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, don’t bother, as that’s what my publisher’s editor is for.
Remmy ran, nearly getting herself hit by a car as she plowed across the street into the darkness. Her lungs were burning but she didn’t care. She felt the rattle in her hand, hot to the touch, burning her skin. Still she held on, fingers nearly crushing it.
Inside her head was a symphony of children’s laughter and nearly unintelligible words, always the underlying crying. It was about to drive her crazy. She could hear nothing of the night sounds around her. The birds disappeared, the traffic on the busier streets. The laughter and cat calls of the group of teenagers she passed on the sidewalk, heading toward the outlying woods of Woodland.
She kept getting more images of the dirt, feeling its cold, grainy texture against her face. She tried to brush the feel and image away. She ran on, grateful when the moon popped out from behind the heavy rain clouds that had been threatening earlier, showing the way.
The town proper ended, the woods beginning. She’d never been in this area, but she couldn’t allow her fear to make her falter. The crying was a constant now, no more laughter, no more garbled speech.
Remmy slowed, her breathing labored, hair stuck to her sweaty forehead. She stopped, hands resting on her thighs as she sucked in large gulps of air. She looked around her, trying to figure out where she was. Something caught her eye, something in the brush, glinting in the moonlight. A beacon.
Pushing her way deep into the foliage, Remmy ignored the cuts and scrapes on her hands and bare legs as she pushed through to the object. Stepping on the thorny bush at its stem to get it out of her way, she bent down, fingers pushing away some dirt, coming into contact with something cold and hard. Taking it between her fingers, she stood, holding it up to the moonlight.
The red stone glinted almost magically, awing the eye. She could feel the smooth surface of the underside of the thick band, either side of the large stone rough from inscriptions she could not read. She wished she had a flashlight. She set the ring down, in a clearing outside the foliage it had been lying in. She felt her heart pounding, emotion rising, though she swallowed it down.
Using the bright light from above, Remmy looked around the area, kicking at things with the toe of her shoe. When she felt it sink down, she squatted, looking at the area. Dirt. Darker than that around it, and also missing any of the leaves or debris that littered the forest floor around her.
Looking around her, Remmy looked for something to dig with. She noticed for the first time that she was alone. The crying had stopped. Setting the rattle down next to the ring, Remmy grabbed a small branch that lay on the floor where it had been knocked off by an animal. Taking a deep breath, she gripped the wood with both hands and began to dig, light strokes, each one going a little deeper. She felt a tear slip out as the end of the branch came into contact with something. It wasn’t hard, but very soft.
Remmy sat off on the bumper of the Coroner’s van, unable to watch as the tiny body was taken from the ground. She felt sick, her tears refusing to come. They pushed at the backs of her eyes like tiny pin pricks, but she couldn’t seem to allow them to fall. She felt someone squeeze her shoulder.
“How are you?” Grace asked, watching as the red and blue swirling lights glinted off of Remmy’s dark hair. When Remmy looked up at her, it nearly broke her heart. Remmy’s eyes were red-rimmed, the color nearly electric from the emotion that she was valiantly trying to hide.
“How was I so wrong?” she asked, voice nearly a whisper. “He was supposed to be alive.” She stared out into the night again, the night which had been turned into day by all the cruiser lights and flashlight beams that painted the area.
“Grace?” one of the officers called. “It’s starting to rain. We’re not going to get anything else tonight.”
Grace nodded in agreement. “Okay, Tom. Get everything wrapped up.” Grace turned back to Remmy. “The ME’s gonna have to get in here, Remmy,” she said, knocking on the side of the van. “Why don’t you let me take you home?”
Remmy shook her head. “No. I’d rather walk.” She pushed to her feet, head hanging. She felt arms wrap around her and allowed a brief hug before pulling away. She held out her hand, the small rattle lying at the center of her palm. Grace took the baby’s toy with a heavy sigh.
“I’ll need to talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
Remmy nodded, then turned, walking away. Grace watched her go, half a mind to send a patrol car to follow her at a discreet distance. She worried about the younger woman.
Remmy made her way to the street, hands buried in the pockets of her shorts. She felt cold, the rain beginning to grow slightly heavier. It was cool on her overheated face. She felt like she’d been at the crime site forever. In all honesty, it had been a long time. After she’d found the baby, wrapped in a plastic garbage bag, she’d pulled out her cell phone and called Grace. The first officers had arrived within ten minutes, and she’d been kept there, answering questions until Grace showed up, more than three hours ago. She hadn’t been able to leave, almost feeling like a dog waiting by his dead master, ever obedient.
