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I pulled the strap of my purse up a little higher on my shoulder as I locked my car up and hurried toward the courthouse. Glancing at my watch, I saw that I had about four minutes to spare. I saw the computer monitor in the wall, and I watched, waiting for the name I needed so Id know what room.
"Bingo," I hurried toward the elevator, slamming the button in hopes it would make the door open faster. Finally, pushing the three on the number panel, I waited again. With a ding, I was on my way to room 313.
People sat in the chairs waiting for their names to be called up. Those other people didnt matter to me; I was there for one person only. I looked around trying to find her, and finally I did, sitting near the back, her arm running along the back of the empty chair next to her. She actually had somewhat normal clothes on- black pants and Doc Martins, a button up white shirt. I wondered for just a moment if she had borrowed the shirt from her sister. It totally looked like a Jodi shirt.
Shoving the thought out of my mind, I sat in the chair next to her. Blue eyes turned to look at the person who would dare sit next to her. They opened wide in surprise.
"What are you doing here?"
"Well," I crossed one leg over the other, "Im not about to let you go through this alone, Cody." I turned to her. "I started out with you, bailing your butt out of jail, so I figured I may as well finish it out, right?" She shrugged, trying to pull the I dont give a shit mode, but somehow I felt that wasnt the case. "Come on, Code. Dont be so nonchalant." She looked down at her hands that dangled between her spread knees, then looked over at me.
"Truth?" I nodded.
"Im glad youre here." I stared at her, completely touched, a slow smile spreading across my face as I felt heat radiate from my heart.
"Awww. I think that must be the only nice thing youve ever said to me." She grinned.
"Yeah, well itll be the last."
"Cody Savannah Thomlin."
She looked up and sighed.
"Thats my cue." She headed up to the podium that was for the defendants. I watched as the judge reiterated her crime and handed down some words of advice as well as her punishment. She didnt say much, just quietly turned around and walked back to the chair. I stood.
"Not bad. You can wipe out twenty-four hours of community service in no time." I slapped her on the back as she grabbed the backpack and skateboard that had been under her chair. "Whats this?" I fingered a zipper on the bag. She looked at me like I was crazy.
"Do you really think Im going to board with this crap on?" She indicated her shirt.
"Whatever was I thinking. Go change and Ill take you to lunch." She grinned.
"You got it."
I waited outside the bathroom as Cody changed into the skater girl that she is. I had to do some fancy footwork to get here today. I didnt want to piss Rhonda off, or make her think I was stepping on her toes, but since she wasnt willing to stand by her daughters mistakes, I would.
The door opened, and the Cody that I know stepped out wearing black corduroy shorts that reached her knees, black Vans, and a white tank with a black and gray flannel over it to cut down on the chilly rain of the day.
"Ready?" She nodded, and we headed out as she stuck a black ball cap on her head, tucking her hair behind her ears. "So how do you feel?" I asked as we headed toward my car.
"Glad its over."
"Nervous, were you?" She shrugged, certainly not willing to admit that to me. Im sure her earlier admission was the best I could expect. I had to laugh inside. She was always so worried about looking or acting ... human.
"So where are you taking me?"
"Where would you like to go?"
"Okay, how about The Blue Moon?"
"On north west 21st?" I nodded. "A pub? Youre taking this delinquent to a pub?"
"Yes, I am."
Shaking my head, I got the car started and we were off.
After the fire that had crippled the place back in September, I was glad that it had finally reopened about a week and a half ago. Finally seated, we both grabbed a menu.
"Oh, I so know what Im having," I said, already licking my lips.
"Me, too." Cody tossed her menu aside.
"Oh? You first."
"The BLT & A, of course." She leaned back in her chair.
"You like avocado?" I asked, setting my menu on top of hers. She nodded.
"Love it. You?"
"Eh, can live without it. My first apartment had an avocado green kitchen, and my couch at the time, which I had bought from a flea market for twenty bucks, matched it perfectly. Ever since then, for some reason, I cant stand the color or the vegetable." I grinned. "Ill be having the Caesar chicken sandwich. Yum."
"Not bad," Cody conceded. "So how did you know when the court date was?" she asked, drinking the water that was brought to us.
"I have my ways," I said, also sipping. The waiter came and took our order, which left us with time to talk. This girl was such a mystery to me, yet I had the feeling there was so much more to her than met the eye. "So, when you were back at the nunnery, as you like to call it, what were you planning to study?"
"How to escape 101." I chuckled.
