Sex: Why yes, thank you.
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 corrections, please don’t bother, as that’s rude.
Canton could feel her jaw muscles clenching and unclenching as she read the text on the small screen of her phone:
Y r u being this way? U no I’m not lying 2 u.
“Bullshit,” she growled, hitting the reply option on the small phone and quickly began to send off a return message:
Bullshit! I saw ur car at her plce last nite.
With that, the brunette went into her contacts list and promptly erased Jenny’s name and phone number, as well as their text-message argument that had been going on for the past half an hour. She’d heard far too many people talking about all of Jenny’s extracurricular activities in their nine month relationship, and then finally seeing Jenny’s red Honda in the driveway of another woman, that had done it. It was over.
She decided to tell her soon-to-be ex just that, setting up the phone for another text when she stopped, staring off into the distance of the park where she sat on a bench, eating her lunch. “Shit,” she muttered, trying to remember what the hell Jenny’s number actually was. It had been stored in her phone since the day they’d met, so she’d never had to remember it. She closed her eyes in concentration for a moment, seeing the ten digits. Satisfied that she had them, she quickly typed them into the phone and then her message:
We r thru. I’m sick of ur lies. I want no part. Tell ur slut she can keep u.
Pressing the send key, she slapped her phone shut and sat back against the hard bench. She’d just finished her five mile jog and had stopped at the park to cool off when she’d gotten the text, Jenny wanting to know why her tires had been slashed. The sound of a car horn honking alerted her that she had an incoming text message. She thought about ignoring it, but decided to see what Jenny had to say.
Sorry I pist u off to the point of breaking up w me b4 we even started dating. J I think u got wrong #. Sorry ur day is so bad.
Canton studied the message with drawn brows, glancing at the phone number. “What the hell?”
U playing games, J? Who is this?
Within moments she had a response.
Erin. Not J. No games. Sorry.
“Shit,” Canton said again. She couldn’t imagine Jenny playing a game like this. She tapped the small phone against her chin, looking out over the park, the trees already sprouting the colors of fall. She decided to reply.
Sorry bout that. Got wrong # I guess.
S’kay. Happens. Hope all goes well with J. Hope J stops games.
Thx. Doesn’t matter. It’s over.
Ouch. Been there. Good luck 2 u.
Canton slapped her phone shut and pushed to her feet. She stretched her arms over her head, then stretched long legs, still darkly tanned from her daily runs throughout the summer.
As she headed toward her small, three bedroom house just off the park’s entrance, she thought back to her time with Jenny. In truth, it wasn’t much of a shock that things hadn’t worked out. She had jumped into things with the cute brunette not six months after ending her long-term relationship with Kathryn. Jenny had basically been to prove to herself that she was worthy of another woman’s caring and touch, after the hell Kathryn had put her through.
Even so, it had hurt pretty bad to find out that Jenny had been playing her for a fool the entire time. Digging her keys from the pocket of her mesh shorts, Canton unlocked and opened her door, letting herself into the quiet, clean house. If Jenny had to come into her life, perhaps it had been for the very simple act of letting Canton know that she was still alive, and could still care. She knew she should have waited for more time after her four-year relationship ended.
Sighing heavily, she grabbed a bottled water from the fridge and drank half as she headed upstairs, shedding clothes as she did. A nice, hot shower sounded heavenly about now.
Canton brought the blankets up a little further around her waist. The cool, October night was sneaking into the bedroom, chilling the brunette’s skin. Her laptop rested on her thighs, her fingers tapping away at the keys. Her next screenplay was just about finished. A few more scenes would complete the drama. The sudden honking of a car horn brought her cell phone to brilliant light on the bedside table next to where she was wrapped up.
Finishing the scene she was working on, Canton reached over, grabbing the small phone and flipping it open:
How r u? Did everything go OK with J?
Canton was shocked to see the phone number from earlier in the day, when she’d accidentally typed in Jenny’s number wrong. She decided to respond.
She hasn’t called, and I obviously don’t have her #. J I’m ok. Thx 4 asking.
No prob. Were u together long?
Not a lifetime, but still painful.
“Ain’t that the truth,” Canton muttered, quickly hitting the reply option:
Ur very nice to check on me. Thx.
I’ve been where u r. I know it hurts. Mine cheated after being tgthr 6 yrs.
Canton read the text, then read it again. Old, pain-filled memories made her heart hurt. She had been blind to Kathryn’s affair, with a woman who had claimed to be a friend, no less. That same woman had the audacity to ask Canton if she needed help moving after Kathryn had denied their involvement. Kathryn had always been a coward, and Canton would always see her as such.
I must b a real asshole or something- last 2 gf cheated on me.
It took a long time for the reply to come in. Canton thought that maybe Erin thought maybe she was an asshole, too or something. But, finally her phone honked at her.
Maybe u r too trusting. I’ve been single for 2 yrs after Leslie. Hurt too bad.
Canton was surprised to find she was speaking with a fellow sister. Delighted, she responded:
I hope I haven’t brought back bad memories…
No. U r the one suffering here. My pain is over. Now I’m just careful. What is ur name?
Canton chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, trying to decide if she wanted to answer. Finally she decided it was harmless:
Hi, Canton, and I welcome you 2 the bucket of the dejected. Home 2 many. J
I feel honored and welcome. Do I need a membership card or something?
No. Just look as miserable as u can during meetings. We take a vote on the worst pout after we sing our theme song.
Again Canton found herself laughing. “You’re amusing, Erin. I’ll give you that.”
Made you smile, yes?
Then my job is done.
Canton smiled big, shaking her head. She marveled at what a nice person Erin seemed to be. She couldn’t help but wonder what she looked like.
Indeed. I’m off to bed. Thx again and good nite.
Nite, Canton. Sleep well.
Canton sat in the airport, ready to board the plane that would take her to L.A. so she could have a quick meeting with the director of the latest film featuring one of her scripts. He wanted her to sit through the first read-through with the cast, as the talent typically liked to have access to the writer to help them better understand their characters.
The brunette had sat in on three other such meetings, and was still impressed by the sheer talent that usually surrounded her. And, to top it all off, those extremely talented actors and actresses looked at her as the demigod! She never understood it, but couldn’t help but bask in it. She’d been a writer for most of her life, starting as a young child. She’d landed her first gig in television purely by accident, and had moved on to feature film from there. She was slowly making a name for herself in the film industries of Hollywood, as well as the independent market, which she much preferred. L.A. was her bread and butter, but writing for herself in indies was her passion.
Glancing at the clock, Canton realized she still had at least forty minutes before the plane began boarding. Rolling her eyes, she sighed, glancing down at the magazine she’d brought with her. No interest in it, she tossed it to the empty seat beside her and removed her phone from the pocket of her jacket. She flipped it open, scanning through her contacts list, trying to decide who could take away her boredom the best. Scanning the list, she immediately rejected about half, knowing that either the person would still be in bed, would drive her crazy, or she just flat didn’t want to talk to them. Then she saw Erin’s name and phone number. She wasn’t sure why she’d even kept the stranger in her contact list, but decided to drop her a little message. It had been more than a week since their last text.
Hey, stranger. Thought I’d say hi.
She flipped the phone shut, unsure if Erin was up, or even around her phone. She opened the phone again, starting anew to scan her list of contacts. She was about to settle for her friend Tim when the phone honked at her. Surprised, she went to her messages to read the new text.
Well, aren’t u the early bird. Hi back at ya.
Canton grimaced, hoping she hadn’t woken Erin at- she glanced at her watch- seven thirty-three.
Oops. Sorry. Did I wake u? My bad.
Yep. No worries. I need to get up anyway. Gotta feed the goldfish I’m fish-sitting.
Canton’s brows drew.
Sorry bout that. Fish-sitting?
Yep. It’s all the rage this year. The new white- goldfish yellow.
Canton burst into laughter, making a few of her fellow passengers glance at her.
Wish I could be so amusing in the a.m.
Amusing? No, this is grouchy. I haven’t had my a.m. coffee yet. Hey, how are you, anyway? Missed u at the Bucket of the Dejected meeting last night. Had a potluck and everything.
Again, Canton found herself laughing out loud. Oh, yeah. Erin was just what she needed to entertain her until she could board.
LMAO!! Aw, shucks. Sorry. I’ll do what I can to make the next one.
So y r u up so early, anyway?
Sitting at DIA waiting to catch a flight to L.A.
L.A. huh? Gonna catch some sun?
Ah. U should’ve said something- I would’ve given u a bottle 2 catch some smog for me.
I’ll see what I can do. I’ll bring it to the next Bucket of the Dejected meeting.
Canton chewed on her bottom lip, making a decision.
Hey, when I get back, we should get coffee or something.
She waited, hoping she hadn’t overstepped her bounds or anything. She was shocked when the phone in her hand began to ring, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries echoing through the quiet early-morning terminal. She smiled an apology at a young man who was startled awake from his nap.
“Hello?” she said, her heart racing as she had saw that it was Erin calling.
“Well, I figured if you wanted to meet for coffee, the least I could do first was actually introduce myself to you in person. Well, at least in voice, first.”
