Disclaimers, or lack of them, see Part 1
My thanks as always to my beta reader, Barbara Davies. Read the latest in her Zee and Christie series Stage to Phoenix
Jo glanced at her watch again - nearly 4.20, and it was just about dark already. She sighed dramatically, watching the cloud as her warm breath hit the frigid air, disturbing a few snowflakes as they floated gently towards her.
She looked to her right, to the box that sat on the bench beside her. Shrugging her shoulders, she left it where it was and unfolded herself from the cold seat, swinging her legs stiffly over and stamping her feet on the ground.
Jo took a few slow steps towards the small gate at the entrance to the park, and, after taking one last glance back at the picnic table and bench, she left. And immediately stopped just beyond the high hedge that surrounded the small green.
Rocky was sitting on the low wall into which the metal railings were set. Her elbows rested on her knees, and she was staring at the ground between her scruffy boots.
"How long have you been here?" Jo asked, a little more sharply than she intended.
The girl's head didn't move. "About half an hour," the girl replied. "Can't be sure though."
"Why didn't you come into the park? I've been freezing my arse off waiting for you."
Rocky looked up, her green eyes finding those of the woman towering over her and immediately looking away. "I'm sorry," she said quietly, returning to contemplating the ground beneath her feet.
"Hey," said Jo, gently. "Look at me."
It took a few moments, but the blonde finally looked up. And she found the taller woman was offering her hand. She watched her own, gloved hand reach for the larger one, and then it was enveloped by a warmth she could feel even through the two pairs of gloves that she wore. She was gently pulled to her feet.
"Look, I'm frozen..." Jo began.
"I'm sorry," Rocky said, and from the look on her face, Jo could tell she truly was.
"Yeah well, my car isn't far. Can we go and sit there...?" She saw the fear in the girl's eyes as the blonde head jerked up and Rocky took a step back.
Jo put her hands up, trying to slow the rapidly retreating woman. "Hey, I just want to warm up, nothing else."
"I haven't... I don't..." Rocky was still backing away.
"I just want to talk with you, nothing else." She stopped and looked back into the darkened park. "I have something back there. Will you wait while I get it?"
Rocky had stopped. And was standing watching the tall woman, her arms wrapped about her small body against the cold.
"Will you wait?" Jo said again.
Rocky nodded. And Jo rushed back into the darkened park, leaning over the picnic table and retrieving the parcel.
Rocky was standing where Jo had left her when she returned. "I have some bits in here," said Jo, nodding towards the box in her arms. "Come on."
Jo turned away from the smaller woman and started striding purposefully towards the side street in which she had left her car. She glanced back to see if Rocky was following, and smiled a small smile when she saw that the blonde was, albeit at a slower pace.
"Here we are," said Jo, putting the box on the ground, and rummaging in her pockets for her keys. "I'm going to get one of those things that you whistle at," she said as she transferred her search from her jeans' pockets to her jacket pockets. "Ah, there we go." She unlocked the car and reached through to put the box on the ground. Then she opened up the passenger door and turned towards Rocky. "We can be a little warmer in here."
Rocky gazed into the car and then at the woman beside her. "I'm not..."
"Hey." Jo took a step towards Rocky and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "That's fine, you stay here if you'd rather."
She released Rocky, pleased to see that she didn't shrink away from her touch this time, and then sat down on the passenger side of the car, her legs still outside. Almost lying backwards across the seats, she managed to get the key into the ignition and started the car up, turning the heating controls onto high.
"I'm freezing; don't know about you." Jo smiled, leaning down and opening the box. "I have some flasks of hot drinks. Tea and coffee, which do you prefer?"
Rocky was shifting from foot to foot. "Um, tea... please."
"Ok." Jo took out the silver flask and poured some of the steaming liquid into a china mug. "I never could drink tea out of plastic," she said as she handed Rocky the mug. "There's milk and sugar in the box - didn't know how you'd take your tea."
"I don't get the choice very often," Rocky said as she crouched down and added milk and sugar to her tea.
"I'm sorry?" Jo was pouring herself a mug of coffee.
"I usually get my hot drinks in plastic, or polystyrene."
Jo looked up at the girl standing above her, and found Rocky staring at her.
"What?" asked Jo.
"Why are you here?"
"I told you before, I don't really know."
"What do you want from me?"
"Would you believe nothing?" Jo cupped her hands around the warm mug, and watched as Rocky blew gently on her hot drink.
Rocky began to walk around the car, her oversize boots scuffing the ground as she went. She appeared in front of the car, her form barely visible through the misty windscreen. "What type of car is this?"
"It's a Mercedes CLK 320."
Rocky nodded. "What size engine?"
"Um, no idea. I just get in it and drive it. It goes fast, that's all I know."
Rocky walked back around to the open passenger door. "What do you do? For a living, I mean."
"Ah, well," Jo shifted uncomfortably in the seat. "I don't work."
Jo shook her head. "No. I may some day, but for now I don't."
"So how do you survive?" Rocky bent at the waist and placed her mug back in the box.
"My parents." Jo couldn't look up at her. She'd never felt ashamed of her wealth and her lifestyle before. Why now?
