For disclaimers, or lack of them, see Part 1
My thanks as always to my beta reader, Barbara Davies. See her work: Barbara Davies.
Jo lay in the bath, the water covering her to the tip of her chin. She reached out with her toe and turned the tap, letting some more hot water into the bath.
She'd been luxuriating for just over an hour. The cold had got to her, and she was glad of the warmth and comfort that seeped into her bones from the water's heat.
But the thought of Rocky out in the cold night was never far away. Taking another sip of her drink, she decided that tomorrow she'd insist upon the girl coming back with her. She'd make up the spare room - not that she really wanted her in there, and would insist that Rocky at least came to look at it.
"No," she said to herself. "I want you with me."
She drained the glass and decided that she should really be getting out. Her skin was pruning, and she was feeling lethargic.
She stepped out of the bath, and put on a robe that was hanging on the back of the door. Putting the shiver she felt across the back of her neck down to the cooler air hitting her body as she exited the steamy bathroom, she made her way down the stairs to the lounge.
It was almost 8pm, and she picked up the remote and switched on the TV.
She wanted to go to bed. Like a child on Christmas Eve, she wanted tomorrow to come, and quickly. But she knew if she did, she'd lie awake thinking about a small blonde who had felt so right, so naturally right, in her arms.
She smiled at the thought, and curled her body up on the sofa, laying her head on the arm and hugging a cushion close.
So Rocky felt it too. She smiled at the thought. She said she wants me. She rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling. The television flickered in the corner, unwatched. Jo closed her eyes and saw in her mind's eye the face of the woman she'd been seeking all her life but had only just come to realise the fact.
She'd never before had any compulsion to take one of her relationships with the many women she'd met any further than sexual gratification. She bedded them, and as soon as they started talking about commitment, she called it off.
One of the people who understood that and used it to her advantage was Trixi. Trixi knew that she could use Jo, and knew damn well that Jo used her.
However, Trixi was finding Jo's recent reluctance to partake of her particular pleasures somewhat hard to accept. Jo knew that. And the thought that she could use Rocky the way she'd used Trixi, the way she'd used many women, sickened her. Suddenly her life, her existence sickened her. And what would Rocky think when she found out? Could she keep her past a secret? Did she want to? At what point did it no longer become fun? She'd enjoyed the hunt, the seduction, the conquest. Now her main ambition in life was to get one small woman out of the cold and into her life.
She wanted to get up and go out. Now. She wanted to go and find Rocky, throw her into her car and bring her home.
But she wouldn't. Rocky wouldn't respect her if she imposed her will on the blonde. The decision had to be Rocky's, and she would abide by that decision, however hard it was to take.
She surrounded herself in the warmth that thoughts of Rocky inspired. Drifting off in the comfort of her home, she dreamt of sea-green eyes and the promise of soft skin under her hands. She dreamt of full lips caressing her own, and of small hands exploring her body. She dreamt of burying her face in silken hair, drawing in the scent of the blonde as she traced a delicate ear with her tongue.
Oh yes, she would love this woman, and she would be anything and everything the blonde wanted.
Some two hours later, Jo awoke with a start. She looked at the clock, and found it to be just after 10pm. She didn't know what had woken her, and stared uncomprehendingly at the TV. A particularly violent film was showing - men hanging bloodied and battered from a ceiling.
Only half awake, she switched off the TV and made her shuffling way up to bed. She chuckled to herself as she snuggled down into the comfort of her thick quilt. Suddenly realising that, only a week ago, at this time of night, she would just be entering into another night's hunting. Like some sort of predator, she would be stalking her usual hunting grounds, looking for prey.
What a difference a weekend makes.
She was having a beautiful dream. In it she was with Rocky; what she was doing to Rocky was interesting, but the annoying sound she could hear just wouldn't go away.
She slapped her hand at the alarm, before she remembered she never set the radio-alarm that sat on the bedside cabinet. Her sleep-fogged brain tried to comprehend what the noise was. Then she realised - it was the phone. She reached over and picked up the handset, listening to the babbling she heard as soon as she lifted the handset.
"... not working, never did like using these newfangled things."
