For complete Disclaimer see: Part 1

nyway, If you still like what you read please give me feedback at: kenishia15@gmail.com

I'm fairly new to the writing world so I would really appreciate any advice or comments.




“Please, don't let me keep pretending this is not happening between us. I can't keep doing this... ” Those ocean eyes opened, pleading.

Maddie cupped her other cheek holding her in place. “No.” She shook her head pulling Hayden's lips to hers…

They remained like that for a brief moment, just the innocent softness of lips pressed together, eyes sealed. Maddie leaned back, her eyes slowly blinking open to be met with fiery blue eyes that stole her breath completely.

There, in just that moment, she felt as if conditioned guilt dissolved off from her shoulders to be overshadowed by something else. Something greater… Something that made her feel like she belonged. No, she was done feeling guilty for wanting what she couldn't help wanting.

Their distance didn't last long as Hayden followed suit, tilting her head slightly as their mouths met again. Then again, again and again while her hands trailed around Maddie's waist. Before she considered what she was doing, the blonde adjusted herself so that she straddled the brunette, her knees on either side of Hayden's thighs as their mouths deeply engaged each other. Their lips worked together, reveling in the tentative brushes of intertwined tongues. Maddie moaned slightly as Hayden's tongue delved her mouth, her fingers buried deep into dark brunette hair.

The brunette's hands began to grow restless, grazing under the blonde's tank up and down the bare skin of her back. Her need to feel the tangibility of the woman on her lap taking precedence. When she barged into Conner's house she had no idea that she would end up here. She was determined to end their torturous charade –at least to themselves. But no. Not with the source of her madness kissing her senseless drawing the once dead soul out of the confines of her blackened heart. Unleashing only God knew what…

She pushed Maddie down, so that her body weight had her trapped between the couch. She felt the blonde whimper into her mouth when the pressure increased between her legs where she needed it the most. Turning her blood to gold. Her hands roaming the planes of Maddie's flat torso, moving her way up until she felt the round underside of her breasts.

Maddie pulled back in a gasp at the first electric touch, the rush of heat and arousal overwhelming her senses. Taking deep breaths, her eyes almost slammed shut when that hot wet mouth shifted its attention to her throat. The blonde knew if they didn't stop now, they probably wouldn't be able to in a while. And even though their bodies were screaming at them, they were going to have to be careful. This was much more than the physical desire that impaired them. Trying desperately to hold on to the faint amount of self-control, she pushed weakly at the brunette's shoulders.

"Stop," she gasped as a knee pressed into her center. "God, stop… We need to talk. Too fast. This is too fast." Hayden's lips stilled, her forehead dropping to Maddie's shoulder. Their breathing labored and heavy. "We still have to figure out what we're going to do," Maddie said huskily.

"I know, I'm sorry." The brunette pushed back sitting up, relinquishing their contact, not sure she could trust herself. She let out a long, slow breath. "I just can't help wanting you…"

Maddie sat up too, her body unhappy with her for the loss of Hayden's touch. She let out a shaky breath staring aimlessly in front of her. "Me too…"

"So, we suffer from the same illness."

Maddie smiled slightly. "Guess so."

"Do you think its terminal? Because I feel like I'm dying." Hayden grimaced, not sure what to do with her hands.

"Well, if it is… I'll be the first to go."

Hayden cocked her head. "Why?"

"Well, you've got age on your side." Maddie nudged the brunette playfully with her shoulder, both of them letting out a light laugh. Their laughter died down with them simply staring at each other.

"I've always thought older woman were hot…" Hayden said softly, leaning in.

" Lucky me. " Maddie met her half way, their lips brushing together. An innocent kiss quickly turned into two, three, each one engraving deeper with each taste. The blonde pulled back just before she lost her self again. She was breathing heavily. "Why are you so addictive?"

" Just lucky I guess ." Hayden smirked through her hard breathing.

Maddie laughed, rolling her eyes playfully. "God, what am I going to do with you?"

"What do you want, Conner?"

Maddie's face sobered catching the seriousness of the posed question. A long silent moment stretched on before she sighed. "I want you, Hayden." She answered simply. No more pretenses. "I want you so damn much that I'm driving myself crazy. I've never wanted anything or anyone as much as I want you…"

"Never?" Hayden's eyes widened just a bit, her voice small.

"Never… And what really scares me is that I don't know what to do about it. All I know is, I want to be with you all the time –any and every way I can."

Hayden slanted her head until her eyes were locked with potent green eyes that were so revealing. Searching deep into them, she found the something she never knew she was looking for. The piece of her that was missing. She knew she would never be able to get that wholesomeness back. It died the day her parents did. But as she continued to stare into devastating green eyes she felt her heart unlock, soaking up the addictive warmth and fear of the most beautiful woman she has ever known.

"I…" Hayden stammered, her eyes full of apprehension and something entirely larger. "I…" Came out breathy as words failed her yet again. Her chin dropped slightly. She knew what she wanted to say. But fear holding her back. Knowing that if you wanted something so badly, screwing up could kill you. And knowing that if you had it, you usually took it for granted. She wouldn't do either with Maddie. Not with the gift she was given. Not with her…

Hayden felt her face being raised by two fingers under her chin. Looking up into slightly smiling eyes, she felt the corner of her lips curl in response. Some form of understanding traveling through them.

"What do you want, Hayden?" Maddie asked, feeling it important that they were both put out there.

"I want…" The brunette placed her hand over Maddie's that rested on her thigh. She squeezed. "I want this ..."

"We can only do this here, behind closed doors. That too, we have to be careful and take things slow. There is too much at stake. If we're slip up, it's anyone's guess what could happen." Maddie blew out a breath. "Are you sure, Hayden?"

"About what could happen?" Hayden took a deep breath, and expelled it slowly. "No…" She looked down at Maddie. "About you?" Her eyes softened as she caressed the blonde's cheek with the back of her hand. "More sure than I have ever been in my life…" Maddie's eyes fell closed as she leaned into the touch. "So, I am sure and will take this any way I can." She drew the blonde's mouth to hers in a kiss that stole everything Maddie had to offer, her breath, her body, her life, her love...

The sound of Smurf barking at the truck that rounded the corner of the street caused them to break apart. Their foreheads were pressed together as they both tried to calm their breathing and heart rates.

"I…" Hayden breathed, glancing up at the antique clock realizing the time. "I… I should probably head home before Reese thinks Foster has me trapped in the trunk of her car."

Maddie leaned back and nodded. "She would be my first suspect too…" They shared a small smile as they stood and headed to the front door.

Hayden picked up her knapsack that she had dumped near the small table, draping it over her shoulder. They stood across from each other before Maddie closed the small distance between them, stepping into Hayden's arms which enfolded her tightly. Ensuring them that whatever happened in the past hour or so, was real.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" Maddie muffled into Hayden's shoulder, her voice hopeful.

Hayden smiled. "You bet," she said, pulling back, she placed a soft kiss into blonde hair before reluctantly dropping her arms and stepping through the door…


… … … … … … … … … … … … …


Chin in her hand, Hayden's eyes fixated themselves on the torturously slow ticking clock above the blackboard. There were thirty minutes to the end of the school day but it might as well as have been thirty days, the way anticipation churned in the bottom of her stomach. In a few minutes she would bust out of here, one destination in mind. The same place she had gone every day after school for the past two weeks since that fateful afternoon. They were taking it slowly, a day at a time, living a secret life behind the confines of Conner's door. This was just fine with her. Her heart feeling somewhat pacified for now, knowing that there was a place she didn't have to constantly hide how she felt.

She flinched as a scrunched up paper ball hit her square between the eyes. She jerked sharply in the direction the projectile soared from. She aimed her scowl at the raven haired guy, two seats away from her, unsuccessfully trying to cover a shit eating grin with a hand to his mouth. When her brow rose dangerously, Carlos couldn't help but let out a few choking chuckles disguised as coughs. He pointed to the paper ball, trying to keep his silent laugh under control.

