Disclaimers: This little tale is mine and all mine.
Sex: Yes’m. There will be sex in here, and you should know better than to ask if you’ve ever read my work before. J
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com.
The wind swept through the winter-naked trees, making them dance and sway, their bare branches brushing together like the bones of the dead, crying for another who has joined their ranks. Christina watched them, eyes swollen and sore from too many tears. Her grief had turned to blessed numbness this day, a gift from the angels, perhaps. She could feel her father on her left, Wyatt on her right, Christina lending support to one, the other lending support to her.
The minister spoke in tones loud enough for those gathered to hear, yet not loud enough to disturb the peace of the winter day. His face sounded flat to Christina’s ears, any echoing forces muffled and absorbed in the blanket of snow that tucked the cemetery beneath its chill.
Pam hadn’t wanted a church service, as she had never been able to declare herself one denomination or another. When Christina had been a child, the Simms family had hopped from one church to another, looking for a home that always seemed to be elusive. Ultimately the family had decided on none, but to believe in their own way. So, here they all stood, in the cold air of a late December afternoon.
Christina surreptitiously looked over the gathered crowds of people, very pleased by the numbers of those who had turned out. She recognized many faces from her days as a skater and coach. Some now-world famous skaters themselves. Including one that Christina could barely see, standing just behind Peggy Lipton. She gave a nod of acknowledged recognition when the blue eyes met her own.
Christina helped her father to the limo, about to get in herself, helped by Wyatt, when she was stopped with a hand to her arm. She turned to see Farren standing before her, a used tissue clutched in one of her gloved hands.
“Hey,” Farren said softly, her words white puffs of air. She glanced at the handsome blonde man who stood directly behind Christina, then turned her attention back to her ex-coach.
“Hi. Thank you so much for coming,” Christina said.
Farren nodded, letting out a long breath. Her own reddened eyes gave away just how affected she’d been during the service. “I want to tell you I’m sorry, but somehow that just seems so lame. I wish I had words to tell you how I’m feeling right now.”
Christina smiled. “I can see it in your face, Farren. You don’t need to say a thing.” She shrugged slightly. “The mere fact that you’re here says it all.”
Farren smiled, giving her a grateful nod. “If you need anything, Christy, my phone number hasn’t changed.”
“Though your priorities have,” Christina said, giving Farren’s arm a squeeze. “I’m so happy for you, what you’re doing. You should be very proud of what you’re giving Denver.”
Farren’s smile was beautiful, almost as dazzling as the snow around them. “Thank you. And…” she stopped, unsure if this was the right place to say it. “Thank you, too. We got your donation. I really hope you don’t mind, but after I heard about your mom, I put it in her name.” Farren’s smile widened. “Pamela Simms now has an ice rink named after her.”
Overcome, Christina grabbed Farren and held her in a tight hug, emotion rising to her throat. She swallowed it down before releasing the surprised brunette. Without another word, she climbed into the limo, and the car was on its way.
Christina sat cross-legged on the floor of her living room, a box of pictures to her left, a pile of looked-through shots on her right. She held a handful of glossies when she heard someone enter the room. Looking up, she saw Wyatt holding up several dresses, a hanger looped over each of his fingers.
Putting the pictures aside, she walked over to her friend, sorting through the garments. They’d been at this for hours, Wyatt ever-patient as he helped his best friend go through her mother’s belongings. Pam had died three months ago, and Joseph Simms was having a hell of a time coping. He had asked Christina to please go through her mother’s things, getting rid of what needed to be gotten rid of, and to box the rest. It was killing him to have to see Pam everywhere he looked. Christina and Wyatt had packed up everything and trucked it to her house, where they were now.
“These four can go into the Good Will bin, but save the rest.”
Wyatt nodded, about to turn and leave the room, but he stopped. “Is he sure about all this, Tina?”
Christina sighed, running a hand through her hair. “I sure hope so, Wyatt.” With a nod, the dutiful friend headed back upstairs, leaving Christina surrounded by all that was her mother. “I really hope so.”
