Better than Chocolate

By Melissa Good




"Hey Kerry, whatcha up to?"

Kerry looked up from her laptop screen, giving her visitor a wave. "Hey Col." She indicated the bench seat across from her. "Park it... the waiter'll be right back."

Colleen slid into the spot and pushed the sunglasses back up her nose as the bright winter sun spilled over both of them. "Still working?"

"Shopping." Kerry replied promptly. "Looking for a Valentine's Day present for Dar." She looked up as a waiter appeared with a tray bearing a big frosty mug and a plate of chicken wings. "Ahh. There we go."

"I thought you two didn't do V day?" Colleen said. "One of each of those for me too, if you please."

"Sure." The waiter slid Kerry's order onto the table. "Be right back."

Kerry took a sip of her beer before she answered. "Well." She set the mug down. "We didn't, but then every year it was like, okay, what are we going to do to be anti Valentines day this time and we both got over it. So this year we decided to go for it."

"Why wouldn't you anyway?" Colleen asked. "Seemed to me like you two were naturals for that holiday.

Her friend chuckled wryly. "Our first year together... we definitely did Valentines day." She said. "We celebrated for a week. Every day we did something else, and all of them were.. um.. "

"Nanahahahah." Colleen plugged her ears up.

"Anyway, we decided there was no way we could top that year, so.." Kerry clicked further. "Oo.. I like those."

"Uh huh." Colleen nodded. "So what are ya shopping for?" She got up and joined Kerry on her side of the table, peering at her laptop screen. "What is that?"

"Earrings made of electrical resistors." Kerry replied promptly. "Aren't they cute?"

Colleen covered her eyes.

"Hey, we're nerds." Kerry protested. "Look, see there? HTTP Panties. Tell me those aren't adorable."

Colleen peeked through her fingers. "You've got to be kidding me." She moaned. "Can't you just get her a box of candy? She likes chocolate!"

"I like chocolate." Kerry agreed. "But I like Dar in cute panties too." She picked up a wing and nibbled on it as she scrolled through her chosen website. "What about an Ethernet cable bracelet?" She examined the object. "I bet Dar would like that."

"Can't you two just share a bottle of bubbly?" Colleen scooted back over to her side of the table as the waiter returned with her beer.

"We could." Kerry clicked a few more spots on the website, leaning closer and chuckling softly under her breath. "We probably will.. or anyway a bottle of something out on the boat. But I wanted to get her something a little silly, too."


Kerry looked up, and cocked her head.

"Dar never seemed to me to be a really silly kind of person." Colleen explained. "Straightforward, yeah? Practical and all that."

Kerry's brow furrowed. "She is practical.. that's why it's so fun to get her silly things." She said. "I mean.. look, neither of us really need anything, you know? So what we figured out is the smaller and goofier the presents we give each other are, the more important they are to us."

"You're weird."

"Thanks." Kerry went back to her website. "Oo... a carnivorous plant desk terrarium. I bet that would look good next to her Siamese fighting fish."

Colleen gave up and just laughed. "Where is she anyway? Thought we were all going to do miniature golf tonight."

"She'll be here." Kerry said. "She had to go downtown to meet with someone from the city about our new data center." She shut down her laptop and put her full attention to her chicken wings. "Do you know how hard it is to get a hardened data center built in a city with a six month hurricane season and no basements?"

"I can't even imagine. I remember them talking about it at the bank." Colleen said. "Ah, and here's Ray now. Hope Dar hurries up."

"Me too."


The wind off the water blew hard against her back as Dar sat on the seawall and kicked her heels against it, scowling as she watched the usual beach crowds stroll by her.

Across from here was a strip of stores, the usual beach edge fronts that ranged from very trendy clothing to nearly invisible string bikinis with pretty much everything in between. Directly across from where she was sitting, though, was neither a clothing store nor a swimwear joint.

It was a tattoo parlor. Dar kicked her heels against the wall again and watched a pair of women bladers go by, skating casually in the cool breeze, most of their bodies on display and a surprising percentage of the flaunted skin covered in ink.

Dar allowed her eyes to follow them, judging them to be in their early twenties and native. "See?" She muttered under her breath. "If they could do it, you should be able to do it." She looked across the street again, and spotted the door to the shop opening to allow an older woman and an older man to exit. The woman had a bandage around her upper arm, and the man had a matching one on his leg, and they both seemed giddy as they headed down the sidewalk towards a nearby café.

"Thanks." Dar groused. "Add insult to injury why doncha?"