The brunette shook her head hopelessly at the fool, eyeing out the paper ball that resided on the corner of her desk. Reaching over, she grabbed it and stuffed it under her desk from any other prying eyes. Straightening it out with her thumb, she read the horrible handwriting.

Stop daydreaming bout me…

She snorted out loud, causing the girl next to her look at her briefly before turning her attention back to Mr. Elliot who was in the middle of determining a trigonometric function. Scribbling on the note she tossed back.

Dream on...

Carlos grinned at the note, before writing a reply and throwing it back.

I do… Bt its nothin compared 2 wat u wer thnkn bout. If I didn't knw any beta, u wer bout to cum.

The brunette gritted her teeth, her pen swiftly flying over the paper. Crumpling it, she threw it back aiming at his head and scored.

Gud thng u nva knw any beta

He stuck a tongue at her and scrawled on the note. Just as he was about to chuck it towards the brunette, it was snatched out of his hand by Mr. Elliot. Both Carlos and Hayden cringed observing their Math teacher raise a brow at them.

"Seriously guys? People still pass notes around? Haven't you guys ever heard of cellphones, now days?" Mr. Elliot t'sked, running one of his hands through his thinning hair. A dull laughter filled the air at the teacher's quip. "Well, guess, we just have to go old-school and read it out loud." He scanned through the note, only reading the last line.

" Hey, I knw sexual wen I c sexual."

Mr. Elliot frowned, mockingly staring at his blackboard and then back at the raven haired senior. "I don't know… there's nothing remotely sexual about Trig, Carlos."

"Sure there is Mr. E, with all the curves and angles." Carlos grinned using his arms to air draw the curves of a woman. Callously, he pointed to the triangle on the blackboard. "Right there that's an acute triangle, right?" Then he gestured to the blonde cheerleader on his left with a smug smirk. "And look right here, that's a cute girl."

"You think I'm cute?" The blonde gasped. Carlos winked at her sending her off into frenzy of uncontrolled giggles with her group of friends. Hayden only thumped her forehead with her palm, shaking her head.

The half balding man sighed. "I reserve the right to be the only smartass in the class, Mr. Rodriguez. See me after class."

"No offense sir, but you're not really my type." Carlos shrugged, the rest of the class chuckling apart from Hayden who groaned laying her forehead on her desk.

"No…But I can be… That is if you wish to graduate with the rest of your peers." The teacher threw him a smug smile of his own.

The blonde thought about it for a mere moment. "So after class, you say?"

"Yep." Mr. Elliot smirked back. "Turn to page 256 in your textbooks." He journeyed back to the front of the class to resume his lesson.

Thirty agonizingly long minutes later, the bell rang releasing the hounds from their cage. Or at least that's the way Hayden perceived it, the way the students stormed out. Strapping her guitar to her back and throwing her bag strap over her shoulder, she was about to resign herself to being one of those hounds.

Carlos grabbed her arm in her haste. "Hey, wait for me, I'll give you a lift. Just have to see Mr. E. Won't take long. He's cool." He nodded to their teacher who just blew out a long suffering sigh and flopped down into his seat.

"Nah, I'm headed over to Conner's, anyway."

The blonde frowned. "But I thought work only started in a week or so."

"Yeah it does but she's teaching me a thing or two," she explained, watching him stuff his books into his bag.

"Like you need the lessons," he scoffed.

"You can never know too much."

He chuckled, glaring at her incredulously. "Whatever man, wait up, I'll still give you a lift." His eyes averting to the window and he gestured to the grey clouds that devoured the sky. "Looks like it's about to rain."

"Don't worry about it. I feel like walking, anyway."

"And if you get caught in the rain?"

"Just one of those things…" The brunette shrugged.

A devious grin appeared on his face. "Like having sexual fantasies in class…"

She rolled her eyes. "I was not."

"Carlos," Mr. Elliot called from his desk.

"Coming," Carlos shouted over his shoulder. "And I know what I saw." He winked teasingly at the brunette before heading over to the desk in front. "Later Oliver…"

She shook her head, a slight smirk gracing her lips as she walked out of the classroom. It wasn't sexual. Well, at least not this time…


… … … … … … … … … … … … …


Hayden treaded the few stairs that lead onto Maddie's front porch, her leather boots squeaking and making a squishy noise with every step. The front of her brunette locks plastered to her pale forehead. She was sure her body was freezing but she couldn't feel it at the moment. The faint melody drifting through the closed door warming her from the inside out.

Whenever the blonde touched the keys on her grandfather's piano, it sang beautifully like it was specifically made for her. Baring her to the world like she belonged nowhere else. The brunette leaned against the frame of the door, eyes closed letting every note soak into her mind, taking her to a place only Conner could.

Her lips quirked when the music eventually dissolved into the hums of rain pelting the ground. Only then did she press the bell, dropping her gaze to the crack under the door, smiling at the shadow of what she assumed was a wet nose whiffing its fix of dust, moisture and her scent. Her smile involuntarily broadening at the clear sounds of bunny slipper footsteps drawing nearer. She wondered what color they were today.

Maddie rolled her eyes at the yellow Labrador who was hovering over the front door with his large form, wriggling in excitement. "Smurf, move… How do you expect me to open the door?" The dog turned his head back at the voice, flippantly dismissing it before resuming his squirming at the door. She sighed, rolling up her sleeves and doing some squirming of her own into the small space near the door handle. As soon as her hand gripped the handle, Smurf let out a series of loud barks. The blonde chuckled at him. "I know, boy, I know… If I had a tail, I'd be wagging it too." She opened the door.

"Hayden!" Maddie gasped, her smile slipped as she took in the drenched brunette from head to toe.

"Conner…" Hayden hunched over, scratching the big dog, which jumped at her and seemed unfazed by her current wet status.

"You're soaking wet!"

When Smurf tired of her attention, he treaded back towards his food bowl. Only then, did she straighten, an impish smirk crawling its way onto her face. "You're perfectly dry…"

Maddie gave her a withering glare, hand on her hip. "Well, it's not raining inside."

"That explains it then."

The blonde rolled her eyes and yanked Hayden in by the arm with force. "Just get in here, smart ass."

Hayden chuckled and released her guitar strap. "Relax… It's just water." She indicated to the guitar case that she leaned against the wall. "And this here is waterproof."

"Yeah, but you're not." Maddie sighed at the dripping brunette. "Go wait in the downstairs bathroom, I'll be right back," she said in a tone that demanded no argument as she went upstairs.

Hayden nodded as she walked in straight line trying not to mess the blonde's house more than she had too. Smurf left his food and followed her, avoiding the wet puddles on their journey to the bathroom. Once there, she began to untie her shoelaces, dumping the water out her boots into the tub. She grinned hearing Maddie's footsteps above them. "If you had a tail, huh?" she shouted up towards the ceiling. She heard a faint laugh drift through the house.

"Well, I um, was talking to Smurf…" Was yelled from the floor above them. "And don't change the subject. You're completely drenched."

Hayden grinned devilishly, shaking her head at the Labrador. "And that's different from any other day I see her, how?"

"We need to get you out of those clothes…" Maddie yelled, making the trek back down.

The brunette just groaned softly. "Yeah, that's exactly how all my fantasies start…" She told Smurf.

"Did you say something?" Maddie stood in the bathroom door way and startled the brunette, whose boot jumped out of her hand, juggling before it dropped into the tub with a splat.

Hayden shifted her gaze to the blonde. "Me?" She blinked twice and shook her head briskly. "Nope."

"Huh, I could have sworn you said something." Maddie frowned.

Hayden let out a nervous laugh. "Well, I um, was talking to Smurf."

"Just grab a shower and get changed, dog whisperer."

Hayden just barely caught the towel and clothes that were tossed in her direction. "Hey! You were talking to him like two minutes ago… Why am I called dog whisperer?"

"I'm entitled, owner rights… Sorry." Maddie shrugged with a smirk and ushered Smurf out of the bathroom.