"And you passed with flying colors." She grinned. "Seriously. Come on, Cody." She sighed, staring at some of the other customers for a moment.
"I had thought about art, but I just really didnt have any idea what kind. I took a few classes, but none of it interested me. I could give a shit why Van Gogh did what he did, or what he was thinking why he did it, you know?" I nodded. She looked down as she played with her fork. "I just felt like it was a waste of my time. The entire experience was a waste of my time."
"Do you think youll ever go back?" Her head shot up, her eyes narrowed.
"What, did my mom put you up to this?" I shook my head, putting my hands up in defense.
"No, maam. This is just me and you, honest." She sighed and looked out the window at the passersby on the sidewalk.
"You know, I think Jodi came out of the womb wanting to be boring. I didnt." She looked at me with such honesty in those blue eyes. "When we were kids, she would rather be inside reading a book or coloring or something stupid like that, and all I wanted to do was go outside and board, or ride my bike or kick the neighborhood boys asses at basketball." She grinned at the memory.
"Do you bike?" She shrugged.
"Eh, used to. Lost interest in it pretty early on once I discovered,"
"The almighty skateboard." She smirked.
"Yup. It kicks a bikes ass any day."
"Oh? Care to make a little wager on that, do you?" She looked at me for a moment, then looked down, shaking her head. I chuckled. "I didnt think so."
"I can do better tricks, at least," she said in her beloved boards defense.
"Im sure you can."
* * *
"Did you enjoy the movie?" Keith asked as he held me a little closer. I nodded as I stared into the flames in the fireplace in the living room. We had moved all the furniture out of the way, spreading a quilt on the floor and had just finished watching "Made In Heaven," an 80s movie with Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis.
"So romantic," I said. "God, to think he left Heaven, going all the way back to earth to be re-born in a crappy family just to find her again." I sighed.
"And, all before he turned thirty."
"Does love like that really exist?" I ran my hand over his arm, and felt him shrug.
"Im not sure." He pulled me closer into him, he leaning back against the couch, and me between his legs leaning back against him.
Part of me wished hed do something, run his hands along my arms, and find the end of my shirt, or whisper how much he loved me in my ear, or even just simply kiss my neck.
None of these things happened, but there was that part of me that was glad for it and was content with where we were, and how things were going. I had felt during our entire relationship that there was something missing for Keith, and I had taken it all in stride, knowing how well he treated me, and how safe he really was. There were no pressures or expectations. Just plain and simple love.
But no fire.
As I looked into the flames, I remembered a dream I had had once when I had been in my last year of high school. In the dream, I had been in a cabin up in the woods all by myself, a storm of some sort outside, just enough so there was no power, and I had had to start a fire to beat the cold. Just when I had thought the dream would be like all the others, it had changed, and someone had knocked on the door, and that someone, a faceless, nameless someone, had become my lover in front of the very fire I felt was my protection. I had awoken when my alarm had gone off, my hands down my underwear. It had been torture, so I had finished anyway, releasing the pent up sexual tension the dream had caused.
I had never forgotten that dream, and sometimes even still Id fantasize about it to this day, nearly ten years later.
"So, are we still on for shopping for your uncles birthday over the weekend?" Keith asked, breaking through my thoughts. I grabbed his arms, wrapping them around me a little tighter.
"Mm, yeah. I think thatll be fun." I said, my voice almost a purr of physical contentment. I felt warm and safe. Maybe adventure in life wasnt what it was cracked up to be.
"Great. I still need to find my parents an anniversary gift, too."
We sat in silence for a few more minutes until Keith spoke again.
"Oh, we have a new client at the gallery."
"Really? Who is it?"
"His name is Ben Grady. Hes in the insurance business, and likes to decorate the offices with fine art."
"He must be very successful. Lucky for you." I smiled. "Just sic Cody on him. Youll be set." He chuckled, holding me tighter.
"That girl certainly has the Midas touch, doesnt she?"
"Yes, she does."
* * *
My day had been long so far, and was just getting longer. But, at least the weekend was coming, well, that is to say that it was almost one day closer. Rhonda and I were supposed to have lunch today, and I just hoped that Id be finished with this ad in time. The intercom on my desk buzzed, and I knew that someone would be talking to me in about two seconds.
"Brooklyn, you ready?" Rhonda asked, her voice sounding tired. I pushed the talk button down as I continued to mark mistakes.
"Yup, well I hope so. Give me five."
"You got it."