"I have to go," said Rocky. "Edna's watching my stuff."
Jo nodded, suddenly feeling deflated and foolish. "I'll come back tomorrow."
"Why?" asked Rocky. "Why don't you just go back to your world and forget about me? Whatever it is you think you're looking for isn't here. Find another cause to ease your conscience."
"Is that what you think I'm doing?" Jo stood, throwing the mug into the box with a clatter. "Trying to ease my conscience because I'm some sort of rich bitch?"
Rocky shrugged. "We've seen it before. They come down here, do a few soup runs, and think they've done their bit. If you want to help, put some money in the poor box sometime. There are folks worse off than me." Rocky turned away from her and started walking. She looked back as she walked away. "Go home, Jo."
Jo watched her walk away, watched her thrust her hands into her pockets as she ambled along the road. Just as the blonde turned the corner, she glanced back at the dark haired woman, and Jo was sure she saw something in the green eyes.
"She feels it too," she said to herself, and eased herself out of the car. She placed the box on the seat and walked around the car, getting into the driver's side. The car had warmed up nicely in the time she'd been sitting there, so she shifted it into gear and headed home.
When Jo arrived at her small house she immediately noticed a light on in the lounge. She parked the car in the garage and made her way up the stairs. Just inside the door, she noticed the leather jacket hanging on the stair rail.
"Trix?" she called out, walking into the lounge.
"Were you expecting someone else, Jojo?"
Beatrice James, Trixi to her friends, was draped across Jo's sofa, wearing Jo's bathrobe and a smile. She pushed bleached blonde hair back from an angular face and stood to meet the dark woman half way. "I've been waiting for you, Jojo."
"So I see," said Jo, seeing the half-empty whisky glass on the coffee table.
Trixi snaked her arms around Jo's neck, pulling her down. "I missed you last night," she said, and captured soft lips with her own. Maintaining the contact, she brought her hands between them and started to unzip Jo's jacket, and once it was undone she pushed it back off the tall woman's shoulders. "And I think you missed me."
Jo hesitated for a heartbeat and then pulled the woman against her body, crushing the blonde's lips with her own.
"Oh yeah," Trixi breathed into Jo's mouth, unfastening her jeans and pulling down the fly. "I've got what you want," she husked, as she slipped her hand into the taller woman's jeans and past her underwear. Jo gasped as slim fingers delved into the liquid heat between her legs, and allowed herself to be pushed back onto the sofa.
Trixi pulled her hand free and used both hands to pull the sweatshirt off the body she was straddling, making short work of the bra beneath that. "You need this," whispered Trixi, as she dipped her head and took as much of Jo's breast into her mouth as she could, then caught a taut nipple between her teeth. "You need me."
The blonde hooked her fingers into the waistband of Jo's jeans and drew them down across her hips, though the dark woman's boots prevented them from being removed altogether. "Tell me what you want, Jo." Trixi sat back, still straddling Jo's hips, her hands fluttering across aroused breasts, then moving downwards.
Jo's hips shot up off the sofa as Trixi's fingers arrived at their destination. "Oh yeah. This is what you want, isn't it?" She watched the woman beneath her through hooded eyes, knowing the power she held. "Tell me what you want, Jo," she said as her fingers stroked the other woman towards release.
"Fuck me," rasped the dark woman, knowing she could no more deny her body this than she could air. Then she reached up and tangled her hands in the blonde hair, pulling the woman's head down to where she needed it most.
It was later - how much later, Jo wasn't sure. She was lying face down on her bed. Beside her, Trixi amused herself by running her hand gently across Jo's back, sometimes dipping down to trace the contours of her hips and buttocks. Jo stared at the wall a few feet from her bed, her mind in another place, certainly not in the room with the blonde.
She felt a hand delve into the wetness between her legs.
"Don't," she said, never raising her head.
"Come on, Jojo," said Trixi, not ceasing her stroking.
Without turning her head to look at the woman, Jo growled, "If you don't stop that now, Trix, I'm going to break your fucking wrist."
Maybe it was the low and menacing voice, or maybe the pent up fury she felt in the body beneath her hands, but wisely Trixi removed her hand.
"Don't Jojo me, Trix." Jo turned onto her back and then swivelled and sat on the edge of the bed.
"You can't tell me you didn't enjoy it, Jo." Trixi placed her hand on Jo's shoulder, rubbing in small gentle circles on the soft, slick skin.
"I don't want to do this anymore." Jo's voice was little more than a whisper, and she shrugged away from the woman's touch.
She felt the blonde get off the bed, and heard her walk out of the bedroom and down the stairs to the lounge. After a few moments Trixi appeared in the bedroom again. Jo hadn't moved.
"Call me when you need me," Trixi said from the doorway, doing up the buttons of her blouse.
"Don't hold your breath." Jo didn't look up, her knuckles whitening as she balled the sheet beneath her in her hands.
Trixi took a slow walk towards the naked woman. She raised Jo's face, and gazed down into blue eyes turned grey in the darkness. "You've never been able to say no to me, Jo. Don't start trying to now. I'll see you around." She bent and kissed Jo, taking her bottom lip between her teeth and biting down.
