Passion Play
by Gabrielle St. Charles


Georgia Storm

 It was a sultry night.  The humidity hung in the air like a cloud, thick and full.  The moon was barely peeking through the ensuing clouds.  I was frightened what the storm might bring.  I tuned my radio into a local station for weather updates.  For 8pm, it seemed gloomy.  The autumn air wasnít usually this thick.  It was chilly; maybe all of 50 degrees, and the wind blew lightly.  The DJ spoke of a storm, due to hit within the next hour that carried high winds and a spectacular show of lightning.  Who was this guy?  I didnít feel there was anything spectacular about electricity aimed at my head. 

 My thoughts crept back to the phone call before I left.  I really didnít know what to make of it.  Kennedy had been so eager to see me prior to this phone call.  She called and told me that there was a storm and that maybe I might think of not coming tonight.  That had taken me by surprise.  All of our time spent on the phone in the past had been very positive, but tonight she sounded distant, unapproachable.  I felt like something was wrong.  We were good friends.  I had known Kennedy for about three years.  I had seen her on-and-off, because we had mutual friends.  My friend, Joan, dated her friend, Celia.  So, we had, on occasion, attended parties at their house.  The first night I met her, Kennedy was so funny.  She had us nearly wetting our pants.  She had been telling stories of how she had become an artist.  Her work was phenomenal and one woman, who was absurd, asking Kennedy questions, had asked why she would have a profession that paid nothing.  The nerve of the woman.  Here was this butch artist, big enough to beat the crud out of this lady, and she had the audacity to ask her something so formidable.  Kennedy had merely told the story of her beginnings in the field of art.  Needless to say, her rendition of her affair with her high school art teacher left us all speechless.  I never knew you could do things like that on an art wheel.  She had us all in stitches.

 About six months ago, at a party at Celia and Joanís, we had actually talked for the first time at any length.  I hadnít realized that she and I had so much in common.  She was too butch for me; I liked femme women.  I was too femme for her, she liked soft butch, "women able to hold their own," as she so politely put it.  But, I had been intrigued with this woman.  Ever since that party, I had been trying to make a good impression on her, to no avail.  It was rough!  She wanted nothing to do with me.  I had asked Celia and Joan about her and what her intentions were for finding a girlfriend; all they said was, "We donít mess with match-making for her.  She would kill us."  So, I had undertaken the venture alone.  And, at this point, I had not had much luck.  She would talk to me, when I called, and even had attended a party at Joan and Celiaís. After the party the two of us went for coffee, but she would not allow me in.

 Tonight was the first chance I had to actually corner her on this issue and I had decided to just be point blank.  Joan had called yesterday and told me that there were tickets available for the concert.  She and Celia would not be able to attend.  She had given me hers and Celia had called Kennedy and given her a ticket.  I said thanks; Joan knew how badly I wanted to at least give this a try.  And, I called Kennedy and asked if she wanted to go.  She had not hesitated at the invite.  But, now she was resistant and I didnít know why.  

 "Women!!!" I sighed.

 The city lights came up quickly and I knew I needed to begin looking for my exit on the freeway.  I wasnít as familiar with Atlanta and it was going to be somewhat a challenge to find the auditorium.  I had great directions according to Kennedy, who had given them to me.  I was first headed into the inner city and there I would find the auditorium only a few miles past that.  It wasnít something that normally bothered me, trying new things alone, but I was terribly nervous about meeting Kennedy on this basis.  My hands were sweating, my stomach hurt and I wasnít sure, but I thought my feet were about 50 degrees below frigid!  But, it would be well worth it.  

 I could remember the first time I saw her.  I had walked into the party at Joanís house.  The house was lit with candles from top to bottom; even the walk had sack candles.  It was Halloween.  I had dressed in a Madame Bovier's costume and was greeted with delight and quite a few whistles when I entered the party.  In the corner of the room, leaning against the wall, I saw her.  She was unmistakably attractive.  She had a biker outfit on.  Her torn jeans and bandanna made her look all of fifteen years old.  The bandanna was wrapped around her head like a dew rag, and she had on a white T-shirt and a black leather vest.  I wasnít usually attracted to women who were butch, but she was adorable.  The whole night I watched her.  I had a few friends that were there and they chided me at the lack of attention I gave them and paid to her.  Joan and Celia were unavailable due to their hosting activities, but the next day, I had asked about Kennedy.  
 The story I got was blunt and curt.  Joan said, "She is not someone to mess with.  Her girlfriend is Blake Dupree."  