Truth be told, she felt like she’d let down Tyler Bailey. She felt like she’d let down Clive Bailey. She felt like she’d let down Yvonne Bailey, and she felt like she’d let down Grace. And herself.
As the rain began to beat down harder, Remmy began to shiver slightly, glancing up into the sky, watching as it opened up, cracked open by brilliant lightning and booms of thunder. It was a slightly frightening experience, as at any moment the power of Zeus could rush down and end her life with one touch. Then again, maybe that was for the best. She felt so lost and alone. Her heart was empty and cold, her emotions raw. She wanted to cry, wanted to get it out, but the tears still refused to come.
Julie lay in bed, feeling antsy and restless. The lightning and thunder outside didn’t help matters. Bonnie jumped with every clap of thunder, waking her all over again. Julie was bothered by something. Deeply. She had no idea what it was. She had to convince herself to stay in bed, as she knew she was tired, her eyes burning and begging with her to sleep. Part of that had been all the cigarette smoke in the food tent at the fair. She was allergic, and it always gave her a headache and made her eyes turn red and burn.
With a heavy sigh, Julie turned to her side, looking out the window, watching as the raindrops pelted the windows. She wished it weren’t raining, as the nice, cool breeze of night would undoubtedly help her get to sleep.
Clyde’s head popped up, his little ears perking to life as he stared at Julie’s bedroom doorway. Soon Bonnie followed. Within moments, they were tearing off into the darkness, barking.
Julie felt uneasy, hating when her dogs did that. It was usually nothing but it always scared the shit out of her. She slid her legs over the side of the bed, deciding this might be as good an excuse as any to avoid her insomnia. Pulling on a pair of shorts to get with the tank top she slept in, she was startled by her dogs’ intense barking, followed by the sound of the doorbell. Glancing at her bedside clock, Julie realized it was after midnight.
She padded through the house to the front door, wary as she reached it. “Who is it?” she called, flicking on the porch light.
“Remmy!” the voice called from the other side.
Instantly worried, remembering the look on the brunette’s face just before she’d disappeared in the fairgrounds crowd, Julie quickly unlocked the door and pulled it open. Remmy stood on the stood, beyond drenched, in the same clothing she’d been in before. “Oh god, Remmy,” Julie breathed, quickly pushing the screen door open and pulling Remmy inside. “You’re soaked!” she exclaimed.
Remmy stood dripping on the entryway tile, her head hung, shoulders sagging. She was so cold, but none of that mattered. She raised her eyes to meet Julie’s concerned gaze, and the floodgates went. “He was dead all along,” she whispered.
“Oh, Remmy.” Julie pulled Remmy to her, holding her as she cried, whispering words of love and compassion in her ear. Remmy clung to her, almost painfully tight.
Remmy felt her soul mend even as her heart broke, Julie’s warmth holding her, telling her that everything would be okay. She couldn’t help but cry, not only for Tyler Bailey, but also grieving for the last two weeks.
She lifted her head from where it rested on Julie’s shoulder, bringing her hands up to wipe at her eyes and face. Finally she met the deep concern in Julie’s eyes. “I’m really sorry, Julie,” she said, voice hoarse from the cry and raw emotion.
“Oh, honey, don’t you dare apologize-“
Remmy could tell Julie wasn’t getting it. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry. For what happened.”
Julie looked up into the haunted eyes in front of her, and suddenly she wanted nothing more than to go to bed and hold Remmy against her, and just run her fingers through her soft hair and tell her that everything was fine, and it would all be okay.
“Remmy,” she said softly. “Come with me.” She took Remmy by the hand, locking up the front door, catching the lights, and leading her up the stairs.
Remmy followed without comment, a bit nervous that Julie hadn’t responded to her apology. They ended up in Julie’s bedroom, where Julie stopped them in the center of the room. She turned Remmy around to face her, grabbing the hem of Remmy’s shirt, which was glued to her body, and tugged it over the shivering woman’s head. She tossed the shirt to the floor, then squatted, quickly untying Remmy’s shoes. Remmy used Julie’s shoulder to balance as she stepped out of them, then allowed Julie to remove her sock. The other shoe and sock followed.
Julie rose to her feet, meeting Remmy’s eyes briefly before she turned to the shorts, unbuttoning and unzipping them, allowing them to fall to the floor. She noted briefly with amusement that Remmy, indeed, did have a tattoo on the inside of her thigh, though she couldn’t see much of it the way the brunette was standing. Remmy stepped out of them, leaving her in only her bra and underwear. Julie tried not to notice the sleek body before her, turning away to gather the wet clothing on the floor.
