By M.E. Tudor


            Kelly held up one end of the cabinet while Timmy screwed the other end into the wall. She had felt distracted all day and Timmy had to call her out of daze several times. She was nervous because she knew that her husband would have gotten the divorce papers by now and she was expecting him to do something like call or show up. It had not been more than a week since the divorce papers should have arrived at his house and she, nor her attorney, had heard anything from him. Kelly didn’t like the silence. She knew her husband well enough to know that he would confront her about this in one way or another.

            “Kelly,” Timmy snapped, “Girl, where is your head today? You lowered your end and now I’m going to have to back this screw out and redo it.”

            “I’m sorry Timmy. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.” Kelly straightened her end of the cabinet and focused on what she was doing until the cabinet was up.

            Once the cabinet was completely secured, Timmy turned to Kelly, “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on. Are you and Pat having problems already?”

            Kelly grinned at the mention of Pat’s name. The only problems they were having was trying to go slow with their relationship. They had gone out on a few dates and Pat always stepped inside Kelly’s apartment to kiss her goodnight. Last night, when Pat brought her home, Kelly had pushed Pat against the door and run her hands over Pat’s breasts. She was certain that Pat would not be able to resist her attempt to coax her into making love with her but Pat had managed to pull away with the warning that she was getting close to losing her ability to fight off the temptation of making love. Kelly didn’t want to fight it anymore but Pat wanted to be sure that their relationship would be more than just a fling, like her relationships in the past had been.

            Kelly looked at Timmy who had a raised eyebrow and a knowing grin on his face. “No, Pat and I are not having any problems. I’m just waiting to hear my husband’s response to the divorce papers.”

            “What do you think he will do?” Timmy asked as he got two sodas out of the cooler and handed one to Kelly.

            “I don’t know but he’s not going to take this very well and I’m expecting him to try to do something to hurt me, physically, emotionally or financially, or maybe all three.”

            Timmy shook his head. “I can’t imagine you being afraid of anyone. I can’t believe this man has that kind of control over you.”

            “I was a different person before I came here,” Kelly sighs and looks away, literally, she thinks to herself.

            Timmy studies Kelly for a moment. She has told him more and more about her past but there is still something she seems to be holding back. He really doesn’t care what she’s hiding. He likes her a lot and he’s not going to let her husband mess with her here. “Don’t worry about him. You have friends looking out for you here, hon. We ain’t going to let him do anything to you. Rick’s attorney is really good. He’s not going to let you husband mess with you too much.”

            Kelly smiled. “Thanks Timmy. I’m really glad you are one of my friends here.”

            Timmy gave her a light punch on the arm. “Enough of that mushy stuff, you focused enough now to help me finish hanging these cabinets?”

            Kelly punched Timmy back lightly. “Yeah, let’s get this wrapped up.”




            The weather was turning colder and the leaves beginning to change. Kelly looks around at the aspen trees surrounding the property that she and Pat were at. Pat asked Kelly to come out with her to help her put up for sale signs on some properties she had just been contracted to sell. Kelly had been glad to have a chance to be out alone with Pat. She had told Pat that she had filed for a divorce from her husband but they had not talked about that or where their relationship was going.

            Kelly was staring off at the cluster of aspen and pine trees off in the distance when she felt Pat’s hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”

            “Yeah, I was just thinking how quickly the weather is changing out here.” Kelly turned to look into Pat’s eyes but Pat turned away.

            Kelly looked back at the trees. “So what are we doing after we get done with this?”

            “I thought we’d take a drive out to my parents’ ranch.” Pat said still not looking at Kelly.

            Kelly looked back at Pat, “So am I going to meet your parents?”

            “Most likely,” Pat meeting Kelly’s eyes this time. “Is that okay?”

            “Yeah, sure,” Kelly said, holding Pat’s gaze. “I’d like for us to talk about us at some point today.”

            Pat looked away, “Okay. We’ll talk about that when we get back to Montrose.”

            Kelly wanted to tell Pat her whole story. She wanted her to know everything about her past so there would be no more secrets between them but she hadn’t felt like there had been a good moment to have such a heavy discussion. Too, Pat had seemed distant that past few times that they had been out. It was like she was putting up a wall between them just when Kelly would be free to be with her.