Canton grinned. Erin’s voice was soft, yet friendly. She sounded young, but her voice carried the confidence of a mature adult. “I think that may be wise. After all, for all you know I’m just some robot over here, spouting out random text messages to folks.”
“Hmm, true. But then I guess since you did give the invite for coffee, I could very well be sitting across from HAL 9000,” Erin said, a hint of teasing in her voice.
Canton couldn’t help but laugh. “Very true. So, why are you goldfish-sitting? That seems like asking a lot of a person.”
“Oh, I agree. But, my brother asked, so I must comply. I did tell him, however, that if Grover ends up with Ick, or any other fish-type disease, the vet bill is on him.”
Again Canton laughed. “If this is you grouchy, I’m worried.”
“You should be, Canton. You should be. When I’m not grouchy, I get feisty.” There was a short pause. “So, what do you do to be traveling to the City of Angels for work? Or are you moving there?”
“God no! I hate that town. I have to sit in on a table reading for a script,” Canton explained, glancing over through the huge windows to see that their plane had pulled up to the plastic tube. Another look at the clock told her they had twenty minutes until boarding.
“Oh yeah? You write it?” Erin asked, interest in her voice.
“Yeah. That’s what I do for a living.” Canton felt pride fill her at the admission. She always did.
“Wow,” Erin drawled, admiration and surprise in her voice. “That is very cool. Good for you.”
“What about you? Oh, wait-“ Canton pulled the phone away from her ear, listening to the announcement made over the loud speaker. Putting the cell back to her ear, she continued. “Hey, I need to go. They’re boarding early.”
“Alright. Well, hey, have a safe trip, and give a cute starlet a big kiss for me. Drop me a line when you get home, and you, me and HAL will go have that coffee.”
Canton chuckled. “Okay. Sounds good. Talk to you later.” She snapped her phone shut, the grin still on her face as she gathered her carryon bag.
The production offices were overly chilled from excessive air conditioning. Canton was glad she’d worn jeans as she strolled down the long hall, heading toward the open door at the end where she could hear voices. Inside the large room was a long conference table, snacks and drinks set up on another table under the sole window.
Bob Keiser, one of the producers, walked over to her, hand extended. “Hey there, Canton. Nice to see you again. Everyone should be here soon.”
“Help yourself to anything,” he said, waving her off toward the food table. Canton noticed others had helped themselves already. She knew Bob from previous films, but wasn’t sure who anyone else was in the room. She noticed the few folks who were obviously talent starting to amble in and get situated. They were too beautiful to ignore. One thing she loved about her job was the eye candy was like none other.
Two hours later, Canton had been in deep discussions with both talent and production staff alike. Two hours after that, she was back at her hotel, ready to go home. The beautiful people could do without her.
Canton closed her eyes, waiting for the rough flight to be over. She offered up a silent prayer of thanks as the wheels touched down in Denver. The weather had hit them hard and had bounced the huge plane all over the place. Colorado had gotten hit hard with its first snow early. Typically the first snow hit around Halloween, but that was two weeks away.
Making sure her stomach was where she’d put it at LAX, Canton got herself and her carryon together, ready to get off the giant bucket of bolts she’d been tethered to for the past three and a half hours. She hated flying, hated it more than anything. She’d considered moving to L.A. to avoid it, but had dropped that thought pretty much as quickly as it had materialized. She loved Denver, and the normal life she pursued.
Finally it was her turn to step into the aisle, listening to the symphony of cell phone being turned on around her. It suddenly made her very sad to realize she had no one who was waiting for her call to make sure she’d gotten home alright, or to meet her at baggage claim. When she thought of that sort of thing, her thoughts immediately went to Kathryn. Their four years together had been rocky from the start, the playing field littered with penalty flags all over the place that neither of them had wanted to see or admit. When it boiled down to it, they’d been wrong for each other. Rather than having the guts or strength to walk away, Kathryn had done the one thing that insured the end of their relationship, and Canton’s hatred: she cheated on her.
Canton shook herself out of those painful memories and thoughts, surprised they’d reared their ugly head at all. She hadn’t thought of Kathryn since… she’d been with Jenny. Canton sighed. Perhaps Jenny had been a good diversion after all.
Plugging her very dead cell into the car charger, Canton headed for home. The chirping of her phone let her know she had missed messages. She hadn’t brought her charger with her for the trip, as she was only gone for a couple days, but her battery needed to be replaced, so the phone had quickly died.
Waiting till she was at a traffic light, Canton grabbed the little phone and flipped it open, looking at her messages. There was only a single text message awaiting her. She smiled when she saw it was from Erin;
Undoubtedly ur enjoying a bit of rump bump with some gorgeous starlet. Hope you had fun. Me and HAL are waiting 4 coffee. Have a safe trip back
Immediately she began to respond to the text:
Rump bump, huh? That’s new. Trip was good. Blessedly short. I’ll call u 2nite to make arrangements. Flight sucked! Hate flying.
Someone’s grumpy. J I look forward to ur call. Gotta go and b a good grl- at work.
Canton chuckled, amused. She flipped her phone shut, eager to get home.
She dropped her bag on her bed, quickly unpacking it and stuffing the bulk of the contents in the laundry basket. Canton hated to check in luggage, always a light packer, never taking anything that wasn’t necessary. She put her toiletries away, then climbed into the shower, ridding herself of the lag of traveling.
Freshly washed and dressed, Canton padded downstairs, lighting a fire in the fireplace in the living room then making herself some dinner She looked around her house- yes, it was small and simple, but it was all hers. She had always dreamed of having her own place, decorated in her own tastes and styles. Her living room walls were covered with her impressive collection of swords and daggers, hung professionally and cleaned weekly to keep the steel of the blades healthy and shiny. She knew that if someone ever broke into her place she’d either be in some serious trouble, or they’d run into the night screaming, worried they’d broken into a serial killer’s house.
Amused by her own thoughts, she set the pot of noodles and sauce to cooking on the stovetop, then headed into the den, booting her desktop up. She stood behind her desk, hands on hips and looked around the small space with a discerning eye. Memorabilia from her films were scattered everywhere: shadow boxes with signed cast pictures and bound scripts, stills from the set, and even some of the actual costumes worn by her characters, adorned the walls and shelves. It was truly her greatest joy to step into this room. Many years of hard work and dedication to her craft had paid off in so many ways.
All in all she was happier than she’d ever been. It was nice to finally find happiness, after a lifetime of running from the shadow of who she was told she was supposed to be, or what she was supposed to do. Her parents had never believed in her dream, so she’d gone her own way, disappointing them time and again, but ultimately it had worked out for the best: Canton had moved away from the small, Kansas town she’d grown up in, and therefore their embarrassment was gone, and the brunette lived her own life. A win/win.
The sound of water hitting a hot burner drew her attention back to the kitchen as her noodles began to boil over. She quickly blew on the rising froth, stirring the bubbling sauce with a rubber spatula at the same time.
Soon, she had herself set up in the den, the television on, though she wasn’t really watching, as she scrolled through her email, eating fresh, hot pasta at the same time. The ultimate multi-tasker: Canton’s constantly spinning mind grew bored if she didn’t occupy it with at least ten different tasks at the same time. It was fairly typical for her to be giving her attention to a movie or television show, working on a screenplay, cleaning house, and tapping away at a novel all at the same time.
Even as she began to perform her fifteen tasks, her eye kept straying to the cell phone perched at the corner of her desk. She had a coffee meeting to arrange.
The small, locally owned coffee shop was doing a good business, though Canton was glad to see that many of the patrons were getting their orders to go. She was nervous for some reason, as she walked inside, surreptitiously looking around for the woman who said she’d be wearing a red shirt. Her eyes found various customers seated, either solo or in small groups, but no one in a red shirt. She saw a table with a full coffee cup, and a backpack sitting in the chair, but no one sat there.
She decided to get herself set up with a drink, hoping that by time she got through the long line, Erin would have arrived. She was the fifth person in line, and standing with her arms crossed over her chest, she kept an eye out.
Finally, with order in hand, Canton turned to face the tables and chairs. Her breath caught when she saw someone sitting at the table that had seemed to be abandoned. She had short, blonde hair and wore a red button-down shirt. The woman was looking down, reading the book that was laid out on the tabletop, her cheek resting in the upturned palm of her left hand. The backpack had been moved to the floor. Canton’s gaze traveled over what she could see, the blonde’s build was petit, though it was hard to tell with her sitting down and bent over the table like she was.
Canton glanced down at herself, wiping a sweating palm on the thigh of her jeans. Tossing her hair back away from her face one last time, she walked over to the table. She rested a hand on the back of the chair in front of her. “Erin?”
The blonde looked up, bright green eyes meeting Canton’s gaze. In the millisecond she was able to stare, her breath caught. Before her sat one of the most beautiful women she’d ever seen, though Erin wasn’t beautiful in a traditional-sort of way. She was… adorable. Her expression was friendly and open, gorgeous eyes curious.
“If you’re looking for the runaway troupe of models, they went that a way,” the blonde said, hitching her thumb toward the door.
Canton blushed, looking away shyly. “Yep, you’ve got to be Erin,” she said, glancing back at the blonde, who just stared at her. Canton began to feel slightly uncomfortable from the intense scrutiny. “I, uh. Thanks.”
