Extension 147
by Jynaki

September 2006

General Disclaimer: See Part 1
Feedback: Comments can be sent to the bard at Jynaki@aol.com

Chapter 13

Teela waited impatiently in her living room trying to read the same article she had been focusing on for past half hour. She kept checking her watch waiting for Pax to arrive. When the door bell finally rang, Thumper jumped to her feet and ran to the door barking. Teela opens the front door looking curiously at Pax standing a short distance away on the lawn. She smiled broadly at the sight of Teela.

"Hi," She waved from the lawn.

"Hi, yourself. What are you doing over there?"

"I heard a monster behind the door and thought I should stand over here."

"Monster huh? Come on in and meet it."

Hesitating, Pax took slow steps until she was face to face with the beautiful social worker. "You didn't tell me you had a large dog.

"Thumper is okay once I tell her that you are." Pax hesitantly made her way into the house and stood right behind Teela. Looking over her shoulders she spied the large pit bull attentively sitting in front of her mommy, but watching Pax with a cautious eye. Thumper started to stand and Pax inadvertently jumped.

She smiled. "Elephants and tigers I can handle. I am not so sure about pit bulls."

Teela laughed and took the hand resting on her shoulder. She bent down to her baby. "Thumper, this is Pax. Pax this is Thumper."

Pax lets Teela stretch her right hand forward so that Thumper could sniff her. Thumper hesitantly sniffed and then licked Pax's palm. She then stood and moved around Teela beginning to sniff Pax's shoes and legs. Thumper continued to sniff and makes it to Pax's groin. She quickly placed a hand in front of her groin and looked up at Teela.

Teela grinned, "She definitely likes you." Oh you are a lucky dog all right. Teela then blushed hotly and Pax looked at her curiously. "I'm ready. You?"


"Are we bringing lawn chairs?"

"I really never thought of that. Sorry."

"Hang on then." She left the room heading for the basement.

Pax cautiously looked into large hazel eyes of an animal that could easily rip her leg from her body and come back for more. Thumper sniffed her once more then turned and walked into the living room. The dog proceeded to turn and stretch out its front legs preparing to sit. She leaned down on her front legs causing her to purposefully expose her anus to Pax. She wiggled the little stub she had for a tail and then plopped upon the floor, rolling to the side not giving Pax a second thought. Just in case, Pax remained perfectly still where she was wishing that Teela would return soon.


Pax and Teela arrived at the Jazz Festival, and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Thousands of people were milling around the closed off area near the park and surrounding side streets. One side of the street had a performance stage at both ends of the street with the seating beneath the large tent awnings where people partaking of beer and alcohol sat. In the middle were small carnival rides and games. The other side of the street carried vendors of varied wares and trinkets as well as those peddling foods. Pax looked down at her little blonde companion and swore she saw her drool at the first whiff of food.

Pax followed closely on Teela's heels. She kept checking to make sure she carried her folding chair on the opposite shoulder so as not to bump into Teela. Their first hour at the festival involved lots of walking. They started from six blocks over and chatted along the way. Now that they were in the thick of the crowd, she had to lean into her companion to be heard or to hear what was said. This she didn't mind at all. Each time, Pax's nostrils were filled with the sensual delights of Teela's musky rose perfume.

It was the little touches here and there with which they quickly became comfortable. Pax grinned. At first it was under the guise of pointing something out to one another. Then they just started doing it because.


know she feels the attraction. How could she not?

Teela spotted a shaded area under tree that was not crowded. They set up their chairs, getting comfortable so they could listen to the band on stage. "This was a lovely idea Pax. Thanks for inviting me."

"You're welcome. I figured if things didn't work out and you wanted to get away from me, you could use the crowd as a cover," she teased.

Playfully slapping at her arm, Teela asked. "Why would I want to do a thing like that?"

Hunching her shoulders Pax replied, "You never know. Ever been on dates like that but found you were stuck?"

"Actually I have. So does that mean you will use the crowd as cover if you want to get away from me?"

"I would have to be out of my mind to want to leave you," she laughed. Oh you are a real smooth putz. Where do you come up with this stuff? You should rehearse what you are going to say before you open your oversized mouth! Her little voiced warned. "Would you like something to drink? Lemonade maybe?"

"Sounds great."

"I'll go get us some." Pax stood and looked across the way to the vending area.

"This isn't an escape tactic is it?"

"Heaven's no. Be right back."

Teela watched Pax walk away from her noticing the firmness of her backside and the slight bulging of her thighs beneath the shorts. She heard her name echoing among the crowd and looked around. She could not locate where it was coming from.

"TEELA!" the yell came again and she turned in its direction. Forcing herself to smile beneath her groan, she waved at her mother approaching. Oh not today. Not now. "Mother, hello." She smiled giving the older version of herself a hug.

"I didn't expect to find you here. I thought you did not like jazz."

"I don't listen to it all the time, Mother, but I like it."

"It's nice to see you out dear." She eyed the chair next to her daughter then shot her a questioning look. "Albert, this is my daughter Teela. Teela, Albert." When he was not looking, Caramella winked at Teela.

Albert, a tall distinguished gentleman of seventy. Black hair shiny and cut close to his scalp the heavy gray at the temples enhanced his handsome African-American features. The wire thin mustache lined his full lips. The body under the yellow polo shirt and jeans was trim. Teela had to admit, he was extremely attractive.

"Nice to meet you Albert." You are definitely something else mother.

"Same here Teela."

"Are you here with someone dear?"

"Yes I am mother." Don't you start old woman. I know that look. As if on cue, Pax walked up with a tray containing their drinks, elephant ears, and chicken on a stick.

"Pax, I would like you to meet my mother, Caramella Pheamster and her friend Albert." Pax sat their tray carefully on the ground beside her chair. She wiped her hands on her shorts and then shook their hands.

"My, my Teela, I must say. You do have good taste." Mother nodded her approval.

Both she and Pax blush deeply. "Mother, I am warning you. Did you take your medicine this morning?"

"Now Teela dear, don't be a smart ass. You wouldn't want Pax to get the wrong impression of you."


"Pax, what type of a name is that?"


"Sweetheart shush."

Snickering Pax replied, "It's Greek Mrs. Pheamster."

"It's Caramella. If we are going to be family, we should be on a first name basis. Don't you think?"

"Albert, did you forget the duct tape when you picked her up this morning? Jesus Mom."

Caramella turns to Albert and countered, "It's really hard to believe that she works with older people the way she treats her mother, isn't it.?" Back to Pax she continued her cross examination. "You are of Greek origin then?"

"Afraid not Caramella. My mother and father loved Greek mythology and the culture. So they gave me and my two brothers Greek names."

"How romantic." Teela rolled her eyes and glared at her mother who smiled back. Her only child was just too easy to tease.

"It is only our first," she looked at Teela, "or second get together, Caramella." I am liking her more and more.

"I see. Well, I have a sixth sense about these things. And you may be calling me Mom soon."

Seething Teela cut in, "Do you have a sixth sense about the worst nursing home that I could find to put you in?"

"Oh nonsense sweetie." She gave her daughter a peck on the cheek. Taking Pax's hand, she squeezed it saying, "I look forward to seeing you more often Pax. Do you cook Greek cuisine as well?"

"My cooking anything isn't all that great or even edible most of the time."

"Oh well." Caramella looked Pax over head to toe and back again before giving her a wicked smile. "A gorgeous face and a wonderful body that my daughter can enjoy, can't have everything. But she cooks marvelously. Maybe I will give her a Greek cookbook for you. Okay?"

"Enough already," Teela growled a final warning at her mother.

"Bye sweetie." She took a few steps then turned back telling Albert to wait just a minute. She walked back to her daughter and whispered. "Remember what we talked about at your house hon?" Teela searched her mothers eyes not understanding. Then she recalled their conversation and her eyes grew comically wide. "There is a big difference my dear." Laughing she turned, took Albert's arms and walked away listening to her daughter scream.

Dropping into her chair, Teela hides her head in her hands. "Oh my god, I cannot believe her some times."

Laughing Pax asked, "What did she say to you."

"You do not want to know."

Chuckling Pax stated, "I like her. She has spunk."

"She's got some thing and it is not spunk, but because she is my mother. The bible says I have to honor her and not say what it is."

"Honor her? What I just witnessed was honoring your mother? Oh, that's funny. You two always talk to each other like that?"

"Somewhat. She can be so outspoken and has no sense of boundaries." Sighing in defeat Teela continued, "But I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. Old meddling biddy."

"Now you should not talk about Mom that way."

Teela playfully slapped Pax thigh. "Oh don't you start."


Across the street stood Tanesha and a few of her friends. They had dragged her out with them even after she told them she didn't want to go. She was enjoying herself despite her thoughts being centered on a small blonde who was quickly capturing her heart. That is until she looked across the street toward the sound of a scream and saw her. Her Teela, sitting with someone else.

Tanesha squinted and lowered her sunglasses. Who is that? She looks familiar but can't quite place her. Then her anger surfaced. Other plans riiight. That's what you said. You had other plans. You forgot to mention another woman. This is not good Teela. We are together. I am not about to lose you to anyone. Remember what you two agreed on several weeks ago. Her mind reasoned. Never mind what we said a few weeks ago. Things have changed and Teela knows that. She feels it too. Jo and Boney, they see it. She watched the tall dark-haired woman walk the short distance to throw their containers away. But who ever that is needs to go so that Teela can see it too. No distractions. I will win. She snarls. That gimpy bitch has just stepped into the ring with the Rattler.


Teela and Pax enjoyed several of the bands that played on the stage. They were feeling so comfortable with one another that neither paid attention to the time. According the sun in the sky, they had been at the festival for several hours.

Making their way to the carnival side of the park, Teela coaxed Pax onto several of the rides. Teela loved the ride with the loud disco music playing that moved forward, backward, all the while tilting with a loud thundering beat. They had to lean on one another after departing the ride until their equilibrium returned. Pax thought it was a wonderful reason to put her arm around the blonde's waist to help her steady. She prayed that her fingers wouldn't betray her and squeeze.

Walking along the midway, Pax spied a game that she wanted to try. I'll win a prize for Teela. Women love that stuff. Then every time she looks at it she will think about today and about me.

"How does this work?"

"Simple. You ever played darts before?" Pax gave him a surly look. His shirt was loose fitting, his hands looked clean, but were black beneath the nails. He needed a razor for his four day stubble accumulating.

"Yeah I have."

"Give me two bills and you get three darts. You can't lean though. The higher the score the bigger the prize. Piece of cake for a big girl like you," he snickered.

"Sounds simple enough," she quipped. If this is a rigged game and makes me looks bad, I will hurt you. She smiled.

Pax handed him the money for the darts. Oh please let me hit something. She made a quick study of the small dart board at the back of the booth. Her first throw did not get anywhere near the targets on the board.

She turned to Teela and smiled. "It stuck to my fingers. Sometimes I forget how large my hands are."

Like she bought that you big dumb ox.. Teela smiled nodding. Her next throw landed just into the lower edge of the board. With more determination her third throw landed in a square in the first row. Trying very hard not to exude confidence at finally winning a prize, she declared "Simple." She was pleased until the vendor handed her a small rubber snake as her winnings. "What is this?"

"Your prize."

Teela tried not to laugh, but Pax heard the sound coming from behind her anyway. Instead, Pax turned and handed her the snake "You can have this one. I have the real things." Back to the vendor, she signaled for more darts.

While Pax was trying to win a bigger prize, Teela walked a short distance away, opened her cell phone, and dialed Jo's number. "Jo, it's Teela."

"Teela..." Jo answered on the third ring but sounded slightly winded.

"Is everything okay?"

"Things are marvelous, but I can't talk to you right now."

Grinning, "Why not? I want to talk to Boney and make sure?" Teela goaded knowing what her friends were doing.

"Go to hell."

Teela laughs, "Been there today. I ran into my mother down here at the festival."

"That's nice." Jo said and hung up.

Teela returned to Pax's side amazed to see that she now had four more snakes lying in front of her on the counter. Chuckling, she turned to the vendor. "What would it take to win one of the larger animals?"

"Two bull's eyes and trade in of the snakes."

"I'm sorry Teela. I really want to get you one of those. But I don't think I can hit a bull's eye let alone two." Pax ducked her head slightly and glanced at the vendor again. "What about for the medium size ones?"

"One bull's eye." He smiles at her knowing she could help him make his take for the day. "I'm sure the little lady rates at least one of those." He prodded.

Teela smiled somehow knowing what the man was trying to do. She hinted at the five darts in Pax hands.

"May I?"

"Oh yeah, like you can really get two bulls eyes."

Teela hunched her shoulders, "I can only try. Right?"

Pax traded Teela the darts for the camping chair and snake that she held, and took a few steps backward to allow Teela plenty of room for her tries. Teela tossed the first one and it stuck on the left side of the board.

Pax mumbled, "That's the downfall of left handers."

Teela looked back at her with narrowed eyes. Pax gave her a huge smile. Turning back she reset and concentrated. The dart sailed closer to the center. Teela stepped back shaking her shoulders to loosen them, and then reapproached the counter. In quick succession, Teela launched the remaining three darts into the bull's eye.

