Disclaimer available in earlier sections.


By M. E. Tudor



Brandy Wilson leafed through the mail she had just taken out of her mail box.  There was a letter to her from Sandy McCluskey with an address from Colorado.  She ripped open the envelope and read the letter.  She began crying as she read the letter because right away Sandy reminded her of the fight they had the day before Sandy disappeared.  Brandy had accused Sandy of having an affair with her husband, Bruce and told Sandy she would never speak to her again.

Sandy told Brandy in the letter that she still loved her like the sister.  She said that she hoped they could fix their friendship one day.

Brandy, Bruce and Sandy had been friends since kindergarten.  They had all grown up in the same neighborhood and had always hung out together.  Sandy had been the maid of honor at their wedding and Brandy had been Sandy's maid of honor at hers.

Brandy rushed into the house to show Bruce the letter.  "Bruce," she said breathlessly as she rushed into the kitchen where Bruce was fixing dinner.  "We got a letter from Sandy.  She's in Colorado."

"What?"  Bruce asked in amazement and wiped his hands on a dish towel.  He took the letter from Brandy and read over it.  "She changed her name?  Why would she do that?"

"Probably so Steve wouldn't find her."  Brandy said as she sat down at the kitchen table and read more of the five page letter.  "Oh my God, Bruce, you have to read all of this.  No wonder she left the way she did.  I feel so awful.  I knew I played a part in her leaving because of the fight we had and now I'm afraid it was the icy on the cake that made her leave the way she did."  Brandy cried softly.

Bruce went to Brandy and hugged her.  "I still can't believe you thought Sandy and I would have an affair.  I wish you would have talked to me about it before you said anything to her."

"Me too," Brandy sobbed and buried her face in her husband's shirt.

Bruce took the letter and read the rest of it.  He let out a heavy sigh, "Well, I can't say that I'm all that surprised by what happened or her reaction to it.  She should have left that asshole and those screwed up kids years ago."

"I know but she believed firmly that she should stay for the sake of the kids.  She just didn't want to believe that those kids cared so little for her.  I don't think that they thought for one minute that something awful could have happened to her.  They were too angry that their servant was gone to care what had happened to her."  Brandy growled.

"I know," Bruce agreed.  "You need to write her back right away and let her know that we will always be her friends and that we are thinking about her."

"Your right," Brandy agreed and went to get a piece of paper to write the letter on.

Bruce finished fixing dinner.  He fixed his plate and took it to the living room.  He turned on the evening news as he sat down and kicked back in his recliner.  He didn't usually care much about anything on the news but the weather and sports but a picture of Sandy McCluskey on the screen made him shoot up in his chair.  "Brandy come in here!"

Brandy rushed in to living room in enough time to see her best friend's mug shot on the news.  "Oh my God!  What are they saying?"

"She's was extradited here from Colorado to face charges of felony theft and abandonment.  She is being held in the county jail with a twenty thousand dollar cash bond."  Bruce said in disbelief.

"When do they usually have visitation?" Brandy said looking for the phone book to call the jail.

"I think on Tuesdays and Saturdays." Bruce said as he watched his wife search for the phone book.

Brandy found the phone book and called the jail.  "Yes, I want to visit a prisoner you have down there but I don't know when your visitation times are." Brandy listened to the jailer on the other end of the phone.  "By appointment?   When is the next appointment that I can make to see Sandy McCluskey?"  She waited, "Tomorrow at three o'clock in the afternoon. Okay.  I want to make an appointment to see her."  Brandy listened to the jailer as he confirmed her appointment.  "Thank you."  She turned to Bruce, "I'm going to see her tomorrow."

"Good," He said around a bite of vegetable. "We have to do whatever we can to help her."


Rick's attorney, Dale McGovern, looked at the county attorney in exasperation.  "So you're telling me that I cannot represent Mrs. McCluskey in this case?"

"That's right," Sam Greenfield the county attorney stated, "You don't have a license to practice law in the state of Kentucky so you cannot represent Mrs. McCluskey."

"What's her bail?" Rick asked, trying not to raise his voice.

"You'll have to contact the court clerk for that information."  Greenfield stated and stood, "If there's nothing else I can help you with, I have an appointment at four."

Dale and Rick stood.  Both shook Greenfield's hand and left the room.  Dale turned to Rick, "I was afraid they were going to do some kind of bullshit like this."

"So what do we do?" Rick asked.

"We post her bail or bond, get a local attorney and set an appointment with the judge.  The charges they have against her are bullshit.  Her daughter was sixteen when she left.  The state of Kentucky won't consider her leaving abandonment because her daughter was over twelve years old, besides the fact that she was pregnant and married her boyfriend a few months after Kelly, or Sandy, had left.  She only took three thousand dollars and not thirty thousand dollars and she paid all of that back to her husband.  I mailed the certified check myself.  It shouldn't take much to get this straightened out if we can get an appointment with the judge."

