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.
Come visit me at: www.officialaspfilms.com or my publisher at: www.pdpublishing.com
(NOTE: I made a booboo in part 17, where suddenly Becca went from cleaning with “pine-scented cleaner” to painting. It was a simple matter of my brain thinking one thing, and my fingers doing another. )
Becca mopped the last of the tiled surfaces in the shop, having already vacuumed and put all the equipment into the sterilizer that needed to be ready for use the following day. It was late and she was tired. It had been a long, busy day, which was unusual during the colder months. During the summers folks were dressed in next to nothing, and wanted to show off their body art. Fall and winter were a different story.
Barbara walked out of the back room, blowing out a long breath. She threw herself down on the couch, leg propped up on the arm and watched her niece. Becca had been quiet all day. She’d actually been quiet since she’d come back from her adventure in Hick Town, Colorado.
As the tattoo artist studied Becca, she changed her mental description of her niece: withdrawn. That was a better word. Becca still smiled, still joked around, for the most part. But something was just… off.
“Ya missed a spot,” she said dryly, watching as Becca cleaned down the large front windows and door.
Becca’s brows drew, her eyes narrowing at the glass. “Where?”
Barbara walked over to her, leaning in and poking her finger at the glass right in front of Becca’s face, leaving a fingerprint smudge. “There.”
“Cute.” She used her Windex and paper towel, quickly wiping away the smudge.
“Or, maybe it was here?” Another fingerprint appeared about a foot above Becca’s head. Barbara laughed outright at the glare she got. “Lighten up, Rebecca, my god!”
Becca did her best to not allow her smile to crack through the angry façade. Nooo, she wasn’t happy about more cleaning, but she knew her aunt did it all in fun. “I guess you mean business,” she growled, increasing her glare.
“Would I use your hated full name otherwise?” Barbara asked, a dark brow raised, which put it in direct contrast with the bleached blonde hair on her head.
“Yeah, actually, you would.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” She grabbed the paper towel and Windex from her niece’s hands. “Go get your stuff together. You’re coming over to my place for dinner and to talk.”
Within fifteen minutes, the women had the shop locked up and they were on their way to Barbie’s house. She had bought a small, three bedroom house with a large, modern kitchen and huge, three-car garage that Barbara had turned into her workshop for her most beloved hobby: making dollhouses. Becca could remember when she was a very young child, before her aunt had been cut off from the family, sitting on a stool for hours, watching the painstaking care the older woman gave to creating her perfect miniatures.
Barbara pulled into the open garage in the far left slot, Becca’s van pulling up behind her, the engine cutting in the driveway. The younger woman hurried under the slowly closing, buzzing garage door, then followed Barbie into the house through the small house door, which led to the kitchen.
“Pop one of those frozen pizzas into the oven, Becca,” Barbara called out over her shoulder as she bounded up the stairs to her bedroom to change into comfy sweats.
“Okay,” Becca called back, doing as asked. Hands tucked into the back pockets of her jeans, she waited in the kitchen, watching the clock on the stovetop slowly tick away the cooking time. She didn’t turn when she heard bare feet padding across the tiled floor.
“Is it done yet?” Barbie asked, grabbing herself a Pepsi from the fridge, and sliding one over Becca’s shoulder. “Didn’t figure you’d want a beer.” She popped the top of the soda, taking a deep guzzle. “Oh, that’s good,” she sighed with satisfaction.
Becca took her drink and sat on one of the padded barstools at the breakfast bar. She sipped the soda as her aunt move to stand directly in front of her on the opposite side of the counter. Becca could feel an intense gaze on her. “What?” she asked, somewhat defensively.
“What what? What’s up with you?”
“Nothing. Why?” Becca took a long sip, her eyes on her aunt the entire time.
“You’ve been so quiet and withdrawn since you got back from helping the cute little blonde out at her folks’ place. Why? It’s been a week. What’s wrong?”
Becca chewed on her lower lip, not sure what to say. She wasn’t sure if she should talk to Barbara about it, or if it even warranted talking about. Finally, with a sigh she nodded, as though making some sort of internal decision. “We slept together. Kinda.”
Barbara was surprised, but she hid it well. “What do you mean by ‘kinda’?”
“Well, it turned into basically primal rutting, fully clothed.” Becca gave an adorable embarrassed lop-sided grin. The grin faded quickly as memory dawned. “Then she began to cry.”
