Disclaimers: While we all know whom they may resemble, these are my original characters and this is my original story line. Please do not attempt to sue me. I assure you, you will get nothing.
Thanks: To my Love, thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me and for everything that you do. I love you.
Also to my family for without your love, support and encouragement, I would not be who I am today. I love you guys.
To the Readers: Thanks so much for reading! Feedback, while not necessary, is always welcome, constructive criticism included. You can reach me at AmazonWriter79@yahoo.com . However, flamers will be tossed where they belong…in the fire pit!
Beth sighed as she gazed at her new school. Broken windows covered with plastic, graffiti covered the once red bricks. With another deep sigh, Beth shouldered her book bag and entered the school building. The inside was pretty much the same as the outside; the walls were covered in graffiti and nasty sayings. Not only is my new ‘home' a dump, so is the school. So much for a new life!
She glanced at the piece of paper in her hand that listed her schedule. First period was math, in room 208. She quickly made her way up to the room, avoiding the people in the hallways who were pointing and snickering. She entered the room to find it in total chaos, students yelling and laughing, paper wads being tossed about, Oh yeah! This is gonna be a productive year .
Beth groaned as she took a seat in the back and pulled out her notebook and math books. Several minutes later she was busy writing in her notebook when she heard the door open and looked up to see a tall girl with short brown hair wearing a black tank top and olive green cargo pants walk into the room. Shrugging her shoulders Beth went back to her notebook, quickly falling back into her own little world. She was brought out of her reverie when a shadow fell across her desk. She glanced up to see the dark haired girl standing there with her arms crossed over chest. “Yes?”
“Get outta that seat!”
“I don't see your name written on it.” Beth replied.
“That's because it's not, brat!” The girl yanked Beth up by her arm and pointed to the backrest. “See there? It says ‘Toni'. This is Toni's chair.”
“So what? This ‘Toni' person can find another seat, this one's taken for today.” Beth said irritably, yanking her arm out of the girl's grip, and sat back down.
Just then there was the sound of someone clearing their throat, “What's the trouble, Jet?”
“This kid refuses to get outta your chair, Toni.” Jet replied haughtily.
Toni looked down to see a reddish-blond head bent over a notebook. She crossed her arms and nodded in feigned understanding, “Ohh, the new kid.”
With a feral grin, she reached down and grasped the exposed ear and pulled Beth out of the chair, “All right Kid, this is your only warning. This chair, and any other with my name written on it for that matter, is mine! Got me?”
Beth looked up to see a six foot tall Amazon with long dark hair and the bluest eyes she had ever seen, they also appeared to be the angriest ones she had ever seen. She was momentarily rendered speechless. With a gulp, she nodded her head. Anything to get this Toni person to let go of her ear, “Sure T-Toni.”
Toni nodded and let go of Beth's ear. “Good, now beat it!”
Beth scooped up her things and hastily made her way to the other side of the room. As she sat rubbing her sore ear, she realized that the teacher had never shown up and it was half way through first period. With an aggrieved sigh, she glanced over to see Toni and Jet discussing something. She noticed that Toni was dressed similarly as Jet, wearing a black t-shirt minus the sleeves and tight-fitting black jeans. Beth averted her gaze to the sun-lit courtyard out the window and shook her head to clear the image of Toni that seemed to be burned there. What is it with you, Beth? Why in hell did you let her pull on your ear like that? You oughta give her a piece of your mind!
* * *
Later that day, at lunch, Beth spotted Toni and a group of other girls sitting at a table. She marched over there and right up to Toni. “What's the big idea with pulling my ear this morning?!” She demanded.
Everyone at the table gave an audible gasp. No one ever talked to Toni like that and lived to tell the tale. Toni stood up from the table and crossed her arms over her chest, turning around to see that she towered over the small blond in front of her. “Look Kid, I'm not a nice person but I don't wanna hurt you. Now scram!”
Beth stood there defiantly with her own arms crossed. “No! What gives you the right to bully me or anyone else in this school?”
There was a collective gasp from the tables surrounding them. Toni growled and brought her fist back, as if to strike. “Listen to me…get!” Beth only stood there, staring at her challengingly. Toni let her fist fly but at the last minute, her hand opened and only cuffed Beth upside the head, “Get outta here!”
“Hey!” Beth yelled, she curled her right hand into a fist. Before she knew what she was doing, she brought it up and caught Toni on the jaw. Her eyes widened in surprise and fear, she had never hit another human being before. She took in the look of Toni's now stormy blue eyes as the taller girl rubbed her jaw.
“Shit!” She cursed, grabbing her book bag from the floor and ran out of the dirty cafeteria. Toni stood there watching her go.
“Why didn't you beat the shit outta her, Toni?”
“Shut up, Lanie!” Toni growled as she sat back down with a thump, still rubbing her jaw. In truth she didn't know why, but Lanie was right, had it been anyone else and she would have flattened them. Toni shook her head; there was something about the kid. Something that made her want to be nice.
* * *
Beth walked outside the school building and sat down under a tree. Her heart was still pounding from the encounter in the cafeteria. She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes as she stared up at the school. Suddenly she decided she no longer wanted to be there that day. “Screw it!” She cursed as she stood up and walked away. She headed over toward the park that was near her neighborhood. She took her time getting there, slowly walking through the area and getting familiar with it. “I still can't believe Mom made me come live here with Dad!” She growled, frustrated.
Once there, she dropped down onto a swing and looked around at the park. At least this place seemed to be kept clean; the equipment was free from vulgarity and graffiti. “Probably because the kids come here,” She mused aloud.
Bored with looking at her surroundings, she began to daydream. Suddenly her mental meanderings were interrupted by someone else hopping into the swing next to her, “Hi.”
“Hey.” The girl replied. “Are ya new around here?”
Beth nodded and reached a hand out in greeting. “Yup, I'm Beth.”
The girl took her hand and shook it, “Joie.”
“Nice to meet ya.” Beth smiled. “Glad someone's friendly ‘round here.”
Joie nodded. “Yeah, most people ain't nice around here. It's a tough ‘hood. If you're careful, most people will leave ya alone.”
As Beth peered at the younger girl's face, she noticed something familiar, the blue eyes. Yet this girl had light brown hair. It's gotta be my imagination , she mused. It was then that she noticed that she was staring at the poor girl and averted her gaze to the opposite side of the park. “Hey, wait! Shouldn't you be in school?”
Joie grinned smugly, “Shouldn't you?”
“Touché.” Beth's face flushed, “Yeah. Someone pissed me off, so I left. You?”
“Just didn't feel like goin' today, I guess.”
“Don't blame ya, the high school is a rat's nest that even a rat wouldn't live in.” Beth replied disdainfully.
“Not in high school yet, still only in eighth grade.” Joie blushed, embarrassed.
Beth shrugged her shoulders. “That's okay.”
“Listen, I was on my way over to the ball park. Wanna come?”
Beth smiled at her. She liked this kid, “Sure, sounds like fun.”
Not long after, the two sat at the ballpark watching the practice games and munching on hot dogs. They were becoming fast friends, much to the delight of the other. As they watched the players on the field, they talked about several things, learning that they had a lot in common.
“Did you see The Mummy , with Brendan Fraser? Now there is one hot guy!”
Beth giggled at the dreamy look in Joie's eyes.
“Oh! And what about him in George of the Jungle ? Mm Mm Mm!”
Beth laughed and rolled her eyes, “Hey, I'm thirsty. I'm thinkin' about gettin' a slushy. You want one? I'm buyin'.”
Joie shrugged, “Okay, sure. Thanks!”
As they slurped on their red and purple slushies, Joie filled Beth in on the neighborhood. Including who the nice people were and those who she would want to avoid at all costs. “Oh yeah! Don't go out at night alone around here. It's not the safest place to be. It's kinda scary sometimes too.”
Beth frowned, “Scary?”
“Yeah, there are some people who can be pretty mean. Gang's and stuff. Last year one of ‘em shot my friend Geoff. Thankfully, he only got hit in the leg. He was hurtin' for a long time but he's better now. Ever since then my sister makes sure she knows where I am all the time.”
“Except when you skip school.” Beth grinned.
Joie flushed, “Very funny.”
The two were silent for a while, content to watch the goings-on on the fields. Suddenly Joie smiled when she remembered something. “If ya want, I'll take you to meet Gramma Jo sometime. She's great! You'll like her.”
“Is she your real grandma?”
“No but she's kinda ‘grandma' to all us kids in the neighborhood.” Joie paused to drink her slushy, then giggled. “She can even make my big sister feel like a little kid when she acts up around her.”
Beth smiled, once again reminded that Joie looked awfully familiar, save the brown hair.
Joie glanced at the watch that was on Beth's wrist. 4:30 “Aw shit!” She groaned as she leapt up from the grass. “I gotta go.”
Beth sat stunned for a moment, watching her new friend walk away. She jumped up too and raced after the girl, “Hey, wait! What's wrong?”
“I gotta get home, Beth, or my sister'll skin me.” Joie explained quietly as she kept up her pace.
They were just nearing the other side of the park, closest to their neighborhood, when a hand clamped down on both their shoulders. “Don't you know that it's not safe to walk the street after dark?”
Beth froze; she knew that voice from somewhere. She turned to see the same angry eyes she had peered into this morning, and yet again at lunchtime.
“Jeez Toni! Scare the hell outta me, why don't ya?” Joie groused.
“This is your s-sister, Joie?” Beth stuttered, not taking her eyes away from Toni's.
“Yeah.” Joie smiled proudly. “Beth, this is my big sister, Toni. Toni, this is my new friend, Beth.”
Toni smiled oddly, “Ohh, so that's your name, huh?”
“Yeah!” Beth nodded. “Gotta problem with it?”
Toni smiled again, this time for real. “You got fire, kid. I'll say that much.”