"Hello?" said Jo. Whoever was on the other end obviously wasn't paying attention. She looked at the glowing numbers on the radio-alarm. 02.26. "Hello!" she shouted.
"Hello, hello," the voice repeated.
"Who is this?"
"Yes. Edna?" A knot of fear twisted in Jo's chest. "Edna, is Rocky alright?"
"Yes, Edna. What is it? Is it Rocky?"
"I can't hear you."
Jo sat up, pushing the quilt aside and dragging her hand through her tangled hair. Her heart began to beat quickly, a hundred different scenario's forming in her imagination.
"Edna," she shouted. "Can you hear me?"
"Jo?... I can't hear you, Jo. But if you can hear me, come to the old leather works near Bethnal Green...."
The old woman's voice was replaced by the dialling tone, and Jo threw the offending object across the room, flinching when she heard it hit the wall and bounce across the floor.
She picked up the clothes she'd had on earlier that day from where she'd thrown them. Putting them on quickly, she grabbed her jacket, hat and gloves from their place in the hall and, without tying her bootlaces, rushed down the stairs. She narrowly avoided slipping as she left the warmth of the house, and opened the garage door using the remote control.
Not waiting for the car to warm up, as her father had always taught her, she reversed out of the garage, narrowly avoiding reversing into another parked car as her tyres refused to grip on the ice.
As she drove through deserted streets, she suddenly realised she had no idea where the old leather works were.
She did, however, know where Bethnal Green was. There was a particularly popular nightclub that she frequented occasionally, and so she found herself in Bethnal Green quite quickly. "Old leather works," she said to herself. It must be an old factory, probably not used anymore.
Was this where Rocky lived? She shivered at the thought. She'd never really taken the time to think where Rocky spent her nights. She hoped that maybe she squatted in an empty house or something. Not in a derelict building.
She drove around in circles for a half-hour, looking for something that would point her in the right direction. Then she saw the high fence, with a barbed wire top. Signs warning of prosecution for trespassers and of an unsafe structure were every few yards on the fence. The original, huge iron gates stood in the centre of the fence. She parked her car under a streetlight, and, after locking the Merc, made her way to them. Above the gates, cast in wrought iron, were the words: 'Mitchell Tannery'.
She peered through the gates and on the other side an old man came shuffling forward. "You lookin' fer Edna?"
"Yes." Jo gripped the cold metal of the gates, pushing against them in her desperation.
"You won't get through `ere." He pointed to his right. "Go down about fifty yard. There's a hole in the fence. Slip of a lass like you should get through there no trouble."
Jo was gone before he had the chance to tell her he'd meet her at the opening.
The hand that took her by the arm as she crawled through the fence took her by surprise, but then she looked up into the grizzled face of the old man. He smiled at her, showing a couple of dirty teeth, and then beckoned to her to follow.
"Watch your step," he said, as he led her across the old factory floor, startling a couple of pigeons into the air. The area was lit only by a few bonfires casting a golden glow across the walls. A steadily thickening layer of snow covered the ground, making it even more difficult to navigate a safe path through the debris.
Edna stood as she approached, and Jo saw the hunched figure of Rocky slumped against the wall behind her.
Edna managed to intercept the rapidly moving woman, putting her hands on her upper arms. "She's hurt, Jo. Be careful."
Jo slowed, took a couple of deep breaths and nodded. "What happened?" she asked as she crouched in front of the blonde.
"I'm not sure. Old Bill over there came to the hostel to find me about an hour and a half ago. Seems she had a fall. Floor gave way and she fell through to the cellar. Don't know how long she was down there, but she managed to get out."
Jo reached out a shaking hand and gently lifted Rocky's bowed head. "Hey," she whispered. "What have you been doing to yourself?"
Glazed green eyes found her own, and Jo immediately recognised the pain in them.
"Jo?" Rocky tried to move but cried out when the pain became too much.
Even in the firelight, Jo could see the lack of colour in the blonde's face. Her skin was covered by a thin sheen of sweat. Her jacket was draped across her shoulders, and she was hunched over, protecting something it seemed. A small graze marred her left cheek, high up near her eye.
"Where does it hurt, Rocky?" asked Jo, gently parting the front of the blonde's jacket, wanting to find what was causing the pain. But she felt the fear as well, not knowing how she would deal with a serious injury.
