Okay, gonna send it the HTML way, as well as copy/paste to this email. One way or the other you'll get it. lol Enjoy.
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at:XenaNut@hotmail.com. If you have suggestions or corrections, please don’t bother as that’s the job of my publisher’s editor.
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Braxton licked the excess peanut butter off her thumb before spinning the lid back onto the Jiffy jar followed by the strawberry jelly jar. She cleaned up her mess then carried her lunch into the living room, plopping down on the couch, feet tucked under her.
“Hey,” Carrie breezed by to her bedroom, happy to have her own space back once Lydia was able to move to her own room again.
“Hiya, Car,” Braxton called, taking a bite from her sandwich as she flipped through the TV channels. After a few moments the short brunette joined her, stealing a chip from her plate.
“How did it go at school?” she asked.
“Good. Everyone was cool about it. I don’t plan to miss more than three or four days of classes.” Braxton took a swallow from her glass of cold milk. “They gave me a heads up for what would be coming when I got back so I’d be prepared.”
“Good. I’m sorry I can’t go with. I’ve got this huge project I can’t miss.”
Braxton turned to look at her friend, seeing the genuine regret in the dark eyes. She smiled, giving Carrie a quick, one-armed hug. “Don’t worry about it. I know you guys are all busy. Besides, this is my mess, and it’s going to be boring as hell, and depressing as hell.”
“Exactly why one of us should go with you, Brax.” Carrie kept her eyes on the TV, as she knew if she looked at the blonde she would want to cry. “So I take it that asshole isn’t going with you?”
Braxton didn’t have to ask who that “asshole” was. Since her fight with Jared, word had spread around the house and he was officially in the dog house. Not like anyone had seen him. He’d left to go to Karen’s the morning after the fight, and had only stopped back in to get clean clothes once since.
“No, he’s not,” Braxton confirmed. “And whatever, Carrie. He’s got his own life. He doesn’t owe me anything.”
“Bullshit!” Carrie exclaimed, turning in her seat to face her friend. “The hell he doesn’t, Braxton. You guys have been best friends since you were zygotes! He owned you common courtesy if nothing else.”
Braxton couldn’t decide whether to be amused or touched by Carrie’s fiery speech. “Friendships die, Carrie. I think ours has run into a crossroads.” She shrugged, putting her plate on the coffee table, appetite fading. “I’m not sure where ours is.” Braxton grew quiet as the thoughts that she’d been mulling over for days was finally said out loud, and it cut deep. She felt soft fingers work through her hair.
Braxton nodded at Carrie’s soft words, unable to use her voice yet, as she feared it would tremble. “He’s happy, Carrie. He has Karen, and I can’t begrudge him that.”
Carrie looked at her friend for a long moment until Braxton began to squirm slightly under the scrutiny. She had known the blonde throughout their entire college career, liking Braxton immediately upon their first meeting. At one time early on, she’d had a horrible crush on Braxton, her gaydar pinging instantly with the blonde. She’d been shocked to find out that she was straight. She had seen Braxton go through her ups and downs, usually involving Andrew, Braxton always accepting the short end of the stick she was offered, and smiling a polite thank you. She had always felt the petit blonde was worth so much more than that. She just wished Braxton thought so, too.
This situation with Jared was no exception. Carrie knew Braxton had hurt his feelings time and again when she bent to the whims of the controlling Andrew. Even so, the two best friends had been there for each other without question, until about the last year, when Jared seemed to pull away. Carrie was never sure if it had been his jealousy over his own romantic feelings for Braxton, or just simply as a best friend, used to always getting Braxton’s attention, was no longer her sole focus. Either way, the crack had been slow but sure. Now, Carrie feared it had become a chasm that may not be breachable.
“Well,” Carrie said with a bright smile, that she didn’t entirely feel. “You know Lydie and I are here for you. We may not be able to join you in Ivanwood, but we’re a phone call away if you need to talk. Okay?”
“I really appreciate that, thank you.” Braxton gave her friend a hearty hug, both separating in time to see Becca head up the stairs. Braxton chuckled at Carrie’s sigh.