“Yes, I am Erin. I’m going to step way out on a limb and guess you’re Canton.”
“Yep. That I am.” Canton pulled out the chair in front of her and sat down, setting her coffee on the table. She watched as Erin slapped her book shut, setting it aside, then turned her focus back on the brunette.
“It’s good to meet you. I must say, I absolutely hate to text message. It’s so much easier to just speak my mind.” Erin’s grin was charming, and Canton found herself grinning back at her.
“I find it was much easier to fight with Jenny over text,” she quipped, sipping from her drink, grateful as it chased the chill out of her bones.
“Jenny? As in, the infamous ‘J’?” Erin asked, sipping from her own drink. She sat back in her chair, allowing Canton a better view of her. She was in fact petit. Her shoulders were narrow, but fitting for her compact frame. What caught Canton time and again, however, was the blonde’s eyes. Not only was the color beautiful, but they were filled with such life, such alert intelligence. There was also an underlying mischief in them, as though you had to watch or you might find a whoopee cushion on your chair when you weren’t looking.
“That would be the one,” Canton said, shaking herself out of her perusing thoughts. She wasn’t there on a date with Erin. They were simply meeting as strangers who had met under strange circumstances. “Speaking of that, listen, I really want to thank you for your concern with that whole deal. I mean, hell, even my own mother didn’t ask how I was doing.”
Erin gave her a soft, understanding smile. “No problem. I felt bad for you. I know it was really tough for me when Leslie and I split up. I mean, now, in retrospect, so I see it was the best thing to ever happen to me, but at the time…”
“How long were you together?”
“Six years. My first and thus far, only, long-term relationship.”
Canton studied Erin. “How old are you? You look young to have been in such a long relationship, and then you said you guys parted two years ago, right?”
Erin nodded, pushing her now-empty cup aside. She grinned. “We got together kinda young. I’m 25.”
“High school romance?” Canton asked, doing the math in her head. The blonde chuckled.
“Something like that. How old are you?”
Canton sigh dramatically. “Next year I enter a brand new decade.” Her blue eyes flicked up to see Erin’s amused expression. “And I’m not happy about it.”
“Well, you certainly don’t look 40, and you don’t look 19 or 9, so I’m going to have to guess you’ll be 30?” She reached out, fingers absently playing with the handle of her ceramic mug.
“What? I don’t look like I’m turning 20?!” Canton gasped, making her companion laugh. “Yes. I’ll be 30.”
“Be proud, Canton. Sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot in three decades. Tell me about your writing. I think that’s fascinating, especially since I can’t write my name without it sounding boring.”
Canton smirked. “If you can make your name interesting in a signature, then I want your secret. Thank you. I love what I do.”
“So, your screenplays have actually been made into films? Like, real films?” Erin asked, head tilted slightly in curiosity. At Canton’s nod, the blonde slapped her palms on the wood tabletop. “Then there’s only one thing we can do.”
Confused, Canton looked at her. “What?”
“I want to go to Blockbuster right now, rent each and every one, and I want you sitting there next to me, telling me how accurate they are to your original vision, and you can give me the gory, behind-the-scene details.”
Canton stared at her, blinking a few times. “Are you serious?”
“Quite.” Erin’s grin was huge, and completely adorable.
“Alright,” Canton said slowly. She watched as the blonde pushed back from the table, grabbing her backpack and setting it in her abandoned chair. She shoved the book she’d been reading into one of the compartments, then zipped it shut. When Erin stood, Canton noticed that she wore faded blue jeans, and that the blonde looked better in jeans than anyone she’d ever seen.
“You coming?” Erin said, shaking Canton out of her reverie.
Nodding, the brunette stood, grabbing her keys. “Your place or mine?” she asked innocently, but blushed slightly when she saw the rakish grin on Erin’s face.
“Must say, haven’t been asked that in awhile.”
“Uh… yeah,” Canton said, feeling somewhat sheepish. She grinned. “Well, I live over by Palman’s Park. How close are you?”
“About seven blocks. I live over on Ronstadt.”
“Alright. Well,,” Canton said, rocking on her heels. “We still need to hit the video store, so…”
“Why don’t you come with me? Leave your car here, and then either I can drop you back off here to get it after, or after we get the movies. I just don’t see any reason to take a caravan around town.” Erin’s grin convinced Canton. She nodded.
Canton found it a bit surreal that she was standing in the middle of a virtual stranger’s living room, waiting for her hostess to come back with a bowl of popcorn and drinks. They’d been able to find two of her films at the video store, one still in the theaters and the fourth- her first- a bit more obscure.
Looking around the cute little apartment, she noticed that Erin loved to read, bookshelves filling one entire wall. An acoustic guitar sat in the corner on its stand. The furniture was nice, but Canton guessed it had been bought at a second-hand store, or given to the blonde. Framed pictures littered the walls of various scenic scapes, as well as a popular movie poster or two. Overall the place was well-kept, yet very much lived in. It casual and comfortable, exactly how the writer felt about the woman in the other room.
“Here we go,” Erin said, balancing a large bowl of fragrant popcorn and two glasses filled with ice and soda in the other. Canton quickly took the bowl from her, getting a grateful smile from her new friend. “I, for one am extremely excited to see these movies,” Erin said, walking over to the DVD player and getting everything set up. She held up the two movie boxes, a dark blonde brow raised in question.
“Well, do you want to cry or cringe, holding on the edge of your seat?” Canton asked, a slight smirk on her face.
Erin looked at the two boxes quizzically, tucking her bottom lip under her front teeth. “Hmm. Well, I guess I’ll cringe first, and then cry. I figure, if the first one scares me, the second one can take my mind off it.”
“Smart girl. Then you’ll want to put Lightning Project in first.”
Erin nodded, doing as requested, then joined Canton on the couch. They settled in, ignoring the FBI Warning screens, then the previews for films that both had already seen. “Do you like what you do?” Erin asked, indicating the TV.
“Love it.” Dark brows drew. “What do you do, anyway?”
“I’m a student. Working on my doctorate in Anthropology.”
“Really?” Canton asked, intrigued. At the blonde’s nod, she grinned. “That’s fantastic. I’ll have to pick your brain sometime. I’m always interested in history and the psychology of it.”
“Oh yeah? You gonna write a movie about an anthropologist?” Erin asked, grabbing a handful of popcorn.
“I just might.”
Their attention was grabbed when the feature presentation was announced. Erin sat forward on her cushion, reading the opening credits. When she saw Written By: Canton Savage, she grabbed the brunette’s wallet, which sat on the coffee table by her keys. She flipped it open, peering at Canton’s driver’s license. Turning to the writer, she grinned. “Holy shit, that really is you!”
Canton grinned, snatching her wallet from the blonde’s hands. “Did you think I lied to you?”
Erin shook her head, twinkling green eyes locked onto Canton. “Wow,” she drawled. “I’ve never met a famous person before.”
“And you’re not, now,” Canton insisted, embarrassed. “Watch the movie.” She was surprised to feel a soft hand on her arm. When she glanced over at Erin, she saw the softest, sweetest smile.
“I think it’s fantastic,” the blonde said softly. “Really cool. Congratulations for finding your heart’s passion. Very few do, and even less follow it.”
Canton was stunned by the words, feeling herself blush slightly as she looked away. Finally, after clearing her throat, she looked at the other woman. “Thank you. That really means a lot.”
Erin studied her for a long moment, green eyes seeming to look into her very soul. “You don’t hear that very often, do you?”
Canton shrugged, feeling a bit shy. “I don’t do it for praise, Erin.”
Erin, who still had her hand on Canton’s arm, squeezed lightly, then turned back to the TV, finally releasing Canton’s gaze. The brunette felt lightheaded for a moment, so lost in the green eyes she’d gotten. She also turned her attention back to the TV, curious to see what Erin’s reaction would be.
Erin watched, on the edge of her seat, as the psychological thriller played out. She was riveted, even forgetting about her drink until it was a glass of watery Pepsi. She laughed, she cringed, and even got choked up a time or two before the film was over. As the ending credits rolled, she glanced over at the silent brunette, who eyed her nervously. The smile that spread across Erin’s face returned Canton’s ability to breathe.
“That was amazing, Canton. You had ugly guys, cute chicks, lots action, and kept me guessing. Nicely done.”
Canton grinned. “Glad you approve.”
“Oh, I more than approve.”
From the twinkle in Erin’s eyes, Canton felt a bit of warmth spread through her stomach. She shook it off, aiming the comment at the film they had just watched. “I was a bit surprised by certain elements, but overall, they did my vision justice.” She finished the rest of her drink, setting the cup down on the coaster and slapping her hands on her thighs. “Well! Are you ready for round two? Gotta warn you- this one will make you cry, unless you don’t have a heart.”
“Oh yeah? Care to tell me why?”
“Nope.” Canton grinned, wiggling her brows.
“Mutter, mutter, hiss, hiss. Give me that.” Erin grabbed both their glasses and the nearly empty bowl of popcorn, and walked into the small, hallway-like kitchen. She returned within a few moments with fresh drinks. “Here. Drink and be quiet.”
Canton grinned, taking the glass.