"Whatever…" Hayden snorted. The door closed but couldn't get rid of the smile on her face. Turning on the faucet, she waited for the water to heat up. Peeling off her clothes she tried to understand how one person had the ability to instantly put her in a good mood. Something she hadn't been in a very long time. Stepping into the shower she grew tired of questioning it. She wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Ten minutes and dry clothes later, Hayden stepped into the kitchen smiling at woman who was heating up some soup on the stove.

"So what do you think?"

The blonde turned and studied her, stifling a chuckle. The brunette was literally drowning in both the grey baggy sweat pants and navy shirt with the sleeves rolled up several times. "Definitely America's next top material."

Hayden snickered and rolled her eyes. "Yeah… Tyra would have a cow."

"You watch the show?" The blonde's brows shot up in surprise.

"I may have caught an episode or two when nothing else was on." Hayden shrugged as she opened the refrigerator selecting a diet Pepsi and a Coke that Maddie had especially stocked just for her. She handed Maddie the Pepsi and opened her Coke taking a deep sip.

Maddie put her can down on the counter and turned back to the stove, stirring the soup making sure it didn't get caught on the bottom. "Ah… Why do I have a feeling that it wasn't for the fashion?"

"What you think I was objectifying the models?" Hayden leaned against the counter next to the blonde, her tone feigning incredulity. At the disputing raised brow she received, she sighed. "Okay, I'm only human."

Maddie giggled, shaking her head. "Is that what you like? Skinny models?"

"Hey, wasn't that woman you had a date with a model? Plus, I thought we established what I like."

"Really? I don't remember that conversation," Maddie said absently as she closed the pot and switched the stove off.

Hayden stepped into the blonde's personal space, putting her can on the table and dropping her chin until their gaze held. "No?"

"No…" Maddie found herself murmuring, losing herself in blue eyes that seemed endless.

"Well then, maybe I can remind you?" There was a hint of a smirk on the brunette's face before she drew Maddie's lips to hers. Hayden sighed, feeling the warmth rise up from her toes. She had waited for the whole day for this moment. Maddie had become a drug and she had no intention of going to rehab. Ever... "Remember now?"

Maddie's own hands deep into the texture of the brunette hair, gripping and deepening the kiss."I think it's coming back to me…"

The brunette smiled into the kiss. "I thought it might…"

Maddie felt like she was sinking. It was becoming harder and harder to not go beyond brain vaporizing kisses. They had agreed to take things slow at least until graduation. It seemed like the most reasonable solution to avoid creating grave repercussions. But it seemed anything but reasonable right now, the way her body throbbed painfully. She pulled out with a gasp and leaned her forehead on Hayden's chest that convulsed with each deep breath. "God… I missed you today."

"I know… me too." Hayden husked out planting her hands on the counter trying to keep steady.

Maddie moved away, needing to divert her mind onto something else. "So, tell me how your day was?" She asked, dishing two bowls of soup.

"It was okay." Hayden managed, taking a seat on the opposite side of the table. "Chemistry test was okay."

"When you say okay, I know you aced it." Hayden simply shrugged causing Maddie to roll her eyes as she sat down. "Anything else okay ?"

"Oh yeah…" Hayden waved her spoon as she spoke. "I never get sent to Carter's office."

"Really? So, I'm guessing you never sneeze funny today." Maddie played with the soup in her bowl. She wasn't really hungry but she needed something to do to reframe from ravishing the brunette across from her.

"Wrong. Sub, Foster was bitten by the big bad flu bug."

"Well, great, at least she won't make your life hell for a few more days." The blonde snickered. At Hayden's amused look, she snorted. "What? I'm not going to feel sorry for a homophobic old bat."

The brunette chuckled. "That's an interesting way of seeing her."

"She's just lucky I don't see her." Maddie grumbled, eyes on her soup.

Hayden was thoroughly amused. She quietly ate her soup, a smile on her face. "Actually, I think that's her loss."

Maddie shyly raised her eyes feeling a slight blush at the compliment as she met the brunette's. Hayden was in a process of taking another bite when her right sleeve unwounded again. Frustratingly, she rolled them up for the third time with a groan. Maddie laughed at the brunette's antics. "Need some help there, champ?"

Hayden looked up, when her hand was swatted out of the way. Maddie reaching over the table folding the long sleeves more securely. "Where did you get such large clothes, anyway?"

The blonde quietly undid the left one too and folded it again until she was satisfied. Only when she was seated back in her chair did she answer. "It was my brothers…"

"Oh…" Hayden fell quiet too. "He was, um, tall." She said, not liking the uncomfortable silence that stretched on.

Maddie smiled sadly and nodded. "He was…"

"How'd he –" Hayden fumbled with her words, not sure how to ask. "Well, was he –God never mind." She sighed and cursed herself for not having any tact.

Maddie just smiled. "It's okay to ask questions, Hayden. It happened a long time ago."

"How'd he –well you know…"

"He was caught in a drive by where he worked." If Maddie was fazed about talking about her brother's death, it didn't show in the stony face she wore.

“Jesus.” Hayden eyes widened and placed her hand over loosely over the blonde's waiting to see if it rejected. "I'm sorry…"

Maddie's lips curled at their hands and squeezed. "Thank you."

Hayden smiled faintly before asking. "Where did it happen?"

"At work. He worked down at a free rehabilitation center in a dodgy area. There were a lot of drug lords and gang wars." Maddie explained nonchalantly.

"But I thought you said he was a pro skater." The brunette frowned.

"He was, he broke his knee when he was twenty. He couldn't skate after that, well at least at a pro level."

Hayden nodded and sighed. "He must have taken that hard."

"No… Surprisingly, not as hard as one would think." Maddie smiled as her brother's memory came back to her. "The thing about Michael is he always tried to make the best out of a bad situation. He got better and started helping out at the rehabilitation station he went to. After a month they offered him a job because he was really good with the patients. But he declined wanting to help people who couldn't afford the treatment. So he joined the free rehabilitation center that was not specialized on what type of help it offered. Drugs, injuries, alcohol, anything, he always wanted to help. He actually used most of his trust fund on the organization. Everyone loved him. He always knew the right thing to say..."

"Then why would someone kill him?"

"I've asked myself that question too many times." Maddie's smile fell, her eyes impassive. "They said he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was shot once before." She said softly. "So I don't know."

"He was?"

"Yes, in the arm." Maddie nodded, biting her bottom lip feeling the tears rise in her eyes. "After which I sat in his hospital ward and begged him not to go back to that place."

"But he did?"

"Oh yeah…" Maddie let out a watery chuckle. "He simply ruffled my hair and said: If I don't help them Kiddo, who will?" She could picture his light free smile he wore. " They were just a bunch of drug addicts to me and I told him so being the young brat I was."

"You were scared for him." Hayden interjected, feeling the deep connection of loss between them. She just wished one day she could be as brave as the blonde.

"I was terrified… He gave me an exasperated look and said: Some of them are not bad people, Maddie, they are just people caught in a bad situation." She remembered his words clearly. " I came to terms that he was who he was no matter how scared I was for him. A year after that, they found him dead outside the center with a chest wound."

“Jesus, I'm so sorry…" Hayden's eyes softened not sure what to say. People never knew what to say to her. Now she knew their dilemma.

"Me too." Maddie smiled weakly. "He couldn't help being who he was…"

"Which was an amazing person."

"Yep." They shared a warm smile. Maddie glanced at Hayden's empty bowl and her half full one. "All done?" The brunette nodded and she rose depositing both their bowls in the sink. "I should go toss your clothes in the dryer."


"Well, you can't walk out of here without your clothes. It's a little suspicious, isn't it?"

"Good point."


… … … … … … … … … … … … …


When Hayden's clothes were safely tumbling away in the dryer, Maddie found Hayden at the piano. She was clearly studying a music sheet with intense blue eyes. Her hand hovered in the air, fingers framed as if they were poised over imaginary keys. Her fingers moved as she read over each line.

"Your clothes are drying." Maddie said, startling the brunette who winced and let go of the paper in her hand.

"Shit." Hayden grumbled as the paper drifted away from her.