"Shoulder," was all Rocky could manage, gasping again as Jo slipped the heavy army jacket off her shoulders.
She could see immediately something was very wrong with Rocky's left shoulder. She placed a gentle hand on it, feeling the obscenely misplaced joint. "Feels dislocated."
"We know." A voice from behind her she recognised as Edna's.
"So why didn't you call a bloody ambulance? You had the bloody card." Jo covered Rocky again with the jacket. The blonde, in her misery, was unaware of the argument going on in front of her.
"She won't have it." Edna crossed her arms, and stood up straight. "We know better than to force her to do something."
"But it's for her own good." Jo threw her arms in the air in frustration.
"I won't go back on a promise. She won't go to a hospital, that's why Bill tried to put it right."
"He what?" Jo spun to look at the old man, who once again grinned at her.
"He tried to put it back in; wouldn't go."
Bill nodded his head. "It's a bad one," he said, the grin never leaving his face.
"He used to work with horses apparently," said Edna, as a means of explanation.
"Jesus Christ! I can't believe you let him do that, Edna," she said, kneeling once again in front of the shivering blonde.
"I wasn't here. I was in the hostel. I knew nothing about this until long after it happened."
Jo wasn't listening. She cupped a sweaty cheek and ducked her head to see into the pale face. "Rocky, we have to take you to hospital."
Rocky took in a deep breath, wincing as the pain in her shoulder flared. "No, no hospital. Can't go there." She gripped Jo's wrist with her right hand. "Promise me, Jo."
"Sweetheart, you're in agony. I can't let you stay like this."
"Can't go to hospital." She sobbed as the pain got worse. "Please, Jo."
"Okay." Jo stood, and pulled out her cell phone. Dialling a number programmed into the memory, she waited a while until it was answered. "Leo?" she paused for a moment, listening to the outraged voice. "I know, I need some help... No, not that kind of help... No, now." She held the phone away from her ear. "I'll meet you in the surgery. Will you tell them we're coming?" She nodded at the answer. "See you there." She flipped the phone closed, and pushed it back into her pocket.
She crouched down in front of Rocky again. "Rocky," her voice was barely above a whisper. "I'm going to take you to a friend of mine. He has his own private surgery, and he'll help us."
"No hospital," Rocky managed, gasping again when she shifted slightly.
"It's a private hospital, looks more like a hotel. He'll see us in his surgery." She pushed sweat-soaked hair off the pale face. "Sweetheart, you have to get it seen to. Trust me, please."
Rocky drew in a long ragged breath, and nodded tightly. "Help me up."
The hardest part was getting Rocky through the low hole in the fence. The manoeuvre caused the small woman considerable pain, and she leaned heavily on Jo and Edna as they led her to the car. Between them they managed to get the blonde settled into the passenger seat of the Merc. Jo leaned across her and fastened the seatbelt, then threw the jacket, which she'd slipped off her shoulders, into the boot.
Edna reached in and gave her friend a brief kiss on her cheek. "You're going to be fine," she said, reluctantly pulling her hand from Rocky's weak grasp. She shut the door and watched Jo over the roof of the car.
The younger woman finally looked up from the keys she held in her hand. "Edna, I'm sorry I shouted, and I'm glad you called me."
Edna nodded, accepting the apology. "It shows you care. I can sleep now, knowing you'll do your best for her."
"I will, Edna, I promise." With that, Jo folded her long frame into the car, and, with a brief look at the slumped form in the passenger seat, she sped away.
Every bump in the road, every turn, elicited a groan from Rocky, and as much as Jo wanted to get the injured woman to a doctor, she kept the speed down, easing into bends.
At last she was parking the car outside the splendid building in central London which housed her friend's surgery.
Leo was a friend of her brother's. Older than Jeremy by five years, he had followed the family tradition and studied medicine. He, however, wasn't going to spend long hours working for the National Health. He followed his father into the rapidly growing plastic surgery business. And a business it was. He now had his own very successful practice, catering to the need of wealthy women to keep their looks, or to enhance what looks they had.
He had flirted unashamedly with Jo every time he had the pleasure to meet her. And this wasn't the first time she had used his attraction to her for her own needs. Though on each occasion the treatment had not been for her.
