Disclaimers: Welcome again to the world of fantasy otherwise known as my reality. June 2006 ©.

Love and sex: None right now.

Violence: None.

Acknowledgments: To my betas for all the help in making me look literate and keeping this story on track. A special thanks to my readers for sticking with me through thick and thin, long periods of silence, and exploding hard drives.

I love visitors, so please come and see me at: kaysladyj@hotmail.com or ladyjsalsbury@aol.com. You can also find me hangout at TheRisingPhoenix-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You're welcome to join us.

Business Trip 11


Lady J

They say there has to be a morning after, my question is why?

I had no idea that anyone could feel this bad without being terminally ill and on vast amounts of chemo. It felt like there was glass under my eyelids. I was afraid if I opened them I could be rendered blind for the rest of my days. Sometime during my comatose hours a person or persons unknown had fastened my tongue to the roof of my mouth with duct tape. My head pounded with the rhythm of my beating heart. With every beat of my heart a new pulse of agony was sent to my head. I knew I was awake, I just wasn't certain I was alive.

With my eyes still shut I tried to assess my situation. A dim glow seeped through my eyelids. Well that indicated that it was daylight, but I had no idea what time it was. Hell at this point I didn't know what day it was. I was in a bed, my bed by the familiar feel of the mattress and pillows. I was wearing a 'wife beater' and a pair of my well worn boxers. Ok so far so good. Being at home in my bed was a plus in my book.

The more I emerged from my haze the more my senses began to clear. As lucidity crept up on me I perceived there was something in the bed that was not quite right. I was in my bed in my pajamas, but I wasn't alone. It wasn't that I was touching anyone or that anyone was touching me. It was more an impression, or should I say depression on the other side of the mattress. Let's face it, we all know when 'somebody's been sleeping in our bed' right? Especially when you're still IN IT.

I decided to take a chance on blindness and opened one eye very carefully. When the light hit my cornea, I thought my head would explode. It was a type of sensation I'm sure a pumpkin has when it hits the ground after being blasted from a cannon. Yep, that's what I felt like, but I had to see who was in my bed with me. I blinked a couple of times to clear the haze. There spread on the pillow next to me was a voluminous amount of long chestnut hair. Under all that hair was one Jacqueline Drakkon.

I snapped my eye shut. What the hell is going on here? Is Jac really in my bed? It's a hallucination, that's what it is. I must've really tied one on last night, uhhh, today, yesterday, who the hell knows? I took a deep breath. Ok I will open both eyes this time and she'll be gone.

I turned my head and slowly opened both eyes. The pain was excruciating, but I blinked a couple of times in an effort to clear the film off of them. When the haze had subsided I was surprised by a pair of beautiful blue eyes that stared back at me.

"Good morning, Starshine. How are you feeling?"

Jac smiled but even that was way too bright for me. I blinked a couple of more times. Yeah, she was still there. "I don't know yet." Jac pulled her hands behind her head. I'm glad I was unable to gasp when I saw her stretch out that way. She was covered from the waist down with my sheet and comforter, but from the waist up was a truly religious experience. She was wearing one of Jarrod's mesh basketball jerseys. Even with my cloudy eyes, I could clearly see the dark outlines of her nipples under the thin perforated fabric. I'm sure I was drooling, but who could blame me? Dayum as Jarrod would say. No one had the right to be that gorgeous first thing in the morning. She was still smiling at me, but then raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. Guess my gawking wasn't all that subtle was it? Oh, well, who in their right mind could blame me? I could get used to waking up this way every morning, minus the hangover of course.

"Do you remember anything about last night?" she asked.

"Last Night!" OUCH turn down the volume. I cleared my throat. "I can't remember yesterday much less last night." OUCH,someone stop the ball-peen hammer.

"Brufff," I belched daintily or at least as daintily as I could muster.

Daintily! Who the hell belches daintily? Just because you didn't rattle the window doesn't mean it was dainty! My personalities were at war again, Pride being the loudest of the bunch at this point. Who are you trying to kid here? Because ya ain't foolin me.

I'm sure she understands, The voice of Reason chimed in, Jac knows you are not feeling well.