            They finished putting the for sale signs on the property and got into Pat’s jeep. Neither spoke on the trip to Pat’s parents house and Kelly was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea for her to meet Pat’s parents when they were both being a bit sully.

            Pat turned down the long drive that led through her parents’ property. They crossed a cow grate and drove down the dusty lane. Kelly noticed the cows off in the distance on either side of the road. There didn’t seem to be any fences except at the front of the property. Pat sensed Kelly’s question, “Mom and Dad own all of the property on either side of this drive. There’s close to sixty acres of graze land.”

            “Wow.” Kelly stated looking around her, seeing nothing but grass and rocks.

            They topped a hill and down in the valley below them was a large ranch house with barns and sheds behind it. Pat reached over and took Kelly’s hand, it was the first time she had touched her all day. “Rick has been telling my parents about you so they wanted to meet you. Don’t be nervous, they are very laid back.”

            “Do you want me to meet your parents?” Kelly asked, hurt that Pat had made this visit out to be Rick’s doing.

            Pat sighed and looked over at Kelly, “I do but I wasn’t quite ready to bring you out yet. Rick told them that we were dating and that you were getting divorced so they want to meet you.”

            “Why aren’t you ready to bring me out yet?” Kelly asked turning in her seat to look at Pat.

            Pat started to answer but was cut short by her father hollering her name from the porch. “We’ll talk later.” She said, squeezing Kelly’s hand. She turned back to her father, “Hey Daddy.”

Pat parked the Jeep in front of the house and got out to hug her father, who was an older version of Rick. Pat’s mother came out of the house wiping her hands on the apron that she had tied around her jean clad waist. She was wearing a t-shirt that had horses on it and work boots to complete her ensemble. She too hugged Pat.

They stood expectantly and Kelly got out of the Jeep and came up on the porch. Kelly was so nervous that she didn’t know what to say. Pat’s dad held out his hand to her, “Richard Bryant. Nice to finally meet you Kelly.”

Kelly looked into his warm brown eyes, very much like Rick’s. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

Pat’s mom stepped up to Kelly and hugged her, “Rick has been telling us a lot about you. You’ve become quite an asset to his team. I’m Rebecca but everyone calls me Becky,” she said glaring over her shoulder at Pat. “Come on in and have a seat. We’ll be having dinner soon.”

Kelly looked back at Pat who was flushed with embarrassment. She smiled at Kelly reassuringly, but Kelly felt like she was about to get the third degree.

Kelly was awestruck when she entered the home. It had all natural wood walls, much like a log cabin would have. There were thick wood beams that crossed the vaulted ceilings with small chandeliers hanging from the ceilings.

“This is the great room,” Becky was saying as she motioned around the room with her arm. “Richard’s father actually built this house back in the 1930’s but we’ve completely refurbished it.”

Becky took Kelly’s hand and led her into the kitchen, which was huge. “I love to cook and I like to have a lot of room to do it in.” She said when she turned to see Kelly’s shocked expression.

Becky continued the tour into the bedroom areas. The bedrooms and bathrooms all had drywall on the walls but the ceiling was still natural wood. She pointed to a bedroom on the right, “This was Rick’s room.”

Kelly peeked inside to see the walls covered with sports posters, trophies and college flags. She wasn’t really surprised. She knew that Rick tried to make sure his weekends were clear for playing baseball and watching sports on television.

“This was Pat’s room,” Becky said motion to the room across the hall.

Kelly actually stepped inside this room, wanting to get a feel for who Pat had been as a girl. There were sports posters on her walls. A bookshelf filled with books and some trophies. There were no dolls of any kind but just about every stuffed animal you could think of.

“She’s always like animals, can you tell?” Becky asked and poked Pat in the ribs affectionately.

“No, I couldn’t tell.” Kelly said with a grin in Pat’s direction.

Pat looked away shyly. She acted as if a part of her had been exposed and Kelly understood. She didn’t have any idea that Pat liked stuffed animals. They had talked about a number of things during their time together, including books and music at a great length but Kelly realized that there was a lot about Pat that she didn’t know, just as there was a lot about her that Pat didn’t know.

