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Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman
Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman
"Happy birthday to you!" the family sang. Badly. Abel smiled, and was happy for the attention, but the smile was forced. Zac had been gone for two weeks, and she felt every minute of it.
It was almost as if when she'd arrived at the cabin she had been a whole person. Happy with her life, content with her school and friends. After all, once she got back to Boston, she'd be moving into an apartment with her best friend, Jessica, and her friend Kendra. Cool family. What more could a girl ask for?
But now? Going back to school in a week and a half, she felt empty somehow, like she was missing something. Since Zac had left, she felt her absence acutely. She had spent the last couple weeks wandering around the forest, finding her way to the rock overhang where she used to go find the brunette. All that greeted her was the long dead remnants of the old Lipton cabin, and the fire ring of rocks Zac used to use.
Abel had sat on the ground near the cold rocks, and had buried her head in her hands, letting her sorrow come to the surface. She worried nonstop about her friend, wondering where she was, and what she was doing. She missed her terribly.
"I'm so sorry, Zac," she cried, staring up into the bright blue sky, so reminiscent of Zac's incredible eyes.
Now, sitting with her family surrounding her, and a huge cake waiting for her to blow the lit candles on it out, she felt sick. Why hadn't she stopped her? Why had she just let Zac ride the rails out of her life?
Every time she heard the distant whistle of a train, she thought of the brunette. Out there, all alone. But then, Zac had always been alone. What was the difference?
A large plastic bag landed squarely in the center of the box car. A pale hand grabbed the cold, iron handle on the outside of the car, and a long frame was heaved inside.
Zac closed her eyes as she rested her weary head against the metal wall. The rhythmic chugging of the moving train, and the constant motion, worked just like a glass of warm milk before bed.
She tried to get her body relaxed enough to sleep, but she was tense and hungry. She had managed to steal a couple of apples in Bangor from an outside market, and then made off for the rails. Now, six days into her travels, she was back in the swing of things.
The brunette had picked a train headed south, not wanting to get caught in the harsh winters of the north if possible. She would have. God, she would have done anything. If only . . .
For about the fiftieth time that week, tears began to sting already red eyes. She rubbed at them to no avail. All that did was make them hurt worse as the grime from the road got in.
"Crap." She wiped profusely at them, using the hem of the t-shirt she wore under her sweatshirt. This made her chuckle, as she'd figure she'd learn after doing this nearly every day. Calming herself down, she tried to relax, letting her mind wander again.
She thought about her trips before, when she'd wandered around aimlessly for four years. She'd seen most of the country, and felt just about every type of climate known to man - the hot humidity of Florida and the south, the dry, temperate climes of the mountain states, and then more heat and ocean in the west. Been everywhere, seen lots, and was determined to see more. Four years the first time, and maybe more this time. Hell, maybe she'd never go back at all.
"Are you ready to go, honey? Is there anything upstairs that I can have Ben run up and grab?" Sherry asked, her arm around her daughter's shoulders as they walked outside.
Abel shook her head. "No. I got everything." They reached her blue car, which was loaded with her bags of clothes and birthday gifts. "I just need to do something real quick, then I'm outta here." The blonde smiled at her mother and gave her a tight hug.
The blonde was leaving a week earlier than the rest of the family. She and Jess and Kendra were going to be moving into their own apartment over the next week, the last week before school started again.
Sherry Cohen kissed her daughter on the temple, then went back inside the cabin. Abel turned toward the woods and headed out into them. As she walked, she remembered when she'd first gotten to the cabin that summer. How afraid she'd been, staying with the Wilkins' for a few days until her parents' arrival.
She chuckled now, realizing just how ridiculous that had been. Now as she headed toward Zac's rock overhang, which she'd always see as the brunette's home, she was amazed at how quiet things were. That hum that she had heard somewhere, whenever Zac was around, was quiet. Completely silenced. It was deafening.
The blonde knew that Zac was far away. She felt it in her bones. Far away, and getting even further.
With a heavy sigh, she found the overhang, left exactly how she'd last seen it, and still as empty. She reached out and laid down her offering. She looked at the bouquet of wild flowers she'd picked, and the simple white envelope that she weighted down, nearly covering, with a large rock. In her neat, beautiful handwriting was the simple word- Zac
She smiled softly, remembering the wonderful, gentle girl who bore the letter's namesake.
"Goodbye, Zac," she whispered, and turned to leave.