The sun was setting, though, and she glanced down at the pocket watch hanging from her belt before she stood up, took a deep breath, and paused, hands resting on her hips.

Then she dropped her hands and started across the street, dodging the slowly cruising cars with an expression of stolid determination. She arrived at the front of the store and grabbed the door handle to pull the door open before she could change her mind, and a moment later she was inside the shop.

A bearded man behind a table near the front looked up as she entered, and after looking her up and down, smiled. "Hey."

Dar approached the table cautiously. "Hey." She returned the greeting. The shop didn't seem that busy. There were two men near the back leaning over a drawing table, and the guy at the front. No other customers were evident.

"You interested in a tattoo?" The man aske.d "Or maybe a piercing?"

Dar wished her knees would stop shaking. "Tattoo." She confirmed shortly.

"Okay." The man put his pencil behind his ear and extended a hand. "My name's Jon. What's yours"

"Dar." Dar took his hand and returned the grip.

"This your first?"

Dar nodded.

Jon also nodded. "Know what you want?"

"Haven't a fucking clue." Dar decided honesty was definitely the best policy here, so far out of her comfort zone she might as well have been wearing a bunny outfit.

"Good start." The man chuckled a little. "Okay, let me give you some suggestions, and maybe you'll have a revelation about it. A lot of people come in and know exactly what they want, some think they know what they want, and some people are smart enough to let us help them figure it all out."

Dar decided she liked the guy. He was a couple years older that she was, she judged, and he had a been there done that but in a good way kind of attitude that was making her feel just incrementally better about being in the shop. "Okay, sounds good." She looked around and found a stool behind her, and she dragged it forward and took a seat, looking around the shop curiously at the art covered walls.

"That's flash." Jon said. "Sometimes people come in and they look around the walls, and find something they want, you know?" He walked over and pointed at some of the images. "Classic stuff. Skulls, anchors, hearts, pinups... "

Dar crossed her arms. "Not my style." She said. "My father's a sailor. I show up with a skull he's going to remove it from my skin with a Brillo pad."

Jon laughed. "Gotcha." He turned and regarded Dar. "You in the service?" He asked, taking in the ragged jeans and hiking boots.

"No." Dar said. "I work with computers."

"Okay." Jon returned to his desk, and pulled out two large binders. "Well, the next way people sometimes pick a tat is from our albums." He said. "They're more expensive, but we draw it custom and it's all a little different." He flipped open the pages. "You want something with computers?" He turned the pages around. "We've got this kind of stuff."

Dar studied the page, which had cartoon disks, a maze of wiring, and any number of different flavors of PC's on it.

They appealed to her geekdom, but she really didn't want one permanently on her. "Models change to fast." She commented. "What else you got?"

Jon flipped a few more pages, then he looked up at her. "Let me kind of take this to what I think is the logical conclusion." He said. "The third thing we do is custom design something just for you. No one else has it, it's personal, and it means something specific to each client."


"Its expensive."

Dar just looked at him.

"That's what I thought." Jon settled onto his stool and rested his elbows on the counter. "So. Why a tattoo?" He asked. "Now I get to be what I really am, which is an artist. That's cool."

Dar pondered. "Why a tattoo." She mused. "Damn good question."

"You have a life change recently? Expecting one soon? Someone come into your life, go out of it?" The man asked. "A lot f people mark change with a tattoo."

"No." Dar said, after a brief pause. "I guess... " She shifted a little. "I'm scared as hell to get one, and I hate being scared."


"And.. um.." Dar felt a sense of vague embarassement. "My SO got my name put on her chest, and I wanted to return the favor for Valentine's day."

Jon blinked at her. "Oh." He murmured. "Where on her chest?"

Dar touched her own chest below the collarbone. "Here." She said. "It was a snake and that and.."

"Wait." Jon straightened up suddenly. "What did you say your.. Dar, was it?" He said. "Is your SO blond, and short, and really cute?"

Dar blinked. "Well, yes." She admitted. "Did she get it.. " She looked around. "Here?"

"Wow." Jon sat back. "She did. I remember her. She got an infinity snake wound in your name." He said. "I did it." He added. "I drew it up for her special, you know?"

"Ah." Dar was definitely surprised. "Amazing. I didn't know.. I just saw your place when I was driving past." She looked at the man's face. "It's a great looking piece of art." She said. "I love it."

"Thanks." Jon grinned at her. "Now that's karma, you know?" He said. "So now that I know what the story is, let me think about what kind of tattoo you want." He went on. "You want the same thing as her?"

