The Light Fantastic

by LA Tucker

Part XIII:  Wrap Your Lips Around This One

For disclaimers see Part I

Chloe was sitting on the folded down rear gate of Nelson's pick up truck, next to Paul.  She had her sleeves rolled up past her shoulders, enjoying the sun here on this early Spring day.  It was nearly 70 degrees, definitely not a typical March day here in the Northeast. There was little to no breeze, which kept the temperature higher,  if there had been a wind, it would pick up the coldness of the nearby lake water, and spread that coolness over the land. She was glad she'd decided to wear shorts today, even if her legs were an embarrassing shade of egg shell white. Chloe's pale strawberry blonde hair, and fair complexion did not lend to tanning easily,  more of a golden glow would overtake her, and she would erupt with freckles on her nose, shoulders and knees over the course of the summer.  When she was younger, and put a premium on achieving a tan, she would spend hours in the sun, on the rough sand beach, wasting away many an hour.  Now that she was older, she thought more about preserving her skin, staying out of the sun unless it was incidental time, such as today.

She was thoroughly enjoying herself.  She hadn't done much, in the last two hours, other than sit back on the tailgate and watch the show. Sara had decided that it was too nice of a day to spend rehearsing indoors,  so she'd suggested that the whole cast move out to the parking lot, they could practice just as easily out there, with the assistance of a couple of PA speakers hooked up to someone's car CD player. This suggestion was greeted, not surprisingly, with a roar of approval from the ensemble.  Normally they were an enthusiastic bunch, but even the most dedicated of souls could lose their zeal when faced with having to be in a smelly old gymnasium  on a day like today.  They had moved a few cars, and had ample space to practice their moves.

Today they were rehearsing the box social scene. Every member of the cast was involved, and the scene included square dancing, singing, waltzing, a fight between farmers and cowboys, and running dialogue between different leads.  Everything was to be a mass of motion, unending for nearly 10 minutes. It had taken alot of planning, and some of Sara's ideas did not translate well to the small stage. There was a need for the audience not to be distracted by too much background clutter during the dialogue and lead singing parts. She kept adjusting dancers, and their movements as the day wore on, but she was still not happy with the results.  Some of the kids were getting restless, and although she had told them a half hour ago that they would be breaking soon, she had forgotten that promise and kept them working at it, over and over.  Chloe could see the frustration showing on the kids' faces.

Time to exercise my power as director of this thing. They need a break. She waited for an opportune moment to interrupt the proceedings. It came pretty quickly, when two couples plowed into each other during the umpteenth do-si-do of the afternoon. When it looked to Chloe that the farmers, cowboys and their significant others were going to start a real life range war right there on school property, she stood up on the tailgate and inserted two fingers in her mouth and let out a piercing whistle.  All eyes turned towards her, including those of her love, who raised an eyebrow when Chloe caught her eye.

"Ms. D' Amico, could I interrupt you for a moment and talk to you?"

"Why certainly,  Ms. Donahue."  Sara turned to her hot and tired troupe. "Why don't you all take 10 minutes ... make that 15 ... and relax?"  Some of the group gave her a grateful look, but the majority of them knew that their true benefactor was Ms. Donahue. Ms. D'  Amico was a slavedriver, pure and simple.

The group dispersed, some into the school, some on the on the brick ledge on the side of the building.

Sara walked across the parking lot, eyes never leaving those of her heart's desire as she approached.  She waited as Chloe and Paul moved to make room for her on the tailgate, and she hopped up.

How can we get rid of Paul?  He doesn't look like he's going to budge. "You had something you wanted to discuss with me?" Sara asked.

"Well, Ms. De Mille, as a matter of fact I did.  Are you trying to kill these kids?  They looked like they were planning a coup out there, a mutiny.  I was worried for your safety."  Chloe said, half seriously.

"You think I'm working them too hard?  This is a long involved scene, and we need big chunks of time to practice it. We need to get all the way through it without any hitches. The other scenes are all pretty easy compared to this one."