* * * * * *

Pat stared weary eyed at the road ahead of her.  She had been driving for twelve hours straight this time.  She had left Montrose the minute she found out that Kelly had been extradited back to Kentucky.  Rick had left her a vague message about going to get Kelly out of jail but it was Marge that filled Pat in on the full story and told her where Kelly had been sent.

Pat drove for sixteen hours the first day until she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.  She got a motel room and slept for about six hours, took a quick shower and was back on the road.  She had never been further east than Kansas City so there were a lot of different sites for her but now she was approaching the small city where Kelly was in jail.  She belated realized that she had no idea where the jail was but hopefully she would be able to get someone to give her easy directions.

* * * * * *

Kelly had been in jail in Kentucky for three days.  This whole thing was bogus and the judge knew it.  She hadn't even seen him until yesterday.  She explained her case to him with her court appointed attorney.  The judge said he would review the case and see what he could do.  She was so depressed.  She just couldn't believe this was happening.

She was surprised when the guard came to her cell that afternoon and told her that she had a visitor.  She suspected that it was Steve coming to gloat.  The guard took her down the long corridor past the other cells and down the hall to the visitation room.  She sat down and the small cubicle and looked out to see Brandy Wilson smiling in at her.  She started crying and picked up the phone.  "Oh my God Brandy!"

"Sandy, don't cry honey." Brandy said wiping a tear from her own eye.

"How did you know I was here?"  Kelly asked and wiped her eyes.

"You were on the news last night."

Kelly's mouth dropped open, "Are you serious?" Brandy nodded, "Oh my God.  That means my mother and sister know that I'm here."

"I would suspect so." Brandy agreed.  She cocked her head to one side and looked her over, "So what should I call you?"

Kelly grinned, "Kelly. I'm going to officially change my name to Kelly Dean."

"I like it," Brandy smiled.  "It suits you more than Sandy anyway. Where'd you come up with it."

Kelly ran her hand through her short brown hair.  "Thanks. It's my dad's name back wards.  I don't even begin to know where to start to tell you about what happened."

"I got your letter yesterday so I know why you left.  I'm so sorry for my part in it." Brandy looked away sadly.

"I knew you would eventually figure out that nothing was going on with me and Bruce." Kelly smiled.

Brandy looked back at her with tears in her eyes. "I should have know better than to listen to your stupid sister in the first place."

"So Brigitte was the one who told you that?" Kelly asked through gritted teeth. Brandy nodded. "I should have known."  Kelly shook her head, "Things had just become so bad.  I just couldn't take another minute of Steve, the kids and my life here in general."

"I understand," Brandy said putting her hand up to the glass divider.

Kelly put her hand to Brandy's.  "I knew you would.  That's why I wrote you that letter but I didn't tell you everything."

"What else happened?"

"I've made new friends and a new life out there.  I've also met someone who I care about very much." Kelly admitted shyly.

"Really," Brandy grinned, "What's he like?"

"She is a wonderful person.  She's beautiful and fun.  She makes me feel like a kid again but I may have messed things up with her because I didn't tell her about this part of my life," Kelly made a wide circle with her arms.

"Wow. A woman? What's that like?"

"I don't know too much about it yet.  The only thing we've done is kiss which is amazing but I know that I feel really alive when I'm with her."

Brandy had suspected when they were teenagers that Sandy might be gay.  She didn't date and only a few close friends, her and Bruce included.  It was just sad that the first time she went out on a date she went with that asshole Steve, who more or less raped her and got her pregnant.  "Tell me more about her.  What's her name?  What does she look like?"

Kelly blushed, "Her name is Pat Bryant.  She's a real estate agent.  I work for her brother, Rick who is a contractor.  She has short, wavy blond hair, light brown eyes, she's about four inches taller than me, lanky and has the most beautiful smile you've ever seen."

Brandy started laughing, "Oh yeah, San… I mean, Kelly, you've got it bad for her."  Brandy cocked her head to one side. "I really do like the name Kelly. Kelly Dean."

"I stopped being Sandy McCluskey the moment I got on that bus.  I knew I wouldn't come back, at least not to stay."  Kelly sighed, "I hate it that I won't get to see you guys for a long time after I go back."

"Yeah, we've missed you a lot.  We were so worried Steve had done something to you.  No one else seemed to be concerned that you might have been murdered or something." Brandy gritted out.

"I figured as much.  I knew that Steve would think I cut out on him right away because I took the three thousand dollars I was supposed to take to the bank."

"The news said you took thirty thousand dollars."  Brandy whispered.