As she opened her door, Leo arrived, parking his Jaguar in front of Jo's car. She walked around the front of the car and leaned in to unbuckle Rocky's seatbelt. Leo went on into the clinic and had a word with the security guard, who was talking to a nurse behind the reception counter.
Jo helped the blonde up the short flight of steps and through the door, immediately spotting Leo who beckoned her to follow him.
Leo's office was plush, with a huge desk and a long leather couch. There was also an examination table behind a curtain. Certificates mounted the walls, along with photographs. One photograph showed Leo and Jeremy on the summit of some mountain - Jo had never thought to ask which one.
Jo eased Rocky across to the couch, and lowered them both down onto it.
Leo was sitting on the edge of the table, looking very undoctor-like in jeans and blue sweatshirt.
"She's dislocated her shoulder," said Jo, settling Rocky back onto the cushions.
"I can see that." Leo made no move to approach them. He looked long and hard at the two women, then took a bunch of keys from the chain attached to his belt. "Just one moment," he said, and left the room.
"So tired," whispered Rocky.
Jo tore her eyes from the door through which Leo had just left, and took in the sight of the pain-wracked girl. "Won't be long now, sweetheart. Leo will put it right." She rubbed gentle circles across the girl's back, being careful to avoid the injured shoulder.
Leo returned with a small cup of water, and another smaller plastic cup. "Here, take these." He handed the small cup, which contained a couple of pills, to Rocky. "They're muscle relaxants; it'll help when I put the joint back in place."
Rocky took the pills with a shaking hand. She looked at them and then at Jo. "Go on," urged her friend.
Rocky tipped the pills into her mouth, and then took the cup of water from Leo, washing them down.
"They'll take a few moments to take effect." He turned soft brown eyes on Jo. "Can I have a word?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer, walked out of the room.
Jo watched him go and then turned to Rocky. "Just sit quietly for a moment. I won't be long."
She reluctantly left the blonde, after making sure she was comfortable on the couch, and went into the hallway to find Leo.
"What the hell is that?" he said angrily, pointing towards the now shut door to his office.
Jo pushed him further away and out of the front door of the building and into the cold night. "Will you shut up?! She's a friend of mine and she needs help."
"Then take her to a bloody hospital. Christ, Jo, it was bad enough you dragging in your little tarts that OD'd when you dumped them. Now you're bringing me in vagrants?"
"Look, Leo." She turned away from him, watching the snow swirling around the orange glow of a streetlamp. "I know I owe you, and I know this is unreasonable, but she's really important to me."
"I know what she is, Leo. I can't explain it. But I know one thing. Tonight was the last night she spends on the streets."
"So you're into rescuing tramps now; that's a new slant for you, Jo. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't we?" He took a couple of steps and was face to face with her. "Have you broken all the little tarts' hearts in London? None left? Had to cast your net into new waters?" His voice dripped with sarcasm.
Jo's head hung low. She knew his words were close to the truth. "Will you please just help me this one last time? I won't come here again." She looked up at him, his face half lit by the light from the open door. She saw the regret in his eyes.
"I would have given you anything you asked for," he said quietly. "Anything."
She reached out a hand and gripped his arm gently. "I know, Leo. I'm sorry."
He swallowed hard and put an arm around her shoulders. "Let's go see to your friend."
When they arrived back in the office, they found Rocky with her head back against the couch back, eyes closed. Both hands were lying in her lap, and she looked pretty well relaxed.
Jo rushed to her side, pushing the blonde's damp hair out of her pale face. "Rocky?" she said quietly.
"Muscle relaxants, they work quickly." He went to a large cabinet at the rear of the room and pulled out a large pair of scissors. "As this isn't an emergency department, we're going to have to make do. We need to get her out of the sweatshirt." He handed the scissors to Jo. "You can... um, get her out of her top."
Jo took the scissors and then grasped the sweatshirt. She slit the sleeve enclosing the injured arm and then up the body of the shirt itself. Between them they managed to ease it off Rocky's good arm. Beneath that was the shirt. That was unbuttoned and carefully removed without the need of the scissors.