Becky ended the tour at the closed door of the master bedroom. “No one goes in here but me and Richard.” She stated firmly and headed the women back in the direction of the kitchen where they found Richard stirring the vegetables.

“The steaks are done Becky,” Richard said over his shoulder, “and so are the vegetables if everyone is ready to eat.”

“I’m starving,” Pat stated and pulled out a chair for Kelly, motioning for her to sit. Pat took the seat to Kelly’s right at the four seat table, Becky took the seat across from her and Richard took the seat to her left.

Kelly felt very vulnerable and nervous. She just knew that Becky was going to start questioning her about things that she hadn’t even told Pat about yet. Maybe that was the whole plan. She had told Rick all about her past and she had told him that she had not told Pat yet. Maybe he was afraid that Pat wouldn’t ask, or Kelly wouldn’t tell, and he knew that his mother would find a way to get it out of her.

Becky had brought the steaming plate of vegetables to the table and Richard had brought in the thick steaks from off the grill outside. Everything smelled wonderful and Kelly hoped the questioning waited until after dinner.

A buzzer when off, “Oops,” Becky said jumping up, “I almost forgot the rolls.” She pulled at a tray of homemade rolls that looked heavenly. Kelly hadn’t had homemade rolls since her father’s mother had been alive and that had been at least thirty years ago.

Everyone filled their plates, with asking for a plate to be passed being the only words spoken. They ate in relative silence. Becky explained the quiet about halfway through the meal. “Don’t think we’re weird because we’re not talking. My parents were firm believers that you would get yourself an upset stomach by talking about things at dinner time. They always waited until after dinner when they would set us kids down with a steaming mug of tea or hot chocolate and them we’d talk about what was going on.”

“Sounds nice.” Kelly said quietly.

After everyone was done eating, Becky made coffee and they all took their mugs into the great room where Richard had built a small fire because the evening had turned cool. Kelly sat in a oversized chair across from the fire. Pat and Becky sat on the couch to Kelly’s right and Richard kicked back in his Lazy Boy next to Kelly.

Becky didn’t waste anytime, “Richard says that you’re from Tennessee.”

Kelly looked up at Pat and sighed, “Actually southern Kentucky.”

Pat raised and eyebrow and frowned.

“When I first moved here I told everyone I was from Tennessee because I wasn’t all that sure that my husband wouldn’t try to track me down and I didn’t want him to find me. I actually grew up very close to the Tennessee state line and spent a lot of my life visiting Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains were my father’s favorite place to vacation and go fishing.”

“Have you heard anything from your husband?” Becky asked, sipping her coffee.

“Not yet.” Kelly sighed, “My lawyer sent him the divorce papers over a month ago and we haven’t heard a word. I’m very concerned about what he’s up to.”

“Do you think he’ll come here to hurt you?” Richard asked, wiggling his stocking toes.

“Maybe, he doesn’t take rejection very well and he’s probably still very mad about the way I left.”

“And that was,” Becky raised an eyebrow.

“I just left.” Kelly looked into the fire. “There were a lot of bad things going on that particular day. Really it was the culmination of many years of bad things and I just snapped. I just couldn’t take it one more minute and the next thing I knew I was getting off of a bus in Montrose. I didn’t really know what I was going to do when I first got here but I knew I wasn’t going back.”

Becky looked at Pat who was watching Kelly intently. “What are you going to do if he doesn’t sign the divorce papers?”

“I don’t know.” Kelly looked back at Pat and Becky. “I’ll have to talk to the attorney to see what we can do to get it resolved.”

“Rick says you have children.” Becky moved forward with her questioning, sipping her coffee again.

Kelly sipped her coffee too. This was a tough one. How do you explain to someone so devoted to their kids that your kids are pieces of shit who were probably glad you left? “The kids were grown, capable of taking care of themselves and I doubt they miss me.”

“You doubt they miss you?” Becky was aghast, “Of course they miss you. They’re your children!”

Kelly looked directly at Becky, the sadness in her eyes clear, “Not everyone has as wonderful of children as yours are Becky.”