Kelly laughed, "Hell, Steve hasn't ever had that much money in the bank that I know of."

"I don't know Hon." Brandy said grimly, "They said that you were being charged with felony theft and abandonment.  If Bruce and I had the credit or the money we would bail you out but Bruce hadn't worked much since you left.  Apparently Steve decided that we had something to do with your disappearance so he put out a bad word on Bruce and Bruce has had trouble finding work ever since."

"I'm so sorry, Brandy." Kelly sighed, "I never meant to hurt anyone but Steve and the kids.  They had it coming but now I've hurt you, Bruce, and Pat."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Rick told me before I left Colorado that he would come out here with his lawyer and get things straightened out.  I've been expecting him to show up anytime now but I would just bet that Steve is having the judge give them a bunch of shit."

"Probably so," Brandy agreed.

"You know," Kelly said seriously, "I bet Rick would give Bruce a job if you guys would consider moving out there."

"Maybe," Brandy said thoughtfully.  "The only thing that was really keeping us here before was our parents but all of them have passed away now." Brandy put her hand to her mouth, "Bruce's mom died while you were gone."

"I'm so sorry, Hon.  I know Bruce was real close to her."  Kelly said wiping a tear from her eye, "She was a real sweet lady."  Bruce's mom had always made her feel welcome when she had come to his house to visit with him and Brandy when they had lived with her for a short time.  She had always wished that her mom had loved her like Bruce's mom's loved him.  That reminded her of Marge.

True to his word, the Montrose County sheriff had let her see Marge before she left.  They both had cried.  She didn't know what she would do if something happened to Marge while she was gone.

Kelly smiled and wiped her tears, "There's another woman in my life I have to tell you about."

"Another woman?" Brandy laughed wiping her own tears.  "Damn girl, you've been busy."

Kelly laughed, "Well, I do truly love this woman but as a mother not a lover."

"I'm glad that you found someone like that to be in your life."  Brandy's eye brows furrowed as she frowned, "You're mom is such a bitch.  I'm sorry Kelly, but she is."

Kelly smiled, glad that Brandy had become comfortable with her new name so quickly, "I know.  I can just image what she said when I left."

"I had to bite holes in my tongue every time I saw her."  Brandy growled. "She'd go on and on about how you left behind your poor babies.  What would they do without their mother, especially pregnant Samantha?"

Kelly rolled her eyes.  "I have never been able to do right in her eyes.  I can't wait to tell her that I'm gay, just to see the look on her face.  It's a shame Pat isn't here.  I'd kiss her right in front of that old bitch and her baby, Brigitte."

"Tony called me about a month after you left.  He was in Germany doing some kind of a sculpture show there."  Brandy said, trying to remember exactly what Tony had told her. "He said something about him going to Japan this month and that he would call when he got there.  He's called twice from Germany to ask about you but I haven't heard from him since he was supposed to go to Japan."

Kelly smiled.  Her brother, the artist and sculpture, had escaped life in their little town as soon as he graduated from high school.  He had gotten an art scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and had never come back home for more than a few days at a time.  Kelly was so proud of his accomplishments.  She had been a decent artist herself in high school but that had all stopped when she got married. "What did he have to say about me leaving?"

"He was worried, of course, that something might have happened to you but he said that if you just left, he was glad.  He said that if we heard from you to be sure to get a number where he could call you."

"I'll get with you when I get out of here and give you Marge's and Rick's numbers.  I'm staying at Marge's hotel so you can call there and she has a machine that will put you through to my room."  Kelly said then frowned when she heard the guard behind her.

"Visitation time is over," The guard said sternly.

Kelly sighed into the phone.  "I'll call you the minute I get out of here."  She started to hang up then said, "Hey, right this number down real quick."

"Come on," said the guard.

"Nine seven oh, two forty four, six eight nine one.  That's Rick's cell. Call it when you get home." Kelly said quickly and hung up because the guard had grabbed her arm.

Brandy gave her thumbs up so she'd know that she got the number.  Wow, she thought to herself.  Sandy or Kelly rather, looked great.  She looked happy, despite being in jail, which was something she knew that Sandy had not been for many years.  She laughed to herself. Tony would get a kick that Sandy had turned their dad's name around and gave herself a new name like that.

Brandy left the jailhouse into the blinding, hot sun.  The humidity had been unbelievable this summer.  She would have to talk to Bruce about going to Colorado. Right now a cool mountain breeze would sure feel good.

Brandy brushed past a woman who was coming into the jail.  She stopped and looked at the back of a tall, lanky woman with short blond hair who was walking with a purpose.  Brandy decided to hang out for a few minutes.  If it was Pat Bryant, she would be coming back out in a few minutes.

