The throbbing in her head was receding but the feeling of clarity was diminishing. She was starting to hear things as if from a great distance and everything had a kind of an aura around it. She knew it was the drugs. That last wonderful shot Doc Hobie gave her before she left. He was so sweet, another very tall and very dark man with nice blue eyes. His wife helped him to set her wrist and she was nice too. She was small, with short dark red hair and dimples. He'd called her Kath and she supposed it was for Kathleen or Katherine and thought he probably introduced her, but the pain was so bad then, she didn't remember.
By the time they had arrived at the house, for that's what it was, a large older two-story home, converted to an office downstairs, the pain in her arm and head grew to meteoric proportions.
The worst pain she ever experienced until then was a sprained ankle
in college. That, by comparison, was nothing. Harley helped
her out of the car and nearly carried to the house, where the door was
opened before they even hit the porch. By then she had all she could
do to keep from screaming and kept her eyes shut, trusting the deputy and
the Dr. to get her where she needed to go. The examining room was
brightly lit and seemed awfully cold. They laid her down, the Dr.'s
wife covered her with a heated blanket as Harley, and the Dr. stepped outside.
It seemed like forever before he returned, but when he did he smiled and kept up a running conversation while he examined her, x-rayed her, and even set her wrist.
"Harley mentioned that the animal that did, this to you had rape on his mind." His voice was low and mellow and even though the words were abrupt, his manner made her comfortable enough to answer what she knew was a really a question in that statement.
"He never got that far. He,.. if..." she cleared her throat and swallowed. "If the Deputy"
"Yeah, Harley hadn't been there..."
"Well, that's good to know. And she's real good at being there when you need her. She's always been there for me. Hell, she's always been there for all of us." His smile just seemed to grow over his face and his wife did the same.
They finished with the cleaning up and Kath helped her to the X-ray machine while holding an ice pack on her head. After the intensely painful first shot of anesthetic to her wrist, things started to get better. even if they did get fuzzier. With the cast in place and the pain shot behind her, quite literally, she was carefully led out to the waiting room and the waiting arms of Deputy Harley.
It was the first time since she had met the officer that she had seen her eyes.
Gods, those eyes!
Like ice in a glacier.
Like Curaçao on the rocks.
Like nothing, she'd ever seen before.
And she'd seen beautiful people. Hell, just last week they surrounded
her. The celebrities, the artists, the designers, the ones everyone
wanted to be with, or dress like or look like, but this was a whole other
ball game. She had to drive to this tiny town in the mountains to
learn for a fact what, beautiful really was.
She knew she was feeling the effects of the drug and that may have impaired her vision, but she was pretty sure she'd feel the same way tomorrow.
The warm tan and the bone structure, proud and regal, and the lips; full and perfect. And those eyes.
For just a few seconds she couldn't breathe and her steps faltered. Kath and Doc Hobie caught her up thinking she was going to faint and then Harley was there too. Almost as if she knew, that she would react to her that way.
Maybe she did. She wouldn't be surprised to know that everyone had that reaction to Harley at first sight.
She was glad for the excuse of the medication so she wouldn't have to make conversation. Harley didn't seem to mind. It seemed that 'quiet' was the natural state of being for her.
After covertly looking at the driver's profile for the sixth or seventh time, Shasta pulled her eyes once again to the front and took a deep breath hoping it would pull her together somewhat.
But, that's not what happened.
For some unknown reason that deep breath of cool mountain air put her firmly and unreservedly in the Happy Zone.
Harley heard the giggles start, but before she could open her mouth to ask what was so funny, her lips stretched almost of their own volition, and it was all she could do to keep from laughing aloud herself.
"What? The snicker escaped without her permission. "Wh.. What are you laughing about?"
"Sss.," she couldn't help it, she was doubled over now. On an intellectual level she knew it wasn't that funny, but the medication had her giddy. "Soup." She giggled again. Trying to breathe and talk at the same time, she gasped. "I..I wa... was just thinking how good some... ha, ha, ha... some ice cream would taste and..." she had to stop and try to breathe, "and I was so glad I bought some."
Still amused, but now very confused, the smiling deputy asked, "And that's funny, how?"
"It's..." holding her arm in the sling with one hand against her chest to stop the jiggling, "its in muh... my car. At the restaurant." She stopped to wipe the tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. Another deep breathe and then another guffaw and she expelled the next in a rush. "I wonder if you serve Cherry Garcia soup with croutons."
