Disclaimers: This story belongs to me so I don't give permission for it to be posted somewhere else under a different title, change in names or storyline.
Sex: But of course! J
Note: There will likely be somewhat graphic violence in this story, as part of it takes place during war times.
If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com .
Carol pulled up to the house, surprised to see Mike's car sitting in the drive. She grabbed her handbag and headed inside. The house was completely quiet as she made her way to her bedroom, which was next to Kate's. She tossed her keys and handbag to the bed then stepped back out into the hall and walked up to Kate's door. She listened, hearing nothing. It was nearly three in the afternoon, and she wondered if Kate was even home, despite her car being parked outside.
Carol raised her hand to knock but then decided to take a peek and make sure Kate was alright. What she saw at first made her want to giggle, but then true realization dawned. Kate and Danni were asleep in Kate's bed, Kate's head resting on Danni's shoulder. Only a sheet covered their naked bodies. Kate's upper back was visible, as well as the arm she had slung across Danni's naked torso. The picture was beautiful, except for the fact that Danni had breasts.
Carol's hand came to her mouth as she realized: Danni was a woman!
Burbank , CA 1967
Carol sat at her kitchen table, her eyes red and tight from the hours she'd spent crying with Kate the evening before. She ran her hands through her hair, gaze fixed on the slip of paper that sat on the table in front of her. She debated for several minutes before pushing up from the table, paper in hand. She grabbed the handset of the wall-mounted telephone and dialed. Her heart pounded as the phone rang on the other end, hoping she was doing the right thing.
“Hi, it's Carol,” she said to the voice on the other end of the line. “I have some bad news. First, let me start by assuring you she's okay, but last night George killed himself and she found him.” She listened to the questions that came at her. “Yes, I spent the evening with her and Megan. Megan's devastated, and yes, I'll let you know.” She snagged a tissue from the box on the countertop, the soft voice on the other end of the line sending condolences, ending with a quiet, thanks for letting me know.
It was a sunny day, the sun shining warmly down on the gathered group, the Minister's words quietly washing over the gathered mourners. Kate stood numbly, Megan sobbing quietly next to her, Rob's arm around her shoulders as she leaned against him. Kate stared down at the coffin, an American flag draped over it. There was a part of her who couldn't wrap her mind around what was happening, couldn't believe it, yet another part of her was screaming inside, so much guilt eating at her.
Carol glanced over at her friend from time to time, worried about her. Kate was a naturally petit woman, but today, dressed in a black dress and looking beautiful, she seemed so tiny and fragile. Though she worried Kate would shatter at any moment, she knew deep down that Kate was one of the strongest women she knew and that she would survive this and come out even stronger on the other side.
Movement caught Carol's gaze and she looked up to see a tall figure step up beside a tree about twenty yards away. Her long, dark hair was caught on the gentle breeze, blowing back from her still-flawless face. Carol nodded acknowledgment then returned her attention back to the services.
The crowd began to disperse after hugging Kate and Megan and wishing them well. Kate held the folded flag she was given by the uniformed soldier after the gun salute George was given, in honor of his years of service in the Navy. She and Megan walked to the waiting car, her heart heavy.
“I'll be right back, baby,” Carol said to her husband, Frank, then made her way over to the figure by the tree. “I'm glad you came, Danni.” she said, sharing a quick hug.
“How is she?” Danni asked, looking over Carol's shoulder to see Kate climbing into her car.
Carol blew out a breath and followed Danni's gaze. “She's holding up but I worry about her.” She turned back to Danni. “I think she'll be glad to see you.”
Danni chewed on her lip for a moment before shaking her head. “I'm not staying, Carol. Would you give this to her for me, please?” She handed Carol a thick sealed envelope with Kate's name written in bold lettering on the front. “Hopefully it will help her and Megan.”
“Of course.” Carol took the envelope and tucked it into her purse. “I wish you would change your mind, though. I think you could probably do her some good.”
“I can't.” Danni gave Carol one more hug then turned and walked away.
Carol watched her go, unable to shake the feeling that Danni was making a huge mistake. With a sigh, she turned back to join Frank and the others as they headed to Kate's house for a small get-together, where she planned to discretely leave the envelope for her friend.