"A little jumpy today, aren't you?" Maddie smiled with amusement and picked up the music sheet that floated to her feet.

Hayden looked up nervously. "I'm sorry… I was just –curious."

"S'okay… Was this what you were playing?" The blonde noticed it was one of her original pieces.

"I wasn't playing it. Well, not really." The brunette looked up sheepishly. "But you were, before I came in..."

"You heard?"

"I may have stood outside awhile longer and listened." Hayden shrugged expecting the blonde to be upset at her but she wasn't. She just smiled.

"Yeah?" Maddie asked as she motioned for the brunette to shift which she obliged. She sat next to her so that their shoulders were brushing. "Well, what do you think?"

"I think it's amazing but –not quite finished, I think."

Maddie sighed. "It's not…"


"I don't know. I guess, I have a mental block."

Hayden nodded, curious as to why but she left it unsaid. Instead she gestured to the paper. "Do you mind?" The blonde shook her head, watching curiously as the brunette stretched out her fingers.

Hayden set the paper on the stand eyes scanning over each line, before she started playing. Her finger's dancing smoothly over the black and white keys. Maddie watched in wonder as Hayden played her song as if she had been playing it for years. The brunette came to the end of the sheet music, halting her digits on the keys. She looked at Maddie who had a thoughtful expression on her face.

"I think you should change that last chord to a C…" Hayden let hang praying she didn't overstep.

Maddie nodded with a smirk. "I was thinking the same and adding a D minor."

Hayden grinned easily. "Yeah, that could work." She handed Maddie the page and a pen so she could adjust it while she played.

Together, they spent the better half of an hour going over and over the song, adding and deleting until they were satisfied. Hayden happily settled the final draft on the center stand.

"Do you want to do the honors?" She asked Maddie.

Maddie studied the piece for a moment. This was the first time she had completed one in over two years. "How about we both play it?" The blonde suggested, knowing she wouldn't have gotten so far without the brunette.

Hayden smiled slowly and nodded. Her fingers poised over her side in anticipation of its final product. She started out sweeping her nimble fingers over the beautiful instrument with feather light touches summoning the music until it bled. Once the introduction came to its final note, Maddie joined in let each chord permeated through her –through them. Together, they smiled at each other, digits left to work on their own. Hayden was certain that in all eighteen years of her life, she hadn't heard or seen anything more beautiful. Eventually, the music dissolved into thin air and their fingers lay still but their heats continued to beat. Both of them remained silent for a moment trying to collect their thoughts.

The brunette broke it first. "This is brilliant."

"Yeah, it came out great." Maddie grinned, nudging her shoulder. "You're really talented."

"What are you talking about? I just made one minor change that you were already thinking about and played. You created all this. This vision…" She stared at the blonde in awe. "No, this was all you… "

"Hayden, I couldn't have done this without you." Maddie shook her head only to have it trapped on either side with sweaty palms.

"This was all you Conner…" Hayden whispered, searing sapphire eyes burned through the blonde. "But that's beside the point. There's something I really can't wrap my mind around."

It took a while for the blonde to find her voice. "Which is?" She wondered.

"Why didn't you go pro, like your father and sister?" The brunette questioned as she dropped her hands. It completely baffled her. Here, she was in the presence of someone that could create such brilliance that rivaled that of her own family, Hayden thought. Yet she was not splashing it on stage and sharing it with the world like they were.

"Stages didn't appeal to me." Maddie shrugged and averted her gaze.

Hayden tilted Maddie's eyes back to hers, their lips inches apart. "If the first time I saw you weren't at a stage that you looked comfortable enough to belong on, I would have believed you."

The blonde sighed, pushing down the involuntary resentment that threatened. "Fine, professional stages didn't appeal to me."

"I think there is more to it…" Hayden's eyes searched into hers before trailing down her nose to her mouth before flicking back up.

"Maybe there is…" Maddie's eyes hooded briefly as an alluring warm breath caressed her face. She leaned in gently her eyes never leaving Hayden's as their lips made contact. Their eyes fell closed as they came together in a series of tentative wet brushes.

Hayden moaned when a skillful tongue paint along her lips, dipping into tangle with her own. "Now, I think you are just trying to distract me."

"Maybe I am…" Maddie's lips curled into the kiss.

Hayden thought about that for a moment before she stopped thinking at all. "Okay…" She stifled against warm supple lips, running her fingers through blonde hair deepening the kiss…


… … … … … … … … … … … … …


The yellowish-orange glow slowly spread its subdued heat across the vast sky. The break of morning still proving to have a distinct chill hovering in the air. However, the hint of early spring making itself subtly known by the number of buds and colors that increased each day. The brunette watched all this from her rooftop, her chin resting on her knees that were drawn to her chest, her arms wrapped around her legs and the smallest of serene smiles playing on her lips.

Her breathing was light and even as she observed the morning spread its light into every darkened crevice of the neighborhood. Feeling its warm aura spread in through the air. It was a peculiar sensation that left her feeling slightly at ease. Pulling her hood off, she tilted her head to the rays of the sun. Letting it soak in, her eyes fell close, her weary thoughts dissolving…


Tiny, bare feet quietly padded against the wooden floorboards, knowingly avoiding the creaking ones. Step by step, the eight year old stealthily made her way down the stairs ducking behind the large pot plant in the corner. The only sound in that part of the morning seemed to be her breathing as she assumed most of her family was asleep. When the coast was clear, she flopped onto her belly, crawling her way behind the large three-seater couch. Then to the two-seater and finally to the single seater near the glass sliding doors. Popping her head over the top and glancing out into the back yard, she caught a glimpse of brunette hair draped on the back of a pool chair.

A devilish smirk formed on the little girl's lips as she soundlessly slid the door open. On her barest of tippy toes, she snuck through the small distance reaching the back of the chair. Taking in a huge breath, she set herself up to pounce.

“Don't even think about it, Hayden.”

Hayden startled at the voice, deflating her breath in a sigh. “Aww, mom, how do you always know?” She rounded the chair with slumped shoulders. “I was really quiet this time.” She frowned at her mother who was wearing her fluffy blue robe bathed in early sunlight and had her eyes closed.

“I just always know…” Ella's smile grew as she patted the space next to her on the large pool chair.

The brunette girl resigned herself to that spot. “That makes no sense.” She mumbled with a pout.

Ella chuckled softly. “It will, when you're a mother.” She planted a sloppy kiss on her daughter's forehead.

Hayden groaned, wiping her forehead with her long flannel sleeve. “That's what you always say…” Her mother just smiled, slinging an arm over her shoulder, pulling her in to cuddle closer. Hayden couldn't help but smile back as she settled against her mother, running her small fingers along the soft fabric of her mother's robe, absorbing her comforting scent. She peered up at her mother who stared out at the horizon with light blue eyes. Most mornings for as long as Hayden could remember, her mother would watch the sunrise if she could help it. “Mom?”


“Why do you always watch the sunrise?” Hayden wondered. Yes, it looked pretty in its golden glory but if you watched it every day, surely you would get bored of it.

Ella simply tilted her green eyes upon her young one. “Because my mama used to…”

“Why?” Hayden asked, using a hand to shade out the brightness of the rays from her eyes.

The most peaceful smile graced her mother's pink lips as she shifted her gaze back to the horizon, staring aimlessly. “Well, my mother liked to think that every dark night is followed by a sunrise.”

“Oh…” The little brunette girl wrinkled her nose, slightly confused because she was pretty sure everyone knew that. It didn't explain why one would want to watch it all the time.

Ella chuckled lightly at the confounded look on her daughter's face. “Well, you see Hayden, what that means is that times of darkness and trouble are always followed by a sunrise. By hope and good times.”

“Oh…” Hayden drawled as she grasped on. “Like the night is the trouble and darkness. And the sunrise is the hope and good times?”

“That's my smart girl…” Ella beamed at her, running a hand through Hayden's thick, wild hair. “You see when I was eighteen, my daddy died and my mama was very sad. Every day she used to sit on her porch swing, watching the sunrise and wait…”

“Wait for what, mom?”