“Leave your bra and underwear on the toilet lid in the bathroom after you step into the shower, Remmy. I’ll throw them in the washer with everything else,” she said quietly, Remmy’s clothing gathered in her arms, and heading out of the room.
Remmy wasn’t sure what to think, her heart pounding in her ears. She felt entirely too exposed and vulnerable, and it wasn’t just because she was standing in Julie’s bedroom, nearly naked. Far down below, she heard a washing machine roar to life, so scampered off to the bathroom in Julie’s bedroom, stripping out of the rest of her clothing, and doing as Julie asked.
A long groan escaped her throat as she stepped under the hot spray of the shower, raising her face to the water, eyes closed. Her nipples were hard to the point of pain from the cold rain, Julie’s presence, and the hot water. She just hoped that Julie didn’t notice the way her body was reacting to her as she undressed Remmy.
“Why did she do that?” she whispered, wiping the water from her eyes. She knew it was simply because Julie was trying to quickly get her out of her soaked clothing, and truth be told, Remmy was probably shivering entirely too much to get her clothes off. She wished Julie hadn’t done that, but had just let her shiver.
Julie closed the lid to the washer, the last two articles of Remmy’s clothing gathered inside, resting her hands on the white machine and blowing out the breath that she’d been holding practically since she’d removed Remmy’s shirt. Remmy’s appearance on her doorstep had caused a whole bunch of emotions to arise within Julie that she just wasn’t sure what to do with. First and foremost, she’d wanted to help her and be there for her. She was beginning to understand just what kind of strain Remmy’s gift put on her mind and spirit.
Leading Remmy up to her bedroom and getting her out of her soaked clothing was a very natural course of action for Julie, not even stopping to think about what she was doing. Until now.
In the parking lot of the school, when Remmy had coaxed her out of the car, Julie felt so free, like she could do anything. She felt strong and very capable, and mainly because Remmy was at her side, telling her it was okay, and that she had beaten that bastard. She told Julie that not with words, but a simple look, a smile, the touch of her hand.
And then she kissed her.
Julie leaned her back against the vibrating machine, crossing her arms over her chest. She glanced down at Bonnie who strolled into the small laundry room, glanced up at her mommy, then wandered back out again. She was drawn to Remmy, had been since the very first time Remmy had come to her house. She felt Remmy’s strength, and the calm in her eyes set Julie at ease no matter what was happening. She felt compelled to be with Remmy, laugh with her, talk with her, or just simply enjoy the comfortable silence that the so often shared. Much like herself, Remmy was quiet and didn’t need large, exciting scenes to stimulate her senses. Julie also had to admit to herself that she loved to cuddle with Remmy. That night they’d fallen asleep on the couch while watching TV, she remembered very well climbing into Remmy’s embrace, resting her head upon Remmy’s shoulder. It had been the best nights sleep she’d ever had.
And then she kissed her.
Julie had been dodging thoughts of that kiss for two weeks, her stubborn nature not allowing her to analyze it, or even talk with Remmy, let her explain. She needed to explain. Not necessarily because the kiss was this horrible, awful sin, or anything as crazy as that, but Julie needed to know where it came from, needed to understand Remmy’s thought process. Was it simply something that happened in the joy of the moment? Maybe Remmy needed to get that much closer? Or was there something deeper to it?
Julie had been with men all her dating life, never once giving thought to a woman. Yes, she’d known a few lesbian teachers over the years, and had no problem with it at all, but it had never been something she’d put in her own box of life. True, she’d never felt that her relationships with the men she’d had in her life were mind-blowing experiences- obviously, as she was single again- but never did it occur to her to try the other side. Thinking about it, she honestly couldn’t say that it did even now.
Then she saw those blue eyes in her mind’s eye. She thought about just how easy it was to allow herself to be enfolded in Remmy’s arms, held safe and warm. How easy it was to talk to her, to hold her, just to be with her.
And then she kissed her.
Julie sighed, pushing off the washing machine and turning out the light as she headed upstairs, the shower long ago stopping. The overhead.
The overhead light was still on in the bedroom when Julie entered the room. Remmy, hair still damp and falling down her back, sat in the armchair in the corner of the room, dressed in the old pair of Matt’s sweats that Julie had brought her when she’d taken Remmy’s bra and underwear. She was huddled, seeming to still be chilled. She walked over to her and squatted down in front of her, reaching up to brush away a few wet strands.