Becky studied Kelly for a minute, then with a shake of her head. “What about your family? Do you have brothers or sisters? Are you parents still living?”

“Mom…” Pat started to stop her mother’s interrogation.

“No, it’s okay Pat.” Kelly said looking at Pat then back at Becky. “My father passed away when I was seventeen. He had cancer.”

“I’m sorry,” Becky said quietly.

Kelly nodded, “I was never what my mother wanted as a daughter, partially because I was my father’s favorite and the middle child. I’m very close to my older brother, Tony but he travels a lot so I don’t get to see him unless he shows up in town. I have a younger sister. She and I cannot stand one another and she is, of course, my mother’s favorite and can do no wrong.”

Becky nodded silently. She looked at Pat who gave her an exasperated look. She looked over at Richard who had nodded off in his chair. “Well girls, that is what you have to look forward to when you’ve been with someone for forty years.”

They all laughed and Richard woke up. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, Honey,” Becky grinned, “Just girl talk.”

Pat turned the conversation to what was going on with her and Rick’s jobs. Kelly was relieved to be out from under the gun but she knew Pat would have questions for her when they left. She knew she needed to tell Pat everything but she was afraid that Pat would not want to have anything to do with her when she finds out that Kelly has kept a lot from her.

The conversation turned from Pat and Rick’s work to the holidays coming up. Becky insisted that Kelly plan on coming to their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Kelly told her that she had promised Marge that she would take her to her brother’s house for those holidays but if the Bryant’s dinners didn’t fall on the same day as Marge’s family’s then she would come.

Becky started yawning and Kelly was glad for the signal that it was time for them to go. Becky and Richard both hugged Kelly when they left, just as they had Pat. It made her feel all the guiltier for the things she still hadn’t told anyone but Rick and Rick’s lawyer.

Pat put the top up on her Jeep before they left and turned on the heater. It had gotten quite cool after the sun had gone done. They drove quietly as they slowly made their way down the long drive to the highway. Even then, Pat didn’t say anything and it was making Kelly very nervous.

When Kelly could see the Montrose city lights and Pat still hadn’t said a word she knew that Pat had to be mad. She turned to look at her, “Are you going to ask me about the Tennessee thing?”

“No. I understand that you had your reasons for lying.” Pat didn’t look Kelly’s way.

“Is that the only thing you’re upset about?”

“I don’t really want to get into it right now while I’m driving.” Pat said, flexing her jaw.

Kelly looked away and chewed at her lip. She would just have to explain herself when they got to the apartment but when they got to the apartment, Pat didn’t even get out of the Jeep. “Are you not going to let me explain?”

“Not right now.” Pat said putting the Jeep in reverse. “I’m tired and I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow. I’ll call you in a couple of days.” Pat backed up and left the parking lot with a squeal of tires.

Kelly sighed and hung her head. She should have just told Pat the truth a long time ago but she was playing this new life by ear and apparently not doing any better with it than the life she had left behind.




Kelly’s head hung as she moved slowly through the house. Pat hadn’t called since they had gone to her parents’ house three days ago. Kelly knew Pat was mad because she had not been completely honest with her but she would take or return Kelly’s calls.

Timmy watched Kelly from his perch on the ladder in the kitchen. He had never seen her like this. She had been like this for two days. She said she wasn’t sick but there was something seriously wrong. He decided it was time to call Rick. When he knew Kelly was out of earshot, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Rick’s number. Maybe Rick could get to the bottom of this.

About an hour later, Rick pulled up on the jobsite. Timmy went out and told him how Kelly had been acting. Rick told Timmy to have Kelly come out to the truck. Timmy went back into the house and told Kelly. Rick stood and watched as Kelly slowly moved towards him. “Get in,” he said, motioning his head to the passenger side of the truck.

Rick got him and started the truck. Kelly looked over at him. “Where are we going?”

“To the office. Timmy will come by and pick you up in a little while.” Rick looked at her sad blue eyes, “I think you and I need to have a talk.”