“Something… Anything I suppose… I didn't understand it either until we found out she was pregnant with Reese.”

Hayden gasped in wonder. “The sunrise did that?”

Ella chuckled and placed a kiss on her naïve daughter's forehead. “No silly, my daddy got my mama pregnant before he died.”

“Oh…” Hayden smiled sheepishly, her cheeks burning. She wasn't really sure how that happened. All she knew is that you needed a daddy and a mommy to have a baby. Carlos, her best friend had said something about them being naked but she ruled that out. It sounded gross. “That makes more sense, I think.”

“Point is, if you ever feel lost, search for the simple beauty in life, doesn't matter what it is. You be grateful for what you have. And always look for the hope that will make things better.” She cupped her daughter's cheek. “If you believe in that Hayden, you will always find your way.”


“As long as you believe…”

“Oh…” Her blue eyes wandered towards the sunlight. Hypnotized by the sight in front of her, she didn't hear the creeping footsteps up behind her until it was too late. She screamed and jumped as fingers dug into her ribs and a deafening boo was shouted into her ear. She fell off the side and onto her butt, a roaring laughter echoing in her head. She scowled up at the chuckling teenage redhead.

“You suck, Reese!” She said, rubbing her sore butt.

Reese's green eyes twinkled and she smirked as the eight year old picked herself off the floor. She was only slightly taller than Hayden, who was tall for her age. “What's the matter shrimp? Beaten at your own game?”

“Nooo…” She grunted, spying her mother muffle her own laughter against the sleeve of her robe.

“Were you telling her the sunrise story mama used to tell us?” Reese asked Ella.


“I believe.” The redhead shrugged.

“Well, I believe more.” Hayden challenged in a growl.

“I believe the most.” Reese teased back.

“Nah-uh! You only believe in making kissy faces at Jake Howard.” Hayden retorted, sticking out her tongue.

Reese's eyes widened as she blushed. “You were eavesdropping on my phone call with Hannah!” She turned outraged eyes at her sister. “Ella!”

“Hayden…” Ella raised a reprimanding brow, her voice stern.

Briskly, the eight year old shook her head. “No, I wasn't, mom. It's not eavesdropping if you scream and shout Jake has the dreamiest blue eyes in the world!”

“I did not!” The teenager denied in a squeak.

“Yes, you did!” Hayden chuckled and changed her voice into a mocking tone. “Oooh, I like Jake Howard and I want to kiss him like a gazillion times a day!”

Reese's cheeks blazed red as her eyes narrowed at a retreating Hayden. “You're making that up, Hayden!”

Hayden chuckled evilly, knowing any moment she was supposed to run. “Nah-uh!”

“Ah-huh!” Reese shouted back. And that moment was now as the young teenager sprang towards her.

Ella smiled, watching the girls squeal and run around the yard, throwing petty insults at each other. As any wise parent, she knew it was best to be a spectator in situations like these until it got out of hand.

Suddenly, her senses were crowded by the sweet aroma of her morning tea. Raising her head slightly, she glanced at the cup hovering above her. She grinned, taking it from her husband. “Thanks, baby.”

Wally smiled back, setting his own coffee on the garden table next to the pool chair. Ella shifted up slightly and he joined her, nuzzling into her neck. He missed her this morning. “Hmmm… So is there any particular reason as to why we are watching world war 4 so early in the morning?” He placed a kiss against her chin and pointed to the girls. Reese was giggling triumphantly as she straddled a wriggling Hayden trying to get out from under her.

“Jake Howard…”

“Jake Howard?” He frowned, bringing his mug to his lips.

“Hmmm…” Ella took a sip of her fragrant tea. “I think he's some boy Reese likes from school.”

Wally straightened abruptly. “What? Who is this boy? What is his social security number? Does he have a job?”

“Wally, he is probably only fourteen.” Ella giggled, swatting him on the arm.

“So? If he is going to have anything to do with my little Reese, he needs to be a decent fourteen year old that's all I'm saying.” The blonde man sulked, not liking the idea of this boy.

“You and your little girls.” Ella rolled her eyes, but smiled. She was really lucky that Wally was the kind, generous man he was. He didn't even blink an eye when her mother had gotten very ill and was incapable of taking care of her younger sister. They had just taken Reese in and she became one of his girls. “Reese isn't so little anymore, you know. And soon, Hayden will be following in her footsteps. Liking someone, going on dates… falling in love.” She teased watching his eyes sharpen in horror.

“What are you talking about? Hayden promised me she would be eight forever.” He set his coffee down and crossed his arms over his chest, adamantly.

“I think she just loves her daddy.” Grinning, she leaned over and kissed his cheek, affectionately. “They won't be little forever, Wally.”

“You can't make me believe that… they will always be my little girls.” He tilted his head, watching said girls roll on the grass for dominance. “Well, maybe my little terrorists at this moment.”

Ella turned her head towards them. “Yep… We did good, didn't we?”

“Oh yeah, beware world…” He grinned, adjusting her chin in his direction with two fingers. Their kiss was slow and filled with love.

“Gross!” Hayden and Reese shouted in unison, making gagging faces.

Elle and Wally broke the kiss with a little chuckle. “Do you think it's too late to send them to boarding school?” He murmured against her lips.

She ran a hand through his short blonde hair, amused. “Should I pack your clothes with theirs?”

“Probably…” He gave her one last smacking kiss on her lips before pushing himself off of the chair. Beaming, he shot his attention to the girls. “Gross, huh? I'll show you guys gross…” Before they could sprawl away from each other, they were caught by two large arms, screaming and giggling as they were both peppered with smooches.

Suddenly, kisses turned into tickling and then the roles were reversed. Wally found himself on the ground with his little girls straddling his stomach and dozens of fingers digging into his sides. “Uncle, uncle, granny, dog… Whatever the mercy word is, I give! I give!” Wally yelped.

The girls collapsed on either side of him, all three of them lost in bouts of cheery laughter. Ella also couldn't help but chuckle at her three goofs.

Hayden held her stomach, letting her chuckles die down into a wide grin. She shot up and made a dash for her mother's pool chair, in case her father had decided on round two. Which she wasn't sure she could take without wetting in her pants. Her mother grinned at her, opening an arm for her to slip into and she went happily.

After a moment of comfortable silence, Hayden looked up at her mother. “Did you find your hope, mom?”

Ella just smiled. “Always, baby girl…” She pecked Hayden's small nose. “Always…”


… … … … … … … … … … … …

As Hayden's eyes blinked open, a lone tear slid down the curve of her cheek. She used the sleeve of her jacket to wipe up its moist trail. Her lips edged on a detached smile. Her heart caught in a wave of contradictions. It felt good to remember but at the same time her chest was burning with what she could not have again.

Time... Time was what was said would ease the waning ache. Time and hope, she thought to herself. And maybe if she resigned herself into being a sappy teenager, she would also add love into the equation. Immediately, her mind zeroed in on Maddie and a warm glow coursed through her body. Impassively, her ocean eyes aimed at the horizon, the slight breeze flicking stray locks of brunette hair onto her pale face.

Absently, she dug into her jacket pocket when she felt the slight vibration against her side. Pulling out her cellphone, the sides of her lips curled upwards when she saw the message alert from Maddie.

6.55 am, Conner: Dog for sale. Demanding, rude, prudish and won't let you sleep in. Any takers?

Smirking, she shook her head. She crawled back through her window and sprawled on her untidy bed, texting back.

6.56 am, Hayden: Guessing Smurf's the reason u r up so early.

6.57 am, Conner: Yep, wat's ur excuse?

Sticking a tongue in her cheek, Hayden typed out a retort.

6.57 am, Hayden: U messaging me.

6.58 am, Conner: God. So sorry, didn't mean 2 wake u. Wasn't thinking. Dumb!

The brunette chuckled softly, imagining the blonde comical lament expression.

6.58 am, Hayden: U didn't, was already awake.

