Chapter 57

***Additional disclaimer: Extremly violent scenes ahead.


With a hawk like gaze, Max Sr. watched as his wife set the plate of steaming, scrambled eggs on the table. Contempt and hatred rose to his throat like bile, leaving a sour taste. The urge to hear her scream; see her cry; and make her hurt was almost overwhelming, but he swallowed it down along with a shot of whiskey. The amber fluid had been his best friend the past few days. He wallowed in the relationship.

Quickly, Max Sr. refilled the glass and gulped the contents down once more. It burned his throat horribly but left a pool of warmth in his belly. Still, he shook his head in disgust. People were a disappointment. At least, all the people he knew. No one seemed to be able to do what he asked of them. He sneered. That's okay. I did it myself. Ivanhoe. B. Waszinski. Got a name and a place thanks to the phone company just had to be sober enough to call them. What's a few days? So our Michelle is shacked up with someone new. Won't be for long. Gonna make sure of that. Maybe I'll take that stupid son of mine with me and show him how it's done. She won't leave again. Heh, she won't be able to.

A plate of biscuits appeared before him, and Max turned to watch as Beatrice shuffled painfully back across the kitchen toward the stove. She won't be able to do a damn thing for a long time either when I'm done with her. My own wife betrayed me. She's gotta pay no way outta that. . . gotta learn her place. Max picked up a fork and scooped some eggs into his mouth. They were light, fluffy and salty just like he wanted them. He licked the teeth of the utensil clean and peered down at it. Through the prongs, he could see his wife hunched over the sink. Slowly, rage boiled within him, producing a sinister smile. He let it come this time, filling him with its red heat. "C'mere," he uttered almost quietly. Seeing her back stiffen, Max almost chuckled with satisfaction. You have no idea.

With her eyes downcast, Beatrice limped slowly toward the table, stopping when she reached his side. She didn't breath. She didn't dare speak. Cold realization rushed through her bloodstream. It was the calm before another storm. The beer can was just the tip of the iceberg. The next incident left her deeply bruised and limping on a foot that was badly sprained. Still, the past few days had been almost sedate, quiet. She knew it could not last. God, not now. Give me time to heal just a little bit.

"Sit." As if she were on a leash, Beatrice did his bidding and folded herself into the chair next to him. Placing her hands on the table, she waited patiently with her eyes riveted on her lap. Max Sr. covered her hand with his larger appendage, squeezing slightly, almost affectionately. She's gonna have to remember this.

Despite the gentle gesture, Beatrice clenched her body, waiting for the inevitable. The warmth of his hand left suddenly and blinding pain took its place. A blood curtling scream rumbled through her chest and rolled from her lips. Stars flashed before her eyes, peppering the darkness she could feel encroaching around the edges. Wide eyes stared in horror at the protrusion sticking up from the back of her hand. Blood pooled around the prongs of the fork and seeped over her skin. The handle of the utensil almost glittered in the sunlight streaming through the kitchen windows.

Then, as fast as it appeared the fork was gone. Shock left Beatrice pale and frozen, but the unbelievable pain made her gasp and sob with each breath. Her eyes went from the oozing, throbbing wound to her husband's face. What she saw there shocked her even more. Whatever rage that was present had dissippated, leaving an expression dangerously close to serene. It was burned on her brain as blackness swallowed her.

Max wiped the crimson liquid from his fork with a nearby napkin before digging it back into his eggs. Chewing slowly, he made a satisfied sound in the back of his throat as he took in Beatrice's slumped form. That'll do for a start. Max's eyes narrowed as he spied the blood pooling around Beatrice's hand. She's always been a bleeder. Wasn't even deep. He reached for the blood smeared napkin and pressed it to wound. Don't want her dyin' on me. With his free hand, Max Sr. continued his breakfast. S'pose I should let that son of mine know what's goin on. Can't forget 'bout Marsha either.

A little while later, Max Sr. belched and rubbed his stomach. He peered at Beatrice, who had been moaning and jerking about for some time. Women are so damn dramatic. Barely touched her. He lifted the napkin from his wife's skin. The bleeding had stopped, leaving four red puncture wounds. Deciding that she had laid there long enough, Max called her name sternly. Beatrice's groans became louder.

"Get the fuck up!" He bellowed.

She jumped slightly but there wasn't much progress. Max stood up abruptly and walked briskly toward the sink. After filling a glass full of cool water, he turned and tossed its contents in a wide arc toward his wife's still form.

Beatrice gasped as the water hit the side of her face. Her head jerked around and she scanned the room with unfocused eyes, until they landed on something familiar, her husband. Beatrice searched her suddenly sketchy memory, knowing and feeling as though there was something she should be doing. Unsure of what it was, she attempted to push herself up from the table only to cry out in pain. Everything returned to her in a crashing wave. She looked down at her injured appendage to the blood covering the table. My God. One day he's going to kill me. I just know it. I can't take much more of this. How much more of this can I take?

Max took her reaction in with astute eyes. She's cooking up something. S'okay. I'll make sure it don't get done. "Get this mess cleaned up and fix your hand. I've got some business to take care of, so you stay in the bedroom until I tell you to come out."

Beatrice stood and cradled her arm to her side. She picked up a dish and carried it toward the sink as fast as her wobbly legs could move her. Husband and wife passed each other. She headed for the sink; he toward the table and another drink.

Beatrice placed the dish in the sink. Then, she examined her wound. How many scars will I have before he's done with me. I may never see my grandson again. A bone deep sadness assailed her , but with it came anger. It churned in her stronger than ever before. I may never see Toby again because it's all in his hands. . . my life. . .everything. No! No! "No!" She clenched her hands into fists through the pain and screamed out loud. Beatrice ears rang from the sudden noise, and her back stiffened as she realized what she had just done.

A muted thump came from the vicinity of the table. The sound of a chair scooting across the floor reached her. Beatrice could almost feel him moving closer. Still, she did not turn. Oh God. Fear mingled with the myraid of other emotions.

Max could feel the blood rush into his face. It was a word he never heard pass her lips not in this context. Rage boiled, searing him in its hot, red wave. "Are you talkin' to me?!" He yelled.

Beatrice shook in terror but said nothing. I have to do this.

Max stood behind her, inches away. "I said are you talkin' to me?!" Maybe it's time to fix this so she won't defy me again.

Beatrice closed her eyes, and from somewhere deep the strength came. "Yes," she whispered softly and braced herself for the first blow. She wasn't disappointed. The punch landed square in her right kidney, nearly flooring her. Beatrice cried out and held on to the edge of the sink in an attempt to keep her footing.

