THE BRASS RING
By Mavis Applewater
For Disclaimers see part one
A special thank you goes out to my beta reader Joanne.
As Always For Heather
CC rubbed her throbbing temples as she stared at the door. "Want to talk about it?" Stevie offered in a sweet tempered tone. CC turned a weary bloodshot gaze on her younger sister who was holding her daughter. "No," she answered, the heartbreak evident in her voice. She could feel her bottom lip start to tremble. "Yes," she whimpered as she walked over and removed her fussing niece from Stevie's arms. "First, just let me hold the peanut."
CC held her niece tightly, taking in the sweet scent of the infant's hair. It was the only thing that would bring her peace at the moment. "Don't ever grow up on me, Peanut," she cooed to child who was clinging to her, seeming to understand her pain. "Is she okay?" CC asked as the child clutched at her tightly. "She feels a little warm."
"I've called her doctor," Stevie explained. "I'm sure it's nothing." Stevie's tone wasn't very convincing.
"What did the doctor say?" CC asked hurriedly.
"I didn't get him," Stevie continued. "I left a message with his service. I'm just waiting for a call back. I checked her temperature; she's not running a fever."
CC looked over at her sister who seemed more than a little concerned. CC sensed that Stevie would feel better if she was holding the child. Reluctantly she handed the infant back. "So," Stevie began slowly, relaxing a little when her daughter was nestled in her arms. "While were waiting for Dr. Damarcus to call, why don't you fill me in?"
"Last night I was working the hotline." CC swallowed the bile that was creeping up. "There was this teenage girl, Susan. She sounded odd when she called. I suspected something right away. Her tone was so flat and unfeeling."
"Oh God," Stevie choked out.
"She was having problems dealing with her feelings towards other girls," CC continued as the tears began to well up in her eyes. "I talked to her. Everything by the book, you know. But I just knew that shed done something. It seemed like an eternity before she admitted that she just wanted to stop hurting. Then she told me about the pills. I kept calm. I kept her talking, got her to tell me where she was. I kept her talking while I wait for the ambulance to reach her. I wasn't on the phone with her that long but it seemed like forever. After the EMT's reached her, I rushed off to the hospital." CC looked over to see her sister holding her breath. "She didn't make it, Stevie," CC choked out.
"I'm so sorry, Caitlin," Stevie said in a soothing tone. "Do you want to talk about it? It must have reminded you of Donny," Stevie offered, referring to the brother she had never known. "You need to talk to someone," she encouraged.
CC brushed away the tears and smiled a shy smile. "I did," she said as she blinked rapidly, the blush creeping across her body. "Jamie was her doctor. I ran outside and collapsed when I realized that Susan was dead. Jamie came to me. We ended up going to the bar across the street from the hospital. It was hard for her as well to lose a patient that young. We talked and talked about it. Not about us or the past, just about the senselessness of it and the waste of a young life. Unfortunately, while we talked we also drank. Margaritas," CC added with a grimace as the pain of her hangover shot through her.
"Ooops." Stevie snorted. CC knew that her sister was holding back laughter.
"No kidding." CC rolled her eyes. "At closing time we stepped outside, agreeing that neither of us should drive. I hailed a cab and I turned to her to ask if she wanted to share the ride. Next thing I knew we were making out."
"Uh huh." Stevie smirked at her.
"I tried to put a stop to things," CC explained. "But we just kept kissing and touching. The next thing I knew we were in the taxi. I gave the driver our address. Well, you can figure out what happened." CC folded her arms across her body, feeling the aches and pains coursing through her.
"Well, it is how we got Emma." Stevie laughed loudly as her daughter drifted off to sleep. "Let me guess. Jamie wasnt happy when she woke up next to you?"
"Happy?" CC groaned. "She was bordering on violent. Face it. I'm not the woman of her dreams; I'm more like the woman of her nightmares."
"Go talk to her," Stevie instructed her sternly.
"Have you lost what's left of your mind?" CC asked in a horrified tone. "She hates me."
"No, she doesn't," Stevie argued. "She's next door. Go talk to her."
"Next door?" CC said as she shook her head in confusion.
"Our new neighbor," Stevie explained. "The one we haven't met. Go to her. It's time for the two of you to bury the hatchet."
"I just afraid she'll want to bury it in my skull," CC responded sincerely.
"Stop being a coward," Stevie flared at her harshly. "Go and talk to her. If she stays angry with you, then you haven't lost anything. If she understands, then maybe the two of you can save your friendship. Go!" Stevie shouted, sending a sharp jolt through CC's throbbing head. Emma stirred slightly.
"What about Emma?" CC protested.
"I'll come get you when the doctor calls," Stevie growled.
CC knew she was fighting a losing battle yet she wasn't ready to concede just yet. Stevie's eyes burned into her. She felt her resolve crumbling. Without bothering to put on a coat or shoes, she stepped outside. She shivered from the cold. She was just about to retreat back inside her own home when she heard the lock being bolted behind her.
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