"Holy shit!" Pax and the Vendor exclaimed in unison.

"I don't believe it." He looked at Pax who had her mouth ajar and was laughing hysterically. "You have the pick of any prize here." She chose the dark blue teddy bear with a yellow ribbon.

She faced Pax who asked, "How did you...? I bet you couldn't do that again."

"Oh really." She firmly handed Pax the teddy bear, "Hhmmph." She reached into her pocket and gave the man another two dollars. Without any hesitation, she launched the darts in succession. Two of the three stuck in the bull's eye. This time she selected the large green teddy bear with a yellow ribbon. Turning to a still stunned Pax, she took her blue bear and handed her the green one. "I thought green would be your color right about now," She gave her a lengthy peck on the cheek before sauntering away.

Dazed, Pax lowered her eyes to the bear and then up at the vendor. He pointed at her and burst into hysterical laughter. Growling she turned and hurried to catch up with her date.

Across the way, Tanesha had been watching them. She was furious, seething as all feeling left her hands from being clenched so tightly. Everywhere she went, she saw them. Her friends had noticed her change in mood and watched her watch the two women. They watched the small blonde give the tall woman a lingering kiss on the cheek. Tanesha took a step intent on going over to the women. Her friends had other plans. One on each side, her girlfriends grabbed her arms and pulled her into the opposite direction the women were heading. It was time they went to the bar. Surely, those two wouldn't show up there.

Celeste had spotted Tanesha and waved, but Tanesha was too preoccupied to notice which annoyed Celeste. She watched Tanesha and wondered what held her fascination. Following her line of sight she discovered her Pax kissing the cheek of some woman. On closer observation, Celeste recognized Teela as the one she had seen with Tanesha. A thought came to her accompanied by a knowing grin.

"What is it Celeste?" Her friend Mona stepped up and asks.

"Pax is over there."

Mona followed her gaze. "That is your girlfriend."

"Who is she with?" Mona wife pipes in.

"A nobody that will be history soon. Come on."

The three of them follow Pax and Teela the short distance to the lemonade stand. Celeste grinned watching Pax give her the opportunity for which she was hoping, a chance to speak with Teela alone.

Pax placed their toys and chairs on the ground a short distance away from the blonde standing in line. Pax headed for the portable bathrooms.

"Wait here for me. I'll be right back."

Keeping her eyes glued on Pax, Celeste slowed her stride. Once Pax entered one of the compartments, she quickly approached Teela. "Hi, Teela." She smiles broadly and removed her sunglasses.

Startled, Teela turned and cautiously said, "Hello."

"We met a while ago. You were having dinner with Tanesha. I work with her. My name is Celeste."

"Yes, I remember you Celeste."

"Listen, I was here with my friends over there." She pointed to two women standing next to the tree. "They saw you and Pax a minute ago. When they told me you were here, I thought that I should come warn you."

"Warn me? What about?"



"Listen, I don't have a lot of time right now. But I think you should rethink about getting too serious about her."

"I don't think that is any of your business Celeste. I was there in the restaurant that night. Remember?"

"I do. And you saw how angry she got when we were talking too. Remember what she said. It was how she treated me?" She could see the small blonde thinking. "And that was what she wanted people to see. Look, I can tell that you are a nice person. But Pax is not. She has a quick and evil temper. She can get pretty violent when she wants to. My friends over there can tell you that she hit me several times. They can, because I would run from her and go to them when she scared me. She followed me once and hit me in front of them. It's all I can do to keep them from killing her for what she's done to me." She says while looking very nervously over at the bathrooms.

"Oh yeah, like I am going to believe you."

"I really don't expect you to. She doesn't really seem like the type of person that would do things like that. But who really would, you know? She is beautiful, but dangerous too. I just wanted to warn you is all. You can make up your own mind. I just hope it will not be too late when you do." She saw Pax stepping out of the stall and hurried away to join her friends.

Pax returned and noticed right away that something was different. Wrong. "Teela, are you alright?"

"Aaahhh yeah. Sure. Everything is fine."

"Are you sure? You don't look so good."

"Maybe it was the second elephant ears, " she lied. "I don't think they like me anymore."

"Do you want to sit down? Yeah. that's a good idea. Sit down and rest and then I'll take you home."

"No, I'll be okay for now. Just, please, take me home."

What the hell happened when I left? She looked around the park at all the people that were milling around. Did someone say or do something to her or is she really feeling ill? What the hell happened?

Celeste moved around the trunk of the large tree and watched the pair leave less a lot less happy than they were earlier. She looked back at Mona and Jenny. "A nobody." She threw her head back and laughed.


Pax drove Teela straight home. It was quiet in the car. There was none of the chattering excitement from before. The color had drained slightly from Teela's face and Pax couldn't for the life of her figure out what hat happened in the brief time they were apart. She relieved their whole time together and couldn't come up with anything unusual.

Teela remained pensive on her side of the truck. The day was wonderful inspite of running into her mother. Still, I liked Pax. I found her easy to talk to. A great sense of humor. Worst yet, my mother likes her and she likes my mother. That could definitely spell trouble for me. It was going so well until Celeste. Could she be right about Pax? How could I really tell? She really doesn't seem like that though. I need to talk to Jo. But she is busy and knee deep in her own drama right now.

Pulling into the drive, she immediately cuts the engine and turned to Teela. She waited several beats before speaking. "Teela, I had a marvelous time with you today."

"So did I."

"So what did I do to make you withdraw from me?"

Look at her. I can't tell her. What if Celeste is lying? What recourse would Pax have? To say that it isn't true? Jo and Tanesha did say that Celeste was manipulative. Maybe that is what she was trying to do.

"Teela. What did I do wrong?"

"It wasn't you, Pax. Nothing you said or did. You were wonderful. Really."

"Then what is it?"

She peered deeply into those blue orbs and felt herself drifting closer. Gladly welcoming suffocation if Pax was the cause. "Just...one of those moments when...Actually, I was feeling a little bad because I was having so much fun and Thumper was locked in the house." She tried smiling.

"Uh huh." She watched the pain and the uncertainty flash through the green eyes. The golden flecks getting brighter and brighter. She's lying. "Is that the truth?" she asked, testing Teela.

"No," Teela admitted quickly, "but it is the best one that I can come up with."

"You really can tell me you know. I am not some mean monster that will go on a rampage with the truth."

Teela tilted her head curious at her choice of words. "I know Pax. But it is the best that I can do right now." Seeing the pain she was causing this woman made her heart ache. Jo I really need to talk to you.

"I see." She sighed and turned to face forward. While at the festival I did not want the day to end. I still don't. I though I sensed the same thing coming from you Teela. But it did end. Didn't it? Something had to have happened. I only wished I knew what so that I can fix it and return that twinkle back to those emerald eyes. "Can I ask you a question and receive an honest answer?" she asked finding something interesting about her hands.

"As best as I can. Yes."

"Will I be able to see you again?"

When Pax did not look at her, Teela gently reached over and turned her chin until she faced her. The blue eyes held such uncertainty and confusion. She was unsure of what to say. She couldn't hurt her and ruin the fun they had shared that day, more than she already had. She pulled the zoo keeper closer and kissed her on the cheek. "I am counting on it."

Smiling broadly. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." It will do for now. I did not have to say when.

"I would really like that."

"Good. Maybe we can go to a pub and play darts."

The smile faded. "No darts."


Teela lay on the floor flicking the remote from station to station. Resting her head on Thumper, it bobbed with every breath T-Dog took. Tomorrow she would take the baby to the park and let her run. For now, Teela's mind kept drifting through the day, back to how content and comfortable she felt. Being with Pax, it felt right some how. She looked at the telephone lying beside her willing Pax to call her.

Her wish came true. The telephone ringing made her jump slightly. Hoping it was Pax.


"Hi baby."


"Yeah issme." She slurred.

"Are you alright Tanesha? You sound funny. Actually you sound like you've been drinking."

"I am out wif some friends O' mine. Want to come her and join me?"

"No, I really don't think so. I am kind of tired this evening. Maybe some other time."

"Wassu tired from?"

"It's just been a long day that's all. Tanesha, are you driving?"


"Good. Are your friends with you able to drive?"

"Moose I think?"

"Moose? Who's Moose?" Teela then realized, she had never met any of Tanesha's friends. The idea of Moose being is woman is terrifying. She holds back her snicker.

"Moose will drive me over to your place. Tat ok?"

"No Tanesha that is not okay. You should go home and get some sleep."

"You no wanna see me? I thawt you were my girlfriend."

"Tanesha. Now is not the time to talk about this. We will talk when you are sober if you like but not now."

"Please Teeya, I am falling loves witch you."

Closing her eyes against the onslaught of emotions threatening to crash on her, she thought I really don't need this now Not today. "Tanesha. We will talk later. Good night."

"But baby."

"Goodnight Tanesha." And she hung up. "Good Lord, what else?"


Chapter 14

Jo and Boney invited Tanesha and Teela over for a bar-b-q and gathering to officially meet their daughter, Deanna. She was headed for New York to join a trauma team in hopes of becoming a trauma surgeon. They talked with Deanna and discovered she was a graduate from medical school from Duke University.

"What?" Teela exclaimed. "Not from The University Of Michigan?"

Deanna shrugged, "Sorry Mom, U of M's medical school was lower ranking that year."

"Jo playfully hissed at the guffawing going on in her own back yard. "That kind of attitude is not welcomed in this Wolverine household."

"Wolverine? Boney, didn't you go to Ohio State?" she goaded.

"Leave me alone Teela. You know that is blasphemy. Besides, I didn't graduate so I am not really a full Buckeye." Her eyes were riveted upon her wife. "Isn't that what you say sweetheart?"

"Damn right I do," she cackled.

It was a fun night for everyone except Teela. She had been steadily hounded by Tanesha groveling for forgiveness for her drunken telephone call a week ago. Teela had ignored her telephone calls and invitations to dinner. She did, however, enjoy several bouquets of lavender roses that arrived at her office throughout the week, but as the night came closer to an end, she found herself drawn like the proverbial moth to the flame to Tanesha. She forgave her, and then followed Tanesha back to her apartment to make up.

They made love for several hours. Exhausted, they fell across one another in sated slumber, but Teela's repose in Tanesha's embrace was fretful.

"You shouldn't have come back here Bess. I don't care what you have to say. I cannot trust you don't you understand that?"

"Teela, please. I know that you can't trust me. Let me prove it to you. Give me another chance," Bess pleaded. "I miss you. I miss being in our home with you."

"Bess, don't."

"Don't what? Beg? I will. I am. I fucked up baby. It won't ever happen again."

"I don't know..." Teela wavered.

"I will fight for you Teela. I will fight and show you I have changed. You and Thumper are my family. I will not give that up without one hell of a fight." She left the house and slammed the door.

Teela shook awake. "Bess," she whispered softly. She lay still and gathered her bearings, pulling her mind back to the present from the scenes that still haunted her nightmares.

Taking stock of her position, Teela eased Tanesha's muscled arm from its grasp of her waist. She quietly slipped from the bed and began to get dressed. Tanesha watched her. She was awakened by Teela's mumbling and then the calling of the name she had heard before. Bess. I need to find out who Bess is. Teela leaves the warmth of my bed to go to hers. This will stop. I will make Bess let her go.


"Sshh, I've got to go."

"Don't. Stay."

"You know I can't." She stepped to Tanesha and bent to kiss her on the lips. Her groin twitched as she inhaled their scent on Tanesha's skin. "Goodbye." And she was gone.


Teela pulled into the parking lot of Pine Ridge. She needed to see Bess and see if she could get a hold on these crazy emotions of hers. She needed ground herself. Bess would do that for her. She always did. The telephone call from Tanesha when she was drunk still felt like a warning sign. She had never been able to shake the feeling. A warning sign for what though? Actually, everyone has a drunken night every once in a while. From what I know about Tanesha and how fanatical she was about her training, I doubt that sort of think happens often. But still, what do I feel for her? There was no answer. Then there is Pax. I definitely feel something stronger for her.

The ringing of her cell phone pulled her from her reverie. Looking at the caller ID, she saw it was Pax. She glanced at the building hesitating, then decided to answer.

"Hello Pax."

"How did you know it was me?"

"Caller Id silly."

"Oh yeah. I sometime forget about that. So, what are you doing?"

"I am getting ready to visit an old friend. She isn't able to get out much. So I come and see her as often as I can," Teela stammered.

"You are so thoughtful. That's what I like about you."

"Well thank you." She listened and heard whispers and noises in the background. "Pax?"

Pax was momentarily quiet before saying "Stop that?"

"Stop what?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. Not you. Cloe."

"Cloe?" Something in the background was tossed and a chimp's screeching chatter.

"Yes Cloe. She is mad because she wants another apple and she can't have another one so close to feeding time." Teela began to laugh as Pax argued with the chimp and the chimp's responding screeches.

"You sound very busy Pax."

"I'm sorry. She was being good until I turned my attention away from her to call you. I did have a purpose for calling."

"I was hoping so."