“I take it you two met already.” Joie mumbled.
“You could say that.” Toni answered, “Jet found her sitting in my chair this morning.”
“Yeah, and your big sister here, pulled me out of it by my ear!” Beth grumbled, unconsciously rubbing said ear.
Toni grinned with something akin to shame, “Sorry about that. How's your ear and head?”
“They're okay.” Beth replied with a reluctant smile. “Didn't hit me that hard, anyways.”
“You hit her?!” Joie yelled up at Toni. “What the fuck for?”
Toni smacked the back of Joie's head lightly. “Watch your mouth!”
Joie rubbed the back of her head and mumbled, “Sorry.”
“Don't be sorry-”
“Yeah, I know…just improve.” Joie interrupted.
Toni smiled. “Behave yourself.”
Joie rolled her eyes and returned the smile. “If I have to.”
“You do!” Toni nodded with conviction.
Beth just watched the interaction between the two sisters. It amazed her how someone like Toni could be hard as nails one minute and softhearted the next. She smiled when Toni's words ran through her head, ‘You got fire, kid.' She was brought of her thoughts by the sound of Toni clearing her throat. “Sorry, Toni…what did ya say?”
“I said, we'll walk you home.” Toni replied impatiently. “It's getting too dark to be out here alone.”
“Oh.” Beth turned her eyes to the pavement under her feet. “I'm not used to living in places like this…”
She wasn't given the chance to finish her sentence as Toni growled and walked away. Now she felt like a total jerk as she realized that she had just insulted Toni's neighborhood. Probably the only one she's ever known. And to make matters worse, she felt tears well up in her eyes. “Damn it!”
Joie noticed her new friend was upset by her sister's actions. “It's okay, she gets like that sometimes. She'll be cool in a little bit.”
Beth angrily wiped away the fallen tears. “I didn't mean to offend her or anything. It's just that…well, my mom made me live here with my dad…while she, my step-dad and little sister went to live in California.”
“Oh wow. That's rough!” Joie felt for her new friend.
Beth nodded grimly, “Yeah, you're tellin' me!”
“Listen, anytime you wanna chill or get away from your dad, you come on over to my place.”
Beth smiled. “Thanks.”
“Hey you two, get move on it!” They heard Toni yell from the corner.
“Comin' Toni!” Joie yelled back. She grabbed Beth's hand and pulled her along as they ran to catch up to the taller girl. Both were laughing as they caught up with Toni who had a smile on her face, happy that her sister had found a new friend.
* * *
The next day at school, the scene was the same as the day before. Toni was all ‘spaz' and tough as nails. Beth, on the other hand, tempted fate and did the exact same thing as the morning before and sat in Toni's seat. Just to see what she'd say.
Jet walked into the classroom and spotted Beth sitting in Toni's seat again. She nudged Toni, “You'd think she'd learned her lesson yesterday.”
Toni didn't reply, she walked over to where Beth sat and lifted her out of the chair and held her up in the air. Looking into Beth's green eyes with her own blue ones, she said calmly, “You're my sister's friend and I'm cool with that but don't mess with me here, Beth!”
Beth was surprised at how easily Toni lifted her out of the chair. When she looked Toni in the eye, she knew this wasn't the place to test the Amazon's strength. “Okay…I get the point. You can put me down now.”
Toni looked to her right and saw Jet sitting in her customary seat. “Get up Jet.”
Jet's eyes widened. “What?”
“I said , get up!”
Jet stood quickly and was angered when Toni gave her seat to Beth. “I don't believe this! You're givin' MY chair to that…to that…that kid?!”
“Yup.” Toni nodded. “I wanna keep an eye on this one. So back off, Jet!”
Jet growled her displeasure and stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind her. When she was gone, Toni looked over at Beth and said, “You and me. Front steps. After school. Be there!”
Beth gulped and nodded her head. The tone in Toni's voice gave no hint of the softness it had carried the evening before when she had been talking with Joie. It was hard and mean.
After that, all Beth could think about was what Toni was planning to do to her that afternoon. She didn't think it would matter that she was friends with Joie or not. She was certain that she was about to get the snot beaten out of her. As she went from class to class, she found it hard to concentrate on the classes that actually had teachers teaching them. And that wasn't many. By the time lunch came around she was a nervous wreck, and nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand landed on her shoulder and a smooth voice in her ear.
“Front steps. Don't forget.” Toni whispered and walked away to join the rest of her gang at another table.
Two and a half hours later found Beth standing on the designated steps, waiting for Toni to deliver to her, her fate. She jumped when the front doors banged open and the members of Toni's gang stalked out into the bright sunshine. Beth stood her ground as Toni led her group to stand in front of the blond girl. “Hi Toni.”
“Beth.” Toni nodded, then with a sharp snap of her fingers the rest of the gang formed a circle around their leader and Beth. “Now let's get a few things straight here. This is the deal…you don't cause trouble and we'll leave you alone.” She paused to fold her arms across her chest and drew in a breath, “If you do decide to cause trouble, then I can't guarantee your safety. You stay outta our way, we'll stay outta yours. Got it?”
Beth just stared at the dark haired girl and didn't say a word. Too stunned at the change she saw in the taller girl.
“I said, have you GOT THAT?” Toni yelled loudly, her blue eyes blazing, causing Beth to stumble back a few steps in surprise and more than a small amount of fear.
Usually Beth didn't let anyone intimidate her but with the fierce gaze of Toni's eyes, her bravado failed her, “Yeah I…I g-got it, Toni.”
“Good!” The taller girl growled, and with another snap of her fingers, she and her gang began to walk away. A few of them turned to give her dirty looks as they moved down the street. Especially Jet, who sneered at her as she followed her gang.
She stood there watching Toni walk away. A tingle ran up and down her spine, unsure if it was the adrenaline coursing through her body or something else. All she knew was that there was something about the tall Amazon, something she couldn't put her finger on. Whatever it was, she was determined to find out.
* * *
For the next few weeks, Beth steered clear of Toni and her posse. She had no care to incur any of their wraths, she had heard about some of the things the Dark Angels had done to other students who had the misfortune of getting in their way.
Her days were filled up with school and studying at the local library since she couldn't seem to get any peace at ‘home'. She felt that her father didn't give care about what she did or where she went, and only gave her twenty bucks a week out of his paycheck. So Beth used as little as she could and stuffed the rest of it in a metal box with a lock that she kept hidden under the wooden floorboards of her room.
One evening while she was listening to music and folding her clean laundry Beth heard the phone ring. Who could that be? She mused as she reached for the cordless phone and turned the radio down in the same movement. “Hello?”
“Beth, honey? Is that you?”
Beth's eyes lit up with excitement. “Mom!”
“Hiya Bethie! How's my little girl doing?”
“Mom!” Beth groaned, red tingeing the tips of her ears, “I'm not a little girl anymore.”
“Yes, you're right. I'm sorry. How is my grown up daughter doing?” Samantha asked, “Is that better?”
Beth rolled her eyes, “Yes Mom, that's better. How's Caitlyn?”
“She's doing really well, made some new friends at school.”
Beth smiled; she knew how hard it was for her sister to find friends. “That's great! I'm proud of her.”
“So…how are you doing?”
“I'm doing as well as can be expected, Mom, given the circumstances. I wish I was out there with you.”
Samantha chose to ignore Beth's comment, “Oh Honey, Tom and I found the cutest little place here! It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a large pool out in the back. We've been so happy here, darling! You'd love it…”
Beth listened to her mother go on and on about California for the better part of an hour. By the end of it, she was sick of hearing about how wonderful it was out there and the gorgeous weather. Faking a yawn she said, “I've got to go Mom. It's getting late an' I got school tomorrow.”
“But don't you want to hear about Disney Land, and all of the other places out here?”
“Not really Mom.” Beth sighed, “While you're livin' it up out there in the sunshine, I'm stuck here in this hellhole called New Jersey!”
“Elisabeth Maureen! Don't you speak to your mother like that!”
Beth ignored her and kept going as if she wasn't interrupted, “I'm sick of hearin' about the perfect life you have with Tom! The happy little life you're leading without your daughter…me! You dumped me in this rotten place where no one, including Dad, gives a rats ass about me! So screw you!” She yelled, slamming down the phone. Pinching her fingers in the process, “Oh damn it, that hurts!”
Clutching her sore fingers to her belly, she curled up on her bed and cried. She cried for the life she would never know again, she cried for the mother she knew she no longer had. Beth woke up hours later in the dark, covered with a blanket. Sleepy green eyes perused the room, she found her father had picked up her clean clothes off the floor where they had been dumped by accident and covered her with the blanket. With a sigh, Beth rolled over and went back to sleep.
* * *
The next morning Beth sleepily made her way into the kitchen to find some breakfast. She was surprised to see her father standing at the stove making pancakes. “Morning Dad.”
Jack McKayde smiled, “Morning Bethie.”
“It smells good Dad. How come you're home?”
“Have a seat Beth.” Jack prompted. When he was finished at the stove, he made up two plates before joining Beth at the table. “Listen sweetie, I didn't mean to but I couldn't help but overhear what you said to your mom last night. And you're wrong, I DO care about you. I've been mad at your mother for what she did and been takin' it out on you. That wasn't very fair to you and I'm very sorry. I guess I'm just not used to having anyone here with me.”
“Guess I haven't been working too hard at it either.” Beth glanced down at her breakfast, no longer very hungry.
Jack reached over and lifted Beth's chin with a gentle finger. “I want to make it clear to you that I love having you here, I missed not having you in my life. When Mom told me she had full custody and I had no visitation rights, it nearly killed me. I know what Mom did to you was wrong…but I'm so very glad you're here Bethie.”
Beth jumped out of her chair and hugged her father. “I love you Daddy.”