"Yeah, I know, but I think you need to let up a bit on it. We have plenty of time before May to nail it. It's just a suggestion, but why don't you do something that the kids will have some fun with after the break?  Then go back to it."  I don't like to butt in, but I'm getting tired just watching them.

Sara thought that over. Everyone's a critic. "All right, you're right. I'm being a killjoy, aren't I?"

"Maybe just a little bit."  Two points for me.

The three of them sat there for a while, just enjoying the day, and then Paul, who had been silent, said, "Hey, Sara, my mom said she met you the other day at the library."

"Yes, I did, Paul.  She seems like a lovely woman."  Crazy as a loon.

Chloe had an idea. "Paul, have you called and checked in with her lately?" 5 ... 4 ...

Paul looked a little disconcerted. "I don't have to check in with her. I'm a grown man. What gave you that idea?" he said, defensively.

"Oh, I thought you did, never mind, sorry." Chloe gave him an apologetic look.  3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Paul fidgeted, and checked his watch. "Uh, well, I guess I'll go ... to the men's room, if you ladies will excuse me."

He hopped off the back of the truck, and casually walked towards the school.

We have blast-off!  Chloe gleefully smirked, "Ten bucks says ..."

"That's a sucker bet." Sara replied, chuckling at the ease that Chloe had pulled that little maneuver off.

They gave each other the first real smiles, intimate smiles, that they had wanted to share all afternoon.

Sara looked around the parking lot, and then at the pinked face of the small director. "Think anyone will notice if I toss you into the pick up bed and ravish you?"

"You seemed to perform pretty well last night in front of a crowd."  I like flirting so much more than fighting.

"Well, yeah, but they were buying me drinks. What's in it for me today?" Sara challenged, and quite purposely raised a single brow.

"You have no imagination.  Plus, I'm sure I could come up with a couple of requests ..."  Damn, that eyebrow, what it does to me.

Marcy's little red Miata caught Sara's eye. "Hey, by the way, where is my little 'Cher' today?  I haven't seen her since we pulled in. And how'd she get her car back?"


"Oh, that's right, you weren't there when we did 'I Got You Babe'".  Sara smirked, and did that eyebrow thing again.

Chloe laughed, and slapped Sara lightly on the shoulder. "Seems like I missed a lot last night.  You'll have to tell me about it."

"What I can remember I'll tell you." Sara looked around.  "Anyway, where is she?"

"Paul said she went straight to the nurse's office. I figured she's sacked out in there. She doesn't have good recuperative abilities like you apparently do."

"I have many, many, you know, ...  talents."  Am I overdoing this eyebrow thing?

"I look forward to learning what exactly those might be."  Chloe said, a flirtatious gleam in her eyes.

"You, Madam director, are going to witness them," and Sara tapped the tip of Chloe's nose, "one at a time, little by little.  I wouldn't want to overwhelm you. Your brain would explode."  Sara raised both eyebrows, and crossed her eyes in demonstration.

"I'm pretty sure it has several times, and was put back together wrong." If we put the tailgate up, and crawled back, I'm sure no one would find us for a least 5 minutes. I think that's all it would take ...

"So that explains it." nodded Sara.

"I have an explanation for everything.  It might be wrong, of course, but it makes my life simpler knowing that I know everything. " Chloe said, with an absolute air of confidence. "Oh, boy, here comes Paul again. We don't have much time."  Chloe hesitated for a moment, and then said, "I was wondering if I could offer you a ride home tonight?"

"Are you going to do that old 'oh, look, here we are out on a deserted road, and I just ran out of gas trick' with me? Hmm?"

"Maybe."  Definitely.

"Sounds perfect to me." Sara said, quickly running her fingertip along Chloe's arm.

Paul was a mere few steps away. "Good. Because I think we need to have a little talk."  And I know how you love doing THAT.

It was Sara's turn to say it. "Oh boy."