Dar was briefly silent. "No." She said. "I mean.. I feel the same way but.."

"You want it different."


"Same place?"

"Here." Dar touched her upper shoulder. "I wear sleeveless shirts to work a lot."

"So you don't care if someone sees it." Jon had his chin propped on his fist. "She wanted it private."

"We're different people." Dar acknowledged.



Kerry studied the brief text message with a frown. "Dar says to have dinner without her." She said. "She's tied up downtown. Damn it."

"Awww.." The rest of the gang moaned. "You should have grabbed her and stuffed her in your car, Ker." Colleen said. "She works too hard."

Kerry peered at her. "Grab her and stuff her in my car. What's in that mug? Are we talking about the same Dar that can pick me up?"

Everyone chuckled.

"As if." Kerry typed a response back and then put her gizmo down, glancing around at her table full of friends with a sense of contentment. "She'll catch us up. She's got a lot of practice scarfing Burger King coming from business meetings."

"She's so unconventional." Ray said. "So unexpected sometimes."

"Sometimes." Kerry agreed, with a smile. "But it's nice that way. I never know what to expect from her." She hooked her ankles under the table's supports and leaned back, twisting her body to loosen it up from her lengthy sit. "Like all of a sudden, she decides she wants to learn how to play handball."

"Handball?" Colleen laughted.

"Handball." Kerry confirmed. "Let me tell you, getting stuck in an enclosed space with her trying to figure out how to smack a rubber ball around was one of the more thrilling moments I've had in the last few years in that gym."

"Oh no!"

"Oh yes." Kerry rested her arms across the back of the table bench. "I got more exercise ducking than four sessions on aerobics."

Ray leaned forward. "Kerry!" He exclaimed. "Did you get a tattoo?"

Kerry glanced down to see her snake peeking from behind the strap on her tank top. "Yeah, I did." She realized it had been longer than she'd thought since she'd seen her old work mate. "See?" She pulled the fabric aside to fully expose the artwork.

"Oh my gosh!" Ray slid over for a better look. "It's so pretty!"

"I still can't believe you did that." Colleen clucked her tongue. "Me god, Kerry. What's next? A nose ring?'

"No way." Kerry laughed. "This was bad enough, thanks." She patted her chest. "Anyone who tells you it doesn't hurt, they lie."

"Why'd you do it then?" Ray asked curiously. "It is pretty yes, and it is so nice for you to have Dar's name so, but... "

"Why." Kerry drew the word out. "Well, that's a good question, I guess." She admitted. "I guess I could say it was completing my rebellion, I mean, I had a wife and a motorcycle, so it was either get a tattoo or shave my head and I really like my hair."

Everyone laughed.

"And I think Dar likes my hair too." Kerry felt a blush coming on, but the outside lights were dim enough to hide it. "So there I was down on the beach and I saw a shop and decided, what the hell?" She glanced down at her shoulder. "I knew I wanted it to be about her, and about forever, and I let the artist take it from there."

She looked up as she felt the silence, and found everyone looking back at her, caught a little flatfooted.

"You're right." Colleen finally said. "You two don't need no stinking Valentines Day."

Kerry made a face. "Can we get another round of beer, please?" She changed the subject. "So what kind of miniature golf place are we going to tonight? The little one near the beach?"

"Big one in Lauderdale." Colleen said. "You know, the one where you have to go through those mazes?'

Kerry covered her eyes. "Isn't that the one we ended up hacking through the bushes to get out on the last time? I thought they said we couldn't come back."

"Well... "


Dar studied the drawing, a rough sketch that featured a big cat, paws extended and reaching around a nicely shaded heart bearing Kerry's name in the center.

She liked the cat. There was something primal and full of energy about it and it's jaws were open, showing fangs to go with the extended claws. "You said you'd draw it around my shoulder?"

"Yeah." Jon moved around the table, his eyes watching her face closely. "Roll your sleeve up, I'll show you."

Dar obliged, shoving the fabric up to bare her right shoulder. She watched as Jon took a soft wax pencil and started sketching the outline right on her skin. He drew the front part of the cat, then wound it around the top of her shoulder in a sinuous wave so that the front paws extended down and it almost looked like it was moving. "Ah."

"See?" Jon said. "Then the heart goes here, and there you go."

Dar paused for a long moment. "I like it." She finally said. "Let's do it." As soon as the words were out, she clamped her jaw down but it was too late, and Jon was already going back around the table with a smile.