"Yeah, well. I was wondering if I could see you tonight. I mean I know it is a work night and all. Just thought maybe we could go for a walk and grab an ice cream cone."

"Why Pax, that sounds absolutely wonderful."

"Really? I mean, yeah, I guess it does. It just popped into my head since the weatherman said that it is going to be a great night and I wanted to share it with someone. I thought of you."


"Yeah, really? What do you think? Want to call me when ever you are done visiting and I can meet you later?"

"That sounds great. I don't want to hold you up if you have other plans."

"I do now. Just call me when you are ready. Alright?"

"Okay. See ya soon."

"Can't wait. Later."

Pax hung up the telephone and turned to Cloe with hands on her hips. "You and I need to talk young primate." Cloe sat in her chair chewing on the apple in her hands. Brown eyes locked with blue ones and then Cloe blew her a kiss. Pax laughed and shook her head. "I do not believe you."

Teela couldn't help staring at the telephone. Tall, dark, and dangerously romantic. This could be real trouble. She decided to put the thoughts away for now, adding them the growing pile to sort through.

Finding Bess still in her pajamas and sleeping in bed, Teela bent down to kiss her forehead and heard Bess wheezing. Concerned, a frightened Teela knelt at her bedside. Honey what's wrong?" Bess did not open her eyes when Teela touched her. Teela placing her hand on Bess' forehead. She's hot. It was then she noticed the flush of Bess skin and cheeks. Wanting to know what was wrong, Teela gets up and goes to the nursing station.

Teela didn't recognize the nurse sitting at the desk. When she approached, the woman continued looking down at the magazine that she was reading. Impatiently Teela waited for the nurse to acknowledge that she was standing there. She finally spoke when it did not happen.

"Excuse me," Teela interrupted. "Can you tell me what's wrong with Bess Harper?" The nurse ignored her.

Teela slammed her hand upon the desk blocking the nurse's view of the pages she was reading. "I said, what is wrong with Bess Harper?"

Looking up with an ornery scowl she said, "And you are?"

Teela's irritation soared at the nurse's inexcusable disposition. So Teela let go of her frustration. "You're worst nightmare! Who the hell are you?" Just then, Teela glanced up and saw Annie coming down the Oak Street hall. Teela stepped around the desk. "Annie, what the hell is going on with Bess? She looks ill. She feels like she has a fever."

"Hi Teela, I am not sure." She looked into the woman's worried face. "I have been on vacation and just came back today. So let's go see ok."

"Thank you." Feeling a little relief, she followed her to the desk. "Did you have a good vacation at least?"

"Great time with the kids and the beach. Rented a cottage up North. Easiest time I had in getting those little rug rats of mine to bathe. Just hose them off before they entered the cottage." She and Teela laugh.

Annie scanned Bess' chart and reads the last entry. She checks her watch and turns to the other nurse. "Can you do a full set of vitals on Bess Harper for me?"


"Now," Annie growled annoyed with her co-worker. The nurse sucked her teeth and then grabbed the blood pressure machine, stethoscope, and digital thermometer before leaving. When she was a good distance away, Annie turned to Teela. "I have been here for three hours with her and I can tell you right now if I had my way, this would be her last shift."

Looks down the hall towards Bess' room Teela asked, "Should I be worried?"

"No. The powers that be are already putting things together. So the other girls tell me."

"You're sure?"

She took Teela's hand. "Yeah, I'm sure." Annie looked at the nurses' notes and read. Teela sees her brows knitting as she read.

"What is it Annie?"

"Well, it looks like she has pneumonia. She was sent to the Emergency Room a couple of days ago. She was started on antibiotics after the chest x-rays confirmed bilateral pneumonia."

"Emergency Room? I was not notified! I don't believe this. Who was the treating nurse that night? Where is her Transfer Sheet? I want to see it."

Anne searched in the chart to find the sheet of paper they sent to the hospital with Bess describing her condition. She briefly scanned the form and then gulped hard before handing Teela the form to read.

"Who is this Theresa Burnes?"

"That would be the nurse that is in there with Bess."

Teela gasped, "You have got to be kidding me. I never received a call from anyone. This is wrong."

"Teela are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?"

"Do I look like I am wrong on this Annie? Come on, you've known me for three years. What do you think?"

Annie studied her, "Okay. Let me handle this."

It wasn't long before they watched Theresa Barnes make her way back to the station. Hand on her hip, she gave Annie the vitals written on a piece of paper. "Here you go." Turning back to her magazine.

"Theresa, do you remember when she was sent out to the E.R. a few days ago"

"Yeah, I made out the sheet. It's right there."

"Did you call the family and let them know what was going on?"

"Sure I did. It says right there the time I called. There was no answer."

"What number did you call?"

"What ever number is listed on the Profile Sheet, Annie."

Controlling her anger, Teela spoke through clenched teeth, "Annie, I never received a call. Nor is there one listed on my cell phone in the calling log. Don't believe me?" She pulled out the small telephone from her front pocket, making several clicks until she came to the right screen. "See for yourself. It registers all incoming or missed calls for three weeks before it erases them. I never received any calls." She turned to Theresa, "I am her family."

Theresa swallowed hard sensing the trouble she was in. She really needed this job. It was her fifth one in seven months. Her bills were really piling high. "Try her answering machine," she offered.

"It is cleared when I walk into my home. If you were unable to reach me, did you try to reach Karasi Forrester or Augusta Bonniker?"

"I called the person listed first and there was no answer," she said with exasperation, and then glanced at Annie. "It's my break time. Can I go now?"

"Why you little lying bitch!" Teela seethes. "You never tried calling me or my friend to let me know that Bess was ill. You never called me!"

"Says you. I know I did. I wrote it down when I did."

Turning to Annie, "I want you to call the owners, the D.O.N.'s now! I will not stand for this. Do you hear me!"

"I told you I called her Annie."

"I don't want this person near my Bess ever again. I want the doctor called in as well. Bess is not right and I want something done before the rest of my patience runs out!" She stressed each word her volume getting higher and higher.

"Ok. Ok Teela. Let me get things started. You go visit with Bess okay? Even though it is hard, Bess needs you to be strong for her right now. So try and calm yourself." Teela reluctantly agreed and left for Bess. Annie then turns to Theresa. "You. I want you off the unit and in the break room until the D.O.N.'s get in here. Don't come out until they are here. Do you understand?"

"But what about my med pass?"

"Do you understand what you have done? Do you have any idea what would happen if they find out that you falsified records you fucking idiot? Do you realize the trouble you could be in? Now get out of my sight before I let Teela beat the living shit out of you."


"Don't tempt me Theresa. Teela is on the verge and you are at the top of her list right now."

Theresa finally complied and left the floor heading down Oak Street and to the staff break room. Annie sighs. "Fuck, first day back is always hell." She reached for the telephone and hit speed dial button number one.


It was ten o'clock at night when Teela was finally ready to leave Pine Ridge. She felt more emotionally drained than when she had arrived earlier that evening. The D.O.N,'s, as they were known, were the owners of Pine Ridge, Margaret Sanchez and Yvonne Jenkins. Both had arrived within 30 minutes of Annie calling and filling them in. Both were appalled at Theresa's actions. Falsifying of records was not tolerated in any business. Their response was the immediate suspension of Theresa, pending further investigation and filing a report with the Licensing Board. Teela did not feel too bad that the woman would probably lose her job. Her conscience told her she should be celebrating that they discovered how lax the nurse was before she caused someone extreme harm.

The consulting physician that had been called ordered additional stat chest X-rays as it was difficult for Bess to breathe. After all was said and done. Her antibiotics were changed and she was started on oxygen via nasal cannula; Bess wouldn't leave the oxygen mask on. Margaret and Annie assured her that they would carefully watch out for Bess. For added assurance for her client, Yvonne called two additional nurses in for coverage, one to replace Theresa and the other as a personal nurse to Bess for the next twenty-four hours. What more could she ask for?

Looking at the clock on the dash of her car, Teela knew it was probably too late to meet Pax and take that walk. She debated whether to call given that it was so late, but she really did promise. Tomorrow she would get with Jo and Boney. She desperately needed to talk to them.



"Teela? Is that you? Are you alright?"

"Yes it's me. Uhm...I'm sorry for calling so late, but there were some complications and I needed to stay until things got better. I hope you understand."

"Is your friend okay though? That's the most important thing."

Teela pulled the telephone away from her ear and briefly looked at it, again wondering if what Celeste said was anywhere near the truth. "Yeah, I think she is going to be okay. She has a case of pneumonia."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"You're sweet. No but thank you." Would you really want to help if you knew who Bess was?

"I didn't offer to be sweet, Teela. I just want to help you if I can."

"I know, but she is fine. The nurses are with her now."

"That's good then. Isn't it?"

"Yeah. That's good." Teela frowned wondering why she was talking about Bess to Pax. She has never done that before, and Pax seems genuinely concerned for her. It just felt strange. Comforting, but strange.

"Have you eaten?"

"No not really."

"How about I meet you for a quick bite? No funny business I promise. And I won't keep you long. Something quick, even fast food if you like. That way I know that you have eaten something today?"

She smiled to herself. It was getting very hard to resist Pax's charm. "Ok, you win."

"Oh goodie. I win. I win. I win," Pax chanted to Teela's laughing. "That is the best part. Can I meet you at your place say twenty, twenty-five minutes?"


"Any requests."

"Mmm, something light, not spicy so close to bed time."

"Trust me eh?"

Teela paused giving honest consideration to the question. "Yeah, Pax, I do."

"Good. See ya soon."




Pax adjusted the bags in her hands so that she could knock on the door. She immediately heard loud barking from the other side. She was hoping that the mass of muscle Teela called her baby had not forgotten that she was given the green light to be inside their house. She didn't think that she could outrun the dog even if she had two good legs. Pax swore the dog gazed at her like she is one great big giant rawhide chew. Tonight, she was prepared.


"Hello yourself. I have food for ya." Pax gave her a nervous smile.

"You know you shouldn't have." Teela stood on her tip toes to place a sweet kiss on Pax cheek. She grinned at the instant coloring of Pax's face. "Come on in."

Teela led Pax into the house and closed the door. They were so mesmerized by each other that neither noticed that Tanesha pulled her car to a slow stop on the opposite side of the road. Eyes narrowed to the women on the porch. She hissed watching her woman kiss someone else. "Fucking bitch! You will leave her alone. I will make sure of it. And Teela," she shook her head. "You just need to be taught. Then you will know you are mine!" She screamed slamming a curled fist onto the steering wheel she gunned the car to life and squealed her tires as she left.

Once the door was closed, Pax heard her heart thundering in her ears as she watched Thumper coming towards her. She looked down at the red nose and the dog licked its lips. She started sniffing a rigid and still Pax. Keeping her eyes locked on Pax, Thumper began her sniffing ritual again. Her nub started to wiggle as she lingered on the leg pocket of her cargo pants. Pax leaned down carefully to stroke the smooth head.

"How are you tonight Thumper?" Pax cooed. "I brought your mommy some food and a treat for..." Thumper makes her mouth into an "O" and sounded one bark making Pax withdraw her hand and stood erect quickly.

"You have something in your pocket I take it," Teela chuckled.

Pax reached in and withdrew a thick rawhide log and stretched it out towards the dog. Barking once more Thumper snatched the bone from her hand and ran into the living room.

Hand on her hip Teela shook an angry finger at the dog. "Thumper, that was so rude." Thumper ignored her completely.

"It's okay. No harm done. Beside if she is chewing on that then she will forget about chewing on me."

Laughing Teela responded, "She won't do that." I would. "Come on." I most certain would Pax Baldwin.

She led her to the kitchen. Teela shoved the book sitting there to the side making room for the plates she got down from the cupboard. She turned when she heard Pax giggling. "What?"

Lifting the book to read the title, Pax said, "For the Inner Greek In You: Greek Cuisine Made Simple." Taking the book out of her hands Teela rolled her eyes. "How is Mom anyway?"

Teela narrowed her eyes to Pax's toothy grin. "In pain when I see her next."

"Poor Mom."

"Yeah right. So what surprises did you bring me?"

"Oh, I couldn't determine what 'something light' was so, tuna sub and a Cesar Salad. If you don't want the salad tonight, it would make a great lunch for you tomorrow."

Teela leaned over and kissed her on the cheek again. "Thank you. But Pax, you didn't have to go to all that trouble."

I am never washing this cheek again. "No trouble at all." She said noticing that Teela didn't move away after that kiss.

"Will you join me?"

"Oh. No, I can't eat this late. It would give me more nightmares and I would rather not have those if I can help it."

"Bad one's?" Teela touched her arm and felt the heat radiating beneath her fingertips. They were tingling from the light contact, but the electricity traveled pleasurably throughout her body. Knowing that the touch was longer than it should be, she still kept her fingers there not wanting to break the connection.

"Hmmm," Pax inhaled deeply taking in Teela's fresh shampoo and her heady scent. She was standing entirely too close and needed to put some space between them, really soon. But right now she fell into the twinkling emerald eyes. They were changing. The golden flecks were disappearing behind the darkening green. She needed to say something or she would embrace the social worker and never let her go. Pax shifted from foot to foot, "I'm sorry, but the real reason is I wanted to see you...I aahh...I was just thinking about you and the other day. I still can't get the feeling that I may have done or said something to offend you."