Jo pulled away and raised a hand to her mouth, feeling the sting of a small cut and tasting the metallic tang of blood.
Trixi laughed, and walked out of the bedroom and out of the house.
Jo was furious. She stood and pulled the sheet with the evidence of her weakness from the bed, throwing it into a corner of the room. Then she staggered to the bathroom. Reaching into the shower stall, she turned the water on and stepped into the cleansing spray, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor of the shower.
It was only the water running cold that forced the tall woman out of the shower, and she returned to the bedroom, grabbing a large towel from a cupboard as she passed it.
She lay on the sheetless mattress, pulling the quilt up around her shivering body.
"Oh God, Rocky. What have I done?" she sobbed into the pillow.
Jo had fallen into a fitful sleep, and it was only the persistent ringing of her doorbell that awakened her. She pulled the towel around her still trembling body and made her way down the stairs to the lounge and to the speaker.
"Yeah?" Her own voice sounded broken to her ears and she cleared her throat and tried again. "Yeah?" she said again, louder this time.
"Harry," was the short reply.
Jo pushed the button to admit her friend and went back up to her bedroom to retrieve her robe.
By the time she'd found it and returned to the lounge, Harry was sitting in the chair.
"Well, aren't I the popular one this evening?" She glanced at the clock; it was a little after 9pm.
"You look like shit, Jo," said Harry, standing and closing the space between her and her friend. She raised a hand and gently touched Jo's bottom lip, tracing the small cut there. "Who did this?"
Jo shook her head. "Doesn't matter."
"If you say so," said Harry, who shrugged and returned to her seat.
Jo collapsed on the sofa, and rubbed her temples with shaking fingers.
"You want to talk about it?" asked Harry.
"No.... yes," a big sigh. "I don't know."
"Did the girl show up?"
"In the park? Yes she did." Jo leaned forward and turned up the heating on the artificial flame fire.
"So.... are you going to tell me what happened here tonight?"
Jo pushed herself back into a corner of the sofa, tucking herself into as small a ball as possible. "Nothing happened."
"Strange, I was just in the club. Trixi was there."
Jo closed her eyes.
"She gave you that split lip, didn't she?"
Jo nodded, and opened her eyes to see Harry moving towards her and sitting beside her on the sofa. "Come here," said Harry, and gathered the shaking woman into her arms as Jo crawled towards her. "She uses you," said Harry into dark silken hair.
"I use her too," whispered Jo. "I have no excuse."
"Since when did you need an excuse, Jo? You've used anyone who took your fancy." Harry felt the woman in her arms stiffen. "You know it's true."
The dark head nodded against her chest. "I know."
Harry barely heard her friend's answer. "So why is it different tonight?" Harry asked.
"Come on, Jo. Talk to me." Harry gave her friend a little shake.
"Tonight I felt ashamed," Jo said finally.
"D'you think it has anything to do with Rocky?"
"Would you like to have a relationship with Rocky?"
There was silence from the dark woman.
"Jo?" Harry tried to push the larger woman away from her so that she could see into her face. "Jo, look at me."
The blue eyes wouldn't meet her own, and once again Harry took Jo's shoulders in her hands and gave her a shake. "Jo. What is it about this girl; do you know yet?"
Jo shook her head. "I've never felt ashamed before. And tonight I felt both ashamed and dirty. I hated Trix for the power she held over me tonight. I couldn't stop her. I couldn't stop myself. I wanted what she was giving me, and, for a while, it felt good. I'm scared, Harry."
"Jesus, Jo. You've never been scared of anything."
"I'm scared I'll always be like this. I'm scared I'll always need people like Trix. People who want me just for another fuck, want a body, any body. Trix never wanted me; I could have been anyone. I was just always available. I can't..." Jo's voice broke and she buried her face in Harry's chest once more. "I'm scared, Harry," she said again, between sobs.
"Don't be scared, Jo. You'll find a way out of this. And I have a feeling you won't be alone when you do find your way."
Jo raised her head and regarded her friend with bloodshot eyes.
Harry smiled at her. "I hope Rocky realises the change she's made in you."
"Yeah. You've started to turn the corner, Jo. You're too good for parasites like Trix. You're my best friend, Jo. But I have to tell you, the way you've been living your life can't go on. If finding Rocky changes who you are, then I'm glad."
"I felt like I was betraying her," said Jo, obviously surprised at the revelation.
"You felt like you were betraying someone who isn't even your lover?"
"Not even a friend yet," said Jo.
"But you'd like her to be your friend."
Jo shook her head in wonderment. "I feel as if I desperately need her to like me, to accept me. And I feel I need to be a different person for her."
"I don't think you need to be anyone but yourself. I like the person you are, I just don't really like the person that needs the Trixes of this world."
"Do you think Rocky would want to know the woman who came home and found Trix here?"
"Probably not. But only you can determine whether that person is gone for good now."
"I want her to be. But what if she's still here?"
"Then you have to control her. You have to push her back down when she wants her way..." She watched her friend contemplate what she was saying. "It's up to you, Jo. Do you think you can change?"
"I have to."
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