It wasn't enough for Max. He wanted to see her writhe. Spittle flew from his mouth as he cried out in fury. It commanded him, and words flew from his mouth as did the punches. "You. . .betrayed me! You. . . lied to me! I know where . . .she is. Both of you. . .are. . .gonna pay!"

Riddled with agony and whimpering in pain, somehow Beatrice heard and understood every word. He knows! He knows! Her foggy brain screamed. And he's not going to let you get away with it. None of you will get away. Blow after blow rained against her lower back. Out of instinct, out of anger, out of pure emotion, a hand reached into the sink. Her fingers closed around a handle, and she gripped it tightly. Please let it stop. Please.

"Turn 'round!" When Beatrice didn't obey his command fast enough, Max grabbed his wife's shoulder, spinning her around to face him. With wide eyes, he watched as the next few seconds transpired in slow motion. Beatrice's arm rose high. The tip of the knife glinted as it moved downward in a deadly arc, plunging into his chest with authority. The sudden, searing pain caused him to yell and topple backward onto the floor. Shear terror caused his bowels and bladder to loosen, spilling their contents on the linoluem. Max's breath left him, and he tried vehemently to catch it. It was to no avail. The knowledge left him clutching his chest and moaning listlessly.

Beatrice pulled away and slumped toward the floor. Darkness beckoned but she fought it. Her ragged breathing rasped through the now semi-quiet kitchen. Her wild unfocused eyes, glanced down at her hands, and she was riveted by what she saw there. Warm, sticky, red fluid covered her fingers. Max's blood. A relieved but panicked sob wrenched from her throat. I didn't think I had it in me--all these years I could barely look him in the eye. She peered at his prone form, seeing his chest still rise and fall and hearing the pitiful moans. Beatrice pulled her shirt up over her nose in an attempt to ward off the awful stench that now permeated the kitchen.

"Bitch. . .gonna get yah for this."

I didn't have the strength to do it for myself, but I had to do it for Toby and Michelle. Everything was for them. He can't have them. Slowly, Beatrice pushed herself up from the floor. She groaned pitieously and gritted her teeth through the throbbing pain. Dizziness struck her, threatening to bring her down again. She latched on to the kitchen counter for support. The wooziness passed in seconds. Then, it hit her as if it came somewhere deep from her subconscious, but it was something she knew all along. "Neither can my son." With a flick of her wrist she turned on the water and thrust her hands under the spray. "I have to go to them. I don't have any other choice." Beatrice peered in the sink, watching the pink tinged water roll down the drain as she formed a tentative plan. She stepped away and tore the bloody apron from her body. It landed on the floor with a soft whisper, mingling with the moans of her dying husband. Beatrice stared at him once more, waiting to feel remorse and shame. They did not come. There was only a sense of purpose.

Moving as fast as her battered body would carry her, she rushed into the living room to gather the keys to the truck. "Money. I need money." Beatrice jiggled the key ring, hoping that the key to the lock box in the bedroom was on it ,where a few hundred dollars in emergency money waited for her to claim it. She gasped in surprise and relief as her fingers brushed over a small silver key. "Please let this be it."

Minutes later, with the wad of cash shoved in her bra, she nearly ransacked the bedroom in an attempt to pack a few essentials for the trip. Beatrice muttered to herself as she changed out of her bloody clothes. Without thought, she stuck the soiled garments in the bottom of the duffel bag. "I'm going to need a map--a very easy to read map. I can buy food on the way. God, I hope I remember how to drive. It's been so long." Adrenaline pushed the pain away as she scurried about the room like a buzzing bee. Then, the realization hit, making her sit on the edge of the bed. "When they find his body, I'm going to jail. No one is going to believe me. No one." Beatrice covered her face with her hands then began shaking her head. "No, I can't think about that right now. There isn't time," she whispered. She stood up again intent on taking care of her injuries. There was work to do.


Max Sr. tried desperately to breathe through the pain, but he felt something rattle in his chest with each breath. It was his death rattle. Through hazy eyes, he looked down at the knife protruding from his torso. If I'm going down, she's gonna go with me. A shaky hand grasped the hilt and tugged. Max grunted in agony, but pulled harder. With a wet slosh, the knife came out. He pressed his hand hard to the wound, hoping to slow the flow of blood that already covered the green John Deer t-shirt and the top part of the rugged jeans. With every bit of determination; every bit of hate; every bit of cruelty Max possessed slowly but surely he pulled himself up from the floor covered with his own filth. Darkness threatened, him but he held on to the counter until he stabilized. Grabbing a nearby dish towel, he pressed it to the seeping wound. He peered at the wall, knowing that if he followed it and leaned against it he could possibly get to the living room. With the knife firmly in his hand, he began his torturous journey.

An eternity passed before he even reached the door. Bloody prints of his balled fist covered the wall and counters, marking his progress. He leaned against the wall near the door, hoping that a minutes rest would help him regain some strength. Finally, he decided to move forward. His eyes widened as he entered the living room. It loomed larger than life before him. There was no way. No way in hell he could make it through there to the bedrooms where he knew she was. Max pulled the towel away from his wound. Blood continued to flow through it, heavier than before. It made him light headed just to see it. He grunted and groaned in despair, prompting wheezing that left him fighting even more for breath. Still determined, Max took a step forward. It was to be his last as he tumbled face first onto the carpeted floor. He turned his head toward the side, seeing his favorite chair and the little table overflowing with important papers that rested beside it. It had the one piece of paper he needed, written in his own hand. Someone needs to know. . .where she is. Gathering the last vestiges of his strength, he crawled.


For the last time, Beatrice closed the door to their bedroom, leaving her past behind. She walked down the hall, heading forward to a very uncertain future. Turning the corner into the living room, she stopped cold. A strangled gasp escaped her throat as she looked at the trail of smeared blood that led to the body now lying face down on the floor in its own body fluids. "Oh God," she husked. He was coming after me. Beatrice moved tentativly toward the body. She had to know if an entire period of her life lay dead before her. Beatrice nudged him with her foot.


No movement.

No sound.

Beatrice sobbed. It was over, and it was just beginning. She slung the duffel bag over her shoulder and scuttled stiffly toward the door. She held her breath as she neared the exit, waiting for the inevitable just like in the movies. Beatrice reached the door and pulled it open. A few more steps and she was home free. One, two. . .ten, she stood beside the parked Dodge truck. Her breath whooshed out in relief. Freedom or some facsimle of it loomed before her. In quick jerkey movements, she opened the door to the truck and folded herself in. Max Sr.'s smell surrounded her like a fiery blanket. It sent sudden shivers down her spine, leaving behind an obvious tremor.