Running a hand through my hair, finally I got everything fixed, and tossed my pen to the desk, grabbing my purse and jacket just in time for Rhonda to walk up to my cubicle.
"Oh my god, Im about to kill Nike." She said as we made our way to the elevator. "Theyre not happy no matter what we do." She turned to me, exasperation written all over her face. "You would think such a successful company would be a little more creative."
"Well, theyre so successful. Obviously their head honcho isnt much into taking creative risks."
"Hell, I dont know. It makes my job that much harder. Im just glad that Wieden & Kennedy didnt get the gig. That would have really pissed me off." The doors dinged open, and we headed out into the day. "I am so glad April is on its way."
"Why?" I unlocked my car, and got behind the wheel. Rhonda slammed the door shut on her side.
"I want some nice weather." She took a deep breath and flipped the sun visor down to look at the mirror on the underside. "God, look at me." She ran her fingers under her eyes, collecting some of the eye makeup that had gathered there. "I look like a raccoon. Hell, I look like an old woman today."
"According to Cody, youre ancient, so you, Id say youre doing okay." I grinned, heading us toward Tristans. She snorted.
"Some day that kid will eat her words, I tell you."
"Keith said shes kicking some serious butt at the gallery." She turned to me with a smile of pride.
"I know. Im so happy she finally got a job, and one she enjoys no less. Some hard feat for a girl her age. Now if only shed go to school."
"I think she will in her own time, Ron. Shes got too much to offer not to."
"Oh, I agree completely. Thats what Ive been telling her for the past five years. Fourteen, thats when Jodi decided what school she wanted to go to."
"Well, thats Jodi, Ron. Their interests lie in completely different areas."
"I have never seen two sisters that were so different. Twins, no less." I smiled, pulling into a space at our favorite restaurant.
"I hear ya."
"You know, its so strange. Ive seen more of my girls over the last few weeks than I think I have the entire time Ive worked there?" She turned a baffled expression to me. I smiled, knowing that I could speak for one. The other one, no one could speak for her. "So, can you come over for dinner tonight?" I shook my head.
"No. My friend Rand has invited me out to dinner. She said she has some possible big news." I grinned.
"Oh? Any ideas on what it might be?"
"I dont know. Im thinking, hoping, it may be her boyfriend finally proposed. Guess well see."
"Hey, when is Keith going to get his cute little butt into gear?" I chuckled as we were given a table.
* * *
I decided to do some shopping before Rand came over. I had torn my old pair of spandex riding pants, and needed to get another pair before my ride tomorrow. I was not a huge fan of the mall, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
Carrying my find, a brand new pair of green spandex pants, in a bag from the store, I decided to walk around for a bit since I had two hours to kill anyway.
"What, is it old chicks night out?"
"Cody, be nice."
I turned around, about to step into the Old Navy, and saw two grinning Thomlin sisters looking at me.
"Well, well, if its not the infamous Thomlin twins." Jodi smiled while Cody looked bored. "You know, every time I say that, I cant help but wanting to sing." I grinned, looking from one to the other as they looked back at me as though Id lost my mind. "Hold me now? Ohhh? Thompson Twins?" Still no one was home. "Sorry. Thought you might of heard of them."
"Where they around before or after color TV?" Cody asked, arms crossed over her chest.
"Listen you, youngster, you just dont know good music when you hear it."
"Ive heard of them." Jodi piped up.
"Figures." Her sister snorted. It was odd looking at Jodi just then, remembering what Cody had told me before I dropped her off at home. Knowing that Jodi was not only gay, but also had something for me was a little strange. Not in a bad way, necessarily, but ... odd.
"So, what are you two doing?" I asked, trying to brighten up the moment.
"Just doing a little shopping. You know our parents anniversary is coming up," Jodi explained.
"No, I didnt know that."
"Well, hello, Brooklyn. You are one of their best friends." Jodi punched me lightly on the arm. I chuckled politely. "Care to join us?"
"Well, ah," I pointed toward the door, my shopping finished, then changed my mind. I might as well spend a little time with Rhondas girls. "Sure." Jodi smiled.
"Wonderful. Im thinking about going in there." She turned toward the store behind us. I grimaced, seeing all the cheesy items inside, including hand muffs for two, stained-glass things that hooked onto a suction cup that attached to the window. "Oh, look at that little suction cup raccoon!" She hurried into the store, and I rolled my eyes.