San Jose , CA 1968
Kate taped up the last box, marking the top with GW so Carol would know which stack it went to. She was giving away the majority of George's things to Goodwill, where the current box was headed. The others, marked S for storage, were in case sometime down the road if Megan wanted her father's things for herself or even for her children, they would still be there and available to her.
“Is this the last box?” Carol asked, entering the house after stacking more boxes in the back of Frank's truck, which she'd borrowed for this purpose.
“Yep. Last one.” Kate got to her feet and let out a tired breath. She looked around the living room and saw what a difference it made. She'd removed the pictures of George as well as had gotten rid of his old recliner: something she'd been wanting to do for years, but he wasn't about to let go of it.
“How do you feel?” Carol asked, watching her friend closely.
Kate contemplated the question for a long moment before she turned to her friend. “I feel good,” she said, meaning every word. “I feel like I'm about to enter a new phase of my life and it really feels right.” She led the way to the kitchen where she poured them both a glass of iced tea and joined Carol at the kitchen table. “I'm considering selling the house, Carol.”
Carol was surprised. “Really? Why?”
“This is a lot of house for one person. Besides,” she sighed, sipping from her drink, “lots of memories here that I don't know if I want.”
“I can understand that.”
“And, I figure now that it's paid off, I could maybe make a good profit and get something smaller and have a nice nest egg besides.”
“It was definitely a good thing you go that money last year.”
Kate looked at Carol, stunned. “So that was you.” A wide smile spread across her face. “I had no idea being a plumber could be so lucrative. Five thousand dollars was too much, Carol-“
“That money wasn't from Frank and I, Kate. And I assure you, Frank doesn't bring home enough to have an extra five grand lying around.”
Kate was baffled. “Then who was it from? I always thought it was you.”
Carol finished her tea then pushed up from the table, setting the glass in the sink. “You know who it was from, Kate.” She leaned down and gave Kate a kiss on the cheek. “You've always known,” she said softly. “I better get home; Frank will be cranky if I don't have dinner ready when he gets home.”
“Okay. Thanks for your help.”
Left alone, Kate sat at the table, her mind reeling. Carol's words played over and over in her mind:
You know who it was from, Kate. You've always known.
She pushed up from the table and hurried upstairs to her closet and pulled down the accordion filer she kept important papers in. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she set the filer on her thighs and fingers through the papers held within. After a few moments, she found what she was looking for.
She removed the thrice-folded paper tucked into its original envelope from the slot in the filer reserved for special birthday cards and the like. Her name was written in bold letters on the front, and the short missive inside was written in the same handwriting.
Everything will be alright. Wishing you well.
She read it again then one more time. She sucked in a breath, hand coming to her mouth. She jumped up and hurried back to her closet, grabbing the wooden box from the top shelf then hurried back to the bed, digging through it until she found one of Danni's letters. Grabbing the page with the simple message on it, she gasped, tears springing to her eyes.
“Danni,” she whispered. “Oh my god. Danni was there.”
Carol hummed to herself as she prepared breakfast for her and Frank, who would be home soon after working the graveyard shift. She turned off the stove when she heard a loud knocking at her front door. She was surprised to see Kate standing on the other side.
Kate pushed past her and turned on her once inside, angry. “How did you know Danni gave me that money?” she demanded.
“Because she gave it to me to give to you.”
Kate's mouth fell open, shocked and hurt. “Why didn't you tell me she was there?” she asked, her voice small. “Why didn't she?”
“I don't know, sweetie,” Carol said, surprised by the profound hurt she saw in Kate's eyes. “I think when it came down to seeing you again, she couldn't do it.” Kate looked as though she were about to cry. Carol took her in a hug, holding her for a long moment. “What happened between you two, anyway?” she asked into the hug.
“It went so wrong,” Kate whispered, feeling the tears sting the backs of her eyes. “God, how did it go so wrong?”
“Come on, sweetie. Let's go sit down.” Carol guided her friend to the kitchen and sat her down, getting her a tissue, which Kate used to wipe her eyes and nose. Once Kate was calmed down, Carol spoke. “You know, I remember the day I realized Danni was a woman,” she began, her voice quiet. “You two were asleep in your bed and I peeked in: I didn't know Danni was there,” she defended when she saw the shocked look on Kate's face. “Anyway, I saw Danni.”
“Was that why you began to back away from me and our friendship?” Kate asked, hurt.
Carol looked away and nodded. “I have to admit it, yes. I didn't know what to think.”
