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Kim Pritekel and Alexa Hoffman

Part 14

I pulled my legs up closer to my body, then tugged at the ends of the sheet wrapped around me. The sun was just coming up over the horizon, the welcome heat shining on my face through the large windows in the solarium. Cody was still sleeping in the bed in the room behind me, but I needed some time alone. To think.

After our initial burst of passion on the floor in the spare bedroom, it had continued, seemingly nonstop, since. I looked at the clock once we'd moved it to the bigger bed in my room, and we had literally woken every two hours to start all over again.

A smile and the heat of a blush roamed over my face and down my neck at the memory. God, the way she made my body tingle, the way she touched me. After that first time, Cody's hands and body had become slow and gentle, our passionate sex turning into slow, measured moves as we made love.

I closed my eyes, feeling her fingers roaming over my skin, touching my breasts as if she relished the feel, taste and look. My body stretched out across the bed like a fat cat, nearly purring with her ministrations. It was almost hard to believe that Cody had never done any of those things before. I guess she was just a natural.

Our bodies, covered with sweat and all the juices of love, rubbed together, hands sliding through hair, over skin, finding all the right places that made the other moan and thrust.

A shiver washed through me as I ran a hand through my hair, stopping halfway, realizing I could still smell Cody on my skin.

"Hey," I heard, the tone low and unsure. I looked back over my shoulder at Cody, who looked at me, almost fearful.

"Hey," I said, my voice just as low.

"Are you okay?" She stepped around me dressed in a tank and shorts, plopping down in a matching chair, her hands curled politely in her lap. I nodded with a smile.

"Yeah. I'm just thinking. Last night . . ." I looked away, staring out into the backyard. I could feel Cody's eyes on me. How did I tell her that I wasn't regretting it, or backtracking, but just needed to think things through. I hadn't intended things to happen as they had, but had just been overtaken by the moment, and her unbelievable sensuality, and the needs of my own body. Never in my life had I felt so out of control, yet so filled with power.

"And . . .?"

Shaken from my reverie, I remembered the reason for my blush was sitting beside me. I could see the worry in her eyes, and I didn't want to freak her out again or make her think that I was having second thoughts. I took one of her hands in mine, and smiled at her.

"Cody . . ." My thumb rubbed slowly across the soft skin of the back of her hand. She was literally holding her breath, I think waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I loved what we did last night, and this morning." I grinned at her blush. "And not to worry, I'm not freaked out or regretting anything. I just need some time to myself to think for an hour or so." I ducked my head so I could look into her eyes. She met my gaze. "Okay?"

"Yeah." She nodded, giving me a brave smile. "Do you want me to go home?" Her voice was incredibly small, amazing me. Never did I think I'd see Cody so vulnerable as she was at that moment. It just endeared her to me that much more.

"Come here, you." I wrapped my fingers around the back of her neck, and pulled her to me to give her a small kiss. Patting her cheek lovingly, I said, "I'm craving orange juice. Get me some?" I gave her the most beseeching look I could muster. She gave me a grin, that crooked, cocky grin that I had grown to love expect.

I turned back toward the windows.

"Oh, Cody?"

"Yeah?" she called from within the bedroom. I looked at her over my shoulder.

"Take my keys from the hook in the kitchen. Take my car."

"Nice," she said as she headed out the door.

I ran my hands through my hair, then scrubbed my face with my hands and blew out a breath.

The thoughts kept swirling through my mind of what my parents would think of this. I had to laugh at that idea. It wouldn't have mattered, but it still would have been nice to have some sort of guidance. This was the blind leading the blind, and it was unnerving. But did we ever learn a lot last night.

Stop it! Time to reflect, not remember.

What about the fact that Cody was a woman? I had never really had the typical, oh I had a crush on my fifth grade teacher, deal. I had known lesbians and gay men off and on throughout my life, but I had never felt a need to be one of them, or the urge or pull toward women.

But Cody.

I don't know that it was so much her gender that drew me to her, but Cody, herself. Who she was as a person, what her beliefs were, and how she approached life. She has made me feel more than I have in years, if ever. She has given me insight into myself, into what drives me. Last night meant more to me than that entire time Keith and I had dated. No comparison.

How did we get here? What do I want from this? I couldn't help but wonder if this was love, as I'd been suspecting for some time, or lust, which I'd also played with. Could I enter into this with Cody and see it going somewhere? Hell, could she? Cody was so young, and just now figuring out what she and life were all about.

I sighed, stretching my legs out in front of me, surprisingly sore from last night's activities. A low chuckle escaped my throat, filled with promises.

I missed Cody.

Standing and raising my arms high above my head, I closed my eyes as I stretched, a small squeak falling out of my mouth as I did.

Heading back into the house, I checked the bedside clock to see that I had been sitting in the solarium for over an hour. It was almost six-thirty in the morning, and I missed Cody. I wanted to spend the day with her.