Brandy's guess had been right.  Within a few minutes, the woman stormed back out of the jail cussing about red neck hicks.  "Excuse me," Brandy said and took a step back as the woman swirled around angrily to face her.  "Are you Pat Bryant?"

The woman pushed her sun glasses on top of her head revealing the brown eyes that Kelly had described.  "How do you know my name?"

"I'm a friend of Kelly Dean's." Brandy said, the woman's intense stare was making her nervous.

"You know Kelly?" Pat asked warily, "I thought her real name was Sandy McCluskey?"

Brandy smiled, "It is."  Brandy held out her hand, "I'm Brandy Wilson.  My husband Bruce and I have been friends with Sandy since we were little kids."

Pat took her hand and shook it.  "So you really know Kelly, or Sandy, or whoever the hell she is."

Brandy laughed, "Yes, I knew her very well."

Pat looked at the neighborhood around the jail, which was mixed with businesses and homes.  "Is there some place where we can go to get a cup of coffee and talk?"

"Yeah, there's a real nice coffee house downtown."

"So this isn't down town?" Pat said looking around, "Thank God."

Brandy laughed again.  "You must have got off the Interstate and came straight here."

Pat looked away bashfully. "I had to make sure she was okay."  She looked up at Brandy with concern, "She is okay, right?"

"As okay as she can be in jail. Where are you parked?"  Brandy asked looking at the cars parked by the jail for Colorado plates.

"Over there," Pat pointed to the black Jeep across the street in the police station's parking lot.

"I was going to suggest you ride with me but you can't leave that parked there."  Brandy pointed to her old, brown, Honda Civic. "I'm driving that.  You just follow me."

Pat crossed the street and got into her Jeep.  Brandy got into her Civic and pulled out onto the street in front of the jail and waited for Pat to get behind her.  She led her a few streets over from the jail where the only coffee shop downtown was.   They were able to park in front of the coffee shop.  They got out of their vehicles and Pat followed Brandy inside.

"Hey Brandy," The girl behind the counter called, "What can I get for you?"

"I'd like a café mocha." Brandy turned to Pat, "What would you like?"

Pat looked at the menu options.  She decided to stick with her usual. "Just a latte."

"Coming right up."  The girl said as she began making their drinks, "I saw Sandy McCluskey's picture on the news last night.  Is she really in jail?"

Brandy looked at Pat and rolled her eyes, "Not for long.  The charges are bogus."

"I thought she was dead." The girl said over the noise of the steamer, "I'm glad she ain't dead.  I figured the charges were wrong.  Her kids are too old to be abandoned but I'll tell you if my kids treated me the way hers do her, I'd of left ‘em too."  She set the steaming mugs on the counter.  "You all need anything else?"

"No Chelsey," Brandy said, putting a ten on the counter, taking her mug and motioning for Pat to follow.

"Don't you want you change?"  Chelsey called after her.

"No Hon, you keep it."

"Thanks," the girl called then began to wait on the next customer, who she also knew and gossiped with her.

Brandy and Pat sat at a small table with just two chairs facing each other.  Pat sipped her drink and chuckled.  "I almost feel like I'm at home."

"You live in a small town too?"

"Yeah, my family has lived there for generations and everyone knows everyone else and their business."  Pat said with a nod.

Brandy nodded in agreement, "This town has gotten bigger in the past few years.  We've got a lot of new people move in but it is still a small town and most people still know everyone's business."

 Pat took a deep breath. "So how much did Kelly tell you about me?"

"Well," Brandy said with a grin, "You're just as beautiful as she said you were."

Pat blushed. "She said that she was afraid that she had messed things up with you because she didn't tell you about her history here." Pat looked up at her with sad eyes, "But, seeing that you are here, I'd say that you still care quite a bit for her."

Pat nodded.  "I was mad, still mad, that she wasn't completely honest with me but when I found out that they had arrested her and brought her here, I got in my Jeep and headed straight here." Pat's face turned stern and determined, "I will get her out of jail and back to Colorado."

Brandy smiled, "Well, apparently your brother told her the same thing before she left Colorado. She said that she was expecting him to be here anytime."

Pat pulled out her cell phone, "I hadn't even slowed down to think about that.  I just barely stopped to sleep for a few hours."  Pat dialed a number and frowned when she got the voice mail.  She left Rick a message to call her as soon as possible.  She chewed on her lip and looked back at Brandy.  "Will you tell me about her?  I mean, you know, what the woman you knew was like."

Brandy sighed, "I bet the woman I knew was a very different one from the one you know."  Brandy sipped her hot mocha, "Let's start by me telling you what happened the few days before she left and the day she did leave."

"Okay." Pat leaned on her elbows and listened intently as Brandy began her story.