Placing her fingers gently over Pax lips, Teela silenced her. "Pax, trust me. It was not you."

Feeling a surge of warmth beneath her fingertips, Teela's caressed the upper then the lower lip moving them to stop the burning she felt. Pax brushed a kiss upon them. Both hearts raced and their breathing quickened. Teela stroked the cheek and moved her hand to cup the nape of Pax's neck. Pax willingly enslaved, following the slight pressure forcing her to duck her head. A sigh escaped her parted lips just before they covered the social worker's.

After tasting the lips of the zoologist, Teela admitted Pax was the reason for the butterfly in flight near her heart. Her tongue brushed against Pax's lips circling them. The moan rumbled though her chest and into Teela. Pax's body shook from the inner explosion of a brilliant light, red, blue, yellow colors bursting behind her eyelids. Pax's body nearly convulsed as Teela's tongue caused quakes throughout her six foot frame. She knew Teela shared the vibrations from being held tightly against her body. Teela whimpered, nipples protruding into her shirt and against Pax.

Pax cupped the angelic face between her palms. She broke the kiss long enough to softly inhale and returned her lips to the social workers. Teela wrapped her arms around Pax's pulling their centers even closer. Teela savored being thoroughly kissed by the tall woman. Pax tasted all of her during the dancing of their tongues. Teela luxuriated in the scent, the taste, the feel of Pax. It made her forget that it was after ten at night, that it was a work night. Pax made her forget everything for a moment. Then she remembered where they were standing.

Teela leapt away from Pax panting, hand covering her mouth in alarm.

Pax missed the social worker the instant she moved away. Hands still trembling she raked them through her hair. "I aahh...I should go." It was more of a question than a statement. Either way, Pax didn't want to make it, but she had to.

"I that might be best." Teela licked her dry lips and stifled the groan from the taste of Pax still on them. Clearing her throat she said, "I'll walk you out."

I do not want to leave now. Please don't make me leave! Pax whined to herself walking to the door. Pax, calm down. Pull it together. She's scared. I'm scared. Take your time. Wait. She liked listening to her coach side better.

"Teela, I didn't mean..."

"We both meant to." She stepped closer wanting to kiss those lips again. Not in our house! Her mind replayed the scream she had hurled at Bess. She redirected her lips to Pax's cheek. "Good night Pax."

Pax gave her a confused grin, "Sleep well Teela."

Teela closed the doors resting against it waiting for her strength to return. Her mind reeled between two strands of thought. Interweaving images of Pax and Bess played across her closed lids. The blue eyes drinking her in warred with Bess coming towards her down the stairs. The vision of Pax parted lips before meeting her own turned into the firmness of Bess sucking on her bottom lip. Back and forth it went until her eyes sprang open and the cry of frustration echoed in the room.


Pax returned to her home and tried to sleep. She found that the energy coursing though body was coming through every pore. Even her eyes sprung open on their own accord when she closed them. After an hour of shifting one from one prone position to another, she kicked the covers off her wired body and paced her bedroom.

"I can't sleep. It's her fault. It's my fault. I wanted to kiss her too. Now she is across town; I'm over here, and I am talking to myself. GREAT!" She threw her hand into the air.

Dressing in shorts and a tank top Pax headed for the basement of her home. Shortly after she had moved in, Pax turned it into a workable dojo. First order of business was to make a usable floor. The concrete would wreak havoc on her bare feet. She covered it wooden sub floor. Then covered that with a wood-grained linoleum. She borrowed one of the smaller floor machines from work and used the heavy scouring pad to scuff the shiny surface so that feet would not stick and burn during her workouts.

After fully stretching and warming up, Pax bowed to the mirror upon the wall. Her goal, was to do every single kata that she knew. She started with those for the white belts and went non-stop through to the level of black belt. Her mind was clear, focused. Each strike attacking to an enemy. Her reflexes were automatic as she performed blocks, kicks, turns and strikes over and over again.

Pax held onto the hundred pound punching bag hanging from the ceiling. She was panting, trying to catch her breath. She rubbed her right leg, but didn't want to sit. Her muscles would siege up then. No she wasn't tired, just winded. Closing her eyes, she breathed and her respirations increased. Those green emeralds came sailing towards her and she once again succumbed to the memory of Teela's sizzling flesh. Pax's nether lips drummed their yearning and her center released a flow of fluid as her arousal burned her with wanton desire for the blonde.

Sparring, that's what I need. That will help. Grinning, Pax grabbed her foam padded punchers from around the chain holding the punching bag to the corner stand. But when the chilling memories traveled her spine, and her fevered blood abruptly turned into ice. I can't spar. That would not be a good thing. No, not good at all. She shivered wrapping the gloves back around the chain.I need a more disciplined and routine workout. Shaking her head she thought, I would even consider teaching again. Juniors, not rug rats. Hell Pax, that's not a bad idea. It'll keep me so busy that I would have very little time to spare, which means that I would have to take it slow with Teela. She nodded to her self in agreement. Tomorrow she would look for a dojo to join. Until then, back to the beginning. She bowed to the mirror began the first kata again.


Chapter 15

Teela yawned again for the third time in ten minute, wiping the tears that leaked as she inhaled oxygen to keep her awake long enough to get her through this day at the ARCC. She was tired. She had admitted that yesterday, but she had managed to stem the flow of worry and anxiety over Bess. She was getting better. Teela visited every night after work. She would talk to Bess, letting her know that she was there, that she shouldn't be afraid. Her Teela would take care of her.

Every night, she fed Bess at a painstakingly slow pace. If she had refused to eat, Teela gave her liquids, and pop sickles. Teela made sure of that. She was improving. This morning Annie had called her at the ARCC to tell her that Bess' lungs are sounding clearer. She was still having trouble getting her to move or change position. Moving was good for her, to break up the congestion in her chest. Unfortunately, the exertion made her weaker and was most likely painful as evidence by the grimacing on her face.

Her telephone buzzed just as another yawn broke free.

"This is Teela."

"Teela, I have Tanesha Evans on line 701 for you," the receptionist announced.

"Thanks." She pushed the numbers. "This is Teela."

"This is Tanesha."

"Hi you."

"Hi yourself. I hope I am not interrupting something."

"No. I needed the interruption actually."

"Rough day?"

"Rough week."

"I know. I haven't seen you. I am kind of having withdrawals over here."

"Are you now?" Why do I do that? Why do I flirt with her when I know I shouldn't?

"People are ready to admit me to the detox unit soon."

Chuckling she said, "I am so sorry to hear that."

"So to prevent my involuntary admission, have dinner with me tonight."

Tonight? Teela thought. Bess' new magazine came yesterday. I told her I would read it to her tonight.

"I have a prior work engagement, so it won't be until seven, seven thirty."

"Seven thirty sounds better. My last class ends at seven so that gives me time for a shower."

"That would be a nice thing."

"It would." Pause. "I've missed you Teela."

Teela didn't feel excitement or the anticipation of seeing Tanesha. Nothing. I heard her. I should be feeling something, Anything guiding me. Where is it? Why?

"I'll see you tonight."

"Until then."

Teela had just long enough to sigh before her telephone buzzed again. This time the ID read Extension 180. She was being summoned to Eerie's office. Teela took a sip of her tepid coffee steeling herself against Eerie's next round of stupidity.

When she arrived, Eerie had company. Hazel, her cohort for enabling Eerie's reign of terror and absurdity over departments was present, Hazel was the Director of Nurses. In the other chair sat Cassandra. Teela looked at her partner and understood the silent gestures Cassandra sent to her.

"Teela we've had several female admission referrals come through."

"That's good news."

"But we have three male beds open now. I want you to talk to Alfred Redmond about moving in with Harold on South."


"That way we can convert his room for two females because of the private bathroom in there."

"I can talk to him first thing in the morning."

"Why not now?"

Teela snorted and peeked at Cassandra. "Now is not a good time to ask him about anything. His wife died today, in his his arms less than three hours ago, in that room."

"All the more reason to get him to move. Less chances of harmful memories."

"I agree, but not today. Tomorrow."

"I still see no reason why you can't talk to Alfred today, Teela."

" Erin, he needs time. Give him that much."

"We have two Medicare referrals waiting to come in Teela. If we do not act now, then we may lose them to another facility."

Her frustration was coming closer to the surface. For help, she looked at Cassandra.

"I told them the same thing Teela," she said hinting at the futility of their argument for compassion.

"Listen. Alfred is in no position mentally to be making that kind of a decision right now. You two did not see him with his wife. He was barely coherent himself. Sixty-nine years they had been married."

"I am truly sorry for his loss, but we are not about to leave beds open because of it. If you feel that Alfred is temporarily unable to make a rational and informed choice, then talk to his son."

You heartless cold bitch. I can't wait for your children to put you in a nursing home. Maybe they'll let you room with my mother. Let her drive you to dementia. "What if Alfred wants to rent the whole room?

He has the money. He still owns the appliance store downtown."

"You can talk him out of it and into moving. We can generate more revenue with two people in that room than one."

"And why not move Harold in with Alfred?"

"Harold's room has a shared bathroom with the males next door. We will wait here while you go speak to him."

"He is still at the mortuary with his children."

"Well when he returns. I want you to talk to him, unless you are refusing?"

Teela stared at Eerie daring her to be the first to turn. It was a test of wills with witnesses for both sides. Teela knew to say those two words would be direct insubordination. Erin knew it and goaded her to do it.

"Sure Erin," Teela flashed her a stealthy grin. Cassandra recognized the smirk and stood ready to leave with Teela.

Puzzled, Erin looked at a silent Hazel. "Let me know what you find out."

Cassandra followed Teela to the office next to her own and closed the door. "I know that look Teela Pheamster. What are you up to?"

"Why Cassandra," She feigned innocence. "I am going to do what my supervisor told me to do."

"You are?"

"Sure, but it is a shame that I won't get a chance to since his family signed him out for the day when they left with Alice," she said giving Cassandra a victorious grin.

"Nooo. Really? Where was I?"

"Hanging out with those two. On my way to her office I over heard Amanda explaining his medications. Can't help that now can I? So I'll talk to Alfred when he gets back tomorrow."


Pax enjoyed watching her soon to be nephews bursting with excitement at the myriad of animals housed at Auntie Pax's zoo. She called Felicia and talked her into bringing the boys down for children's day. The place was filled with parents being led by their children.

"I want to thank you again for letting the boys come back for a visit again Pax."

"No problem Felicia. I like the boys. And they should have a chance to know me right?"

"I believe so."

"Ahh, but does Zander?"

"What do you mean?"

Watching the boys who were enthralled with the animals, Pax rested her back against the bench where they sat. "Has Zander told you anything about me or why I left home?"

She sighed, "All he said was that you told them you were gay. Your parents did not like it too well. After community college, you left town."

Pax tried digesting the condensed version of her life twenty years ago. "Well he got part of it right."

"So why don't you tell me the whole truth then."

Felicia I cannot tell you what your husband has done to me. I can barely stomach it myself. "Let's just say, that I really needed Zander one night and he walked away from me. When I needed my older brother the most, he wasn't there. I haven't been able to forgive him. for that."

"Sounds like something horrific."

"Yeah, you could say that." She watched the children playing making sure they don't wander off.

"My parents were kind of strict folks. Things had to be perfect. Be the right way. We went to the right schools; got on the right sports teams; got the perfect grades. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I do."

"When I told them that I was in love, or so I thought I was, in love with another classmate, you can imagine the sounds the shattering of their perfect image made."

"So you ran away."

"Something like that."

"Because of Zander."

"Not just, but a large part. I couldn't stand to see him."

"What did he do, Pax? Or didn't do I should say?"

She looked at her for some time before answering. "You need to ask him. For now, if he wants to live with the blinders in place, so be it. I will be glad to enjoy your company and those of the kids, but it would be too much for me to spend time around him feeling as I do. It would only lead to more fights and arguments." She stood following the children over the small foot bridge.

"And what about Damian?"

"Damian has no idea of the conflict between me and Zander. Oh, he knows it's something. Something big. But he has no idea." Grinning, she said, "Damian is Damian, the Supportive Arbitrator, The Peace Maker.

I was thankful that he kept in touch with me, letting me know about mom and dad when he did."

"That he is. It was Damian who first introduced me to your brother. Then when Zander made an ass of himself one night. It was Damian who came to me on Zander's behalf."

Pax chuckled. They used to pull that tag team on mom and dad too. It generally worked, so don't feel bad."

"I don't." She touched Pax arm and stopped her. "Zander is a good man and a good father. That's the Zander I know. That is the only defense I will make for him. I don't know what happened between you two or what will happen now that you are back in our lives. I do know that you are my sister and I do not want to lose you because my husband can be one gigantic bonehead when he wants to be."

Pax hugs her and laughs. "That he can be Sis; that he can."

Luke came barreling at them panting and out of breath. "Can we have ice cream now mom? Please."