A mischievous grin spread across my face as I grabbed the cordless phone from its cradle. My mind whirled as I tried to think of what to say as I dialed my office number. Finally Rhonda's voicemail picked up.

"Hi, Ron it's Brooklyn. I won't be in today. I'm not feeling so hot. See you tomorrow."

I hung the phone up, feeling beyond guilty, then dialed another number.

"Hello?" came Keith's voice after two and a half rings.

"Good morning, Keith."

"Hey, you, what's up?" I could almost picture him sitting on his front deck, sipping his morning tea after the daily two-mile run.

"Well, I was wondering if you could live without Cody today." I chewed on my bottom lip, wondering if I was doing the right thing by going behind Cody's back.

"Why?" he drawled.

"Cause," I hedged. Keith paused.

"Hmm. I have no clue what's up, but I won't push. You two crazy cats have fun."

My face broke open in a huge grin.

"You're the best, Keith!"

"I know. Now leave me alone. Some of us have to work."

My next call was to Cody's cell phone.

"Hello?" Cody's voice was slightly hesitant.

"Hey, gorgeous," I purred. I could almost feel the smile through the phone line.

"Whaz up?" she purred right back.

"I miss you." I flopped down on the bed, the sheet that had been wrapped around my body slowly sliding from my skin.


"Yeah. Come back?"

"You got it, baby."

A shiver squirmed down my spine at the word. As I pushed the off button on the phone, I held the receiver against my chest, sighing happily.

I should probably get dressed before she arrives home.

Yay! She was coming back!

I scrambled around the bedroom, tossing clothes out behind me as I looked for that perfect pair of grunge clothes. Wait. I stopped, old t-shirt in hand, what does it matter? She's seen me naked, for crying out loud!

"Hehe." Pulling on the first thing I saw, I shoved all the clothes back into the drawer, and headed downstairs. Good timing as I heard a car pull into the driveway. A quick glance out the front window showed Cody pulling up in my very own car. I felt my heart skip a beat, wondering what today would bring.

Ding dong.

Taking a deep breath, I ran my hands through my hair, and walked to the door, opening it to see a very sheepish Cody standing on the stoop. I was charmed all over again.

"Hey," she said. I noticed her hands behind her back. What are you up to, Code?

"Hey." I leaned against the doorframe. "Whatcha got there?"

"Well," she took a step toward me, still ever the shy one. "Um, I know it's a little late for this . . ." She shrugged bashfully, then brought her hand out from behind her back. "Here." I looked down at the small bouquet of red carnations with a single red rose in the middle. "I was wondering if you, well, you know . . ." She was actually shuffling her feet! "If you'd like to go out on a date with me?" Blue eyes slowly lifted, and met mine. I was speechless, mesmerized beyond words. I nodded. Cody grinned, and the sun came out from behind the clouds.

I took the flowers, bringing them to my nose, and inhaling the beautiful scent. I looked up at her, seeing that silly grin of hers.

"How aren't you taken?" I asked, cocking my head to the side as I took her in. She looked at me, the smile slowly fading.

"I am," she said quietly.

God, mom, you'd love her!

* * *

Cody led us down the street, the picnic basket she'd bought full of breakfast goodies, swinging at her side. As we walked, we both glanced over at each other, both bashful in our attempts to sneak peeks, and take that much more in of the other. I truly felt like a giddy teenager.

Neither of us spoke as we made our way toward the park at the end of my block, both of us shrouded in hooded sweat jackets that I'd grabbed to keep the early morning chill at bay. Though I have to say, being this close to her, I was warming up inside already.

"I called off work today," I began as we walked across the grass, still sparkling from the early morning rain.

"Oh yeah?" she asked, pulling the folded up vinyl tablecloth from between her arm and her body. I nodded.

"Yup. I called off work for you, too." I snuck a gaze at her, worried she'd be angry. All I saw, to my immense relief, was a wicked grin.

"Oh, yeah?" she drawled again. She began to spread the red and white checkered cloth out across the grass as I began to rummage through the basket, only to have my wrist slapped. "Not yet," she warned, waggling a finger at me, which I really wanted to take in my mouth right about now.

"So, since I went to bed with you before our first official date, does that make me a slut?" I teased. Oh, the redness that suddenly sprinkled across Cody's cheeks was so worth it. Quickly enough she managed to get the blush under control, and slowly brought stuff out of the basket. She cleared her throat.

"Well, since you called us both off work today, which of course means that after our date here, I'll be screwing you senseless today, does that make me a stud?"

Okay, one point all around.

"So, where did you go?" I asked, my voice squeaking ever so slightly. She chuckled.

"I drove around for a little while, enjoying the new set of wheels." She revealed straight, white teeth to me with an ear-to-ear grin.

"I'm so glad." I smiled back, taking the breakfast burrito that was offered to me. "Yum, still warm."