“I love you too Bethie.” Jack returned the embrace. “Now, if I know my little girl, I know what kind of appetite you have…so I made plenty this morning, let's not waste it, huh?”
Beth's face flushed as her stomach gurgled in agreement. “Uh…yeah.”
“Listen, you don't have to go to school today if you don't want to.” Jack began quietly. “You had a rough time of it last night and I know you didn't sleep very well.”
“Yeah, I really don't feel like going anyway.”
* * *
Later that afternoon she was sitting on the living room sofa and flipping through the TV stations when there was a knock on the door, “Now who could that be?” She was surprised to see Joie standing there when she opened the door. “Hey you!”
“Hiya Beth!” Joie smiled. “Whatcha up to?”
“Oh, not much really…you?”
“Nada.” Joie shrugged her shoulders. “My sister said she didn't see you in school today and wanted me to make sure you were okay.”
Beth was taken by surprise and didn't know what to say. “Um…yeah…I had a bad night and didn't sleep too well. So my dad said I could stay home.”
Joie nodded, “Well she just was hopin' that one of the gang didn't get a hold of ya or some shit. Listen, I thought maybe if you didn't have anything else to do, I'd take ya over to meet Gramma Jo.”
Beth thought for a minute, Ah, what the hell? “Sure, why not? Sounds like fun.”
Joie grinned, “Awesome!”
“Come on in while I get my sneakers on an' grab a jacket.”
The two girls' chit chatted about different things as they walked around the block to Gramma Jo's house. Joie knocked loudly on a grey door, when there wasn't an answer she opened the door and stuck her head in. “Gramma? You home?”
The smaller girl looked at her innocently as she shut the door, “What?”
Beth shook her head, “You just don't do that, and it's not polite.”
Joie shrugged, “She's hard of hearing, so she told me to do that if she didn't answer a knock.”
“I guess she's not home today, must be bridge club day or something.” Joie mused. “Let's go find something else to do.”
“Well…we've got this really cool place to hang out. Wanna go?”
Five minutes later Joie was leading Beth through the neighborhood towards West Street. Joie came to a stop and leaned against a brick building, pretending to tie her shoelaces while glancing around to see if anyone was watching them. Especially the downtown cops, they were the worst.
Beth frowned, confused at her friend's actions. “What are you doing?”
“Making sure we ain't being watched or followed.” Joie returned quietly as she stood up. “Come on.”
Beth followed Joie through a dark alley way and through a door hidden from view by a garbage dumpster. “What are we doing here?”
“Shh.” Joie cautioned, “This is it. I should warn you, some of my sister's gang might be here.”
“Um, maybe I shouldn't go in there then.” Beth mumbled, remembering how the gang had surrounded her not too long ago.
“It's okay, trust me.” Joie smiled, knowing her sister's friends were fierce about letting non-members and newcomer's in. “You're with me.”
Beth took a deep breath and hesitated before nodding, “Okay.”
When they entered the area the gang had made theirs, they found Jaz sitting on the beaten up couch, drinking a beer.
“Hey Jaz!” Joie smiled and called out.
“Yo Baby J! What up?”
“Same.” Jaz motioned toward Beth. “Who's your friend?”
“This is Beth, Beth that's my cousin Jasmyne or as we call her, Jaz.”
Beth smiled, “Hi, nice to meet you.”
Jaz sat up a little straighter, “Oh wait! You're the kid from lunch that day. You got guts girl, standing up to Toni like that! The only one who can get away with shit like that is Baby J here.” She said, jerking a thumb in Joie's direction. “Have a seat Beth.”
Beth nodded nervously and glanced at the old truck seat that served as a couch, “Thanks.”
“I'm gonna go get a drink, want anything Beth?”
“Ummm…got any Coke?”
“Yup, I think so. Be right back.”
“No beer Joie.” Jaz called after the girl. She frowned when Joie returned with one in her hand. Jaz grabbed it as she walked by. “I said no, Joie. If Toni finds you drinkin' this shit, you're gonna be in an awful lot o' trouble.”
Joie's face turned bright red, “Gimme a break! I'm thirteen; I'm too old for that shit now.”
“Quit yer poutin' Baby J, I ain't givin' you the beer!”
Joie sat down on the couch next to Beth with a thump. “Ain't fair.”
Beth smiled and bumped her friend in the shoulder. “Life sucks sometimes, huh?”
“Yeah,” Joie nodded. “That and my cousin over there has a big mouth!”
“What? You embarrassed that she's watching out for you? Or that she mentioned that Toni -” She stopped abruptly when Joie's hand clapped over her mouth.
“Don't say it!” Joie growled.
Beth grinned behind Joie's hand and poked her friend in the side, causing her to lose the scowl and laugh. “Don't worry; I won't say a word to no one.”
Joie smiled once more and relaxed, “Better not.”
“Trust me.” Beth replied as she opened the Coke Joie had handed her. “Here, I'll split this with you.”
Before anyone could say another word, the door opened and two girls walked in, Jet and Lanie. Jet stopped in her tracks and stared at Beth. “What are YOU doing here?”
Before Beth could answer, Joie jumped up in defense of her friend. “She's with me, Jet! So just let her be!”
Jet turned her cold eyes on Joie. “That right?”
“Yeah, got a problem?”
“Ya know what, Kid? I've been wantin' to kick your ass lately. So I'd watch it with the attitude. So why don't you and your little…friend find somewhere else to play?”
“Shut up Jet!” Joie challenged, “Leave her alone!”
“C'mon Jet. Leave the baby alone.” Jaz pleaded, standing up and at the ready to defend her younger cousin.
“Joie, let's go find someplace else to hang. It's not worth it.” Beth said quietly, gently tugging on Joie's arm and hoping that she wouldn't have to explain to Toni why her little sister was in a fight.
“No! I can bring anyone here that I want to! This bitch can't push me around!”
Jet lunged at Joie and next thing Jaz and Beth knew the two were on the floor punching and tearing at each other.
“Shit!” Jaz cursed. “Lanie! Try to get them apart. I've gotta go get Toni!”
Lanie sat down in the chair with a thump and a grin on her face, “Nah! This is too entertaining.”
Jaz rolled her eyes and grabbed Beth's arm, “C'mon! You can help me!”
“Umm…yeah.” Beth agreed as she was pulled along, knowing she really didn't have a choice in the matter.
“Man, Toni's gonna have my hide for this!” Jaz groaned. Just as she said this, her cousin came into view from around the corner. “Toni!”
“What's going on?” Toni asker, wondering what her sister's friend was doing there.
“There's a fight in your hideout.” Beth answered, unable to look Toni in the eye.
Toni frowned. “Who?”
“Jet and umm…the baby.” Jaz told her, bracing for the blow she knew was coming. She was surprised when it didn't.
“Fucking shit!” Toni cursed and took off at a run. Jaz and Beth raced after her, catching up just in time to see Toni pulling the two combatants off the floor.
“Enough!” Toni yelled, holding them apart. To Joie she said, “Sit down. I'll get to you in a minute!”
“No! This is my fight!” Joie growled, continuing to throw punches even though she was being held out of Jet's reach.
“Joanna! I said that is enough!” Toni scolded. “Sit your butt down on the couch. Now!”
“Fine!” Joie wrestled out of Toni's grasp and flopped down on the couch. She smiled ruefully at Beth when she sat down beside her. “Hi.”
“Hi. You okay?”
“Yeah.” Joie nodded. “I probably won't be after Toni's done with me though.”
Beth nodded, “Maybe but you shouldn't have started the fight with Jet in the first place. We should've just gone someplace else.”
“Aw shit, don't tell me you're mad at me too!” Joie crossed her arms and looked at the floor.
Beth didn't answer, instead she turned her attention to what Toni was saying to Jet.
“I suggest you get your sorry ass outta my sight before I finish what Joie started. And don't you EVER touch my sister again!”
Jet wiped the back of her hand across her bloody nose, “Stupid kid started it.”
“Yeah, and you look a lot worse than she does!” Toni growled. “Now get out!”
Jet turned on her heel and stalked out of the warehouse. After watching to make sure she was gone, Toni turned to face Joie. “And you! Tell me what happened!”
“I just didn't like the way she was saying that I couldn't bring Beth here and the other shit she was saying about her.” Joie mumbled.
“So you started a fist fight with her? Are you outta your mind, Joie Bennett?” Toni scolded.
Joie scowled, “I'm not gonna let her push me around. She's always doing that, like she's some kinda big shot or somethin' just ‘cause she's in your gang.”
“That doesn't give you the right to start a fight with her.” Toni growled, standing in front of Joie with her hands on her hips. “What did I tell you when I taught you to defend yourself?”
“To use my words first.” Joie mumbled, looking at the floor.
“Joanna stand up and look at me.” Toni scolded, waiting for her sister to comply before she continued. “When I taught you self defense, I also taught you not to use it against someone in this manner. Or at least I thought I had. Dad would be ashamed if he knew that you…” Toni stopped when she realized what she had said.
Joie stood there, tears stinging her eyes. It wasn't the scolding that made them appear, that she could handle, it was the mention of their late father that made her want to cry. “Toni…”
Toni pulled her into her arms, “I'm sorry honey, I didn't mean that. I just don't want anything happening to you, Jojo.” She whispered as she hugged Joie closer.
Joie smiled through her tears, it wasn't often that Toni called her ‘Jojo'. “I know Toni, I'm sorry.”
Jaz silently wrapped her arms around her cousins, hugging them tight. Toni pulled one arm out and settled it across Jaz's shoulders.
Beth wordlessly crept out of the building, leaving the small family in privacy.
* * *
It was Tuesday afternoon when Beth next saw Toni. She was reading in the library during study hall when a folded piece of paper landed on her open book, she looked up to see Toni standing there with her arms crossed over her chest. “Um…hi?”
