For complete disclaimers see part 1.
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Remmy awoke, feeling rested and alive. She’d had the best sleep of her life- not one dream, not once waking with visions of other’s lives. God, how wonderful! She sat up in her bed, stretching her arms high above her head, her yawn large and loud. The sun was piercing through the closed blinds, throwing patterns of light on the hardwood floor.
Glancing over at her small kitchenette, she realized she was starving. Throwing her blankets aside, she yelped at the cold wood that met her bare feet. Scampering to the bathroom, she tugged on some slippers then did her business. Immediately after, she threw open her blinds, then the windows behind them, allowing the cool, spring morning air to air out the apartment, and fill her with a sense of rejuvenation. She felt like she’d swallowed the fountain of youth in her sleep, but couldn’t keep the silly grin from her face.
She headed over to the fridge, about to pop it open when there was a soft knock on her apartment door.
“Remmy?” Doug asked from the other side. “You awake?”
She padded over to it, unlocking and opening the door. “Hey, Doug. Wuz up?”
He looked started by her huge, goofy grin, then grinned himself, pretending to peek inside. “Remmy,” he whispered, “Did you get laid last night?”
Remmy burst into laughter, shaking her head. “Hardly.”
“Well, if you want breakfast, Joan just made a huge stack of waffles.”
Remmy glanced from Doug to her tiny fridge, knowing full well she was planning on a bowl of Total Raisin Bran and a banana. She didn’t have to think twice. She nodded with a bigger grin and followed Doug down the many staircases until they’d reached the main floor. The wonderful smells assaulted Remmy’s nose, making her groan in appreciation.
Joan had the table set for three, which made Remmy smile. Immediately after moving in, again, Joan and Doug had made her feel like part of the family, and that she’d never left. It meant a great deal to her. She made her way into the kitchen, wordlessly helping Joan bring the food to the table, and filling three glasses with orange juice.
Without discussion, the three sat down and began to dig into the wonderful breakfast Joan had prepared. Finally Remmy spoke. “I met Julie yesterday.”
Joan looked up from her coffee, which she had just sipped from. “Did she come into the store?”
Remmy shook her head. “Nope. I used my J-dar.”
Doug choked on his juice. “Your what?”
“My J-dar,” Remmy repeated. “Zeroed in, found her house.”
“God, that’s creepy,” Joan muttered, setting her coffee aside and finishing off her sausage. “How did it go?”
“Fine. She seems like a really wonderful lady.”
Joan nodded agreement. She had never told Remmy that Julie had come searching for her there, or at least information about her. “I’ve spoken with her a few times. Very nice.”
Remmy nodded. Very nice, indeed. She’d left not long after her little breakdown, which had been incredibly embarrassing. She hadn’t wanted to leave, but felt it was only right. She’d searched Julie down to… to what? Make sure she was okay? Certainly not to cry on her shoulder. She wanted to go back, but had no plans to, as she had no reason to. None that made sense, anyway.
“Oh, Remmy, I’ve been meaning to tell you- Mabel is heading out on a trip with her boyfriend. She’ll be gone for a few days. Can you cover for her?”
“Absolutely,” Remmy said, without thought, then glared at her boss. “It’s not like I’ve got too many hours, or anything.”
Joan smirked. “Hey, honey, you leave the party, you gets what’s left over.”
Remmy rolled her eyes.
Julie chuckled at the mess her nephew was, and knew Matt would kick her butt if he saw Skylar. The 9 year old had come over for the weekend, and help his aunt paint. Well, he’d helped, alright. He was more colorful than any rainbow. She made him go scrub all the paint off his skin and from his hair before she’d take him for the promised ice cream.
Remmy took a step back, head slightly cocked to the side as she tried to decide what to do with the display. Joan had shown her where they’d gotten about two hundred cases of Miller Genuine Draft, and they had no room in the coolers, nor the back room for them, so Remmy was being creative, to Joan’s chagrin. She already had the legs and feet of her intended robot created, held sturdy by various hard surfaces she’d found- pieces of Plexiglas and wood, to help stabilize everything.