"Good. I hoped they'd stay that way." Both of us served with a thermos of hot cocoa, our breakfast burritos, and a container of browned potatoes, we began to eat. "Did you really call us off today?" she asked around a bite of her breakfast. I nodded.

"Sure did." I grinned. "You don't mind, do you?" Cody shook her head.

"Not at all. Kinda cool." She wrinkled up her nose as she grinned, then the smile left, and she looked down at her food. "So, um, Brooklyn?"

"Yes, Cody?" I sipped from my Styrofoam cup of cocoa.

"You're my, well, girlfriend, now, I guess." Shyly she looked up at me from under her bangs.

"God you are so adorable." I sat forward, leaning my weight on my arms, bringing our faces together. She looked at me expectantly. "Yes, Cody," I whispered against her lips. "I am definitely your girlfriend."

Our lips met, hers cold from the crisp, pre-autumn air, mine warm from the hot drink, but both soft, all the same.

* * *

I set the picnic basket down onto the counter in the kitchen, about to turn around when I found myself suddenly pinned between a hard place and Cody.

"Dessert?" she breathed into my ear, making me absolutely melt. I nodded as I raised my head, allowing pliant lips to make a trail of fire down my neck and then earlobe as it was sucked into a warm, hot mouth. Cody's hands ran up my sides, bringing up my shirt as they did, until finally she cupped my breasts, my nipples instantly getting hard at her touch . . .

. . . the water in the shower was begging to turn cold as I tried to find purchase on anything, my head thrown back, one leg over Cody's shoulder as she did her best to taste me, the water running down her face and my body. Her tongue found the perfect spot, and I cried out, grabbing two handfuls of dark hair . . .

. . . inhaling the scent at what lay before me, my nostrils sending an erotic message to my brain as I looked up between Cody's legs, up her body, seeing the twin mounds of soft flesh topped by hard peaks, and finally the gaze, filled with blue fire, looking back at me. Cody's mouth was open, her breaths coming out in heaves, her chest rising and falling to match each. I slid my tongue out along my bottom lip, still able to taste her there.

"God," she groaned, slamming her head back onto the living room carpet as I lowered my mouth once again, only for Cody to yell out moments later, her fingers trying to find purchase in the rug.

I raised my head, sensing that she'd had enough. Climbing up her long body, I nearly purred with sated contentment.

"Did you enjoy that?" I asked, taking the muscle that connected her neck to her shoulder into my mouth and biting playfully. Cody's arms automatically wrapped around me, her eyes still closed as she panted and nodded.

"I do need a break though, dude." She grinned. I chuckled into her chest.

"Well, dude, that can be arranged."

Two heads shot up when a car pulled up to the house.

"Shit!" I jumped to my feet and peeked out the window. "Double shit! Cody, get dressed." I began to race for our clothes.

"Who is it?" she asked, getting to wobbly legs, and trying to find her shorts.

"It's your mother," I hissed.

"Oh, god."

We scrambled around, tugging on what we could. I kicked a pair of underwear under the couch before plopping down on it.

Oh god, oh god, oh god. What's the age of consent in Oregon? Oh, yeah, she's nineteen. Okay, clear. God, I'm going to lose my job, going to lose my house. Oh right, it's paid off. God, I'm going to die!

Ding dong

Cody looked at me, and I looked at her, both of us at a loss as for what to do now.

Ding dong

"You gonna get that?" Cody asked, her attitude already beginning to slip into place, that cool, you can't hurt me, exterior that made me sad.

"Right." I stood, and headed over to the door, unlocked and opened it. Rhonda smiled at me, a grocery bag held in her hand, and the distinct smell of chicken soup wafting up from it.

"Hey. How are you . . ." Her words trailed off as she glanced over and saw Cody sitting on the couch, cool as a cucumber. ". . .feeling."

I sat next to Cody again, eyes bulging when I realized that her tank was on inside out. Fuck!

"So, um, I guess you're both sick today." My boss smiled uneasily as she set the bag of food down on the table. She looked from one to the other of us, her eyes resting on her daughter. "Cody, why is your shirt inside out?"

There was a deafening silence that filled the space, the tension thick as Rhonda's face began to transform from the concerned friend to the suspicious mother. Her eyes volleyed between the two of us.

"What's going on here?" she finally said, her eyes settling on me. "Brooklyn? Why is my daughter's shirt on inside out? Did I not take enough time getting out of the car?"

Oh, boy. She was getting angry now. Hard eyes landed on Cody.

"I can't say that I'm completely surprised, Cody." Her voice was a deadly calm. Cody raised her chin in defiance, and I wanted so badly to reach out and take her hand, let her know I was there. "And you . . ." I started, realizing that growl was aimed at me. "I trusted you. I thought you'd be a good influence on my daughter." She snorted. "What a fool I was."

"Rhonda . . ."

"Don't! You have nothing to say that I want to hear," she spat. "Cody, let's go."