"Well, I told you earlier that Sandy, who she was before, Bruce and I have all been friends for a long time." Pat nodded. "Well, Bruce and I had been having some trouble, marriage trouble.  We had never been able to have kids and we both had sick parents that we had spent several years taking care of.  The last of which was Bruce's mother, who passed away a few months ago.  He was spending so many hours with her that it was putting a strain on us and I was having doubts about what he was really doing."

Pat sipped her coffee and nodded again.

"Well, apparently, Steve, who is a sick, twisted pervert, told Sandy that he wanted us to have a foursome.  Just for the record," Brandy said leaning a little closer to Pat, "I would not let that son-of-a-bitch touch me with a ten foot pole.  I have no idea how Sandy dealt with him for as long as she did."

"How long were they married?" Pat asked, checking Kelly's facts. Kelly had said she had been married for twenty years.

"At least twenty years, she was pregnant with Kevin when they got married and he just turned twenty." Brandy said, running the dates through her head.

So she hadn't lied about that, Pat thought to herself.

"Anyway, Bruce and Sandy were talking about it one day at the grocery store. The wrong place in this town to talk about anything personal," Brandy said with a shake of her head. "Sandy's sister, Brigitte was in the store and heard them talking.  Bruce had told Sandy that I wouldn't let Steve touch me and joked that maybe us three would just get together behind Steve's back."  Brandy grinned, "Knowing what I know now, that might how turned out to be interesting."

Pat almost choked on her coffee and giggled at the Brandy's comment towards Kelly's sexuality.

"But, the only thing Brigitte heard was something about the two of them going behind Steve's back.  So she sees me at the gas station later that day and tells me that Sandy and Bruce are having an affair."

"Oh no," Pat said quietly.

"Oh yes," Brandy shook her head and wiped the tear that had escaped her eye. "I was having a bad day.  Bruce and I had already been fighting that morning.  Sandy just happened to pull up next to me at the gas station right after Brigitte left and I went off on her.  I told her I would beat her ass if I caught her near my husband again."  Brandy picked up a napkin and wiped the tears that wouldn't stop.  "God it was so awful.  I can still see the shocked look on her face.  I told her that I never wanted to see her again."

Pat reached over and patted Brandy's hand.  "But you guys have talked since, right."

"Just today, she sent us a letter saying that she had forgiven me for saying that to her and knew that I would have found out the truth.  But, at the time I think it was the icing on the cake for her."  Brandy wiped her tears and took a sip of her coffee.  "You see, that was the day before she left.  So count this up, first her best friend, her only real friend, tells her that she hates her and will never speak to her again for something she hasn't even done." Brandy held up one finger, then another, "Next, she runs into her mother and sister at the grocery who announce to then entire place that Sandy is having an affair with Bruce.  Sandy's mom called her ‘a shameless whore."

"Oh my God," Pat breathed, "and this was the same day."

Brandy nodded, "She gets home and Steve goes off on her about it.  She explains to him that she didn't do anything with Bruce except tell him about Steve wanting to have a foursome and Bruce said no."  Brandy lets out a deep breath, "So they went to bed still fighting, which is not unusual.  Neither of the kids came home or called.  She wasn't about Kevin because he was nineteen and old enough to be out and not call but Samantha was only sixteen at the time.  She has since turned seventeen."

Pat nods and sips her coffee.  So far everything that Kelly had told her had been true.

"The next day, this is Sandy's birthday." Brandy paused to let that set into Pat's mind, "Just a side note on what a creep this guy is, he makes her have sex with him every morning."

"Every morning?" Pat raised and eye brow and wrinkled her nose at the thought of Kelly have sex with the man that she had seen on the job site, especially every day.  "Even when she was…" Pat made a nasty face.

"Yes," Brandy shook her with a disgusted look of her own.

"That is disgusting," Pat said through gritted teeth.

"Yes it is, but that was a part of Sandy's life." Brandy raised an eyebrow, "I'm not confusing you by calling her Sandy, am I?"

"No, because that was who she was then," Pat frowned, "Please go on."

"Okay, so it's her birthday.  I would normally call her first thing in the morning and wish her happy birthday, and I would be the only one to do so.  Bruce would usually call her when he got off work, and to my knowledge, the kids, Steve, her mother and sister had stopped taking her out or doing anything for her birthday several years ago.  So, she gets up, she and Steve are still fighting.  He's bitching at her and telling her that she has to come by the jobsite later to get money to put in the bank for payroll."

"They still had sex even though they are fighting?" Pat asked.

"Yes," Brandy nodded.

Pat nodded for Kelly to go on.

"Steve's gone and the kids still haven't come home at nine in the morning so she gets ready to go to the store.  Kevin shows up with a crew of his friends and demands that she fix them something to eat."