Going through the basement and attic to retrieve all of her mother’s belongings, Christina had found several trunks containing all of her outfits from her skating days. All of them. She was surprised her mother had kept everything from those days, and decided she would donate those to Farren’s organization, as well.
It took nearly an hour for Christina to finish the pictures. Her had been a notorious picture taker, and apparently, kept everything. Christina intended to create photo albums out of the loose snapshots and give some to her father. That way, he’d have something of Pam, but could also put it away.
“Okay, clothing is finished,” Wyatt announced, plopping down on the couch, tired after an entire weekend of this.
“Thank you so much, Wyatt. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem,” he said, waving her off. “You just owe me a kick ass dinner, is all.”
Christina grinned, nodding. “Okay. You’re on.”
The building was brick, and one that Christina recognized as an old skating rink from when she was a kid. The letting over the front door proudly exclaimed it to be the COMMUNITY CENTER OF THE ROCKIES. A soft smile on her lips, Christina entered the building, a large, rolling suitcase rolling behind her.
Inside, a receptionists desk was placed in the center of the lobby, a vinyl ribbon used to create separate lines, much like a bank of movie theater. No need for line markers today, as the building seemed quiet, only the distant sounds of kids laughing could be heard.
“Can I help you?” the woman at the desk asked, a hand covering the mouthpiece of the phone she had at her ear.
“Hi. I need to speak to someone in charge.” She patted her suitcase. “I have some skating outfits to donate.”
“Okay. Hang on a sec.” The lady mumbled a quick, talk to you later, into the phone then hung it up, hurrying from her post to disappear through a door.
Christina looked around the lobby, memories of that first day her mother had taken her to see Coach Duvall, so many years ago. She remembered walking over to the case on the wall, filled with trophies and ribbons. A similar case was built into the brick wall of the community center lobby. She walked over to it, surprised to see photos and news clippings of herself and Farren, both so young, smiling for a crowd of cheering fans, though back in those days, the “cheering fans” had mostly been friends and family.
“Long time ago, huh?”
Christina turned to see Farren standing behind her, hands tucked into the back pockets of her jeans. “Yeah. A lifetime ago.”
Farren nodded. “Pretty much. I hope you don’t mind,” she indicated all the pictures of the blonde. “You’re a hometown hero to these kids, too, so it seemed only fitting…”
“No, it’s fine. Weird, but fine.” She matched Farren’s smile, then remembered why she’d come in the first place. “I brought some outfits.” She walked over to where she’d left the rolling suitcase at the counter. “I have more in the car, too.”
Farren’s eyes brightened. “Oh my god, you’re kidding!?” She followed the blonde, falling to her knees as she unzipped the bag, looking through all the nylon, sequined and trimmed outfits.
“There’s a wide range of sizes, too. I think these were from age six until I think about age fifteen.”
“Thank you so much, Christina!” Farren said, getting to her feet. “We’ve been trying to get our hands on outfits like this. This is wonderful!”
Christina smiled, unable to help herself. “Well, come help me. I’ve got more.”
Farren followed the blonde out to a cute little red SUV. Together they unloaded the boxes of outfits, carrying them into Farren’s office. “It’s not much, but I can do what I need to,” the brunette explained, indicating the small, somewhat shabby room around them. The carpet was threadbare, the desk badly scarred. A simple – and obviously very old – desk top sat upon the desk, yellow sticky notes pasted all around the fifteen inch screen. The walls were wood paneling, some of which was beginning to chip and peel.
Christina took it all in, finding it strange to see Farren in such surrounds, considering her house had been filled with all the finest things life – and money – had to offer.
They set the boxes down in the corner, then stood in an awkward silence for a moment. Finally, Farren broke it. “How are you doing? I called…”
Christina nodded, feeling guilty. “I know, I’m sorry. I got your voicemail.” She let out a long breath. “I haven’t been the most social of people lately, and then my dad asked me to go through my mom’s stuff, so,” she shrugged, unable to meet the painfully understanding gaze of the woman standing across the small room.