Harley laughed out loud at that. She too took a breath. " Well, when Emeril and Wolfgang make it, its those tiny little marshmallows."
That did it for the writer, she just howled. She was bent over and her face was turning a brilliant red as she fought to stop laughing long enough to get in some air.
The deputy couldn't stop grinning at the sounds coming from the blonde. She waited until she heard that lovely laughter diminish and then offered, "Let me get you home and taken care of, and I'll get your car and groceries over."
"Um huh." Was the only response and within seconds, Shasta was sound asleep, lying with her head on her own knees.
Harley parked the car in the driveway and came around to open the door for her passenger.
"Ms. Cutter?" The only sound was a very light snoring. She touched the young woman's shoulder and shook it gently. "Ms. Cutter? We're home." Still nothing.
She crouched down and lifted the woman back up to a sitting position. The watery green eyes opened but didn't focus. "Ms. Cutter, we need to get you into the house. Where are your keys?" The blonde just fumbled at her jacket pocket.
Taking the hint, the deputy rooted around in one, then the others, until she found the keys, and then unbuckled Shasta from her seat belt. She lifted the woman under her arms and drew her out. As soon as Shasta was vertical, she started to sit down again.
"Oh no, not here. Come on lets get you to bed." With that, she bent and lifted the woman into her arms.
"Cant. Don't even know your last name." The words were mumbled but discernable. "Never go to bed if I don't know their last name. S'a rule."
The deputy just smiled at that and kept walking.
"But you smell really good," she let out a tiny sigh, "and you're all nice and warmish. And you have those eyes."
"Uh huh." She answered absently. "Really good drugs, Hobie," she observed.
They reached the porch and the deputy unlocked the door and carried her inside, walking immediately to the alarm panel. Without a word, she punched in a code and the lights changed color.
"Hey," came the drowsy response. "How'd you ...you know...how?"
"Shh, it's all right. I'm the Law, remember?"
"Yeah, but..." Her brows furrowed and she knew something was wrong with this picture; she just couldn't seem to grasp what it was.
"Its okay. Let's just get you to bed."
She carried the injured woman into the master bedroom and set her feet
on the floor. Still holding her up, Harley carefully removed the
jacket from the one arm that wore it, and then threw back the covers of
the bed and sat her down, easing the woman back. The deputy lifted
Shasta's feet, one at a time, and removed her shoes.
Then she was stuck.
Her common sense told her just to cover her up and leave her.
Her instincts as a woman told her she should help the injured woman to rest more comfortably.
But that meant undressing her.
"Ms. Cutter?" Nothing
"Ms Cutter," louder this time.
The pale green eyes opened part way.
"Do you want me to help you get undressed? I know you won't be comfortable sleeping in that." She pointed to her tight button fly jeans.
"Oh. Yeah." The blonde made a vague attempt to unbutton her jeans one handed and the deputy stopped her.
"Here, I'll get that. Is there something you would like to sleep in?" No answer; the eyes were closed again. "Where can I find it?" Now the only response was that small snore.
"Ohhhkaaay, I'm on my own here."
After a quick perusal of the drawers, she found what looked like an oversized cotton T-shirt with long sleeves and decided that would do. She went back to the bed and started with her socks. Then her pants.
Goddess, I hope she wears underwear. Her wish was granted when just below the very tight tummy, she saw the beginnings of a peach silk bikini panty. She swiftly disposed of the pants and leaned up to remove the short sleeved peach T-shirt. She got the left arm out and had to sit for a minute to figure out how to get the other arm and her head free. She bunched up the shirt and carefully lifted it over her head, and then slid it the rest of the way down her other arm until the sling stopped her. "Well," she mused "let's just have to do this once."
She rolled the woman onto her left side, unsnapped the sling, and gently removed it. Her attraction to the woman got the better of her and she sat back on her heels, and for the first time really looked at the body next to her.
The strawberry blonde hair fell in strands across her left cheek and
her mouth was slightly open. The spreading bruise and the swollen
tissue around her eye made her wince. It made her mad too.
Long lashes made shadows on her cheeks and her lips were a pale pink, the lower lip cut and slightly distended. The muscles in her shoulders and stomach were pronounced. You don't get a body like that from good genes. That takes work. She smiled at that. Harley always admired people who took care of themselves and this girl surely did that.
The soft, upper swell of her breasts spilled out of the top of the scalloped lace edges of the bra cups. It too, was in a soft peach and the whole effect of the pastel colors against the pale skin was sweet and sensuous at the same time.