“Oh, no,” Barbie breathed. She leaned on her elbows on the counter, giving Becca her undivided attention. “Why was she upset?”
Becca shrugged, fingers playing with the red, white and blue can. “We haven’t talked about it.”
Barbara nodded, suddenly understanding her niece’s behavior over the past week.
“But, I think it was for a lot of reasons. I think a lot of it what has happened to her recently: the accident, then losing three months of her life. Everything with her mother, and then having to clean up the very blood of her dead father.” Becca sighed. “I actually feel like an asshole for going through with it, even if she did start it.”
Barbara downed the rest of her drink, squeezing the can in her fingers, crushing it like so much paper. She shook her head. “I think you’re wrong.” At Becca’s look of confusion, Barbie continued. “Well, first off, tell me this: when did this happen?”
“First night there.”
“Okay, and you were gone for what, three, four days? What was she like the rest of the time?”
“Fun, playful. Sometimes quiet.” Becca shrugged again. “A whole myriad of moods.”
“Alright. If you were the ‘asshole’, don’t you think she would have avoided you? Asked you to leave? Where did she sleep?”
Becca was sheepish as she answered. “Usually in my arms. One night I woke up with her on top of me. Dead to the world.”
“Hardly someone who’s upset with you,” Barbara quipped as she checked on their pizza.
“No. I don’t know. I guess part of me just feels guilty. She’s been through so much, Aunt Barbie. I don’t need to be adding to her problems.”
Barbara was back at the counter again. “Honey, I think you’ve helped her with the problems, not added to them. She brought you along for a reason. She initiated intimacy with you for a reason. She trusts you.”
“I really like her, B,” Becca whispered, unable to meet her aunt’s gaze, which was good, because all she would have seen there was concern.
“Honey, what would your AA sponsor say to this? If you were to get into a relationship with her.”
“That it’s not a good idea,” Becca blew out. “That I should wait. Hell, my parole officer would say the same goddamn thing.” Becca felt the cool hand of her aunt’s covering her own.
“Then maybe it’s for the best, Becca. Maybe right now just isn’t the right time.” Barbara met the tortured blue eyes that met her own for a moment before darting away. She knew her niece well enough to know when it was time to leave things well enough alone. She walked over to the oven when it beeped, signaling it was done. She turned it off, using a pot holder to bring out the cookie sheet the pizza had been cooking on. Setting it on top of the stove, her back still to Becca, she changed the subject. “I got an email from Scotty yesterday.”
Becca perked up, sliding off the stool to grab plates and napkins. Barbara dished out the pizza. “What did he want? Do you hear from him often?”
Barbara shrugged. “Sometimes. I don’t think James is aware that his son even knows how to contact me.” She glanced at Becca. “He was trying to get in touch with you.”
“Me?” Becca was surprised. “Why me? I haven’t talked with him since he was, what, maybe twelve?”
“Well, now he’s pushing seventeen, and confused.”
Becca felt a trickle of dread in her belly as she accepted her loaded plate and resumed her seat at the bar. “About what?”
“He’s met someone. A boy.”
“What?! Aunt Barbie, he’s only sixteen!”
“How old were you, Rebecca?” Barbara asked, a brow raised.
Becca grinned, sheepish. “That was different.”
“Oh? And why was that?”
“Because he’s my nephew. He’s not supposed to be having sex. I changed his diaper, for crying out loud!”
The older woman laughed heartily. “Welcome to growing up, honey. It sucks.” They both chuckled at Becca’s look of fear. “Anyway, he wanted to know if I knew how to get in touch with you. I told him to give me a few days. Wasn’t sure what you wanted your brother to know, cause undoubtedly it’ll come out in the wash that Scott has spoken with you.” Barbara took a bite of the steaming pizza. After a moment she continued. “Honey, you really should consider going to see your parents.”
The younger woman stiffened, her fingers dropping the piece of pizza she’d been holding as her appetite left her. “I can’t B. You know that,” she said quietly.
“Of course you can. They’re your family.”
Becca glared up at her aunt. Never one for hypocrisy, she called her on it. “They’re your family, too, Aunt Barbara. You haven’t been back in what, fifteen years?”
Barbara looked away, old hurts still stinging. “That’s different,” she muttered.
“Why? What makes it different?”
“Because Allan is your father, Becca. A father has to love his daughter. Not his sister.” She turned away, heading to the fridge to get herself another Pepsi.