"Yeah, dadll love that one," Cody mumbled under her breath. "Im going over there," she muttered, and walked across the hall. I followed her progress to see that she was heading toward the Discovery Channel Store. Oh, that sounded good. I turned back to the store that Jodi was exclaiming over.
"Um, Jodi? Ill be across the hall, okay?"
"Um, sure." She smiled at me, but I could definitely hear the disappointment in her voice. Making my way to the store, I saw a nifty magnetic dartboard, the darts having small, round magnets on their tips instead of hard metal or plastic points.
"Nice." I grabbed the dozen darts, and looked behind me as I backed up to give myself some distance to throw. Licking my lips, I raised my arm and took careful aim, I licked my lips, and shot, waiting for the bulls-eye that I knew was my fate,... er, not. The dart hit the mark, but then slid right off. With a small growl, I raised my arm again, and shot.
"Man, you suck." I turned to see Cody standing not five feet away, hands in her pockets as she glanced at me then at the dart board.
"No, I really dont. But it helps if your damn darts will stay in place." I tossed a fourth dart, and though it stuck, it wasnt even on the board.
"Uh huh. Id say dart queen you are not." She grabbed the remaining darts from my hand, and pushed me aside. "Watch the pro." Just like me, she took her time, making sure she had it lined up just right, and took aim.
"Yeah, and youre any better?" I crossed my arms over my chest.
"Keep your shorts up." She raised the last dart, taking a deep breath, and threw it, completely missing the thing altogether. My head went back as the laughter erupted out of me. Cody looked completely embarrassed, turning away as she went to look at something else.
My hand covered my mouth as I tried to keep it in, but it was just too good to hold inside. I followed the girl.
"Im sorry, Cody. That was just really funny." She glared at me over her shoulder, then slowly a smile emerged.
"I meant to do that."
"Yeah, I bet you did."
"There you guys are." We both turned to see Jodi entering the store, empty handed, thank god. I really thought she was going to buy something from that awful store with the fake fur pelts hanging on the wall. "Cody, were not getting any further, you know."
"What about this?" her twin asked, holding up a picture frame that had a little gizmo in it that allowed you to leave a voice message for the recipient.
"Code, thats like eighty bucks."
"I know. Come on, Jodi. Have a little sense of humor. Ill cover the extra friggin cost, for crying out loud."
"Well," Jodi picked up the frame, and pushed to button to listen to the message that someone else had recorded. She grinned, and looked up at her sister. "You have to smile. That is the only way were going to do this." Cody stared at her for a moment, then nodded with a sigh.
I watched the interaction between these two, amazed, not for the first time, at how well they actually seemed to get along for the most part, yet were worlds apart.
"So, where are you going to take the picture?" I asked, leaning my hand against one of the displays. They both looked at me as though theyd forgotten I was even there. Looking at each other, they shrugged, looking back at me. "You know, Cody, Keith takes pictures." The girl looked at me, then nodded.
"I knew that." Again I had to chuckle.
"Yeah, Im sure you did."
"Well, Im going to pay for this." The skater took a frame that was in a box, and headed toward the counter.
The three of us headed out of the store, and into the busy main hall.
"Well, I guess our job is done here," Jodi said, pulling the strap of her purse higher on her shoulder.
"Okay. Well," I was about to tell them I was going to go, but then I spotted Tracks R Us. "Ill see you guys later." I started to head for the athletic store that sold some of the greatest bikes, roller blades, skateboards, whatever wheeled sporting object the heart desired, basically.
"Oh, I am so there," I heard said behind me, and knew who it was before I saw the baggy-clothed blur whiz by me.
I made my way toward the back where the bikes were sold, running my hands over the beautiful bodies, wishing I had an endless supply of money to buy more and more to add to my obsession. I glanced over to the skateboards, which were just the next row over. Cody had a board in hand, her hand almost worshiping it as she ran her fingers over the black deck, the wheels gray plastic, the accents on the board chrome.
As I watched her, I could see the awe and desire shine in her blue eyes, like a kid looking at her favorite candy.
"Its beautiful," I said, walking over to her.
"Yeah it is," she said, not even looking up from it. "I just wish it werent a hundred and seventy-five bucks." She briefly glanced at me, then back at the board which she put back on the display.
I walked back over to the bikes, looking at the one Id been eyeing for months.
"Whats that?" I heard asked behind me.
"This, dear child, is the best bike on the market." I looked up at her as she looked down at the bike that I lovingly caressed. "Its made of the highest quality materials, great seat with extra added padding for the female physique, and these great new shocks that are attached under the seat to make riding flawless." I grinned up at her, and she gave me the tiniest of smiles.