“I can only imagine, and it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” Farren leaned back against the desk. “Quite the media blitz, huh?”
Christina nodded. “To my utter surprise. I haven’t been in the sports spotlight for years. I’m still not entirely sure why the death of my mother would make news.”
“Well, once America’s Sweetheart…”
“I guess.” Christina rolled her eyes good-naturedly. She glanced over at her ex-student and most bitter rival. “Why did you stop skating, Farren?”
Farren had known the question would come at some point. She just hoped Christina would understand and accept her explanation. For some reason, it mattered to her what the blonde thought. “Because I realized I was trying to force it. I love to skate, but competition no longer appeals. I’m sorry for wasting your time and talent, Christy.”
Christina shook her head. “I don’t see it that way. I’m glad you came to that decision, actually. Well, to that realization, is probably a better word for it. And, Farren I’ll never see that time as a waste. I think we both learned a lot.”
Farren nodded, suddenly feeling very shy. She knew she certainly had learned a lot. She’d learned that in that time, she hadn’t wanted to rekindle her career, she’d wanted to rekindle her life, and Christina would have made the perfect jump start. “Would you like to see your mom’s rink?” she asked suddenly.
Christina was thrown a bit by the sudden subject change, but regained her equilibrium. “Um,” she said, faltering when she saw the excitement in the brunette’s eyes. Her emotions already began to rise in her throat. “It’s been a very long couple days, going through all of her stuff…” her voice trailed off, Farren nodding.
“I completely understand. Truly. Maybe some other time you can see it. Just let me know.”
“I will.” Christina removed her keys from her pocket, ready to go. “You’re doing a wonderful thing here, Farren. You should be very proud.” With a kind smile and breeze of wonderful-smelling perfume, she left Farren alone in the office.
Farren was tired after a long day at the Center. She had no idea it could be so exhausting running a business. She was constantly trying to drum up donations, or writing grants, and it could be so utterly rewarding, and so utterly frustrating. She pulled into the parking lot of her condo, cutting the engine and climbing out to walk up to her building.
After Christina had left her estate and employ, Farren had done some soul searching, and had decided that she no longer wished to live at the palatial property, so had spent the next six months trying to sell it. Once it was gone, she left the US, traveling the world until she was ready to come home and make a new life. She’d bought a condo, and then not long after, she’d been contacted by the little girl who would change her life forever, and send her on a new path of priorities.
“Hey, baby!” Farren said, bending down to pet the extremely excited beagle. “How’s my little Fuzz, huh?” She bent down, accepting all the excited wiggles of the white, brown and black dog.
After proper greetings, Farren made her way into the two-level condo, dropping her purse and keys on the breakfast bar in the kitchen, then grabbing a bottled water from the fridge, she headed up the staircase, which led to the three bedrooms, and two of the three bathrooms. In her bedroom, she quickly undressed, enjoying the feel of her bare feet on the thick, cream-colored carpeting. She’d had the place completely re-carpeted last summer.
It had been a long day, and though spring was around the corner, the weather had been cold the past couple days. Rain had poured down the night before, leaving the day damp and miserable. Farren was craving a hot shower, followed by a relaxing evening with just her and Fuzz.
As Farren readied for her evening at home, she marveled at how anyone who knew her even two years ago, would see her now. She’d become a very different person. It seemed time was mellowing her, and bringing her back down to earth. Now, at thirty-seven, she no longer felt the need to prowl the night and conquer some poor, unsuspecting woman. Farren had spent the first thirty years of her life under the control of someone else, slave of the skate.
For a time, after the death of her coach, partner and career, Farren had reverted back to the rebellious tendencies of a teenager, living a life she had never been allowed to in her youth. More than two years of sleeping with far too many women for her to be able to recall names, and throwing back more Jack Daniels than anyone should in such a short time.
Because of her sport, and the dedication and grueling training required, Farren had devoted herself to all of it, once joking with Beverly that Farren worried she’d go nuts at age forty, doing all that she had denied herself when she was younger. They would laugh at that, Beverly telling her it would never happen, that Farren was far too mature for that.