Beatrice sobbed as reality and all its bloody glory reared its head as never before. The keys dropped from her nerveless fingers, and she covered her mouth with shaking hands. "My God, I killed him," she mumbled. Her eyes closed as hot tears spilled over her cheeks. She cried for the woman she was; the woman she used to be; and the woman she could have been, and it was all centered around the man who lay dead on the living room floor. If only. . . if only. "I had no choice," she murmured. "I had no choice." Beatrice wiped her eyes with the back of her hands. "It was him or us." Resolve and acceptance spurred her on.

With a shaky determination, she reached down in the seat for the keys and shoved the appropriate one in the ignition. As the truck sputtered to life, floodgates opened inside, letting out something familiar, fear. It made her gasp. I don't know what I'm doing or how to get where I'm going. If someone catches me, I'll never get there. The trembling started all over again. My God. Is this what Michelle felt the day she left? Watery eyes peered at the steering column then down at the floor at the break and gas pedal. Reluctantly, she glanced at the gear shift. Beatrice sniffled. "If she can do this, I can." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Okay, here goes." After a few jerky starts and stops, Beatrice backed out of the driveway, hoping to see a gas station with an amiable attendant, selling maps. . .soon.


Michelle moaned and arched her back into the imaginary touch that caressed her torso. "Yess," she hissed as the ghostly hand moved further South. She whimpered in anticipation and kicked the sheets from her body. The sharp tugging of blonde tresses made her growl in irritation. Refusing, to wake from the sensual dream, Michelle swatted a hand around her head. The hinderance disappeared. Michelle sighed in satisfaction and smacked her lips as her subconscious traveled back to where it left off. "Bobbi," she whispered. Fair brows drew together in consternation, even in sleep, as a deep chuckle teased her ears. Michelle ignored the sound and surrounding reality. That is, until something wet and warm trickled on her nose and down her cheeks.

Green eyes opened almost imediately, and what Michelle saw made them widen to the size of dinner plates. Toby, suspended in the air a few scant inches above her, squealed in delight at seeing his mother awake and drooled some more. "Eww!" Michelle wiped her face and peered past her son to the woman holding him. Bobbi's blue eyes twinkled at her merrily. Michelle scowled. Bobbi's lips trembled in an effort to hold in laughter. It escaped anyway. Taking the infant with her, the doctor rolled over onto the other side of the bed and howled with laughter. Toby joined in, adding his own high pitched chuckles as if he knew the joke was on mommy.

Michelle pulled the sheet up again, using it to wipe away any remnants of her son's slobber. She rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. If they are like this now, they'll be hell on wheels by the time he's five. Michelle turned on her side and propped herself up on an elbow. She peered down at her family and smiled despite the strange situation. They made quite the pair. Bobbi's face was flushed and animated in laughter. Toby sat up, squarly on her chest, giggling for all he was worth. After a few more seconds, the sound tapered off and two sets of blue eyes turned to look at her. Michelle tried to look upset, but the small smile on her face grew under the blue scrutiny. "So, is this my alarm clock now every Saturday morning?"

Bobbi chuckled, turned toward her lover, and placed the frisky infant between them. She reached out and twirled a shoulder length blonde tress around her fingers. The doctor's eyes glittered with amusement. "You have to admit. It was interesting."

Michelle rolled her eyes again. "Yeah, yeah." She fingered the Nike t-shirt that covered the brunette's torso. "You're up, and you're dressed." Did that sound like a pout? That was not a pout.

"You're not, and stop pouting," Bobbi muttered. Gotcha.

Michelle blushed and elegant fingers traced the pattern of red from her cheeks to her breasts. The blonde sucked in a breath.

"And I might add that it's a good thing Toby doesn't know about nakedness." Bobbi leered lightly as she gently squeezed warm flesh.

"Oh yeah, very good." Michelle whispered breathlessly.

A dark brow rose in response.

"I mean. . .that he doesn't know."

"Uh huh."

Michelle opened her mouth to add more to the conversation. "Ow! Ouch!"

A loud coo bubbled up between them. Michelle looked down to see a tiny hand wrapped around her left breast. "Hey!"

"Gaa!" Toby gave his mother a gum laden smile.

Bobbi threw her head back and laughed heartily. "I guess that means he's gonna be a breast man."

Jade eyes narrowed. "Oh sure, you think it's funny now wait until you're naked."

Bobbi chuckled harder.

"Don't just sit there. Get your son off me!"

A sudden quiet surrounded them. Without a word, Bobbi disengaged Toby from his mother's breast and pulled the sheet back up to cover her. Eyes met as silent communication passed between them. This was the future, and it was just the beginning. Bobbi reached out, cupping the blonde's cheek. Michelle leaned into the touch. "Every morning should be like this," Michelle whispered huskily. God, I hope the rest of my life is.

The doctor's hand moved until her fingers tangled in the hairs at the nape of her lover's neck. "It will be." With soft pressure, she pulled Michelle forward until their lips were barely an inch apart. "Believe me?" I'll make sure of it, Chelle.

"Yes," Michelle answered as she closed the distance between them. The kiss was tender and whisper soft, making them both cling to each other and the prescious moment.

Toby cooed indignantly.

Michelle snickered and broke the kiss with her lover only to resume the caress at the top of her son's head. "Good morning to you too, little man." With a squeak, Michelle stretched and glanced around the room. "Where's Taz?"

Bobbi shrugged as she admired the sloping curves of her lover's body. Beautiful. Just plain beautiful. "More than likely feeding his face." The brunette licked her lips. With sneaky hands, she slowly pulled the sheet down, exposing the blonde to her hungry eyes. "I should be doing that too," she husked.

"Well, then you should go start break--" Michelle peered into Bobbi's face. "Bobbi!" Her name came out in a amused growl. "You're terrible."

The doctor wiggled her eyebrows. "Uh huh. So, what's your excuse? I know what you were dreaming about," Bobbi added in a sing song voice. She waited for the blush and sure enough it came.

"Aaargh! You!" Michelle brought her hands to her face.

"Yes me! You didn't think I was gonna let that squeak by didja?"

"Well, I was hoping." Michelle sighed. "Who can blame me? I mean, look at you." She waved her hand as she traced the doctor's form with her eyes.

Bobbi grinned.

Michelle shook her head and leaned in for a quick kiss. "And now that I've stroked your ego, I'm going for some breakfast." The blonde wiggled out of the bed and headed for the chest of drawers.

"Naked? Really?! I'll never leave the house again."

Bobbi plucked a waded up t-shirt out of mid-air as it sailed toward her head.


Sometime later, they sat in their customary spot in front of the television. Michelle hummed in delight as she bit into a piece of buttered wheat toast. "You know, we could have worked out this morning," she mumbled.