"Cool. I know what youre talking about with those shocks. My buddy has them on his board."
"Yeah? Lucky buddy. Id kill to have them on Murry."
"Yup." I turned away and walked over to the wall of helmets. "Thats my bike, Murray Marin, my trusty steed."
"Wait, what are you talking about?" I turned to her as if shed lost her mind.
"Tell me your skateboard doesnt have some sort of term of endearment from you?" I put my hands on my hips. The girl looked away, suddenly finding the helmets quite interesting. "I thought so."
I also turned my attention to the wall, eyeing all the new styles, some of which I had to wonder what the hell the manufacturers were thinking.
"I dont get this," I said, pulling one off the wall. "This may have some pretty cool colors, but when it comes down to it, its not going to do shit for you." Cody looked at me. "What?" I asked.
"Is that a problem?" I raised a brow.
"Nah. I just didnt think someone your age does that." I rolled my eyes, and turned back to the helmets.
"Oh, look at this god of a helmet." I took it down, and looked at it, the sleek design that I could imagine the air just falling right off the long, pointed back as I flew through the streets.
"You should get it," I heard Cody say.
"I dont know," I mumbled, seeing the price tag of nearly one hundred and fifty dollars.
"Come on, Brooklyn. A little change wont kill you. Shit, wear that, and the life you save may just be your own." I glanced up into sparkling blue eyes, and in that moment I decided to buy the damn thing.
"Fine. Ill buy it. If I cant pay all my bills next month, its your fault," I grumbled. She chuckled, her fingers touching a nice, smooth black and silver helmet, her eyes riveted to it. "So, see anything you like?" She snatched her hand away.
"Come on, Cody. Pick it up. I know you want to," I said as I tried on my helmet to make sure it would fit okay. Reluctantly the girl grabbed it, looking it over, and running her hand over the shiny surface. "Thatd look pretty great with that skateboard you were fondling earlier." She rolled her eyes at me.
"You can be a dork sometimes." I smiled.
"Come on, Ill buy it for you." She raised her hand, starting to protest, but I put my hand on her arm. "Really, Id rather not have to pick you up with a bloody head next time." I looked into her eyes to let her know I was serious. She looked at me for a moment, then slowly backed away, my hand falling from her arm, and she nodded. "Try it on." She did, and it would work. "Great." I smiled. "Lets go."
Cody followed me up to the counter, her helmet held proudly in her hands until she handed it to me so I could give it to the salesclerk at the register.
The three of us walked out toward the parking lot, both of us having parked in the Dillards parking lot. Cody said nothing as she followed behind Jodi and I as we chatted, the bag containing her prize swinging at her side.
"Hang on a sec, Jodi," she yelled, following me to my car, which was parked a row over, and seven cars down. I unlocked my car and turned to her expectantly. She looked at the ground, and shuffled her feet.
"Um, thanks," She held up the bag. "That was cool that you did that."
"No problem, Code. Just promise me youll actually use it." I smiled. Just the very corner of her mouth turned up.
"You, too. Later."
* * *
"What?!" My eyes widened in shock, bite of chicken halfway to my mouth. Rand sat back against the couch, tucking her legs under her as she adjusted her plate on her lap. She nodded.
"I dont know yet, though."
"Rand!" I whined. "You cant leave." I felt crushed. My Rand leaving me? No!
"Baby, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. You know how much I want to work for Senator Dickson," she said, putting her hand on my knee.
"I know." I looked into my plate, setting my fork down, bite forgotten. "And I truly am hopeful for you." I looked into my friends pleading eyes. "But this will mean moving to D.C., doesnt it?" She nodded.
"But, just think, Brooklyn. Its only a phone interview. Theres no guarantee Ill get past that."
"I have no doubt that once they get a good dose of your smarts and lovely personality, all piss and vinegar, youre in." She smacked me.
"Fuck you." My friend smiled, and I could see the possibilities whirling around that head of hers.
"Im sorry. Im sure you were expecting more from me than whining." I covered her hand on my knee and looked deep into her dark eyes. "I love you, Rand, and truly do want what makes you happy." A huge smile broke out over her face, and she grabbed me, nearly making me drop my plate.
"Thank you, sunshine," she exclaimed into my neck.
"Any time, booper." She pulled away from me.
"Booper?" I shrugged, and we both laughed.
"Whens the call?" I set my plate onto the coffee table, suddenly losing my appetite.