“If only you knew, Bev,” Farren murmured, grabbing the remote control to turn the TV on. Freshly showered and wrapped in silk pajamas, Farren curled up with Fuzz. She flipped through the unending variety of channels, amazed that after two hundred and thirty-three stations, nothing appealed. No matter how much she may have been looking forward to a relaxing night, the memories of the past few years were making her feel restless and lonely.
She absently ran her hand along her dog’s back, Fuzz letting out a long, contented sigh as she squirmed onto her back, making it very clear she wanted her belly rubbed. Amused, Farren obliged, her mind returning to her restless thoughts. For a moment, she considered heading out to a bar, which she hadn’t been to in a very long time. Then, the thought of drunken gropes and pounding music made her quickly change her mind. She considered heading out to see a movie.
Fuzz moaned, causing Farren to look down. The dog was totally on her back, though she’d wiggled like a worm until her body looked more like a letter “C” than a relaxed beagle. She looked up at the brunette with big, sad brown eyes, almost as though the dog knew that her mommy was considering leaving.
Amused, and charmed beyond measure. Farren chuckled, giving the dog a good rub down. “Okay. I won’t leave you.”
Fuzz’s tail thumped excitedly against Farren’s leg.
Christina looked at her friend, eyes wide in shock. She had even forgotten about the arrival of her blueberry bagel with honey almond cream cheese. Wyatt grinned at her.
“Come on, Tina,” he chuckled, “it can’t be quite that shocking.”
“You don’t think so? Wyatt,” Christina said, shaking herself out of her stupor. “every guy you’ve ever seen – gay or straight – wants you. You said you would never – and I quote – ‘ever’ settle down. Now you’re telling me that this guy you met three months ago has asked you to marry him, and you said, yes?”
Wyatt leaned back in his chair, a smug grin on his handsome face. “When it’s right, it’s right.”
Christina could feel his excitement and see the genuine love in his eyes. Not typically a touchy feely kind of gal, she couldn’t help jumping up from her chair and pulling Wyatt from his.
Farren Hankins walked into New York Bagels, a local bagel and coffee shop, that made the best muffins anywhere in Colorado. Their coffee was pretty damn good, too.
The small shop was busy, as it was before eight o’clock in the morning, and everyone was getting their coffee and bagels for work. A man standing at the glass case was holding up the line, as he was taking his sweet time ordering – what seemed like – breakfast for his entire company! Farren tried to be patient, even as she glanced at her watch every few minutes. She was bumped from behind as the woman who was in line behind her wasn’t paying attention.
She was about to turn back around when someone caught her eye. Over by the windows, at the small round table tucked into the corner, she saw Christina Simms and the guy she’d seen at Pam Simms’ funeral. They were hugging, and just before parting, they shared a quick kiss on the lips. It was obvious there was genuine affection between the two, and a deep bond.
Farren had wondered who the guy was at the cemetery, and now it seemed to be clear. For some reason, she felt disappointed, which was absurd. But still… She couldn’t take her eyes off the couple, watching as they parted then shared a few words before the man gave Christina one last kiss, gathered his things, and headed out.
Christina was overjoyed for her friend, though she had to admit, a bit skeptical of how long things would last. She hoped that Wyatt truly had found love – the real thing, and not lust in disguise. Though, she also had to admit t herself, deep down she was envious. Never before had she wanted anything from anyone, on an intimate level. In fact, for the past couple years, Wyatt had very much filled a void inside her, and she had been somewhat content. Until recently. She sat back down, looking forward to enjoying her breakfast and the morning newspaper, as her first class didn’t start for another hour.
Farren kept an eye on the blonde as she made her way through the line, trying to decide if she should go over and talk to her or not. It had been a few weeks since Christina had dropped off all the outfits, and there had been no communication between the two since. Farren was unsure, wondering if maybe that’s how the blonde wanted it. Was their time in each other’s life over? Were the few months that the blonde had coached her, it?