 That was all that needed to be said.  Blake Dupree was one of the most prominent Atlanta lesbians.  She headed the Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Rights and was very staunch in her lesbian attributes.  She reeked of money and class.  It had sort of taken me off guard to hear that she was Kennedyís girlfriend, but I knew that meant stay away.  And, I did.  But, I didnít mind making friends.  I had entered into small conversations with her and we had become buddies of sorts.  I would see her on and off at parties but never really talked to her until the night we went for coffee.  She told me then that her and Blake had split up about six months prior.  Blake had fallen in love with someone else and moved on.  She said she was torn.  She hated the thought that she had been lied to, but loved Blake for her inevitable honesty.  It was something that I still found very memorable.  The way her lips moved when she spoke, the way she smiled and her eyes lit up, just her overall demeanor.  She was so feminine acting and so butch looking, until you got to her eyes.  She had the softest brown eyes I had ever seen.  They had a light brown exterior but lightened as you neared her pupil to almost gold.  It was amazing, the contrast of color.  She had been blessed with the longest eyelashes also, something most women would pay big bucks for and she knew how to bat them.  As we had conversed over coffee, I was quite taken with her soft manner and her impeccable speech.  Her voice lulled you into her stories, which she loved to elaborate on.  Maybe the creative side of her had been doubly blessed, she should write.

 I found my way through the city and pulled up to Griffin Auditorium, where I was to meet Kennedy.  I did not see her standing outside as we had decided might be best, but the wind had picked up quite a bit and the ensuing storm was almost upon us.  So, I let the valet park my cream Mercedes convertible and slid up the stairs.  The concert was a lesbian musical duo that was fairly popular and so there were lesbians all over.  I had dressed in Leviís, a brown ribbed turtleneck that fit tight, and a pair of clunky-heeled leather loafers; my accessories were gold, as always.  I felt right in place, even though I was nearing 32, with all the "young ones".  As I got to the top of the stairs, I saw her.
 She was standing, or actually leaning against a column pillar, her left foot kicked up over her right.  She eluded such an air of flippancy.  I watched the other women walk by her, heads twisting to stare at her, some recognizing her and some just recognizing her beauty.  I was greatly surprised when I approached that she walked right up to me, embraced me and kissed me lightly on the cheek.  What a welcome.  I really hadnít known what to expect, so I was left out in the cold ... standing there in the aftermath, as she walked away in front of me.  A few steps later, she turned back to me.

 "Are you coming, Keegan?"  She slyly smiled as she held out her hand for mine to take.

 I smiled and took her hand and we went into the concert.  It was so crowded, but we had great seats.  We were on the second row, about middle of the row on the left.  It put us in a position, that we definitely had a great view.  The security guards that lined below the stage, kept the other concertgoers at bay, and we actually got to sit in our seats and see some of the show.  That is, about fifteen minutes of it.  After that, Kennedy grabbed my hand and away we went, to the side stage door exit and out into the hallway.  
 When we got to a point that the level of sound was okay and she could hear me talk to her, although loudly, I said, "What are we doing?"  I had a quizzical look on my face, trying to figure out where we were going.  We had great seats.  Maybe she was uncomfortable?  She was a quiet person.  She looked at me and winked and just kept dragging me by the hand to the doors beyond the stage passage.  Inside two doors were another set of doors that said "Stage Access" and two security guards were standing there.  

 "May we see your backstage pass?" They inquired of us.  I was laughing.  We didnít have a pass.

 "My name should be on the list there," Kennedy said.  The guard checked her name and, sure enough, there it was and they opened the doors for us.  Music slammed me backward, we were standing about fifteen feet from the girls performing.  Two women came up and hugged Kennedy and I was introduced.