“Are you okay?” Julie’s voice was as gentle as her touch.
Remmy nodded, but looked away. No, she wasn’t okay, nor was she fooling her friend. Her hand was gripped, and Remmy found herself standing and led over to the bed. The warm sweats felt great, but the t-shirt she’d been given did nothing to help her chill. Julie pulled down the covers, and indicated that Remmy should climb in, which she did.
Julie made sure Remmy was comfortable, then climbed in with her, turning off the light. “Come here, Remmy,” she whispered, pulling the brunette over to her. Within moments they were settled, Remmy’s head resting on her upper chest, both of Julie’s arms wrapped tightly around her. “Tell me what happened,” she asked, tracing lazy patterns on Remmy’s back, feeling the younger woman begin to relax, her body becoming like jelly.
Remmy tried to get her thoughts in some semblance of order. Her heart was still slightly racing from earlier, though she knew she needed to get her mind out of there- she’d already gotten herself in trouble when it came to Julie. Finally, she cleared her throat. “The case I was working on for Grace, well, the baby was missing, and I swore he was alive. I kept hearing him cry in my mind. I just knew he had to be alive.” She sighed heavily. “I misjudged my own signals. It was all in the past. He was dead and buried over in the north woods the entire time.”
Julie brought her hand up, petting Remmy’s hair. She could feel the heartbreak rolling off Remmy, could feel her pain and profound disappointment in herself. “Oh, sweetie,” she whispered. “You realized something tonight, didn’t you? At the fairgrounds?”
Remmy nodded, though she was glad Julie couldn’t see her blush at her being there at all. It was a good thing Julie didn’t know that she’d been stalked. “It hit me like a brick wall.” She sighed again, readjusting her head to a more comfortable position, feeling Julie’s breast under her cheek. She tried to ignore that knowledge, tried to ignore the softness, how wonderful Julie smelled. The slight pucker of Julie’s nipple. She cleared her mind, returning back to their conversation. “I feel like I really let them down- Tyler, his father, and Grace.”
Julie cupped Remmy’s face between her hands, brining the blue eyes up until their gazes met. “Don’t you dare say that,” she whispered, anger hardening her voice. “Don’t you dare say that,” she said again. “You have such a gift, Remmy, and don’t you ever forget that.” She stared deeply into Remmy’s eyes, seeming to look into her very soul. “I know I never will.”
Remmy closed her eyes, surprised at the soft kiss she received, so quick she didn’t have time to respond to it before her head was again resting upon Julie’s breast. Julie squeezed her eyes tightly, mentally slapping herself for the kiss. How hypocritical is that? She hadn’t spoken to Remmy for two weeks because she kissed her, and yet here Julie returned the favor. They needed to talk.
“These were the longest two weeks of my life, Rem,” she began, voice soft.
Remmy nodded, unsure what to say. She had already apologized, but somehow she didn’t get the impression that was what Julie wanted. In fact, she was confused as hell as to what Julie wanted.
Julie swallowed, picking her next words carefully. “I wasn’t sure what to do after you kissed me that night. It frightened me on a couple of different levels, I guess. Can I ask you something?”
Remmy lifted her head again, resting it in her palm. “Of course.”
“When you kissed me, well…” Julie paused, brows scrunching as she tried to think of just what exactly it was she was trying to say or ask. “Why did you do that?”
Crap. Remmy knew this question was coming. She wasn’t sure how far to take this, how much to tell her. She owed Julie the truth, but just didn’t know how to tell her, when she wasn’t entirely sure of the truth herself. “We were having such a good time that day. The ice cream, playing in the backyard…” she smiled at the memory of that day. “I don’t know. I guess the music, the dancing, the way the moonlight shined in your eyes.” She studied those very eyes, which now met her own gaze. “It just happened. I felt close to you.”
Julie nodded, understanding. But she had more questions. “Have you done that before?”
Julie grinned. “Felt close to other women?” She had a deep sense that Remmy wasn’t the type to sit out on a date with some guy. She couldn’t see it.
Remmy blushed, looking away. Julie laughter brought her back around, a playful glare on her face. “Yes,” she finally said, drying Julie’s laughter right up.
Julie stared at her. Wondering was a very different thing than actually knowing. “Often?”
“Julie, I am not going to discuss that with you.” Remmy tried to roll over, feeling embarrassed and shy. She made it to her side when she felt Julie’s warmth along her back, a hand gently taking hold of her arm.
“Why so shy?” Julie asked, resting her chin on Remmy’s shoulder. Why was she pressing the issue? She’d gotten the answer she’d wanted, let it go and go to sleep.