Alrighty then! That same voice that annoyed her in the parking lot was back with a vengeance. This is most assuredly NOT professional behavior. If she should wake up and find you staring at her, you could be in big trouble!
She knew it was true and beyond that, sitting here admiring this lovely stranger wasn't going to get her anything but heartache. I have no idea if she even... and most importantly, she's a "tourist.." No matter what, in a few weeks she's outta here and back to her big city life, and I'm not leaving, so...' She sighed heartily and with determination, she put it out of her mind.
Her resolve strengthened, she took one last lingering appreciative look and leaned over and unsnapped her bra. Keeping her eyes as far away from those breasts as she could, she slipped it and the T-shirt off her right arm. She brought up the sleep shirt, rolled up the sleeve, and stretched the cuff as far as it would go. She slipped it over the cast and started to bring it up her arm when the back of her hand accidentally brushed the blondes nipple.
Shasta jerked and 'hmmed' and then a tiny smile slid over her face. Harley couldn't help but smile back. That is until she noticed the bruising on the woman's breast. "That filthy son of a bitch! You and I are gonna talk." She mumbled.
She finished with the left arm and then lifted the young woman's head and right arm, pulling the shirt over and down. She then carefully covered the cast with the sling and snapped it closed. Harley rolled the girl onto her back and brushed her hair from her face. Sighing a bit, she lifted the covers over her and turned off the light. She went to the bathroom and turned on the night light there, not wanting the woman to wake in the night and fall down, trying to find it in the dark. Closing the door behind her, the deputy made her way to the phone and dialed.
Yeah I'm fine and she's okay. Hobie said it was a broken wrist, cuts and bruises. She's gonna be hurting tomorrow, big time though. That's why I'm calling. Could I talk you into coming by in the morning and helping her out a bit? Its her right arm and she's going to need help getting dressed and all. I think she'd feel better about it if it were you, ya know?
Great! Also, got anyone there who can follow me back in my car from the Nest? I've gotta get her car home and unpack her groceries."
She smiled a little remembering their conversation in the car. "Evidently she has some Ben and Jerry's in there that morphed into soup.
Yeah, that'll be great. See ya in a few."
She grabbed the writer's key, re-set the alarm, and left.
She was thirsty. ...So thirsty. Her head hurt and Oh my god her arm. She hadn't even opened her eyes yet and the throbbing almost made her scream. She moaned and held her arm as close to her as she could, wishing she wasn't alone.
Rolling onto her left side, she sat up slowly and moaned again. "Oh god, oh god, oh god. It hurts. Shit it hurts."
"I know it does, honey. Here take this."
The writer, the professional observer, took over instantly. The
woman looked to be in her early forties. Taller than Shasta was by
a few inches, she had a pile of dark hair done in a beautiful chignon with
a few soft tendrils sliding around her face. The eyes were blue and
the smile was warm. Disregarding all she had been taught about taking things
from strangers, Shasta found herself swallowing the pill she was given
and drinking the juice in the glass.
She handed the empty glass back as the woman continued.
"I'm Twyla. Harley asked me to come by this morning and help you out a little. Now, do you think you'd like to get dressed first or eat? I've got sausage, hash browns and a Western omelet, all warm for you." The smile got bigger.
It took less than a nano second for her to decide to let go of that
'I've been on my own since I was fifteen and I can take care of myself'
attitude and agree that breakfast first was a fine idea. She had
no idea why she felt she could trust this woman, this total stranger, as
she did. But, that she did, there was no doubt.
Maybe it was the fact that Harley trusted her. Then the memory of last night kicked in.
She was suddenly conscious of what she was or rather, of what she was not wearing and a slow blush began to burn its way up her neck.
She cleared her throat self-consciously. "Yeah, uhm. Breakfast sounds great."
She started to rise and Twyla picked up the robe she tossed on the end of the bed earlier, helping her into it.
Staying close enough to catch her if she should start to sway, she walked with the girl into the kitchen.
"Now, I'll tell you all about Bramble and the varied and sundry wildlife that make up our eclectic little population, and you can tell me all about yourself while we eat."
The smells from the kitchen were fabulous and the aroma of the excellent Kona blend Starbucks coffee the wonderful woman set down in front of her, nearly made her swoon.
She was sure this wasn't going to be such a bad morning after all. She sipped her coffee, smiled, and nodded as she began to eat, and the very pretty and funny woman sitting across from her started to expose the inhabitants of the small town, foibles, and all.
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