Kate watched as her fingers played with the tissue as she decided what to say. “I guess I can understand that but I really wish you would have talked to me, Carol. Instead, you threw away a close friendship for nearly twenty-five years.”
“I know,” Carol admitted with a heavy sigh. “She really is a good person, Kate.” Kate nodded, the tears coming back. Carol reached across the table and took Kate's hand. “When did you see her last?”
Kate sniffled and wiped her nose. “Megan was 2.”
San Jose , CA 1949
Kate hipped the fridge door shut, her arms full of ingredients to make George his favorite sandwich. She was in a rush, as she'd come home late from class then had to pick Megan up from the babysitter's house. Now, she was rushing around like a woman with hair on fire. She spared a glance to her daughter, who sat on the floor with some building blocks, chattering to herself as she played.
“Do you want one or two?” Kate called out to her husband, who had just stepped out of the shower.
“Two!” he called back. “I might be working a double tonight.”
“Two, it is.”
Suddenly, the doorbell sounded, causing an overly-friendly Megan to get to her pudgy little feet and hurry off towards the door.
“Megan!” She ran after her daughter, as she knew the toddler had a bad habit of opening the front door, as she'd figured out how to a few weeks before.
A 2 year old Megan on her hip, Kate hurried to the front door after George had yelled for her to get it, as he was getting ready for work. Irritated at the interruption, as she'd been getting George's lunch packed, Kate finally reached the door, tugging it open. Her breath caught, eyes wide as she looked at the ghost who stood on the other side.
“Danni,” she whispered.
Danni stood tall and proud, dressed in full dress uniform, cap cocked slightly on her head and beautiful as ever. A hard blue gaze turned to Megan. “I assume she's not mine?” Danni asked, a quip in her voice.
Kate's heart was pounding in her chest, a protective hand automatically coming up to cup the back of the toddler's head. “I…” her voice trailed off, not sure what to say. She took a deep breath then tried again. “Come in.” She stepped aside to allow Danni to enter, her heart in her throat.
Danni stepped inside but waited for Kate to lead the way, which she did, heading into the kitchen. She knew if she looked in a mirror right now she would see a pale, shaken woman looking back at her.
“Please, sit down,” she said, taking her time to put Megan down and gather herself together. She took a deep breath then turned to face a very painful ghost. When she did, Danni was looking at her, her cap removed and set on the table before her. She leaned on the counter behind her, looking casual even as the counter was keeping her from collapsing.
“How have you been?” Danni asked. She studied Kate, the beautiful teenager she'd once known now grown into a mature and even more beautiful 24 year old woman. A mother.
“Good. I've been good.” Kate hugged herself, a sure sign that she was feeling entirely too vulnerable at that moment. So many emotions were rushing through her: shock, anger, disappointment and deep guilt, though she really had no reason to feel guilty. “Yourself?”
Danni nodded, her eyes downcast. “I'm doing good as well. Finally left the Navy.”
“Congratulations. I hope it was a good run.”
Danni nodded but didn't look at Kate. She realized that perhaps this had been a mistake. She was about to say so when George Hannigan walked into the room, his hair slicked back from a recent shower and freshly shaved. She noted he'd put on a few pounds since the war. Danni felt like she could throw up.
“Who's here, hon?” George asked as he entered the room, nearly choking on his tongue when he saw Danni Felts sitting at his kitchen table. He stared at him, frozen.
“George, you remember Danni, I assume,” Kate said, her voice nearly a whisper.
“Can I talk to you for a second, Kate?” George asked his wife, never taking his eyes off Danni.
Kate followed George out of the room, leaving Danni sitting by herself. George led her to the living room then turned on her, his face already turning red as his anger and jealousy rose.
“What is he doing here?” he demanded.
“He showed up at the door, George,” Kate said, having to make a conscious effort to refer to Danni as a ‘him'. “I have no idea why.”
Danni felt extremely uncomfortable, as she could hear George's words and knew he wasn't happy. Kate was speaking quieter, so she couldn't understand fully what she was saying. “This was stupid,” she whispered, pushing back from the table. She grabbed her cap and was about to put it on when she noticed a pad of paper and pen lying on the counter next to the radio.
“I want him out of my house, Kate,” George growled. “I don't want him around my daughter.” With that, he slammed up the stairs, leaving a shaken Kate behind.