Two hours later, Erin had herself curled up, arms wrapped around her shins, chin resting on her knees and her eyes were swollen and red. She’d been silently crying for the last forty-five minutes of the film, which made Canton feel horrible. She wasn’t sure what to do. She wanted to reach out to Erin, to cuddle her and tell her it was okay, but sat there frozen.
Erin glanced over at her as the ending credits rolled. She looked something between completely pathetic- eyes red and swollen, nose running-, and completely adorable and vulnerable. “They say write what you know,” she said quietly, “Please tell me you didn’t experience that,” she pointed toward the TV screen.
I gave her a brave smile and shook my head. “Not completely, no.”
Canton was nearly bowled over as she suddenly found herself with an armful of crying Erin in her arms. She held her, rocking her gently, whispering nonsense into her ear. After a few moments, Erin calmed, but didn’t move away from her. She rested her head on Canton’s chest, her fingers playing in the soft material of the brunette’s shirt. “Tell me where the inspiration for that film came from. What would make you kill the main character like that? Not give them a chance at love and happiness.”
Canton sighed, forcing her mind back to a time that still hurt, nearly ten years later. “When I was 20, I fell in love with a woman for the first time. She was my best friend, and we were inseparable. It was because of my love for her that I realized I was gay. She toyed with my head for two long years, but I couldn’t walk away. I really loved her. She had my heart, my soul, but didn’t want my body. Finally she left, taking an internship out of the state, and came by to say goodbye. We knew it was goodbye for good. She hugged me, resting her head on my shoulder like she always did. We must have stood there for more than ten minutes. Finally,” Canton sighed, fighting her own emotions. “she left. I was utterly heartbroken. I needed to vent, so I wrote a short story about it, then a novel, then a screenplay.”
“What did Tonya’s death signify?” Erin asked, referring to the death of one of the characters in the film.
“A couple of things. The day Sheila drove out of my life a part of me died. My innocence, for sure. I think Tonya dying signified both.” Canton rested her cheek against soft, blonde hair, amazed at just how comfortable she felt with Erin in her arms. Almost too comfortable.
Erin could hear the solid heartbeat beneath her head, and the softness of Canton’s short, the warmth of her arms. She knew she should move away, but was having a hard time doing that. “I haven’t been held like this in more than a year,” she said softly, surprised the words had escaped her lips. She couldn’t bring herself to feel shame, though.
Canton was surprised by the words, and then deeply saddened. “Why? That’s a really long time.”
“Guess after everything with Leslie, I just needed to heal. In the first year after everything fell apart I dated. No, that’s not true. I fucked women, and then realized that it made me feel even more empty than I did before. See, the end of my relationship with Leslie totally shattered me. When I went to put myself back together again, the pieces just didn’t fit anymore. I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out just how the puzzle works. You know?”
Canton thought about the words for a long moment, then nodded. “I understand perfectly. I couldn’t have said it better, in fact. Over the past week since I broke things off with Jenny, I’ve realized that I did her a complete injustice. I was with her because I was lonely. How terrible is that?”
“Not as bad as you might think.” Erin sighed and pulled reluctantly away from the beautiful brunette, who had taken her breath away when she’d first saw her at the coffee shop. She noticed the wet stain on Canton’s shirt and grimaced. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
Canton looked down, then shrugged, trying to make the blonde feel better. “Don’t worry about it. I see it as a badge of honor for making you feel.”
“That you did, Canton. That you did.” At that the blonde yawned loudly. “Sorry. I had an early day today, and have another one tomorrow.”
“Oh!” Canton jumped to her feet, grabbing her glass and taking it into the kitchen, setting it inside the sink. “I’m sorry,” she said, walking back into the living room. “I forget about that evil ‘w’ work,” she smirked, earning a glare from her new friend.
“Ha ha.” Erin stood and walked over to Canton, opening her arms. When Canton stepped into the hug, she held the blonde tight for a few moments, then, reluctantly, pulled away. “Thank you for a really great evening, Canton. You’re a hoot.” She grinned, which made her green eyes sparkle, nearly dazzling Canton.
“Right back at ya. Want me to drop those off on my way home?” she asked, nodding toward the two videos. Erin shook her head.
“No. I think I’ll watch them again before I return them.”
“Okay,” Canton said, feeling somewhat sheepish. She could have strangers galore read or watch her work, and it never made her even think twice. But when someone she knew did, it always made her feel uneasy.
“So, what do you say we skip the Bucket of the Dejected meeting this coming week, and hang out instead?” Erin was saying, pulling the brunette from her nervous stupor.
“Yeah. I’d like that.” Canton said. “As paybacks, how about we scour any old photo albums you may have, and I get to ask any and all questions about your most embarrassing moments?”
Canton’s grin eased Erin’s sudden worry. She saw the brunette nod toward the two films, and got the picture. Literally. Crossing her arms over her chest, she cocked her head, almost cockily, she said, “Yeah, maybe. Or maybe I’ll get my hands on that first film of yours, and delve even deeper into your psyche.”
Canton chuckled, grabbing her jacket. “Good luck with that. Call me and let me know when you’re free.”
Erin walked the brunette to the door of her small apartment, watching for a moment as the taller woman skipped down the stairs to the lower floor, then closed and locked her door, a grin on her face.
Canton’s grin was equally wide as she drove home, but it quickly vanished. She mentally chastised herself for allowing her thoughts to go anywhere beyond a new friend with Erin. She’d just broken up with Jenny, for crying out loud! Her heart couldn’t stand anymore hurt. She wasn’t the type that went from one woman to the next, needing time to think things through, and allow her emotions to mend. Granted, she hadn’t given Jenny much thought since that day in the park, but still…
“No,” she muttered to herself, shaking her head for emphasis. “Erin is nice. She’s funny. She’s cute as hell. But,” she held up a finger, “she’s just a new friend. Nothing more. She can’t be anything more.”
Canton’s fingers flew over the keys, the music of Sarah Brightman faded into the background. The popping of the fireplace faded in the background. The ringing of her cell phone faded into the background.
“Shit!” The brunette pulled herself out of her writing zone and the pause button on her stereo, grabbing her cell. She looked at the display screen and couldn’t stop the goofy grin that spread when she saw Erin’s name and number. It had been just over a week since their first meeting, and impromptu movie-watching night. They’d text messaged off and on, but had not spoken. Until now. “What?” Canton exclaimed, adding a little faked annoyance into her voice. She’d never met anyone that she felt so comfortable with immediately, comfortable enough to tease.
After a small pause, Erin spoke. “I’m guessing that either you’re PMSing pretty bad, and are craving chocolate but don’t have any, or I’m interrupting a major creationfest.”
Canton was surprised by the words. “You’re good. I am writing, but you’re not interrupting. Well, technically you are, but I don’t mind,” Canton grinned into the phone.
“I see. That’s an interestingly contradictory statement.”
Canton chuckled. “I guess it is. What are you up to?”
“Well, I just got home from an exhaustive day teaching Freshman anthro. I was thinking about maybe getting something to eat. Wondered if you’re interested in joining me.”
Canton glanced at her computer screen, noting where she was in the script. She had plenty of time as her deadline wasn’t until the end of the month- a week away. She’d have the work done by tomorrow at the latest. “Sure. Sounds good.”
They made plans to meet at a local diner that served the best hamburgers in the state. Canton arrived first, and got them a table near the window so she could see her friend coming, which she did, and waved to a frazzled-looking Erin.
“Hey,” the blonde said, sliding into the booth across from Canton.
“Hey, yourself. Looks like you had a rough one.”
Erin shrugged as she unwound her scarf from around her neck then slid her heavy coat from her arms. A form-fitting, thin sweat lay beneath outlining her torso nicely. Canton could tell her arms and shoulders were also nicely muscled. “Freshman- can’t live without ‘em, can’t kill ‘em.”
Canton smirked, glancing up at the waitress that joined them. They each placed their orders, then the brunette turned back to the woman sitting across from her. “What do you want to do with your doctorate once you’ve got it?”
“Continue doing what I’m doing,” Erin said easily, her green eyes nearly glowing from inside at the subject. “I love standing up there, lecturing about the people of Papua, New Guinea and their yams. Or I love to talk about the sewers that were found in Jerusalem from the Crusades, and what was found in the now-powdered feces- the types of bugs they had. The types of foods they ate, and what it says about their cultures…” Erin trailed off, realizing she was beginning to lecture. She grinned sheepishly. “Sorry.” Erin grabbed the glass of iced tea that was set before her.
“Don’t you dare apologize. It’s something you obviously are passionate about. I love that kind of passion in people. Tell me all that you want. I will happily listen.”
Erin eyed her, uncertainty filling her eyes. “Are you sure? I don’t want to bore-“
“Please,” Canton said, surprising herself when she realized that her hand had reached out across the table, covering the blonde’s. She quickly removed it, instead wrapping it around her sweating glass of Coke.
“Alright. But remember,” Erin said, pointing a finger at the brunette, “you asked for it.”
Their dinner arrived, Erin’s ongoing lecture never even slowing down, even as she prepared her cheeseburger. Canton listened, absolutely enthralled by the information she was learning, as well as by Erin’s passion for her subject. As she had noted before, Erin glowed from the inside. Her eyes were wide and expressive, her hands gesticulating emphatically at different points. The brunette was amused, as well as enthralled, and could only imagine what a wonderful teacher Erin must be.
