize the repeated click of the empty chambers.
Randy summoned all of his strength grabbed his partner’s collar with two hands and flung Emily behind the car. She landed with a loud “oomph” and slumped against the concrete. In the same momentum, he reached for Jimmy.
Emily felt a strong shove to her shoulder and she jumped from her reverie, her hand immediately reached to the middle of her back where her weapon used to rest. She had forgotten that she had surrendered her gun while on leave.
“How long are you going to be in lala land?”
The adrenaline caused her breath to quicken and her hands to shake. She bore icy blue daggers into the brown grinning eyes seated across the table from her.
“Do that again Kronk and I will put one right between your legs.” She hissed behind clenched teeth willing her heart to slow the pounding in her chest.
“Then at least I’ll know you love me. You are absolutely gorgeous when you’re angry.”
“Don’t push me Kronk,” she warned.
“Okay, okay.” He folded his hefty two hundred and seventy-five pound bulk in the seat across from the tense detective and eyed her carefully. “You don’t look so hot there Em. Are you catching a cold or something?”
Kronk pointed to the pale and fevered face covered in a light sheen of sweat. Emily’s blood shot eyes pierced the retired detective wanting to see him shudder. Good thing I am not afraid of her. Jeez, she looks like she wants to kill me. The corner of his lips turned upward in bravado he did not completely feel.
“Or something.” She sipped her cappuccino. “So how have you been Kronk?”
“Good, Em. Real good. You?”
“I see.” He sipped his coffee watching her carefully. He had a suspicion that Emily would call when he heard about the shooting. He’d hope that she was ready to come onboard. The firm could use her skills and tenacity. “Okay now that the pleasantries are over with. What gives?”
“Your offer.” She couldn’t prevent the cringe.
“Is that right?” Her voice was dry as she held his gaze.
“You come in with me and the gang. We run through this city and the next two states. Sometimes travel is needed, but nothing further than New York. U.S. only not even Canada when absolutely necessary. We have specific contacts there to help out. Also an occasional security consultation….”
“Sound simple enough.” She sighed and focused her thoughts upon Harley. Will she still accept me if I don’t have my gold shield anymore?
“Can be. There is down time and then we take some easy ones to stay sharp. Generally your same hours but not always guaranteed. You know the drill.”
Nodding she sipped her latte again thinking over the rules of the new profession she was considering. “Who’s footing the bill for payday?”
“Whom?” She looked up incredulously. “Senator Donovan?”
“Entrepreneur Donovan. He owns a chain of PI’s – on the level PI’s,” Kronk clarified.
“Uh huh?” she said skeptically. “Are you trying to get me into some shit here Kronk?”
“Wouldn’t think of it Emily. You know me better than that.”
She studied her old friend for sometime before she gave in. “What’s payday?”
“Five percent higher plus commission.”
“Only five percent?”
“Trade off for hours. Can almost guarantee you’ll be home every night giving it to the little woman…” he sniggered.
Faster than Kronk realized, Emily had reached across the table and had a fist full of his shirt. She surprised him with her strength as she yanked him halfway across the table. Eyes devoid of color save for the red streaks, her canine teeth bore uncomfortably close to his nose. She ignored the searing pain in her arm.
“Do you want to be able to fuck again?” She jerked him again for effect. “Don’t ever talk about Harley that way.”
Kronk controlled the rattling trembles of his internal organs, as he was held suspended above the table. He had never feared another human being in his life let alone a woman. That was until that very moment when his old trainee paralyzed him. He thought she was wounded, the near choking grip indicated otherwise. He prayed that she would not shoot him. Emily appeared more crazed and on edge than he had remembered six months ago.
“Jesus Emily, it was just a joke for Pete’s sake.”
She shoved him back across the table and ignored the startled faces of the other patrons in the café.
“What is with you?” He rubbed his neck and straightened his shirt. “Maybe it’s time you take a vacation before you decide to join us.” He paused and studied her using two hands to lift the cup to her lips. “You and Harley should go away together to a place where you can relax and unwind.”
“I ahh…” she stammered. The sudden burst of anger frightened her too.
“I’m serious Emily. Take some time for you and get away. You are too high-strung.”
She stood and grabbed the cane. “Listen Kronk, your offer sounds good. Let me think about it some more and I’ll call you. Okay?”
“Sure kid, no problem,” he replied slowly.
“Only yours. I’ve had a space reserved for you for two years.”
“Thanks,” she smiled at him weakly. She turned and limped out of the café.
* * * * * *
“EMILY!!” The voice screeched through the bedroom door followed by a soft knocking.
Emily turned over on the comforter and pulled the sleep mask from her eyes. “Yes momma?”
“Emily, hay un hombre para verte.” There is a man here to see you.
“Who is it momma?” Emily rolled her eyes at her mother’s perpetual use of Spanish. It was doubly ironic that her mother was of French origin by birth. You would think she’d prefer her own family’s native tongue. That probably would be worse.