Yeah, self inflicted illness. We have a goddess in my bed and what do YOU do?? Pride loves to play the blame game. YOU burp? Kara, you're a real charmer aren't you?I'll tell you what, why don't we just let our ass rip one too? That way the lovely Ms. Drakkon will be assured at how really suave and sophisticated we are. Pride snarled.

Really, how crude! Another nation hear from, Common Sense. Let it go Pride before you screw everything up.

STOP IT! I shouted internally. I hate when I go Sybil. Thankfully it only takes fractions of a second.

"Excuse me. I'm so sorry about that. I think I better head to the bathroom." I sat up and the room began to spin at once. I grasped the edge of the bed to stop the sickening motion. "That's if I can get to the bathroom."

"Do you want some help?" Jac offered.

Right, help me to the potty. Yeah, that's the picture I want you to take home with you. Me sitting on the can, now that's romance.

"Bruff," I belched again. "Excuse me. Damn, I'm a fucking delicate flower this morning aren't I?" I really didn't mean to sound snarky, but I couldn't stop belching and that was irritating me not to mention being totally humiliating. My nerves were shot and Pride made sure that my embarrassment level was at DEFCON 4. Humiliation tugged the sides of my mouth into an uncomfortable smile. Suddenly, my lightning fast mind, remembered that a question had been asked. "No, it's ok. I think I can make it."

After a couple of attempts I finally got to my feet. I felt myself sway, but that's only because the floor was rocking under them. Yep, it was the floor not me. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Once I relieved myself I slowly returned to the bed. I couldn't help but smile when I saw the somewhat fuzzy Jac, lying on her side, her beautiful head propped upon a thin, yet perfectly formed hand. Everything about Jac was perfect. And bonus, she's in my bed. Now I just needed to stop my bodily functions from doing as they pleased, whenever they pleased.

Her nipples were at point now. Though I tried really hard not to stare, I failed miserably. Now I know how guys feel when they are gawking, not that I was gawking. Well, maybe just a little. But there is at least one profound difference between me and the guys, well more than one. Guys would just stare, no remorse would be shown or ever felt. After all if she's gonna flaunt why not look? As for me, I could feel the skin of my face becoming pink.

How is it possible for her to be this lovely so early in the morning? Her dark hair tussled to perfection while I'm sure I looked like the wild woman of Borneo. She was so extraordinarily beautiful that I felt like such a clod. Yet, as I stood there transfixed on her eyes, there was something different. Those eyes weren't just merely captivatingly warm but, this morning, they were giving away the secrets hidden in her heart for the first time. How could she care for me? I was so clumsy, so out of her league. But it was there in her eyes, it was as plain to see. It was as if I were reading a favorite novel.

In that moment I was lost to her heart and soul, but I didn't care. Now that admission is huge for me. I do have some issues with relationships on the whole, so I just didn't do relationships at all. I felt I was happier that way, until this very moment. I smirked at my thoughts, the one thing that would have normally sent me screaming into the night was now the one thing that I had to have. The one thing I would do anything to capture and keep as my own forever.

"So how are you feeling?" she asked again.

"My hair hurts," I replied as I slid between the sheets next to the woman I loved. Yes, even in my diminished state, I knew I loved the woman.

"Do you remember anything now that you've emptied your bladder?" Jac grinned.

I lay back more snuggly on my pillows. I disengaged Jac's eyes in order to look at her face. "What day is this?"

She snickered lightly. "Friday."

"Ok." I closed my eyes not only to concentrate, but to ease the pain in my throbbing head. I breathed in slowly then out slowly. What did I remember? Nothing. There was a complete blank where an entire day should be. For some weird reason the song Sound of Silence was playing in my head. That was merely annoying. What was totally freaking me out was the black out. It was blatantly obvious to me that I had been drinking and drinking quite heavily, but I didn't have any clue why, where, with whom or even how much. You know, I had heard of people drinking so much that they'd lose time, but I had never been one of them until this very moment. I had no idea how truly terrifying that feeling could be.

"No, I can't remember anything," I said softly. I opened my eyes and stared at the skylight without seeing it. "What the hell went on yesterday?"

"Close your eyes and try again." Jac placed her hand gently on my stomach.