All morning she kept feeling the buzz of her emotions, reaching out, searching. She was starting to see her mind like an antennae: always reaching out to seek a signal from someone, picking up on random channels without Remmy’s permission, when suddenly her mind would be filled with scenes she didn’t want to see, things she didn’t want to feel. When Fayola had taught her how to clamp it down, she had given the greatest gift. The beautiful dark woman told her that her own visions had nearly ruined her life, certainly running it, just As Remmy’s had. Remmy had known more peace in the past weeks now that she had learned how to block it, than she had in her entire life. Now she was able to choose when she wished to ‘tune in’.
She closed her eyes, the buzzing coming back- it wasn’t an audible buzz, more like a feeling, like her body beginning to vibrate, as though a wave of energy were trying to get out around the prison bars she had to once again visualize, holding back the searching probe and all the information it had gathered. It was strong today, and becoming exhausting.
The bells above the door jangled, and the excited chatter of a young boy filled the store, along with the quiet hushing sounds of his companion. Remmy shot up, turning to face the store, eyes searching for the owner.
Over near the slushy machine she saw the back of a blonde head. Swallowing nervously and running her hand through her hair, Remmy moved the cases of beer out of the way and headed over to the bullpen, trying her damndest to keep her eyes off the two. She smiled, hearing the debate between aunt and nephew on what size he’d get, finally Julie settling on a medium, which he had to share with her.
After five very long minutes, Julie and Skylar made their way to the counter, Julie digging through her purse. When she pulled out her wallet, she looked up, eyes widening in surprise when she saw Remmy grinning back at her.
“Hi,” she said, voice soft.
“Hi. Find everything alright?” she asked, nodding at the slushy that Skylar held against his chest, red straw never once leaving his mouth. Julie nodded, glancing down at her nephew. She brushed the straw from his lips.
“Skylar,” she hissed, “we haven’t paid for that, yet.”
Remmy was amused. “Is that all for you?”
“Yeah. That’ll do it.” Remmy quoted her a price, and Julie immediately set about digging a couple bills from her wallet. Her heart was racing, fingers shaking slightly as she handed over the bills. She met the gentle blue eyes, and smiled, feeling somewhat better. “How are you?” she finally asked, thinking of the last time they’d met.
Remmy smiled, somewhat shy. “I’m good. And yourself?”
“Good. Skylar here helped me paint this weekend,” she said, mussing the boy’s hair. He glared up at her as he sucked on the straw once more.
Remmy looked down at the boy, leaning down so she rested on her forearms on the counter. “Are you a pretty good helper?” she asked. The boy nodded vigorously, not giving up his straw. Remmy chuckled, amused.
“I think he liked to paint himself and me more than the walls, though,” Julie said, garnering Remmy’s attention again.
“Like nephew like aunt?” the brunette asked, a brow raised as she stood to her full height. She grinned at the slight blush on Julie’s face.
“I said I was sorry about your shirt,” Julie murmured, smiling at the loud burst of laughter from Remmy- a decidedly wonderful sound.
“Well, were you able to finish the mighty project of repainting?” Remmy asked, still smirking at the twinkle in Julie’s eyes.
“Not even close!” Julie exclaimed, thinking of the third bedroom, kitchen and living room. Between she and Skylar, they’d managed to get one bedroom, all three bathrooms and the hallway upstairs done.
“If you need help, I uh…” Remmy’s voice trailed off, her eyes everywhere but looking at Julie. “I could help.” The silence that received made her finally look at Julie, who was smiling at her.
“Don’t offer something like that unless you mean it.”
“I mean it,” Remmy said softly.
Julie studied her for a moment, head slightly cocked to the side. Finally she nodded. “Okay. I’ll let you help, then.”
Julie wiped her hands on the thighs of her old cut-offs before reaching for the multitude of locks she had installed on the front door. Well, on every door that could lead inside her home. She wondered if this was a good idea- she didn’t even know Remmy Foster, yet she was bringing her into her home to help her paint? Yes, she was extremely grateful for what Remmy had done for her- saved her life- but she still needed to be careful.
Unfortunately, the events that had brought the two women together had made Julie beyond paranoid about any and every one who entered her life and her home. Her personal space. Thoughts had entered her brain last night, while lying in bed, knowing that Remmy was coming over today: how did Remmy really know where she’d been? Was she maybe in cahoots with Sergio Venti, and no one realized it? Maybe the unseen assailant who came off as the cowboy in the whole scenario? Was Remmy trying to make her way back into Julie’s life simply to finish the job Sergio couldn’t?