Becca said nothing, as she knew there was nothing she could say that would make her aunt feel any better. What her family had done to Barbara was wrong, and now that Becca had faced the same isolation, she understood what the strong, stoic woman before her had gone through for more than half of Becca’s life. “Do you have Scott’s email address?”
“I can do one better than that.” Barbara left the kitchen, returning a moment later and tossing a torn piece of paper across the bar to Becca. “He wants you to call him. He has his own cell phone.”
Braxton zipped her backpack shut, about ready to head out for the day when she was stopped by the voice of her teacher, Lucille O’Banion.
“Braxton, I need to talk to you for a minute.”
“You soooo cheated!” Lydia yelled, followed by Jared’s evil laughter. “I don’t wanna play no more.”
Jared laughed again at Lydia’s childish pout. She quickly joined him in laughter, and reset the video game. “You should never play against a guy, Lydie. It’s a universally known fact that you’re gonna lose. Isn’t that right?” he called out to Braxton, who had just walked into the house. When he didn’t get an response, he and Lydia exchanged a look. Lydia shrugged and Jared tossed his controller to the floor and hurried up the stairs after his friend.
Braxton tossed her backpack to the bed, her head foggy and dazed. She didn’t even hear Jared walk into her room and softly close the door behind him. She was startled when he laid a hand on her shoulder.
“You okay?” he asked.
Braxton nodded, then blew out a long breath. “Yeah.” She couldn’t keep the grin from her face, even as she felt the fear clench her heart. “Dr. O’Banion kept me after class today.”
“Okay.” Jared sat on the edge of Braxton’s bed, even as the blonde paced in front of him.
“She’s recommended me for a slot at NYU. There’s an art program which combines a Bachelors and Masters. She said it’s an intensive program, but she feels very strongly that I can handle it.” She ran a shaking hand through her hair. “She told me she’s never seen such natural talent before, Jared.” She faced her friend, only staying still for a moment before continuing her unending journey. “I mean, considering I just started in the department this semester.”
Jared felt his excitement building even as Braxton’s nerves did. “God, that’s fantastic!” he gushed, jumping to his feet and grabbing his friend off the ground in a tight hug.
“Whoa!” Braxton laughed, her feet touching the ground again as Jared let her go. “I don’t know yet. I haven’t applied. I don’t know if I wi-“
“Why not? I know that O’Banion is one of the best, Brax. You’d be a fool to turn your back on a chance like this. And with that kind of encouragement! Shit! Do it,” he said, impassioned.
Braxton studied him. “You really think I should?” she asked, voice small.
“Yes. I do. I’ll kick your ass if you don’t. This could be a chance of a lifetime, Braxton.”
Braxton moved away from him, blowing out another breath as yet again she ran her hands through her hair, which now stuck up all over the place. She knew that it was what she wanted, and would be so good for her. For some reason Becca’s face appeared before her. Shaking the image away, she faced Jared again. “I think I’d be scared out of my mind, moving to New York.”
Jared nodded. “It would be crazy, that’s for sure. But, I think you’d do well there. I think it would be so good for you, Braxton. God knows you don’t have anything here anymore.”
“I have you,” Braxton said softly.
Jared smiled, walking over to her. “Eh, I think going to NYU would definitely be a priority over me, woman. Besides, we’d come visit you. Give me a chance to see New York.” Jared’s charming smile was firmly in place, even as his stomach fell. He’d never known his life without Braxton being in it. Even so, he knew this would be such a wonderful opportunity for Braxton. She needed to grow beyond the weight and shadow of her life. She deserved a chance to be happy and successful, something she’d never find this close to home.
Braxton was thinking the same thing, but for Jared. She wondered how long it would take him to move out and in with Karen if she weren’t around. She wondered how long after that it would take him to finally propose. She knew he wanted to, but sensed he hadn’t because of her.
Then there was Becca. It had been a week since they’d returned from Ivanwood, and eight days since they’d had sex. She had a hard time reconciling that in her mind. Was it sex? They were both fully dressed. They’d kissed like mad, and Becca had even had her hand on Braxton’s breast. They’d both come. Braxton’s eyes closed at the memory of how hard she’d come, and Becca hadn’t even touched an inch of bare skin.
A slight shiver went through her body as she tried to shove the feelings from her body. Clearing her throat, she turned a smiling face to her friend. “I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Braxton lay in bed, sleep far away. She tucked her hands behind her head as she stared up at the ceiling, allowing her thoughts to twist and turn in the winds of her emotions.