Looking at her watch Felicia said, "Plenty of time before supper. Ok. Go on we are right behind you."

"I am going to so love being an Aunt. Hey, do you think next summer I can take them camping with me?"

"Oh, Pax, two small boys can be quite a handful."

"Ok, then why don't you come with us then? We can start our own annual trip away from the husbands."

She thought for a minute. "The more I think about it, the more that I am warming to the idea."

"Good." She told them to give the clerk their order.

"I want a chocolate twist with vanilla dipped in strawberry," Luke declared.

"Me to; me too. What he says," Effram copied his big brother.

"They do seem to have a lot of energy don't they?"

Laughing she said, "You have not seen anything yet. Just wait till they are on a sugar buzz. You'll want to run and hide in one the lion's dens."

Pax laughed. "Can't be that bad." She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Can it?"

"You have no idea. The children got their cones and were off to the next set of animal displays. After a moment she said, "Your idea mentioned husbands. Since it's fair to say that you will not have a husband, is there someone special that you have in mind to fill that spot?"

Pax stopped and looks at her, "I ah..."

"Aw come on Pax. I think I have proven that you can talk to me, that I am open minded about you having gaydar and me not."

Pax laughed. "Gaydar."

"Oh, sure. Now tell me. Was there someone special in Berkley before you left?"

Felicia witnessed the shadow that passed across her face and instantly regretted asking. "No, she was killed a long time ago."

"Pax I am so sorry. I didn't mean to be so flippant."

"That's okay Felicia. You didn't know, and it doesn't hurt as much anymore."

"Like I believe that. I can see the pain in your face Sis."

Pax looked at her and smiled honestly, "I like the sound of that. Really. I never had a sister before."

"Well now you do. Has someone here caught your attention yet?"

Pax blushed, "Maybe."

"Maybe? You have got to be kidding. I'm not a lesbian, but if I were hell, I'd be chasing your ass; that's for sure. My god woman, you are gorgeous."

Blushing deeper at her sister-in-law's comments she said, "Thank you. But that is not everything. The women that see that first, aren't real. At least the ones that I have come across anyways. Maybe it is just my luck with women. But..."


"But, I have met someone recently and she is amazing," Pax smiled.

"Oh really? Do tell."

"Felicia. I don't kiss and tell."

"Come on you know what I mean. What is she like? What color is her hair? Are you into the same things? Besides each other of course."

Pax laughed, "You are terrible. Aren't you?"

"Yeah, so Zander says."

Pax watched her nephews pointing at the chimps. Pax somehow knew Cloe was acting like the cut up she really was. Seeing that the boys were okay, she turned and walked to the bench behind them. "As a matter of fact there is someone that I am interested in."

"Oh, goody," Felicia chirped. "Now the good stuff." Pax gave her a quizzical look. "Hey, I live with all men. The testosterone alone is starting to strangle me. It's hard getting used to."

"I like this person a lot Felicia. But I...I...haven't had a serious relationship in fifteen years. Not since...Jen...I am not sure that I know how. I mean I want to. But...Well, you know."

Felicia had a puzzled look upon her face trying to sort out what Pax just said to her. "Okay. Let me get this straight. No pun intended."

"Of course not." She was beginning to like her sister more and more. She couldn't wait to get her and Caramella in the same room.

"You are a little bit rusty since your former love died a long time ago."

"That's a quick summary, but yeah."

"Are you ready to try again? Does this woman make you want to try again?"

"Yes and yes."

"Okay then." She paused watching her sons. "Not to discount Jen, but go for it."

"Go for it? Just like that I should go for it?"

"Just like that," she grinned. "You are here; the sun is shining; your heart is pumping you are living. But you are not alive until you feel love coursing through those veins."

"I see that my brother did not stand a chance with you did he?"

"Actually no he didn't. But we won't tell him. He likes to think that it was his idea." Pax laughed. "So does she make you feel those things or are you still looking."

"No she definitely makes me feel those things and more."

"Does she want to go further as well?"

"Are you sure you are not a therapist or something?"

"Naw, just a mom. Consider it practice for my boys. Speaking of which, where are the rug rats?" She looked to her left of the chimp display and saw them a little further down. She pointed and they began to follow them. "Not too far boys," yelled and saw them slow their pace.

"Ahh. Well, I guess she wants to. She sure kisses like she wants to."

"Now we are getting somewhere."

"You sound just like her mother."

Felicia gasped, "You met the mother already? You do move fast."

"It is not what you think. We were at the Jazz Festival and her mother happened to be passing and we were introduced."

"Did she seem to take to you?"

Chuckling and remembering, she said, "You could say that."

"Okay then. You have won over the mother. Half the battle and I should know."

"Yeah, I bet winning over mother wasn't easy."

"No it wasn't. But when I did, it was partially smooth sailing."

"Only partially?"

"Only partially and I was grateful for that."

Pax chuckled remembering how her mother treated the girls her brother brought home in high school. "I can imagine."

"So when do we get to meet her?"

Pax thought for a moment. "This is the tricky part."


"Between sisters only for now. The boys can't know yet. Promise?"

Looking into eyes the same color of eyes her husband's. "Ok I promise."

Pax paused rethinking whether she should tell, and knowing that she was already committed to telling. "You have met her already."

"I have?" She paused to think. "Pax we don't run in the same circles, how can I possibly have already met her?"

"It's Teela." Pax grinned widely at the mention of her name.


"Teela Pheamster."

"Teela Pheamster?" Then it dawned on her, "The social worker at the ARCC?"

Pax could feel the grin broaden into a beaming smile across her face. She felt the butterflies take flight within her stomach letting her know that her system recognized that name and needed to have a fix. "Yeah, Teela."

Felicia slowly smiled and then began to nod her head. "Not bad sis, not bad."

"Thanks I think." They walk for a bit in silence.

"Is that going to be a problem for her or Mother Maureen?"

"I hope not."

"Me too." After another few minutes she asked, "Can I be a bridesmaid?"

Pax laughed and shook her head. "You are impossible just like Caramella Teela's mother."

"Great minds and all that huh?"


Pax bounded through the doors of the Southside Okinawian Karate Dojo. A grin spread across her face, her face was lightly flushed. A sense of familiarity came over her as she inhaled deeply the scent of courage, determination and sweat. She loved that feeling and let it wash over her again and again. She loved it. She had missed it. She turned to her right and looked through the large observation window. Seeing a tall gangly kid with a white belt, awkward movements, jerky and uncertain, the frustration as he practiced. Flash to another time and place, Pax was looking upon herself. The other fifteen students were also warming up with stretches and doing katas. The class was a mix of belts from white to black. Pax liked those kinds of classes. She not only would be able to exercise and practice herself, but she could help another artists along the way.

"Can I help you?" a voiced called behind her.

Turning she saw a teenager at the counter. White gi, crisp sleeves rolled up to her elbows. "My name is Pax Baldwin, I called earlier about the trial class."

"Yes, Master Min left a message that someone was coming tonight," the girl looked quizzically at Pax and tilted her head in wonder. "Do I know you? You look familiar to me."

"I don't think so."

"You sure. I am pretty good with faces. Bad with names, but good with faces."

Shrugging. She said, "Sorry. So what do I need to do?"

"Huh," she huffed. "Anyway, you have to fill this out and sign at the bottom." She shoved the paper and pen in front of Pax. "Your gear can go over there, on the wall. Just find an open box and put it in there."

Pax glanced at the form. It was a standard release form the owners required students to complete for the sake of insurance. She quickly filled in the information and returned it to the yellow belt behind the counter.

"Okay. Class should begin in about ten minutes with Sensi Evans."


Pax turns to the wall where the girl told her to place her gear bag. She smiled broadly liking the design and concept immediately. The wall was sectioned off with slots large enough to place a duffle bag. All the bags on the wall were lined up nice and neatly unlike her last dojo where the bags were in a heap on the floor. Pax unzipped her karate bag and pulled out her favorite practice gi jacket. Worn and comfortable, she loved the fit of the sixteen ounce brushed cotton material, heavy to cause a good sweat and help cleanse of the body in a work out. The heaviness also served to help cushion some of the blows she might take from others who may not have control of their punches and kicks. She tied the jacket around her basking n the feel of the soft but stiff material. The tiny pin holes in the sleeve and over the left breast were barely visible from where she had removed the hard earned patches, pressing her jacket the night before it was pristine on her. Crisp, just like the pants she wore.

Some martial artists preferred the pant with the full leg. Others like her prefer the short kata pants. The short length pants stopped mid way on the shin. Pax found it too risky to step on the bottom and trip. Besides, during tournaments, the judges liked to see the shorter pants on the contestants. They could see the position of the feet, knees and stances more clearly. For Pax's long legs, the shorter pants gave her a more stretchable kick gusset. Pax removed her watch and placed it in the bag along with her shoes and socks. From the side pocket of the duffle bag, she pulled out the equally worn black obi with the two red stripes and tied it around her waist taking extra care that the knot was secure and the tails were of equal length. She had been caught too many times by her Sensi and had to do hundreds of push-ups because her knot came loose or her tails were crooked and unequal.

Dressed, she gave a final yank on the bottom of her jacket to pull it down. Glancing over her shoulder, the yellow belt at the counter mouth was ajar and her eyes were wide. Then the kid dashed from behind the counter and down the hall leading to what Pax suspected are where the locker rooms are. Oh no. Pax groaned. Don't say anything kid. I knew I should have given a fake name.

She approached the doorway about to enter when one of the young brown belts spied her and snapped to attention bellowing "Face the door!" Everyone ceased their movement and faced Pax. She froze as every eye in the room turned to her. She had forgotten about that. In near unison, they all bowed including Sensi Evans. Her heart smiled warming her body at the respect she was given by virtue of her rank. So far, so good. Same principles; that's good. Pax knew that although two dojos can practice the same style of karate, their methods and principles could differ greatly.

Pax placed her feet together, hands at her sides and returned the deep bow to the room. Once she returned upright, the students returned to their warm ups. Pax grimaced slightly when she stepped onto the mat-like carpet. She would have rug burns on her feet in the morning.

Facing the class, she walked to the far right near the observation window. On this side of the room though, there was a wall-size mirror. Sensing that things were the same, Pax walked behind the row of student coming to stand between the third brown belt in line and the first of the two black belts. They greeted her. When she finally faced the front, Sensi Tanesha Evans was glaring at her with contempt. Pax thought to herself, This is not good. Not good at all.

Tanesha led them through warm-up with basic stretching and calisthenics. Then, they were told to pair off. The two black belts paired with a brown. Following their cue, Pax took the remaining brown belt. Pax faced the much shorter girl giving her friendliest smile. Standing so far above the girl, she was bound to appear intimidating. They bowed and said in unison "one gaishi masu", each asking the other to please help or teach them. Slipping into their ready stances, they waited for the command.

"HAJAIME!" Sensi shouted. "Ichi...ni...san...shi...go...roku..."

Pax smiled to herself. She dearly missed being in a dojo. The sequence of counting in Okinawian had slipped from her vocabulary. Like the movements, it all came flooding back to her. The count continued until they went through all the basic kicks, punches, and blocks. Tanesha was relentless, but Pax reveled in the non-stop conditioning. Their basics were immediately followed by ten minutes of speed drills back through all the basics.

She gave herself cudos for being able to keep up. She was concerned whether she would be able to no thanks in part to the tiger. Her right legs was holding steady in strength and speed. Since the tiger attack, she had not returned to her school. Instead, she set up her own dojo in her basement, just like the one she had now. It was her practicing and self tortured had paid off. It was not so much the physical therapy that got functional. It was her own will and determination.

Being an instructor, Tanesha walked up and down the ranks during the drills. She would stop and correct a student's footing and positioning. She patiently demonstrated the proper foot or hand position to deliver the technique effectively. She liked this about Tanesha. I think I might join this one. She glanced away from her striking partner and found darkened eyes burning her to cinders. Maybe we can work on that animosity thing.

Finally the command came " YAME".

Her limbs vibrating from the exertion, Pax's body tingled. She snapped her feet together and bowed respectfully to her partner. In unison they said "arigato gozaimasu" or thank you very much.

"Line up staggered," Tanesha ordered. After the shuffling, they were in two rows facing the mirrored wall. Lower ranks in the front. Advanced in the rear. "Katas. Start at the beginning and drop to the side when you have reached the highest form that you know." Pax smiled. At least on this exercise she would be amble to complete without being too winded. It was a test of endurance and stamina for the higher ranks.

Pax quickly turned her back, wiped her eyes, and turned back to the front just in time for the first count to be yelled "Ichi...ni...san...shi...go..." Pax smiled to herself in the mirror. She watched her kicks snap and retract to land squarely into the next move or stance. She flowed in unison with each strike and block basking in how good it felt to be back in the dojo. Tonight, she was just another student learning.

At her other dojo, she couldn't be just another student learning, even when there were guest instructors of special seminars. She would be recognized and elevated to the level of instructor leaving the student role behind. This is what she loved most: not being a champion. She had relinquished that title long ago with the death of Jen.