Julie rolled her eyes at her own thoughts. Yes, any of them could be true, but she was still being ridiculous. She opened the door to find Remmy standing on the other side, just as she knew she would. The ever-present backpack was slung over one of the younger woman’s shoulders, her eyes gentle and clear, yet filled with awareness.
Julie smiled. “Hi.”
“Hello,” Remmy said, remaining on the porch, or heart pounding as she was faced with Julie again.
“Are you sure you want to subject yourself to this today?” Julie asked, giving Remmy, and herself, a chance to back out. She’d never had such a reaction to any one person in her life, and it frightened her. It was almost as though Remmy had some sort of spell over her that made Julie nearly breathless every time she saw her. It made her feel small and vulnerable, yet so filled with strength and calm at the same time. Weirdest thing.
“I’m sure,” Remmy grinned, then looked past the woman who still filled the door. “But, unless you intend to give me a roller with a majorly extended handle, I can’t do much from out here.”
Julie rolled her eyes at her own rudeness. “I’m sorry.” She stepped aside, allowing the taller woman to pass. Looking back into the beautiful spring day, Julie took one final breath and closed and locked the door with finality.
When she turned around, she saw Remmy standing in the center of the room, backpack still in tow, waiting for instruction. “You can put that there on the couch, if you want,” she said pointing toward the couch. Remmy did as she was asked, slipping her hands into the back pockets of her cargo pants.
Julie really looked at her for the first time, and noticed the clear, beautiful face, the eyes, which had caught her attention the very first time watched her. It wasn’t just the unusually blue color of the irises, but the depth of Remmy’s eyes was astonishing and somewhat disconcerting. They seemed to be the eyes of a woman who was 300 years old, and not someone in their 20s. They looked upon Julie with so much gentleness and seemingly endless understanding, they could make the blonde cry, or beg to be saved and protected from all the unknowns of the world.
Realizing she was staring, Julie looked away, though noting the slender form, a bit of flat stomach visible as Remmy’s shirt rode up a tiny bit from her stance. “Well,” Julie said at length, officially breaking the curious tension in the air, and clapping her hands lightly together, “we’ve got a lot of work to do today. Well,” she clarified with a sheepish grin, “I’ve got a lot of work to do today. You’re not captive here, Remmy,” she stopped, both realizing what she had said.
Remmy walked over to her, a gentle hand on her shoulder and a lopsided grin on her lips. “I’m here for the duration, Julie,” she said, voice quiet and soft as usual. “Let’s git‘er done.”
Julie smiled, nodding. “Let’s git’er done.”
With George Michael’s Freedom 90 blasting through the speakers in the CD player that had been placed on the hall carpet, Julie and Remmy went to work painting the second spare bedroom. Not much conversation had passed between them, both fully concentrating on their task, as well as their own thoughts.
It took everything in Remmy not to stop and console Julie. Though she did her best to turn off her mind, she could still feel the slight unease radiating off the blonde. She wasn’t sure the cause, but had a partially correct idea: perhaps Julie thought the entire thing was strange, that Remmy would come seek her out after months and two seasons worth of nothing. Perhaps Julie thought she was a freak, her abilities creepy from lack of understanding. Or, perhaps Julie was just unsettled by her being there. Maybe she shouldn’t have offered to help. She knew what a warm, loving person Julie was, and maybe she didn’t have the heart to say no in the face of Remmy’s offer to help. Or maybe she needed the help, but felt uncomfortable with a complete stranger helping her. A furrow formed between dark brows as the various considerations passed through her brain.
She really wanted to cheat and send out her probe, entering Julie’s mind to see what she was feeling, where her duress was coming from, but she had promised herself she would not do that; it wasn’t fair to Julie, and was a complete invasion of privacy.
Julie glanced over her shoulder, feeling a strange… sadness? She didn’t feel like it was coming from her, but instead from Remmy, who was working diligently on the other side of the room. She studied the other woman, as she continued to run her roller on her own wall. Remmy’s shoulder’s seemed slightly slumped, almost dejected. It was written all over her body language.
Suddenly Julie’s roller was sailing across something very smooth. She turned and looked, crying out in anger and shock when she realized she had just painted right over the window. “Shit!”
Remmy turned, seeing the now very yellow window, and hurried over to the blonde. Julie’s roller had been dropped into their shared paint tray, and was hurriedly scrubbing away at the window, making more of a smeared mess than progress. Julie seemed upset.