“My sister asked me to give that to you. She wanted me to ask you to come over to our house today after school.”
Beth shook her head, “I don't know, Toni…”
“It's not a request!” The dark haired girl growled.
Beth stood up quickly, her green eyes flashing with anger, “Wait a minute here! You're ordering me to go over to your house?!”
“Looks like it.” Toni nodded. “Be on the front steps after school.” With that Toni walked away, leaving Beth standing there angry and with her mouth wide open.
With a thump, Beth sat back down in her chair. She stared at the girl as she walked away; it was then that Beth noticed that the leather jacket Toni wore had the words, “Dark Angels” stitched across the back. Just w ho in hell does that jerk think she is? Ordering me around. She's got a lot of nerve! She grumbled to herself as she picked up the note from Joie and unfolded it.
Hope you don't mind me asking Toni to give this to you. Since I don't see you and I don't know your phone number, I thought I'd write you a note. I was wondering if you'd like to hang out after school today. Can't do too much since I got in trouble with Toni because of the fight with Jet and she grounded me (for two whole weeks!). But she said I could ask you to come over anyways. I don't know what's gotten into her lately but I'm not going to question it. Well I gotta go, Toni's yelling for me to hurry up. Hope to see you later.
Beth's anger subsided and she smiled, her one friend in this rotten hellhole was asking her to get together. Of course she'd go over after school. Glancing at the clock she realized that 6 th period was almost over and the bell would ring in a minute or two. She gathered her books and hurried toward the exit. She couldn't wait for school to be over for the day.
An hour and twenty-five minutes later Beth stood on the front steps in the late October sun. She watched as other students either began walking home, or climbed on one of the three buses that would take them there. She jumped when a now familiar hand landed on her right shoulder.
Beth nodded, “Yeah.”
“Good.” Toni smiled at the green-eyed girl. “Joie won't be home for about another half an hour or so. Until then, it's just you and me, Kid.”
Beth returned the smile tentatively. “Okay.”
The day was unusually warm for mid October and by the time they reached the house both girls were carrying their jackets. Toni unlocked the door and motioned for Beth to enter first.
“Want anything to drink?” Toni called from the kitchen.
“I've got cherry kool-aid, Coke and milk.”
“Kool-aid's fine.” Beth called back as she looked around the small but clean living room. There were only a few pictures of her friends' and their parents on the walls.
When Toni came back in she found Beth sitting on the couch, handing her the glass she sat down in the oversized chair opposite from the small blond. She cleared her throat and spoke softly, “Listen…I don't want you thinkin' that I don't like you. ‘Cause I do. I'm sorry if I seem cruel at school…it's just that…I've umm got…”
Toni cracked a grin, “Yeah, something like that. But if anyone bothers you, let me know.”
Just then the front door opened, “Hey Joie, how was school?”
“Hey, it was okay, I guess.” Joie replied quietly, she had yet to see Beth sitting on the couch. When she did, she smiled widely. “Beth!”
Beth smiled back, “Hey Joie.”
Joie sat down next to her sister, “Uh…Toni?”
Toni raised an eyebrow as she gazed down at her young sibling, “Yeah?”
“I…um…uh…” Joie hedged.
“Spit out Joanna!” Toni admonished.
Joie pulled an envelope out of her back pocket, “Here. It's from the principle; I got in trouble for defending Cassie during lunch today.”
Toni's eyebrow rose again. Without looking at the contents of the envelope she asked, “Did you use your fists?”
“No, I just yelled at the guys…used bad words.” Joie replied quietly, staring at her hands in her lap.
Toni grinned, “Then don't worry about it. Just watch your mouth.”
Joie grinned and hugged her sister, “Thanks.”
Toni nodded and briefly returned the embrace, “All right you two, go on upstairs. Hang out, do homework, whatever…I'll let you know when dinner's ready.”
Joie stood and grabbed Beth's hand, pulling her up from the couch. “C'mon, I wanna show you my room.”
Beth smiled at her friend, “Okay.”
Toni watched them go, then called back to them, “And stay outta trouble!”
“Yeah, yeah!” Joie threw over her shoulder.
* * *
“So, how's things with your dad?” Joie asked as they sat down on the double bed.
Beth smiled, “Better, we talked. He still gives me money every week, so I can't complain. As much as I miss my mom, I'm really pissed off at her. I wish she hadn't just dumped me here. She didn't even tell me why.”
“Have you talked to her?”
“Once, a couple weeks ago. She went on and on about California but when I tried to tell her how it was here, she ignored me and I kinda went off on her. I haven't called her since. That's when me and my dad talked.”
“That's good.” Joie mumbled. “My Dad died when I was nine. And Mom just doesn't give a shit half the time. She kinda lost it after Daddy died.”
Beth sympathized. “So it's just you and Toni then, huh?”
“Yeah, pretty much. She's been raisin' me since I was about ten. She does a pretty good job at it too. She loves me, which is more than I can say for my mom.” Joie explained quietly.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be nosy.”
Joie smiled and waved off her apology, “Hey don't worry about it. No harm done.”
Beth smiled and decided to change the topic of conversation, “Anyone ever tell you how much you're like Toni?”
“Yeah,” Joie smiled proudly. “Listen, Toni's real sorry she hit ya that first day. Believe me, it won't happen again.”
Beth shrugged it off. “No biggie. Besides…I landed a good one on her that day too.”
Joie just looked at her with wide eyes for a moment and then giggled, “I wondered where that bruise on her chin came from.”
Beth blushed, “I couldn't believe I did that. I got scared and ran.”
“Well don't worry about it. She acts tough around the gang and strangers but inside, she's a real softie.” Joie grinned, “But don't tell her I said that, she'd kick my butt.”
“Especially for you, anyone could tell that she loves her little sister.” Beth smiled at the faint blush that graced Joie's cheeks. “ And don't worry, mum's the word.”
Just then they heard Toni yell up the stairs, “Hey you two trouble-makers! If all you're gonna do is talk, why don't you come down and set the table?”
“Okay!” Joie called back. “C'mon, let's go.”
Beth giggled, then looked at her friend with curious eyes, “Joanna?”
Joie groaned then grinned, “If you think that's silly…know what my sister's real name is?”
Beth shook her head side to side, “No.”
Joie grinned mischievously, “Anatonia.”
“Joanna! You traitor!” Toni yelled.
“Shit!” Joie cursed. “Her and her superior hearing!”
Beth giggled again, “C'mon. Let's go before she decides to hang us for treason.”
* * *
Two days after she had gone over to Toni's and Joie's house Beth was making her way across the park, when suddenly two girls from Toni's gang confronted her. They both wore the same angry expression on their faces. A quick glance at the girls told Beth that Toni was not with them. “Um…Hi guys.”
“Toni told you there'd be trouble if'n you got in our way.” Jet growled as the two continued to circle around Beth until they were close enough to pounce. “Toni's all but kicked me outta the gang ‘cause o' you! You palling aroun' with Joie! Just what do ya want with her? Huh?” Jet taunted. “Whatsa matter? Can't make friend's your own age, so ya gotta pick up Baby J?”
“What're ya talkin' about? Joie asked me to be her friend, not the other way around! And what business is it of yours, anyways?” Beth countered. “She's not your sister.”
“The Hell she's not!” Jet yelled, “Get her!”
Beth suddenly found herself on the hard ground. Quickly flipping up to her feet she landed a right hook to Lanie's jaw, knocking her to the ground. Next, she caught Jet in the face with a roundhouse kick. While they were down, Beth took off running across the ball field ducking under the bleachers. She cursed softly as the two girls walked passed then turned around to see her crouched in the shadows.
Suddenly she was trapped with nowhere to run and getting the stuffing beaten out of her. One of them hit a nerve in her leg, causing her to kick out involuntarily, catching Jet in the face again, this time giving her a split lip to go with the bloody nose from earlier. Just before she was knocked unconscious Beth felt a switchblade being pressed to her neck.
“Kick me again bitch, and you die!” was the last thing she heard Jet say as she succumbed to the darkness.
* * *
Toni was sitting on the front porch of the house, patching up Jet and Lanie from a run in they had with a rival gang member, when she saw Joie come running toward her. With a frown she stood and walked into the yard to meet her sister who she could see was crying uncontrollably. Toni grunted with the force that hit her when Joie grabbed her around the waist. “Joie, what is it? What's wrong?”
“Toni.” The girl sobbed into her sister's shirtfront.
Not caring who saw what, Toni gently rubbed her sister's back, “Joie calm down and tell me what's wrong.”
“I was…I was walking th-through the p-park when I f-found her.” Joie sobbed.
“Found who, Joie?”
“Beth! Ya gotta come, Toni! Someone's beat Beth up, they beat her up bad!”
Toni gently pushed Joie away from her body and wiped away her tears with her thumb. “Now stop crying and show me where.”
Joie wiped her face and nose on her shirtsleeve, then smiled sheepishly at the look Toni gave her for doing so. With a shrug, she grabbed Toni's hand and pulled her toward the park. Within moments they reached the deserted ball field. Joie led her under one of the bleachers and over to the unconscious Beth.
Toni gasped at the state their friend was in, the anger surged through her. “If I ever find out who did this…” She growled, gently lifting Beth off the ground.
“Toni,” Joie whispered. “I think I know who.”
Toni turned blazing eyes on her younger sister, “Who?!”
“Jet and Lanie.”
Toni narrowed her eyes, aware that she was unintentionally frightening her sister, she consciously calmed her tone her of voice, “What makes you say that?”
“Well,” Joie whispered. “Look at the mark on her temple. That's from the ring Lanie wears. And that cut on her neck, if from a blade. The only one who carries a switch is Jet.”
“Damn!” Toni looked at the wounds carefully as she walked back to her house. “You're right.”
