After The Fire

(Or The Edge II)

By thenorm

Disclaimers: It’s in Part I, I promise!

Subtext/Hurt & Comfort: There’s breaking up, breaking hearts, making up, making out or whatever. Something like that, I reckon.

Thank You So Much: To Kam, who has been reading tiny bits and pieces of this at a time (aren’t you tired of that yet?); to Jo, the Web mistress that puts up with this irritating bard; and thanks to Jen, ‘cause…well…heh. J

So it’s been proven: I’m a bit of a tease. Sorry, I’m writing as fast as my Muse and real life will let me.

~It isn’t the air that I need to live, it’s the feedback~

Abigail clutched the paper tightly in her hands. Two pages of help wanted ads seemed to scream “We don’t want you!!!”

But she couldn’t go back. It was too much.

Avoiding Christina at work was out. She tried. How do you avoid someone who seemed to work every day?

And she didn’t even have to see her ex-girlfriend to know she was there. The tension was so thick she tripped over it. And spilled drinks, food – whatever she carried. So far, two thirds of her tips this week were going to someone else’s dry cleaning.

Not to mention the notoriety of being a local star of the evening news. That’s something a new employer would love.

Her face flushed she tried to forget the camera and microphone thrust in her face six months ago. What a horrible experience!

Once again, she had to try to put her life back together. Like she did after Michael Taylor’s murder.




Lita killed Michael.


Christina killed Lita’s brother.


Michael is dead.


Because of Christina.

The tequila felt good as it burned Abigail’s throat. The slight tingling, the freedom…ah, sweet release. No more thinking.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Look Sam,” the angry brunette retorted. “Don’t take this so personally. I can’t stay here forever. You knew that.”

“Where are you gonna go,” Samantha demanded as she stood in the doorway with her hands on her hips.

“I found a small singlewide,” Christina replied as she continued packing. “Don’t worry about it. I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself.”

“Like hell. You don’t eat, you don’t sleep, and you don’t go to meetings.” She crossed her arms as she continued. “You’re setting yourself up, girlfriend.”

“No, I’m not.”

“You remember what a S.L.I.P. is?”

“Sobriety Lost Its Priority and then you get drunk.” She turned to face her concerned friend. “But not me. I told you. I’m fine.”

“Yeah, fine is just what you are – Frantic, Insecure, Neurotic, and Edgy.”

“Have you thrown enough of that crap at me yet? What’s up with you?” Her shoulders went rigid with tension as she continued. “You think I like sitting here while you and your old man make goo goo eyes at each other? You think that’s gonna keep me sober, watching you get yours while I know I’ll never get mine? I need to leave while I still can.”

“Jesus.” The black line cook dropped her guard. “Is it really that hard for you?”

“Yeah,” her voice broke as she replied. “It is.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too. This isn’t about you. It’s all about me.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“You find a job yet, Abby,” Jack asked as he eyed the half-empty bottle of Cuervo 1800 on the picnic table. “Or just nibbling on the worm for lunch?”

“This one didn’t have a worm.”

“What the hell is your major malfunction? Two O’clock in the afternoon and you’re drunk? This isn’t like you.”

“I’m not drunk,” she slurred.

“Yes, you are.”

“Am not,” Abigail protested as swayed unsteadily. “Just a little nip to take the edge off.”

“Well, you oughta be pretty dull right now,” he retorted as he helped her to a seat. “That’s quite a few nips.”

“Not nearly enough,” she replied as the smoke-filled breeze moved her hair. “Give me the Cuervo, I want another shot.”

“If you had any more shots, you’d be Swiss cheese,” Jack said as he moved the bottle away from his friend and coughed. “Man, did Trish leave her cigarette out her to choke us?”

“What are you doing? Gimme that!” Abigail smacked Jack’s hand to stop him from extinguishing her last smoke.

He babied his reddened hand and stared at the strawberry blonde. When was the last time he saw Abby drunk? Not when Mike died, and not even when she got kicked out of her parents’ house.

And what was up with this smoking, anyway?

“What’re you looking at? I didn’t ask you to come over.”

“You need someone to look after you,” Jack replied firmly, unfazed by her ugly tone. “You sure can’t do it yourself.”

“Well,” she bit back. “Who died and appointed you my guardian?” Green eyes filled with unshed tears.

“Abby,” he said gingerly. “I don’t want to fight with you.”

“Good.” She pursed her lips and blew out a white puff. ”Cause I don’t wanna fight with you. Not today.”

“No,” he agreed. “Especially not today.”

“Have you already been out there?”

“Yeah.” He let out a heavy sigh and looked away. “Cleaned around the headstone. Hard to believe it’s been six years since Mike was killed.”

“Jack, I can’t,” she said as she swallowed the temptation to tell him the whole story. “I can’t do this right now. I’m sorry.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The singlewide trailer had more room than the Lessie Mae, but Christina would have sworn her old boat was bigger. At least she was only fifteen miles from the Gulf. A small comfort, but small comforts were all she had now.

She lost everything in the fire. Not that she ever had much, anyway. Just the important things – her fishing poles, tackle, a picture of Owen – but they were on the boat when it went to its smoky grave.

Her boat. The insurance paid her well enough after Lita Callison torched her boat, but not enough to replace the blood, sweat, and tears that made the Lessie Mae home. So she didn’t replace it. After all, she had Abigail.

At the time.

Now she had nothing.

No Lessie Mae, no Abigail – nothing.

She tried to push the thoughts aside and reached for a chef’s knife to butcher a chicken. That’s what she needed to do – keep busy. Absentmindedly, she made the stock, chopping the carrots, celery, and onion with alarming speed. After adding the parsley, bay leaves and whatever else she could put her hands on, she reached for the white wine to give it an extra oomph.

The wine bottle felt heavy in hands as she poured it in. The golden glow of the wine as the light kissed it was so tempting. All she had to do was take one little sip and….she forced herself to throw the bottle of wine in the trash and headed for the door, trash bag in hand.

No kidding around about this. That was way too close for comfort.

She got in her truck and drove to the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

To be continued in Part III…

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