"I can't think when you're doing that."  Chloe gasped.  Sara's lips were softly working their way up Chloe's neck, getting dangerously close to her ear.

"Thinking is so overrated", murmured Sara, as her tongue found a delightful little divot of skin to stop and memorize.

Chloe fought the overwhelming urge to just let Sara have her way with her. Several times. In several different positions. She grasped Sara by the shoulders, and reluctantly pushed her away.  "God, you are worse than a teenage boy. All hands, all lips..."

"All total frustration." growled Sara, and sat back on the blanket, propping herself up by her elbows. She stretched her long legs out, and growled again, just to emphasize her point. She looked around at their surroundings. They were about 45 yards, a wedge shot, from the 6th hole. It had been Chloe's suggestion that they continue their day outdoors after rehearsals finished for the day. Huh. She just didn't want to be caught indoors with me, where one thing would naturally lead to another. And another.  Sara sighed, and looked at Chloe sitting cross-legged, who had worked her way up from the semi-prone position that Sara had worked so hard to get her into. A few more inches down, and I would have had her. Damn.

Chloe was rubbing her knees, trying to regain her composure. "Listen, sweetheart, may I remind you that this ground is still awfully cold, and this blanket is feeling a little damp."  She saw Sara's expression soften. "Not my idea of an ideal place for our 'first' time. Now, if it was June or July, you would be getting no argument from me. I like the thought of getting mosquito bites in the oddest of places as much as the next girl."  Chloe cracked a wide grin.

Sara relaxed. "I'd be happy to scratch any of those hard to reach places for you. You just let me know..."

"I'll keep that in mind."  Chloe picked some grass off of her sneaker. "Meanwhile, we need to talk."  She studied Sara's face. "YOU think we need to talk too, right, I mean ..."

Yeah. In three days time, after both of us are so worn out, that the only things that we can move are our lips. "Of course I do. We need to talk ..." God, I am such a lousy liar. Alright, enough of this, time to get the talking over with, so we can move on to other things. Get a grip. Talk.  Sara gave Chloe an encouraging smile. "Where do you want to start?"

Oh god, that's a tough one. OK, let's just get to the big stuff, right off the bat. "I need to know why you felt the need to blow me off like that. That really hurt."  Chloe's stomach lurched a little at the thought.

Sara was equally dismayed by the quick way Chloe had gotten to the point, and the miserable expression on the smaller woman's face. "I ... I'm sorry about that. It just seemed like the only way I could ... handle things, the way I was feeling at the time." Sara looked for Chloe's reaction to that. Alright, apparently that wasn't a good enough answer. "And,  well, there was that mix-up about me thinking that, you know, that you and Audra had ..."  It was Sara's stomach that felt the roiling sensation now.  Way, way in the back of my mind, I still feel like it might have happened. Like she did, even though she says she didn't.

Chloe heard the uncertainty in Sara's voice. "We didn't."  But if that tea kettle hadn't started whistling when it did, I'm not sure that I would be able to say that to her right now. If that tea kettle hadn't interrupted the moment, the moment may have carried over into something else. I know Audra wanted to continue. I can't say with a certainty that I, at that time, didn't want it to continue. But I put a stop to it, and that's what counts.

Sara wasn't quite sure how to put it, but she tried anyway. "It's not that I haven't slept with women that were currently sleeping with other women ... it never bothered me then ... as long as I knew they were being safe,  you know ... " Sara's face colored a little at her admission. "But for some reason, with you ... well, it seemed different, more important to me. That you hadn't."  I wanted you to be mine and mine alone. "And I've never felt that way about anyone, and that kind of scared me."

"You don't want to feel that way about someone? " Chloe steeled herself for Sara's response.   You're the one who wanted to have this little talk.

Sara thought about this for a moment. "It's not that. It's just that it's never happened to me, so I was surprised when it did." And then some. I still am.

Chloe leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Sara's lips, and then leaned back.