Concentrate yeah that was going to happen. That touch sent an electrical charge through my entire body. The only thing I was aware at this very moment was my libido waving at me shouting, "HOOOWDYYY!"

But I did close my eyes as she requested. I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly and quietly. After a few minutes random images began to materialize in and out of the blackness. Mostly they were just flashes of some of the things I had done the day before, but some of the pictures remained. These are the images I relayed to Jac. "I remember eating breakfast, dropping the kids at school. I remember driving to work, being happy that this project was finally finished."

"Anything else?" Jac asked softly her hand gently rubbing my stomach. She was trying to draw me out and I knew it but I wasn't sure how much more I would be able to remember.

I concentrated harder while my eyes remained shut. "I remember teasing Patty about something. There's something about Jason?" I let that thought languish. Then suddenly a memory came out of the fog, so forcefully, that it almost knocked me from the bed. I catapulted off the pillow. "Holy shit! I quit! I quit my job! OUCH!" I raised my hands to my head in panic as much as to quell the pain.

At this precise moment a robe wrapped Patty stepped into the room. "Well hey there, how ya feeling?"

"Patty, I quit my job. Why did I quit my job??" I pleaded. I rested my throbbing head into my hands and rocked pathetically.

Patty giggled. "No, you didn't."

I looked up from upturned palms. "I didn't?"

"Well yeah you did, but we fixed it. So you're still gainfully employed. Here drink this."

"Who fixed what? What is this?" Patty had handed me a glass full of what looked like tomato juice. But it sure didn't smell like tomato juice.

"It's a little concoction of mine. It's my answer to the 'Hair of the dog that bit you'. Now be a good girl and down the hatch. We all have to get ready for work."

I plugged my nose and downed it. Or should I say I gagged it down. "Gross! What the hell is in that?"

"It's better if you don't know. Now come on rise and shine." Patty was way too perky for her own good.

"I'll rise, but I'm not going to fucking shine!" I growled.

"That's it baby, bark like a big dog. Ruff! Ruff!" Patty laughed as she left the room.

I threw myself back on the pillows. Huge miscalculation on my part, that's what I get for being angry. When my head finally stopped spinning, I opened my eyes. The first thing in my line of sight was Jac. By now I had become very accustomed to the idea of Jac being in my bed. It was as if she should've been there all along. What I did find surprising though, is how truly natural and comfortable it felt to have Jac with me in bed.

"Is she right? Do I still have a job?"

A sympathetic smile crossed the lips of this amazing woman. "Yes."

"Are you going to tell me what happened yesterday?"

"To a point, but that can wait until later."

"How did you end up sleeping with me? I didn't do anything stupid did I?"

Jac chuckled smooth, soft and sexy. "No, dear, you didn't. Patty and I spent the night because we were worried about you. She sacked out on the couch and I slept in the chair. You cried out in the middle of the night, said something about a nightmare. You asked me not to go, so I didn't."

"OK, one last question."


"Did we...uhhhh…you know???"

At that Jac laughed right out loud. "No, we didn't."

"Oh, ok." I was disappointed and elated at the same time. Mostly I was relieved that nothing had happened during the time I was absent from my senses. Though I don't think I would forget such a glorious moment in my life.

Quietly Jac added, "Would it have been a bad thing if we had, umm, done something?"

There was a shadow cast upon her face that I couldn't identify. "No, it wouldn't have been. I just would've liked to have remembered it." I happily watched the cloud lift from Jac's countenance.

I rolled from the bed and I stood up way too quickly for my poor head since the world started to spin anew, though only briefly. I grabbed my head again. "Ouch." Where did I leave the Ibu? I'm gonna need it. "Well I guess I'd better get ready for a job I may or may not have." I shuffled over to the closet.

"First, tell me about those clothes hanging there?" She pointed to the wall next to me.

"Hmm?" I turned my eyes from her to the wall next to the door of my closet. A huge shirt and an equally large pair of jean were pinned to the wall like a piece of modern art gone wrong. "Oh, that. Those used to be mine. Well they are still mine I just don't have the body to fill them anymore." I opened the door and stared gratefully into the relative darkness of my closet.