Suddenly Erin stopped, grinning sheepishly. “See? Give me an inch, and I’ll give you a semester.” She was quiet for a moment as she munched a fry.
“I, for one, found it fascinating.”
“Really?” Erin asked, almost shy.
They were quiet for a moment, both absorbing the conversation of the past forty minutes and finishing off their dinners. Finally green eyes met blue. “So, I watched your movies again before I took them back.” Her gaze was frank and candid. Canton could see the genuine soul behind them. “You’re extremely talented, Canton.”
“I appreciate that, but honestly, the credit goes to the director and actors. They’re the ones who bring it all to life.”
“That may be, but the words and heart come from you. And now meeting you and talking to you, I can see it in your eyes. You watch the world, don’t you? Absorbing it, contemplating it. You have a really intense gaze that is almost disconcerting,” Erin finished, popping a fry into her mouth, eyes never leaving Canton’s.
The brunette felt somewhat uncomfortable under the steady verdant gaze. She’d been told before that she could sometimes make people uncomfortable with the way she studied people- their faces, their bodies, their mannerisms and actions. The way they talked or ate. But she had to admit, Erin had her beat. The observant, intelligent eyes of her dinner companion made her feel both studied and cared for. And she would put good money on the fact that Erin missed nothing.
“So,” Canton said, watching as the waitress took away their waitress cleared away their dishes, “tell me more. Where are you from? What about your family? Parents? Siblings?”
Canton listened as Erin filled her in: born in Pittsburgh, raised in Duluth and moved to Colorado to go to school. She had never left. Her parents were divorced, but she was still close to her father. Her mother had a new life with a new husband and a new kid, now 12. Canton could tell there was some bitter blood there, but didn’t poke too hard.
“So, what happened between you and your family?” Erin asked. At the surprised look on the brunette’s face, she explained. “When you asked about my family, you nearly spit the word out like you’d eaten a bug.”
Canton grinned, looking down at the cup of after dinner coffee she’d ordered during Erin’s tale. “Very perceptive. My family and I don’t talk. They don’t agree with my lifestyle, or what I’ve chosen to do as a career, I don’t agree with their pigheadedness. End of story. So, unfortunately the word ‘family’ doesn’t have a great deal of meaning for me.”
“What about friends? I mean, have you made your own little ‘family’ here?”
“Not really.” Canton sat back in her chair with a sigh. She grabbed her cell phone, flipping it open and to the contact list in her address book. She showed the screen to the blonde. “The majority of those are business contacts.”
Erin snatched the phone from her friend, scrolling. “I think there are exactly three people in here with a Colorado area code.”
“Yup. Sad, huh?”
“No,” Erin said, looking through the various numbers. “Just very curious. And I do have to wonder- Jodi. Cameron. Kate.” Green eyes glanced up suspiciously. “Anyone I’d like to know?”
Canton grinned shyly, remembering her time on set with each actress. “No one I can introduce you to.”
Erin slapped the phone shut handing it over to the brunette. “You’re really adorable when you blush, you know that?” she said. This, of course, made Canton blush worse. Erin laughed. “I don’t get it. You are by far one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in person, yet you act like you’ve been a wall flower all your life. You’re so shy.”
“I have been a wall flower all my life,” Canton said. “And I am shy. Horribly shy.”
Erin studied her for a moment, head slightly cocked to the side. “Why is that?”
“I don’t know. I just am. Guess I’ve spent the majority of my life watching people, and not really joining in. I’m just not very social.”
“You’re social with me,” Erin countered.
Canton chuckled. “One on one I do okay. Anything more,” she waved it off, “not so good.”
“Well then,” Erin said slapping her palm on the table, “we’ll keep it simple then. Just the two of us. How’s that? Oh, however,” Erin said with a grin. “I was invited to a Halloween party, and I’d like it if you went with me. You up for that, Miss Wall Flower?”
“I think I can manage. After all, it is for only one night.”
Over the next few days, Canton couldn’t get her mind off Erin. She was amazed at how comfortable she felt with the blonde, and just how well they got along. Erin was funny, highly intelligent, cute as hell, and just… intriguing. She tried to push the scholar out of her mind, but couldn’t, which made her nervous. She had just gotten out of a bad relationship, which had followed an even worse one, and knew she was in no place mentally or emotionally to be considering something new. If, that would even be something Erin would be interested in.
Canton waved the idea off with a wave of her hand. “Stupid,” she laughed, turning back to her computer screen. Even so, the image and thoughts persisted.
Hey. In a bit of a quandary- I wanna spend time w u, but have work 2 do 2.
Canton didn’t have to wait long for her response.
Hey! U had just stomped in2 my thoughts as I’m researching. I have a solution 2 ur quandary. Either you bring laptop here and work while I study, or I bring my books there while u write. Cool?
Canton grinned, nodding to herself as she chewed on her bottom lip and responded.
1052 Palman Park Dr.
U got it.
Canton was ridiculously happy as she slapped her phone shut. She jumped up from her computer and raced around her house, making sure everything was clean and put away. She was a rather anal housekeeper, so there wasn’t much to do, but had to make sure. She started a pot of coffee, as it was a particularly bitter night out. She’d gone out for her run earlier in the day and had nearly frozen to death before she’d warmed up during the exertion.
Back in her den, she cleared off the couch, making sure Erin had plenty of room should she want to stretch out there with her books. The brunette fought a sense of giddiness as the minutes seemed to drag on. Finally, she heard a firm knock at her front door. Grinning ear to ear, Canton hurried to the living room and front door, yanking it open. She was shocked to see Jenny standing on her porch.
“Hey,” Jenny said quietly, almost coy. Canton stared. “Are you going to let me in, or do I get to stand out here and freeze as more of my penance?”
“I hadn’t realized you were doing penance,” Canton quipped, stepping back. She watched as her ex walked in, snowy footprints following her across the carpet. The brunette rolled her eyes. She always hated what a mess Jenny made. “Could you at the very least stomp your boots clean?”
Jenny smirked. “Some things never change,” she muttered, walking back to the entryway and wiping her boots clean.
“Look, I’m expecting a friend, so….”
“Already?” Jenny asked, brown eyes twinkling. “Gosh, I figure you would wait at the very least a couple months.”
Canton could feel her anger beginning to boil. “Jenny, I don’t want your games. Please just leave.”
“I want to talk. I won’t stay long so I don’t ruin your evening, though that would account for the huge grin you were wearing when you answered the door. I don’t ever recall a smile like that for me.”
Canton felt uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny of her ex. She had nothing to say to that, nor any defense, as she knew it was true. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Us. I want another chance. Or at the very least to be able to defend myself,” Jenny said, arms crossed over her jacket-clad chest.
“Against what? You cheated. End of story.”
“Isn’t that the truth,” Jenny snorted. “Everything with you is a story, isn’t it? Or at least your fucking career.”
Canton stared at her, surprised at the outburst.
“You say I cheated, but honestly, Canton? Your fucking writing got in the way far more, and far sooner than anything I may have done. I could never get you to step away from that fucking computer for more than two minutes and spend time with me. I could never get you to concentrate on me and on our relationship. No, no! You always wanted to talk about your stupid plotline or stupid characters!”
Canton was frozen, anger and shock warring with each other. She could feel her jaw muscles tightening, her arms hugging herself, almost as if to protect herself from the verbal blows.
“So, you can stand there and look righteous all you want. But when it boils down to it, you made me look somewhere else because I wanted and needed from home, sure as hell wasn’t coming from you!”
Anger won out. Through clenched teeth, Canton said, “I want you out of my house.”
Their silent stand off was interrupted by a knock at the door. Canton walked past Jenny, yanking the door open. Erin, looking somewhat unsure, stood on the other side, clutching her heavy backpack with one hand.
“Uh, hi,” the blonde said. “Should I…”
“No. Come in. Please.” Canton stood back, allowing her new friend to enter. She noted with a silent smirk that Erin immediately took her boots off, setting them off on the rug set out for that purpose.
Jenny turned to observe the new addition, taking in Erin from face to socked feet. “So, you’re Canton’s new friend, huh?” she said with a smirk.
“I’m Erin. And you are?” Erin asked, holding out her hand. It was taken in a gloved one.
“Jenny. I’m Canton’s girlfriend.”
Canton watched, fascinated as she saw Erin’s green eyes darken with what seemed to be anger. “I’ve heard a lot about you,” the blonde said, ice dripping from what would otherwise seem a warm voice.
“Strange. She never mentioned you.” Jenny turned back to Canton. “This conversation isn’t over. I have more I want to talk to you about.”
“It’ll have to wait for some time, Jenny. As far as I’m concerned, it ended the day you fucked someone else.” Canton tossed an apologetic look over at Erin, who still Stood in the entryway. The blonde gave her an understanding smile.
Jenny tried to stare Canton down, but it didn’t work. The brunette walked over to the door and held it open with obvious intent. Jenny cleared her throat and stood tall as she walked past the blonde, nearly shouldering her out of the way, and stepped out into the cold night.
Slamming the door shut and locking it, Canton rested her forehead against the cool wood for a moment before sighing and turning to her friend. “I’m really sorry you had to see that. She just showed up.”