He slumped against the cold, cement wall, back pressed against the cinderblock. Dark eyes searched the faces of his fellow prisoners at the county jail. He had just gotten out of the hospital from when that bitch had beaten him senseless.
The tiny holding cell in intake was filled with about six men, all dressed out in orange jump suits. Soon he would be brought to a cell of his very own, as he awaited trial. Trial. For what?
Growling low in his throat, he brought his legs up, wrapping his meaty arms around the shins. His head was hurting something awful. The stitches had come out that morning, which was good. That helped with the horrible itch, but now there was just a dull throb.
"Little bitch," he muttered.
"What was that?"
Dark eyes looked up to see a rather large and bald man standing in front of him. He had a reddish brown goatee, and did not look happy.
"I wasn't talking to you." Gerald glared up at the big man.
"You want to talk about stupid bitch, huh?" Mr. Clean asked. "I know what you in here for, you sick fuck. We'll talk bitch." With twinkling blue eyes, the corner of the man's mouth raised as he looked down at the "cho mo," slang name for a child molester, and cracked his knuckles.
Gerald swallowed. Hard.
Abel hugged her best friend, Jessica, tightly, happy to see her after the entire summer. They had had plans to go travel together on the road over the summer, but at the last minute the blonde had decided to go to the cabin instead.
"I missed you, girl!" Jess exclaimed, holding her friend by the shoulders and grinning. Abel smiled at the dark skinned woman.
"Me, too, Jess. How was your summer?" The two girls had met at Jess's family's house, and would go to the apartment from there.
"It was great. I did some great relaxing, some lovin'. Mmm, mm." The girl grinned, and Abel smacked her arm.
"You're such a pig." They got into the blonde's car, and headed down to the apartment the three girls had decided on before they left school for the summer. The landlord had held their small two-bedroom apartment with a payment of trust.
Abel was happy to be back in the busy city of her school with the crazy drivers and hordes of people. All in complete opposition with the quiet peace of the forest.
She sighed, deciding to not dwell today and get back into her life.
The apartment was small, but would work for the three friends. The third, Kendra, would be back from London the following weekend. Abel and her old friend walked through the place, taking in the molding around the ceiling, and the fireplace, which had long ago been gutted and was just for looks. All the same, Abel loved the place.
She scurried down the hall to the biggest room that she and Jess would be sharing. There was enough room for both their beds and some of their meager belongings left over from the dorm.
"This place is great!" Jessica called from the kitchen. Abel joined her there, and looked around. It was tiny, but that was okay; it wasn't as if any of them really cooked. As the girls met in the center of the room for a hug, they both giggled at their good fortune. "Dude, I can't believe we have our own place!" Jess exclaimed, holding her friend's hands.
"I know. It's so surreal," Abel said, looking around at the white kitchen, with the gold fridge, the only touch of color in the room. The blonde saw the back door that led to a short number of stairs that led to the back of the building, where the dumpsters were. The nice thing about being on the first floor.
"Well, let's get started, blondie." Jess put her arm around her friend's shoulders, and tugged her toward the front door in the living room.
The girls worked hard, but with the help of Kendra's dad and his truck, managed to get things in place. The three had pulled together their resources and had managed to find cheap, used furniture that would hold up. Though it may not have been pretty, it was more than adequate.
The trio, tired and smelly, stood in the middle of the living room, surrounded by hastily placed furniture and boxes.
"Thanks so much, Mr. Musso," Abel said, giving Kendra's dad a hug.
"No problem, girls. You guys enjoy yourselves, and behave." He pointed at each, a twinkle in his dark eyes.
"Yes, Mr. Musso," they said in unison, twinkles of their own dancing, and he left.
"Shall we?" Abel asked, fingering a nearby box marked 'kitchen.' Jess sighed, pooped, but nodded.
"Let's do it."
Abel was glad as classes got underway. She was finally finished with all her prerequisites. Now it was time to focus primarily on psychology, her chosen field. She hoped to eventually teach it at a college level, and perhaps work with kids.
She wandered around campus, having an hour and a half until her next class. She found a bench, and looked around. She loved the look of the old campus, the architecture of the buildings. Her father always looked forward to coming to campus. As an architect himself, he always fell in love with the buildings each and every time he saw them.