A large smile crossed Jo's face when she found that the last garment that Rocky wore was the thermal vest she'd bought her a couple of days before. Beneath the white material the misplaced shoulder was even more evident. "Can you mange if we leave this on?" Jo asked pointing at the white vest.
Rocky was just about oblivious to what was going on around her, but Jo really didn't want her undressed in front of Leo.
"Yeah, that should do." Leo put a hand on the shoulder, feeling for the joint. "Can you go round the other side?"
Jo stood and went to Rocky's good side.
"Hold her steady."
Jo put her arms around the almost boneless blonde, and held on. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see what was going on. But almost lost whatever food she'd had that day when she heard the joint re-seat itself in its correct position.
Rocky groaned in her delirium, and Jo gathered her gently into her arms. "Sssh, it's ok. It's over now."
"Looks like we have another problem here," said Leo, lifting the hem of the vest.
Jo peered past the slumped head that rested on her shoulder to see what Leo was looking at. There was blood on the vest, a slowly spreading stain. She looked then at the discarded sweatshirt on the floor, and saw a small stain on that too.
"It's not a big cut, but I think I'll put a couple of stitches in it." Leo straightened quickly and left the two women alone.
"What did you do to yourself?" Jo said, her lips brushing the blonde hair.
Leo returned with some more equipment. "Can you hold up the vest?"
Jo reached around and pulled up the thermal vest, baring Rocky's side to Leo's gaze. "Yeah, just a couple of stitches." He swabbed the area clean, and quickly inserted two stitches, closing the small wound. Rocky flinched once, but was still at ease from the effects of the muscle relaxants. He placed a dressing over the wound and stood, watching as Jo lowered the garment once more.
Rocky was slumped heavily against the tall woman, who was also nearing the end of her reserves.
Leo sat on the end of the couch, the oblivious blonde between him and Jo. "You look awful, Jo."
"Thanks," she chuckled, her attention fixed on the blonde in her arms.
"Do you want me to call you a taxi?"
Jo shook her head. "No, help me get her into the car, I'm taking her home."
Leo and Jo managed to get Rocky into her shirt; the sweatshirt was a lost cause. Jo took off her leather jacket, which she'd worn the whole time, and draped it around Rocky's shoulders.
"What can I do for her?" asked Jo as they took the steps slowly. Rocky was more aware, but whether it was shock or tiredness that kept her silent, Jo wasn't sure.
"Cold will help. If you can, crush some ice and put it in a plastic bag, then wrap it in cloth. Here," he handed her a small pill pot. "Painkillers. Give her one every hour or so, or as she needs them." They reached the car and Jo held Rocky with one arm while disarming the alarm and unlocking the car with the remote with the other.
Leo opened the car and Jo lowered the blonde into the passenger seat. Rocky fumbled with the seat belt with her right hand until Jo placed her hands over the seated woman's and buckled her in. She closed the door and turned to face Leo. "You're a good friend, Leo. Thank you." She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.
"I'm sorry for shouting at you."
"Well, it's -" she looked at her watch, "- nearly 4am. You had every reason to shout."
Leo scrubbed his face with his hands. "Give me a call in a week or so, and I'll take a look at the stitches."
"I will," she said, and got into the car.
As she drove down the street away from Leo she watched him in her rear view mirror; he stood for a while then turned and made his way back into the building.
She looked to her left at the blonde, who was sitting quietly. "You alright?"
"I feel a little woozy."
"You'll be fine. But it may hurt once the relaxants wear off. Leo gave me some painkillers."
Rocky was silent for a moment. Then she took a deep breath. "You can drop me near to the park if you want."
Jo turned incredulous eyes on the small figure. "You don't really think I'm taking you back there, do you?"
"It's where I belong."
"Like hell it is. You're coming home with me. You have a serious injury, which needs to be treated, and a hole in your side. I have painkillers, which you're going to need later. They will make you groggy. You could freeze to death in your sleep." She viciously changed gear, the engine howling in protest. "No way are you going back there."
Rocky looked out of the window, away from Jo. "Don't I get a say?"
"Not tonight, no."
The blonde head dropped, her fatigue evident. "I don't sound very grateful, do I?"
Jo was silent.
"Thanks," said Rocky.
"Anytime," said Jo.
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