“Don’t worry about it, Canton,” Erin said gently. “Been there, done that. She seems as though she’s still… angry.”
“Yeah, something like that. Come on.” Canton led Erin to the den so she could drop off her backpack, then to the kitchen. “I made coffee. Want some? Or would you prefer hot cocoa?”
“No, coffee’s fine.” Erin looked around the nice house as they passed through the living room. She admired the fireplace, which burned merrily. She’d always wanted a fireplace. Something so comforting, yet sexy about them. In the kitchen she leaned against the counter, watching as Canton expertly poured two cups of steaming brew, handing one over.
“Cream is in the fridge, top shelf. Do you use sugar?” At Erin’s nod, Canton grabbed it from the cabinet above her head, sliding a clean spoon over to her friend. They prepared their coffee in silence before Erin spoke.
“Do you want to talk about it, Canton?” She palmed the warm mug, sipping from the coffee, delighting in the way it warmed her frigid body up from the inside.
Canton sighed. Did she? “You know,” she said with a small smile, looking into the liquid of her cup. “There are times in life where you can’t help but think, ‘what the hell was I thinking?’. You know? Jenny is one of those. I really think that I was lonely after everything with Kathryn, and allowed myself to get wrapped up in her crazy little world.” She sighed. “I do, however, fear that what she said is true.” She still couldn’t look at Erin, afraid that somehow the blonde wouldn’t want to be friends with her anymore after witnessing the drama that was Jenny.
“What’s true? Which part?” Erin gave her a sheepish grin. “I um, I could hear her from outside on the porch.”
Canton squeezed her eyes shut. “Shit.”
“Hey,” Canton started when she felt a warm touch on her shoulder. She managed to meet the understanding green eyes. “How many relationships and friendships do you think have been ruined because of my school? Nothing comes before it.”
Canton smiled, meeting her gaze. “I thought I was the only fuck up.”
Erin set her coffee down, taking the cup out of Canton’s hands. She shook her head as she took the brunette into a tight, warm hug, resting her head on the taller woman’s shoulder. “Far from it.”
Canton’s eyes slid shut as she wrapped her arms around Erin, sighing quietly into the much-needed contact. “I don’t know what to do about it,” she said softly. “Most people have their careers- they go to work deal with a lot of shit, come home and can forget about it, leave it at the door, or at the terminal when they fly off for a Hawaiian vacation. I can’t do that, Erin.” Her voice had grown softer with each word until she was almost whispering. “It’s with me always, the need to create.”
“And that’s just part of what makes you such a an amazing person,” Erin said, gently stroking Canton’s back. “If someone can’t understand and respect that about you, understand and respect your passion, then they’re very wrong for you.” Erin turned her head so her face was almost buried in Canton’s neck. She closed her eyes, inhaling the scent that she was becoming to recognize as Canton. She couldn’t help but curse the women who had their chance with the beautiful brunette, but had let her go.
Canton said nothing more, just relished the feel of Erin’s warmth, the incredibly comforting nature of the blonde took her breath away. She couldn’t imagine winning the blonde heart, then giving it back, as Leslie had done. She wondered what sort of brain damage the fool had suffered.
At length, Erin pulled away, a soft smile on her face. “Are you okay?” At Canton’s nod, the blonde grabbed both coffee cups then headed for the den. “Come on. Let’s get some work done.”
Two hours later, Canton took her fingers from the keyboard, flexing them and glanced over at her silent companion. They’d put on some music, and both had dived into their separate projects. It had been some of the most amazing two hours of the brunette’s life. She loved having Erin so near, the blonde completely absorbed in her studies, books and notebooks spread out over the length of the couch. She watched, amused, as Erin absently chewed her way along a pen cap as she read over a large text.
“Would you care for some real food so you don’t get toxins from plastic?” the brunette asked, rising to her feet and stretching her aching arms and back. Startled green eyes glanced up at her, making Canton chuckle. “Sorry to interrupt you.”
“No,” Erin said, groaning as she got to her own feet, setting the book aside. “God I get so lost in it,” she murmured, stretching her own back.
Canton smirked. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Erin chuckled as she followed her friend to the kitchen. “Uh huh.”
Canton quickly prepared a couple sandwiches, brushing off Erin’s offer to help. “Just sit back and relax. Tell me what you’re reading about.”
Once again Canton found herself engrossed in what Erin had to say, the blonde’s smooth voice washing over her. Erin made history and her theories seem like she was telling a story, which made it interesting and kept Canton riveted. Finally, sandwiches made, and Erin’s tale finished, they sat at the kitchen table, food and drink in front of both. Canton glanced over at her companion.
“Why aren’t you dating anyone?” she asked, sandwich halfway to her mouth. “That is, you’re not… right?” The look of surprise on her face at her own question made Erin grin slightly. Canton looked down, thoroughly embarrassed. What the hell am I doing? Idiot! She knew she didn’t need the complications of a new relationship. Hell, she was not even totally out of the old one, according to Jenny. “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you sorry? It’s a perfectly harmless question.” Erin had been thrilled at the question, but then her hopes had been dashed by Canton’s reaction to the question, which had obviously taken her by surprise, even though she was the one asking it. “I don’t know,” Erin said, picking at her sandwich. “I dated off and on after the joke that was Leslie. But,” she shrugged, unable to meet Canton’s gaze. Her shyness caught the brunette by surprise, as it didn’t seem to be business as usual for Erin. “I think at first I was afraid, you know? Not wanting to open myself up like that again. Then it became something more.” She finally met understanding blue eyes. “I think I just got lazy or lax. It was just easier to not deal with it, and just go to work and school everyday.”
Canton nodded, completely understanding. “You’re stronger than I am, Erin. I dealt with one of the worst relationships, with someone who was so wrong for me for nine months. I knew Jenny was about as opposite of what I wanted as anyone. Who knows,” she sighed, sitting back in her chair. “Maybe I stayed for the same reasons- lazy and lax, didn’t want to have to deal with it. If I was in a bad relationship, I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a right one, and putting my heart out there again.”
“Makes perfect sense.” Erin smiled somewhat sadly, then began to eat her dinner. As she chewed, she considered the woman sitting across from her, and once again felt sadness wash through her. Canton was everything that Erin could have dreamed of for herself: she was intelligent, creative, kind, beautiful, had a body to die for… But, alas, she worried that perhaps Canton’s heart was still not healed from Jenny. More than her heart, perhaps her psyche. With a sigh, Erin continued to eat.
Halloween night had come quickly, and Canton was a little nervous. Not only did she have to come up with a costume, but she had to wear it in public with a party-full of people she’d never met. Erin had a late class, so she was going to meet her there, and change in her friend’s bathroom.
Canton stood in her bedroom, looking at herself in the full-length mirror. She allowed her critical gaze to roam up and down her body: tight, black leather pants with black motorcycle boots. A black leather vest, with no shirt underneath, made Canton want to cross her arms over her chest self-consciously. She left her hair down, letting it flow around her face and shoulders, running her fingers through it to give it a more wild, windblown look. The leather motorcycle jacket and black sunglasses would finish off the look.
She had struggled with what to dress up as, tossing the idea of not dressing up over and over again in her head, but she didn’t want to disappoint Erin. She had spoken with the few she called friends, and some had suggested going as something as simple as an M&M, which didn’t sound right. But her friend, a noted actress, had actually flown into town, grabbed Canton by the hand and drug her to shop for a “hot” costume.
Now, looking at herself, the writer wasn’t so sure. Yes, she thought she was a fairly attractive woman, but never took compliments seriously from anyone. But, her friend had insisted that she was a knockout in the all-leather outfit, so, with a resigned sigh, Canton had agreed.
“Biker chick,” she blew out. “Okay. I guess I can be… tough, for a night.”
Canton glanced down at the piece of paper where she’d written the address Erin had given her. Matching it with the house she was parked in front of, she turned off her car, and took a deep breath. Looking around, she didn’t see Erin’s car among the gathered crowd. She knew it was ridiculous to wait for the blonde, so she decided to head on in.
The private home was jumping, music blaring out into the night whenever the front door was opened, along with laughter and loud conversation. Canton made her way up the front walk, let into the house when a young man reached the door at the same time. She grinned, looking at his rendition of Jim Morrison for a costume.
“Great leathers,” he said, but quickly disappeared once they were inside the house.
The furniture had all but been removed, leaving plenty of room for large, bulky costumes, or dancing. A lone couch was against the far wall, a couple sitting on it, seemingly in a deep conversation. A table was set up against the right-hand wall, bottles of various types of alcohol lined up, along with a cooler of ice, and large towers of plastic cups.
“Hi!” Papa Smurf said, a huge, blue grin on his face. “Welcome to my home and party.
“Uh, hi.” Canton smiled, amused by the outfit, seeing images of her childhood flash before her eyes. It took sheer willpower to not ask where Gargamel was. “I’m Canton. A friend of Erin’s.”
“Ah, yes,” the Smurf grinned, charming dimples winking at her. “Well, if you see her, tell her to come see me.”
“Okay. Will do.”
“Get yourself a drink, Canton!” the man said over his shoulder, then disappeared into the crowd of happy party-goers.