She smiled as she enjoyed the early autumn air. It was still nice, if a bit too windy for her tastes. The blonde smiled up into the blue sky, fluffy white clouds lazily floating around. An airplane flew overhead, and she watched its progress until it was out of sight.
Zac heaved the bag up higher on her shoulders. She walked along the railroad tracks, trying to find the first train headed out of town. She wasn't in any hurry; after all, it was a beautiful day. She had found herself in Boston last night, the city bright and alive with excitement and humanity as the train had slowly made its way to a halt.
The brunette had jumped off, seeing a sign up ahead that she had been about to exit the Boston Train Yard.
She felt her hand tighten on the plastic bag she carried. Though torn in places, it still held her most sacred belongings. It held her heart, her comfort, and her memories.
She had been traveling for the better part of two months, and had been doing pretty good. During the course of finding her way through New York, Illinois, Iowa, down into Colorado and Oklahoma, she had realized a few things.
Spinney would always be a part of her, but she was not the little girl that Zac once knew. She was a woman with her own mind, and fears and emotions. She had hurt the blonde terribly, a fact that she would never forgive herself for. She had scared Spinney, and had lost her trust. For that she had no one to blame but herself.
As the brunette zig zagged through the rail ties, she allowed herself to think of the blonde for the first time in a while. She had given herself some time to grieve, then cut out any thoughts of Maine. Including Spinney.
She had been pretty darn successful at that, too, until now. Being in her friend's college town, she felt that connection again. She stopped, closing her eyes to breathe in the air, and to feel. She swore she could almost feel Spinney. She knew she was out there somewhere, out in the city.
"Hi, Spinney," she whispered, a smile caressing her lips.
The brunette had made a promise that she wouldn't go back to the forest ever again. She would leave the blonde and her family alone, never to bother or scare them again. It would also be easier on her heart. She had seen much in her short life, and had endured. But that was nature - good and bad. You had to take it all in stride and realize that in the scheme of things, everyone was a wild animal in the kingdom ruled by the highest creatures. Give and take.
But some things were just too painful to take.
Abel moved around on the bench she sat on, and grabbed a textbook from her backpack. She decided since she was waiting for class, she might as well be productive about it. Getting some reading out of the way would help free her night up. Opening it to the right chapter, she began to read.
Tucking a long strand of hair behind her ear as she turned the page, she stopped, looking up. She had the strangest feeling flow through her. It was like a cry for help, a strangled moan inside her head.
"What the hell?" She looked back out into the day, trying to see if she could figure out where it was coming from. Seeing nothing but fellow students wandering around campus, she concentrated again. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end, and she realized that she wasn't hearing the noise at all. She was feeling it.
Zac continued on her way, hearing someone walking up along the tracks behind her. She paid no mind, just got a move on.
"Hey!" a voice called out. Zac felt herself begin to go into panic mode. Leave me alone. Leave me alone . . . "Hey, I'm talking to you!"
Zac chanced a glance over her shoulder, and saw one of the track inspectors making his way down the tracks. He didn't look happy.
"Can't you read, you stupid transient? No trespassing!"
Up ahead the brunette heard the whistle of an oncoming train. She began to run, moving off the tracks, and looking for a clear spot to hop the freight.
"Get back here! No one allowed here, kid! Come here!" She could hear the inspector running behind her, and she increased her speed, putting her legs into it. She knew that she could be arrested for trespassing, or worse with these guys.
Crap, crap, crap!
The train came into view, and she breathed out a sigh of relief. The guy was closing in, and she just needed to get on first. These guys could be rough. She'd had run-ins with them before. This one looked no better. Raise a fist, ask questions later.
She began to run down the tracks as the train whooshed by, blowing her coat out from her body. Holding on with dear life to the bag, and the other hand reaching out, trying to get purchase on the handle of the open box car, she felt the cold, hard metal against her skin as she caught it. She was about to heave herself up into the car when she felt herself reeling backwards, toward the ground, a strong hand having a hold of the coat tails.
Maybe going back to the forest wouldn't be so bad.
Abel visibly shivered for just a moment, and she winced. She knew something was wrong. She had no idea what was going on, but felt very . . . strange.
Shaking her head to clear it, she slammed her text closed.
"What the hell was that all about?" Again looking around, she saw nothing and no one. "Zac?" she whispered, looking desperately around the buildings, any place where someone could hide. Nothing. She felt her stomach sink with disappointment. What the hell?