Sara's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "What was that for?"

"For feeling that way about someone now." Chloe's voice was light.

Sara felt a blush appear. "I told you before, the night we first kissed, that I don't necessarily think that me feeling that way is good for either one of us.  Look at how much trouble that's already caused you."

"You don't think we have any kind of a future?" This is tough, I feel like the ball's about to drop. On me.

Sara looked at her doubtfully. "We're not talking about someone renting an orange moving van tomorrow, right?"

"Gimme a break. No. I was thinking next weekend, so I could get packed first,"  Chloe said sarcastically. She tempered that with a small grin, then her face got serious. "You said I was a small town girl, and you're right."  She looked down at her knees. "I don't want to be just another in a long list for you.  I'm not built that way. I'm not 'affair' material."

Sara reached out a hand, and put it on Chloe's knee. "I knew that when I first met you." Sara said softly, and gave the knee a squeeze, and then sighed, and looked across the green span in front of her. "My brother, Mr. Kisses? That's what Marcy was calling him last night. Anyway, he told me that all I ever do is say 'no' first, and then wait to be convinced otherwise." She pursed her lips at that thought. "I know he's right, it's just easier for me to say 'no', then not have to deal with anything beyond that."  She scooted a little closer to Chloe, and gently grasped her hand. She brought it up to her face, and drew Chloe's fingertip down the length of her scar. "This scar, Chloe, is the easiest 'no' I've ever had."  She dropped her hand back into her lap, but didn't let go of Chloe's hand. "It gave me permission to say 'no' with more ease than I could ever imagine."

Chloe looked at her, clearly confused.

Sara drew her lips into a small rueful smile. "People probably think that I quit the movie business, became some kind of a hermit, because of it."  She shook her head. "It just gave me permission to quit, and hide myself away. I wanted to do that before the accident happened. I had no clue what was going on. Every day, on the set for 'Star Gazers' and probably even before that, I was a wreck.  I would sit in a trailer, waiting to get called, and from out of nowhere, bang, it would happen. The attacks.  And the more I worried about getting them, the worse I got.  There were days I couldn't even leave my apartment to get to the set.  Rumors started, you've probably heard them, that I was doing drugs, right? "  She looked to Chloe quickly for confirmation. When she got it, she stared again, unfocused, across the greenery.  "I never did, although I came close. Jennie, in all of her misguided concern, suggested I might consider 'a little' to help me get through my day."  Sara grabbed some blades of grass with her free hand, and tossed them, hard. "You haven't heard about Jennie yet, have you?  That would take a week in itself to explain. For this part of the story, let's just keep her description short. 'Agent, manager, sometime lover'."

Sara stopped talking, and continued to pull, and then toss, grass tufts.  Chloe pulled up closer to her, and added a second hand to brush across the hand she was already holding. "Is this upsetting you?  We can stop. We don't have to talk about this anymore, if you're uncomfortable."

Sara yanked her hand free, and stood up so quickly that Chloe was startled. "NO! don't you see that that's exactly what got me into trouble in the first place?"  Sara looked at Chloe, and saw that she had upset her. She sat back down, this time, cross legged from Chloe, so that their knees were touching. "If there's anything I've learned, it's that I can't avoid talking about it, or fighting against it. No matter how much I want to."

Chloe ran the back of her hand across Sara's thigh. "I just meant, you don't have to go into the whole story now, if you didn't want to,  I don't know.  It's hard seeing that you are getting ... agitated.  I just don't know, what to say, or do ..."  Chloe was at a loss.

"I just want you to know what you might be getting yourself into. You deserve that. Knowing what kind of woman you seem to want to get involved with."

"It sounds like in some ways, you are trying to talk you out of getting involved with me."  Chloe sighed. "OK, forget I said that. Take our 'relationship' out of the equation. Talk to me on some other level."