“God, I can’t get her to notice me,” she lamented, her gaze locked to where the tall woman had just disappeared. She turned to Braxton. “You guys have become friends. What do you think?”
“About what?” Braxton asked slowly, unsure what Carrie would ask.
“About Becca. Do you think she’s a lesbian? Lydia doesn’t think so, but I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck on it.”
“I don’t know, Carrie,” Braxton said, surprised to feel a small stab of jealousy. “How would I know? Aren’t you supposed to be the expert on this? At least, half-way?” Braxton’s evil grin belied the turmoil inside.
“Cute,” Carrie drawled. She sighed and turned back toward the stairs. “I just wish I knew how to get her attention. She is one of the hottest women I’ve ever seen.”
“She is beautiful,” Braxton said, turning her attention back to the TV.
“Do you think it’s true? What Jared said?”
“Jared is an asshole, Carrie. You just said so yourself,” Braxton fired, immediately regretting it when she saw the hurt in the smaller woman’s eyes. “I’m sorry. Wow. I’m really sorry.” She ran her hands through her hair, making it stand on end. “You should talk to Becca about that, Carrie. It’s not my place to talk about.” She met Carrie’s eyes, unable to understand why her temper had flared. “Okay?”
Carrie nodded, giving Braxton a brave smile. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.” She reached over, taking Braxton’s hand and squeezing it in friendship.
Braxton chewed on her lower lip as she took visual stock of everything on her bed that she intended to take with her on her short stay. “Shit. I need socks.” She had just reached out to open her sock drawer when a soft knock sounded on her door. “Come in,” Braxton called absently, rooting around until she found the four pairs of socks she wanted.
The bedroom door opened, Becca peeking her head inside. “Hey.”
“Oh, hi. Come on in. I’m just packing.”
“Going to Ivanwood?” Becca asked, stepping inside the room and closing the door behind her. She leaned against the wall, watching.
“Yeah. How’d you know that?” Braxton asked, tossing one pair after the other of her socks into the open duffel.
“Heard you and Carrie talking. What’s in Ivanwood?” Becca snagged one of the balled sock pairs that had missed the bag and rolled to the floor.
“Home. Well, where I grew up, anyway. I have to go take care of Fletcher’s services and my mom’s house.”
“Your mom’s house?” Becca stepped further into the room, sitting on the edge of the bed. “What are you going to do?”
Braxton sat beside her with a heavy sigh. “Honestly, I don’t know. I spoke with my mm’s attorney yesterday, and she said that it was likely Mom will be spending ten to fifteen in prison.” Braxton’s head fell, shoulders slumped. “God, this sucks.”
Becca placed her arm around Braxton’s shoulders, gently tugging until the blonde head rested against her shoulder. “I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
Braxton sighed, comfortable in the warmth and comfort of Becca’s presence. “Not your fault,” she murmured.
“How far away is Ivanwood?”
“About five hour drive.”
“You going alone?”
Braxton lifted her head from Becca’s shoulder, glaring up at the taller woman as she pushed off the bed. She whirled on Becca, hand on hip. “What the hell is it with everyone today? Do you guys think I’m an idiot? Do you see me as incapable of doing things for myself? Taking care of myself?” Even the shocked look of confusion on Becca’s face didn’t dim the fire in Braxton’s eyes. “Do you?”
“Wait, Braxton. What did I do?”
“Why would you worry about me going home alone? You don’t think I can do it? Is that it?”
“Wait, what, no! Of course not, Braxton!” Becca stood, her anger bubbling. “Is it wrong for me to worry about you? I have no doubt you’re more than competent. I just wasn’t sure if you’d want to go alone. What you have to do there is difficult, and you’ve been through hell lately.” She paused for a breath. “I’m not going to apologize for trying to be nice.”
Braxton’s anger fell, but she was still stung. Her emotions were so raw, she felt like she was on the worst PMS trip of her life. Everything seemed to hit her wrong. She turned away from Becca, flopping back down onto the bed. “Jeez, I’m a mess. I’m sorry, Becca.”