Kelly sighed heavily and looked out the window away from Rick. She imagined all kinds of things that he could say but she was afraid that he was going to tell her that Pat didn’t want to see her again.

They arrived at the small construction trailer that made up Rick’s office. It was currently at a huge subdivision that Rick had contracted to build the majority of the houses. Rick got out and waited for Kelly to do the same. He motioned for her to go ahead of him in the trailer. Inside, Kelly sat in the chair across from Rick’s desk. Rick sat down and studied her for a moment. “I think I might know what’s going on with you but I want you to tell me what you think is going on.”

Kelly looked away. How did she tell her boss that she had fallen in love with his sister and now his sister wouldn’t talk to her? Kelly sighed and just spit it out, “I think Pat is mad at me because I lied to her.”

Rick nodded. “Pat has been lied to a lot. Why didn’t you just tell her the truth?”

“I wanted to but every time I started to I got afraid that she would get mad and do just what she’s doing now.”

Rick shook his head, then nodded. “Well, you’re probably right. I understand why you lied to everyone when you first got here because I know the whole story but I’m afraid that Pat is not going to be as understanding. She has seen a lot of women do a lot of awful things to their families for their own selfish reasons. Without her having first hand knowledge of what you went through, I’m afraid it will take her a while to understand.”

Kelly sighed heavily again and looked him in the eyes, “So what am I supposed to? Take her back to Kentucky and introduce her to my fucked up family?” She looked away and then nodded her head, “Well, that would do it. Once she met them she might really understand what I went through all those years.”

“That’s true but she has to chill for a little while, then she might be willing to do that.”

“And until then?” Kelly asked. She was working on being angry. Angry at Pat for not at least giving her a chance to really explain herself and angry at herself for letting herself get hurt so easily.

“I don’t know, Kelly.” Rick sighed sadly. He had hoped that Pat and Kelly would be able to work things out. He had a feeling that they were meant to be together but he knew his sister too well and it would take her awhile to get over being lied to again.

Kelly heard a truck pull up outside. She figured it was Timmy showing up to get her. She stood up. “I don’t know either Rick. I do know that I hurt her and I’m sorry for that but she’s hurting me just as much by not giving me a chance to explain. So I guess I’m going to move on. I may mope around for a little while but I’ll get myself back together. I’ve let too many other people drag me down and I just can’t do it again.”

            Kelly went out the door and Rick stared at the closed door. He really wished that he knew how to get Pat to talk to her. He decided to call Pat and have her come by his office. Maybe he could talk some sense into her before Kelly gave up on Pat completely.

            Kelly stepped out of the office into the blinding sun going down in the west. She was temporarily blinded by the bright light and could only see the shadow of a truck and the figure of a man.

            Steve McCluskey stood beside his truck watching his wife squint at him. “Well, well, well. Didn’t think I’d find you did you bitch?”

            Kelly knew the voice right away and took a step back towards the trailer. “Steve you need to go away. You should have gotten the divorce papers that explicitly said for you to stay away from me.”

            “I got them alright,” Steve snarled and took a step towards Kelly. “What’s this bullshit about you wanting to change your name? Did you think that would let you become someone new? You’re still the same stupid bitch I married.” Steve took another step towards her, “Now I would suggest you get your ass in the truck. We’ve got some things to settle.”

            Kelly stood up straight and stared him in the eye. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

            Steve lunged at her but Kelly jumped away. “Don’t run from me bitch!” Steve yelled.

            Rick stepped out of the office just as Timmy, Bob, Jerry and Paul were pulling up in three separate trucks. “What the hell is going on?” Rick demanded.

            Steve had Kelly on the ground with her arm pinned behind her. “Don’t fucking worry about it. This is my wife and she’s coming with me.”

            Bob grabbed Steve by the back of his shirt and threw him off of Kelly. Steve scrambled off the ground. He turned to tear into who ever had grabbed him until he saw the huge man, well over six foot tall, towering over Kelly’s prone form. “You put one fucking hand on her again and I will break you in two.” Bob said in a quiet, deadly tone.

            Timmy knelt by Kelly and pulled her into his arms. “Are you okay, Kelly?”