I shot up from the couch, my shock and guilt morphing into anger and resentment.

"Wait a goddamn minute," I said, my voice low and just getting warmed up. Rhonda penetrated my very being with her gaze. "How dare you come over here and treat me like a child in my own house."

"How dare I?" She pointed to herself. "I came over here to bring you chicken soup, Brooklyn! I sure as hell didn't come over here expecting to find that you had seduced my daughter!"

"Wait a minute!" Cody shot up, but I put my hand on her arm, gently shoving her back down. This was my fight.

"That may be, but what the hell do you think you're doing, Ron? I'm a grown woman, hell, Cody's a grown woman. This is my house. You have no right whatsoever to come storming in here like the saint that you are not, and try to tell me what is right or what is wrong. Where do you get off?"

"And where do you get off contaminating my daughter!" Rhonda yelled, the vein in the middle of her forehead pulsing with her fiercely beating heart. "My daughter is a good kid . . ."

"Since when?" I challenged. "Ever since I've known you you've had nothing but bad things to say about her."

Rhonda's eyes quickly darted to Cody, then bore into me.

"She's my daughter," she hissed.

"That you've slated as a failure since her conception! Get a clue, Rhonda, she is not Jodi, nor will she ever be Jodi."

"Oh no, you're right. Jodi would never disappoint me like, like . . ." She indicated the two of us. ". . . this." I heard Cody snort behind me. My fists balled into fists, my anger building with every passing moment.

"Cody is doing nothing wrong, Rhonda, and neither am I."

"It's against god!" she raged.

"Says who? And since when does an ex-hippy care what god says or doesn't say? Don't bring that bullshit into this, Rhonda. Don't you dare try and blame your prejudices and narrow-mindedness on something else. You don't like it because it's not what you told Cody to do!" I felt dizzy, all the blood racing to my brain, and throughout my body as my pounding heart sent it surging through me like fire.

Rhonda stood where she was, by the door, her hand on the knob. She took several deep breaths, trying unsuccessfully to get herself back under control. Her eyes still on me, she said, "Let's go, Cody."

Cody stood, looking at her mother, nearly two decades of anger burning in those baby blues. I put my hand on her arm. "Don't," I said, trying to stop her from saying something that she would regret for the rest of her life. Those fiery eyes turned on me, making me shiver at their intensity.

"Cody, now!" Both our heads jerked toward Rhonda, then we looked at each other again, a silent communication flowing between us before she said,

"I'll be back later."

I nodded, feeling helpless as I watched mother and daughter leave my house. Once they were gone, I fell to the couch, my legs turned to rubber, me still in shock.

"Oh my god," I muttered, running my hands through my hair. Feeling the need to get out of here, I ran upstairs, threw on fresh clothes, including underwear this time, and hurried out to my car, which was still parked in the driveway.

I wiped tears away during the entire drive to the gallery, my vision becoming dangerously blurred as the late lunch traffic swarmed around town like little worker bees or ants, taking food back to their tribe.

The bell over the door jingled my arrival, and Keith, who had been working with a client, turned to see who had entered. When he saw me, he immediately called his assistant to take over the sale, and hurried over to me.

"What is it?" he asked, his voice low with concern.

"She knows," was all I could say. Baffled, he took me by the arm, and led me toward the back where I was pushed onto the old, ratty couch that had been in the office for years. He sat next to me, but not before handing me a steaming cup of coffee.

"Start at the beginning," he said gently, his arm running along the back of the couch, his dangling hand gently rubbing my shoulder.

"Well . . ." I took a long sip, closing my eyes as the hot liquid tried to warm my icy insides. I turned to him, realizing I'd have to tell him everything. "We slept together last night, Keith." Blonde brows drew.


"Me and Cody," I exclaimed as if he should know this.

"Oh," the brows quickly climbed his forehead, then a smile swam across his lips. "So this morning was an afterglow day off, huh?"


"Sorry. Continue."

"Well, that's all and good, but then Rhonda showed up." I looked at him. "I had just, well, gone down," I whispered, "on Cody right before." A small smile tried to peek out at me, and eventually it was catching. We both chuckled at the absurdity of the situation before I sobered again. I felt my throat tighten as tears tried to rush forth.

"Come here." He grabbed me around the shoulders, and drew me to him. "It's okay, sweetie," he cooed as I cried against his dress shirt. Large hands ran through my hair, soothing in their familiar touch. "So what happened then?" he asked before kissing the top of my head.

"Rhonda said some awful things, I said some awful things, then Cody left with her."

"Well, I'm sure mother and daughter had to talk some things out. Knowing Cody as I do, I have no doubt she had some things to say to her mother. Hell, I do."

"Take a number." I pouted, earning me a chuckle and a squeeze.

"So, what bothers you the most? The fact that you and Cody had sex, or the fact that Cody's mother now knows about it?" I pulled back, sniffing and wiping my hand across my eyes. Keith reached over to the desk and handed me a Kleenex. I blew my nose, and stared at my lap.