Bobbi stuffed the remainder of a sausage link into her mouth. She held up a finger, pleading for patience as she chewed. The doctor swallowed and licked her lips. "Mmm, yeah we could have, but this feels like a lazy Saturday to me. I don' t have any appointments, so you have me for the day. We might as well be total slobs." Bobbi smirked and tossed a sausage in the Husky's direction. Taz scarfed it down quickly and wuffed in appreciation.

Michelle glared at her lover, then, with a raised brow, glanced toward the television. "Ah, I see. Is that why we're watching this nonsense?" I look at her and it's still hard to believe that this is the same woman who I've been living with the past months. She's changed so much.

Bobbi's mouth dropped open as if she were affronted. "I'll have you know that The Flintstones are a true classic of American television! Plus, we might as well get used to it soon. The little guy will have us watching Barney and Teletubbies soon enough."

"Hmm, so you're saying it's Toby's fault?" Green eyes sparkled and full lips quirked into a smile.

"Gaa!" Toby exclaimed as if he knew he was being discussed. He released his hold on the Husky and started crawling toward his mothers.

Bobbi pointed at the toddler with her fork. "See, he likes it!"

Michelle resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Mmm hmm, I see. Is watching cartoons another thing you do when you're alone besides the air guitar?"

Bobbi let out a mock gasp. "Blasphemer! You said you weren't gonna bring that up anymore."

The blonde chuckled as she put down her now empty plate. "I promised no such thing." Turning to the side and propping herself up on an elbow, Michelle continued to grin and traced Bobbi's calf with her bare foot. "So, why are we really watching cartoons all of a sudden?"

Bobbi set her plate on the floor and scooped up the toddler, placing him in her lap. The doctor gave her lover a slight glare before she ducked her head. My God. Do I get mushier everyday? But I'm starting to think it looks good on me. "Um, you know I think of him as mine. I was hoping that maybe Toby and I could start our own traditions together, even if it is just watching "The Flintstones."

Michelle blinked. It wasn't the reply she was expecting. Wow. How can a few words mean so much to me? "That's um. . ." She trailed off, still slightly flustered. "That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard you say." The need to touch became overwhelming. With shaking fingers, Michelle reached out, caressing the doctor's features. She leaned in close until only breath seperated them. "Every time I think you can't be more amazing than you already are, you surprise me."

Bobbi literally beamed and a red flush of gratitude tinged her face and neck. Michelle traced its progress. Bobbi grasped the wondering hand in her own, bringing it to her lips and kissing the open palm. Their gazes held, and Bobbi tried vehemently to convey all that she felt, all that she was. The doctor cleared her throat as she searched for words big enough, significant enough to describe what she was feeling. "I adore you," she whispered.

Michelle let the words carry her and cover her in their warmth. Unable to speak, she simply leaned forward until their foreheads touched. "Mmm."

Bobbi smile widened even more. "Mmm hmm."

Minutes passed as they wallowed in each other. It was brought to an abrupt halt as Toby wrapped his hands in ebony tresses and pulled to his heart content.

Michelle snickered as Bobbi scowled at the infant. "So, speaking of traditions, what are we really going to do for the rest of the day."

"Don't know. You have something in mind?" An elegant brow raised.

Michelle's forhead wrinkled in consternation. "You're leaving it up to me?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Okay, hmm, let's make this a family day, including Taz. We could go to one of the local parks and just hang out," Michelle muttered.

"Hm, sounds like a plan. Let's get cleaned up and go for it," Bobbi commented.

"Great! It feels good to be able to come and go as we please." I've been living in a prison for most of my life. I'm not going back anymore.

"Yeah, it does. Maybe we've caught a break. I sure hope so." God, I hope so.

"Me too."


Janine handed Tammy a napkin as she finished devouring her own ice cream cone. "Ice cream at 10 a.m. Isn't that a sin somewhere?" The nurse asked.

"Uh, that would be no." She wrapped the napkin around her dripping cone. "On second thought, maybe somewhere in Indiana."

Janine laughed. "Poor people."

"I'll say." Tammy pointed toward a picnic table coming into view. "Let's sit over there. It's time for people watching anyway."

"There's hardly anyone out here," Janine pointed out.

"Well, that's when you make up stuff about the people you do see," Tammy replied in a sing song voice.

"Ah, you can be kinda strange sometimes, just to let you know."

"Un huh, I thought you picked up on that the first time we met."

"Yeah, I did. I forget sometimes, sorry."

Tammy chuckled. "You're forgiven."

"Well, color me humble." Janine added sarcastically.

"What color is that?" Tammy scooted on top of the table.

"Close to puce, I think." Janine took her place beside her. "Very strange." She's nuts, but I think that's what I need in my life, a friend who doesn't pull any punches. I never thought we'd hit it off so well. I never thought I would be capable of this.

Tammy made a sound in the back her throat. "So how do you like Toadsuck so far?" Having finished the ice cream, she began biting into the now empty cone.


"It's the name of the park, silly." Tammy poked the nurse with an elbow.

"Don't call me silly. That's a silly name for a park," Janine retorted.

"True." Tammy pointed toward a woman pushing a stroller. "So what's her story."

Janine narrowed her eyes. "Hmm, she's probably using this time to get away from her husband. He probably smothers her."

The woman in question paused to talk to a young man who had been jogging.

"Somebody's looking for some action," Tammy murmured quietly.

"Could be or he could be doing her husband and wants to taunt him by playing up to the wife."

The teacher's eyes widened. "What a wicked thing to think!" She paused. "You know, you could be right."

"Mmm, I know. I've done a lot of wives myself. Not too proud of that fact."

"Well, you did something about it. That's what counts right now."

Janine snorted, "Tell my mother that." When you think things are goin' okay, there is always that one thing.

"You still haven't tried to call her?" Their gazes met.

"I'm tired of the rejection, Tammy. I should be used to it, but it still hurts after all this time."

"I know. I know it does," Tammy whispered. She wrapped an arm around the nurse's shoulders.

"I know you do."

"Mmm hmm, you know you've got to put some kind of closure to this or it's gonna continue to eat at you."

"Is that what you did?" The brunette inquired.

"Yeah, that and death can bring its own closure." Tammy popped the last bit of the cone into her mouth.

"She's my mother, Tammy."

"I know that, but you have to face the fact that she may never accept you the way you are," The teacher mumbled as she continued chewing.

"I know. I know!" Janine exclaimed.

"But it's still hard." Tammy muttered as she glanced up to see the woman and man in an embrace. "Looks like I was right on this one."