"It's hard for me to talk about it because it's all so personal to me, and so embarrassing.  I am embarrassed about all of this. The scared, panicky person, I don't see her as me. I just see her as someone who's life I'm being forced to live for the time being. I keep waking up, hoping she'll be gone, and I'll be back. The tough assed, devil-may-care, could handle anything with a sneer on my face, me."  Sara scowled, and her face showed her frustration.

"But look at how much you've done.  I mean, you came home to your family, you've met other people now, you seem to get out on a more regular basis. And all those kids you have to deal with now. And you went out last night, and got trashed with the person you love to hate the most, our dear Marcy.  Don't you see any of that as progress?  Can't you be happy with smaller victories?" She's so hard on herself.

"You have no idea what it takes me to get psyched up on these days that I spend with the kids. I almost had Nelson take me home this morning, several times." Sara shook her head, and her brow creased.

"But you don't seem the least bit,  I don't know,  rattled around them. You're always smiling, laughing, ...."

"... working them like dogs? Yeah, I don't mean to say I don't enjoy them. I just wish I could enjoy them with some peace of mind attached.  And Marcy, last night,  she's pretty good around me, and I had several drinks in me before I had time to think about being someplace strange, with someone strange ...  and then had several more drinks to the point where, I believe I was singing 'Sexual Healing' to her in front of a bar full of grape growers and cherry pickers."  Sara glanced to see what Chloe's reaction to that was, and she saw Chloe's eyes dancing with mirth. "I shouldn't be drinking like that either, with the meds I take. I don't take anything powerful or strong.  Just maintenance meds, I don't think that last night put me in harm's way, I just don't think I should be doing that on a regular basis."

"Singing 'Sexual Healing' to your brother's girlfriend, or drinking to excess?"  Chloe teased.

"Probably both." Sara laughed, and pushed her hair behind her shoulders. "Drinking is a horrible thing. It gets me to where I can remember what I used to feel like, without the aid of alcohol. You know, fearless, brazen ... maybe a bit of a flirt.  I don't believe in any way, shape or form that I am, or ever have been close to being an alcoholic. But the capacity is in me, and I know it. If I had, as Jennie suggested to me at one point, taken the kind of drugs she was offering me, I've no doubt that I would have been spending some major time doing rehab for drugs." Sara paused, and studied Chloe. "You talk about your small town mentality like it's something you shouldn't be proud of. Well, my being brought up here, in this small town, is exactly what saved me from abusing drugs and alcohol.  Don't ever think that I think it's a fault in you, Chloe, not being as worldly as I am. I admire it about you.  I came back here to try and get it back."

"So you want to be just like me, huh?" said Chloe, glad to see some of the worry easing out of Sara's face.

 Sara reached across and fluffed Chloe's hair. "Just like."

"So, still keeping me out of the 'big picture' here, what is it you want to accomplish, or do, with the rest of your time here on this planet, big girl?" Chloe was trying to keep Sara comfortable, asking the hard questions but phrasing it so Sara could relax into her answer.

"Well, I guess it changes. Has changed.  I used to be happy just getting by, you know, getting through the day. Dave pretty much told me that is a pretty lame goal, just getting through the day.  I know that he's right. Damn, I hate it when he's right. He's a lot smarter than he comes across, you know?  So, I've come up with some new ones and I'm working on them."

"Care to share?"

"Well, this play is one. Not only being involved in it, but enjoying it too, as much as I can. And ... trying to get comfortable with a new set of people, letting them become part of my comfort zone. And ... see how things go with you, of course.  And I want to get my license back.  I know that seems like a small thing to most folks, but I let it lapse, using it as yet another reason why I couldn't go anywhere."  Sara squinted at Chloe. "There's absolutely no medical reason for why I haven't been driving."

"I didn't want to ask."