"In two weeks. I have no idea what to say."
"Will it be the senator herself?" She nodded.
"Itll be a long process. There will be seriously in depth background check on me and all that. Well, if I get past the phone call." She sighed, sitting back. "God, Im nervous."
"Oh, sweetie. Youre going to be great. I have absolutely no doubt."
"Thanks, pumpkin. Hey," she sat up, a grin on her face. "Lets go get some ice cream!" Of course my eyes immediately opened wide as I nodded vigorously.
We put the dishes in the sink Id clean them up later and hurried out to Rands Saab, black, with the comfy leather interior.
We headed straight to Licks, and got in line. My mouth nearly drooled as I stared at the fridgerated, glass cases, colorful buckets of homemade ice cream inside.
"Check out the mint chocolate chip," Rand drawled, nudging me with her elbow. I licked my lips nodding.
"Hey, Brooklyn." I looked up and back, right into smiling brown eyes.
"Jodi." I waved. "Come on up with us." The girl quickly moved out of line and hurried up to join our little twosome. "Rand, this is Codys sister, Jodi. Jodi, my best friend, Rand." They shook hands.
"Nice to meet you." Jodi said.
"You, too." Rand smiled. "Gosh, you and your sister couldnt be any more different if you tried," she marveled.
"Oh, and we do, believe me." Jodi laughed, as did my friend. The girl turned to me. "So, what are you guys doing out tonight? Just bumming?"
"Well, this one here got a hankering for ice cream." I explained, putting my arm around Rands waist. "I swear, this stuff will be the death of me." I groaned.
"The biggest." Rand answered. "Screw the carrot in front of the horse, just stick a bucket of 31 Flavors, and youve got her."
"Good to know," Jodi said, nodding. I smiled, but looked down to hide it. You poor thing. Though, I had to admit, it was flattering. To my knowledge, Id never had a woman have a rush on me before. I mean, I could certainly do worse; Jodi was attractive, intelligent, sweet, my boss daughter.
Shaking my head to clear it, I looked up when I was asked what I wanted from the kid behind the counter.
"Double scoop of the mint chocolate chip, please," I ordered with a huge grin across my face, just like the little kid I was at heart.
"Join us?" Rand asked Jodi after we all had our treats.
"Certainly. Thank you."
I was surprised, Rand usually not liking anyone entering our little circle, and definitely since Jodi shared blood with Cody. I figured that would be an unforgivable mark against her right there. But, Rand surprised me by chatting it up with the girl. They got into an especially heated, yet good-natured debate on politics. I, of course stayed out of that one. Rand could kick my ass with political knowledge every time. But then, she actually cared.
"So what would you be doing in D.C.?" Jodi asked, my mind finally rejoining the conversation as I ate the rest of my cone.
"Id be working for Senator Alice Dickson." Rand explained. "Im a great admirer of hers, so it would really be quite an opportunity for me."
"How exciting." Jodi smiled.
* * *
I had laid in bed for about an hour after Rand had left, my brain processing what that could mean if she were to get that job. I knew it was premature to give it this much energy, but she was really all I had left.
With a heavy heart, I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
I jumped, my eyes opening wide in shock and horror, the silent scream tearing from my throat, my body finally starting to take action as I began to run.
"Nooooooooo!" I heard the sirens stop, then start again, ringing in my head...
Ring, ring, ring.
"No!" I sat up, my breathing heavy, chest heaving. I closed my eyes, putting my hand to my face.
Ring, ring, ring.
Startled, I turned and realized my phone was ringing.
"Um, is this Codys friend, Brooklyn?" Any remnants of sleep I had were gone with this strange voice of a man I didnt recognize at all.
"Yes," I said, my voice wary.
"Um, this is her friend, Jimmy. Um, she kind of needs you down at the police station."
"What?" I jumped out of the bed. "What for?"
"Im not real sure whats going on. She just called me to go get her, but I dont have any money, and well, shes got my car."
I sighed, holding my head in my hand.
"Okay. Thanks, Jimmy."
Anger was building inside with every second as I threw some clothes on, muttering to myself, feeling completely disappointed, as if any sort of headway Id made with that damn kid had just gone in one ear and out the other.
"Damn it, Cody." I grabbed my keys and hurried out the door into the cold night.
Once again, I pulled into the parking lot of the police station, and hurried inside. The same officer was at the desk.