Kate looked down and saw Megan staring up at her, a handful of the skirt of Kate's dress in her tiny fist. “It's okay, sweetie pie.” She picked up her daughter and headed back towards the kitchen, trying to think of what to say to Danni. To her surprise, she wasn't there. It was almost as though Kate had imagined the whole thing, and Danni had never even been there. She might have believed that if not for the note she saw lying where Danni's cap had been.
With a kiss to the side of her head, Kate placed Megan on her feet and walked over to it, taking it in hand:
I'll be in town for one more day. I'm staying at the Woodsman Inn, room 212. D
Danni winced as the burning liquid scorched its way down her throat. The strength of the liquor sent a shiver all the way down her spine. She staggered over to the dresser and set the bottle of Jack Daniels down before she dropped it.
“That stuff is disgusting,” she muttered, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She looked at her reflection in the mirror above the dresser: her bangs hung in her eyes and her face was flushed from the alcohol she'd already consumed. She still wore her uniform pants but had lost the shirt long ago, leaving her in only her white undershirt. She was now officially finished with the ruse and would have to start the long journey of figuring out who Danielle was again.
She grabbed the bottle and took another swig before slamming the bottle down once more to the scarred dresser top. She turned and faced the room, noting her suitcase, which had been tossed to the bed. She decided to cast off Daniel right then and there and change into something more comfortable. She reached down with fumbling fingers and unbuckled her belt. She was about to unbutton and unzip her pants when she heard a soft, almost timid knock on her room door.
Danni staggered over to the door, tugging the lock free then pulling the door open. She found herself standing face to face with a very uncertain Kate on the other side. She reached an arm over so her hand braced her weight on the opposite side of the doorframe, effectively blocking Kate's entrance. They stared at each other for a long moment, Danni almost challenging Kate with her eyes. Finally, she pushed away from the door and walked deeper into the room, leaving the door open for Kate to follow or not.
Kate felt shaky and unsure as she stepped inside the room, taking a deep breath before closing the door behind her. She looked around the room, noting the half-empty bottle of alcohol sitting on the dresser top before her gaze found Danni who looked back at her.
“I'm sorry George was so rude today,” she finally managed, not entirely sure why she'd come to see Danni.
Danni shrugged, grabbing the bottle of Jack and taking a swig. She offered it to Kate, but Kate waved it away. “Can't say as I blame him,” Danni muttered, setting the bottle back down. “After all, you are his little wifey and he is the man of the house.”
“Please don't, Danni,” Kate said softly, her heart breaking at the mess of a woman who stood before her.
“Don't what? Speak the truth?” Danni could feel her anger of the past four years rising to the surface after she'd shoved it down for so long. “You are the little wifey, aren't you?”
Kate began to get upset, as her anger and confusion grew, as well. “I may be the little wifey, but at least I'm not a mess.” She scanned Danni, shocked at the shell of a woman she saw. Danni had dark circles under her eyes and she looked tired and thin. Amazing how different she seemed after seeing her briefly a few hours before. She met Danni's angry gaze, amazed at the chips of ice that looked back at her. She was almost frightened. “This was a mistake,” she muttered, whirling around to head for the door.
“Oh, no you don't!” Danni was on her like a tiger, grabbing Kate and turning her around to face her, Kate's wrists grabbed in a vise-like grip. “Why did you come here?”
Kate's chest heaved with each breath she took, her heart racing and fear running like ice through her veins. “Let go of me, Danni.”
“No. Not until you answer the question. Why did you come here? Huh? You've got what you want: the hubby, the nice house and even a kid. Why did you come here!?”
Kate couldn't answer the question as in truth, she didn't know why, either. Their time was over and it was likely for the best. “Danni, please…” she whispered, tears just under the surface.
Danni wouldn't allow herself to be touched by the obvious fear and pain in Kate's eyes. Her heartbreak had long ago turned into rage and that rage was unleashed, now. “I know why you came,” she growled, almost carrying Kate over to the bed, where she was thrown down and pinned by Danni. “One more, huh?” Danni said through clenched teeth.
“Danni, let me go,” Kate whimpered, trying to tug her wrists free of Danni's strong grip. “Please, let me go!”