"I'm not sure. I'm mean, I'd felt guilty for a while, knowing that sooner or later either Rhonda would find out, or we'd have to tell her. I really wish she hadn't found out this way, though." I shrugged, tossing my balled up tissue toward the trash, missing. "I feel bad."


"Because." I looked at him. "She believed in me, Keith. I was supposed to be a good influence on Cody." He waved off my words.

"Don't give me that bullshit, Brooklyn. That sounds like something Rhonda would say."

"She did."

"See that? Don't you start believing that crap. She was angry and shocked, and I'm sure said anything to make you feel as bad as she did. Honey," he grabbed my hands in his. "You both are consenting adults. Cody may have an attitude, but she's not stupid." He looked me in the eye. "And neither are you."

"I don't know how this happened between us," I said, my voice quiet.

"Do you regret it?" I shook my head.

"God, no!" Keith smiled.

"You know, think of it in terms of Cody's skateboard. She goes downhill, the revolution of her tires just gets faster and faster, and there's nothing she can do about it. It's all gravity, and out of her hands. Unless she jumps off, of course. But I don't think she wants to." He gently caressed my cheek. "You two have been gravitating toward each other for some time, Brooklyn. It's not a bad thing. I truly think you both are really good for each other."

"Really? Despite my being a bad influence on her and contaminating her?" He chuckled, pulling me back into him again.

"Yes. Despite you're being evil devil's spawn."



* * *

As I drove home, I thought about what Keith had said, and knew he was right. Cody and I had been on a crash course toward each other for some time, and I had just gotten tired of fighting it.

What would happen now? I understood why Cody had gone home with Rhonda, and I also knew I had to have faith in her. Whatever happened would happen, and I had no part in it right now. Apparently I had already done my part. I snorted to myself at the thought. I sure had.

* * *

It was dark out, the sun dying long ago when I heard a knock at the front door. I hadn't heard a car, so I started at the unexpected sound. Jumping up from the couch, I pulled the door open, breathing out a sigh of relief when I saw Cody standing there, board tucked under her arm, eyes staring down at the Welcome mat on the porch.

"Hey," I said, tentatively reaching out for her. She fell into my arms, and I squeezed my eyes shut, holding her to me, feeling her body relax in my arms. "Are you okay?" I asked, rubbing small circles on her back.

"Can we just go to bed?" she asked into my neck.

"Of course." I pulled back from her, shutting and locking the front door, then taking her by the hand, leading her upstairs. Once in my room, I gently undressed her, keeping my hands warm and comforting as I caressed the exposed skin, not wanting to do any more than let her know I was here if she needed me. When we both stood naked, she collapsed against me again.

Though it was not sexual, the feel of her warm, exposed skin against mine was incredible. I don't think I could ever get tired of that.

"Come on," I whispered into her ear, tugging her toward the bed where I laid on my back, pulling her head to rest on my chest. I was so glad she let me hold her, so worried that she'd be too proud.

"I don't think you're going to lose your job," she said finally, her quiet voice shattering the weighted silence that filled the room.

"I don't care about that," I said into her hair as I stroked it, kissing her forehead.

"She said some pretty awful things." I remained quiet, letting her tell me whatever she wanted to. "Then Jodi came in."

"Oh, boy." She chuckled, but there was no humor in it.

"Yeah, oh boy is right. My mother tried to make her take sides. How fucked up is that?" I could feel Cody's body tense as the anger began to stir again. "I'm going back for my stuff this weekend."

"What? Why?"

Cody pulled away, leaning up on her elbow and looking down at me.

"She made me choose," was all she said, but then she pushed the covers aside, and began to pace back in forth next to the bed, her body sleek like a cat.

"No," I breathed, sitting up. Cody nodded.


"Cody, honey, I will not make you lose your family . . ." She turned to me.

"It's my life, Brooklyn." She stepped over to the bed, looking down at me. "I'm here, aren't I?"

"Yes, but . . ."

"No buts about it." She began pacing again, her bare feet slapping against the hardwood with every step. "She has never given half a shit before what I did, only about what I forgot to do, or what I did wrong, or what I'd never be. Well goddamn!" She slammed her fist into her naked thigh. "I won't do it, Brooklyn!" she glanced at me, then continued on her three foot voyage.

"Okay. Whatever you want, Cody."

"Look . . ." She sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes boring into mine. "I don't know what will happen in the future, hell, I don't know what this is," she said, indicating she and I. "But I do know that, and this will sound kind of sick, you've been a better mom in the past eight months than she has been in the past ten years, and I can count on you, Brooklyn. You're there for me." She reached out and cupped the side of my face. "You believe in me."

"Yes, I do," I whispered, leaning into her touch.

"Keith offered me a place above the gallery." My eyes shot open.