 She leaned in close to me so I could hear her over the loud music, "Keegan, this is Laurie and Shana.  Laurie, Shana, this is Keegan St. Croix.  We thought we would come back and join you."  She further explained, "Laurie is the Girls Manager.  We have known each other since grade school."
 I nodded in affirmation.  This was definitely something that was out of the ordinary for me.  No one got backstage to the Girls concerts. No one.  I was with a real gem here.  We stayed backstage the rest of the concert, in comfortable chairs that were so close to the stage.  We actually sat next to the curtains, in the wings.  I had always enjoyed their music, but it was different that close and watching them play their guitars as they sang.  They had an acoustic sound that could not be reproduced.  Their harmonies were perfect and their voices blended in complete beauty.  One was rough and ready and one was soft and sweet. They made a striking contrast.  The concert was absolutely wonderful.  I watched Laurie and Kennedy exchange conversation briefly, both nodding and laughing.  She had such a cute smile when she laughed.  I caught myself paying more attention to her than the concert.

 For the finale of the concert the two women sang accappella.  The song was a compelling love song.  As they sang, Kennedy came up behind my chair and put her arms around me.  She leaned into my ear and whispered.

 "So, this is a date?"  

 Chills ran up my spine and then had the nerve to run right back down...all the way to my toes.  She was so close to me.  

 "Yes, this is a date," I said, as I leaned my lips around so that she could read them.  I was enjoying this game that had begun.  We were going to have to play the chase here.  And, tonight, I felt up to it.  She looked great in her big, baggy jeans, her oversized hockey jersey, and her Rockport boots.  She was just the right amount sporty.  Who knows, maybe she would win?

 She seemed pleased with the reply and kissed my cheek.  The rest of the song was spent with her arms around me and I placed my hands on hers and intertwined our fingers.  It was so romantic.  After the song ended, Laurie and Shana got up and came over to us.  The Girls walked off the stage, and came right up to Kennedy.  Hugs and kisses were exchanged and the Girls both shook my hand as I was introduced.  The crowd was roaring for an encore.  The Girls talked to us briefly as if nothing were going on out of the ordinary.  It had been a fabulous concert and the crowd was going wild.  Sandy, the dark-haired butch one of the duo looked directly at me.

 "Do you have a request Keegan?  We have one more song to play.  We will dedicate it to Miss Kennedy here, you pick it."
 I had listened to the Girls for years.  They had so many songs that I loved, and I couldnít think of one in this pinch.  I was shaking my head yes, as I turned to Kennedy.

 "Do you have a favorite, Kennedy?"  She was smiling instantly.

 "Of course I do, The Strength of Two."  I nodded at the Girls and they walked back onto the stage.

 Sandy said to the audience, "Thank you.  Thank you.  We love playing at home in Atlanta; you are the best crowd ever.  Do you want to hear another song?"  The crowd roared as they picked their guitars back up and slid them over their shoulders.  "Let us play a special song tonight for a dear friend of ours.  We have heard that she has had a rough time this last couple of months and she needs our support.  Kennedy Gray, our local FAAAMOUS artist, is here backstage with us tonight, and we would like to dedicate this song to her ... ď She trailed off in speech as they began to play.  The song was an acoustic rendition of an old ballad.  Itís eerie guitar piece made the crowd come even more alive.  They roared in time with the music.  Lighters came out and were lit in unison for the ballad.  The Girls sang and there wasnít a sound in the auditorium but Sandyís voice in harmony with Mary Elizabethís.  I reached for Kennedyís hand and held it as they sang.  

 After they finished, they took bows and the crowd was standing.  It was a huge success, as all of their concerts were.  They were some of the most heavily followed lesbian singers that graced the stage.  They once again came off the stage.  This time they were done.  They were trying to say something, but the crowd was so rowdy, that no one could hear.  So they motioned us all to another part of the stage and out two doors in the back.  The sound immediately subsided, once outside the door.  They then steered us down the hallway two doors to a room that must have been where they were prior to the concert.  