She hadn’t said more than a handful of words to Becca since they’d come back, and the reality of their lives and roommate status had returned from the isolation of Ivanwood. Braxton hadn’t allowed herself to think about that night, which hadn’t happened again since. She’d allowed herself to draw from Becca’s strength and warmth while in Ivanwood, as she’d needed it, but now, back home, she had no excuse or reason now.
Sighing, she turned to her side, resting her arm along the curve of her body. She thought back to that night, and how her body had reacted so strongly to Becca’s touch. It had been an overwhelming need to feel her, to kiss her, to be touched and kissed by her. Groaning, she turned to her back again. She’d never felt that way before. Granted, she’d only had sex with one person, but even during her best nights with Andrew, full out naked, full out intercourse, she’d never been as excited or ached so much to be touched.
Never before that had she been so frightened by it, either.
Braxton’s thoughts were interrupted by footfalls on the stairs, which slowed in front of her closed door, then continued on to Becca’s room. A sliver of light appeared underneath the door as the other bedroom was illuminated, then all went dark as the other door was closed.
Braxton felt her heart begin to pound. She hadn’t seen Becca for two days; it seemed every time she came home from classes, Becca was still gone from work. When she left in the morning for classes, Becca was still asleep. Never the ‘tween shall meet. Braxton was beginning to wonder if it was on purpose, as their schedules had never conflicted like that before… Well, before.
She listened, waiting for the music to start up, though it didn’t. There was a thud, a second thud, then a quiet curse. Braxton had to make herself stay where she was, her impulse wanting to get up and go over to Becca’s room and say hello. Catch up and find out how the taller woman’s week had been. There was only silence. Had she gone to bed?
Her curiosity getting the best of her, Braxton whipped her legs off the bed, her feet hitting the floor. She sat on the edge of her bed, listening. She didn’t want to wake Becca, but she had truly missed her. She enjoyed her company, and was forever grateful for all that Becca had done at the Crowley house. Chewing on her lower lip in uncertainty, she pushed to her feet and crept to the wall that separated their rooms. Nothing. Pulling open her bedroom door, she saw light still crept underneath Becca’s.
Braxton swallowed a couple times, then decided to go ahead and be neighborly. Her first knock was meant with an invitation to come in. Braxton pushed open the door just enough for her head to fit through. Becca was sitting on her bed, knees pulled and an open book balanced on her thighs. Becca met her gaze questioningly.
“Hi,” Braxton said, far more cheerful than she felt. Her heart was still pounding.
“Hey. Come on in.” Becca closed her book and tossed it aside, folding her legs in front of her.
Braxton did as she was asked, debating for a second on whether to close the door or leave it open. She opted to leave it. Walking over to the bed, she looked down at her roommate. “How are you doing?”
“I’m good. Been busy down at the shop,” Becca said in a lame attempt to explain her absence, even though she wasn’t one hundred percent sure Braxton hadn’t coded her question with that one.
“Yeah. School, too.” Braxton glanced around the room, not sure what to say. Should she bring it up? Should they talk about it? She told Becca they would. She just wasn’t entirely sure if this were the right time. Things felt so strained, and she hated that fact.
“Braxton?” Becca said, her voice quiet. When she had the blonde’s attention, she continued. “How are you? After… everything.”
Braxton shrugged. “Okay. I’m still kickin’, so I guess that’s a plus, right?”
Becca nodded, smiling. “Indeed.”
Braxton sat on the edge of the bed. She glanced over, saw one of Becca’s hands holding the wrist of the other in a casual pose. She had a mental image of one of those hands on her breast. She was left nearly breathless as her body responded. She looked away, forcing her thoughts back to the present. “So, everything cool at the shop?” she managed.
Becca nodded. She noticed a slight flush to the blonde’s cheeks. Her gaze moved to the strong column of Braxton’s neck, watching her throat work as she swallowed a few times. She could imagine her mouth on that throat, her tongue running from Braxton’s jaw down to the neckline of her shirt. Fuck! “Yeah.” She cleared her throat, her voice coming out hoarse and thick as her arousal built. No, no, no! It was easier before. Yes, she thought Braxton was beautiful, but before she didn’t know what she felt like, tasted like, sounded like. “Just busy.”
“Oh.” Braxton said, though her throat was tight. Her fingers itched to reach out to Becca. She wanted to either move the oversized t-shirt she wore into place where it canted slightly off her shoulder, or she wanted to move it down further and explore the skin it would reveal.