Pax was pulled out of her musing by the cadence of a different counter. She focused and saw that Tanesha had been pulled aside by the young yellow belt. Keeping half her attention on the kata they were performing, she watched the girl open the magazine in her hand and then pointed her way. Pax snapped her head forward pretending to not watch. Damn. She cursed. So much for being anonymous. When she dared look again, Tanesha had her back to the class. It was then Pax saw the poster behind the counter of Tanesha, the gold belt around her waist and standing beside the world trophy. Why the hell didn't I see that before? She groaned inward. This is definitely not good.

Tanesha called time and told the class to suit up. The students yelped with glee. Tanesha admonished them, "Quietly and quickly. Then pair off, white with white and so on. "Tanesha gave Pax a sinister grin. Warring with herself as to whether to sit this exercise out, her pride won out. It usually did. Remember the last time your pride got in the way? Her conscience reminded her. Pax went to the door turned and bowed before exiting. Locating her bag, she quickly withdrew her helmet, foot and hand guards as well as her mouthpiece. She looked at the dry and cracked piece of rubber and grinned. We have been through some times haven't we old friend. It's probably time to retire you. Quickly she ran it under the fountain spray, and went back to the door, bowing again and then finding a spot on the floor. She didn't bother putting the shin and instep pads on since she was not planning on full contact. In a matter of seconds she was suited and bouncing on the balls of her toes stretching her calves.

Pax turned and faced the brown belt student with whom she had been working. She smiled at the kid, removed her mouth piece and said, "Light contact okay. Any speed you want as long as you are controlled.

No head shots. Understand?" The nodded. "Good." She readjusted her mouth piece.

They bowed to one another asking for teaching and then begin their lesson. Pax and the brown belt moved around one another. The kid was obviously scared of her long legs and tried to keep the distance tight so that she could not get any good kicks off. She resorted to punches that could easily be deflected by the girls rank. The kid had good speed and Pax found her self sinking into a comfortable rhythm of attack and defense. Before they knew it, Tanesha was calling for them to stop. Again each bowed to their partner thanking them for the teaching.

Tanesha told them to sit in seiza, their formal sitting position on their knees. There was a short scramble as the student rushed to line up according to rank. Then students removed their head and mouth gear only and waited for the next set of instruction. Pacing in front of the line before the lower ranks, Tanesha had her helmet under arm, foot and hand protectors in place. Pax could felt the surge of adrenaline and the tingling between her shoulder blades. She knew what was coming. She sensed Tanesha watching her while she sparred with the young brown belt. She knew it was coming. It always came to this.

"Tonight, we seem to have a special guest amongst us." Pax could feel the eyes turn to her. "Former two-time World Kumite Champion Pax Kattapoulous Baldwin is here with us." The brown belt with whom she had practice with all evening was stunned; her eyes grew wide in amazement. Pax looked down at her and winked. The girl blushed. "Maybe we can coax her into a demonstration of her fighting skills."

Pax heard the "Yeah's" echoing through the large room. She held up her hand, "I would love to but I don't do full contact anymore."

"Aw come on Pax. You were," she emphases the word, "the worlds greatest fighter. "You have defended you title umpteen times and left as the reigning champion. Surely you can do one little demonstration for the kids."

"Yeah well, I am sorry, but I will have to decline."

Tanesha's fiendish smile told Pax it was not over yet. "In order to wear that belt in this dojo, you will have to spar and prove you are worthy to wear it anyplace other than your original dojo."

There, the challenge was issued. Don't do it. Her conscience warned. Pax stood to her full height, a good two inches above Tanesha. Replacing her head gear Pax walked to the center of the room. Tanesha donned her helmet walking to the center of the room facing Pax. One of the black belts came to the center and stood between. He motioned for Pax to step closer, pointing at the floor. Pax looked down and noticed the stripe made into the carpet and knew that this was a fighting school. It would be with a world champion like Tanesha.

Pax held out her right gloved hand, fingers down waiting for Tanesha to touch them. Tanesha gave her hand a solid thwack. Pax steeled herself for she knew how it was going to occur. She looked up into Tanesha's face. She gasped. Pax saw her. She was there watching. Pax's ears filled with the sounds of the roaring crowd. She tilted her head shying away from the flashing camera lights.

Pax heard "HAJIME" and instantly felt a driving kick to her stomach. She stumbled backwards but quickly formed her defensive posture trying to shake the roaring of the crowd and the voice of her Sensi screaming at her to move. Pax always listened to her Sensi and moved just as Tanesha came sailing by her with a flying side kick. When Tanesha landed she was half turned with her side open. Pax took the opening and landed a medium force kidney punch with a loud kia. She ducked the backhanded swing Tanesha tried while delivering two quick soft blows to Tanesha's midsection. She heard her Sensi, stick and then move out. She back up waiting for what was to come.

Tanesha turned upon Pax, the yellow mouthpiece grinning at her. A flurry of kicks to the head were blocked as well as several thrusts and jabs were being deflected by Pax. Tanesha was not able to land a strike on her target.

At one point the flurry was so fast it was hard for the students to tell whose glove belonged to whom. Pax swung a ridge hand but did not retract fast enough and Tanesha caught her arm, quickly wrapped it between her side and armpit, jabbing Pax in the sternum knocking the wind out of her and then just as quickly swept her legs. Pax's back hit the floor with a resounding thud.

Keeping the arms securely tucked at her side, Tanesha followed Pax's movement and went down on one knee. Whispering loud enough for only Pax to hear, "Teela is my girl. Stay away from her."

"YAME!" The junior black belt called stepping in.

Tanesha broke her hold and returned to her side of the marked line in the carpet. Smirking, she had made her point. Don't believe me? I'll gladly give you some more.

Pax stood slowly shaking out her arm. She held Tanesha's black gaze, knowing now why she had been treating her to the evil eye all night. She knows I'm seeing Teela. Her Teela. Her Teela? I don't think so. Pax stood at the line and readied her stance. So this is a fight for the girl. Is it? Knowing makes all the difference. She thought. You want this to be a cock fight. You got it.

Tanesha spied her opponent and thought she recognized the glare coming from the piercing ice blue eyes. She recognized her fighting reflection staring back at her. Her grin grew even more sinister, This has-been has no idea who she is tangling with. Her students knew. She would show them what a winner looks like.

The two fighters faced off again at the line. The student yelled "HAJIME" and quickly stepped out of the way when the kicks flew quickly.

Bouncing on the balls of her feet, Pax snapped a round house kick at Tanesha's head to be deflected as she has expected. Tanesha was too pleased with her defense and forgot about the returning kick to her ribs. A loud oomph was heard and Pax felt the solid connection lift Tanesha slightly off the floor. Before she could put her foot down Pax tried snapping a front kick which was blocked, but not her follow up jab to the side of Tanesha's head. Pax huffed satisfied to see Tanesha's head lightly snap backward. Pax lunged backward out of Tanesha range and the wild ridge hand she threw at the same time.

Pax felt that she was getting the upper hand, but she did not relax. It all came back to her, the feel of her foam covered hand solidly pushing into a body part, the thrill of being able to be quick with controlled deadliness. Yes it all came back to her and so did the fatigue. Her energy was dwindling. This would have to end very soon, but she had gotten some good shots in on Tanesha and Tanesha knew that she had. She was not about to lose face in her own dojo.

Pax lunged to the side avoiding another combination of quick kicks and punches by Tanesha. She could feel Tanesha's frustration as Pax's ring sense came back to her, until Pax saw her. Clear as the red padded fist aiming for her face, Pax saw her Jen watching. Sitting there outside the ropes, pleading for her to come home that she needed her.

On the other side of the mirror, Teela walked into the dojo and greeted the two girls behind the counter.

"Hi. Is Tanesha around?"

One of the girls smiled and moved to the side so that she had a clear line of sight through the viewing glass. "That class is running over because of the demonstration fight Sensi is putting on."

Following the girl's eyes, Teela turned and saw as Tanesha deliver a vicious kick to her opponent's ribs, and another to the inner right thigh. The tall person dropped to one knee but was quickly back on her feet moving around the small area, seriously limping but moving just the same.

Seeing her opponent's guard drop, Tanesha salivated at the opening and drilled a punch to Pax's jaw. Stunned, Pax pulled her hand back to guard position, but it was too late. Tanesha smelled victory and her fury became even stronger. She punched to the ribs; kicked to the stomach, and delivered another punch to her jaw.

Pax saw two of Tanesha. Knowing she was in trouble, and her ears were buzzing, she was uncoordinated. HANDS UP! Hands UP! Pax screamed at herself. She tried throwing another kick but felt the shin block by Tanesha and the punch again to her face.

Riveted to the display of violence before her, Teela felt herself jump and cringe with each blow landed.

"Who is Tanesha fighting?"

Excited, the yellow belt chattered, "She used to be the two time World Champion a while ago, but she got hurt and dropped out of the tournament circuit years ago."

"She showed up here tonight looking for a school home. So Sensi is testing her to see if she is worthy to be a black belt in our school," her friend added.

Teela watched the woman stand and deliver two quick jabs to Tanesha's ribs and then back off on slightly wobbly legs. "Doesn't look she is going to last too much longer."

"They generally don't against Sensi. But I would think Pax Baldwin would have fared better. Don't you?" She turns to her friend.


"Wait." Teela whirls around on them, mouth ajar, "What did you say her name was?"

"Pax Katapolous Baldwin. Why?"

"Oh my God" Teela gasped and went to the door to the room where they were. She stopped in paralyzed with terror.

Tanesha looked over her opponents and saw Teela standing there, watching. Tanesha devoured the surge that coursed through her from Teela. Tanesha punched Pax once more, then with all her might, with lightening speed and precision, Tanesha twisted into a hard spinning roundhouse kick to Pax jaw. She watched with orgasmic satisfaction as Pax's mouth piece flew out of her mouth and she stumbled backward falling to the floor.

The class erupted in clapping and chanting "Rattler. Rattler. Rattler".

Tanesha stood above her opponent, bowed then removed her mouth guard and hissed "She's mine."

Teela finally broke free from her daze. Panic stricken, she ran through the door the young counter girls right behind her yelling for her to take off her shoes. Teela's frightened and confused eyes turned darker when they landed on a smiling Tanesha. Instead of seeing the love she had hoped for her victory, she encountered a look of appalling disgust on her girls face.

Tanesha bowed to her class and quickly dismissed them. They reluctantly filed out until she barked at them to move.

Dropping to her knees, Teela tenderly stroked Pax's sweaty cheek. "Pax? Pax are you alright?" She carefully removed the foam padded helmet waiting for the blue eyes to show some ability to focus. She looked up at Tanesha and growled. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"Hey she came in here wanting to join. She had to prove herself in a sparring match." Tanesha defended.

"Do you beat up on all your students like this?"

"It was a fair sparring match, Teela. Ask anyone here. She held her own and beat up on me. Do you even care?"

"Why didn't you pair her with the other black belt? I saw him. Why you?"

"I am the senior instructor. It is my place."

"A fine example you have shown tonight."

Angrily she retorted, "Why are you so concerned about Celeste's girlfriend anyway?"

"She is my friend you fucking bully. That is why."

"Friend? Bullshit. I saw her going into your house late one night. I saw you with her at the Festival. You

had other plans alright."

"You saw her...Are you stalking me? Is that why you beat her like this because you saw us out together?"

"Teela..." She pleaded, her voice softer. When Teela did not respond like she should, Tanesha's rage returned. "You are MY girlfriend not HERS."

"Your girlfriend? I am not your girlfriend Tanesha. No expectations. Remember? Or apparently you've forgotten."

"Come on Teela. You know how I feel about you." She tried again, "Even though I have never said it. You know it and you feel it too."

"What I feel like is putting my foot up your ass."

"Teela. Baby. Please."

Pax finally sat up and tried to focus on Teela. "Jen?"


"Ha!" Tanesha gloated. "She doesn't even know your name. The Rattler strikes again."

"Fuck You. Come one Pax, I'll drive you home," she said helping the tall zoologist to her feet.

Pax got to her feet shaking her head trying to clear the dancing stars away from her eyes." I don't need your help." She yanked her arm away from Teela and took a wobbly step towards the door.

"I think you do." She started to follow her.

"Teela," Tanesha called. "She came between us. She was trying to take what I have."

"What you have? What is that? Me? You don't have me. You don't own me Tanesha."

"Teela , please. Don't go. I made a mistake. We can work this out over dinner tonight."

"You have got to be kidding. Right?"

"Teela, please." She watched her follow the former champion then hisses. "Fuck me."

Teela kept walking and helped Pax with her bag. Wrapping her arm around the tall woman's waist, she guided Pax out of the dojo and into her car.


Chapter 16

Teela was silent on the drive to Pax's home. She nodded to the directions that she was given but did not trust herself to speak. Teela glanced at the bruising face and watched how tightly Pax's arm was wrapped around her ribs. Gently as she could, she helped a battered Pax through the door and deposited her on the couch.

"I should have driven you straight to the hospital."

"No. I'm fine. Don't need a stinking hospital."

"Tell me how I can help you?" She felt useless not knowing what to do for the woman. Obviously she was in pain but tried valiantly to hide it.

"I'll be okay. I just got my head handed to me on a platter is all."