“Dice que su hombre es Randy”. He says his name is Randy.
“Okay, be right there.” She rolled to her side and groaned painfully sat erect on the side of the bed.
After meeting Kronk, she hailed a cab and rode around the city for an hour. She preferred to walk, but her leg was not ready to support that much exercise and strain. She then stopped into the Private Investigation offices of Kronk and his associates, a surprise visit to catch them as they truly are and not so prepared. Kronk gave her a tour of their set up and had answered all of the questions that she conceived of while riding in the cab. She spent another hour with them before fatigue started to settle upon her. Emily had returned to an apartment void of her mother and her prying questions, much to her delight. In the peace and quiet, sleep quickly claimed her.
There was a soft rasp again before her mother let herself into the bedroom. Her mother made a soft gasp at the site of the bandaged thigh and the brilliantly colored bruises.
“I said that I would be right out momma.”
“Sé. Vine ayudar. I know.” I came to help.
“Thank you, but I’ve got it.”
“Pero deseo a. Dejarías la ayuda de Harlot tú.” She pouted. But I want to. You would let Harlot help you.
“Harley, mother, and you know it.” She hissed and let the irritation surface. “Why are you speaking Spanish?” She gently pulled the loose fitted pair of carpenter jeans over her thighs and got to her feet.
“¿Por qué eres no, Harlot no estás aguí?” Why are you not, Harlot is not here? She grinned.
“I told you what her name is! I have no idea why you hate her so.” She met her mother’s eyes with venom. Then her voice softened with pleading. “Harley loves me momma and she makes me happy. That is all that should matters.” The pause was long enough for the anger to take over. She grabbed the cane by the nightstand and faced her mother. “Respect her or else mother. Don’t make me choose.”
Emily slowly limped her way slowly into the living room. You will respect my partner or leave. I have no qualms putting you out of my life. Her smile widened at the sight of her scruffy looking partner.
“Hey there ugly, what are you doing here?”
“I needed to look at a mug worse than mine for a change.” Randy laughed.
“Ha ha ha.”
“Aunque él necesita afeitar, él es un hombre joven que mira muy agradable, Emily. Debes serte más agradable.”Although he needs to shave, he is a very nice looking young man, Emily. You should be nicer to him.
“Randy es una madre del asshole y mi socio en la fuerza. No consequir ninguna ideas.” Randy is an asshole mother and my partner on the force. Don’t get any ideas. She spoke to her mother so that Randy would not be embarrassed.
“What?” he asked looking between the two women.
“Come on.” She turned and headed for the kitchen.
“So how have you been?” He followed behind her. It was the first time he had ever seen her less than perfect.
“Getting by. Want coffee?”
“Black. I never knew you spoke Spanish.”
“There are a lot of things about me you don’t know.”
“Oh yeah, wanna tell me?” Randy goaded. “Tell me yours. I’ll tell you mine.”
She switched canes to her other hand and withdrew two cups from the cabinet. “If I tell you then I will have to kill you. You know how that goes.” She laughed and poured their drinks.
“You would try,” he boasted.
“Besides, I already know you are a sick pervert so no deal. Here, grab these.”
Randy took hold of the two cups and waited for his partner to ease into one of the dining room chairs, he slid into the other. Emily situated herself as comfortably as possible and propped her leg upon the vacant chair.
“How is your leg healing, Emily?”
“Coming along.” She cringed at the stab of pain that suddenly shot through to her hip as if to tell her she was lying. Any gunshot wound was a slow recovery but the worst for her was the limitation in her movement. The sitting around the house was beginning to grate severely upon her nerves.
“Always a tough ass and things don’t hurt you.” He shook his head.
“Some things do. I just never let it show.” She smirked and sipped her coffee. “So fill me in.”
“Jimmy is out of critical care. Captain is hosed that we lost the money, the drugs, and two cops were wounded. No bad guys were caught.”
“None?” She showed her disappointment.
“Jimmy must have dropped Ricardo and Merlin by the door before they exited.”
“Least it wasn’t a total lost, two less bad guys.”
“From Jimmy and four from you.”
“I didn’t know you were counting.” She smiled at the good news.
“Not me, ballistics.”
“One of them Emmanuel I hope?”
Randy shook his head again. “He’s probably lying low. Mac and Penny are combing for a bead on him as we speak. They’re pissed for what he did to Jimmy.”
Babbette walked into the room and began puttering about the kitchen needlessly.
“Vengeance is a motivator.” Emily supplied.
“They’ll turn up something on him soon. The four of us together will take him down.”
“Yeah.” She nodded unconvincingly. But I won’t be around for it.
“Got a lead on Valdrin. Picked him up yesterday.”