Deciding she needed some coffee, she packed her backpack again, and headed toward the cafeteria.
Trial. No trial. Unh huh. There was no way he was gonna be able to handle that. And stuck in a cage forever and ever? Not a chance.
Nope. Gerald was up late into the night, trying to be as quiet as possible so the other three guys who shared his cell wouldn't hear him fast at work. Not that they'd care, anyway. They all thought him odd, and had said so. Nope. No more. He could still feel just how odd they thought him. It made walking a most interesting venture.
He could feel the beads of sweat dripping down the side of his face as his meaty fingers worked with the material, trying to get it to do what he needed it to.
"One down," he whispered, heading back over to his bed to get the other one.
Abel was still bothered by the events of that afternoon as she and Jessica roamed the aisles of Nelson's Local Grocers. She pushed the cart absently as Jess prattled on and on about her day and the newest guy she had met.
The blonde was focused on Zac, and what she had felt that day. She knew in her heart that it had been related to her friend. That somehow Zac was hurt.
"Jess, I'm going to grab the trash bags," she muttered, needing some space.
"Oh, okay," the darker girl said, brows drawn in confusion. Abel had been acting so weird. She was totally distracted, and had mentioned that Zac person again. Who the hell was that? Did she have a fling with some guy over the summer? Jess knew that her friend had broken it off with her boyfriend just before finals last semester, and it was always possible that the blonde had found some hot guy to mend a broken heart.
She smiled, hoping that was the case, and took over as the cart pusher. She grabbed the boxes of cereal that the girls all liked. She was so happy to finally be out of the dorms and her parents' place. They were fighting so much. Really annoying.
"Hey, chickie, I got you your Cap'n Crunch," she called out, turning down the trash bag, plastic wrap aisle. The blonde stood, her back to Jess, her shoulders slightly shaking. "Abel?" she asked, her voice lined with worry.
She reached out and placed her hand on the blonde's shoulder. "You okay?"
Abel turned around, her arms wrapped around a box of foil.
"Foil!" she exclaimed, her red-rimmed eyes brimming with tears. Jessica stood there, looking absolutely baffled.
"Hon, are you pregnant?"
Abel laid in her bed, thinking. She stared up at the ceiling. She wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. She knew that Jess already thought she was crazy. Was she? She hadn't told her friend about Zac totally. She had no idea where to start, plus in some ways she wanted to keep Zac to herself.
She was worried about the brunette. She couldn't feel her anymore, and felt the loss completely. She wondered if maybe Zac had gone back to Maine. She had the feeling that the taller girl hadn't been terribly far, but could not be sure.
Coming to a decision, she glanced at the bedside clock and saw that it was only three in the afternoon. Jumping up, she grabbed a backpack from the closet she shared with Jessica, and began to shove clothes in it.
"Hey, girl. What's up?" Jess asked, coming in to get her clothes to go to work.
"I've got to see if she's okay," Abel said, as if that explained it all.
"Who?" Jess stopped, her Blockbuster shirt in her hands.
"Zac!" Abel grabbed her wallet and a baseball cap.
"Wait, honey, who is this Zac person? What's going on?" The darker girl placed a hand on the blonde's arm, forcing her to sit on her bed. "Talk to me."
Abel sighed, looking at her friend, who looked so worried. She decided to be honest with Jess.
"You know my family's cabin in Maine?" Nod. "Well, when I was five years old, I met a girl named Zac who lived in the woods with her father. She was a year older, and that was the last time I had ever seen her. Until this last summer."
"Okay." Jess nodded again, understanding. "So why not call her?"
"I can't! She ran away, and hopped the rails, and I don't know where she went. She may have been in the area. At least that's how it felt. She felt close, you know?" The blonde looked at her friend, head cocked to the side as she thought out loud.
"Felt?" Jess looked at her like she'd lost her mind.
"Yes. Felt. So," Abel stood, grabbing her bag again, "I'm going to drive out there for the weekend and see if she's okay."
"Okay," Jessica drawled, obviously thinking her roommate had definitely lost her mind. "So, you have this crazy friend who lived in the woods and ran away to go ride trains?"
"Yes. Though she's not crazy." Abel turned to the mirror and began to brush out her long hair.
"No, but you are. Honey, it's going to be dark soon, and the weather sucks out. By the time you got there, it would be ridiculously late."