“It’s alright. I’m not going to push, and I’m going to leave you alone. If you don’t want to go alone, I’m free. If you’d rather be by yourself, especially after being surrounded by a house full of crazy folks, who would blame you?” With those quiet words, Becca left Braxton to her packing.
Braxton sighed heavily, flopping back on the mattress. “I have got to get myself under control,” she muttered, staring up at the ceiling. She thought about what she had to do still, and what she had to do when she got to Ivanwood. Her father’s oldest friend, a guy who used to double date with Fletcher and Margot back before anyone was married, had called Braxton two days ago. Fletcher’s body was being held on ice until someone came to claim him. Nothing had been arranged for his funeral services, which Braxton thought odd. Why hadn’t his congregants done any of this?
A visit with Margot’s attorney had told Braxton what she had dreaded, and that was that her mother wouldn’t be living in that house in Ivanwood any time soon. The fact that she’d confessed and would plead guilty would certainly help her case, but the attorney had assured Braxton that Margot would still do time. Braxton was considering selling the old house, but there was a part of her that didn’t want to give up on her mother’s return; she would need somewhere to live once she got out. Braxton had to believe that she would get out.
Eyes focusing on the tiny little diamonds that sparkled on her ceiling in the form of old sound insulation popcorn. She mapped the route home, one she hadn’t made in a long time, and truthfully, had no desire to make again. The only plus would be no browbeating, or any other such beating, from Fletcher this visit. Then she began to think about what she may find. What would she have to clean up at the house? What goes into planning a funeral?
Becca tossed a pair of panties to the bed on top of her flannel pants, then found a t-shirt. She was looking forward to a nice, relaxing bath. Those thoughts were interrupted by a tentative knock on her door. She opened it, expecting to find Braxton on the other side. She was surprised to see Carrie standing in the hall.
“Hey,” she said, looking down at the small woman.
“Hey. Can I come in?” Carrie asked.
“Sure.” Becca stepped aside, allowing her roommate to enter. Carrie walked past her, looking around the room before stopping in the center of the small room, turning to face the taller woman. “What’s up?” she asked, jamming her hands into the back pockets of her jeans.
Carrie swallowed her nerves down and walked over to Becca, having to look up due to their significant height difference. She didn’t care. She loved how tall Becca was compared to her, and knew that the taller woman’s arms would make her feel warm and safe. Placing her hands on Becca’s waist, she stepped slightly closer.
Becca was stunned stupid, unsure what to do or what Carrie’s intentions were. All she could do was watch and wait.
“You are so beautiful, Becca,” Carrie said quietly, meeting the blue gaze directed down at her. “I hope I’m not wrong – I don’t think I am.”
“Wrong about what?” Becca began to feel a bit uncomfortable.
“About you.” Carrie’s hands were on the move, roaming up over a flat stomach, and between Becca’s breasts until they laced behind her neck, gently tugging.
Becca was too stunned to pull away until she felt the softness of Carrie’s lips against her own. The kiss deepened as Carrie buried her fingers into thick hair. For just a moment Becca considered giving in and enjoying Carrie’s body for an hour, but something stopped her. She started when she felt Carrie’s tongue against her lips, wanting entrance, then the sound of a gasp from behind her, and then the soft click of a door closing.
Becca pulled away, turning to glance at her empty doorway. “It was just Braxton. Come back here,” Carrie said, trying to pull the taller woman back down to her. Never in her life had she been so turned on with just a simple kiss.
“Wait, no.” Becca put her hands on Carrie’s shoulders, gently pushing her away. “I can’t do this with you, Carrie.” She gathered her breath, letting it out in a quick puff. She looked down into Carrie’s confused, aroused eyes. “Listen, you’re cute as hell, Carrie, but-“
“I’m not Braxton,” Carrie finished softly.
Becca’s mouth opened to continue speaking, frozen in shock at what she’d just heard. “What?”
Carrie sighed, stepping back just enough so Becca’s hands dropped from her. “I thought there may be a shot, since I don’t think Brax is gay, but,” she shrugged. “Guess not. Everyone can see the two of you have connected, and I’ve seen how you look at her. She’s hot. Can’t say as I blame you.”