"Demands?" Pat raised an eye brow.

"Yeah, he's chip right of the old block.  He has talked to Sandy like she was a dog since he was about eleven and his dad lets him and he won't let Sandy discipline the kids unless he says its okay."  Brandy watched as Pat flexed the muscles in her jaw angrily.  "I just found about her fighting with Steve the letter she sent to me.  I knew about Kevin demanding the food and almost hitting Sandy when she tried to refuse through one of the boys that was with Kevin.  The boy was shocked and ashamed of Kevin's behavior.  He even apologized when they left but they didn't leave until after Samantha showed up to tell Sandy that she was pregnant and marrying the baby's father. Sandy started to protest the marriage but Samantha told her that her father had already given her permission.  The boy who told me about it said that you could see this completely defeated look on her face.  He said it so sad."

"Wow," Pat said and twirled her coffee, "all that on her birthday."

"Yep and neither one of the kids wished her happy birthday."  Brandy gritted her teeth, "But like I said before that wasn't unusual.  Now, for the grand finale, you ready?"

Pat took a deep breath and let it out, "Okay, let me have it."

Sandy went to the jobsite before she went to the store.  When she walks into the duplex Steve is working on she hears him talking about banging a teenage girl.  She comes in angrily and starts telling him how awful it was for him to do that and that he shouldn't brag because someone might turn him in." Brandy looks at Pat dead in the eye, "Now, Sandy did this in private so the guys on his crew wouldn't hear them talking.  He gives her the money and as she's walking through the house to leave he hollers out, ‘After you get that money in the bank bitch, you better get your ass home and get ready for me to come bang you like I did that little seventeen year old.'  Sandy turns around and everyone on his crew is laughing at her."

"Oh my God!" Pat exclaimed, "Oh my God."

"I heard about that from one of the guys who was on the electrical crew working on the house."  Brandy shook her head.  "In Sandy's letter, she said told me the highlights of all that.  She said that she was mortified.  She drove the car to the river where she and her dad had always gone fishing which is not far from the bus station.  She said she sat there thinking about what to do.  She wasn't going to kill herself but she just couldn't face another day like that.  She left the car there with the keys in it.  She took her ID and money out of her purse and left everything else.  She walked up to the bus station with the intention of buying a bus ticket to Florida but she came across this couple fighting.  The girl refused to go with the boy was going even though he had already paid for her ticket.  Sandy bought the ticket from the guy and got on the bus without them even checking her ID because they had already checked the girl who the ticket was really for, whose name just happened to be Kelly."

Pat shook her head, "Wow."

"Yep, so Sandy said that she got to thinking about the name Kelly, which was her maiden name.  She decided to take her dad's name, Dean Kelly and turn it around to Kelly Dean and that is who she became." Brandy took Pat's hand, "The woman I know was a good person who was beaten down until there was nothing left for her here.  Part of that was my fault too.  She is a great person, which I can't image has changed."

"No," Pat smiled, "In fact, I think more of that great person came out when she decided not to be Sandy McCluskey anymore.  Another thing that came out those was a strong, self-sufficient woman who didn't want to let anyone close so they couldn't hurt her."

Brandy nodded, "I would bet so. So, what did she tell you about herself that wasn't true that made you so made?"

"Well, she didn't tell me any of this, which I wish she would have felt like she could.  She told me she was from Tennessee and she never told me that her name wasn't really Kelly Dean."

"Well, the being from Tennessee is kind of true.  She was actually born at Vanderbilt University Hospital because her mom and dad just happened to be coming through there when her mom went into labor."

Pat shook her head, "So the only thing she really lied about was her name and the rest of it she just didn't tell me, and no wonder.  My God, I would have wanted to walk away from that life and leave it behind too."

Brandy nodded in agreement.  "Yeah, she's had a rough life.  I'm so glad she's finally found a place where she can be happy and have people around her who really care about her."

Pat smiled, "Yeah, she has a lot of friends there.  I thought her husband was going to get his ass kicked when he grabbed her on the jobsite back home.  All of the guys from her crew and some other guys that she knew all came over to protect her."

"That is so cool."

"And Marge, the lady who owns the motel she's staying at loves her like the daughter she never had."  Pat sighed thinking about how upset Marge must be by all of this.

"What about you?" Brandy asked, searching Pat's eyes.

Pat's eyes soften and began to tear up, "I'm in love with her, but, I too have been hurt a lot and I put up these great big walls." She sighed.  "I hope that she will understand my reaction to finding out about her life here the way I did."

Brandy took Pat's hand again and squeezed it.  "She wants you guys to work things out.  In fact, she said that she would love to kiss you right in front of her mom."