            “Kelly?” Steve spat, “Is that what they think you name is Sandy?” All of the men turned to Steve. “I see. So they think your name is Kelly. Kelly Dean right?” Steve laughed a wicked laugh. “Well gentlemen, let me make more formal introductions. This is Sandra Marie Kelly McCluskey. Kelly Dean!” Steve started laughing, “You took your dad’s name and turned it around.” Steve wiped the dust off his clothes. “I bet you thought that was clever, didn’t you bitch?”

            Rick stepped in between Timmy, Kelly, Bob and Steve. “Look, I don’t give a damn who you are or who she is to you. You will not come onto my job site and grab one of my employees. In fact, you will not come onto another one of my jobsites or I will have you arrested. Kelly’s lawyer drew up specific divorce papers and Kelly has filed for a emergency protective order against you here. You are not supposed to be within a hundred feet of her so you need to get your ass off this property now.”

            Steve straightened up. “That’s fine.” He laughed, “I know all about her little EPO, like it would stop me.” He laughed again. “I’ve got a little surprise of my own for you bitch.”

            The sound of a siren and crunching tires came up behind the group. Steve could see that it was the sheriff’s car and smiled. Sheriff Conner Billings got out of his car and glared at Steve. He made his way over to where Kelly was still on the ground being held by Timmy. “Mr. McCluskey, I guess my deputy did not inform you of the EPO Ms. Dean has placed against you so I’m telling you about it now. You will leave this property and not come within one hundred feet of Ms. Dean is that clear.”

            “Sure thing Sheriff,” Steve laughed as he got his truck, “See ya later bitch.”

            Steve spun tires throwing rocks and dust every where as he left the parking lot. The sheriff leaned over Kelly. “Are you okay, Ms. Dean?”

            “I think so,” Kelly said as she let Timmy help her into a standing position. “Just very shaken up, I think.”

            “Let’s look at your arm where he had it twisted behind you.” Timmy said pulling her arm out for the sheriff to see. There were bruises already forming.

The Sheriff Billings gritted his teeth. “Do you want to press charges?”

“I just want him to go away.” Kelly said as she began to cry.

Timmy pulled her into his arms and she cried on his shoulder. Jerry, Bob and Paul stood looking around angrily, making sure that Steve didn’t reappear.

The Sheriff Billings sighed heavily, “I’m afraid I came here to find Ms. Dean to take her into custody.”

“What?!” Rick demanded.

“Apparently her husband filed charges against her saying that she stole several thousand dollars from his business. She is to be extradited back Kentucky to face charges.” Sheriff Billings answered sadly.

“Conner,” Rick got between the sheriff and Kelly, “Isn’t there another way? Can I take her back with my attorney to deal with this?”

“I’m afraid not Rick. Aunt Marge asked me the same question but she has been charged with a felony and the case has already been before the judge. She’s got a bench warrant against her and considered a fugitive at this point. The only thing that you can do is go there and try to post a bond.” Sheriff Billings motioned for Kelly to come to him. “Please Ms. Dean. I promised my aunt that I would make sure you were taken good care of.”

Kelly looked helplessly at Rick. Rick hugged her. “Don’t worry, Sweetheart. I’ll get with Mike and we’ll be there as soon as we can.”

The sheriff let all of Kelly’s friends hug her before he turned her around and put hand cuffs on her. “I’m really sorry Ms. Dean.”

“Can you take me by to see Marge before we go to the police department?” Kelly asked as she began to cry.

“Aunt Marge would have my head if I didn’t. Come on now, let’s get going.” The sheriff led Kelly to the police car and put her in the back seat.

Pat had pulled up behind the construction office in enough time to watch the most of the exchange between Kelly, or Sandy, and her husband. She left before the sheriff got there so she didn’t know that Kelly had been taken into custody.

She knew that Rick had called her to talk to her about Kelly. She was mad enough that Kelly hadn’t been completely honest with her but to find out that she had even lied about her name was too much.

She would call Rick later and tell him that it just wasn’t going to work with her and Kelly. She found herself crying at the thought of not dating Kelly anymore. She really liked her. She felt something special for her but she couldn’t deal with being lied to again, no matter what the reason.

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