"Oh Pax." She smoothed strands of wet hair from her face. "What were you thinking fighting Tanesha?

She very good ya know."

Pax chuckled and looks at her. "No kidding?"

"What were you doing there anyway?"

"I was looking for a dojo to join. I didn't know that was the one your girlfriend went to."

She tried to control her furry. "Tanesha is not my girlfriend."

"I don't think she knows that." Pax tried standing. She made it upright but wavered on her feet. "She made it very clear that she was."

"Where are you going?" Teela stands with her.

"I am going to take this off."

Pax slowly removed her obi, reverently folding and laying it upon the cushion. She untied her gi jacket and groaned as Teela helped her to remove it. Pax prepared herself. She takes a deep breath and then in one quick motion she removes the clinging wet white t-shirt.

Whimpering, "Damn that hurts." She heard Teela's loud gasp. "What?"

"Oh Pax, honey, the bruises." She hesitantly reached out to touch the skin. Teela felt the shudders under her finger tips along with the radiating heat. The skin had already started to discolor.

"Oh..." Her voice had a slight tremor, "I have had worse before. It's just been a very long time since I stepped into the ring for full contact."

Swallowing hard to Teela push down the arousal she was beginning to feel. She warred with her self over the real reason she wanted to touch the flesh revealed before her eyes. "Turn around let me see how bad they are."

Unable to not deny the feeling coming to life within her, Pax did as she was told. She turned and faced the green eyes darkening with unmistakable desire. Pax knew that look; it was reflected in her blue ones.

Teela touched the four ripples in Pax's stomach and felt the shiver with the contract. Just above the navel she could clearly make out the imprint of Tanesha's foot. The area still red showing a long mark, deeper where the heel connected. Two more bruises claimed a spot across her breast bone and she could not resist touching them as well. She heard Pax's deep intake of breath and matched it with one of her own.

Teela took in the chiseled features where two more reddish blue marks shown on each cheek. The fight with Tanesha had been brutal from just the brief seconds that she witnessed. She really never knew just how brutal until this moment, looking at six feet of tenderized flesh.

Standing so close, her body betrayed her turning from concerned and caring to sexually stimulated before she realized what was happening. Teela could almost feel her senses inhaling, drinking in Pax's sweat. She was amazed at how intoxicating and arousing such a scent could be.

Given free reign to touch, Teela let her hands caress the tight belly across to the obliques. Inwardly, she delighted in the small shudders she caused. As she neared the outer breast, she heard the painful moan escape Pax lips. Her fingers traveled up Pax's arm, past her to rest behind her neck. She couldn't wait any longer, her smell, her skin, the entire package she needed to consume her right now. This very moment.

Cupping her hand around the nape of her neck, Teela brought Pax's lips to her. No question, no chance to escape, she was firmly in her grasp and she wanted to taste those lips now. Surprised, Pax abided by Teela's commands bending to meet the mouth she herself had yearned to taste again. Demanding entry, she parted her lips engulfing Teela's tongue inside. Pax, obediently submitted to the probing device and the will of the small social worker. What ever the blonde wanted from her, she could have that and more. Just as long as she didn't take her lips away.

The kiss deepened. Pax pulled her closer ignoring the twinges of pain in her ribs and jaw. She was savoring Teela. God did she taste wonderful! Bruises or not, she wanted her. And she wanted her now. Wanting to touch Teela's center, to feel her, Pax pressed her right leg between Teela thighs. She wanted to feel Teela's sweltering fever on her skin. Too caught up in the passion of the moment, Pax didn't remember her leg until it was too late. When she pressed into Teela, it was on the same spot where Tanesha's had landed a particularly brutal kick.

Pax ripped her lips off of Teela's yelping in pain.

"Are you okay?" Teela asked frightened. "That was so stupid of me. Did I hurt you?"

"No," Pax hissed. "Goddamn Tanesha did." She limped back to the couch and fell backward. Wincing, she gingerly rubbed her thigh fearful to see what was beneath the cotton fabric. I'll will get that bitch sooner or later. She will pay for this.

"Come on. Lets get her into the shower and then comfy in bed."

Smiling Pax timidly stood resting part of her weight on her right toes to use as little of the muscles as possible. She tried light pressure on her heel. It wasn't much better. Either way, it hurt like hell. "Does that mean you are going to join me?"

"In the shower?"

"Or in bed. Both if you want."

Teela stopped walking and seriously considered Pax's proposal. Her memories of the kiss a moment ago helped her to decide. How easy it would be for her to say yes and taste those stomach ripples to end her craving. Not now. It will have to wait. She whined. Pax is hurt. Not now.

"Well I tell you what. If you are giving rain checks then yes, but not tonight. You are in no condition for extra water play which I know is on your mind."

"And it isn't on your mind?"

"I did not say that. Now I want you to be a good patient."


"Or I will call my mother and tell her you are hurt and that you need her to come over."

Smiling she said, "You wouldn't."

With an impish grin, Teela responded, "Oh wouldn't I. Try me." She stopped at Pax's bedroom door.

"Now get in there and I'll get you something cool to drink for when you get out." She turned to go but was stopped by Pax. Attempting to find Teela's lips was difficult when she resisted. "Oh no you don't. Go." Pax whimpered. "Oh that is just too cute. You must do that again for me sometime." She laughed leaving her there to whimper.


Teela went into Pax's bedroom and turned down the sheet and comforter. She placed a glass of juice on the bedside and two Extra Strength Tylenol that she found in her purse. Wanting to know who Pax Baldwin was, Teela glanced about the room. There was scarcely anything in the room. No frills or decorations. The walls were bare, absent of any pictures, framed art or otherwise.

Teela heard the water shut off in the bathroom. She was not prepared for what the vision she witnessed. Pax emerged through the steam that escaped the open door, raven hair slicked to her head and brushed back, her high cheek bones and straight nose glistened. It was not only just the fresh pink skin, beneath the colorful bruises, but it was the t-shirt she was wearing that caused Teela to be crystallized in place.

The picture of Godzilla fighting the huge moth, took her breath away. Teela was too bewildered to speak. It was the same one she had given Bess at their last Christmas before her stroke.

"Am I that horrible looking now or what?" Pax joked.

"Ahh..." she stammered. "No. You're ah...T-shirt is interesting."

Pax pulled it out to look at it. She smiled, "It's one of my favorites. Silly huh?"

"No. No not at all. Do you watch those kinds of movies?"

Sheepishly she grinned. "Yeah. As hokey as they are. I love them. Do you? Maybe you can watch one with me sometime."

Teela began to cry as the memories flooded all around her. Of all the things to be fascinated with. She sobbed. How did I find another Japanese monster freak? This is too unreal. Do I attract them or what?

"Teela? What's wrong honey?" Pax limped across the room as fast as she could. "Teela? Baby what is it?"

Not trusting herself to speak, Teela buried her face in Pax's chest and shook her head. Pax placed several kisses atop the blonde's head and then upon the check, wrapping her arms around the social worker whispering comforting thoughts to her.

After a few moments she finally found her voice, "I'm just being silly. That's all."

"I don't think it's silly. Something is wrong and if you don't tell me I won't know how to help you?"

"You are. Really."

"I am?" she asked fully confused.

"Trust me you are."

"Ookkaay." After few more minutes the tears ceased. "Ok now."

"Yeah. Listen, I found some Tylenol in my purse. Can you take those?"

Pax shook her head. "I already took something after I showered."

"Okay then." Stepping back and wiping her tears she asked, "Why don't you climb in. I'll get you all set and then see myself out. Ok?"

Pax shook her head. "No not okay." Wiping away the remaining tears she lifted Teela's chin so their eyes would meet. "Stay with me tonight. Please," she whispered.

"Pax, you shouldn't..."

"I didn't say that. No funny stuff. I promise. I just want to hold you, to feel you next to me. Please."

Teela melted into the glorious blue eyes unable resist anything Pax asked of her, but this, she had never stayed overnight in anyone's bed except her own or the hotel room she rented during her rare escapades. Pax was asking her to stay. So how come I am more willing to give in and stay than when Tanesha asked me to? She wondered.

"No funny business because you are hurt."

Grinning she mentally crossed her fingers, but what Teela saw was her crossing her heart. "No funny business. I'll even keep my clothes on."


"Normally I don't sleep in pajamas, because I get tangled up during the night. That is unless," she wiggles her eyebrows, "you want to join me naked. They say that heat is good for bruises. What better way to generate heat than rubbing skin together eh?"

Teela shook her head. "Reality is that cold is better for bruises, not heat." She grinned. "I can fix you an ice bag if you prefer."

"But this is my reality and in my reality, heat is better. Especially if it is coming from you."

"Paaaxxx." She warned.

"Okay." A pouting Pax quipped.

They climbed into the bed. Teela was surprised at her boldness snuggling into Pax. Careful of her injuries, Teela placed head upon the broad shoulder. This feels so natural lying next to her. I should have always been here...in this spot. Rising to her elbow, Teela peered down into the sensual blue eyes before taking the lips into a passionate kiss. It was a continuation from the living room. When Pax reached to pull her closer, Teela broke apart from her.

"Good night Pax," She said and settled back into her place.

Blowing out a laud and long breath of steam, Pax squeaked, "Good night Teela." A moment later Teela heard Pax whisper, "Ooh boy."


Pax held firmly to the small social worker as she slept. Like so many of her nights, what started out as peaceful but chaotic dreams turned into the reliving of a nightmare. From the green meadows running with her dog as a child, she stumbled and started falling slowly. Seeing the grass and dirt coming to meet her, hands outstretched to break her fall she fell face first onto the canvas mat.

Pax scrambled to her feet. Eye blackened and shut, she could barely see the shadows on the side. Pax kept turning her head from side to side, anything to increase her vision and find Su Tao, her opponent, a two hundred and fifty pound granite wall, who was lurking somewhere and she could not find him.

She stood firmly on the mat, jeering and boos from the spectators coaxing her to stay down, but she was up, standing for the third time. She inhaled deeply as the referee gave a quick once over. Pax nodded her head yes, she could still fight. I will not go down again. No more. She chanted her mantra. Four more rounds. I can do it.

The kick came from out of nowhere, but the air left her lungs. She stumbled backwards, "Get out of there!" Her sensi's voice rose above the crowd. She turned and saw Jen just beyond the ring, in the fifth row.

She was crying, reaching out to her. Her face was different. On one side her face and hair were charred.

She caught the movement out of her left eye and ducked in time to hear the whizzing of the kick sail above her head. Missing that blow she didn't see the knee arching to connect with her chin. The crack reverberated through her skull and the blinding pain took away her remaining sight. Pax threw her arms up to protect her face only to leave her lower half vulnerable.

Pain erupted in her shin from the force of the Mui Thai fighter's kick. She felt the large hands take purchase on the collar of her gi top and yank her forward into the ascending knee. Once, twice, three times. Her stomach contents rose to her lips but she pushed it down.

The fighter didn't release his grip so that she could float to the floor. His right hand wrapped tight around her lapel and he cocked the left. In quick succession, the left elbow crashed into the right side of her face reeling her forward just as the right released her jacket and connected with a stunning uppercut. The force of blow lifted Pax completely in the air, flipped her over backwards and she came crashing down face first into the blood stained canvas.

The scream rocked an otherwise hard to awaken Teela out of a dead sleep and bolt upright. Confused, she heard the scream again coming from the woman beside her thrashing trapped in the nightmare that held her.

"Pax?" She hesitantly shook the woman. "Pax, wake up." Startled, Pax jumped upright and quickly screamed out in pain, hand shooting to tender ribs. "I'm sorry, but you were having a nightmare." Teela brushed the strands of wet hair from her forehead.

"Oh God," she groaned tossing her head backward. That was a mistake as her headed pounded more than her ribs. "I have them all the time," she panted through the pain.

"You do? Can I get you something? More Tylenol for the pain."

"Pax could only nod. Then she directed, "In the bathroom cabinet. A script for Vicodin. Just one."

Rushing, Teela sprinted to the bathroom forgetting that she only had on her bra and underpants. It wasn't long before she returned with the pill. Handing it to Pax, she watched her place the pill in her mouth and then take several swallows of the warm orange juice from the glass on the night stand.

When she settled back onto the mattress, Teela stroked her face and kissed her forehead. "Want to talk about it?"

"It's...I was a tournament fighter, Teela."

"So I have learned."

"Yeah well. I would have told you, but I didn't think it was important. It's not something I go around bragging about."

"It's not important, but when it impacts you in a nightmare. Then I think it is."

"Now who is being so sweet?"

"Me." She snuggled back into her spot, placing her head upon Pax's shoulder. Pax pulled her tight to her side. "So share with me."

Kissing her forehead she explained, "It was my last fight. Supposed to have been for exhibition, Champion of Okinawian Karate meets, Mui Thai Champion. The place was packed. On the side, there was a purse worth a lot of money to the winner. At the time I needed it. House repairs and bills, that sort of thing."

"Who were you fighting."

"Su Toa, International Mui Thai Champion."

"What's that?"

"It's a style of martial arts that focuses on devastating elbow strikes and shin kicks. Totally different from karate."