Janine peered at the sight before her then back at her friend. She covered the teacher's hand with her own, giving it an affectionate squeeze. "Yes, you are."

"So, what about those two women with the dog and baby over there?" Tammy pointed at the park entrance more than a hundred feet away. "They just scream couple."

Janine squinted and put a hand up to ward off the glaring sun. "Hey! That's my boss."

"Ooo, the one you were ga ga over when you first got here?" Tammy asked airily.

"Yes, that would be her." The nurses tone was rich with sarcasm.

"Just making sure. Wanna go say hi?"

"Sure. I think I'm gettin' pretty good at this friendship thing." Janine stood up and wiped off the back of her walking shorts. She took a step forward only to feel a hand on her forearm. She turned slightly.

"You're getting really good," Tammy winked and flashed a smile.

Janine grinned back. "Good to know."


Michelle glanced up at the towering red pines that peppered the small park. They hovered over the area, providing shade from the blazing sun and releasing a full, fresh scent that made her lungs tingle. She pushed the stroller and continued to scan her surroundings, taking in the few patrons bustling on bicycles and on foot. The grass was a healthy robust green that stood out around the red cobblestone paths. In the middle of the park stood a small fountain that gurgled and trickled happily as the local birds chirped in delight, partaking of its coolness. Michelle smiled at the sight. "It's beautiful here. What's the name of this place?"

Bobbi smirked as she uttered, "Toadsuck."

"Excuse me?" Michelle's tone was incredulous.


"Huh? How do toads suck?"

The doctor chuckled. "I never asked them. It's the name of the park, Toadsuck."

"Well, I bet that's a tourist attraction."

Bobbi laughed. "You could be right there."

"Wuff!" Taz pranced excitedly and began to whimper.

Bobbi gazed down at the Husky. "What's your problem?" She yanked slightly on his leash.

"Mm, I think the birds are getting to him. I bet he's dying to go over there," Michelle murmured.

"Welll, he's gonna have to deal. They have strict leash laws."

As if he understood every word, Taz looked up at his human compainions and whimpered pitifully.

"Awww, poor thing," the blonde whispered. "I guess you're stuck with us, big guy." Michelle sucked in another deep breath. It seems like everything is right with the world. I have everything I need; everything I could ever want. With eyes full of emotion, she peered at her lover.

Absentmindedly, Bobbi shoved a hand in the pocket of her cream colored shorts. The hairs on the back of her neck rose, and she turned to see the petite blonde's heated gaze. A smile creased her features. "I love it when you look at me like that." It feels like I'm the only one in this world for you, Chelle.

"Can't help it sometimes," Michelle added breathlessly. She let go of the stroller and leaned into the doctor's body, wrapping her arms around her lover's waist.

Afraid to let go of the leash, Bobbi encompassed Michelle in a one arm hug, squeezing tightly. "Mmm, you feel good against me."

Michelle buried her face in the brunette's neck. Taking a deep breath, she soaked in the doctor's scent, warm, spicy, and always heavenly. Unable to help herself, Michelle speared out her tongue to procure just a taste. She whimpered slightly as Bobbi's body shivered in reaction. When I touch her, the whole world disappears.

"Chelle?" Bobbi croaked huskily. God, all it takes is one touch.

Instead of answering with words, Michelle opened her mouth wide over heated skin, treating the area with hot open mouth kisses and teasing nips. Long seconds later, she pulled away slowly to look into her lover's flushed face. "Would it be okay if I kissed you right now?"

Forgetting and ignoring her surroundings, Bobbi swallowed, nodded and leaned forward to meet tantalizing lips. Their mouths met in a soft caress. Almost immediately, the doctor's hand snaked upward, winding into blond tresses. Her stomach cramped almost painfully in pleasure, causing a husky moan to burst from her throat. Bobbi nipped at Michelle's bottom lip and soothed it with her tongue as she wordlessly begged for entry. Michelle whimpered harshly as her lips parted.

Tired of his stationary position, Taz looked up at the two women. He licked his chops and wuffed quietly at the display, knowing that it may be a while. The Husky sniffed the air as he noticed two people approaching. Their scents were familiar, but he stood up and took notice anyway.


Tammy's eyes widened as she peered at the intimately entwined couple. "Would you look at that. I want that when I grow up."

Janine chuckled, "Don't we all." She looked at the couple and shook her head. To think I tried to come between that, what an idiot. I'm glad I woke up. She smiled as they continued to kiss, oblivious to their surrondings. As they got closer, she glanced down at the dog and made a slight ticking noise. Easy big boy. The Husky looked back at her strangely before his tail began to wag. Janine continued to grin as she spoke, "You know, if ya'll are gonna keep doin' that, I can point you toward a nice little shady spot not far from here."

Startled, Michelle wrenched her mouth away and gawked at the women who stood before her. " I-I-I . . ." Each sound came out in a high pitched squeak.

Toby squealed in delight at the sight of newcomers and promptly tossed his keys in their direction. Tammy let out a sqawk of her own as she caught them.

Bobbi sucked in a breath and tried to stabilize her pounding heart and watery knees. "Uhm. . .yeah."

Janine snickered. "Well, that's progress. . .a whole word."

Michelle looked down at the red t-shirt she was wearing, knowing that the color of her face matched the material perfectly. She glanced back up and brought a hand to her chest, feeling the quick beats of her heart. "God, you nearly scared me out of ten years."

"Ooops sorry. I just couldn't resist. You two looked so cute together," the nurse added.

"You know you can just forget about that raise, right?" Bobbi asked with a smirk lifting one corner of her mouth. Wooo, I think she might have kept us from scandalizing the park goers. The doctor's gaze switched from one woman to the other. "So, who's your friend?"

Tammy kneeled and handed the plastic keys back to their owner. "Nice to see you again little guy. Still a heartbreaker I see." Toby gave her a luminous smile.

Michelle's brows raised as she peered at the leggy blonde. 'Uhm. . ."

Tammy grinned. "Now don't give me that look. I hardly ever forget a face, especially women who look like you two. I remember you guys from the picnic at Hole-in-the-Mountain back in July."

Before Janine could open her mouth to speak, the teacher beat her to the punch. "I'm still Tammy by the way. I'm guessing that guy who was looking for you didn't find you?" She gave Michelle an meaningful look.

Oh boy. I never did explain that to her not that I know anything. Janine looked from one face to the other, seeing the sudden fear and confusion.

Bobbi scowled, and Michelle paled.

Tammy took note of their expressions. "Ohh, I just stepped my foot in it didn't I? Obviously, there is a secret I'm not supposed to be privy to. Well, I'll forget it if we can get rid of this awkwardness. Deal?"