6.58 am, Conner: What? Then y make me feel bad?

6.59 am, Hayden: Coz I can :p

6.59 am, Conner: U r pure Evil…

7.00 am, Hayden: Love it when u try 2 sweet talk me ;)

7.00 am, Conner: Lol. Evil and insane!

7.01 am, Hayden: Just figuring these things out now, Conner?

7.02 am, Conner: Unfortunately... My parents never warn me against cult members.

Hayden couldn't help but let out a full laugh at that.

7.03 am, Hayden: haha… What did they warn u against?

7.04 am, Conner: Nothing, just not 2 bug them if I needed anything.

The brunette frowned, finding out she didn't like Maddie's parents much. If she wasn't supposed to bug them if she needed something, then who was she supposed to bug? She noticed the subtle changes in the blonde whenever they came up. She usually wasn't a prier, but she felt that Maddie's parents had so much to do with why the blonde ended up in Red Bay. She wanted to know why such a talented woman ended up in a small off the grid type of town. And she resigned herself to let Maddie tell her on her own terms if she wanted to.

7.04 am, Hayden: Too bad for them. I'd love it if you'd bug me more often…

7.05 am, Conner: Now who's the sweet talker? ;)

7.05 am, Hayden: Who?

7.06 am, Conner: Haha, nut.

7.06 am, Hayden: I would only b sweet talker if I said I mis u.

7.07 am, Conner: Are u saying it?

7.07 am, Hayden: No… but I'd b lying if I said I didn't ;)

7.08 am, Conner: hahaha… Is that the best I'm going to get?

7.08 am, Hayden: yep, pretty much.

7.09 am, Conner: Well, guess, I'll bare the status and say, mis u 2.

The warmth that enveloped her heart just by the few texted words had her shaking her head. It was official she just joined the ranks of the sappy people she swore she would never be. She smiled wishing she was with Maddie right now.

7.11 am, Hayden: Wat r u doin?

7.12 am, Conner: Just had my coffee so all's right in the world. Smurf bout 2 take me 4 a walk :c

7.12 am, Hayden: Wer 2?

7.14 am, Conner: Any wer I can keep up. No more snow, so probably the park.

7.15 am, Hayden: Want company?

7.17 am, Conner: Would love some, but we probably shouldn't.

7.17 am, Hayden: Yeah, you probably right. I guess I have to wait until tomorrow to see you.

7.18 am, Conner: Sucks. But I should probably head out before Smurf breaks down the door. Talk later…

7.19 am, Hayden: Kay…

Hayden hated this. She appreciated that they no longer restrained their feelings from each other. She was usually a private person anyway. But that didn't make it any less hard. It was getting to her that they couldn't be with each other without an excuse. What she would give for the day they get rid of the pretenses. Just be lucky for what they had, which was a hell of a lot better than before…

7.20 am, Hayden: Conner?

7.20 am, Conner: mmm?

Hayden typed out her response and stared at it for a long moment. With a wistful sigh, she hit the delete button, retyped another and clicked send. Throwing her phone on her dresser, she stepped into the bathroom.


… … … … … … … … … … … … …


Leashing Smurf had always proved to be a mission with his excited wriggling ways. Maddie blew out a strained breath when she finally accomplished the task and stood up. Opening the door, she felt a slight vibration in the worn out jeans that she had slipped on. The smile she wore turned into a scowl as she was yanked through the doorway. Struggling with the lead, she just barely managed to lock the door.

Thankfully, their strides slowed once they reached the end of the street. She reached into her pocket remembering her earlier text. Wrapping the leash securely across her wrist, she scrolled through her phone.

7.22 am, Hayden: Miss you…

Maddie smiled widely shaking her head. Only Hayden Oliver had the ability to make two simple words reverse their roles. She felt like the mushy high schooler and she swore she would only go through that once. High school was hard enough.

But Hayden . She just seemed to take everything in her stride. If people messed with her, she didn't pay them much attention. She was never afraid to be who she was and if she was she never showed it. She was such a strong character, independent, intelligent. And not to mention an exceptionally talented woman. Could she really help how she felt? She doubted it.

With her mind far away, the blonde wasn't watching where she was going letting Smurf lead her pointlessly. She gasped, as her entire shoe drowned in a large puddle. She looked down at her drenched foot and narrowed a glare at her companion.

“You did that on purpose!” If a dog could smirk evilly, she imagined that's what Smurf was doing right now. He let out a bark. “Yes, you! I don't see any other dog dragging me around.” His only response was to tug on the lead pulling her towards one of the trees. Maddie rolled her eyes as she stumbled along. “You were put on this earth to torment me, weren't you?”


… … … … … … … … … … … … …

A quiet Wednesday afternoon found Hayden jogging up the few steps of Maddie's porch. She knew she was early but she wanted a few minutes with blonde before their music classes started for the day. Knowing the door would be unlocked for her, she opened it and dropped her knapsack and guitar slowly near the small table. She flicked the door lock and padded through the passage. The stereo music coming from the kitchen had her perking an eyebrow as she moved towards it, quietly. As soon as she reached the doorway a charmed smile worked its way onto her face.

There was Maddie gracefully moving across her kitchen, her hips moving with fluidity to the Ne-Yo song that belted from her tiny radio on top of the fridge. Hayden leaned against the doorframe arms crossed, simply watching her sweep across the floor, from cupboard in search of something, her rhythm never faltering.

The blonde halted for a minute in the middle of her kitchen, her foot still tapping to the soft beat. “Now where did I put that thing?” she said out loud, her brows drawn into a thoughtful frown, her eyes scanning the rows of opened cupboards. “Aha!” She squealed in delight as she caught sight of the bag of coffee beans on the very top shelf.

The brunette had to shake her head at that, knowing the blonde was really as thrilled as she looked for a simple bag of coffee beans. That would make birthdays a whole lot easier she snickered to herself. Maddie bit her lip and reached up on her tippy toes, trying to make a grab for the still unreachable bag. The cotton shirt she wore rid up somewhat revealing that little bit of skin in the small of her back.

Hayden sucked in her lip at the wave of heat that passed through her body the small revelation caused. It was as if like everything about this woman had her wired and ready to explode. But to her dismay the dancing had stopped as Maddie struggled to get ahold of that bag. Thinking she could change that, she soundlessly stepped up behind the blonde.

Maddie groaned and cursed at her futile attempts to retrieve the coffee beans. Abruptly, her body tensed when she felt the hovering presence behind her. A warm hand was placed on her hip and she let out a biting scream that was mostly muffled into the palm of another hand wrapped across her mouth.

“Shshsh… I love this song.” Was whispered into Maddie's ear followed by the softest of kisses on the tip that sent involuntary shivers down to her toes.

Instantly, Maddie's senses began to clog with the familiarity of the body pressed into hers, her eyes falling closed. The hand on her hip forcing her body to sway with the music. When Hayden felt Maddie's body relax into hers, she slowly lowered her hand that covered the blonde's mouth bringing it down to her hip. Hayden buried her face into blonde hair, her own eyes sealed as their bodies melded together in a comfortable rhythm. Neither of them said another word, both lost in the feel of each other…

Eventually, the music died down and together they slowed until they moved no more. The only sound left in the room was their ragged breathing that had nothing to do with the slow activity and everything to do with the emotions that burned through their bodies.

“I like dancing with you…” Hayden murmured into the nape of Maddie's neck, breaking the silence. One hand blindly reaching up to grab the bag of coffee beans and setting on the counter, much to the blonde's delight.

“I'm glad… But you scared me.” Maddie breathed, smiling. She could feel soft lips curl against her moist skin.

“I'm sorry…”

Maddie turned in Hayden's arms, not leaving the close embrace, her own hands running up the brunette's back. She looked up into glassy blue eyes, searching. “No, you're not…”

Hayden's smile turned sheepish. “Probably not.”

Maddie just laughed, her green eyes twinkling as her arms encircled the brunette's neck. “I've said this before and I'll say it again. You are evil…”

Hayden smirked, lowering her head so that their faces were inches apart. “You say that like it's a bad thing.”