The blonde glanced out the window, seeing that the skies were already overcast, and she knew that some snow was predicted for the weekend. Chances were good that not much, if any, would fall, though.
"Damn," she muttered. "It is a little late to head out. Okay, fine. Tomorrow morning." The determined little blonde headed out into the house, leaving a very bewildered friend looking after her.
"Hey, Rob, how's it going, man? Trial date set yet?" the officer asked as he made his rounds for the first time that morning. His wife was still complaining about the new early morning shift he got.
"Not yet," Inmate Makorski answered with a shrug of his shoulders. "Looks like you'll be blessed with my wonderful self for a bit longer."
The officer chuckled and continued on his way, humming softly to himself. He still had Bob Dylan on the brain from his drive to work. He got to the end of the hall to cell number 14. When he got there, he was stunned to see three of the cell mates standing there, their backs toward the front of the cell. He knew this was a sign of disgust from the other guys. When Officer Morton's eyes landed on what they had turned against, they nearly bulged out of his head.
"Sergeant!" he called out. The creaking of the swinging body made his stomach churn. But, upon realizing who it was, he understood the cell mates' reaction. "Got an inmate down, sir," he called, heading back toward the main office. Damnit. He just knew he'd have to cut the bastard down.
The windshield wipers did their very best, but even they were beginning to falter under the weight of the immense snow storm that was raging across the east coast. The further Abel's little blue car went, the harder it snowed.
"Where the hell did this come from?" she muttered, squinting through the small bit of progress that the wipers were making. The snow was beginning to stick to the road, making it more and more icy. "Shit," she grunted between gritted teeth as some of that very ice caught her tires.
She gripped the wheel, and tried to remember what her father had told her: Let up on the gas and very gently tap the breaks until it slows down.
Her heart slammed into her chest as she barely missed slamming the car into a drift. Finally the sedan came to a stop, nearly turned sideways on the road, and the blonde rested her forehead against the steering wheel.
"Okay, getting myself killed is not worth this." Taking several deep breaths, Abel put the car in gear, and slowly, carefully, turned the car around. She'd have to visit the cabin another time.
Blowing out a breath of relief, she continued on. Glancing in her rearview mirror, Abel saw that a car someplace down the road behind her met the fate that she nearly did. She saw as the SUV slammed into the side of the snow bank. She stopped and pulled out her cell phone. Managing to get through to the police, she decided she shouldn't wait around. The weather was getting worse.
"So the weather was bad, huh?" Sherry Cohen asked as she separated her papers for grading. She had learned long ago to stop groaning when she had to grade tests. Adam always happily reminded her that she had assigned them in the first place.
"Yeah, it was pretty bad," Abel said on the other end of the line. The blonde was at the mall wasting time as she waited to pick Jess up from work. "How much snow do you guys have?" She walked into a store that specialized in hats called Lids. She scanned the shelves. There were baseball caps, snow caps, knit caps. Anything the mind could imagine. She chuckled at a few of them.
"Oh, I'd say about six inches. Nothing hugely spectacular yet." Sherry narrowed her brows as she looked at the mess that was Bryan Bowman's test. "Can't these kids write clearly?" she muttered, marking what she could read.
"Well, why didn't you go into early education so you could teach them?" the blonde asked absently as she spotted a black knit cap. Zac came into her mind instantly. Sewn onto the front of the cap was a little brown squirrel. He reminded her of the one that followed the brunette around. She smiled and picked it up, immediately taking it to the counter.
It had been four days since Abel had felt Zac, and she wanted to see what her mother's take on it would be.
"Mom . . ." She took her package and headed out of the store. "A few days ago I had the strangest feeling."
"Maybe it was gas," Sherry responded with a chuckle.
"Mother!" The blonde laughed along with the older woman. "No, it was like I could feel Zac."
Sherry stopped grading at the mention of the tall brunette. Her daughter hadn't spoken of the girl since she'd left the cabin. That had been nearly three months ago. She sat back in her chair and listened.
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. What do you mean? You could feel Zac?"
"Yeah. Remember I told you last summer how we could do that?"
"Right." Dark blonde brows drew as the older woman tried to figure out what her daughter was getting at.
"Well, I guess that must not be just a mountain thing. It was so strange!" Abel stepped onto the escalator, her hand resting on the rail as she was taken to the second floor. "I think she was in trouble." She shifted the small phone to the other ear.
"What kind of trouble? Back in Maine?"