"Cody Thomlin," I said, hands in my pockets to keep them from fidgeting, and strangling the girl. The door opened, and a very sheepish Cody walked into the lobby. I turned to face her, chewing on the inside of my cheek to still my words. Finally she looked up at me. As soon as she saw my face, the sheepishness disappeared behind attitude. "So what happened?" I asked, my voice quiet.
"They said at first it was a DUI, but then after the breathalyzer, they lowered it to a DWAI." She looked down again, and I felt my stomach fall.
"What is a DWAI?" I asked, my voice almost a whisper, eyes closing as my fingers went to the bridge of my nose.
"Driving while ability impaired," she said, her voice quiet, full of shame.
"Did you do this, Cody?" I couldnt look at her.
"I had a beer and a half at Jimmys. I had gone out in his car to get us some snacks." She finally looked at me again.
"Miss, if youd sign here, please?" The officer said from behind the front desk. I looked at her and shook my head.
"No, I wont." I turned back to Cody. "I told you that you had only one get out of jail free card." I pointed my finger at her. "You used it up, Cody. Now you can sit here over night and think about what the hell youre doing with your life."
I was so angry I was beginning to shake and knew I had to get away from her.
"What?" the girl asked, her face incredulous.
"Thats right. You can sit in that cell tonight and think about it, Cody." I could feel my eyes begin to well up. "I need to go. Im starting to feel sick." I turned toward the officer who waited for my instructions. "Take her away."
"Lets go." The officer put his hand on her arm, and she glared at me, the shock giving way to anger.
Without another look back, I hurried out of the station, and got in my car, turning the key, the car roaring to life. I took several deep breaths, then grabbed the key and turned it in the ignition. When the car groaned at me as I tried to start it again, I ran a hand through my hair, and backed out of the space. Destination in mind, I turned onto the main street, and roared away.
I banged on the door, waiting, my eyes stinging as the tears wanted to come, but I was doing my best to try and keep them at bay. The door opened, and a very tired and surprised Keith looked at me. At the sight of him, a sob ripped from me, and I fell into his arms.
"Whoa. Baby, whats wrong?" He put his hand to the back of my head, holding my head to his chest. "Come on, sweetheart, lets get you inside. Its cold out here."
He led me to the couch, and pulled me to him.
"Cody was arrested again," I cried, holding onto him, digging my fingers into the soft material of his robe.
"What for?" he asked, his voice quiet.
"Driving while drinking." I heard him sigh, resting his chin on top of my head as he held me tighter.
"Oh, baby," he said, caressing my back.
"Why would she do that, Keith?" I asked, my eyes closed as I tried to snuggle even closer to him.
"I dont know, babe. Shes young and stupid."
"Young and stupid?" I asked, pulling away from him. "Keith, you know damn well what could have happened! What she could have done!"
"I know, I know." He pulled me back into him. Finally I got myself together, and Keith led me upstairs where I was finally able to sleep.
* * *
I awoke, finding myself in the bed alone. It was Saturday morning, and Keith had to go into the gallery. Glancing over at the clock, I saw that it was nearly nine in the morning. With a sigh, as the night before came back to me, I pulled myself out of bed and headed to the bathroom for a shower. My eyes burned from crying and lack of sleep, and my heart was heavy.
I took my time getting ready, the hot water helping to soothe my aching body. I had no time table, and didnt feel the need to get Cody out of there any sooner than necessary. I hoped that she had actually used the time wisely last night, and had thought about what could happen. God, never in my life had I felt so, so, what was it? Disappointment? Anger? Irritation? in a single person. I really thought she had more respect for herself than that.
Pulling on the clothes Id had on last night, I ran Keiths brush through my hair, and looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red-rimmed, and slightly puffy. I looked as bad as I felt.
Grabbing my keys, and leaving Keith a thank you note, I headed out.
It was nearly ten by time I got the station. A different officer was at the front desk now, and I smiled at him.
"Can I help you, miss?"
"Yes, Im here to pick up Cody Thomlin."
"Okay. Will you be paying the full amount today?" he asked, looking up at me.
"Alright," He typed some figures into his computer, and smiled up at me. "That will be three hundred dollars."
I pulled out my checkbook, and begin to write it out. The man picked up the phone and called for her to be brought out. Within a few minutes, the door opened, and one angry teen appeared. She refused to look at me as she headed for the door. I signed the form, and hurried after her. She stood on the sidewalk, looking out toward the street.
"Get in," I said, unlocking my car. She didnt even acknowledge I had said anything. "Get in, Cody." She turned at me, her eyes on fire.