I can't overreact to every little thing. Bobbi can't either. Michelle caught her lover's gaze as well as her hand. She squeezed the appendage in an effort to comfort the doctor. "Deal," Michelle murmured.

Bobbi felt one side of her mouth move upward. Should have known she wouldn't let that bother her. "Yeah, deal," she replied softly.

Feeling the need to start things over on a more even keel, Janine clapped her hands and smiled. "Sooo, fancy meetin' you two here at Toadsoak. Horrible name isn't it?"

Michelle snorted as her previous good humor returned. "Especially since there aren't any toads in sight, but I imagine we're doing the same thing you two are."

Janine's grin increased by a kilowatt. "Uh no, I don't think we came here to do that."

Michelle blushed, and Bobbi snickered as she glanced at the two women. "Give it time."

It was Janine's turn to be flustered. She looked at her companion only to see a knowing smirk highlighting her features. "Uhm, yeah well. . ."

Tammy quirked her lips into a smile. "Only time will tell."

Gathering her composure, Michelle added her voice. "Well, since we're all here might as well stroll around Toadsuck together. Maybe we could go somewhere for a late lunch too." I think I'd like to get to know the real Janine. After all, she is the one who finally made me realize how I felt about Bobbi.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Bobbi murmured as the began to amble along. This should be interesting.

Janine took a quick glance in Michelle's direction. Nice. The blond mouthed. The nurse's eyes widened as she peered discreetly at the teacher then back at Michelle. Thanks. She mouthed back.

Michelle stopped and flushed for the umpteeth time as she realized what she had just done. Well, she is cute. Nothing compared to Bobbi though. She cleared her throat and rejoined the foray.


Michelle pushed the front door open with her hip as she balanced the diaper bag and her son in her arms. Taz wuffed and charged past her, opening the door a little wider. She sighed and moved further into the living room area. Sitting Toby on the floor and seating herself on the couch, Michelle looked down at her wet red t-shirt and khaki shorts. She pulled the damp material away from her skin and sighed again. The sound quickly turned into a chuckle. I'm beginning to think that something interesting will happen every time we go out. She shook her head and watched as her son crawled toward a collection of toys they left on the floor.

With the setting sun at her back, Bobbi stood in the open doorway observing her lover through amused, affectionate eyes. Never a dull moment, and I thank every God that's listening for it. She smiled as she closed the door behind her. "Who knew he didn't like apple juice?"

"Mmm," Michelle muttered as she pulled the shirt over her head. "But did he have to pour it all on me? You were closer."

"Ha, maybe I'm next in line for the first time he tries orange juice. Either way, I don't think he's the only one that should be wearing a bib."

"You could be right." Michelle tossed the soiled t-shirt in her lover's direction. Bobbi snatched it out of the air and moved toward the couch. She sobered as she took a seat beside the blonde. "Lunch was strange, huh? It was nice getting to know Janine. Somehow I knew she wasn't the harpie she presented herself to be at first. You two seemed kind of cosy with all the talking and laughing." Time to spill, Chelle.

"Yeah, well in a way, she's responsible for bringing us together you know? The things she said. . .uhm I mean I was so jealous. It opened my eyes to how I really felt about you." She did seem kind of quiet, but I hope she didn't catch that little slip up.

Bobbi's voice softened. "So when are you going to tell me what really happned between you two?"

Michelle sucked in a breath and snapped to attention. Damn it. Guess I spoke too soon. "H-how did you know?" The blonde asked hesitantly.

The doctor shrugged. "The things she says; the things you say. . .I put two and two together. I suspected, but I tried not to think about it."

Michelle peered into blue eyes that held disappointment. "Are you mad?"

"I don't know what I am, but I thought you knew that you could come to me about anything, even something like this."

The blonde scooched closer to her lover, grasping a hand that was pillowed in her lap. "But Bobbi you guys work together. I didn't want things to get more strained between you then they already were. Besides, I took care of it."

The doctor sighed in exasperation and blue eyes turned stormy. Am I over reacting here? I think I just feel a little left out of the loop. "This dealt with me too, Chelle. I should have had some say so in it. I thought we were partners." Her tone was brisk, showing her irritation.

Michelle's heart hammered almost painfully in her chest as she soaked in Bobbi's reaction. Seeing her like this hurts and knowing I'm the cause. . . "I would never keep you out of anything intentionally. You have to know that. You've done so much for me, and I just wanted to make something easier for you. I didn't do it to hurt you." Michelle's voice was pleading and her eyes sad as she gazed at her lover.

Bobbi looked down at their entwined hands and back into the petite blonde's face. The pain there was palpable. Okay now this is just stupid. What's wrong with me? I'm being an ass. I'm certainly my father's daughter. She took the initiative and I'm jumping all over her for it. "Oh baby don't. I wasn't seeing it like that. I didn't even think. . . God, I'm sorry. This is me being an asshole, a selfish asshole. We share so much. I guess I was feeling left out. I didn't want to let on at lunch and spoil anything." Bobbi gathered Michelle close. "Is it okay if I ask what happened? You don't have to tell me if you're uncomfortable with me knowing."

Michelle meshed her face into her lover's shirt. "It's okay." She murmured then hummed in pleasure as large hands caressed her bare back. "Not too long after you told me the way she felt about you, Janine came over, and I let her in. We talked. It got kind of nasty on both ends. It should have been the end of it."

Bobbi gasped then bellowed. "Wait a minute here! Was that when you shut yourself off from me?!" Michelle literally jumped at the sound of the doctor's raised voice.

From the kitchen, Taz came running at the sound of a raised, angry voice. "Wuff!" He exclaimed as he entered the living room. As he came around toward the couch, Bobbi held out a hand for him to sniff. "It's okay boy. I promise." Satisfied, the Husky took his place beside Toby, who squealed and began to climb all over him.

Though the scene tugged at her heart, Bobbi turned away. "Was it, Chelle?" She whispered meaningfully.

Michelle looked away. God, I still can't believe the way I acted. I'm just glad it turned out okay. Well placed fingers under her chin brought her back to her lover's gaze. "Yeah, it was. Um, I was so confused then and some of what she said made sense. It didn't for long, though. I hurt her too. I ended up going to see her, and we talked again. We both saw things in a different light."

Bobbi raised skeptical eyebrows. "All you did was talk to her?" She paused and a thoughtful look covered her face. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Look what you've done for me."

Michelle blushed and tried to take her gaze away again. "I haven't done much."

"Yes, Chelle. You have. You dumped my world on its ass, and it was just what I needed. Obviously, it's what Janine needed too."

"I guess so. We seemed to have forged a strange relationship, but I think I like her if that's what was hiding under all that anger." Michelle burrowed further into Bobbi's embrace. "You scared me." Her voice was small. The look on her face almost made something break inside.