Blue eyes kept an eye out for her blonde friend as she poured herself some wine, nursing it mainly to give her hands something to hold onto rather than wanting anything to drink. Various people tried to talk to engage her in conversation, which she was fine with. She did, however, decline the dance invitations.
Erin hopped across the street as she tugged her second boot on. Making sure the pants were tucked inside, she straightened and hurried out of the way of a passing car. Dressed like a motorcycle cop, replete with gold and blue helmet and fake gun holstered at her hip, she hurried into the house. She was later than she had intended to be, and hoped that Canton was okay. She knew how shy the gorgeous brunette was, and also knew how crazy her friends could be.
Scanning the various faces- some familiar, others not, and others impossible to tell if it was man or woman because of the makeup or mask, Erin sought out her tall friend. Heading into the game room, which was basically lit only by the light from the pinball machine, she spotted her. Canton was the only person in the room, and was unmistakable. Erin stopped dead in her tracks, her breath caught in her throat. She saw the long legs, heavily muscled from a daily running routine, encased in tight leather. Her ass was perfection, as were her shoulders, which were seen with the black leather vest. A black leather motorcycle jacket was placed on a nearby chair.
Erin tried to bring much-needed air into her lungs, her heart racing, sex pulsing with sudden want and need. She knew she was attracted to the writer, on many levels, but she’d never had such a visceral reaction to her or anyone. Not even when she was about to have sex.
All thought flying out of her head, Erin acted on pure instinct. She strode into the room quietly, stepping up to within an inch behind Canton. She could feel the brunette’s body heat radiating off her. “Freeze,” she said, intending to be playful, but her voice came out husky. Her hands rested on Canton’s hips, pressing their bodies together. She felt the taller woman stiffen for a moment, then Canton turned, looking down at the “policewoman” standing in front of her. She caught the twinkling green eyes, so familiar to her, but tonight there was something else inside them. A heavy desire.
Without thinking, Canton removed Erin’s motorcycle helmet, smiling faintly at the crazy blonde hair that appeared. She felt a firm touch at the back of her neck, and Erin pulling her down until their lips met. The kiss was deep and passionate instantly, Erin pushing the taller woman back against the pinball machine. One hand buried itself into thick, dark hair, the other grabbing a trim hip, pulling Canton’s body roughly against her own.
Canton’s body was on fire, her hands buried in short, blonde hair as her mouth was devoured. Somewhere inside her head warning bells were going off, but her body ignored them, the craving for Erin too much.
“Hey, Erin. Whoa!”
Canton pulled away from the blonde, completely embarrassed as she saw Papa Smurf standing in the doorway to the room, eyes huge. Erin turned, gracing the blue creature with a smile.
“Hey, Scott,” she said, turning to the brunette, but was only in time to see Canton hurry out of the room. Erin tried to follow, but was held up by the push of people in the other room. By time she reached the street, there was only the distant sound of a car screeching around the corner. “Shit.” As she looked up into the black sky, she could feel the soft snow falling, wetting her face and tickling her lashes. “Shit!” she exclaimed louder, voice echoing into the night.
Canton was shocked to find herself sitting behind the wheel of her car, speeding like a demon being chased through town. She wasn’t entirely sure why she had run, but only knew that her heart was racing and she felt sick, and unbelievably turned on. “Fuck,” she whispered, running a trembling hand through her hair, making it even wilder than it already was.
Stopping at a red traffic light, Canton checked the rearview mirror, half surprised to not see Erin’s car pull up behind her. Turning her attention back to the road, she sighed. Her emotions were in a tangle: did she feel stupid and embarrassed for overreacting? Did she feel frightened and totally uncomfortable with what had just happened? Was she more aroused than she’d ever been in her life? Did she want to cry or die?
The light turned green, and Canton got her car moving again, slowly making a zigzag route home. she couldn’t wait to get out of the unfamiliar leathers, wanting nothing more than to curl up in flannel pants and a t-shirt and write. That she was familiar with, that she knew, and that she knew would not hurt her. Canton’s attention was brought to her cell, which was tucked into the console of her car. She didn’t answer it. After a moment, the ring tone stopped, only to be exchanged with the honking of an incoming text message.
One eye on the roads, which were becoming slick, she grabbed the phone and flipped it open.
R u OK?
Canton wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to that, so she tucked the phone back into the console and continued home. As she pulled into the driveway, then the garage, another text message came in.
I’m not going 2 bother u, but I am sorry. Don’t know what got into me. Please at least let me know you’re OK.
Canton sighed again, sitting in her garage, she responded:
I’m fine. Need 2 think.
With that, she shut her phone off and headed inside. She quickly changed into the flannel pants and t-shirt she was fantasizing about and built a fire. Sitting on the couch in front of it, Canton curled her legs under her and stared into the flames. She could see Erin’s green eyes, and she shut her own- she didn’t want to see any part of Erin right now. She needed to reconcile what had happened that night with her thoughts of their friendship.
In doing so, her mind felt it had free reign to return to their kiss. Nothing had ever affected Canton quite like it. Yes, it was physically pleasing, and yes, it was certainly physically arousing. But there was more to it than that. She had felt it at a level that she thought was long gone after Kathryn. Certainly long dead.
Canton popped up from the couch, feeling antsy and restless. She wanted to talk to Erin, find out why the blonde had kissed her. She needed Erin to understand that her heart just couldn’t take it. Not now, not ever. When the relationship with Kathryn had ended, Canton’s own self-identity had ended right along with it. She had been shattered, and as she had put the pieces back together again over the next year and a half, she had realized they hadn’t fit anymore, and Canton had emerged as a very different person. Jenny aside, Canton had grown into a stronger person, more focused on her career, and knowing that nothing could ever break her like Kathryn had.
Her deep fears where Erin was concerned was that she felt in her heart of hearts that the blonde had that ability. She could be able to reach inside Canton and find a niche inside her heart, and potentially destroy her. Canton could never, ever give anyone that kind of possession again.
But on the other side of that very grim token, Canton had the distinct feeling that Erin could give her strength like no one had, either. She felt, even in their very short acquaintance, that Erin could provide a source of strength that would cement all the work Canton had done on herself. But how was that possible? She’d met the blonde a handful of times, and had spoken with her via phone and text message only a few times more than that. Canton was a writer, a storyteller, one whose livelihood was based off creating fantasy. Even still, her creative mind couldn’t reconcile with that true “happily ever after”, especially when it was after no more than a handful of weeks.
“This is ridiculous,” she muttered, pacing in front of the fireplace. “It doesn’t work that way.” Her musings were stopped by a knock on the door. A glance at the clock told her it was too later for trick-or-treaters, and she had her porch light off, anyway. Sighing heavily, Canton walked over to the door and unlocked it before pulling it open. To her not-so-surprise, Erin stood on the stood, changed into jeans and a heavy winter coat. The blonde’s eyes were red-rimmed, which took Canton by surprise.
“Listen, I know you said you needed some time, but I had to come over,” the blonde said, her voice thick from emotions. She glanced past the brunette. “Can I come in for two seconds? It’s really cold out here.”
Nodding dumbly, Canton stepped aside, allowing the smaller woman in. Erin quickly stepped over to the mat so her snow-covered boots wouldn’t touch the carpet. Canton closed the front door and stood back, arms crossed over her chest, waiting.
Erin unzipped her coat, but made no move to stay. She ran a hand through her hair, which was slightly damp from the falling snow. After standing there awkwardly for a minute, Canton spoke. “Take your coat off. I’ll make some coffee.”
Relived, Erin did as she was asked, keeping here eyes off the retreating form as she untied her boots and slipped her feet out of them. She hung her coat on the rack near the door, shivering slightly as she headed toward the kitchen.
“Could you get me the cream from the fridge?” Canton asked, her back still to her uninvited guest.
“Sure.” Erin did as asked, placing the dairy container on the counter next to Canton. They stood silently for a moment as the coffee brewed until finally Erin spoke. “I’m really sorry, Canton. I’m not exactly sure what happened. Well, why, anyway. It just did.”
Canton was quiet for a moment, then turned to face the blonde. She looked down at her hand, which rested on the countertop, unable to meet Erin’s eyes. “You don’t need to apologize. It’s not that you did anything wrong, exactly. I… It scared me.”
“Why?” Erin took a careful step closer.
Why indeed. Canton sighed then met Erin’s gaze. “I’m not very good at this relationship thing, Erin.”
The defeat in the brunette’s voice hurt Erin’s heart. “Why do you say that? It sounds to me like others have made that decision for you.” She stepped yet closer, not even fully realizing what she was doing. She was so damn drawn to Canton. Her voice softened. “I’m sorry that I scared you, Canton, but I cannot apologize for kissing you. No, I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I will never be sorry that it did.”
Canton could feel her heart begin to pound madly in her chest. As she looked into the deep, soul-reading eyes of Erin, she felt herself become lost. Suddenly she began to speak, though she hadn’t realized she’d opened her mouth. “Since the first day I met you,” she said, her voice not much more than a whisper, “I’ve felt drawn to you. I didn’t want to- fought it, in fact. My heart cannot take anymore disappointments, Erin.” She reached a hand out, gently brushing her fingertips against the softness that was the blonde’s cheek. Green eyes closed as Erin leaned into the touch.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Canton,” Erin said softly. “I want to keep you safe. Make you happy.” When her eyes opened, Canton was surprised to see the level of emotion and adoration in them. She took hold of the brunette’s hands, running her thumb along the backs of her fingers before laying a soft kiss on them. “I feel so much when I’m with you. I feel so… whole.”