Becca could only stare. “What the hell are you talking about, Carrie?” She was completely baffled.
“Oh, come on, Becca!” Carrie laughed. “You can’t take your eyes off her! It’s okay. I’m not mad or anything. Just be careful. Braxton doesn’t have the greatest luck with relationships. You might get hurt.”
“I’d really would appreciate it if you’d just go, okay?” Becca said, biting down her temper.
“Okay.” Carrie headed toward the door, stopping at the threshold and turning back to Becca. “I’m sorry, Becca. I like you as a person, too, so I hope this lapse in judgment doesn’t hurt our friendship.”
Becca could appreciate the words and situation, so nodded.
“Don’t worry about it, Carrie. We’re fine.” She gave the short woman a smile, which quickly faded as Carrie hurried away, her footfalls muffled in the carpeting as she headed down the stairs. “Shit.” Becca ran her hands through her hair, gathering the long strands at the nape of her neck before letting them go. She glanced over at the wall that separated her bedroom Braxton’s. “Shit, shit, shit!”
Braxton felt numb for some reason. She knew it was her way of blocking out sudden anger that was not logical. She could still see Carrie’s fingers in Becca’s hair, the taller woman bent down. She could still see the kiss they were engaged in when she’d wandered to Becca’s open bedroom doorway.
“Stop it!” she hissed at herself, shaking the vision from her head. It was none of her business, Becca and Carrie were able to fuck like rabbits, if they so desired. “Guess Carrie got the answer to her question,” she muttered, pulling back the covers on her bed. She had decided to head out early, so wanted to get to bed early. She stopped at the knock on her door.
Becca stood on the other side, looking unsure and almost contrite. “Hey,” she said, softly. “Can I come in?”
Braxton nodded, her stomach roiling slightly with sudden nervous energy. She couldn’t explain her reaction to witnessing the kiss, and really didn’t want to think about it, but standing before her was one of the participants, thus putting the kiss right back into the spotlight of her mind.
Becca wasn’t sure what to say, or why she felt the need to say anything at all. She didn’t owe Braxton anything, certainly not an explanation. Yet, she was bothered by something. Hell, it wasn’t even as though as if Braxton had seemed upset! Why was she bothering?
“I’m sorry about what you saw, me and Carrie.”
“Why are you sorry? You’re a big girl, and so is Carrie. She told me she was interested in you, so congratulations to her in getting her girl.”
“She didn’t get her girl,” Becca clarified. “I told her no.”
Braxton turned away, for some reason relieved. “Why? She’s cute, right?” Standing further away, and safer, Braxton once again faced the taller woman.
“Yeah, I guess so. She’s just not my type.”
“I see.” Braxton could feel a tension in the air that she just couldn’t explain or understand. Her nerves were nearly making her nauseous, now.
Becca felt a nearly unstoppable need to rush over to Braxton and kiss her like she’d never been kissed before. The need was so strong, it nearly took her breath away. Instead, she shoved her hands into her pockets and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for anything right now.”
Braxton nodded, fingering the handle of her canvas duffel that sat on the armchair. “Oh.”
“Well, um,” Becca looked around, feeling nervous and uncertain, and definitely needing to get some space between herself and Braxton, she headed to the door. “Good night, Braxton.”
Becca took hold of the door knob, ready to turn it when she thought of something. “Hey, did you need something? When you came to my room earlier?”
Braxton thought for a moment, taken off guard. Then it hit her. “Yeah. Uh,” she looked a little sheepish. “I was just wondering if you wanted to come with me. To Ivanwood.”
Shit! This isn’t getting away from her! “Sure.” She smiled. “What time?”
I was thinking I’d leave around six-thirty, seven. Maybe get some doughnuts on the way out of town. Good coffee. Sound good?” Braxton tried to keep the hopeful tone out of her voice, but failed totally.
“Sounds great. I’ll see you in the morning.” And with that, Becca left the room, closing the door behind her.
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