"You're kidding me." Jac crossed her arms across her chest.

I shook my head. Gods I have got to stop doing that. The room started swirling again. I grabbed the doorjamb to steady myself. "Ahhh. Nope. I kinda let myself go for awhile after Tim's death. I keep them hanging there to remind me not to return to Fat City ever again."

"Wow, you are amazing aren't you?" Jac commented.

"Not yet."

Jac raised an eyebrow in a questioning fashion.

"I will be amazing if I can get through this day without vomiting on someone."

I looked back at Jac who was now sitting up in the bed. I could see now that she was clad in nothing but that mesh shirt and her panties. I took a moment to calm my voice before I said, "I'm not sure I have anything that will fit you."

"It's ok, my things are in the other room." Jac rose from the bed like Venus from the ocean's foam. The room started to swirl around me again, but this time it had nothing to do with my hangover.

"Oh, Ok, I just assumed since you were wearing Jarrod's shirt?" My voice trailed off.

She winked. "I don't own pajamas." With that said, the seductress exited the room.

"Oh-My-God!" I sobbed into the now empty room. I grabbed a pair of jeans from the closet and returned to the master bath area to take a long cold shower.


"What's the matter?" Patty asked her hands firmly fastened to the steering wheel of the car. Once I had finally gotten finished getting ready, we all piled into Patty's car and headed to the office.

Granted it did take me longer than usual to get ready this morning. Ok, it took me a lot longer. Getting dressed wasn't so bad it was trying to get my make-up on that was the real trick. Let's face it, I didn't want to go to work looking like Tammy Fae Baker wanna be. So, I decided to forego the eyeliner. Let's face it, I couldn't keep my hand steady if my life depended on it. I also took a pass on the eye shadow since I was afraid I'd end up looking like some demented clown. So I put on some foundation, a little blush on my cheeks and eyelids, and then swept my lashes with mascara. Lastly, I put some lip gloss, not so much for the completion of my look, but more to keep my lips from sticking to my teeth when I talked. It was far from perfect, but it's the best I could do at the time.

When I exited the bedroom both Patty and Jac were sitting on the tall stools at the bar in the kitchen. Each sipped from a huge mug of coffee. They had probably been up half the night, I'm sure they both needed it. Too bad I didn't have my espresso machine out. I stood in the doorway for a long moment in order to take in the sight of my best friend and the woman I loved sitting in my house having a light breakfast of toast and coffee. It just felt so right. Both women looked over at me and smiled.

"Kara?" Patty said a little more forcefully.

Patty's voice brought me from my very pleasant reverie and sent me crashing back into the reality of the here and now in the front seat of a car on my way to work. "Umm, sorry zoned out."

"Are you ok?" Patty asked.

"No, I don't think so," I replied.

"What's wrong?"

"I think I'm having an anxiety attack."

"You have nothing to be anxious about, Kara." The smooth alto voice floated from the backseat of the car to the front. I could feel Jac's hands rest on the back of the seat. I was aware that her body was closer to my own so I assumed she must have been leaning forward.

"Then why do I feel like I'm having a heart attack?" I asked. "I don't know guys. It's just the closer we get to the office the more uneasy I get. What the hell happened yesterday?" There was a significant terror rising inside of me for every mile we traveled.

"Kar calm down. You have nothing to worry about, ok?" Patty caressed my hand in the way of reassurance. It wasn't working.

"Pats, something really bad happened yesterday, I can tell. I have that sick feeling of impending doom, only in Deja vu mode." What I was saying mildly resembled what I was actually feeling. I belched under my breath. It would be a miracle if I made it through this day without becoming violently ill. "What's worse is everyone seems to know what's going but me."

"Kar, it's not like everyone at work knows," Patty started but I interrupted her.

"Patricia, how would I know that? I can't remember much of anything and y'all won't tell me." I was getting more and more agitated when Jac intervened.

In a silky but firm voice, she said, "Yes you're right, numerous surprising and unforeseen things occurred yesterday. I assure you Patty and I will relay everything that went on at work at dinner tonight. But I promise you that everything and anything that was done or not done yesterday is securely in the past. You are still loved and revered by all your peers. But right now, you have a job to do. You need to focus on the task at hand, which is our last meeting with Darrell. Ok?"