The doctor's dark brows drew together in contemplation.Then sadness, overcame her. Oh God, I hope she doesn't think. . . "I would never do to you what Max did, Chelle."

"Oh, I know. I know. It's just that I don't want to disappoint you." I don't care about what anybody else thinks just her. Michelle was captured by the brunette's emotion filled gaze.

"Mmm, but I imagine in the course of this relationship we're gonna disappoint each other from time to time without meaning to. We may even argue." Bobbi muttered. She brushed the tip of her lover's nose with her finger.

"Was that an arguement then?"

"I guess it could be. . .sorta."

"Like when we argued about what to do when Max sent someone to look for me?" Michelle continued to inquire. That one was bad. I don't think this one even comes close thank goodness.

"Yeah, like that. Speaking of Max, do you think maybe we're finally getting a break?"

"I don't know. I haven't heard anything from Beatrice. So, I just don't know. Still, it feels like everything is coming together for us."

Bobbi grinned slightly. "Yeah, it does. I'd say that's a good thing." The doctor leaned back but moved forward again rather quickly. Her smile fell. "You know, maybe we should put the gun in my room. Maybe in the drawer in the nightstand. This may not be the best place to keep it after all. With Toby able to nose around now, it's not safe even if he can't lift the cushions."

"You're right, but It'll be harder to get to if we need it." Michelle uttered seriously.

"Maybe but just for the time being." Bobbi added. Michelle nodded her ascent and watched as the doctor removed the gun from its prior hiding place. "I'll be right back."

Michelle watched her go. I wish it wasn't necessary for us to have one at all. A couple of minutes later, Bobbi sat back down and opened her arms. Michelle did not hesitate. I could live here in her arms. No place I'd rather be. "Are we okay?" She mumbled.

"We're more than okay," Bobbi responded. Perfect.

"Don't say anything to Jainine about this. I think it would best since things seem to be ironing out between you two."

"Yeah, maybe." I can't believe she had the nerve to come in my house.

Michelle looked up into the doctor's face to see a scowl. "Don't hold this against her. She was hurting. We all were."

Bobbi sucked in a deep breath. "That's definately true, and people do some strange things when they're hurting."

"Yeah, I can attest to that."

Bobbi ducked her head and placed a gentle kiss on the blonde's forehead. "I think I just make take your advice on this one."


Leaning her head against the arm rest, Tammy made herself comfortable on the dark blue couch. She wiggled and manuvered her legs until they were behind the nurse's who lay at the opposite end. She glanced around her apartment. After so many years, it still barely looked lived in just like Janine's little room. The white walls were barren of pictures and little bric-a-brac one collects as were the countertops. They truly were peas in a pod.

"Wouldja be still?" Janine murmured.

"I was just getting comfortable. Stop bellyaching." The teacher peered at the television that seemed to take up the entirety of her small living room. Tammy reached for her soda, setting on the well-polished wooden coffe table and squeaked as her torso teetered over the edge of the couch. Grabbing onto her friends bare feet for balance, she was able to procure the elusive soft drink. Tammy took a sip and glanced at the television in confusion. "I can't hear anything."

"I know. I wanted to talk to you. Besides, I've seen this everybody dies at the end." Janine countered.

"Well, thanks," Tammy muttered irritably. She took another sip of her Coke, and it promptly went up her nose. The teacher sputtered. "Gaa!"

Janine chuckled. "Do you need me to smack you?"

Tammy continued to cough through her nose. Finally able to suck in a breath, she glared at her companion. "I think not." After another minute of composing herself, Tammy whispered, "Talk to me. I knew something was on your mind." She sat up, catching the nurse's gaze.

A warm tingle stole over the nurse directly connected to her friend's statement. It feels good to know somebody cares. "Um, I did a lot of thinkin' durin' lunch. I watched Bobbi and Michelle together. I don't know the whole story behind them, but I think they went through hell together. Look where they are now. I wanna be able to put the past behind me even if that means comin' to terms with this thing with my mother."

"Yeah, they were something to watch. They seemed to gravitate toward each other. Bobbi seemed a little quiet though, but that's besides the point. I'm glad you're taking this step. I'll be there with you if you want me."

"Of course I want you there. In fact, I was hoping I could do it over here. She probably recognizes my number by now, and I atleast want the chance to talk to her." Janine sighed. "And I have a cute little blonde to thank for all of this."

"Who Michelle? Is that her real name?"

"Yeah, I imagine that needs to be just between us."

"That's fine. You two seem kinda cozy. I noticed when me and Bobbi were busy grunting at each other--butch talk. You can only do that for so long." Tammy continued.

Janine gave her friend a skeptical look. "Uh huh, you don't seem very butch to me. Anyway, we're not close. It's not like we talk all the time. Like I said, I don't know her story, but I think we have some things in common. I think she knows all about being molded into somethin' your not. Somehow, I could sense that. I don't think I would have opened up and listened to her otherwise. She really is very sweet and wanted to know how I was doing. I was tellin' her about you and your crazy antics mostly. That's why she was laughin'." The nurse grinned.

"Great. One more person who thinks I'm strange." Tammy cleared her throat. "So when are you going to make this phone call."

"Now. I'd better do it now before I lose my nerve." Janine lifted her legs and swung them around until her bare feet touched the plush beige carpet. I can do this. I have to do this. This will either be the start or end of this. "I'm gonna need you to ask for her."

Now sitting upright, Tammy glanced at her friend. "Sure, anything you need." She covered the nurse's shoulder with a hand and squeezed reassuringly.

Janine tilted her head to the side until her cheek touched the teacher's hand. "You know, if people like you frequent the Jiffy Mart at night, I need to go there more often. I really like havin' you around."

"Ditto." Tammy smiled. "Okay, let me get the cordless, and we'll do this."

A few minutes later, Tammy glanced at the nurse as she spoke, "Just a minute Mrs. Williams. I have someone here who wants to speak to you." She pushed the phone in the brunette's direction.

Janine took a deep breath and reach for the cordless. She reached out desperately grasping the teacher's hand as she brought the phone to her ear. "Momma?"

The voice on the other end was cold. "I asked you not to call here."

Janine swallowed. "I know, but I had to try. Don't hang up just listen to me for a minute. That's all I ask."

"Will this be the end of it then?"

Janine didn't answer out loud. Maybe so. "I'm not ever gonna be what you want me to be. I'm only gonna be me. Let the dead stay dead, momma. I'm reachin' out here. I've changed. I'm not the angry person I was before. . ."

"Are you still chasin' after. . .women?" The tone dripped with disgust.