"Well, to tell the truth, I feel better when I'm the driver. Back when I used to drive, and got the attacks, well, I knew I was in control, in command. I wouldn't have to put myself in the situation where I had to tell someone to pull over ... to do my little walkabout."  Sara looked to Chloe, who had her arms wrapped about herself. The sun was quietly disappearing, and a chill was coming into the air. "Hey, you're looking a little chilled there. You want to go up to the house?  Dave's house. We can get you warmed up. And you can feel safe from worrying I'm some wolfish predator waiting for the right moment to drop my fangs into you ..."

"Who's to say you're safe from me?" Chloe replied. She put her hands onto the cold blanket and pushed herself into a standing position. She held out a hand to help Sara up. "You think you have me all figured out, don't you, Miss Complicated?  I have a few skeletons in my own closet."

Sara accepted the hand up, and  she closed the short distance between them, wrapping her arms around Chloe and pulling her into tight hug. She smelled the sunshine of the spring day clinging to Chloe's hair. "I have the distinct feeling that I'll never figure out all there is to you, Chloe."

"Ohmygod.  A girl takes a 4 hour power nap in the nurse's office, and the next thing she knows, all hell breaks loose."

Chloe and Sara, engaged in a pretty intense kiss on the front porch, both started laughing into each other's mouths.

"You two look like blowfish. Are you poisonous, too?"  Marcy said drily, as she stood inside the screen door, watching her two friends blush and steal shy looks at each other.  "Why do I feel like I need to ground one or both of you?"  She opened up the door for them to come in. "You're just in time.  Dave just went to pick up a couple of pizzas."  She gave Chloe a quick hug. "Are you on some kind of quest to get caught kissing all the D'  Amicos this week? "

Nelson, sitting at the kitchen table, had caught all of the conversation, but not the actual act. "Uh, excuse me?  I'm in the room, well I was ..."  He quickly scooted out to the living room to rid himself of his blush.  Sara, with her arm draped casually over Chloe's shoulders, winked at Marcy and yelled "Hey, Nelson!!  Come back!  I'll protect you from Chloe! "

"That's 'Miss Lips', to the both of you, if you don't mind." Chloe gave Sara a quick smooch on the chin. "And leave the poor guy alone. Things are strange enough around here as it is without you two stirring up more trouble."  She turned to Marcy, who seemed to have benefited from her beauty nap. "Marse, or should I call you 'Cher',  how many pizzas did you say Dave was getting?

"Two, extra large."  She looked at Chloe, then thought about Nelson out in the living room. "Looks like I'd better call and order a couple more. Dave can wait for them."  She turned and picked up the kitchen phone to make the call.  Sara took this opportunity to try and kiss Chloe again.  She leaned in, and just as lips were about to meet lips, lips met cheek instead.

"Huh?  what's with the cheek, Grandma?" said Sara disappointedly. She pulled Chloe in tighter and gave her a puzzled look.

"I'm not much for audiences,"  Chloe shyly said, and laid her cheek onto Sara's chest.

"That's not what I hear.  I hear I missed quite the show after my ... chauffeur dropped me off last night. He said it was like watching one of those really bad 'girl on girl' tapes you can rent down at Bob's ..."  Marcy chided.

Sara, not relinquishing her hold on Chloe, turned them both to face Marcy. "And exactly how does my brother know about those kind of tapes? Hmm?  And I don't even need to ask you, you were displaying some mighty stereotypical moves on me last night, so I know you're familiar with them."

Nelson yelled from the living room "You know, I can still hear you out here.  I am going to be so warped by the time I get out of my teens."

Sara yelled right back. "So turn the TV up.  And you were born warped, all of this can't do anything but unwarp you."  She took a look down at Chloe, who seemed perfectly content to be wrapped loosely in Sara's arms.  She noticed that Marcy and Chloe were shooting little grins at each other. Sara felt a small warm feeling creep over her. What's that?  I couldn't possibly be feeling ... happy?  Yeah, that's it.  I'm happy.  She gave Chloe another squeeze, and kissed her her forehead.

"So, Chloe, I was wondering, are you in need of a cigarette or anything?"  Marcy squinted at her, " A beer?  Need to relieve some guilt with me?"