"I thought he was supposed to leave yesterday," I commented somewhat more subdued.

"Yes, he was, but you weren't there to close the deal. He wants to talk to you before he'll sign on the dotted line."

I looked over my shoulder at Jac. Her eyes were dim, her jaw firm. Jac was in full Dragon Lady mode. No matter how I felt about her, or how she felt about me, business was still business. For a change, I caught a clue, which was a miracle in and of itself considering the condition I was in. "I never said I would take that job." I was treading dangerously and I knew it. But at least if I got fired or quit today, I would be in control of the situation, not to mention I would recall all the details.

Patty made a soft sound like a gasp though she didn't contribute to this part of the conversation.

Jac sat back a scary smirk affixed to her lips. This truly was a woman to be feared. "That is true, you never gave us your decision." She paused dramatically. "What is your decision?"

I turned back and stared out the windshield. We were almost to the plant and my heart was pounding out of my chest. With my peripheral vision I could see Patty's knuckles turn white with the force she was exerting on the steering wheel. I knew what her thoughts were on this issue, she had already made it abundantly clear that I would be crazy not to take the job. In my mind I would be crazy to take the job. I've shown I can be a bull's eye and win. Did I really want to temp fate again? The car was silent waiting for my answer. I decided not to answer just yet. Quietly I continued, "Darrell talks so loud. My brain will turn to mush. That mush will form into a substance that resembles guacamole and will leak out of my ears. I'm not sure I can deal with him today."

"You have to," Jac commanded. "It's your job, so just do it."

"Yes ma'am," I answered softly.

God help me. Did I just lose my job and my love in one fell swoop?


We walked into work together. We all wore jeans, casual Friday and all, but the heels that Patty and Jac wore clattered in the large open foyer of the office building like castanets in a flamenco dancers expert hands. That sound painfully echoed through my head. The 'hair of the dog' that Patty made me drink did help but only a little. My head swam with pain. My stomach turned to the point of hurling. My emotions were on edge, but of course there was no time for any of that. Mr. Darrell Boggs was waiting on the Miracle Worker.

"Well they'ah she is!" Darrell Boggs bellowed while he extended his meaty hand to me.

I took the proffered hand. Darrell firmly grasped my much smaller hand and shook it so vigorously that my teeth chattered. The voice of this man was akin to that of a fog horn being blown indoors unlike his assistant JT, who I would often mistake for being absent because he was so quiet.

"It's so nice seein' y'all again before I have to fly home." Darrell continued in his boisterous fashion.

I'm going to die. Please let me die.

It took all my strength I had to slap a smile on my face. "It's nice to see you too, Darrell."

He laughed heartily then the big man pulled me to his side in the way of a friendly hug. The he gave me a good natured slap on the back that knocked me just about out of my shoes. I was heading for a fall when Darrell steadied me. "Hey you be careful, little lady." Out of the corner of my eye I could see both Jac and Patty cringing. I heard sharp intakes of air and a soft "ouch" from everyone present.

Thanks guys for your support. The pain was so bad. Kill me. Kill me now.

"Why don't we all just have a seat?" I suggested that plastacine smile still affixed to my face.

Yeah you better sit down before you fall down. How much did I drink last night anyway?

Darrell pulled out a seat and I gratefully took it. He then sat next to me. Patty, Jac, Jason, and JT all followed suit. Russell was noticeably absent. That was a very pleasant surprise.

"I missed you yesterday, sorry to hear about your boy, is he doing better?"

"My boy?" I looked over as Jason who had his hands folded in front of him on the table. With his index finger he made a circular motion which meant to, play along. "Oh, yeah. He's much better today, thanks for asking."

"Good. Good. Well, I guess we better get down to business." With that we all opened the folders of the new proposal that sat on the table in front of each one of us. If I hadn't put this report together and known it by heart I would have been in real trouble. No matter how I tried, I couldn't read what was right in front of me.

The muted clacking of the keys on Patty's laptop as she took the minutes of the meeting was like someone pounding tacks into my head with those little cobbler hammers. I kept looking around the room for those little cobbler elves that were driving these spikes into my head, but all I saw was Jac, Patty, Jason, Darrell, and JT.