"So why would you want to fight her?"

"Him. Two hundred and fifty pounds of solid mass," she trailed off remembering the tanned muscles covered with sweat striking her again and again. "Anyway, I needed the money. So I agreed to the fight.

I shouldn't have. I realized that after waking up in the hospital three days later."

"Oh Pax."

"So like I said earlier, I have had worse."

"What did he do you?"

"Oh, a few broken ribs, my jaw was broken and wired shut. I could barely stand on one of my legs, could scarcely see out of one eye. Took me three months to heal."

"Pax. That's horrible."

"I never went back into the ring after that."

"I don't blame you. How would you be able to?"

"Easy, I would have, but the Association doctors wouldn't clear me for any more fights. They said the concussion was serious and the risk for further damage was too great. So I haven't had full contact with anyone until tonight. Or last night now I guess."

"Why did you tonight?"

"I thought it was going to be light contact. Nothing major."

"But she took it one step further."

"More than one step I fear." She yawned.

Teela kissed her on the cheek. "Do you think you can get back to sleep?"

"If you stay right where you are and hold me." She smiled reveling in the warm the blonde provided.

"I know that I have my social worker to protect me," she snickered.

"That's right."


Jo and Boney invited their dearest friend over for dinner. They missed her and wanted her company. So they sat around the table talking and catching up on news.

"Deanna is doing good. New York is a fascinating place but she is too busy to enjoy it."

"I'll bet. Trauma residency right? I have seen some of those documentaries on trauma teams and it is too frantic for me."

"Easier to catch the old people. They can't run as fast," Boney chuckles.

" Huh, that's what you think. There is this little old lady."

"Aren't they all? OW!" Boney jumped. "What you kick me for Jo?"

"Because Boney."

"This lady, tiny thing..." She held out her hand stopping their comments. "Trust me, I tower over her."

Her friends chuckled. "Anyway, she has her walker looking really angry and moving at a fast pace. I mean, she was practically flying with this walker. Barreling down the hall way chasing after this CENA. I'm watching from the nurses' desk. This aide ducks into a room and that little old lady followed her just yelling and swearing. The aide comes flying out past me and into Cassandra's office and she barricades herself in there." They looked at Teela.

"Seriously. Now this lady is confused and generally can't find her room. She tracked that CENA to the office. She tosses her walker to the side and clings to the door knob for dear life still yelling at the CENA."

Teela was mimicking the woman's actions and her friends were laughing hysterically. "When we finally got her away from the door, I was able to talk to the CENA and asked what happened. The CENA didn't know whether to laugh 'cause it was funny or to be scared of the woman. She said, all she did was go into her room and asked her if she was ready to go to the beauty shop."

"That's all?"

"Yeah. She said the resident then started calling her a hussy and threatening to beat her senseless for messing with her husband. And they were off."

"Oh no..."

"Oh yeah. I swear to you, there was no talking to this lady. But God was that awfully funny."

"Aww come on. That little woman couldn't hurt anyone."

Sobering a little she said, "Boney, you have no idea how much strength the elderly do have when they are angry. So it is best to avoid being hit, pinched, kicked, or bit or gummed at any cost. Besides the CENA was doing as instructed. If she was upsetting the resident somehow, then she should leave them alone. It just so happened that the woman wouldn't leave the CENA alone."

"I bet my baby will make a wonderfully sexy looking little old lady." She looked at Jo and winked.

Smiling. "Don't bet on it. We are fighting gravity as we speak."

"I'll get you push up bras and pull up pants sweetheart." Boney cooed leaning closer to her love.

"Will you now?"

"Oh yeah. I can't wait to change you and powder your bottom."

Teela rolled her eyes as she watched as her two best friend kiss with intense adoration. They seemed to have forgotten not only the food on the table, but their guest as well.

"Did you two invite me over so I could watch or what?"

"To watch," she cooed lovingly at her wife. "I love you."

"I love you too hillbilly." She caressed her Boney's cheek.

"Yee-haw, darlin'. Yee-haw."

"I think I am going to be sick." Boney picked a roll and tossed it at her friend across the table. Teela giggled catching the roll. She took a huge bite out of it before placing it on Boney's plate."

"Eeww." Boney kinked her nose at Teela.

"Eeww? The nerve. You two are the ones doing the lesbian thing near food."

Laughing, Jo said, "No we did not invite you to watch. Making love with my Boney is a private thing."

"Oh, so very private and so very good," she lowered her voice watching the effect on her wife.

"Eeww. TMI, TMI," Teela laughed covering her eyes.

"Well you would be feeling this way too if you and Tanesha finally committed."

Anger seeped out of her. "It will never happen. Tanesha is history."

"What?" Her friends cried in unison.

"I am not seeing Tanesha any more. She knows that."

"Why?" Boney whined.

"So that is why she has been moping around the office for a week."

"I hope she trips on her lip and gives herself a concussion."

Snorting she asked, "What did she do? Can't you forgive her" Teela. I liked her," Boney pouted.

"Well then you go out with her."

"Jo wouldn't like that."

"Damn Skippy I wouldn't."

Shrugging at Boney, "I guess you are going to have to find another play mate."

"What happened, love?"

"She became too possessive, Jo. Can you believe she was stalking me?"

"Stalking? Tanesha is not a stalker."

"Not in the literal sense no. But just enough to be meddlesome."

"Come on. Spit it out," Boney coaxed.

"We were supposed to have dinner one night last week. I was to pick her up after she was finished teaching her class. I walked in her dojo and there she was pulverizing Pax."

"Pax?" Boney's eyes darting from Teela to Jo and back again. "Who the hell is Pax?" She was confused and wanted to know.

Jo patted her sweety's arm and gently said, "She is the one I told you about honey. Her mother is at the ARCC and Teela is her social worker. Teela has been seeing her."

"Wait. Isn't that unethical or something like that?"

"Well..." Teela hedged.

"Hold on a minute. You're seeing Pax and Tanesha too?" Teela nodded at Boney's lewd grin. "Woo hooo!"

she exclaimed. "You go girl! Two women at the same time. You must be tired." Jo slapped her arm. "OW!"

"Behave hillbilly. Only you would delight in something like that."

"I only delight in you sweetheart." Boney ran the back of her hand down her wife's cheek gently.

"Do you two ever stop? Geez, it's been twenty years already. I thought you'd be like Archie Bunker and Edith by now."

"Hmmm, no. It only gets better."


"Such a cynic. But you'll see." She warned. "So go on. We haven't seen you in a week and now is the time to catch up. Continue."

"What was Tanesha beating up on Pax for?" she cocked her head. "She find out about you two or what. Actually, it wouldn't have been a fair fight anyway with Tanesha skills."

"Yeah, she found out about me seeing Pax. She saw Pax coming to my house late one night and then she must have seen us together at the Jazz Festival."

Wiggling her eye brows, she asked, "What was Pax doing at you house so late, huh Teela?" Boney jumped again and screamed. "OW! Come on Jo, that one hurt." Rubbing her bicep where Jo had pinched her.

"Looks like we need to work on your training some more."

"Ooohhh, are we going to play mistress again?" She drops her hand under the table.

Mouth ajar, Teela asked, "Do you really?" She looked back and forth at them.

"Go on Teela." Jo playfully swatted Boney's seeking hand on her thigh. Boney yelped again.

Snickering at Boney, she continued, "Tanesha had asked me to go with her, but I had already accepted to go with Pax days earlier. So I told her I had other plans for that day. She must have been there and saw us. Come to think of it. I bet that's why she called me so drunk later that night."

"Drunk? Tanesha?"

"Yeah. She called me and wanted to come over, but she was roaring drunk. Her words were slurred and I didn't want to deal with that." She paused to drink some of her wine. But she didn't tell them how Tanesha was so attentive and wanting to be forgiven the next day.

"Good call. But why would Pax fight Tanesha? Didn't she know that Tanesha is a karate champion?"

"Believe it or not. Pax Kattapoulous Baldwin..."

"Ha!" Boney snorted. "I thought my name was bad." Teela picked up a green bean and hit Boney in the cheek. "Hey?" She watched it drop into her lap.

"Your name is bad, Augusta Jean Bonniker. Your parents must have been sniffing too many of those cotton plants down there," she laughed.

"It was tobacco plants. So there," Boney indignantly replied.

"That funny tobacco probably," Teela and Jo laughed at her wife's expense.

"I do love you Boney."

Pouting she whined, "No you don't."

Leaning over to her wife giving her a kiss she said, "I love ya baby."

"Yeah, sure."

"Anyway, Pax, it turns out is a former world karate champion herself."

"Really? I'm impressed."

"Hmmm. So my guess is Tanesha couldn't resist the challenge. She said that Pax came in looking for a club to join. She had to prove herself as a black belt by sparring."

"Is that true?"

Teela hunched her shoulders. "I guess so. I don't follow the sport so how do I know. It just felt wrong.

You know?

"Was she okay?"

"Tanesha told me once about how she got the nickname Rattler, but the look I saw in her eyes terrified me.

I was a good distance away. I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to be up close and personal when she is like that."

"Rattler? Like the snake?"

"Yeah, Bony. I'm sorry to say she did rattle Pax. She laid her out on the floor. When she wasn't able to focus. She called me Jen."

"Who's Jen?" Now Jo was confused.

"I don't know."

"You ask her?" Bony legitimately wanted to know.

"Not yet. I don't want to pry."

"So pry already. What if she has another girlfriend?"

"I am not her girlfriend."


"Stop that. Jo, she had bruises all over her body. She still has some on her face."

Bony shook her head in disbelief. "Tanesha kicked her ass that bad?" Suddenly she jumped clearly leaving her seat this time. "OW! Teela, not you too!" Reaching beneath the table to rub both of her legs and frustrated, she threw her napkin on the table. "Look you women had better find another way to express your dissatisfaction with something that I may absently say or I am going to start pressing charges." She got up from the table and hobbles out of the room.

Teela and Jo look at each other and then give the high five laughing uproariously. Soon, the laughter died and Jo focused on her friend.

"So it's over with Tanesha?"

"Yeah, Jo. Oh she has sent several dozen roses to my office all week with balloons and cards apologizing."

"Is it working?"

"No. I did not like what I saw, the jealousy and possessiveness. I am too old for those types of games. If her temper is that easy to incite, I really would hate to imagine it turned on me for something I did. Jo, some of the hits she delivered to Pax's body, I heard it through the glass in the lobby."

"Good God, you're kidding."

"No, I wish I were. It really frightened me. I just don't know how Pax was able to get up and walk after that."


"And to think, Celeste told me that Pax had a temper and hit her. From what I saw that night, I don't think Pax has it in her."

"Wait. What did you say about Celeste?"

"She saw me at the festival and told me that Pax had a temper. That had she hit her several times when she was angry and that is why she broke things off with Pax."

"The Celeste that works with me?"

"Yeah." She sipped her wine and reached to pour herself some more.

"Oh, honey, you can't take anything she says as gospel. She's a pathological liar and schemer. She'll do anything to get what she wants."

"Hmmm. She sounded and looked pretty convincing."

"Most people like that do. I wouldn't put any stock into what she said. What does your gut tell you about Pax?" Limping back into the room, Boney took her seat. She reached for the wine and refilled her own glass. "How are you feeling baby?"

Pouting she said, "Wounded."

Snickering she said, "I don't know Jo. I really like her. I mean, she is the opposite of Tanesha that is for sure, but there is something about her I can't put my finger on it."

"I bet I know." Boney's hands instantly shoot out and she pointed to each of them quickly. "Don't!"

"Want to hear the weirdest thing though?"

"Is she kinky in bed?" Boney cringed waiting for the slap, kick or pinch. She only relaxed after some time when it did not come.

"She likes, are you ready for this, Japanese monster movies."

"No way!" Teela was chuckling and nodding.

"Are you serious?" Boney chuckled. "That has to be an omen or something."

"I know. I thought the same thing when she came out of her bathroom wearing that t-shirt."

"You were in her bathroom?"

"After her shower that night, she came out wearing a Godzilla and Mothra t-shirt. She says that she loves watching them and wants me to watch one with her."

"Oh Teela. What did you say?"

"I told her sure."

"Too unreal."

"Tell me about it."

"No tell us about her." Boney was thinking she could have another playmate already.

"When are we going to get to meet her?"

"I am not sure."

"Come on. I'll behave," Jo promised.

"So will I," Boney readily agreed.

Teela gave her a doubtful look. "Sure you two will. Look, all I am saying is that I like her. I am not free to really get involved in anything."

"We have come full circle again."

"Don't start Jo," Teela let out the first warning.

"It never stops Teela, or maybe you enjoy hiding behind that excuse."

"Don't go there Jo," Teela cautioned her again.

Boney's eyes were doing what they had done all evening, darting back and forth between her lover and her friend. It was getting too intense. She didn't particularly like it when they fought. Both were stubborn and hardheaded and the war would go on and on without a winner. Boney knew it was time to change the topic, to come to the rescue.

"So, now that that is all settled, let's talk about going camping," she shined them both with a toothy grin.

Continued in Part 5

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