Babbette was about to pour herself a cup of coffee when she heard the name Randy spoke. She missed the cup and yelped as she spilled steaming brown liquid across her fingers and the counter. Shaking her fingers, she asked herself, did he say whom I heard him to say? Say that name again. Please tell me she has found him?
Emily twisted in her seat and looked upon her pale-faced mother. She wondered why the colored had drained from her face at the mention of the drug dealer. Her mother was petrified and her eyes darted between her and Randy. “Are you alright mother? Did you burn yourself?” She began to struggle out of the chair.
“Oh Emily.” She laughed nervously. “How silly of me. I was not paying attention. I’m fine.” She quickly returned the carafe to the pot, cleaned the coffee from the counter and abruptly left the kitchen. She entered the living room and sat wearily upon the couch. She rested her head in her hands and rocked in self-comfort. Dear god, she could not have found him?
Fifteen minutes later, she heard Emily and Randy come out of the kitchen laughing loudly. Babbette quickly grabbed one of the magazines on the coffee table and wiped the tears away from her face.
Emily noticed the odd color to her mother’s complexion and looked to her questioning. “Mom, are you alright?”
“Oh, yes, dear. The article I was reading is very sad. It was about a woman going through a terrible and messy divorce. It has touched me.”
“Okay mom.” Partially convinced she turned to Randy. “I’ll be right out.”
“Where are you going?”
“We have to go see a few people and then Randy is taking me out to dinner.”
“You are.” She grinned and punched him in the shoulder.
“I guess I am.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You do like McDonald’s right?”
“Ha ha very funny. After that you can drop me off at the bowling alley.”
“I can do that.”
“Actually, I feel like garlic shrimp scampi from Under the Sea down on Canal Road.”
“What makes you think you rate that expense?”
“What makes you think I don’t?”
“Emily,” her mother hedged. “I was hoping we could spend more time together. I only have tomorrow and then I am flying back to Texas.”
Her heart melted at the sight of her mother. That must have been one tear jerk of an article mom. Something is different. What though? Look at her, she looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown. “We will mom I promise. Tomorrow we’ll do what ever you want. Right now, Randy and I really do have to touch base with some people.”
“Alright.” Emily clearly identified the look of rejection upon her mothers face.
Emily limped over to her mother and kissed her forehead. “Tomorrow, I promise.”
Randy stood by the front door for only a few awkward moments in the silence that enveloped the room. He watched the profile of the older version of Emily as she sat upon the couch. Her affect was flat and he watched her slightly weave. It was almost like a shock reaction. He scratched the stubble of a beard. He had a sharp detective mind and had helped his partner to solve many crimes that took place in their city. The one mystery he could never get a workable grasp upon was women. Maybe that was the reason he remained a bachelor
“Randy may I ask you a question?”
“Sure Mrs. Oliverez .”
“If you don’t mind me asking, what was the name of the man your team arrested yesterday?” He tilted his head at her curiously. “I thought I heard it once on television recently. I was just curious.”
“What about him?” Emily asked as she entered the room.
“Nothing dear. I just though the name sounded familiar from a television program.” Babbette smiled broadly.
Babbette Oliverez bid her daughter goodbye and told her not to worry about her. She would locate something for her dinner, watch a movie and retire early. She remained upon the couch for several moments before she padded into the kitchen to where her daughter kept the alcohol. Her mechanical movements poured a healthy four-finger shot of the whiskey over the sparkling ice cubes in the tall tumbler. She returned to the living room and resumed her place upon the couch.
Babbette took a large sip of the cold brown liquid and tilted her head back with closed eyes. She held the liquid in her mouth until it warmed and singed her throat. She lowered her head back into its natural position, she then swallowed feeling it course down her throat and spread through her lungs to come to rest upon her empty gullet.
Flashes of her life came to life behind the tightly closed lids: A two-year old dark haired child running and playing with the tall blonde haired man the child called daddy, the picturesque image of the happy little girl playing with her daddy. She and Jonathan Stevenson had been married for over a year. He accepted Babbette’s daughter as his own in all respects except upon paper. Babbette smiled as she relived the beauty and fabulous figure she held at the age of twenty-eight much in part due to Jonathan’s devotion to diet and exercise. She was so happy at that time in her life.
Babbette took another drink as she continued to recall that the happiness she had felt then that did not last much longer. Jonathan was killed in a construction accident just before their second wedding anniversary. By the time Emily was almost four, Babbette had become Mrs. Fredericko Oliverez, and Emily had a figure to call her daddy, recognition as such both in the eyes of the child, and those of the Probate Court of San Antonio Texas. As long as Emily was happy with that, so was Babbette.
Babbette shuddered as it had almost unraveled today. Valdrin, she chuckled. It was an easy mistake. Babbette looked around the large open space of the apartment and drank a little more from the tumbler in her hand. I will wait. If she discovers and asks, I will tell.
Continued in Part 4
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