"I don't know." Abel shrugged. "It was probably nothing more than her just being on my mind, but still . . ."
"You could call Jim. He could check things out for you, honey." Sherry grabbed her red pen again and continued to grade.
"Nah. He already thinks I'm a nut case from last summer." The blonde smiled at the memory. "I don't know. But, alas, I have to go. I'll be in touch this weekend sometime, okay?"
"Okay, Abel. You take care and stay warm. Keep Jess out of trouble!" Sherry scorned, knowing the darker girl's propensity for finding herself in most interesting situations, and taking her daughter with her.
"Will do. I'm on my way to go pick her up from work right now. Love you."
"I love you, too, honey." Mrs. Cohen shook her head as she replaced the handset into the cradle. She missed that crazy girl.
Abel laid her all-purpose bag down in the corner of the room by the folding closet door. She grabbed the bags of stuff she'd bought at the mall while waiting for Jess, and spread them out on her bed. This was one of her favorite parts of shopping; looking over what you bought.
She grinned at the new shirt and jeans, and rolled her eyes at the toy she'd bought. It was Kendra's twentieth birthday over the weekend, and Abel and Jessica had decided to go in together to get her some things to spice up her sex life. Which was non-existent.
The red head was quiet and loved to read. All the time. That was all she did, and never once gave anyone a shot, though the cutie was asked out often. So, now she had her very own vibrator and a blow-up man to help her out.
She couldn't help but grin at the memory of what her darker friend had told her, Hey, while you're at it, get yourself one, too. You need to get laid, girl!
Chuckling, cheeks red, Abel stuffed the boxed toy into a dresser drawer, and turned back to the bed. The hat she'd bought for Zac was lying there.
"What am I going to do with this?" she asked herself. She knew she'd be putting it in the closet with everything else she had bought for the brunette - a used zoology book, a pair of ear muffs, sunglasses, and a package of biodegradable toilet paper that she had spotted in a camping store two weeks ago. "Crazy woman," she chided herself. She had no idea if she'd even see the taller girl again. She just couldn't help herself.
The Cohen, Musso, Hendrix household was busy as the three girls quickly got ready for the party that Jessica was holding to celebrate the end of the fall semester. At first news of this, Abel had decided to go hang out at the library, but then changed her mind. She was in need for a little fun.
Tugging on her jeans, the tight-fitting ones with the hole in the right knee, the blonde looked at herself in the mirror. She looked good. Hair brushed to a shine, and her gray Henley was also well-fitted. She examined her body; hard from years in track and gymnastics. Running a hand down her front, she smiled, the feel of her flat stomach under her palm. She was rather proud of that stomach. Next green eyes scanned her body's profile, looking over her shoulder at her butt.
It had been a while since she'd had any sort of touch of romance in her life. She was lonely, and knew that Will would be at the party. He had been flirting with her since freshman year, so why not? He was very cute and seemed pretty nice.
As she looked over her body once again, she realized that it was in dire need of some attention.
A sexy little grin in place, she ran her hands through her hair and headed out into the living room.
The music was pumping through the house, and sounds of laughter and talking could be heard throughout. Jessica and Abel had been sure to lock their bedroom door. They had no interest in any couples having sex on their beds.
The beer flowed freely, and so did the dancing.
Abel, arms lazily wrapped around Will's neck, swayed with him to the beat of some Madonna song. She looked up into his face, his blue eyes looking back at her. They chatted as he continued to caress her back. He wanted to begin to roam her incredible body, but decided to play it cool. He didn't want to scare her away. He could tell she wanted him, and he was most definitely willing to oblige.
"So, Will," she purred. "How's school? You start medical school next year, right?" He nodded.
"Sure do. You gonna miss me?" He grinned, white teeth glinting off the light overhead.
"Oh, I don't know." She grinned. "Maybe. Maybe not." She could feel the shot of tequila she'd had racing through her body. She felt a little unsteady, and most definitely horny. She was playing with fire with Will and she knew it. But she didn't care.
"Oh, playing coy are you?" He grinned, his hand slowly rubbing circles on her back, getting lower with each pass. Finally he felt the very top of her gorgeous ass. Green eyes widened slightly, and then fell to half-mass.