"What?" Her hand dropped into her lap.

"Back when I told him I was starting school, he told me there's a small studio apartment above the gallery, and the rent is really cheap, and if I wanted it, it was mine." She searched my face. "I'm going to take it."

I felt as though a sharp pointy thing had just pierced my heart. I have no idea what I thought she'd do, or even what I wanted her to do, but for some reason, this not only took me by surprise, it hurt.

"Oh," I managed. Cody's hand was on my knee now.

"Look, Brooklyn, I want to be with you." She closed her eyes, "God, do I."

"But?" She looked at me.

"But, I need to grow up first." She sighed, caressing the side of my face again. "I want to be able to be there for you as much as you've been there for me, and I honestly feel, in my heart and in my gut, that right now I'd only hurt you."

"So," I choked, "you're saying you don't want to do this anymore. Us, I mean."

"No!" she exclaimed. "I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that when I move out of my mom's this weekend, I'm moving into my own place. There's no way in hell I can burden you with my ass when I'm still so messed up." She gave me that cocky little grin of hers. "And I know you, cause I know your heart." She poked my chest. "You want to take me in and fix the broken bird that was tossed out of the nest." She searched my eyes. "Right?" I nodded.

"Yeah." I smiled, busted.

"Well, I have to learn how to fly on my own before I can join the big birds up in the trees." She stopped, scrunching up her face. "God, I'm getting corny. Anyway, you know what I mean." I grinned, nodding again. I reached out, cupping her jaw.

"How did you get so damn wise?"

"Dunno . . ." She shrugged. "Guess I was just lucky to born with looks and brains." She winked at me.

"Well, I always said you were a smart ass." I said, leaning in toward her.

"Yep, but I'm your smart ass."

"Better be."

Our lips met softly, both needing the contact and closeness. Cody pushed me down onto the bed, her body slowly following suit to lay atop mine, my legs automatically opening slightly to accommodate her. The kiss began to deepen, Cody's hand gently stroking my hair as she caressed my mouth, her other hand roaming down my body, her fingers in no hurry to explore and just feel, no real goal in mind.

Our bodies began to move together, this night meant for building a promise, not a climax. She breathed a moan against my lips as she kept our rhythm slow and gentle, almost reminding me of the way a boat rolled along with the waves of a calm sea. The feel of Cody against me was incredible, my heart puffing out, wanting to explode with the breadth of feelings that swelled inside it.

The room, dark, was filled with sighs and whispered promises that took us off to sleep.

* * *

Cody was excited, so I was excited, too. I knew she was right, and this was the right thing to do, and hey, nothing's permanent, such as her living in this apartment.

Stop it, Brook. I shook my head to clear it, and smiled at Cody who was looking at me like I was nuts.

"What?" I asked, realizing she had said something to me.

"I said I need the key." She was looking at me like I had three heads.

"Oh, sorry." I handed them to her, Keith having dropped them off to me at home. He was being wonderful about this. He was giving her a fantastic deal on rent, plus no deposit, and he was paying for more than half of her utilities.

Cody took a deep breath as she inserted the key into the lock. I could tell she was really excited, nearly shaking in her thrill of having her first place to herself. With a bit of a push, the door opened, and we were met with a slightly musty smell.

"Can you say Pine Sol?" She grinned as she flipped on the light next to the door. Keith had said that we'd have to do some cleaning, and would definitely have to throw some stuff out. At one time this had been the studio for an artist who owned the gallery before Keith, and it hadn't really been used for much more than storage since.

"Well, ready to work, kid?" I smiled at my girl, and she gave me an evil grin back. Yeah, I could see it in her eyes, this was what she needed.

"You got it, dude." She headed further into her new apartment, looking around, slowly running her fingers over different objects that she passed; old tables, parts of an old push wheel, a mannequin, kind of afraid to know why that was here.

"What do you think?" I asked, following behind, watching her wonder at the prospects of finally having her freedom. I just wished that it had been under normal circumstances of Cody needing space as a college student. There was so much guilt inside me from all this, feeling that this new rift between Cody and Rhonda was because of me.

"I think there's a lot of shit in here," she said, looking up at a small crack in the ceiling that looked to have been puttied over years ago. "But, overall I'm thrilled." I walked up behind her and hugged her to me, resting my chin on her shoulder.

"I'm happy, too, baby," I whispered. She turned in my arms and hugged me fully, inhaling my smell as I inhaled hers.

"Why don't I get started on the cleaning and clearing and you head on over to your house?" I asked, looking up at her. She looked away.

"My parent's house."

"Oh, Cody," I hugged her tight. "I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault, Brooklyn." I was forced to look up into intense blue eyes, her fingers on my chin. "Got that? It's their problem, not ours." I nodded slowly, not really believing it.


Cody kissed me on the top of my head, then was gone.

"Here goes." I looked around, trying to see what could go. Keith had given me free rein, taking anything out of here that couldn't be tossed last night.