"Really?" Pat asked surprised.

"I just really hope I'm there if ya all do it.  It will be a moment that I won't want to miss."

Pat laughed, "We'll try to work that out for you."

Just then Pat's phone rang; she answered it, "Hello. Hey, where are you?"  She listened to Rick tell her he was in Kentucky, "Yeah, me too." Rick was saying no way. "I swear, in fact I'm sitting in a coffee house with Kelly's best friend from childhood."  Rick asked her how to get where she was at.  "I don't know.  Here I'll let Brandy tell you." Pat handed the phone to Brandy who told Rick how to get to the coffee shop from the jail where he was at.  He also told Brandy that he had gotten Kelly out of jail but not to tell Pat because he wanted to surprise her.

Brandy laughed, "Okay.  See ya in a minute."

"He's that close?" Pat asked when Brandy handed her the phone back.

"It's a small town.  It doesn't take long to get any where here."  Brandy said and grinned as she sipped her coffee. She couldn't wait to see Sandy, or Kelly and Pat's reaction to each other.  She was really going to have a hard time adjusting to calling Sandy, Kelly.

Brandy saw the big red truck pull up outside.  She saw two men get out and a woman who she knew was Kelly.  She watched as a dark haired man with glasses, who she assumed was Rick's lawyer walked through the door, a taller blond man who was clearly Pat's brother followed him and Kelly was so short that she walked behind the men unseen.

Pat turned and looked when she saw Brandy grin.  She looked up at Dale McGovern, Rick's attorney and Rick.  She jumped up out of her seat when she saw Kelly smiling sheepishly at her from behind Rick.  She grabbed her into a bear hug and almost kissed her until she realized that everyone else in the coffee shop was staring at them.

Rick, Dale and Brandy all laughed.  Rick motioned to a bigger table.  "Why don't we move over here so we call all sit together?"

Brandy and Pat moved their coffee's to the new table.  Brandy watched as Pat looked down at Kelly lovingly and apologetically. "You want something?"

"I'll get it," Rick called, "We already talked about what we were getting before we got here."

Pat pulled a chair close to hers and helped Kelly sit in it, just like a perfect gentleman would.  Brandy was sitting there grinning at the two of them. Kelly turned and looked at Brandy.  She blushed and turned away.

"I take it you two have been talking?"  Kelly asked nervously.

Brandy winked at Pat, "Oh yeah, I was telling her all of your dirty little secrets."

Kelly looked up in a panic, "What dirty little secrets?  I don't have any dirty secrets."

Pat and Brandy both burst out laughing.  Pat took Kelly's hand and brought it to her lips.  "Don't worry, she didn't tell me anything too dirty."

Kelly looked from one woman to the other then cocked an eye brow up, "I think you two have become to good of friends already.  I'll be in big trouble if you and Bruce move out to Colorado."

Brandy laughed, "Well, we'll see.  I would love to come out there but I don't know what Bruce will think about it."

"Yeah, Kelly was telling me about the problems your husband has been having with work." Rick said when he came back with the coffees.  "I told her that I'd find work for him if he comes out there."

"I'll tell him." Brandy promised.  "Now that his mother is gone, we really don't have anything holding us here."

Pat looked at Dale, "So what's going on with the jail thing?"

"Well, we have to get a local lawyer and we have to get an appointment with the judge."  Dale said tiredly.  He still hadn't recovered from the thirty hour road trip.

"I'll tell you who to get," Brandy said with authority. "Michael Whittinghill.  Steve completely screwed up his house last year and he just happens to be one of the best defense attorney's in town."

Rick smiled, "How'd he screw up his house?"

"He let some punk crew go in there to do the base trim.  They laid it crocked, upside down and the corners didn't meet.  They knocked holes in the walls trying to hand nail the trim instead of using nail guns and they spit chewing tobacco all over his hardwood floors."

"Ouch," Rick said with a grimace.

"Oh yeah," Brandy laughed.  She looked at Kelly, "It was right after you left.  That was probably where he lost that thirty grand he said you took."

"Well, if he said that you took the money and he was actually the one who took it or lost it, that's fraud." Dale stated.

Kelly looked at Dale, "Unless he had another checking account somewhere, he never had more than ten thousand dollars in our account at one time."

"That will be something else we will have to look into.  I don't know what your husband was thinking or even the county attorney when he pressed all those bogus charges.  Both of them could be in a lot of trouble." Dale stated as he sipped his hot coffee.

"We'll get a hold of Mr. Whittinghill first thing in the morning and get the ball rolling.  We need to get things set up so that we can get back home and have Mr. Whittinghill handle things here."  Rick said as he leaned back in his chair and looked out the front windows of the coffeehouse.  The sun was setting and he was feeling the effects of being in a vehicle for thirty hours.