"I think you nearly touched my ass, Will," she teased. Not one to back down, he fully cupped it. This did surprise the blonde. "Okay." She reached around and took his hand. "Down, boy." She may want to have some fun, but it would be on her terms. As it always was. No guy got his way with her without her leading the way. Most of the guys didn't even realize they held absolutely no control until it was too late and she had broken it off.
"Oops." He laughed. He removed his hand, knowing all he had to do was bide his time with the blonde beauty. He'd been after her for two and a half years. He could definitely wait. After all, why wouldn't she fall for him? Good looks, money, and would one day become a doctor. Oh yeah. He had it in the bag.
"Hey, girl!" Jessica slurred as she walked by with her own man, Jerome. The darker girl smiled, though it was sloppy and vodka-induced. Jerome looked like a happy camper, though. Abel had always thought him handsome. His smooth, brown skin and dark eyes. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and she knew that Jess loved his long dreads.
"Hi, sweetie." Abel broke away from Will and gave her roomy and friend a hug, both girls hanging onto each other. Their balance was crappy to say the least. The men grinned knowingly at each other.
"Okay, gotta go now," Jess said, pulling away from the blonde. She leaned in and whispered. "Got me some business to attend to." She winked, and grabbed Jerome again. They wobbled out of the room together.
"Lucky guy," Will said, taking the small blonde in his arms again. She put her hands on his chest, starting to push him away, but seemed to change her mind. She grinned up at him, fire dancing in those green eyes. He'd have to grovel thanks at Kendra's feet for inviting him after tonight.
Abel grabbed Will by the jersey collar of his shirt, and led him over to the kitchen. Once there, she pulled him to her, and laid one on him. He responded immediately, his hands going right to her ass, pulling her into him. He was already getting excited, and it was just a kiss. But oh, what a kiss it was!
He felt himself lean into the smaller woman, wanting her to know just what he had for her. He felt her hands twining in his hair and deepen the kiss. Oh yeah. He knew this one would be good in the sack.
Abel kissed Will, enjoying the attention and physical contact. He was actually a fairly good kisser, considering most men had no clue. She didn't think she'd have to wipe her chin this time. That was a plus, wasn't it? It was about as much as she could hope for. She just hoped that he was better in bed than her ex, Kyle, had been. That boy needed some serious training.
As they continued to kiss, she could feel Will's excitement. This excited her as well, but only to a certain degree. She wished that she could find a guy who was content with a good makeout session. Why was it always necessary for sex to follow?
But, knowing she had to play the game to get what she wanted, she continued to run her fingers through short brown hair.
She broke the kiss, and gave him a smoldering look. Without a word, she grabbed his hand and led him through the apartment, trying to avoid the other party-goers.
Abel took a deep breath as she felt that feeling of arousal spread through her, laying a blanket of warmth over her. She pulled her key out of her pocket, and unlocked the bedroom door she shared with Jess. She was glad her friend had chosen to take Jerome somewhere else.
Will followed her in and closed the door behind him. Once they were all alone in the dark room, he reached down and pulled his shirt off. The blonde marveled at his strength and power as his muscles flexed with the motion. She spread her fingers out over his chest, feeling the course hair that met her palms.
The next thing she knew, she was taken in a kiss again. This kiss was not just filled with flirtation and possibility, but with actual intent. She felt large hands caress her ass, then push her into his bulging need.
"I've got something, baby," he whispered into her mouth, reaching around to his back pocket, and pulling his wallet out. He stepped away from her and began to unbutton his jeans. She turned to the room, lit only by moonlight, and made sure the bed was clear. Luckily she had actually made it today. She didn't want this guy to think she was a total slob.
Heading over to it, she began to tug at the tightly tucked bedding. She felt him come up behind her, pushing himself into her backside.
"You are so hot, Abel," he said into her neck as he nuzzled her long hair aside. She closed her eyes, appreciating the feel of his hands snaking around to cover her cotton-clad breasts.
Abel began to moan when suddenly a feeling began to gnaw at her stomach. She faltered for just a moment then continued. It hit her again.
Her eyes snapped open and she looked around. Still in her dark bedroom with a gorgeous guy behind her, fondling her. Will noticed her stiffen.
"Hey, baby, you okay?"
"Yeah. I think so." Blonde brows drew as she tried to remember what had made her stop.
Will leaned down, beginning to kiss her neck again. Abel allowed herself to be kissed, but the feeling kept nagging at her. Talk about a cold shower. And talk about confusing.