Was she NUTS?

"Great." If you want to go sit down in that first chair, I'm going to set up my stuff, and we can get started." He said. "Should take about.. mm... two hours."

Two hours?

"Okay." Dar heard herself say. "Over there?"

"Over there." Jon said. "If you want a coke, we got some in the back."

Dar seated herself in something that vaguely reminded her of a dentists chair without all the dangerous parts attached. She could feel her heart pounding erratically, and she had to wonder just what kind of an idiot she really was to be doing it.

It was almost dark outside, and she pulled her PDA out to send Kerry a message. She hoped her partner would forgive her. "I wasn't in the mood for wings anyway."

"What?" Jon looked up from where he was assembling pieces of equipment.

"Nothing." Dar put the PDA away and leaned forward, regarding him with some alarm. "What's that stuff?"

Jon paused. "The needle gun." He said. "You did know we use those, right?"

Needles. Dar's nostrils flared. "I knew." She said. "I'm not crazy about needles."

Jon got up and brought the machine over. "No one is." He said. "Even if you hear some tat artist say they love being stuck, they're drunk or lying." He showed it to her. "The outline, we use these bigger needles, see?"

Dar resisted the urge to scramble out of the chair as she stared at the device. "Okay."

"Then we switch to different smaller ones." He picked up a sealed packet and showed it to her. "That lets us to the color, and it's more subtle."

"There's not a damn thing subtle about needles." Dar disagreed.

Jon chuckled and sat back down. He set the machine aside, and took out a box of bottles, and a big handful of little caps. He started filling the caps with color from the bottles, pausing to glance at Dar a few times as he mixed the shades.

Dar felt her PDA chirp, and she took it out, reading Kerry's message and glad of the distraction.

"Listen, if you think you're going to freak out on me while we're doing this.." Jon said casually. "Just warn me and I'll get the hell out of your way. You don't want to slam yourself into the gun, and I don't want to be knocked on my ass, okay?"

Dar peered at him. "Do I look that dangerous?"


Dar snorted and shook her head. "I'll pass out before I'll start running." She warned him. "Especially if there's blood involved."

"Thanks for warning me." Jon scooted his rolling seat up to her. He picked up the gun and tapped the trigger, creating a nerve jarring buzz that immediately made Dar's mouth go dry. "You ready?"

Dar felt a moment of utter panic and she trembled on the edge of giving into it. Then she thought about Kerry here, by herself, making that commitment to her and she took hold of her nerves and forced her body to relax. "As I ever will be."

"Okay." Jon slid closer, and adjusted her rolled up sleeve. "Hope this doesn't get into my way too much."

Dar looked at the sleeve, then she straightened up and without any warning pulled her shirt off over her head, leaving her sitting there in her sports bra. "Better?" She balled the shirt up and clenched her fingers in it, glad to have something to grab onto.

Jon had backed up when she'd started to move, and now he cautiously slid back. "You're definitely different than your SO, tell you that." He got closer and put his free hand on her shoulder. "Okay, I'm going to do one line, so you can see what it's like."

"And then leave me with one line on my arm when I run screaming?" Dar felt a surge of ghoulish humor. "Just do it."

The buzz came closer, and got louder, and then she felt a touch on her arm that was somewhere between ticklingly unpleasant, and a sharp pinch.

Not a comfortable feeling. She swallowed hard, then forced herself to think about Kerry going through it, feeling the pinch, feeling the stabbing of the needles... .

‘You going out on me?" Jon asked suddenly.

"Ah.. no I'm fine." Dar stared over his head at the art on the walls. "Two hours you said?"


"Okay." Dar closed her eyes and tried to suppress the urge to throw up. The sudden notion that she was making a really big mistake occurred to her, but she tightened her fingers around her shirt and worked on taking deep, slow breaths instead.

"You really work with computers? " Jon asked.


"Your SO does too, huh? I remember she said something about that."

"Kerry's the vice president of operations for the largest IT company in the world." Dar said from between gritted teeth.

Jon chuckled. "That make you jealous?"

"I'm her boss."

The buzzing stopped. Dar opened her eyes a crack and peered to her right, to find Jon peering back at her. "What?"

"Ever think of writing a book?" He went back to work, chuckling under his breath.

With a sigh, Dar closed her eyes again and started counting the seconds.


"Rats." Kerry pressed against the wall as the rain came thundering down across the beach. "So much for miniature golf." She shaded her eyes from the rain as they looked to either side for an escape. "Look out, Ray... you're gonna get swamped!"