“It's not?” Maddie mused.

“Not for me…”

“And for me?” The blonde slid one hand back to caress Hayden's cheek.

Hayden's eyes slid shut at the sensations spiking through her. Her fingers twisting into the material of Maddie's shirt. “I'll let you decide.” She husked out.

The space between them melted as their lips joined together. Maddie sighed into the kiss. “Not bad…” She moaned and tugged Hayden closer when she felt the first tentative touch of the brunette's tongue on hers. “Definitely, not bad...”

They finally broke apart, when the doorbell chimed through the house. Each taking rapid breaths as reality came crashing back. Maddie leaned forward to rest her forehead against Hayden's shoulder.

“I know life is nowhere near fair. But now, it's just rubbing it in.” Hayden muttered, reluctantly loosening their embrace.

“I agree.” Maddie sighed. “Sometimes, I just wish…” She trailed off, knowing it wouldn't be fair to voice her helpless wishes. What she would give for the day, where she could just be Maddie and Hayden could just be Hayden and they could let the rest of the world rot. That would be a great day. She went to go open the door for their kids.

Hayden gently grabbed her arm, stopping her. “What do you wish?”

Maddie shook her head, a small smile playing on her lips. “Nothing important…” She shifted back meeting blue eyes. “Everything important is right here.” Her smile grew at the brunette's wordless expression. She reached up and placed a small chaste kiss on the taller woman's lips. “C'mon, let's go teach our lovable midgets some music.”

Hayden watched her go in awe, a thoughtful look on her face.


… … … … … … … … … … … … …

“Reese, it's only a week! I'm pretty sure I won't starve!” Hayden complained in annoyance as her aunt pulled two boxes of her favorite pop tarts off the shelf. But Reese just ignored her protests throwing them into the cart Seth was pushing. The town supermarket was littered with only a few citizens during Sundays. Which was the only thing that wasn't getting on the brunette's nerves considering her aunt was pretending she was shopping for the entire town.

“A week seems a bit long.” Reese bit her bottom lip worriedly. “I can ask my boss to cut the trip short. Maybe, three, four days max.” She wondered, not really wanting to leave Hayden alone for more than that. She had to get up to New York for one of their writer conventions. Plus, Seth would be going with her since his own work required him to meet a few clients. And he scheduled it so that they could travel and get away together for a while. But now, she was regretting it.

“Don't you dare!” The brunette grounded out, whirling the redhead to face her. She hated that Reese felt obligated to take care of her. She was also young and just started out her life. She didn't need a pesky teenager to hold her back from living it how she wanted to. “I will be okay. More than okay, actually. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself…”

“I know that but –”

“No buts.” The brunette interrupted forcefully, Reese giving her a muddled look. She sighed pressing the bridge of her nose with her forefingers. “You've put your lives on hold for long enough. I won't have it anymore, Reese.”

“I never put our lives on hold.” The redhead's eyes brimmed sincerely.

“No?” Hayden arched a disputing brow. “You cancelled your last three trips and you would have cancelled this one if you could.”

Reese's eyes widened slowly. She didn't know that her niece had known about those. Sensing his wife's distress, Seth stepped in. “Hayden…” He held her arm.

But the brunette shook her head. “No Seth, you guys can't keep making me your main priority.”

“You're not a burden on us, Hayden.” Seth said seriously.

“Maybe not.” The brunette let out a rueful smile. “But you guys need this. She needs to go to that convention. You and Reese need to get away. You need a break. It's just a week. I'll be at school and home a lot. So please don't cut your trip short because of me…” She said and faced her aunt, her voice tight. “Please don't do that…”

“Okay…” Reese closed her eyes and nodded. “Okay fine…” She blew out a resigning breath. “You're right… I just hate the thought of leaving you alone.”

Hayden smiled thankfully, pulling her sulking aunt in for a hug. “I know… But I'm old enough and I promise not to throw wild parties or invite boys over.”

Reese muffled a chuckle into her chest. “Change that to girls and we have a deal.”

Hayden pretended to pout. “I don't know how Seth puts up with you. You are no fun.”

Seth sighed playfully too. “I know! I hate the no women over rule. I'm always forced to cough up extra for a motel, every time I want to have an affair.” Reese laughed and slapped him on the arm. “Ow!”

Hayden rolled her eyes as the redhead resumed her shopping, dumping things in by the boxes. “Reese, I can't eat all of that in a month, let alone in a week.” The brunette let out exasperated, shooting Seth a pleading look.

Seth grimaced at their cart that was quickly filling up to the brim. “Honey, I honestly think –” His jaw snapped shut at the dark glare he got from his wife. “Er… That the frozen pizzas are on special?” He quickly backpedalled.

“Oh, I saw that in the paper too!” Reese's eyes brightened as she hurriedly turned the corner for the refrigeration section.

“Coward…” Hayden grumbled, jamming her hands in her pocket as they obediently followed.

“I'm sorry, but she's a force that can't be stopped right now.” He admonished gravely. Then his lips up took in a grin as he spotted a few familiar faces. “And there's another one.”

The brunette followed his gaze, a gradual smirk of her own making its way onto her face. On the end of the aisle, a blonde stood inspecting one of the shelves, running a casual hand through her open hair. A darker man stepped up to her.

“Can we get this?” Lamar held out three boxes of chocolate chip cookies for Maddie's inspection.

Maddie sighed, her patience running thin. “Why do I need three boxes?”

“Er… Because…” Her best friend shot her an incredulous glare throwing them in the cart she was pushing.

“Your reasoning is always so impeccable.” She muttered wryly, digging two boxes out of the cart and stuffing them back on the shelf. “And I am only getting one.”

“Three…” He tossed all of them back in.

“One!” She rumbled through gritted teeth, seriously considering pulling out her hair. She shoved them back onto the shelf.

“Okay, jeez!” He held out his hands in defense of her wrath. “Let's compromise… two?”

“Lamar!” She was considering bloody murder. The only part that sucked was that she was in a public area. She took a deep breath and let it out, in attempts to calm down. “Lamar…” She said placidly. Too placidly for his liking, in fact. He could handle it when she was visibly angry. But when she was calm, he knew it was actually her quietly seething, which made him more nervous.

“Um, yes?” He shifted uneasily.

“Whose groceries are we getting?” She slowly arched a brow, telling him he better answer correctly or die.

“Um, yours?” He answered obediently.

“And who is paying for it?”

“You are?” He nervously watched her cross her arms.

“So how many boxes am I getting?”

“Er… um, one?”

Satisfied, she patted his arm. “Good boy.”

“Oh wow, Maddie. You really need to teach me that trick.”

Maddie whirled around, all her annoyance washing away the second she caught Seth and Hayden stroll in their direction. She laughed when Lamar sourly stuck his tongue out his business partner and friend. “Hey Seth.” She took him a heartfelt hug as he stopped in front of her. “I'm afraid that takes years to master.” She smiled at her best friend affectionately. “He's not like all the other little boys.”

“Bummer… I could really use it around the office.” Seth teased his friend, who simply rolled his eyes.

“You know what I think we can use in the office.” Lamar uttered with a shrug.

“Stripper poles are nowhere near professional.” Seth shot back. “Unless, well, um that's your field of interest.” He could feel a little color rush into his cheeks.

“Of course it's a field that interests me. Very much. But you know that's your problem…” Lamar tsk'd and slung an arm around his partner's shoulder.

“What?” Seth gave a bemused frown and slumped his shoulders.

“You heard the story about Jack being a dull boy.” Lamar patted his cheek good-naturedly.

“Jack is also a married boy.” Seth rolled his eyes. “And I'm pretty sure he'd like to keep it that way.”

Maddie grinned at the antics of the two business partners that were having a serious discussion about stripper poles. Only Lamar , she shook her head. She nudged the shoulder of the strong presence beside her, whom was matching an amused smirk of her own. “Hey there…”

Hayden had to suppress her smirk from raging into a full-blown grin at the slight prod, feigning a detached expression. “Oh, hey… Sorry, didn't see you there.”