 In the room there was a buffet table, six couches, three butterfly chairs, marble pillars with pieces of sculpture, a wet bar, and about fifteen other people.  I was starving.  Kennedy seemed to react as if this were nothing new.  She steered us to the buffet table, while the Girls and Laurie and Shana went for the couches.  A woman from behind the bar distributed drinks to them and came and asked what we would like.  Kennedy ordered two bottled waters.  We fixed small plates and joined the others.  They were talking about the concert and how terrible things had gone wrong.  I was completely lost, it had seemed perfect to me.  But, they did not seem pleased with the lighting at all.  After about twenty minutes of complaining, they seemed to ease up and the conversation was steered to Kennedy.

 "So Gray Bull, what brings you to us tonight?"  Mary Elizabeth said directly to Kennedy.

 "Well, heard you were in town and my friend, Celia, had a ticket.  So, here I am.  Thought I would bless you with my presence."  She was grinning from ear to ear.

 Sandy broke in with, "Yea, you never come to our concerts."

 "Well, I havenít ever seen you at one of my gallery openings.  I just donít think we understand one anotherís medium.  What do you think?"  She was roaring with laughter.  It must have been an inside joke, because they were all laughing.

 Kennedy turned to me, "Keegan, the Girls got me started in the business.  I design their CD covers.  They hated everything I did for them at first.  We used to fight like anything.  So, at one point, I quit coming to their concerts and quit listening to their songs and I have no problem designing for them now.  I still do all their CD jackets and most of their posters, unless they are photographs."  She knew I had no idea and was kind enough to explain.

 "I didnít know that.  It doesnít say so on the covers, does it?"  I said.

 Sandy was laughing lightly, "We donít give her credit for anything.  She wonít let us print her name.  One night, long ago, she made a really stupid bet with us.  And she continues to pay up.  Donít cha now, Gray Bull?" 

 "Yes, I pay up continually.  Thank God, I have not gone dry with ideas for you.  Or, I would be in great trouble."  She turned to me again, "I made a bet when I was 19 years old.  Sandy and I were in a bar drinking and playing pool.   She had whipped my butt all night long and I was drunk and cocky.  I made her double or nothing a pool bet and lost.  I had no money with me to pay her, so she suggested that I take it out in trade.  I had not done much with my art prior, but Sandy had seen all my work.  So, I told her that to pay up, I would design every CD cover they ever made.  Little did I know they would become famous and start making two a year to keep up with their crowd.  I have barely been able to do anything for me, I work so much for them.  Itís been ten years now and I have done 19 covers.  I think I should be let off the hook someday."  Her eyes lit up with pride, "I would never let anyone else design for them."

 Mary Elizabeth chimed in, "We have won so many awards for her work.  Our production company is terrified that whoever is doing the work will sue us for royalties some day, and she still wonít let us tell them who does it.  We are used to it, but the attorneyís freak."  She was looking at Kennedy with admiration as she got up and walked to Kennedy and kissed her lightly.  A quick hug and she was back in her chair.

 About two hours later, after we had discussed old times and laughed and they had caught me up on their relationship with each other, we decided to leave.  It was nearly 2AM and Kennedy said she was getting pretty tired.  So, we said our good-byes and hugged everyone and kissed cheeks and we left.  As we parted ways, Kennedy grabbed my hand again and led me out to the front lobby.  The valetís were still around, thank God.  And they pulled my keys for me.  They were done for the night.  We were on our own.

 "I didnít drive Keegan, can you give me a lift?"  Kennedy was grinning when she spoke.

 "Hmmmm ...  I donít know, Darlin.  What do you think I might get in return?"  I was playing the temptress.  And she knew it.

 Her eyes eagerly lit up and she replied, "Oh, I bet I can think of something."