Her old workmate scampered out of the road as a Hummer plowed through the already significant puddles and sent a wash of water against the sidewalk. "Puta." Ray turned and gestured at the retreating car. "What a jerk!"

Kerry grabbed his hand. "Ray, last thing I need to do tonight is have to jump in front of some big guy with a macho attitude to keep you from being drop kicked.. get over here."

"I am completely safe with you I am sure." Ray wiped the rain from his eyes. "Ai, this weather."

Colleen appeared, with an umbrella. She opened it and held it over Kerry and Ray. "Well, my friends.. I think I have to sadly say this evening is a washout."

Kerry regarded the downpour mournfully. "Yeah." She sighed. "We could go see a movie but I'm not in the mood." She pulled her drenched tank top away from her body. "I hate to say this, but rain check?"

"Yeah." Colleen sighed. "Hey, maybe we can go tomorrow." She suggested. "Or did you have plans this weekend?" She nudged Kerry. "Lady Valentine."

"Yeah yeah." Kerry scratched her temple. "Let me get back to you on that. I thought Dar said something about... something." She paused. "Chocolate or something. Anyway" She looked down the street. "I'm going to run for it – catch you guys next time."

She ducked out from under the shelter and started jogging down the street, glad of her short cut hair as the rain plastered it down to her head. She'd left her car down at one of the lower parking lots, and now she was regretting it as she dodged past people walking fast in the other direction with newspapers held over their head.

Oh well. She regretted the end of their fun, but in a way, she was glad also because there was no sign of Dar showing up any time soon, and she decided she'd rather wait until her partner could join them instead of being stuck at some...

Kerry stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk, unable to believe what she was seeing. She looked up, then she looked in the window she'd just been passing to confirm what her eyes had already told her. "I can't be seeing this."

She recognized the shop, but more than that, she recognized the person sitting in the chair in the shop, and putting Dar, and the tattoo parlor into context together was making her eyeballs rotate in completely inappropriate directions. "Holy crap."

She started to reach for the door, then she stopped. The artist was absorbed in his work, and Dar was sitting there as calm as could be, her eyes closed as he toiled over her shoulder.

Then she realized her partner was half naked.

"I need to sit down." Kerry turned and leaned against the wall, out of sight from the window. "What on earth is going on here?"

She turned and peeked through the window again, just to be absolutely sure. But no, the tall, atheletic frame and the angular profile that was as familiar to her as her own was still there, so she turned back around and stared out into the night driven rain.

What should she do? Go in? Stay out? Kerry turned and peeked in the window. Obviously Dar wanted it to be a surprise. Should she blow it?

Her curiousity needled her in the kidneys and she almost opened the door, then her conscience took hold and she scooted past intead, pausing the get her bearings, then dashing off against the rain.


"How are yo doing?" Jon asked. "Ready for a break?"

Dar opened her eyes and turned her head. "You tell me." She peeked at the spot he'd been working on then hastily looked away when she thought she saw a hint of red.

Jon sat back and regarded his work. "I think it's going to be killer." He said, after a long pause. "I can just keep going if you want. It wont' be that much longer."

It was the nicest thing Dar could have imagined hearing. "Go on." She said. The pain had been increasing as he worked, and the needles went into her skin over and over again and she was beginning to feel lightheaded from it all.

A little silly, too, since she'd long since passed when she'd told Kerry she'd be done. What would Kerry think about her bailing? Would she even like what Dar had picked out?

The buzzing grew louder and the pain grated down on her nerves again, making her wonder all over again why she'd decided to do this. It was torture, and she was stuck with it now, this big mark on her arm she'd expose whenver she rolled her sleeve up.

What if Kerry hated it?

Dar felt her heart start to beat faster. It was late. What if Kerry found out she wasn't at a meeting? What if Kerry thought she was...

"Hey." Jon spoke suddenly. "Look who's here!"

Dar's eyes popped open, and she found herself staring at a very wet, very windblown apparition who came over and scattered cold raindrops over her as she sat there in stunned surprise. "Uh."

"Hi." Kerry had one hand behind her back. "What's going on here?"

Dar blinked, then she broke out of her shock and looked at her arm, then back at her partner. She managed a weak grin. "Happy Valentine's Day?" She said. "It was supposed to be a su.."


"Um.. yes."

"Well, honey.. it would have been.." She leaned over and gave Dar a kiss, ignoring Jon. "If you hadn't been sitting here half naked in front of an open window I was running by."