By the time we had gotten halfway through the meeting, I was in agony. All I could do was pray my eyes wouldn't fall out of my head and land on the table in front of the customer. Volcanic gasses were creeping up my esophagus threatening an eruption of belches or worse. The magma otherwise known as my stomach juices were slowly raising from my abdomen to my fill my chest cavity. I was afraid of having a Krakatau moment east of Jacqueline.

What felt like an eternity I was assured later was only twenty minutes. With everything finally signed sealed and delivered, Jason escorted a very loud Darrell Boggs and a somewhat quieter JT happily on their way back to Jerk Water Texas. I sagged into the chair. I put my head into my hands and groaned.

"Kara, you did great," Patty offered while she closed her laptop and placed it into its padded case. The best response I had to offer her was another groan.

"I agree. You did an outstanding job with Darrell. It looked to me that you have accepted your new assignment," Jac said with a very self satisfied tone. I looked up to see her sitting back in one of the large black executive chairs that surrounded the huge conference room table. The seat enveloped her slender body. She exuded power and authority. She crossed her long legs somewhat seductively. Her power and her enticing posture were extremely arousing. Her smile had definitely changed from grim business to alluring sexuality. For a moment, I forgot how badly I felt, being swept away by the warmth of my passion.

Still fiddling with her leather case, Patty said, "I agree Ms. Drakkon, uh, Jackie. Besides, I think the decision was made long before this meeting. Though, honey, I have to tell you," Patty looked up and waited for me to meet her eye, "when Mr. Boggs slapped you on the back, I thought you were a goner."

"So did I." Jac grimaced at the memory. "I was impressed that you made it all the way through the meeting after that."

"Yeah, it was death by friendliness." Patty snapped her case shut.

"BRUFF." I put my hand over my mouth. "Damn! Excuse me. " I stood afraid I would hurl on the table if I didn't get out of there pronto. I raced past the two stunned women without another word.

I got to the bathroom just in time. The contents of my stomach poured from my mouth into the bowl like Niagara Falls. The sight of bile mixed with the 'hair of the dog' that swirled in the water just facilitated more vomiting. In the midst of a severe bout of wretching I felt a gentle hand pull back my hair. When I saw the shoes I knew it was Jac and not Patty.

Oh yeah this is really attractive. Jac, you are seeing me at my best…NOT.

Thankfully, not long after Jac arrived, my stomach settled. I flushed the toilet and walked past the taller woman in order to get to the basin so I could rinse the gross from my mouth. I could feel her eyes on me as I spat the water down the drain.

Yet another Kodak moment.

I was completely embarrassed by what Jac had just seen me do. I grabbed a paper towel more to hide my face than to wipe the residue of water and vomit from it. I was trying so hard to settle my emotions as well as my stomach, but nothing worked. I felt totally humiliated in front of the woman I loved so desperately.

I finally looked over to where Jac stood. She leaned against a wall her face a mask, but her eyes reflected true concern. Nervously I smirked.

"You feel better?"

"BRUFF!" Well that's icing on the cake. "Damn, excuse me. Gods why can't I stop doing that?"

"It sounded worse than it was because of the acoustics in here," Jac offered kindly.

"Yeah I guess." I could feel a blush heat up my face. That crimson tint was the least of my worries. "See I told you?"

"Told me what?"

"Not to call me amazing until the end of the day." The edges of my mouth tugged up more from embarrassment than from happiness.

"Well you didn't vomit on anyone, so the amazing still stands."

I threw the paper towel away and found that I just couldn't look at her. The next thing I felt was Jac putting her arm around my shoulders. She pulled me to her side. "Don't be embarrassed. This has happened to all of us at one time or another."

I could feel a tear come to my eye. "Jac, I'm 38 years old, this stuff isn't supposed to happen to me anymore."

"Honey, everyone falls off the wagon when given the reason you had." Jac gently stroked my back.

"Don't you see? That's the problem." I pulled away from Jac. So many emotions were warring for dominance within my soul.

"What's the problem?" Jac's brow creased with uncertainty.