Canton knew her defenses were crumbling. In truth, she never had any defenses against Erin, who had entered her personal space upon their very first meeting. A woman whom Canton had shared her heart with, in the images upon the screen of her films. A woman who Canton wanted to share so much more with. Swallowing hard, she met Erin’s gaze. “Please don’t hurt me.”
Erin shook her head, taking that final step to make the space between them disappear. “No.”
Reaching up, she cupped Canton’s cheek, gently bringing the taller woman down until their lips met. Canton sighed into the kiss, pushing all her fear to the back of her mind to study another day. Right now she knew, more than she knew her own name, that she wanted Erin- wanted her in her life, wanted her in her heart, wanted her in her bed.
Canton grasped Erin’s face, pulling her in deeper, parting the blonde’s lips with her tongue. She felt a surge of passion like nothing she’d ever felt. Erin’s arms snaked up around her neck, pulling their bodies even closer, her fingers buying themselves in Canton’s hair.
Breathless, Canton pulled away, resting her forehead against Erin’s. “Will you come upstairs with me?” she asked, trying to get her heart rate under control. She felt Erin’s nod, the blonde’s breaths coming in heavy puffs of air.
The short trek up the stairs and into Canton’s bedroom was done in silence, one simply leading the other by the hand. Once they reached the darkened room, Canton stopped, turning to face her soon-to-be lover. She placed a soft kiss on Erin’s forehead, then traveled deeper into the room, switching on a bedside lamp, which sent buttery light painting everything.
Erin didn’t bother taking in the room around her. She only had eyes for Canton. She met the brunette halfway across the room, her hands coming up to rest on Canton’s upper chest. Looking deeply into her eyes, she needed to make sure this was what the writer wanted. Guilt or regret later would not do. In the swirling oceanic depths, she only saw desire.
Without a word, Erin reached the hem of Canton’s shirt, feeling the skin beneath graze her fingers as she lifted, nearly burning to the touch. As the cotton cleared Canton’s head, Erin’s gaze laid a fiery trail over Canton’s bare breasts and smooth skin.
Canton shook her hair free of the garment, then she watched as Erin took in her body, chiseled from hours of hard work and care. “You are so beautiful, Canton.” Erin’s fingers grazed along the flat, hard planes of the brunette’s stomach, watching in fascination as the muscles beneath trembled. Her hands fanned out, palms flat against the hot flesh, moving up until they covered the firm breasts.
Canton closed her eyes, her breaths coming in uneven gasps as her rigid nipples snuggled against the warmth of Erin’s hands, which began to squeeze and message her. Blindly, Canton’s fingers began to tug at the blonde’s clothing, needing desperately to feel the warmth of her skin.
Erin quickly lost her shirt, then felt trembling fingers on the buttons of her jeans. She watched as the buttons were pulled free, then warm hands tucked into the open, loosened Levi’s, pushing the denim down over her hips until they fell down her legs. Stepping out of them, Erin rested her hands on Canton’s naked waist for support.
Standing in nothing more than panties, bra and socks, Erin looked up into Canton’s eyes, looking for approval. The blue eyes scanned her body, a fire burning within. A pink tongue flicked out, absently licking the brunette’s lips. Erin’s own eyes took in Canton’s flannel pants and socks, and quickly worked to remove them, taking the brunette’s panties with them. Kneeling before the writer, Erin quietly asked her to lift one foot at a time, removing the socks as she did. Rising, Erin’s eyes never left Canton’s as she reached behind herself, unsnapping her bra and letting the garment fall to the floor. She hooked her fingers into the waistband of her panties, but was stopped with a soft touch to her wrist.
“Let me,” Canton said softly. She stepped closer, their breasts brushing against one another, making both shiver, as Canton lightly grasped Erin’s hips. She pushed against the garment, the fabric easily giving way. Canton lowered herself as the panties fell until finally she was on her knees. Erin stepped out of the garment, kicking the saturated silk aside. Canton’s hands slid up along muscular thighs, soft and smooth. She closed her eyes, placing a kiss on the taut belly, inhaling Erin’s scent as she did. She moaned at the hot arousal that met her nose.
Erin sighed, head falling back as her eyes closed. She ran her fingers through Canton’s hair. The brunette’s hot breath sent shivers through her body. The kiss to her stomach led to another, further down, and wetter. A fiery tongue shot out and traced her navel before moving up along the line of her abdomen, between her breasts, and finally covering her own mouth. Erin held her tight, moaning at the feel of their bodies pressed together.
Canton broke the kiss just long enough to pull Erin back to the bed with her, the blonde falling atop her as their lips met again. Erin wanted nothing more than to devour the woman beneath her, but decided to take it slow. She wanted to explore and please Canton. Show her with her mouth, hands and body what she was too afraid to say.
Canton sighed, her hands running down Erin’s back as the blonde broke their kiss, her hot mouth covering the writer’s throat, nipping and sucking. Erin hummed softly against Canton’s skin, her hand cupping one of her breasts, delighting in the taste and responsiveness of the turgid nipple, which she flicked her tongue over. Finally she sucked it inside her mouth, sucking rhythmically.
Canton was lost in a haze of sensation, her legs opening for the blonde’s lithe body to fit between them, groaning as her hot center pressed against a firm stomach. She groaned as Erin continued her journey south, her mouth leading the way. Her eyes closed and her head fell back as hot breath brushed across the neatly trimmed curls between her legs. She felt her thighs pushed open wider, lips and tongue dancing across her inner thighs, trailing to the bend of her legs.
Erin moaned at the first taste of the writer, her tongue slicing through the thick, wet heat, finding the spot where Canton needed her the most. She felt a hand in her hair, guiding her gently, allowing the brunette to lead this dance. Erin licked in soft, even strokes, meant to ignite. By the gentle bucking of Canton’s hips, she figured it was working its magic.
Canton could barely breathe, Erin’s tongue quickening its pace against her sex. She groaned loud and deep in her chest, a fiery ball of pleasure building within her belly, threatening to ignite the entire room into a fiery passion. When Erin entered her with two fingers, she lost any hope of control over her own body, and was thrown over the edge with a breathless cry, her fingers grabbing a handful of golden blonde hair as she released.
Humming in satisfied pleasure, Erin kissed her way back up Canton’s body, leaving a trail of kisses along the way, until she reached the brunette’s mouth. The kiss they shared was deep, and filled with still-unquenched passion.
Erin cried out in surprise when she found herself flat on her back, and ravenous Canton above her. “I want to make you come so hard,” the brunette murmured against the skin of her neck. Erin groaned, arms wrapping around her lover’s neck. She was nearly on overload as Canton’s tongue was everywhere- her neck, her upper chest, tracing her collarbones, and then finally on one of her breasts.
”Oh god, Canton,” she whimpered as one of the brunette’s hands slid down her body, and between her legs. Erin couldn’t remember ever being so wet- her desire had completely coated the insides of her thighs, and was slipping down onto the sheets below her body.
Canton felt like she had left her body, leaving a wanton being behind. She wanted to feel Erin’s body convulse at her touch, wanted to see Erin explode with pleasure. Her fingers slid into the lava that was the blonde’s sex, quickly finding her hardened clit. There was no need to coat it with Erin’s juices, as her fingers were immersed immediately, as was every part of Erin’s sex.
“God, you are so wet,” she whispered into the blonde’s mouth, taking her in a long, deep kiss. She cringed slightly as she felt blunt fingernails dig into her bicep as her fingers began to work, rolling the hard nub before finding Erin’s entrance. She didn’t wait for permission as she slid inside with two fingers. Erin groaned at the invasion, her hips rising to meet Canton’s touch.
Erin felt dizzy from her need. She brought a hand up to entwine with Canton’s hair, drawing the taller woman in for a bruising kiss that left them both breathless. As Canton’s fingers worked inside her, she began to breathe harder, breaking the kiss for need of air.
“Oh, god,” she whimpered, her head falling to the side. She cried out again as a hot mouth latched onto her other breast, and the hard sucking motion soon matched the rhythm of Canton’s fingers. Erin knew there was no way she’d last long.
Canton quickened her pace, hearing the need in Erin’s voice. She pulled away from the blonde’s breast, the nipple popping out of her mouth with a wet sound, and watched Erin’s face. Her eyes were closed, head arching back as a loud cry was ripped from her throat, thighs slamming closed around Canton’s arm.
Erin felt strong arms hold her tight as her body suffered multiple aftershocks, her thoughts fuzzy and scattered. She responded as best she could to the soft kisses peppered over her lips. Finally she was settled into a warm embrace, Canton’s body curled around her own.
Canton closed her eyes, savoring the moment as she held Erin, never wanting to let the blonde go. “We have a lot of talking to do,” she said softly, “but I don’t want to lose you.”
Erin sighed in utter exhausted contentment. “You won’t. And we will.” She sighed happily, eyes drooping closed. “Tomorrow.”
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