By the time the two sisters made it back to their house, Jet, Lanie and the rest of the gang had disappeared. Joie held the door open as Toni carefully sidled through the doorway and walked across the room, gently placing Beth down on the couch.
Beth moaned as she came to. Opening her eyes, she was blinded by the sunlight coming through the window and quickly shut them again. She tried to sit up but was stopped by a large hand against her shoulder. “Shh…lie back down, don't move too much.”
“Yeah, it's me. Listen, you're hurt pretty bad so you gotta stay still until I know just how bad it is.”
“You don't gotta do that,” Beth protested weakly. “Just let me rest for a few minutes and I'll get outta your way.”
“Just relax, would ya?” Toni growled. “We take care of our own here.”
“Better do what she says, Beth,” Joie said quietly from the spot on the floor where she was kneeling next to the couch. “Trust me.”
Silently admitting that staying right where she was, was a good idea as she pondered Toni's words. What did she mean when she said, ‘We take care of our own.'?
“Joie, go get me a clean washcloth and some warm water.” Toni instructed as she gently looked over Beth's limbs to make sure there weren't any broken bones. When her sister just sat there, she gave her a nudge with her foot, “Joie!”
“Sorry!” Joie got up and scrambled up the stairs to the bathroom.
While Toni waited for Joie to come back with the requested items, she gently went about removing Beth's bloody jacket. “Beth? Can ya hear me?”
“Uh huh.” Beth mumbled.
“Okay, now I ain't gettin' fresh with ya but I'm gonna carefully unzip your coat and pull your arms out. Are you all right with that?”
“Good, now I don't want you moving on your own, I'll do it. If it hurts, let me know.” By the time Joie came back with the washcloth and water, Toni had Beth's jacket off. She smiled at Joie, “Thanks Jojo.”
“Is she gonna be okay, Toni?” Joie sniffled quietly.
“Yeah, honey, she's gonna be just fine.” Toni turned back to Beth, “Okay Beth, I need you to tell me where it hurts.”
“My face and neck.”
“That I can see.” Toni replied with a low rumble. “Where else? Ribs? Belly?”
Beth nodded slightly, “Yeah, my ribs. It kinda hurts to breathe.”
“I figured.” Toni mumbled to herself. “All right. First, I'm gonna clean your face up and then we'll need to wrap your ribs. This might sting but I'm gonna be as careful as I can.” She took the cloth and gently wiped away the blood and dirt from the cuts and scrapes on the small, round face.
Beth whimpered a little when Toni wiped the gravel out of a deep scrape.
“Shh, almost done.” When she was finished she dropped the cloth into the bowl of water and told Joie to take care of it. She gently applied some Neosporin to the scrapes, “Anything else hurt, Beth?”
“N-no, don't think so.” Beth replied as she opened her eyes once more, this time she was able to keep them open.
Toni sighed, “Good. Now comes the more embarrassing part of this. I need to check your ribs, make sure none are broken, then we're gonna have to wrap them.”
Beth nodded sitting up and with Toni's help, removed her t-shirt. Toni gently ran her fingers around Beth's ribs, cringing at the large bruise that was forming on her right side. “Joie, go get me the salve and a bandage from the bathroom.”
Joie returned quickly with both items, “Thanks Kiddo.” Turning back to Beth she said, “I'm gonna rub this onto the bruise you're sporting and then I'll wrap the Ace bandage around your ribs.”
Once finished and Beth was re-dressed Toni made the suggestion that Beth call her dad, let him know where she was, and stay the night.
Joie grinned happily, “Let's order a pizza!”
“Sounds good to me. What about you, Beth?”
“Sure!” After she called her father and rejoined her friends. “Let me pay for the pizza…as thanks for helping me out tonight.”
“Umm…okay.” Toni nodded, suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable, shrugged her shoulders.
* * *
A week later all that remained of Beth's wounds was the yellowing bruise on her ribs. She hadn't told her father about the incident. Instead, she made up a story about roughhousing with her friend and falling on the ground when he asked about the various scrapes on her face and arms.
Toni had gone out looking for Jet, but only found Lanie. Lanie's bravado failed her when she saw Toni stalking toward her with blue eyes blazing. She nodded in complete submission when told in no uncertain terms to stay away from Beth and Joie.
And ever since the day of the fight, the tension between Toni and Beth had dissipated. An easy friendship was beginning to form between them. Beth found herself hanging out at their house every afternoon after school and even on the weekends. So far there hadn't been any more outbursts from Jet; as a matter of fact no one seemed to know where she was. Or Lanie either for that matter.
One such Friday afternoon, the three were listening to music and playing Twister – that had been Joie's idea. “Right foot, green!”
Two sock covered feet slid across the polka-dotted mat toward the same green circle. “Hey!”
“Left hand, red!”
“Oh boy.” Beth mumbled, trying to keep her balance.
Just then there was a knock on the door. “Don't move, I'll get it!”
Toni just shook her head, still not believing that she was actually playing this silly game. She suspected that Joie had ulterior motives when she suggested it half an hour ago. Suddenly she found herself on the floor and Beth sprawled on top of her. Their faces were mere inches away from each other's, for a brief moment their eyes met with a look akin to…longing?
The moment was brought to a halt when Jaz began laughing. “Who knew I'd find my big, bad cousin playing Twister? Where's the camera?”
“Don't you dare, Jasmyne Marie!” Toni jumped up, offering a hand to Beth. “So what's up, Jaz?”
Jaz flopped down on the couch and let out a breath. “You're never gonna believe this but uhhh…I found out where Jet's been hiding. She's being held at the juvenile detention center.”
Three pairs of eyes widened in surprise. “What?”
“Yeah,” Jaz nodded. “Seems that she got drunk, caused a big scene downtown – started a fight with some chick and ended up violating her parole.”
Beth looked shocked, “She was on parole?!”
“Yeah, something about disorderly conduct and assault…”
Blond eyebrows shot up, “And you let her around Joie?!”
Toni shrugged, “Didn't think too much of it. I mean, we all grew up together…never thought she'd try to hurt her.”
“Umm…hello? I'm here in the room; don't need to talk about me like I'm not!” Joie huffed. “I can take care of myself, you know.”
Jaz ruffled her brown hair, “Yeah Baby J, we know.”
* * *
Several weeks went by and soon Christmas was upon them. Beth knew that her friends would be spending the holiday by themselves so she broached the subject with her father.
Jack looked up from his coffee, “Umm…Beth?”
Beth grinned, “I was wondering something. Christmas is coming up and I'd like to…uh…”
“Spend it with your mother?”
“What! Uh uh, no way!” Beth shook her head; “Actually I was hoping I could ask a couple of my friends to join us for dinner. They don't have anyone but each other. So can I?”
Jack slowly smiled, “Sure, I don't see why not. The more, the merrier. Right?”
The next afternoon, on her way home from school, Beth dropped by Toni and Joie's. She stood there wondering what was taking Toni so long to answer the door. I know she's home, she left school early today. I hope everything is okay. She was brought out of her thoughts by the sound of a muffled voice from inside and was shocked when the door opened to reveal Toni standing there in nothing but a thin t-shirt and a pair of boxers. Wow! Her eyes traveled from Toni's face and down the length of her body, she didn't even notice that her jaw had dropped open until Toni shut it for her with a gentle finger.
“Yes, Beth, what can I do for you?”
“Umm…” Beth shook her head to clear the resulting mental picture away. “Umm…Christmas is next week…I was wondering if you…do you…I wanted to ask you and Joie over to my house for dinner.”
Toni smiled, “Wow, thanks. That would be fun.”
“Great! I'm not sure what time yet, but I'll let you know.”
“Okay, cool.” Toni nodded. A feral grin and a raised eyebrow appeared on her face, “Would you come in for a minute? There's something I wanna show you.”
Beth walked in and closed the door behind her, “What did you want to show me?”
“Well, actually I kinda need your advice on something.” Toni hedged. “See? My sister has been buggin' me for a leather jacket for the longest time, I've finally got enough money saved up for it…and I was wondering if you'd…maybe you'd help me pick the one she'd like the best?”
Beth smiled, that kid sure is lucky , “Sure…you got a picture of it or something?”
“Yeah, hang on and I'll go get it.”
While Toni was out of the room, Beth kept staring off into space. Damn! What is going on here? Since when did I start liking her in that way? And does she ever look good in those boxers!
Unbeknownst to Beth, Toni was watching her from the stairs. She's so cute. Whoa, Bennett! Cool it, man. When did you start thinkin' like that? But it's true, I mean look at her. She thinks I don't see her keep lookin' over at me. Shaking her head, she descended the steps, “I found it.”
Beth nodded, “Cool. Let's see.”
“I was thinkin' either this one,” Toni pointed to a dark brown jacket then a black one. “Or this one.”
“Definitely the black one…if I know Joie, she's gonna want one just like her big sister's.” Beth smiled and again thought that Joie was a lucky kid to have such a great sister. “Is this for Christmas?”
“Yeah, I hope so.”
“Well don't worry, she'll love it!”
“Thanks.” Toni grinned, “She's all I've got and she's a good kid, so I try to get her at least something special every year. Thanks for helping and for your input.”
“No problem, anytime. Listen, I need to get going though.”
Toni shook her head, “Oops, sorry…didn't mean to keep you.”
“No, no. It's okay.” She smiled as she headed for the door. “I'll let you know about what time as soon as my dad tells me.”
“Sure,” Toni nodded. “Okay.”
Beth turned around to say something else but before she knew it, her back was against the door and Toni's face was mere millimeters from her own. She looked into Toni's eyes and for the first time saw a smile that reached the ocean blue orbs. She closed her eyes as Toni came even closer and gently pressed her lips against hers.