I flipped on all the lights and looked through the place. It was basically one room with a little alcove for a kitchenette, and of course a small bathroom at the back. There was a nice balcony off the back wall, beautiful French doors opening up to it. The place was small, but it did have some potential, and I was determined to make it as nice for Cody as I possibly could. This was her first place, and that meant a lot.

Time went by, streams of sweat running down my neck and back as I made piles for the dumpster outside, and scrubbed the old, somewhat mottled hardwood floors, down on my hands and knees, a bucket of murky water next to me. I ran my forearm across my forehead as I looked around at my progress. It was definitely looking more livable.

Now it was time to start taking out the garbage. Load after load, even managing to get the heavy mannequin out. Hey, I may be little, but I was also determined.

Wiping my hands on the side of my shorts, I took a deep breath, and sat in the middle of the floor, waiting for Cody to return. I felt bad her having to go back into that house by herself. We had argued about it last night, and she refused to let me go, saying that they were her parents, and it was her problem and wasn't about to make me get caught up in it. Personally I think she was afraid of what I might say.

I heard some commotion out in the hall, and stood, wiping my hands over my butt to wipe off any dirt, and headed toward the door, nearly bowled over when it slammed open to reveal Cody and Tom on either side of a mattress.

Shit, Tom.

I swallowed, deciding to try and be as invisible as possible.

"Coming through," Cody called out, looking back over her shoulder to get her bearings. I moved over by the wall, wanting to make myself scarce.

"Where do you want it, Code?" Tom grunted.

"I'm thinking over in the corner."

Once they got in through the door, I squeezed out, and headed down to Tom's truck to start unloading it. God, I felt awful, like some sort of criminal, though I knew I wasn't. Tom and Rhonda had been so good to me, then what do I do?

Allow their daughter to be happy, that's what I did.

Filling myself with confidence, I grabbed a night stand, and headed up the long, narrow flight of stairs that weaved its way above the gallery.

That's how the next hour went. Tom and Cody loaded up the heavy stuff, and I ran around grabbing the smaller, lighter stuff, and arranging.

Tom stood in the center of the main room, looking around, finally his eyes settling on his daughter. He had yet to say a word to me.

"Well, Code, I have to get. Jake's T-ball starts in twenty minutes." He walked over to her and gave her a hug. "I love you, Cody."

"I love you, too, dad," she said against the cotton of his t-shirt. He pulled away from her, and glanced over at me, where I was starting to hang up the few clothes that they had managed to fit with this load. He walked over to me, reaching out to wrap an arm over my shoulder, and kissed me lightly on the forehead, then turned and walked out.

Cody looked at me, gauging my reaction, then smiled.

"I have one more load to go." She walked over to me. "My mom wasn't there. Want to go with?" She took me in a hug, leaning down to kiss me. I kissed her back and shook my head.

"No, thanks, Cody. I don't think that's a good idea."

"Okay." With one last kiss, she left. I blew out a breath and looked around. It was now filled with most of Cody's belongings, but that wasn't much. I was going through my own inventory in my mind, thinking of what I could help her with, or what we would be shopping for. The girl had nothing except for what had been in her room, which was the meager belongings of a teenager. Now she had to fill the apartment of an adult.

I started unpacking a boxes of odds and ends that had been quickly thrown together when I heard the door open.

"Back so soon . . ." My words died on my tongue. Jodi stood there, eyes wide with shock as she stared at me. It didn't take long for the shock to give way to anger.

"What the hell are you doing here?" she asked, her voice that deadly calm that I had heard Cody use.

"I'm helping Cody get settled in," I said, my arms crossing over my chest. Damnit.

"Well, if it weren't for you, Brooklyn, Cody wouldn't be stuck here!" Here it comes.

"Jodi, please don't. You of all people should know that Cody has to do what makes her happy," I tried to explain.

"Happy? With you?" She was goading me. "What happened to, 'I'm not ready for this, I don't want this.' Sound familiar?" Her hands went to her hips.

"Jodi, I know you're angry, but . . ."

"Angry? Brooklyn, you're tearing my family apart!" she yelled. I started at her, feeling that her words were true though I knew they were just the angry musings of a slighted girl. A slighted sister, that is.

I turned my back to her, feeling the tears rise in my throat, but not wanting her to see them. Slowly my body drifted down to the floor, and I sat, my hands resting in my lap. I could hear Jodi's footfalls as she walked over to me. I saw her shoes as she stood in front of me, then heard the popping of her knees as she knelt down.

Jodi sighed, then I felt a finger gently wipe away a lone tear that trickled down the side of my face.

"I'm sorry I went off like that, Brooklyn. My first priority here is Cody and my family, but especially Cody. I'm worried about her." Her voice was quiet, and I looked up at her, my eyes tortured from the weight on my shoulders.