"Get in," I said one more time, my voice rising as my anger did.
"I dont need your fucking ride." She crossed her arms over her chest, looking as if she could pounce on me at any second. I turned, feeling my tears trying to come to the surface again. My back to her, I covered my face with my hands and took several deep breaths, trying to slow my heart rate, and shove my emotions down further and further. Okay, I can do this. I turned back around, looking at the defiant teen. "Cody, please get in." My voice was low, pleading, yet authoritative. She stared at me for another minute, then without a word, got in.
I closed my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose, then also got in. I started the car, and neither of us said anything. I turned out of the parking lot, and took a left. I could see Cody looking around, confused, then turned to me.
"Where the hell are you going? My house is that way."
"Just sit tight," I grumbled.
As we drove, my mind headed out before me, watching over our destination. I hadnt been there for a while, and figured now was as good a time as any to visit.
I pulled the car to the curb and pulled the break. Cody looked around, then looked at me.
"Brooklyn, were at a cemetery." Her eyes landed on me.
"Lets go." I pulled my coat on, and headed through the open gate, our footsteps crunching on the grass, not quite green yet. Row after row of stones stretched out before us. I turned left on the path that came up, and headed off into a row. Cody followed, still looking around as though she were creeped out.
I found what I was looking for, and stopped, putting my hand on Codys arm to stop her, too.
"You know, your mom and dad have taken me under their wing over the past couple of years, and theyve been good to me. I figured it was time you finally met my family. Cody, this is my father, John, mother, Anna, and my three year old brother, Caleb."
Cody looked down at the three graves at our feet, her eyes huge. She looked at me.
"What happened to them?" Her voice was so quiet, almost pensive.
"They were killed by a 22 year old drunk driver." I glanced over at the girl. "Right in front of me. When I was 16, they had sent me to a horse riding camp for my birthday. They drove me there, a beautiful ranch in the middle of the country side. We hugged and said our goodbyes, the entire bunch. As they drove off of the property, about to turn onto the highway, he came roaring down the street at 88 miles per hour, and slammed into them." I saw it all happen again.
"I love you guys!" I yelled out to the retreating car. Turning, I walked toward the camp, my bag over my shoulder, grinning like an idiot as I thought of the possibilities for the next few weeks. Then, suddenly, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.
I dropped my bag and turn, running as I saw the truck coming, my father certainly not even seeing it as he began to pull out. Time slowed down, and my cries were long, mutated moans to my ears as I reached my hand out, as if I could stop the inevitable.
I heard my mother scream seconds before the impact, the screeching of tires, moaning of metal being torn and pushed in a way that it was never meant to go.
Suddenly time speeded up, and I began to sprint toward the wreckage.
"No!" someone cried as I felt strong arms around me, stopping me.
"I have to get to them!" I screamed, pulling at the arms with claw-like hands, desperate to try and save them.
"No, honey! You cant. You cant do anything for them now."
My screams echoed in my head as my eyes opened, and I found Cody staring at me. I turned away, quiet as I stared down at the stones, a little angel carved into my brothers stone.
"I, I dont know what to say," Cody said, running a nervous hand through her hair. She was quiet for a moment, looking down at her feet. "Im sorry, Brooklyn."
"I wake up often from nightmares, seeing it happen all over again. I can still remember seeing my brother waving at me from the back window of the Blazer." I lowered myself to the grass, sitting in front of my family. Cody sat next to me. I took a deep breath as the tears, once again, were pushing to get out, a lump forming in my throat.
"What happened to the guy?" she asked.
"He was convicted of DUI, DUI per se, three counts of vehicular manslaughter, and possessing an open container. He walked away from the accident, Cody." I looked at her. "He had a broken arm. Three people died, and he only served six
years in prison, getting out still a very young man."
Cody swallowed several times, trying to keep her emotions under wraps, but I knew different. I could see her struggling.
"What happened to you?"
"I went to live with my great-uncle, Bruce. I stayed there until I was 18, then left for college. Hes all I have left." I finished, my voice barely a whisper.
"God," Cody said, hand reaching out to run through the grass. "I truly cant imagine what youve gone through." She turned to look at me. "Im really sorry, Brooklyn." I turned and looked at her, my eyes beginning to well.
"I know, Cody. I know."
I turned away, feeling the first of the fresh tears make its lazy way down my cheek. I felt an arm go around my shoulder, and I leaned my head against her shoulder. We sat there in the early afternoon and cried together.
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