Ohmigod! Was all that Beth could think of as she was kissed for the first time. She opened her mouth at Toni's gently probing tongue, and immediately shivered in excitement at the taste of her friend's velvety soft tongue. She was disappointed when the kiss ended abruptly, “Listen…the kid's gonna be home in a minute or two. She's gonna be going over to a friend's house tonight…would you like to come over? Watch a movie and maybe spend the night?”
Beth could only smile and nod.
“Great!” Toni let a full-fledged grin slip. “How about…say around 7:30 or 8 o'clock?”
Beth walked home on Cloud 9. She couldn't believe that Toni had kissed her! That was amazing! She locked the door behind her and glanced at her watch. It was only 3:30; she still had four hours until she was supposed to go back. After dropping her book bag on her bedroom floor, she wandered about trying to find something to occupy her mind. She tried watching TV but couldn't find anything worth watching. She picked up her library book but after reading the same paragraph five times, she tossed it back onto the coffee table.
She was still sitting on the couch thinking about the kiss when her thoughts were interrupted by her father's voice.
Beth shook her head, “Yes Dad?”
Jack smiled, “You were a million miles away. I asked you what you wanted for dinner. The left over beef stew or chicken and potatoes?”
As father and daughter sat at the table, Jack sighed, “Beth, is everything all right? You've hardly touched your dinner.”
“Everything's fine Daddy. Umm…I'm going over to Toni's house tonight, we're gonna hang out. I probably won't be back until tomorrow afternoon.”
“All right, I'll give you a ride over. I don't want you walking the streets alone at night.”
Beth got up from the table and gave her father's cheek a kiss, “Thanks Daddy.” Then ran off to her room to find something to wear and quickly take a shower.
* * *
Toni had just finished straightening up the living room and was running her brush through her still damp hair when the doorbell rang. Right on time. She grinned and walked across the room to let her guest in. “Hey Beth.”
“Hi.” Beth smiled, suddenly feeling very shy. She entered the living room to find it alit with numerous candles, and glanced at Toni nervously, “Um…”
Toni picked up on Beth's vibes and immediately calmed her fears with a smile. “Relax, I was listening to music before you got here. I like to have them lit when I listen to a certain kind of tunes and I forgot to put them out, sorry about that.”
Beth let out a breath of relief. “S'okay.”
“I umm…rented a couple movies we haven't seen yet if you wanna watch one.”
Beth grinned, “Sure.”
“Cool, why don't you get yourself a drink and I'll put your bag upstairs.” Toni offered. When she returned she found Beth sitting on the couch and sat down next to her. The ensuing silence seemed very loud to both of them but neither knew what to say.
So now what? Beth thought to herself as she nervously fiddled with a loose string from the hem of her shirt. She couldn't seem to bring herself to look at Toni's face, now that they were at this point – But what point is this? – in their friendship she didn't know what to say.
Toni watched with a soft smile as Beth played with the hem of her shirt. Shit! I don't know what to say. Well I know what I want to say but how ? I don't wanna scare her or anything. And I sure don't wanna fuck this up either. She didn't realize that in her own nervousness that she had begun playing with the silver ring she wore on her right hand, twirling it around and around her finger. Finally she mustered up the courage to ask, “So I umm… take it that uh…this afternoon was okay…with you?”
“Yeah,” Beth blushed, hoping Toni wouldn't notice. “I haven't been able to think about anything else.”
Toni did indeed notice the coloration in Beth's cheeks and found it incredibly endearing. “I'm glad. I'd gotten a bit worried after you'd left. I wasn't sure you'd come back tonight. I didn't want to frighten you.”
Beth smiled and looked down at her hands once more. “I umm…have you kissed a lot of other girls?”
Toni was taken aback by the question, totally not expecting it. “Well, I've uh…kissed other girls…not a lot, mind you…the first time was about five years ago when I was fourteen. She was about two years older and she had kissed me first. That's when I knew.”
Beth frowned, “Knew what?”
Toni smiled at Beth's innocence, “Knew that I liked girls.”
“Ohhhh.” She nodded, pondering her own answer to that question. Huh? I guess that's something that never really occurred to me. “I suppose that I never really gave it much thought. I mean, yeah as a kid the boys were all yucky and girls didn't like them anyways but even now, I really don't care for them. All I know is that I've never wanted a boyfriend, I guess that it didn't dawn on me that I could be interested in girls .”
“Uh huh,” Toni nodded and turned to sit sideways on the couch, motioning for Beth to do the same. She gently ran her knuckles over the soft face in front of her. “I'm sorry for all the times I've treated you roughly, you know I had my reasons. But that's all behind us now...Beth, I really like you…I have since that very first day.”
The blond looked down for a moment, “I really like you too.”
Toni grinned widely, “I think that one of the things I like the most about you is that you're different. You're different than anyone else I've ever known before, besides Joie that is. You have fire and courage and you don't let others boss you around, you don't take shit from anyone, including me.” She paused to rub her chin in the spot Beth had socked her the first day they met. They both grinned at the memory. “And yet you have this gentleness about you, the way you care for others…it's simply beautiful.”
* * *
Toni sat on the couch with her feet propped up on the coffee table and her right arm around Beth's shoulders. The two had settled on a movie and were munching on a bowl of popcorn when a loud rumble made them both jump. A loud crack of thunder rumbled overhead, causing Beth to toss the bowl to the floor. She looked up at Toni sheepishly. “Sorry.”
Toni smiled, “Its okay. Do you want me to make some more?”
“No.” Beth mumbled as she knelt on the floor, picking up the pieces.
After pausing the movie, the taller girl got up and went to the kitchen, returning with the broom and dustpan. “Here, let me finish that.”
Beth sat back on the couch and shivered at the next roll of thunder. She happily snuggled in close when Toni sat back down beside her.
It was late by the time the movie ended, and Toni was awakened by the sound of the VCR automatically rewinding the tape. She smiled at the light snores coming from Beth, whose head was resting on her shoulder and right arm draped across her hips. She hated to waken her but her own arm was asleep and her bladder was screaming. “Beth? Sweetie, ya gotta wake up.”
Sleepy green eyes opened slowly, “Huh?”
“We need to go to bed.”
Beth merely shook her head and tightened her grasp on Toni's body, “Nuh uh…stay here.”
Awww, that was so cute! Toni smiled and would have been content to stay there but her bladder was being persistent. She gave the small blond a gentle shake, “Come on Beth…I've gotta get up.”
Her only answer was another snore. She nodded, “Alrighty then.” Gently extricating herself from Beth's grasp, Toni raced to the bathroom. When she came back to the living room a few minutes later, it was to find the couch empty. “Huh?”
Checking Joie's room, she only found it empty and the same with the upstairs bathroom. Finally entering her own room she found Beth curled up on her bed, sound asleep. Shaking her head with a smile, she climbed into bed and was immediately covered by Beth's warm body. Taking a deep breath, she covered them both with the large blanket and kissed the top of the blond head on her shoulder. Blue eyes closed, a happy sigh escaped from her lips as slumber overcame her.
* * *
Sunlight streamed in through the window, causing green eyes to open and a groan pass through rose-colored lips. Beth slowly became aware of where she was - in Toni's bed and wrapped in her arms. A sleepy smile found its way across her face.
“Whatcha smilin' about?”
Beth rolled over to find that Toni had been watching her. “Waking up in your arms was nice.”
Toni smiled and leaned down to kiss her, “Sure is.”
Both were enjoying the sweet kisses but Beth was forced to get up as nature was calling, rather loudly. As she threw the covers back, her wrist was caught by a warm hand.
“Where ya goin, baby?”
“I gotta pee.”
The dark head nodded, “I see.”
“C'mon, let go!” Beth tried to reclaim her hand but found Toni's grasp, however gentle, was quite sound. “I gotta go!”
Toni pulled her back onto the bed and started tickling Beth, “I seem to recall that I had to go just as badly last night but a certain pretty blond didn't want to let me get up.”
Beth couldn't help but laugh as Toni's fingers found all of her ticklish spots, “Toni!”
“Okay, okay…I'll show mercy this time, I suppose.”
Beth leapt from the bed like it was on fire and fled to the bathroom. When she came back, she found Toni spread out across the bed on her stomach. Ah, time for a little revenge. With a twinkle in her eye and a playful giggle she pounced on the unsuspecting brunette.
Toni let out a squawk and was surprised to find herself ‘pinned' to the bed. “Oh, so ya think you're tough? Think you can take me?”
“I know I can!” Beth laughed and began poking Toni in the ribs, the only place she was ticklish besides the bottom of her feet.
“Oh yeah?!” With that Toni flipped herself over, grabbing a hold of Beth just before she toppled off the bed. Thus began an all out tickle war, without mercy. Soon both were lying side by side, trying to catch their breath.
Beth stuck out a hand, “Truce?”
Toni eyed her warily but shook her hand, “Truce.”
Suddenly Beth's eyes flew open, “Did you call me ‘baby'?”
Toni smiled, “Yeah, I guess I did.”
Beth rolled over to look into Toni's eyes. “Wow!”
“Is that okay?”
Green eyes filled with happy tears, “No one has ever called me that before.”
* * *
The late morning found both of them still lying in bed, enjoying gentle kisses and curious touches. Things were starting to get a little too heated when Toni pulled away. “We have to stop.”
Beth looked into hazy blue eyes with sadness and a sense of loss. But before she could say anything, Toni was quick to reassure her. “No, Baby, you didn't do anything wrong. It was beautiful. And I love kissing you, but if we go any further…”
Beth smiled, “I understand.”
“Soon though, okay Baby?” Toni kissed her on the cheek. “I promise.”
“When you turn eighteen. No matter how mature you are, according to the law, you are still a minor.”
Toni grinned at the blonde's impatience. She had been expecting Beth to be cautious and nervous but instead, she was flirtatious and teasing. Almost to the point that it was painful for Toni to breathe. “C'mon. We need to get up anyways. The kid will be home soon and wanting lunch, no doubt.”