In lieu of a verbal response, Danni took both of Kate's wrists in one hand, holding them above Kate's head, then used the other to shove the skirt of Kate's dress to her waist. The rip of material followed as Danni literally ripped Kate's panties off of her. She was losing control of herself, the ache that had lain dormant for so long now blooming into a rabid beast.
“Danni!” Kate cried. “Don't do this. Please!” There was nothing Kate could do, as Danni seemed to possess superhuman strength, and was beyond determined.
Danni reached down and unbuttoned and unzipped her pants, reaching inside to pull the phallus out, one last time. “Don't do what?” she demanded, shoving Kate's legs apart. “Don't do what?”
Kate gasped as she was entered, her back arching in surprise. “Don't do something you'll regret,” she breathed.
Danni slammed into Kate. She lowered her face until it was mere inches above Kate's. “What I regret is ever loving you.”
Tears of a new kind sprang to Kate's eyes. “Don't say that,” she whispered. “Please, Danni. Don't say that.”
Kate's tears broke through Danni's drunken fury and suddenly realization of what she was doing hit her. She stopped her movement as her own tears came and suddenly the ignored pain of four years all came out, shattering her into sobs.
Kate's wrists were released as Danni fell apart. She immediately wrapped her arms around Danni's neck, holding her to her as they both cried.
“I'm sorry,” Danni cried, crushing Kate to her. “I'm so sorry.”
“Shh,” Kate comforted, even as her own tears continued to fall. She cupped Danni's face and forced her to look at her. “It's okay. It's okay…” She brought Danni down to her and placed a shaky kiss on trembling lips. “Don't cry. Please don't cry…”
Though the tears still came, Danni kissed Kate back, able to taste the saltiness of their mingling tears on Kate's lips. “I'm so sorry,” she whispered again.
Kate knew deep inside that this moment would be all they ever had, as it would never be possible for them to be in each other's lives: she loved Danni too much for that. She held Danni's lips to her own, forcing the kiss to deepen. It was now or never, and Kate just couldn't handle never.
Danni was surprised by the kiss, but immediately responded. Like Kate, she knew this was their last moment to shine together. She hugged Kate to her, a whimper escaping her throat as she claimed Kate in that kiss. Kate had claimed her heart the moment they met, and right now she was going to claim Kate's body, if for no other reason than the memory.
Kate gasped as Danni began to slowly move inside her as her mouth stayed on Kate's. She wrapped her arms around Danni and held her to her, soft sighs of pleasure escaping into their kiss. She realized that she wanted to feel part of Danni, the real Danni. She tugged at the white undershirt Danni wore, wanting it gone and to be able to touch her.
Danni stopped her movements just long enough to shrug out of her shirt. She immediately returned to Kate's mouth, moving her hips in slow, long strokes as Kate blindly tore at her bindings, releasing Danni's breasts. She moaned into the kiss as Kate wormed her hands between them, reaching for Danni's breasts. Danni pushed herself up to her hands, giving Kate plenty of room.
Kate could feel the pressure beginning between her legs, but wanted to be able to touch Danni before she released. Once Danni lifted her upper body, she cupped Danni's breasts, squeezing the fullness and feeling rigid nipples against her palms.
“Kate,” Danni whimpered, claiming Kate's mouth in a demanding kiss as her hips sped up, her thrusts becoming short and quick.
Kate held Danni to her as Danni fell to her elbows, needing to feel Kate against her as they both fell over the edge in a duet of cries that echoed in the small room. “Danni,” Kate whispered as her world came back into focus. She shoved her guilt of what she'd just done to George down; there wasn't a place for that right now. “I love you,” she whispered into Danni's ear.
Danni kissed Kate, a soft, tender kiss. “I love you, Kate. I still love you.” She brushed some strands of blonde hair out of Kate's face. “I never stopped.” She took Kate in a rough kiss, all her need and want in that kiss. Looking into Kate's eyes, Danni felt the heartbreak return, as she knew that their time together was coming to an end.
Kate lay on the motel bed, the cheap, scratchy comforter chaffing against her bare lower back and behind, as her dress had been shoved to her waist, the remnants of her torn underwear on the floor. None of that mattered as Danni lay atop her, buried deep inside her. Kate looked up into Danni's eyes, so filled with pain and sorrow. Her alcohol-laden breath washed over her face.
“Why didn't you come?” Kate asked, her hands buried in Danni's hair as they exchanged desperate kisses, both lost in a sea of emotion.