Dar felt herself blushing, a wave of heat that momentarily banished the pain of the needles.

"Hey.. cut that out." Jon said. "You'll bleed all over me."

Dar froze, and closed her eyes.

"Ah ah ah." Kerry scrambled around the chair. "Don't say that word." She got behind Jon and studied the tattoo in progress. "Wow."

Dar opened one eye. "You like it?"

Kerry gazed at the artwork, the cat in it's dark livery, with the faintest shadow of spots as though light was dappling it, it's front paws circling a shaded red heart that was not quite finished, with white and gold outlined lettering in the very center. She leaned closer, seeing the letters of her own name and felt like melting. "I love it."

Jon sighed. "You know, my life just sucks sometimes."

Both Dar and Kerry turned to look at him. "Huh?" Kerry said, as he dipped his gun into the red and went back to work.

"Got a woman standing here in a wet t-shirt, and another one half naked in my chair.." Jon groused. "And I can't get a date with either of em." He shook his head and continued applying the color, shading the red around the letters with a delicate touch that got the color right up to the line of the text but not over it.

Kerry circled the chair and took hold of Dar's free hand, folding her fingers around her partner's as Dar's eyes raised to meet hers. "This is much better than a box of chocolates."

Dar's mouth twitched into a faint grin.

"All right, we're done." Jon said, surprising them both. "Unless you want me to stick you for a few more hours." He wiped Dar's arm down, then spread some light cream on it. "Take a look."

Dar turned sideways and peeked cautiously in the mirror. Now that the buzzing had stopped, the pain had faded with surprising quickness, though she could see the skin that wasn't colored was swollen and red. It felt a little warm but as she flexed her arm, it wasn't uncomfortable. "Wow."

Kerry put her chin on Dar's other shoulder. "Like it?"

It was bold, and fierce, and as she looked at it, Dar realized she did. "Yeah."

"Well, that's a relief." Jon was putting his tools away.

Kerry's eyes traced her own name, in it's full form, in the center of the heart, protected by those big, sharp, almost three dimensional claws and it rang a bell in her head as she realized she could feel the emotion the art was projecting, that sense of protection she knew so well. "So do I."

She was glad, now, of the rain. Glad she'd gotten to share this moment with Dar, surprise or no surprise. "Know what's on the next corner/" She whispered in her partner's ear.


"Haagen Daz."

Dar perked up immediately. She hopped out of the chair, as Jon finished taping a bit of saran wrap over her new skin art. "It's gorgeous."

"So are you." Jon gave her a cheeky grin and a wink. "Now come over here and pay me so I can go home and whine to my buddies about the ones that got away."

Dar chuckled, as she took her wallet out. "You're a damn good artist." She said, as he wrote the receipt up. "Thanks for making it easy."

Jon looked at her. "You thought that was easy?" His voice rose in surprise. "You're kidding me, right?"

Dar shrugged. "Wasn't that bad." She was already forgetting the pain. "And it was worth it. Thanks." She shook Jon's hand firmly, and grinned.

The artist shook his head and chuckled.

Kerry wrung her shirt out a little as she waited, finding a smile pulling her lips up as she thought about the unexpected end to her night. "Colleen wont' believe this." She sighed.

"What was that?" Dar put her wallet back in her pocket.

"Nothing." Kerry took her arm. "C'mon, Valentine. Be mine." She led the way out the door, seeing the rain had abated to an annoying drizzle.

"Isn't that a given?" Dar laughed. "Wait till my first international board meeting when I take my jacket off."


Dar put her arm around Kerry's shoulders, feeling a buoyant sense of well being she suspected was caused by defeating the blinding fear that had made the thought of doing this impossible. "I love you."

"I love you too." Kerry exhaled in contentment, despite the rain. "But you know what? Your dad's going to kill you."

Dar glanced down at her. "For this?" She indicated her bandaged arm. "Hey, it's not a skull." She protested. "You think so?"

Kerry chuckled. "I heard him tell your mom he'd get a tattoo the day you did when she wanted one." She said. "Want to stop by the marina?"

"Chocolate first."


Dar leaned over and gave Kerry a kiss. "Was this better than HTTP Panties?" She asked, as Kerry muffled a laugh with her free hand. "What?"

"We were shopping at the same website."

"Did you order the Cat 5 bracelet?"


"Great. We've got a matching pair now."

Kerry laughed, as they headed towards the ice cream store, it's windows a bright beacon in the grumbling storm outside.


Happy Valentine's Day, ya'll.


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