"So am I." She looked into my eyes, trying to determine my honesty. "I didn't mean for it to happen this way, Jodi. Hell," I laughed ruefully. "I didn't mean for it to happen at all. It just did. Can you understand that?"

Jodi sat down, crossing her legs Indian style, and resting her wrists on her knees.

"I don't know. I mean, I thought you were straight?" I glanced over at her, a sheepish grin on my face.

"Me, too." She grinned at that, so much like Cody. "You know, this hurts me, too. Your parents were the mom and dad that I lost. I looked up to your mom, and treated her as I would have my mother. I miss her, and it's only been a day." I chuckled, shaking my head.

"I'm kind of scared now," Jodi said softly, her voice almost wistful.

"About?" She glanced at me.

"About coming out to them. I had no idea they'd react like this." She took a deep breath, and I reached out to pat her back, but she flinched away, so I dropped my hand back in my lap, feeling slightly dejected, but understanding.

"Well, think of it this way, Cody took the brunt of it."

"I know. I feel bad about that." She looked away, passing her hand in and out of a sun spot on the floor. "I was trying to get the courage to tell them. I actually, well, if things had worked out between us . . ." She looked at me. "I was going to tell them then."

"You know how to lay it on thick, don't you?" I smiled, so did she.

"Yeah, well. I am my mother's daughter." She groaned as she stood. "So, what's left to do?"

"Brooklyn?" The door slammed open, and an out-of-breath Cody burst through. She stopped when she saw Jodi standing next to me. She looked worried, glancing from one to the other of us. "Um, is everything okay?" she asked, her voice wary.

"Fine." I stood, wiping my shorts, and walking over to her. "Did you get everything?" She nodded, her eyes still on her twin. "Don't worry. We got it all worked out," I said quietly, laying my hand on her arm.

"Come on, girls. We don't have all day." Jodi smiled, but didn't look at us as she passed by to head out. Cody turned to me.

"I saw her car out there and nearly swallowed my tongue," she whispered.

"Yeah, well she nearly bit mine off when she got here."

"She better not. I need that." She grinned and leaned down, taking me in a passionate kiss, claiming her territory.

"Ummmm," I moaned into her mouth. "We better go, baby. Your sister's going to wonder what happened to us." She growled and let me go.

* * *

Jodi had left about an hour ago, and Cody and I had managed to get her bed together and made with clean sheets and bedding that I had brought for her. The space was slightly cramped, but definitely homey. It was actually cute. Cody sat in her chair, the one that looked like a hand, and looked around, a proud smile on her face. She glanced over at me, who stood by the window, bathed in the moonlight that was coming in.

"Come here," she said, reaching for me. I happily went, cuddling in her lap.

"How do you feel?" I asked, nuzzling her neck.

"Free," she said, her hand rubbing small circles into my back.

"Are you scared?" I asked as I trailed a line of kisses down her neck. She arched her head to the side.

"Me? Never." I chuckled into her skin.


"Okay, maybe a little. Hell, I never even went to camp as a kid."

"And you had a roommate at the nunnery."

"Mmm hmm."

My tongue slipped out and I tasted the saltiness of the skin of her throat, her hands getting bolder as they slipped under the hem of my shirt, caressing my back and toying with the underside of my bra.

"But not no,." I murmured, taking her earlobe between my teeth.

"Nope." She groaned, her other hand trailing up the leg of my shorts. "No one to walk in on us . . ."

"Plenty of privacy . . ." I nipped her pulse point, she moaned.

"Plenty of privacy," she agreed, her fingers finding the edge of my panties, her fingers finding the spot that was warm and wet. I moaned into her neck, my hips slowly beginning to stir. "So," she breathed, "feel like christening the new place?" I chuckled into her skin, low and sensual.


I changed my position and climbed onto her lap, straddling her hips and looking into her face, aroused, half-hooded eyes looking back at me, willing me. I cupped her face with my hands, and leaned in, taking her in a slow, languorous kiss, my tongue exploring her mouth, her moaning into mine. I felt Cody's body moving beneath mine, her hips reaching up to try and meet mine, which moved in turn with hers, the chair squeaking quietly with our movements.

Hot hands roamed over my back, again slipping under my shirt, and slowly pulling it up and finally over my head. Cody buried her face in my cleavage, causing me to throw my head back and press my breasts into her. Her fingers crawled up my back, and unhooked my bra, a shiver running through me as the loose ends brushed over incredibly sensitive skin. Cody's hand followed the ends, and finally pulled the garment off, tossing it aside to land on the shirt.

"Yes," I hissed as Cody took a hardened nipple into her warm mouth, gently sucking as I continued to ride her lap, almost smothering her with my excitement. She began to massage the neglected breast as she continued to suck and lick, lightly rolling the hardened skin between her teeth, forcing a groan out of my throat.

As Cody made love to my body with her hands and tongue and body, I forgot about what had brought us here, and only my world of Cody existed.


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