Chloe blushed, and shoved her face deeper into Sara's chest. Damn, she buttons her shirts high, if that one button was open, I'd be getting a nose full of cleavage right now. She spoke directly into Sara's shirt. "Not yet. Thanks for thinking of me, though." She could feel her warm breath seep into the fabric of the shirt, and knew that Sara could feel it too, because she got yet another squeeze.

Sara didn't have a clue as to what they were talking about, but she figured it had something to do with that universal subject, sex. "She really is shy, huh?" Sara said, directing her question to Marcy.

"Sara, Chloe and I have been friends since the third grade, and I've never, ever seen her in anything less than her underwear. Not in gym classes, not at sleep overs,  camping trips, not when we used to visit each other at college. I can't say with a certainty she is a TRUE redhead, other than the fact that I've known her for so long."  Marcy laughed, still amazed at the modesty her best friend displayed.

"THAT did it, I'll be in my bedroom. Call me when the pizzas get here!!"  Nelson's voice came ringing  from the living room. God, a guy can only take so much.

The three women burst out laughing. Chloe turned and grabbed Sara's shirt, and buried her face deeply in Sara's chest. "Ohgod."

"Hon, you're going to suffocate yourself in there."  Sara laid her arms across Chloe's shoulders, and put her chin on the top of her head.

"... mfrpp... die happy ..." said Chloe, hugging Sara even harder.

Marcy, extremely pleased that her brain was going to be freed from any more plotting, sat down at the kitchen table. A weird thought hit her. "You know, looking at you two, I can't help but be reminded of ... you know, those two women on TV ... don't tell me, it will come to me ... really good friends ...  one short, one tall ...  a redblonde and a brunette ...  do everything together ... always getting into trouble...."

Sara's eyebrow rose, and she quirked a grin at Marcy.  Chloe, totally relaxed, feeling right at home snuggled against Sara's chest, peacefully asked, "Who?"

"Oh, yeah, I got it now. Do the words 'Schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated' mean anything to you?" Marcy did a few head bobs as she chanted the words.

Sara looked around to see if there was anything she could throw that she wouldn't have to sweep up later. All she could find was a dishtowel, so she tossed it at Marcy's head. Marcy ducked.  "Sara, you could start wearing an 'S' on the front of everything you wear ... " Marcy giggled.

"Marcy, I liked you better when I hated you. And you'd better hush up, or I'll tell Dave you were singing 'I Kissed A Girl' to me at karaoke last night."

"But I didn't!"  At least I think I didn't.

"Yeah, well, he wasn't there, so how would he know?"  Sara reached out, and pulled out a kitchen chair, and maneuvered Chloe to sit on her knee.

"Are you two going to be glued together like that all the time now?  And I thought Dave and I were bad."

Chloe happily put her arm around Sara's shoulder. "Shaddup you, we're in love. We're allowed."

Sara sat up straight, and pulled a little away from Chloe, so she could look at her. "We are, huh?  First time I've heard it from you ...", she grinned.

Chloe realized what she had said, and got a little tongue tied. "Well, sure, yes, I mean, I wouldn't have put up with ... you know ... you acting like such an asshole and all ... if I wasn't in love with you, right?" she finished brightly.

Sara gave her a quick kiss, smiled with everything she had in her, and then winked at Marcy. "She has quite the romantic way with words, doesn't she?"

"Quite the little wordsmith.  Remind me to ask her to write my wedding vows for me when I get married."

Two figures in one chair straightened up in unison and stared at Marcy.

Marcy fidgeted. "Let me amend that to ...  if I get married."

The same two figures looked at each other skeptically, then returned to staring at Marcy.

Marcy, whose body language was speaking in foreign tongues now, squirmed and complained, "God, can't a girl mention the 'M' word without getting hassled?"