"Y'all look wiped out," Brandy commented.

"Yeah, it's a long drive here from Colorado." Dale said with a yawn.

"Well, y'all are welcome to crash at my house." Brandy offered.

"Thank you very much, Brandy, but we can't impose on you like that. If you could just direct us to the nearest hotels and motels that would be great," Rick said as he leaned forward and took a deep drink of his coffee.

Brandy gave them the directions to the nearest motels.  They all finished their coffees.  Brandy really wanted Kelly to come spend the night at her house but she could tell by the way that she and Pat were looking at each other that they needed to be alone.  It was interesting to watch this woman who she had known most of her life acting so differently.

They walked outside together and stood talking a little while longer.  Rick and Dale were telling Brandy about the construction work going on out there and what it paid so she could go home and tell Bruce.  The three of them weren't really paying attention to Kelly and Pat who were standing off to the side looking into each other's eyes.

Kelly and Pat weren't talking just absorbed in each other so they didn't see Steve come out of the shadows until he was upon them.  He grabbed Kelly and threw her to the ground.  Pat jumped on him and tried to pull him off of Kelly.  He threw Pat backwards onto the sidewalk.  Rick and Dale jumped in and grabbed Steve while Brandy called the police.

Rick and Dale held Steve down on the ground until the city police arrived.  It only took minutes because the police station was just a few blocks away.  The police knew Steve and at first thought that Rick and Dale were the assaulters until Brandy, Chelsey and some of the other customers from the coffee shop told them about Steve coming up and attacking Kelly.

The police officers were having a hard time with Kelly's name.  She had to explain to them that she was in fact Sandy McCluskey, Steve's soon-to-be ex-wife.  They finally got their reports together.  Kelly, who Steve had punched in the face several times before they pulled him off, was filing charges.  Pat had scraped up her hands and knees pm the sidewalk and she was pressing charges too.

Steve screamed obscenities at them until the police finally put him in the police car.  It took forever for them to finally get all of the paperwork filed so they could get on their way to the motel.  In the process, Bruce had come down to the coffeehouse and had talked with Rick and Dale while they were waiting for the police to wrap things up.

"Didn't know you'd have this much excitement did you?" Kelly asked as she pressed an ice pack that one of the paramedics had given her to press to her face.

Rick laughed, "I knew that there might be some excitement involved in coming to get you but I hadn't expected it to happen so quickly."

"Me either," Kelly agreed.

"Why don't we all get to a motel, get cleaned up and grab a bite to eat?" Pat said as she let the paramedics put bandages on her hands and knees that were bleeding.

"Are you two sure you don't want to go to the hospital?" One of the paramedics asked.

"Yeah, we're sure." Kelly said as she looked at Pat who smiled at her.

"Okay." The paramedics packed up the rest of their stuff and left.

"How about we all get together for breakfast tomorrow at about nine?" Bruce asked.

"That sounds great.  Where do you want to meet?" Rick asked

"There's a Denny's over by where the motels are.  Why don't we just go there?"

"Sounds like a plan," Dale agreed.

Brandy went to Kelly and hugged her close.  "I'm so glad you came back at least for a few days. And I'm glad that you forgave me for being such an ass."

"I've never been able to stay mad at you long, you know that." Kelly said hugging her back.

"Yeah, but what I did was awful." Brandy said starting to tear up.

Kelly pulled back and looked at her.  "It's all in the past, let's move forward."

"Okay," Brandy said quietly and stepped back to let Bruce hug Kelly.

"We'll see y'all in the morning," He said with a smile and a wave, then he put his arm around Brandy and steered her towards their cars.

Rick looked at Pat and Kelly, "I guess I don't need to ask if you two want to share a room."

Both women blushed; Pat smiled sheepishly, "No you don't need to ask."

Rick and Dale got in Rick's truck, Pat and Kelly got in Pat's Jeep and followed Rick and Dale to the other side of town where they got a motel room in the motel next to the Denny's.

They all went to their rooms with quick goodnights. As soon as Pat closed the door she pulled Kelly into her arms and kissed her gently on her swollen lips.  Kelly winced slightly.  "So much for my plans for the night."

"And what kind of plans did you have?" Pat asked mischievously.

Kelly squeezed her, "I think you know perfectly well what kind of plans I had."

"What makes you think that you can't still carry those plans out?"

Kelly touched her swollen face, "Well, we can't kiss passionately like I had planned but I could run my hands over your entire body."

Pat kissed her lightly on the neck, "I can't touch you like I wanted to but I can kiss your entire body."

"Well, I guess we should get a shower so we can see how much of my plans actually get carried out." Kelly said huskily.

Continued in Part 8

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