“Hey,” Remmy said, stopping her with a gentle touch to her hand. Julie looked at her. “Calm, grasshoppa. I think you’re about to break your window.”
Julie looked at Remmy, at first wanting to be annoyed with her, but then she saw the amusement in her eyes, and realized she was being ridiculous. It was glass, for crying out loud! She grinned, Remmy’s own widening. “Don’t paint the windows,” she muttered. Remmy nodded sagely.
“So glad you told me. That one over there,” she pointed to the one near where she’d been working, “was calling to me.”
Julie burst into laughter, playfully shoving Remmy away and returning to her mess. Remmy felt like she was on top of the world as she grabbed her roller, feeling the tension flow out of Julie like water into a stream. She even allowed herself to get into the music, now Faith. How ironic, she thought.
Pamela Beecham hadn’t been to Beaumont County since before she’d been snatched almost three years ago. In the time she’d been gone- two years, three months, fourteen days, her house had been long ago sold, as everyone thought she was long ago dead. That was fine with her, as she had no desire to return to that place, not where that bastard had set foot. After the rescue, her son had come up from Texas, where he’d decided to stay after graduating college- after all, he had a wife now, a local girl- and he had said he’d had nothing to go back home for, anyhow.
At first the reunion had been everything Pam could’ve hoped for. Her and her son, Patrick cried together, clung to each other, and she was invited to go back to Austin with him and Christy. Without a second thought, she had accepted, happy to have family again. Her relationship with her son had been so spotty over the years, it had meant more to her than she could ever express to Patrick, that he cared.
After nearly six months with him and that girl he’d married, Pam was more than ready to set out on her own. Unfortunately even tragedy couldn’t take Patrick’s father out of him, so before things got bad again, Pamela had decided it was time to leave. She’d packed the car she’d managed to buy in February, after working hard for a dentist down in Austin, and headed out, back home. At least there she had friends, and an old boss willing to give her job back. She missed going out with the girls- and the men- and looked forward to having a cold beer with Shelly and Ellen.
As Pam drove, she rolled her window down, allowing the wind to rush in and whip her hair every which way. She didn’t mind- she was alive, after all. She had also heard that the psychic who’d saved all their butts had returned to the area, staying in Woodland. She was glad, as she really wanted a chance to talk to her and pick her brains. Pam had always been interested in the spiritual stuff- used to read books by Sylvia Browne and watch John Edward on TV. She wondered what Remmy Foster had to stay about the whole situation. Was the Venti case her first? Or was she one of those psychics who helped the cops all the time? She’d seen those on TV, too.
Pam pulled the still-hot coffee from where the cup rested between her legs, sipping and enjoying the taste. McDonald’s always did have the best coffee. She had been a coffee addict before Sergio, and that had been one of the things she’d missed most while she was there. After everything that had happened, she’d been forced to go to therapy by her son, which she supposed had helped, but she was still somewhat torn on how she felt about things. She’d been round that man every day, nearly, for more than two years. He had kept her fed and mostly warm, but even still, it was because of him that he’d had to keep her fed and somewhat warm.
She grinned, remembering how she’d felt when she found out just exactly how that feisty little blonde had escaped. She couldn’t believe Julie had bitten his cock. What guts! Pam, herself, had had the opportunity to do that, as she knew his penchant for blow jobs. He always waited awhile before he allowed one of the women to do that for him. She was surprised he’d let Julie do it after only having her a few months. He must have really thought he could trust her.
“Dumb ass,” she muttered, pushing her arm out the window and allowing the wind to take it as it would, flowing up and down, up and down. She glanced in the side mirror, noting the sunglasses she’d bought just on her way out of town. Her hair was cut short again, how she liked it- kept it out of her eyes. Her mother used to make her keep her hair long when she was younger. Just after she got married the first time she had chopped it, keeping it short ever since. She had lost so much weight with Sergio, which she was grateful for. She’d managed to keep it off since, too. She looked pretty good, over all. One thing she was grateful for was that her time with him had gotten her off cigarettes. She’d been trying to quit for ten years, and hadn’t been able to. Though she craved one now and then, she had no desire to go back to that. Nasty habit.
She had wanted to get on the phone with Julie Wilson for the past five months and thank her for what she did, the courage it took, but stopped herself. The thought of speaking with her fellow captive made Pam’s heart lurch, bringing a myriad of memories and thoughts back that she really didn’t want. She had allowed her mind to let it go, to forget about it, but now it was time to start thinking about it again, and to say a simple thank you. She owed Remmy Foster one, too.