The blonde's eyes narrowed as she considered the taller woman. She expelled a defeated breath turning her attention back to the men. “I'm too late. Smurf's drafted you into his rebellion, hasn't he?”

Hayden chuckled lightly. “Well, he did offer me good perks.” She shrugged.

Maddie tilted her head and arched a brow. “Better than mine?” She whispered only loud enough for the beautiful brunette to hear, not that the other two would notice so consumed in their own debate.

Hayden flicked her gaze down at the blonde. “Oh, I don't know… What exactly are you offering?” She retorted, her voice equally low. Those blue eyes wicked, almost daring the blonde to retaliate the suggestive question.

Maddie's lips adopted a sexy undercurrent that almost had Hayden's knee's buckling. She had only seen that smile a few times, each time resulting in her demise. Sticking her tongue in her cheek, Maddie leaned up whispering in her ear, oblivious to their surroundings. “Wouldn't you like to know?”

Hayden's eyes fell closed and her breathing hitched as the warm breath tickled her ear. When her eyelids drifted opened again, she eyed the blonde's smug smile. “You don't play fair…” She mumbled.

The blonde let out a low evil laugh. “I've told you a long time ago, I play to win.”

“Well, you've won…”

Maddie's warm green eyes skimmed up to Hayden's, her smile coy. Those ocean eyes slicing through every barrier she had managed to create over the past few years. Caught up in their magnificence, she only managed a weak, “I know.”

“Maddie! Lamar! What a wonderful surprise.” Maddie and Hayden jerked apart at Reese's boisterous greeting from behind half a dozen boxes of frozen pizzas. She heaved the boxes and dumped them into their cart, dusting the frost off her hands.

“Hey Red.” Lamar leaned over and kissed her cheek. He furrowed his brows at their over flowing cart. “Did we miss the memo for the ice age?” He snickered under his breath at Maddie.

“Hey, I don't know…” Maddie shrugged her shoulders, also a bit disconcerted. “Hi Reese.” She smiled at the beaming redhead.

Reese pulled her into an embrace and gave her a good squeeze. “Hi Maddie, why is it we always meet up shopping for something?”

“Maybe, because we're always shopping.” The blonde countered, both of them chuckling into the hug.

“Could be…” Reese winked as she leaned back.

“So what's with the provisions?” Lamar asked nodding at their cart, curiosity overshadowing him.

“Oh, it's for next week.” The redhead responded, waving her hand matter-of-factly.

“B… But I thought you guys are heading up to New York.” Lamar sputtered, his brows sharpened as glared at his business partner. “You lied to me.”

Seth sighed heavily. “No, I didn't.”

“Like I'd believe anything a lawyer tells me.”

“You're a lawyer too!”

“My point exactly.” Lamar scoffed, arms crossed over his chest, Seth scowling at him.

“Children please!” The redhead held up a forestalling hand. “Seth didn't lie, we are. This is for Hayden.”

Hayden simply thumped her forehead with her hand, an embarrassed blush creeping onto her face.

“All of it?” Lamar's dark eyes grew, his disbelieving gaze aimed at the slender figured brunette, back to the cart and back again. “And you wouldn't let me have three measly boxes.” He sniggered only to have an authoritative finger obstruct his vision.

“Shut it, before I send you to the car.” Maddie reprimanded, his jaw clicking shut.

Reese snapped her fingers. “That reminds me! We need three boxes of those crackers you like, Hayden.” The brunette simply groaned whereas Seth looked dejectedly at the floor.

“Oh, we won't keep you then, enjoy your shopping.” Maddie smiled and hugged Reese again.

“Thanks, you too. We should get together for coffee when we get back from New York.” The redhead suggested to the blonde who nodded in agreement.

“That would be nice.”

They all said their brief goodbyes and went their separate ways. Hayden and Maddie stealing coy glances at each other every time they crossed paths in the supermarket, unseen to everyone except Lamar. Which of whom teased the blonde and was threatened to be sent to the car at least ten times.

Finally, Maddie and Lamar found themselves at the checkout counter. Seth and Reese walked into her line of vision as she was offloading the cart. She afforded them a small wave and smiled. They waved back turning into the next aisle.

Hayden was lagging behind them, practically dragging her feet, her head upturned towards the ceiling, mumbling curses. As she was about to follow into the adjacent aisle, a feeling surged through her. She stopped, tilting her head until she caught sight of Maddie. Her heart jumped in her chest, like it did every time the blonde gave her that soft look. The small smile that escaped those indulgent lips had Hayden smiling back. Maddie raised a shy hand. Hayden replicating her actions in a wave of her own. Their eyes held briefly before Hayden trailed into the next section.

Reese and Seth were halfway through the next aisle when the brunette caught up to them. She dug into her back pocket feeling the small envelope, she had asked Carlos to organize for her yesterday. She was still contemplating if she was going to use it or not. Feeling the smooth texture between her forefingers, her head averted towards the entrance straight down the line. She could see Lamar pushing their cart through the parking lot, Maddie gently punching him on the arm and both of them giggling. Feeling her heart constrict at the simple, free, beautiful woman's smile, her mind was made up in an instant.

“Hey, I forgot to ask Conner something. Be right back.” Hayden said, Reese absently waving her off with a mumble that resembled an okay . She made a dash through the store, slipping through a small gap in the sliding doors.


Maddie had slammed the trunk of her car closed, hearing her name whisper in the breeze. She lifted her head, staring at Lamar who opened the shotgun door. He had a silly grin on face as he nodded behind her and then hopped into the car. Glowering, she spun back to see the brunette's run die down into a few heavy steps. Her hard expression immediately dissolved as Hayden stepped closer out of breath.

“Conner…” Hayden panted, taking rapid breaths.


“Yeah… I forgot to give you something.” The brunette declared in between breaths. She managed to get it together burrowing into her back pocket and pulled out the prize. Now, standing straight a few inches away, she handed it to the blonde.

Maddie studied the light object placed in her hand, bemused. She then looked up into brilliant blue eyes, her own slightly guarded. “It's an envelope.”

“Looks like it.” Hayden shrugged, quite amused. “But it's usually what's inside that counts.”

“Oh right…” Maddie opened the flap, slipping out what resembled a small rectangular piece of paper. Fairville Festival: admit one , she read. “It's a ticket.” She stated, just as baffled.

“Yeah, there are two of them.” The brunette nodded, gesturing at the envelope. Maddie picked the other one out, studying both of them. “It's out of town.”

Maddie's head picked up, abruptly. “What?”

“The festival, it's out of town, just outside of Fairville which is three hours from here.” Hayden explained. When the blonde simply stared at her, she continued. “Since it is out of town and no one would recognize us… I guess, I kind of hoped…” She swallowed the sudden thickness in her throat. “That maybe, perhaps we could go…” Hayden watched as Maddie's eyes grew thoughtful and soft, drifting between the tickets and herself. “I mean, if you want.” The brunette shifted her hands into her pockets. “But if you think it's a bad idea, it's okay. You can keep the tickets and maybe take Lamar or someone –”

“I'd love to.” Maddie interrupted Hayden's ramblings.


The blonde smiled gently. “I said I'd love to go with you.”


“Yes.” Maddie peered at the tickets one more time. “So, it's Saturday?”

“Yeah, this coming Saturday.” The brunette nodded dumbly, not sure how she managed to get the blonde to agree. She thought it would take more effort.

“Okay, then it's a date.” Maddie grinned sticking the envelope in her own pocket.

“Um, yeah…” Hayden scratched the back of her neck, nervously, a blush tainting her cheeks.

Maddie was utterly charmed by the red color that graced the brunette's face. Taking pitying on her, she said her goodbye, and joined Lamar in the Car. She was silent to Lamar's pestering her on what that was about, annoying him greatly. Yet, the smile on her face never waver a bit as she started the car.

“A date…” Hayden murmured to herself, watching the blonde drive off.


To be continued in Part 9

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