Chloe, who considered herself an A-1, top drawer, hassler extraordinaire, spoke up. "Well for god's sakes, Marcy, everyone in town knows that Herb Harris financed that new sunporch on his house by using all the non-refundable deposits on the reception hall ... from your weddings that never took place."  She turned to Sara. "Do you know how many altered, non-returnable maid of honor gowns I have in my closet?  Because she," and she cast a disapproving eye towards Marcy, "thought it would be bad luck to use the same dress for a different wedding, to a different guy?  So, yeah, when you say the 'M' word, I get a little nervous."

"Apparently, not as nervous as she does." Sara said glibly.

Chloe was doing a little mental addition. "Five. With matching shoes."

Marcy was quiet.  Here it comes.

Sara was thrilled that Marcy was on the receiving end of some needling for a change. "So I shouldn't be putting any money on Marcy becoming a bona fide D' Amico that you get your lips on, huh, Chloe?"  A thought struck her. " Marcy, what is your last name anyways?  I don't think I've ever heard anyone ever use it.  Dave, Nelson, the kids, Mrs. Raeburn, Chloe here, they all just call you 'Marcy'.

Marcy cleared her throat and said, "Wojciechlowski.  Not a soul can say it, everybody avoids trying to pronounce it so they won't look stupid screwing it up. So as far back as I can remember, I've always been just 'Marcy' ... like Madonna, Sting ... or 'Cher'."  She smiled at that last name.

Chloe rolled her eyes. "Tell her the best one, Marse.  When I thought the wedding was never going to take place because I was plotting to kill the bride before her big day."

"Huh? Oh, yeah, you must mean from the first squelched wedding.  Yeah, come to think of it, you did give me quite the hard time about that."  She gave a sideways grin to Sara. "Seems that Chloe here was a little upset with me because I was insisting that I was going to go with a hyphenated name after marriage." She pursed her lips several times, in order to stretch them out for the upcoming effort. "Marcy Wojciechlowski-Krkoska."  She grinned at how big Sara's eyes got at that. "Has a nice, post-Berlin Wall, gold medal gymnast sound to it, don't you think?"

Chloe reached out and smacked her on the shoulder. "And this idiot wanted me to get that on MATCHBOOKS. You know, the kind that's at the table at the reception?  I talked to 3 different bridal supply outlets, and they all hung up on me, thought I was playing a joke. And the ones that didn't hang up, they had to listen to me try to pronounce it, slaughter it really, and then I would spell it for them. The last guy said, 'Lady, my pen doesn't have enough ink to write down all those letters, how in the world am I going to get them all on a matchbook?'"

Dave came through the door, laden with a hernia inducing load of pizzas.  He gave a stilted grin when he saw the laughing occupants of the kitchen. "Hey, all, looks like we have the whole gang here." He dropped the pizzas into the center of the table, and then gave Marcy a token peck on the cheek. He took off his coat, laid it on the back of a chair, and then settled down into it. "Having a little girl talk, huh?  Sorry I missed it." He toyed with a corner of one of the boxes, looking a little ill at ease.

Sara kicked him with her sneaker. "Seems you have a little side job now, delivering pizzas?  Marcy here, I'm sure, will want to tip you."

Chloe jumped off Sara's lap, and smoothed her hands on her shorts. "I'm going to go wash up, and get Nelson."  She smiled at Dave, who didn't return the eye contact, and continued fidgeting with the pizza boxes.

"Uh, Chloe, you may want to hold on to that thought a minute." said Dave, picking nervously at the cardboard.

All three women looked at him curiously, as he kept his eyes down and wrinkled his forehead in thought. Chloe bumped his chair with her hip.
"Why the gloomy look,  'Mr. Kisses'?"

That remark brought a real frown to Dave's face. He turned in his chair and looked deeply and apologetically into Chloe's green eyes.

"Well, 'Miss Lips'," he replied softly.  "It seems that everyone in town knows ...  that we've been secretly having an affair."

 Continued in Part XIV

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