“So, you actually knew I was in danger that first day?” Julie asked, leaning back against the arm of her couch, bare feet curled up under her. She took a long drink from her bottle of water. Remmy, who sat on the arm chair adjacent to the couch, nodded.
Julie glanced out the window for a moment, absorbing this. “Guess I should’ve listened, huh?” she asked quietly, attempting to make a joke, but it failed miserably.
“It wasn’t your fault, Julie,” Remmy said, draining her third water bottle of the day. They’d managed to get the second bedroom and kitchen done. The only reason they’d stopped at the living room was because all the furniture needed to be moved out of it. “I truly believe he would’ve gotten you no matter what.” She looked deeply into green eyes, making sure she had Julie’s full attention. “He was watching you.”
“But, how do you know that? Do you realize how creepy crazy that sounds? How can you sit there and tell me what this guy was doing, long before you had ever met me?”
Remmy shrugged. “Just know.” She tapped the empty water bottle against her paint-stained pant leg. “One night I had a dream. It scared the hell out of me. It was actually a few nights before I made my way toward Woodland.” She stared off into the distance, remembering. “I saw his kitchen, all the weird crap he had in there.” She met Julie’s gaze again, brows drawn. “You saw his kitchen, didn’t you?”
Julie nodded with a small shiver. “The last day,” she whispered. Her stomach was in knots, going back there, but somehow, talking about it with Remmy sitting a few feet from her, made it far less scary. She almost felt like she was truly standing up to him by remembering without the accompanying fear.
“What was in it? I was never in the house.” Remmy grinned. “I was too busy getting shot.”
Julie chuckled at the totally disarming smile tossed her way. “Yeah, about that...”
“I’d do it again,” Remmy said quickly, cutting her off. “Any day of the week and twice on Sunday.”
Julie studied her, shocked. “Why me?” she finally asked. “Why were you in my head? Why not Pam? Cameron? Roxie? Hell, Sergio, for that matter. Why me?”
Remmy shook her head. “I don’t know. I met some friends when I was in Omaha, people who understood me. Understood my… ability. They explained it to me in a way that made sense. Basically, my soul is highly sensitive, almost like an antennae, trying to pick up radio signals, but those radio signals are simply the emotions of others. High emotions, deep emotions: distress, guilt, pain, whatever. It always used to be old emotions. You know, the guy who accidentally ran over his daughter’s dog seven years ago, and never forgave himself for telling his kid that Rover ran away. That kind of thing. But with you,” she shook her head with a shrug. “I was picking up on you, and everything you were feeling. It was potent.” She smiled, trying to add a little levity to a situation that still bothered her. “You’ve got quite the ticker, Julie.”
Julie’s smile was small, her hands playing with the water bottle in her hand. She had so many questions plaguing her mind, and decided that now was the time to get them all out. “I had these dreams,” she began softly, feeling shy for some reasons. “While I was there.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at Remmy, and therefore missed the slight intake of breath from her companion. Remmy was nervous, and curious, never truly knowing if she was reaching Julie or not, with her dreams. She had hoped, prayed even, that she was able to offer some kind of comfort, and that the visions she was seeing in her own dreams wasn’t simply that- a dream.
“What about them?” she asked at last when it seemed Julie wasn’t going to continue.
Julie took a drink, more for something to do rather than because she actually wanted it. Once she’d swallowed the cool liquid, she continued. “I always found myself in a field. Well, at first, anyway, and then there was a lake or stream, something like that. Not a huge body of water, but water all the same. And trees,” she said, her voice growing softer with every memory of her dream paradise. “There was always someone with me, holding me, standing beside me, whatever. I could never see them, just knew they were there to help me, to take it all away.” She swallowed reflexively, then glanced over at her silent companion, a question in her eyes.
Remmy’s voice was very soft when she spoke, filled with emotion. “I wanted to give you a safe place to hide, Julie. Wanted you to know you weren’t alone.”
Julie’s eyes immediately filled with tears, which she tried to swallow, but they wouldn’t leave. “It was you,” she murmured. Remmy didn’t have to answer.
Remmy was pulled to her feet, and her arms were filled with Julie, who once again clung to her. She held her, cupping the back of the blonde head, which rested against her shoulder.
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