"The problem is I have no idea what went on yesterday." As much as tried to prevent it, that tear slipped from my eye. I wasn't sure if my eyes were tearing from the pain of the humiliation or just merely the pain in my head. On top of all that was the ever present fear of the unknown. A second tear slipped down my cheek. "That big empty place where a day should be is scaring the hell out of me. What was so bad that the only recourse I felt I had was to drink myself into oblivion?" I half chuckled and half snarled. "And I'll tell you something, it would take some real dedication for me to get that smashed."

Jac edged over to where I now stood. She turned me slightly so she could wrap me in her arms and gave me a warm hug. She whispered in my ear, "It's all going to be ok, I promise."

"Ms. Drakkon, I'm not feeling too well, would you mind if I took the rest of the day off?" I spoke into her shoulder.

Jac kissed my head. "Yeah. I think it can be a short day for all of us. Give me a few minutes to tie up some loose ends with Jason. You go back to your office and tell Patty we'll be heading out shortly and not to start the story until I get there. OK?"

I nodded. We untangled reluctantly before we walked out of the restroom.


Well the girls got me home in one piece. I laid down on the bed and immediately fell asleep. I slept solidly for a couple of hours I would guess. When I woke up Patty had some steaming potato soup waiting for me. It was hot and bland and sat in my stomach just fine.

Once I had eaten and felt better we all retired to the living room. I laid on the couch propped up by a couple of pillows. I sank into my soft billows and was totally comfortable and content. Jac sat at the opposite end of the sofa. She pulled my sock covered feet into her lap and absently stroked my feet and my calves while we talked. Patty pulled a chair over from the other side of the room so she could sit closer to us. Then Patty and Jac filled me in about the day before. Obviously they left out some parts that I'm still not privy too, but on the whole they told me everything else.

I sat up riveted by the tale both women were relaying to me. I couldn't believe it. This sounded like a plot for one of those Lifetime channel movies. It couldn't be true. But then again it was Russell, with him anything was possible. The idea that someone could despise me so deeply was unimaginable. I was buffeted again by waves of nausea at the very thought of his disgust. It was all so surreal that I couldn't get my mind around it. So much intrigue, so many lies, and deceptions it was just so unbelievable.

While I sat there pondering the dark clouds, the silver lining shone through so brightly and beautifully that the cold and fear that had surrounded me was exchanged for warmth and security. The light of truth destroyed all Russell's dark machinations. The brightness of love totally eradicated his hate and anything that hate brought with it. I have never felt more loved or more hated than I did right now. The lengths that Patty, Jac, Tim, and even Jason had gone to in order to clear my name simply staggered me.

When Jac got to the part about Jose and Raul I sat there with my mouth hanging open. All I could do was blink. Right now Jackie frightened me. She was much more dangerous than I could have ever imagined. That was until Patty piped up, "You forgot to mention the part when Russell decked you."

"What?" I was shocked.

Reflectively, Jac's hand went to her jaw. For the first time I noticed the slightly misshapen lip. Her make-up did little to hide the dark bruising at the side of her mouth. I leaned toward her and reached for her lip. She pulled her face away and took my hand in her own. She pierced me with those blue eyes. "I was over confident and he took a cheap shot. Darling, it's alright. Believe me it was worth the punch in the face to see the eminent Mr. Davies about pee his pants when Raul and Jose threatened to kill him."

I laughed heartily. That laughter felt so good. "I would have paid good money to have seen that. Like I would have paid good money too see his face when they talked to him about prison and to have that," I tried to remember, "that Estaban?"

Jac nodded that I had gotten the name correct.

"To have Estaban pimp him out."

"I don't know." Patty voiced her thoughts. "I don't think Estaban would have found Mr. Davies such a prize."

"Are you kidding? Russell is such a tight ass, Estaban would have made a fortune on him," I commented. We all laughed at the thought of Russell's ass being passed around by a bunch of convicts like hors d'ouvres at a wedding reception. "Where did you find them anyway?"

"They work there in maintenance at the plant. I was sure Russell would recognize them on some level, and that's exactly the effect I was going for." Jac said proudly.

"So are they really gang types?" I asked intrigued by the devious plot of my friend.