Beth stood up, stretching out her muscles. “I'm gonna take a shower.”
“Okay. I'll go after you.”
Beth wiggled her eyebrows, “Care to join me?”
Toni sat there for a minute, shocked. Where had sweet, innocent, little Beth gone? “Uhh….that's…um…sounds great but probably not such a good idea right now.”
Beth pouted, “I know…‘soon', right?”
Toni nodded her head with a grin, and scolded. “Behave!”
As Beth made her way to the shower, Toni ambled down the stairs to the kitchen where she found Joie digging through the fridge. “Morning Kiddo.”
Joie snorted, “More like ‘afternoon'.”
“Hey! Don't get smart!”
The younger teen smiled, “Gee and I always thought you wanted me to be smart.”
Toni shook her head and unsuspectingly pounced on her smaller sister. The two wrestled for the upper hand for several minutes until Joie spotted something out of the corner of her eye. Upon taking a closer look, she yelled triumphantly. “Well it's about damned time!”
Toni looked at her like she had grown another head, “What are you talking about?”
“You two did it last night, didn't ya?”
“Not that it's any of your business, little girl. But no, we didn't ‘do it' last night.”
“Then how come ya have a mark on your neck? Huh?”
Toni's eyes flew open in shock, “A what?!”
“You know…a hickey.”
Too much into her own surprise, she didn't stop to wonder how her little sister knew of such things. Eventually she'd have to ask her but for now she turned around and flew back up the stairs, into the bathroom. “Elizabeth!”
Beth, who was in the middle of dressing in Toni's room, was surprised to hear her given name yelled by that particular voice. “Uh oh,” she mumbled before calling out, “Yeah?”
Toni stomped into the room, “Do you see this?!”
Beth's green eyes widened, “Umm…yeah?”
“You little devil!” Toni kissed her soundly on the mouth. “No one's ever left a mark on me before!”
Beth grinned wickedly, “Well then they just didn't know how to handle you, now did they?”
Heat rushed through Toni's body, down to her core, Whoa!
The blond stepped closer, reaching up with one hand to push aside the neck of Toni's t-shirt, “Let me see.”
Toni backed away with a playful scowl, swatting Beth on the backside. “Go on ya little scamp and let me get my shower!”
* * *
Christmas Day rolled around. The day dawned bright and clear, and found Beth and her father up early to open gifts. Then get things ready and the food cooking. There was turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and more. All morning, while Beth cleaned up the living room, she could smell the turkey cooking. It made her stomach rumble more than once and she knew if Toni had been there to hear it, she would have laughed. Just before noon the doorbell rang. Beth opened the door to find a nervous Toni standing on the front steps, “Hi guys. Come on in!”
“We brought a sweet-potato pie, I hope that's alright.”
Beth smiled, “That's just fine but Baby, you know didn't have to bring anything.”
Toni shrugged, “I know but I wanted to.”
The smaller girl reached up and kissed her on the cheek, “Well then, thank you. That is very nice of you.”
Joie just rolled her eyes, “Okay enough with the mushy stuff, jeez!”
Beth just laughed and gave them both a hug. “Merry Christmas, you two!”
“Bethie?” Jack called from the kitchen. “Are your friends here?”
“Yep!” She yelled back, and grabbing Toni's hand she pulled her across the room. “Come and meet my dad.”
Toni just gulped, “Sure babe.”
Jack looked up from the stove where he was stirring the contents of a pot. “Yes?”
“Dad I'd like you to meet Toni.” Beth smiled widely, “Toni this is my father, Jack.”
Toni held out her hand, “It's very nice to meet you, Sir.”
“It's nice to meet you too, Toni but please, call me Jack. I've heard a lot about you over the last few months.”
Toni turned a shade of red that made Joie laugh out loud. “You hush.”
Beth chuckled, “And this is my friend Joie, Toni's little sister.”
“It's a pleasure to meet you, young lady.” Jack smiled.
This time it was Joie's turn to blush, “Nice to meet you too, S…er…Jack.”
“Well if you young ladies don't mind waiting a little while longer, things should be ready in about forty five minutes.”
Toni held out the pie that she almost forgot was in her hand, “Thank you for the invitation.”
“Well as I said to Beth, the more the merrier.”
“Hey, come on you two. Maybe we can catch the last of the Macy's Christmas Parade.”
* * *
Some time later they sat at the table, enjoying the conversation and the dessert, “Well Miss Toni, I must say that was the best sweet potato pie I've ever had!”
Toni blush for what she felt was the umpteenth time that afternoon, “Thank you, Sir.”
Beth rested a gentle hand on Toni's thigh underneath the table, prompting the dark haired girl to shoot her a warning look. The blond only smiled.
Clearing her throat, Toni stood up and motioned for Joie to do the same. “We'll take care of the clean up.”
“Oh, you don't have to do that!” Jack was quick to disagree.
“All right,” he nodded with a grin. “Have it your way.”
Two pairs of green eyes met and both laughed when they heard twin groans come from the kitchen. “She asked for it.”
Jack leaned forward with his elbows on the table. “You really like her, don't you?”
Beth was taken aback. “What do you mean?”
The father looked into his daughter's eyes. “Do you really think that I'm that blind and deaf, Elizabeth?”
“No Daddy, not at all.”
“Okay then, answer my question.”
Beth looked down at the table for a moment before nodding her head, “Yes. Yes I do, very much.”
Jack grinned, “I'd wondered why you hadn't mentioned any boys.”
“Are you okay with that, Daddy?”
“Of course I am, sweetheart!” He reached over and took her smaller hand in his larger one. “You're my daughter, and I love you no matter what.”
Beth released a breath that she didn't realize that she had been holding and got up to hug her father. “I love you too, Dad.”
* * *
The next several months seemed to fly by, winter finally melted into spring and things were changing for all three girls. Changes that would alter their lives for a long time to come. On one early May afternoon, Beth walked in through the front door to find Toni sitting on the couch staring blankly into space. A piece of paper was clutched in her right hand.
“Babe?” She called out. “Toni? You okay?”
Blue eyes blinked back into focus. “Umm…hi.”
Beth smiled and gently kissed her, “What's going on?”
Toni silently handed her the folded piece of paper, “Read this.”
Beth scanned the document but couldn't make heads or tails of it. “I don't understand.”
“Mom made me sole guardian of Joie.” Toni gulped. “She's given me full custody.”
“I've been fighting her on that ever since I had turned eighteen.” Toni shook her head in disbelief. “She's found a way to keep that from happening every time.”
The dark head nodded, “Until now.”
“Shit, indeed, Baby. Shit, indeed.” Toni turned to look at her, a smile finally finding its way across her face. “Do you know what this means?”
Beth shook her head ‘no'.
“It means, Babe that I can finally get my baby sister out of here. I can find a place in better condition…a better school for her, where she can have a decent education.”
“Sure, why not?”
Toni smiled again, taking Beth's hands in hers. “Will you come with us Baby?”
Beth blinked, “Uhh…”
“Ya don't have to answer me now. We've got some time; take all the time ya need. Okay?”
“Okay.” Beth nodded. “Does Joie know about this yet?”
“No, I just found the letter there from the lawyer a few minutes ago when I got home.”
“She'll be home soon.”
“Yeah, listen. Let's not say anything to her right now about moving. It's gonna be enough of a shock finding out about this.”
Beth nodded, “I think that's a wise decision. Does she know that you've been trying to -”
“Gain custody? Yes.”
Beth wrapped her arms around Toni and hugged her tightly, “And how are you doing?”
Toni took in a deep, shuddering breath. Suddenly the tears came flooding and would not stop, she leaned into Beth's embrace, needing the support she knew she'd find. It was several minutes before she was able to gather herself and regain normal breathing. As she leaned back, Beth brushed the few remaining tears off her face. Toni smiled, “Thanks Baby.”
“Anytime, Sweetheart, I'm always here for you.”
“As I am for you.” Toni reached up and gently cupped Beth's face in her hands. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I love you.”
Beth's green eyes widened, “I love you too.”
They leaned forward until their foreheads were touching. Sweet kisses were exchanged until they were interrupted by Joie walking into the house.
“Oh would you two get a room already? Jeez!”
Beth surprised both sisters as she hopped up over the back of the couch and pounced on Joie, tickling her without mercy. “Okay! I give, I give! Uncle!”
“There!” Beth laughed. “That oughta teach ya!”
Toni merely shook her head at the two she loved most. “Alright, knock it off. Jojo, c'mere, I wanna talk to you.”
Joie sobered immediately, “Uh oh.”
Toni smiled, “No. No ‘uh oh'. I just wanna talk.”
Joie sat on the coffee table across from Toni, “What's up?”
“I received a letter today, a letter from the lawyers' office.” She began quietly, reaching over to push a lock of brown hair behind Joie's ear. “It's over baby girl. Mom finally signed the papers.”
“You mean?” Joie searched her sister's eyes. “She gave you custody?”
Toni nodded, “Yes.”
Joie leapt up from her seat on the table and wrapped her arms around Toni. This time they were both crying. Beth, looking at the scene, decided to give them some privacy and walked into the kitchen.
* * *
In the weeks that followed, Toni filled out several job applications, went on numerous interviews, but no one would hire her. What little money she'd had saved up was rapidly dwindling. She worried, panicked and wore herself out stressing over the money situation. Her mood plummeted, causing both Joie and Beth to walk on eggshells around her. One particular Friday night, Toni and Beth had an argument when Beth offered to help out. It ended with Beth leaving in tears and Toni fuming on the couch, a single tear sliding down her face.