“I was there,” Danni whispered, stealing a deep kiss. Tears glittered in her eyes. “I was there, and I saw you.” A sob tore through her throat as she buried her face in Kate's neck.. “I saw you with him.”
Kate's eyes squeezed tightly closed, even as she held Danni to her. A wave of dread washed through her. “I waited for you. Damn it, Danni. I waited for you for so long.” Kate grabbed Danni's face and made her look at her, to see and hear her. “Where were you?!”
“I was there,” Danni whispered again. “I was there, Kate.” She moved away from Kate, sitting on the edge of the bed. She ran her hands through her hair, pushing it out of her eyes. She scrubbed at her face and eyes, trying to get rid of all her tears. “I saw you kiss him, so I left.”
Kate sat up, staring at Danni's back, incredulous. “You gave up our future because of that ?”
Danni pushed to her feet, tugging up her pants as she glared down at Kate. “Somehow seeing you kissing someone else after not hearing from you for months was plenty of reason for me to leave.” She buttoned and zipped her pants, not caring about the fact that she stood before Kate topless. “Just like I want you to do now.”
Kate was speechless. “What?”
“Please leave,” Danni said, heading towards the bathroom. She turned to Kate, a hand on the door. “Please. Leave.”
Kate sat there, stunned. After a moment, she climbed off the bed, adjusting her dress as she stood. She found her ruined panties and realized they were unsalvageable, so she left them, but did grab Danni's discarded undershirt, bringing it to her nose and inhaling the scent. She could smell all that was Danni, and knew in her heart that she'd be glad she took something with her.
She walked to the door of the room and pulled it open. Taking one last look around the room, ending on the closed bathroom door, she stepped out, pulling the door closed softly behind her. Later, she would fold and tuck the shirt into the wooden box Danni made for her six years before.
Burbank, CA 1968
Carol sat silently in the den, where she'd taken Kate to talk after Kate had joined she and Frank for breakfast. Kate had just finished her tale, and Carol was stunned. She glanced over at her friend, Kate staring out the window into the bright morning beyond, but somehow Carol didn't think Kate was even aware of the time.
“I never heard from her again,” Kate whispered after a long moment.
“Why did you take her shirt?” Carol asked softly.
Kate sighed and turned her attention back to Carol's den. “I don't know. I guess I wanted something of hers, something that smelled like her: almost like that shirt was my taking a piece of her with me somehow.”
“What a story.”
“Yes,” Kate agreed. “You'd think after all this time it would just be part of my history, you know? Something that happened long ago and I've since moved on: I've got the career I've always wanted, a beautiful daughter that I adore.” She let out another sigh. “I don't know, Carol.”
A soft knock sounded on the door, Frank peeking his graying head inside. He was pale and looked shaken. “I'm sorry to bother you, ladies. I thought you'd like to know that Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed last night.”
Carol and Kate looked up at him in shocked silence. Carol pulled herself together first. “What?”
“God, not again,” Kate whispered, hand to her mouth.
Frank nodded, tears glistening in his eyes. “Yeah. Again.”
“What is this world coming to?”Carol asked. “Life is so short.”
Kate heard her friend's words, her gaze returning to the past and the woman who haunted it.
Munson, Maine 1968
The day was cool for early June and the evening even cooler, but the two huskies were thrilled as they ran through the woods, their barking echoing in the trees. Their owner walked far behind them, sending off a sharp whistle to bring the brother and sister from getting too far ahead and ultimately in potential danger.
“Anicka! Healy!” she called out. “Get back here!”
The barking stopped as the two dogs turned around and ran back the way they'd come. Two pairs of stunning blue eyes met those of their owner.
“You guys are goofy mutts, I tell ya.” Danni led her pack back the way they'd come, back to the cabin. The dogs, realizing where they were headed, ran off ahead, excited at the prospect of home and dinner.
The two story, three-bedroom cabin loomed large in the early evening. It was a good day, Danni having spent the majority of it out on her property with her ‘babies'. She pushed open the back door, standing back as she'd learned long ago that her dogs would knock her over in order to get inside.
“Come on, you two.” She walked through the kitchen and to the pantry, stepping inside to scoop out two cupfuls of dog food, dumping them in the individual dishes, though she wasn't entirely sure why she bothered with two bowls: the two siblings would eat out of one bowl and then move on to the second, doing everything together. It always reminded her of Little Anne and Old Dan from the novel by Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows, which had come out about seven years before.