"Wait, Will, stop." She pushed away from him, taking a step back. She closed her eyes, shaking her head to clear it. When she looked up at him, she could see the confusion and slight anger in his face. She felt horrible. "God, Will, I'm sorry," she said softly. She knew he'd be in some pain, and wished she could help him. He stood there, jeans open, erection clearly visible, and an unopened condom laying on the bed, but she had no desire to jerk the guy off just so he wouldn't have the infamous blue ball syndrome. "I can't do this."
"Why not?" he asked, the anger beginning to win over the confusion.
"I just can't. Okay? I'm sorry." Her voice was slightly more forceful now, and she took another step back from him. "I feel like such a shit," she whispered to no one in particular.
"Man, a damn tease!" he shouted, then grabbed his shirt from the floor and yanked it on. He looked at her when he stood by the door. She couldn't meet his eyes. "Bitch." He stormed out the bedroom door, slamming it shut.
The blonde buried her face in her hands, then ran them through her hair.
"Shit. What the hell is wrong with me?" Never had that happened before. She had not slept with many guys for sure, but she had never stopped it before. She knew what she wanted, and went after it. So what the hell had happened?
Abel had laid in bed for several hours after her encounter in the kitchen with Will. To her amazement, her body was completely calm once she hit the sheets. She had been so turned on, her body on fire as they'd kissed. She had been just about ready to lead him to her bedroom when that strange feeling had coursed through her.
It had been baffling. Suddenly she had felt as if she were kissing the wrong person. As though her heart were far away in the night, far away from her apartment, and certainly far away from the guy she'd been kissing.
The next morning, the little blonde was to start out on her voyage to the family cabin. Again, she'd be there a week earlier than her parents and siblings, but she didn't care. She wanted the time to regroup. She had been left shaken by the night before, and wanted time to think it over.
Zac popped into her mind. The dark girl had been absent from her thoughts for a few days, which was a nice reprieve, though the blonde had missed her. Zac's memory had become a sort of companion for Abel. She now understood what Zac had meant when she'd said that Abel had been her traveling companion while she'd ridden the rails when she'd been a young girl.
Abel felt the same way. She had all the purchases loaded into the back of her car with her bag of clothing. She hoped she had packed enough for the harsh Maine winter.
The blonde reached down, eyes still firmly set on the road, and began to play with the dial on the radio. Grimacing at the old, twangy country music she landed on, she continued to fiddle until she heard the soft strands of a guitar. Listening, she marveled at the lyrics:
As we turn our lives
Down this complicated road
If you need a hand to hold
I promise you
I will be your friend
Through whatever life may send
And I know that you will be there too
If I should lose my way
Along this road we share
Please bring me home, come what may
If I should lose my way
When the wild wind blows
And the rain begins to fall
I will find you through it all
And comfort you
But as we move on
Should you turn and find me gone
Then just rest awhile, I'll be along
If I should lose my way
Along this road we share
Please wait for me, come what may
If I should lose my way
Day after day, never let the sun go down
'Till love is found once more
If I should lose my way
Along this road we share
Please look for me, come what may
If I should lose my way
Please look for me....
If I should lose my way
Stunned, the blonde looked at the radio. Thoughts of Zac immediately flooded into her mind, and she felt her eyes begin to fill. She missed her so much. That day back in September had frightened her, and she worried for the brunette's safety.
"Oh, Zac," she whispered.
The forest, hushed from the thick blanket of snow that kept it far from war, was disturbed. By what? Birds squawked to each other from hidden nests, warnings of possible danger. A single squirrel, cheeks filled with nuts, rose from his perch on a branch, ears and tail perked.
The figure moved quickly through the white landscape, scurrying atop the bluff, the road visible. White puffs of hot air increased as a heartbeat quickened.
The figure scrambled from tree to tree as the lone, blue car made its slow, careful way up the trail, careful to stay in the tracks already laid earlier in the snow by other cars.
The car steadily got closer and closer. This time there was no mistaking which direction it would turn.
Abel pulled up to the cabin, not looking forward to leaving the warmth of her car's heater. Shutting the engine down, she tapped her fingers on the steering wheel for a moment, turning her head to look out into the amazing snow-covered landscape.
Every year she came up for Christmas, she was always blown away by the immense beauty. This year was no different.
Finally gathering her courage to face the harsh cold, she unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the car door. She would unload the car, then start a fire and curl up with a good book.
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