The next morning, Beth awoke to find two dozen red roses in her bedroom. She smiled as she read the card from her father. The others were from Toni, the words, “Happy 18 th Birthday my Love” were written in her scrawl. Beth wiped away a tear as she set the cards down and proceeded to open her bedroom door. Her eyes opened wide as she took in the sight of Toni standing there, waiting for her.
“Morning Baby,” Toni pulled her into her arms. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you for the flowers, Babe, they're beautiful.” Beth hugged her tightly.
“You're welcome.” Toni kissed the top of her head before gently pushing her back to look into her eyes. “I'm sorry for being such an ass last night. Please forgive me?”
Beth smiled, “Forgiven and forgotten.”
“Love you too.” Beth kissed her quickly. “There's something I wanna talk to you about but right now you've gotta let me go. I've gotta pee like a racehorse!”
Toni just shook her head and laughed, “Well far be it from me to keep you from doing what you must!”
Beth merely rolled her eyes as she walked into the bathroom. When she walked out into the living room, she found Toni sitting alone. “Where's Dad?”
“He had to go out for a little bit, he'll be back shortly.”
Beth frowned, wondering if the two weren't in on some scheme together. Shrugging her shoulders and letting it go for the moment, she sat down on the couch next to Toni. “Hi.”
“Hi. You wanted to talk?”
“Yeah,” Beth nodded. “I got a letter yesterday, oddly enough from my grandfather's lawyer, it's seems that as of today I am to receive my full inheritance.”
“Wow, that's awesome.”
“Yes it is. He left me a more than generous sum of money. More than I really know what to do with, honestly. But I was hoping that you'd let me help.” She held up her hand to stave off any opposition. “On one condition…”
Toni eyed her warily, “What's that?”
“If you still want me to move in with you and that you don't insist on paying me back.”
Toni smiled widely, “I think I can live with that. Baby, of course I still want you to move in with me. Even if you hadn't come across this bit of money, I wouldn't care if you were penniless.”
“I know, Sweetheart.”
Toni kissed her again, “You'd best go get showered and dressed. Your Dad will be back any minute now.”
Beth looked at the floor, “Am I going to see you later?”
“Count on it!” Toni smiled. “How about you come over tonight, after you get back from dinner with your Dad?”
Beth brightened, “Okay!”
“I'll stick around until he gets back though.” Toni gave her a gentle push. “Go on now.”
When she emerged from her room 30 minutes later, showered and dressed, she found the apartment empty. However, she spotted a handwritten note from her father sitting on the table. “Go outside? What for?”
Once outside, she found both her Dad and Toni leaning up against a strange car, chitchatting. “Hey guys!”
Her father tossed a set of keys in her direction. “She's not brand new, but I hope you like it.”
She took in the little green jeep. “WOW! That's for me?!”
“Sure is Bethie!”
Beth ran up to her father and hugged him tightly, “Thank you Daddy!”
“You're welcome, baby girl.”
“Let's go for a ride!”
* * *
That evening, Toni nervously paced the living room while she waited for Beth to show up. Joie teased her that she was going to wear a path in the carpet, she only sneered at the girl. Joie shrugged and placed her gift for Beth on the table. Just as she was looking at the clock for the ten millionth time, they heard a key in the lock and the door opened.
“Heya Beth!” Joie shouted. “Happy Birthday!”
Beth smiled and returned Joie's hug, “Thank you!”
“Here,” Joie handed over the gift bag. “I got you something.”
Beth looked at the younger girl, “Aw. You didn't have to do that.”
“I wanted to.” Joie smiled. “Well open it!”
“Joie,” Toni scolded. “Give her a second.”
Joie just turned around and gave her sister a dirty look.
“You better scat, if ya know what's good for ya.” Toni laughed.
“Alright you two, don't make me put you in separate corners.” Beth joked as she opened the bag. She smiled widely at the two CD's and DVD's that were in it. “Thanks Joie. These are great!”
Just then a horn honked out front. Joie jumped up, grabbed her bag and headed out the door. “Night T. Night Beth. See ya's tomorrow!”
“Bye Joie!” Both called out at the same time, trying not to laugh until the door was closed behind the girl. “What a nut!”
“Yep! But she's your sister!”
Toni sighed, “Yeah, that she is.”
* * *
Beth had soft music playing and candles lit all around the bedroom when Toni returned from the bathroom. She was standing there in a black lacy bra and matching panties. Toni's jaw dropped open in utter shock. She licked her lips, her mouth suddenly dry.
“You said as soon as I turned eighteen…and I turned eighteen today.”
Toni couldn't take her eyes off the blond who had captured her heart. Nor could she speak as she began to remove her own clothing, her libido unexpectedly flying sky high. Down to her bra and boxers, Toni moved across the small room and enfolded Beth in her arms. Mmm…it feels so good to finally feel her skin against mine. She thought, breathing in the unique scent that was Beth.
Beth closed her eyes and allowed her hands to gently roam over Toni's body.
“Mmm…Baby, are you sure about this?”
“Yes. I've been waiting for a long time to explore you.”
Toni grinned roguishly, “I'll just bet you have. Probably just as much as I've been impatiently waiting for this night.”
Beth kissed the soft skin of Toni's neck, just below her ear. “I want you.”
Toni's body shivered with anticipation. She swiftly picked Beth up in her arms, causing the younger woman to squeal in surprise. “Shh…it's okay, Love.” She laid her gently on the bed, and then straddled her hips. Leaning down to place feather light kisses to the underside of Beth's jaw and down to the valley between her breasts. When she encountered the material of her bra, she sat back up a bit. “That's sexy as hell, but it's got to go!” She gently reached down between Beth's body and the mattress, removing the filmy material from her lover.
Toni was speechless, “You're so beautiful!”
Beth blushed deeply.
“Aw Baby, its okay. It's just me.” She smiled as her fingers lightly grazed over a pink nipple that immediately became erect under her touch. “Is this okay?”
At Beth's nod, she continued. Leaning down she took the nipple of the other breast into her mouth, swirling her tongue around the hard pebble of flesh. Pulling her mouth away from the sweet skin, she moved up to place a searing kiss on Beth's lips. Moving down jaw line to ear she whispered, “If anything becomes too much, let me know and we'll stop immediately. Alright?”
“Yes.” Beth mumbled, her voice heavy with desire. Bringing her hands up, she gently pushed Toni down her body. “I need you here.”
Toni breathed in the scent of Beth's arousal and it set her on fire all over again. Gently she tugged the lacy panties down her hips and off her body. Settling herself between her lover's thighs, she placed several gentle kisses around the triangle patch of blond hair. Bringing Beth's legs up to rest on her back, she wrapped her arms underneath them and rested her hands on the quivering hips. “Shh.” She murmured softly, “Relax.” She gently ran her tongue over the glistening pearl before her eyes. She smiled at the groan that elicited from the small blond. Bringing one hand back towards her, she gently entered her partner for the first time. Pausing to look up her lover's body, she asked once more, “Are you sure?”
“Yes! Do it!”
“Yes ma'am!” Toni grinned wickedly. Adding a second finger, Toni gently pushed through the thin veil. Beth let out a quiet scream. “Are you okay?”
“Fine…don't…stop!” She breathed.
As her fingers explored, Toni brought her mouth down to her lover's clit once more, soon driving her over the edge. She felt the body beneath hers beginning to tremble with release. “That's it baby, come for me!”
Beth let out a loud scream as the waves of pleasure rocked through her core. “Toni…” She gasped.
“Right here, baby.”
Toni moved up Beth's body until she was lying next to her. “That was incredible!”
Beth merely rolled her head to the side to look at her new lover. “I want to feel your skin against mine. Please?”
Not wanting to deny her Love anything, Toni quickly removed the remaining bra and shorts. Quickly lying back down beside Beth, “There, is that better?”
Toni wrapped her arms around Beth and held her tightly as they both moved into the realm of Morpheus for a short time.
* * *
A few weeks later, they were driving around in Beth's new jeep, and checking out possible apartments, condos and houses for rent. As of yet nothing had seemed quite right or really struck their fancy. There was a sigh from the back seat, “There's one more on the list. Should we go check it out before we call it a day?”
Beth and Toni glanced at each other, then towards the backseat. “Sure, Kiddo. Let's go.”
An hour or so later, they were wandering through a three bedroom house with a huge backyard, nice sized living and dining rooms. Each was already planning on what would go where. “It's perfect!”
Toni paused to ask the owner, “How much is the rent again?”
“Six ninety five, with three hundred dollar deposit.”
“Has anyone else looked at it today or said they were interested?”
“No, not today.”
The trio looked at each other, “Whaddya think?”
“Let's do it.”
“Alright Mr. Montgomery, you have a deal.” Toni smiled and shook his hand. “When can we move in?”
“Two weeks, at the first of the month.”
“Wonderful!” Beth grinned. “Well then ladies, I suggest we get home and finish packing.”
When they arrived back home, as Joie checked the mail Toni hit the play button on the answering machine.
“This message is for Anatonia Bennett,” She cringed at the name. “I am calling to inform you that you have been hired. If you would please give me a call at 555-2367 I would happy to discuss further details. Thank you and have a great day!”
“Wahoo! I got the job!”
“Baby, that's great!” Beth hugged her excitedly. “We should go out to dinner. All three of us!”
“Ya got something here from the school.”
Toni took the envelope from her sister. “Do I really wanna open this?”
“Go ahead.” Beth rested her hand at the small of Toni's back.
With a deep breath, she tore open the envelope. A huge grin crossed her face as she pulled out the document. “I graduated!”
“Way to go! I knew you could do it!” Beth exclaimed excitedly. “I'm so proud of you!”
Toni grabbed her and kissed her soundly for several minutes until they heard a groan behind them. “Yeah, we know…get a room!”
They all laughed. “Come on…let's go. We've got a lot to celebrate!”
The End…for now.
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