“I’m going to visit my nephew,” Becca blurted, feeling a desperate need to get her mind from where it so badly wanted to go. It was almost comical as Braxton blinked several times, her eyes meeting Becca’s.
“What?” The spell had been broken. Braxton had heard the words, and knew the importance of them to Becca. “Scoot and tell me about it.” She waited until enough room had been made for her then got settled next to the taller woman, their shoulders touching..
“Scott, he’s my oldest brother’s oldest kid. He’s sixteen, and apparently questioning his sexuality.”
Braxton was shocked. ‘You’re kidding? First your aunt, then you, and now your nephew? Maybe it is genetic. One in each generation for your family.”
“I know. He emailed my aunt, looking for me.”
“Why you? Why didn’t he talk to Barbara?”
Becca shrugged. “I’d guess because he’s only met her once, and that was at my hearing.” Becca sighed. She could feel Braxton’s body heat, so hot. They were so close, but she couldn’t allow herself to think about it. “He left his number with her, and I talked to him for awhile last night. The kid is so confused.”
“About being gay?”
Becca snorted, shaking her head. “No. About what his dad will say. What his grandparents will say.” She glanced at Becca. “It’s not like my family has a great track record of tolerance.”
“I’m sorry, Becca,” Braxton said softly, reaching over and placing a hand on the taller woman’s knee. The breach had been crossed, contact made. Both women felt the jolt, Braxton gasping softly at the electrical charge that crashed through her.
“This is crazy,” Becca mumbled, moving to crawl out of the bed when she was stopped by a hand on her arm. She stopped, a hand on her arm. Now on her knees in front of Braxton, she looked at the younger woman, nearly holding her breath.
“Don’t go, Becca,” Braxton begged. She felt her heart pounding, almost painfully hard in her chest. She met the tortured blue eyes that were less than a foot away from her own.
“I can’t do this, Braxton,” Becca whispered. “I want you so fucking bad I could scream.”
Braxton’s heart stopped at the passionate words, her body erupting in need. She gasped as Becca took her face in her hands mere seconds before their lips met. The kiss was demanding, almost bruising. Braxton returned it, the room filled with their heavy breathing.
Becca pushed until Braxton was lying flat on the mattress, their mouths never breaking contact. She was on fire, her body demanding release. She could feel the heat coming from the woman beneath her, thin cotton the only barrier between their breasts. She needed to feel her, to see her. She could already smell her.
Braxton’s head was spinning, her body and mind at war. She felt one of Becca’s hands working its way under the waistband of her shorts, fierce heat beneath. She moaned as the hand caressed her lower belly before moving lower. The kiss deepening to a level of hunger that the blonde had never known. She could feel her body straining, her nipples painfully erect. Wetness flooded between her thighs, even as a voice inside her cried and struggled against the passionate onslaught.
Becca froze, her heart stopping for a moment when she felt Braxton stiffen as her hand cupped the blonde’s breast underneath the t-shirt. She broke the kiss to find Braxton already turning her head, their connection effectively broken.
“I’m sorry,” Becca said, pushing roughly off the bed, her voice choked behind the hot need that nearly forced her to do the unthinkable. She was jittery, her blood nearly boiling inside from a dangerous cocktail of need, want and anger.
“I’m sorry, Becca,” Braxton said, pushing sitting up and pulling her legs to her chest. “I guess I’m just not ready-“
“Don’t sweat it,” the taller woman said absently, slamming her bedroom door shut behind her as she escaped the confines of the small room.
Braxton felt the tears stinging the backs of her eyes. What was wrong with her? Her body still burned, desperate for Becca’s touch. “God, I’m an idiot,” she muttered to the empty room, right before a sob tore from her throat. She fall over onto her side, curling up as the tears came.
Becca hurried through the dark house. She was buzzing, crazing something, anything that could help her stop trembling. She palmed the keys she’d grabbed from her dresser on the way out of her bedroom. She knew she had to get away from Braxton or her body would speak for her. She was wet and aching, the rejection burning hot in her heart.
“Whoa!” Carrie cried, nearly run over in the entryway of the house as she was coming in and Becca was heading out. “You okay?”
Becca looked at the small woman, her jaw muscles working. Without a word, she grabbed Carrie’s hand, tugging the confused brunette behind her as she slipped out into the cold night.
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