She laughed that glorious laugh that I had come to so love. "Heavens no. Their names aren't even Raul and Jose. Their real names are Ralph and James, first generation born in this country. Both of them took this job just to have money for college. Ralph is on his way to his MBA while James is premed, I believe. I chose them for this little drama because they were big, built, and knew how to speak Spanish fluently. They were totally intimidating which is exactly what I wanted."

I sat back against the pillows just amazed. "You are incredible."

She shrugged and took a sip from her glass of water that had been sitting on the coffee table.

Patty broached a question that had been rolling around in my brain. "Jackie, what about Janice and Cheryl?"

"Those were the ones Russell was blackmailing?" I asked trying to be clear on the facts that I had been told. I knew the reason Patty had asked this question. She and Janice were pretty good friends in and out of work. I wondered if she knew that Janice and Cheryl had set up housekeeping, or if she was in the dark as much as everyone else. I would have to remember to ask her later.

Patty nodded in assent.

"They'll be fine. No repercussions at all. Everything and anything that went on with regards to anything Janice or Cheryl had done under duress they'll not be held accountable for. Everyone knows it all had to do with Russell. Don't worry, ladies, it's all been taken care of quietly and discretely."

"But her husband and the kids?" I asked concerned that Janice could lose her children after all if any of this got out.

Jackie placed her hand on mine. "I said it's all been taken care of and it has."

That menacing tone sent shivers up my spine. I was frightened all over again. Obviously, Jacqueline Drakkon, wasn't a woman to clash with, either in, or out of the workplace.

"Well that's all I needed to hear. So did he pee his pants?" Patty asked.

"Almost," Jac replied.

"But come on, Tim didn't really beat up Gary did he?" I thought of Timmy, he was thin and slight and looked as if a strong wind could knock him over. When he turned profile he almost disappeared from sight.

"Oh yeah he did," Patty voiced. "He's very proud of his battle scars. What did he say he felt like when he walked into the office?"

"Butch," Jac clarified.

"Yeah that's it. He felt sooooo butch. I'm sure he will regale you with the story the next time he sees you."

"I'm sure he will while adding some more," Jac made air quotation marks, "drama."

At this we all started laughing again.

"Ok that takes care of the office, so what happened here?" I saw Patty and Jac steal a look.

"Well, when all was said and done we tried to find you. Jason had been trying to reach you since you walked out of his office that morning." Patty started.

I nodded. "I probably shut off my cell phone."

"Yeah you did. Well anyway after spending hours looking for you I finally decided to come here and see if you were home."

"And I was."

"Well it depends on how you look at it. Your body was here, but you were gone." Patty said.

I could feel my face start to flush.

"You were drunk off your ass and singing "Sound of Silence"."

"So that's why that damn song has been running through my head all day." I interrupted.

"Yep. So I straightened out the house while Jackie took care of you. We fed you copious amounts of coffee, changed you into your jammies, and tucked you into bed. That's about it." Patty shrugged.

"That's it?"

"Yep." Patty rested her spine against the back of the chair

"Come on, Pats, there is no way that's the end of the story. You haven't Paul Harvey'ed yet." I knew there was a lot being left out. Me, drunk, and not doing anything stupid was unheard of. Hell, I humiliated myself all the time being stone cold sober, how could I not have done something dumb, when I was completely trashed?

"Well you were cute," Jac offered.

"Yeah you were," Patty agreed.

"Hmmm." I raised one eyebrow to show my disbelief.

"Honestly, you were drunk, we sobered you up as much as we could. Put you in your pj's and put you to bed. End of story." Patty spoke so earnestly that it was so hard not to believe her. But I didn't, not a word. Well I can't say that, she confirmed I was inebriated beyond belief and that they sobered me up and put me to bed, but other than that I knew there was a lot of the story being left out.

"So you're not going to tell me are you?" I asked.

"Nope." From Patty.

"No." From Jac followed.

"Ok, I guess I'll just have to live with the fact that whatever I did to humiliate myself last night will remain a secret forever."

Jac and Patty looked at each other before simultaneously saying, "Guess so."

I growled but what could I do? I guess just love them both.

To be continued in Part 12

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