“Because! I don’t exactly feel comfortable talking about my sex life.”
“With anyone.” Remmy was annoyed by the amusement she heard in her friend’s voice.
“Have you had girlfriends? In the past? Somehow I don’t think you do now.” Julie had to move as Remmy flipped over onto her back. She met Julie’s gaze.
“No. I’ve never had a girlfriend before. Only casual situations.”
“Why not? Why no girlfriends?” Julie rested her head against her fist, suddenly very interested in what Remmy had to say on this topic.
Remmy sighed, deciding to relax, as it was obvious Julie wasn’t going to let it go. “I never stayed anywhere long enough.” She met her gaze briefly before quickly looking away. “No one caught me that way, I guess. I just had no interest in giving that much of myself to someone.”
As Julie studied Remmy, she couldn’t help but wonder if their shared kiss, though extremely brief in the parking lot, had just been another of those moments for Remmy. Had it meant anything more than just simply wanting to be close?
“Well,” she said softly, brushing Remmy’s cheek with the backs of her fingers. “Let’s get some sleep for tonight.”
Julie awoke, loud breathing and the bed seeming to vibrate underneath her. She was lying on her side, back to Remmy. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the brunette curled up in the fetal position, body shivering violently. Jumping to action, Julie rolled Remmy over, noting that she was flushed and sweating.
“Oh, sweetie,” she murmured. She wasn’t entirely surprised, considering how cold and drenched Remmy had been when she’d arrived the night before. She had no idea how long the brunette had spent out in the cold rain before ending up on her doorstep.
Pushing the blankets aside, Julie got out of bed, quickly tucking Remmy’s shivering form in, adding the blanket that was folded at the end of the bed. She brushed sweaty strands of dark hair off Remmy’s forehead, placing her cool palm there instead. “You’re burning up, Remmy,” she whispered, brows drawn in concern. She hurried downstairs, letting the dogs out to pee, then starting on hot tea. The day was gorgeous, the grass and flowers insanely green after the rains they’d been getting lately.
Hot water whistled to life in the teapot on the stove. Julie quickly removed it, pouring it into a large mug, dipping in a tea bag and saturating the whole thing with honey, as she knew how sweet Remmy liked everything. She dug out some flu medicine from the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom, then headed back up to her bedroom.
Remmy was just beginning to see the light of day, her head pounding and body filled with aches and chills. She groaned, covering her face with her hands. She felt like shit, and she had a long shift today at the store.
“Hey,” Julie said, entering the room with her offerings. Remmy peeked at her from between her spread fingers.
“I need to get going,” Remmy croaked, throat burning. “I got work.”
“Not today, you don’t.” Julie set the tea on the side table, along with the bottle of medicine. “You’re going to sleep today, Rem. You managed to get yourself the flu last night.”
“Shit,” Remmy groaned again. “I hate being sick. I need to call Joan-“
“Already done.” Julie helped Remmy to sit up, piling both pillows behind her, then gently nudging her back into them. “Here. Drink this, and I want you to take some medicine.”
Remmy dutifully took the small, plastic cup filled with the purple liquid that tasted like motor oil. Julie chuckled at the face she made as she drank it down.
“Drink.” She handed the steaming tea over. “Careful- it’s hot.”
Remmy closed her eyes, allowing the honey-scented steam to waft up and warm her face. “She sipped carefully, sighing at the sweetness that met her tongue, fending off the obnoxious taste of the Nyquil.
“How long were you out in that last night?” Julie asked gently, perched on the edge of the bed.
“Awhile,” Remmy said, relaxing against the pillows, cupping the tea between her palms. “I walked around for awhile after I left the site. I was trying to decide what to do.”
“What do you mean?”
Remmy glanced briefly at Julie before her eyes found the wall across from the bed interesting. “I wasn’t sure I’d be welcomed here. I really needed you.”
Julie felt her heart break. She gently removed the tea cup, ignoring confused eyes as she gathered Remmy into her arms, Remmy’s head cradled against her breasts. “Don’t ever feel that way,” she whispered. “Remmy, you are always welcome here. I don’t care what.” She closed her eyes, allowing herself to wallow in the wonderful feeling of being so close to the brunette. Whenever she touched Remmy, or Remmy touched her, she always felt so much wrong suddenly become right. “I’m glad you needed me.” She stroked Remmy’s hair, feeling the silky strands between her fingers. “I need you, too,” she whispered, Remmy almost missing the words.
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