Danni set the bowls down, hurrying to get out of the way of the ravished dogs and headed back into the kitchen to make her own dinner. It had been a wonderful day, wandering out in the wilderness of the eighty acres of the four hundred, that she kept for herself. The remainder of the land was rented out either to house renters or to wilderness enthusiasts who camped or bird watched. Either way, it was quiet and peaceful: just how Danni liked it.
As she chopped up vegetables for her salad – grown in her own garden – she noticed the car that pulled up to park next to Danni's Jeep at the back of the cabin. She was filled with a mixture of slight happiness and slight annoyance. She would rather spend the night alone, rather than having to entertain Mary's somewhat demanding personality.
“Hey,” Mary said, breezing in through the kitchen door, her red hair somewhat windblown from her drive up from the City. She gave Danni a quick kiss on the lips then looked to see what Danni was making. “Oh, looks good. I hope you made enough for me.”
“I can make more,” Danni quipped, grabbing another tomato and began to expertly chop it.
“Great. Long day and I'm hungry as hell.” Mary dumped her purse and overnight bag on the couch in the living room then headed toward Danni's bedroom, leaving a trail of discarded clothing as she went. “I'm staying until Sunday then I'll drive back to the City so I can hit work Monday morning,” she called from the bedroom.
Danni sighed, irritated. Why was it that Mary could never run her plans by Danni? It was Thursday night, and that meant that Danni was essentially stuck to the cabin for three days. “Alright,” she called back, her irritation evident.
Mary, nearly ten years younger than Danni, sauntered back into the kitchen, wearing little more than the skin she was born in. She pulled Danni away from her task, demanding with her action that Danni look at her. She grabbed Danni in a heated kiss, her hands tugging at Danni's clothing.
“Wait,” Danni said, trying to push a determined Mary away from her. “I said, wait!”
Mary, panting heavily from her growing passion, glared up at Danni. “What?”
“I'm hungry Mary, and I'd like to eat.” She turned back to the two salads she was making. “If you want to have sex, work for it.” She pointed towards the fridge. “Grab the chicken breast in there and cut it into cubes, please.”
Mary sighed, less than happy, but did as she was asked.
Danni lay awake, the cool early morning air washing over her naked body. She glanced over at the woman who she had been seeing for just over a year and sighed. Mary was beautiful, no doubt. She was young and intelligent and was certainly sexually exciting. She worked as an attorney in New York City, and her drive and ambition could sometimes be scary.
Danni climbed out of bed, knowing sleep wasn't about to call her back into its embrace once Danni had awakened. She tugged on a sweatshirt and pair of jeans, snagged a pair of socks out of the drawer then padded out of the bedroom, Healy raising his head from his place on the bedroom floor and watched her walk out, soon to follow.
Allison had introduced Danni and Mary, as Allison was looking to bring Mary on as the new attorney for F&H Industries, which she had financed fifteen years before, and Danni had turned into a gold mine as her partner in business. Danni's unparalleled talents with her hands and Allison's unparalleled talents making money, had been a pairing made in Heaven.
Danni thought about that as she sat in her recliner and tugged on her socks and boots. Healy sat nearby, waiting patiently for Danni to head outside so he could have some extra time with his beloved owner and the outdoors.
“Come on, boy,” Danni said softly, Healy not needing a second invitation as his claws tapped excitedly on the tiled floor of the kitchen as he hurried after Danni to the door.
Outside in the somewhat chilly, clean early morning air, Danni felt alive and free. She began to walk her property, Healy trotting beside her, her ever-loyal friend. She could just see signs of the new day at the horizon and stopped, hugging herself as she watched the brilliant colors began to sprout across the sky. Not for the first time, she wished she had someone who could truly appreciate the magical moment to share it with.
“Pretty amazing, isn't it, Healy?” she said, squatting down next to the husky, who sat on his haunches, watching. She gave him a good rub down and a kiss on the nose before standing and continuing her walk.
Insomnia had been a constant companion for Danni for nearly twenty-five years, now. The shocking events and trauma of years past haunted her dreams and sent her screaming back into wakefulness more often than not. Now, hearing about the horrid events over in Vietnam didn't help any, the images bringing back memories that Danni would prefer to forget.
Return to the Academy