The nurse closed her eyes in resolve. I guess this is it. She let out a deep sigh and peered into Tammy's face, giving her a watery smile.

"I guess that is my answer."

"It is. I won't bother you anymore, but you know where I am."


Janine pressed the talk button, hanging up the phone. A sob escaped her throat, and before she could mutter a word, the nurse found herself wrapped in a warm embrace.

"You're not alone anymore," Tammy whispered.

They were the sweetest words she had ever heard.


Max Jr. stepped out of his 4x4 and slammed the door shut. He turned and pushed dark locks off his forehead as he peered at the house he grew up in. Then, he stared at the empty driveway. He's not here. Don't matter I'll just wait.

Max whistled as he sauntered up the sidewalk. Finally, got my head together. He'll be happy to hear that. I'm ready to do whatever I need to. It's time to be my own man. He sighed in relief as he let himself in through the kitchen.

The smell.

It was the first thing he noticed. Max grunted in disgust and covered his mouth and nose with his hand to keep from gagging. The smell of blood, urine and excrement made his eyes water as he moved further inside. Max's heart hammered painfully against his ribcage as he finally got a clear view of the kitchen.

He gasped and his hands fell away.

There was blood everywhere--the sink, the walls, and the floor. "Oh God, he killed her," Max muttered in shock. Then, he sobered. Somebody has to clean up in here. Way too much evidence. His first instinct was to protect his kind. Max blew out a breath and flinched the smell was getting to him again. He pulled the collar of his Minnesota Timberwolves t-shirt up to cover most his face. Slowly, he moved forward with the intent of checking out the damage to the house. He wouldn't leave her here. That's probably where he is, dumping the body.

Max should have felt something--a twinge or a frission of loss. There was nothing. He stood at the door to the living room and pushed it open gently. What he saw nearly stopped his heart.

Max Jr. cried out in surprise and horror. Dark eyes widened, and his knees turned watery. Unbelievably, his father lay on the floor dead in a pool of his own blood. Confusion slammed into him. "Who?" The question came out strangled and husky. Then, understanding dawned. His mother, the women who was the epitome of weak, docile and fearful, had grown a backbone, and it was all Michelle's fault. Her act of defiance planted the seed. Max knew it. He could feel it somewhere deep down, and there had been signs, plenty of them. Rage took over. They have to pay. . .all of them! The red haze propelled him forward until he stood over his father still form. "This won't be me. This will never be me." Max kneeled. He had to see. He had to.

Max turned the body over. He flinched at the large amount of blood as well as the septic smell. Horrfied eyes so like his own stared lifelessly into oblivion, and his features were frozen in a grimace. Max Jr. scanned his father's form, seeing the congealed blood around the wound in his chest. His eyes studied further noticing large hands clenched. The red haze turned white hot, as Max reached for the knife clutched in his father's left hand. He gave several hard tugs, coating his hands in blood in the process. Finally, he held the weapon in his grasp. Max Jr. peered at the object as if it were the sword of an immortal. It had to be to kill such a man. Instead, it was an ordinary kitchen knife welded by an ordinary woman. How could she do this?! How could she!? He didn't deserve it! With a violent swing, he threw the knife across the room. It hit the far wall with a thud before clanging to the floor.

Max Jr. stared down at the blood on his hands. It was an image he was painfully familiar with. It didn't stop the screaming. He yelled out his pain and frustration into the foul air. None of this would have happened if I kept her in line. None of it! Max sobbed and wiped his hands on his jean covered thighs. Shakily, he reached out to pry open his father's other hand, seeing only a balled up piece of paper, smeared with dried blood. He straightened it and glared at it in confusion. B. Waszinski. The name was followed with an address. Dark eyes widened and hardened as he read the last line. It was one word, a name. A name that he cursed. Michelle.

He screamed again for a different reason all together. The scream ended with a renewed sense of purpose aided by one thought, revenge. Max Jr. shoved the wrinkled piece of paper deep into his pocket. He sighed down at his father. Then, he stepped over him, heading toward the back rooms to procure a weapon that would bring him everything he wanted, needed. "Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe," he muttered over and over again.


Beatrice pulled to the shoulder of the highway, jumping at the sound of other cars blowing at her in anger. She brought a hand to her hammering heart and let out a shaky breath. The drive had been atrocious at first until she forced her nerves to calm. Now, she was able to manuveur the truck successfully through nighttime traffic. Too bad I'm not so sure of where I'm going. Should I have been there by now? Beatrice flipped on the overhead light and reached for the map, pulling the folded sections apart to get to where she needed. She peered at the marked portion that was highlighted thanks to a very helpful clerk at the AAMCO.

Beatrice scanned the stretch of highway in front and back of her, seeing nothing to indicate where she was except for the mile markers that lined the road. "I think I took all the right exits. It's so hard to tell." She glanced at the map again before refolding it. I should still be headed South on I-75. Maybe I should pull off on the next rest area and ask. Beatrice rubbed a hand over her eyes. Her nerves were shot, and she swallowed down the bitter taste of bile. Being afraid is what landed me into this life, I have to fight it for a little while. I have to do what I can to make this right. Maybe I should have called Michelle and let her know what happened. She paused. Maybe I wouldn't have been welcome. She's probably made a new life for herself. She probably has someone to protect her. Why would she want the reminders? I have to wait and talk to her face to face. A tremulous smile formed on her lips. I want to see my grandson again. Just once more before. . . She sighed and put the truck back in drive, waiting for her chance to merge back into to traffic.


The baby monitor crackled as the sound of deep breathing came from it. The soft sounds serenaded the occupants of the bedroom, as the pre-morning light filtered in, illuminating the pale colored sheets. The covers rustled as the bodies under them moved toward each other. Michelle groaned and arched as a hot tongue flicked over a diamond hard nipple. She wrapped her hands in the doctor's hair and pulled softly in a silent plea for more. She gasped as moist heat engulfed the flesh and began a steady suction. Michelle whimpered in protest as the tantilizing caress disappeared.

"Is that what you were dreaming yesterday?" A husky voice asked. Bobbi covered the blonde's breasts with her hands and kneaded gently as she waited for an answer.

"Mmm yess," Michelle hissed. "Don't stop."

"Mm, wasn't planning on it. Morning, love."

"Good morn. . . God!" The blonde cried out as her lover's mouth returned to abandoned flesh with vigor. The sights, sounds, and the world surrounding them fell away as they created their own perfect universe.

It's been a long time I know. My life is starting to come together again, heralding the return of my reluctant muse. I hope the chapter lives up to its billing. Let me know what you think and I will get back to you. Drop me a line at Minerva.

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