She finally reached the counter and made her order, then moved on past the large, glass case filled goodies, to the register. A teenage girl, gum snapping, waited to ring her up. Farren gave the girl a five dollar bill, which covered her coffee and plain bagel, and pocketed her fifty cents in change.
“Thank you,” the brunette said, taking the paper coffee cup, her bagel would be delivered to her after it was toasted and slathered with cream cheese.
On her way to the coffee area, she would pass by Christina’s table. Farren was trying to decide whether she’d say hello or not, when her decision was made for her.
Farren turned to see Christina turned in her chair, looking up at her. She smiled. “Hey.”
“I thought I heard your voice.”
“Yeah,” Farren raised her cup, “I gotta have my addiction.”
Christina smiled, nodding in understanding. “Join me, if you want to. Well, once you get your addiction, that is.”
Farren’s smile widened. “Absolutely. Be right back.”
Christina felt a sudden wave of nerves hit her as Farren wandered off to the coffee station, and she wasn’t sure why. She turned back to her paper, trying to decide how to organize the small table to make room for her unexpected – but certainly not unwanted – guest. She folded the newspaper, tossing it into the messenger bag that hung on the back of her chair, and took a sip of her coffee, trying to act as natural as she could.
Farren stirred the cream and Equal into her cup, finding that she was almost giddy at the prospect of sitting and talking with Christina. Even so, part of her reminded her to be careful: straight women – or even partially straight women – were dangerous. And, Christina was obviously very happy with the good –looking blonde guy. She had to admit, they did make a gorgeous couple.
Amused by her own observations, she walked back to the table to join Christina, her bagel arriving not long after she did. She accepted the red, plastic basket lined with wax paper, and began the task of spreading the generous amount of cream cheese on the sliced bagel halves.
“How are you?” Christina asked, as Farren got settled and readied her food.
“I’m good. Staying busy. How about you?”
“About the same. The semester is getting pretty heated, so it keeps me on my toes.”
Farren looked at her, pleasant surprise in her eyes. “You finally went back to school?”
Christina smiled. “Three years ago. I got my masters, and now teach a few English classes – Comp 101 and 121, Understanding The Language – that king of thing, over a the community college.”
Farren was delighted to hear it. “That’s wonderful! I’m so glad for you.”
“Thank you. How is the community center going?”
“Really well, thanks for asking.” Farren took a careful sip of the very hot brew. “We’re getting more volunteers, though we’re still pretty short, which makes things tough sometimes. But, your old costumes have worked out beautifully!”
Christina could actually feel the excitement coming off Farren in waves, which made her also feel excited. “I’m so glad. It just made no sense for them to rot away in the attic anymore.” They were both quiet for a moment when Christina remarked, “You’re far from home or the community center…” She knew damn well she was getting out her fishing pole, but she wanted to know.
“Actually, this bagel shop is very close to where I live. I sold the other property three years ago, and bought a small condo over on Yale.”
“You’re kidding?” Christina sat back in her chair, stunned. “Then we’re practically neighbors. I bought an old Victorian on Estes.” The two laughed at the coincidence, considering the two streets in the area of the bagel shop were very close to each other.
“Well, look at that.” Farren was immensely amused, and somewhat pleased. Even if Christina was living with that guy – or even just in a relationship with him – she would like to get to know her again. Living in such close proximity, that could be entirely possible. If, that is, Christina were interested.
Christina was having a hard time meeting the intensity in Farren’s eyes, for some reason. She almost felt like the brunette was looking into her very soul. It was admittedly disconcerting. “Well, hey I have to get to class.” She gathered up her trash, shoving it into a nearby trash container, then gathered up her messenger bag, keys and sunglasses. She shouldered her bag, looking down at a still-seated Farren. “It was nice seeing you, Farren.”
“You, too. You really should come down to the center sometime.”
Christina grinned. “Do I get discounted tickets to skate?”
“Absolutely! Hell, you can even skate free!” Farren smirked. “I know the boss.”
“Ohhh,” Christina joked back, “It helps to know people in high places, huh?”
Back to the Academy