 With that, I headed away from her out the set of doors that were unlocked.  She was right behind me.  To our surprise, it was storming terribly.  The wind had risen; the trees were being bent by its strength.  The clouds had broken and the rain was pouring.  Lightning flashed and I jumped, enough to stop my motion and have Kennedy bump into me from behind.  She put her arms around my shoulder, our equal height being an asset.  I did not like storms much.  But, she didnít seem to mind.  We headed out to the lot that the gentleman showed us they had parked my car in.  Lot G, slot 77 ... we ran through the rain.  I was soaked and could see her holding her hand above her eyes to stop the rain from pelting her in the face.  Finally, we found my car and I unlocked her door. 

 "You are quite the dyke there, Keegan, letting me in first.  But, I am so wet; I canít get in your car like this.  We are sopping wet.  Look at your leather seats, Darlin, they will be ruined."

 She was right.  I tried to think if I had anything in my trunk like a towel or blanket.  As I was standing there, in the pouring rain, thinking about my seats, she moved to me.  Her lips were against mine before I could think.  Quickly, I responded to her by sliding my arms around her waist and pulling her to me.  Her hands were in my long hair, now tangled with the rain.  She pulled my head softly to her as she aggressively kissed my lips.  Her lips traced the outline of mine, kissing me hard and then soft.  Her tongue gently prodding mine to touch it in a dance.  She flicked my bottom lip so tenderly that I thought my legs would give out on me.  Her left hand came from my hair to my lower back as she pulled me even closer than I had her, and her leg slid between mine.  My heart was pounding.  I hadnít time to think.  She was kissing me so passionately, but not invading my space nor making me uncomfortable.

 Lightning crashed!!!  I jumped nearly out of my skin, enough to break the kiss.  I was shaking.  I didnít know if it was from the cold, the rain, or her.  She just looked at me with caring eyes, as if to say, are you okay?  I assured her by placing my lips on hers.  Even though I was shaking, I could still kiss.  I kissed her this time.  My tongue traced her lips, first the top and then the bottom, as her tongue tried to catch mine.  I dangled my lips just off hers as she tried to move closer.  I loved teasing her.  She was impatient.  I could tell that she did not like the teasing, which made me want to tease her more.  But, as I teased her, I felt her hand rip my shirt out of my jeans and her hand was so quickly up my shirt and under my bra, caressing my breast, that I gasped.  She covered my gasp with her lips.  Her lips crushed mine in a passionate embrace, rain running down our faces, the wind howling, the lightning flashing and the thunder clapping.

 I was so lost in this kiss, the environment around us as passionate as we were.  I had no idea this woman could do this to me ... and it felt like I was returning the favor.  She was suddenly tapping on my shoulder.  I kissed her harder.  She moved closer to me, nearly pushing me over, but I did not fall, as a matter of fact, I felt someone behind me.  

 I screamed.  My scream fell into our kiss as I pushed her backwards, nearly knocking her into the car.  Someone was behind me!  I turned quickly, my fits balled to fight.  She caught what was happening as she fell and was up instantly to help me.  To our surprise, it was a cop.  

 "Oh My GOD!!!  You scared the shit out of us."  My hand was on my chest.  It was pounding.  Kennedy came to my immediate side.

 "Officer, we are sorry, we were just ... ď Her words trailed off as the officer began to speak.

 "Ladies, you need to get out of here.  We are under a tornado warning.  Please take cover.  I wouldnít have seen you, if it hadnít been for the car dome light being on, because the door was open.  You need to get out of here.  There is a shelter down the street about two miles; itís a gymnasium, go there and quick.  There have been sightings all over the city.  You really need to get out of here."  He spoke quickly as he walked away toward his patrol car.  We hadnít even noticed him pulling up, even though his lights were flashing.

 We jumped in the car, Kennedy in her side and unlocking my door as I ran around.  She tuned the radio on as I started the car, ripped it into gear and sped away.  Tornadoes were my childhood fear.  I grew up in Kansas and was more than familiar with their terror.  A night like tonight was not a good night to tempt fate.  As I quickly exited the parking lot, Kennedy told me that she lived nearby, if I wanted to chance her house and the drive.  She was looking out the windshield trying to see if we were in immediate danger.

 "Sounds good to me sweetheart, do you have a basement?"  I knew that not many houses in Atlanta probably came with basements for storm protection.  So, I felt the need for security.  A gymnasium didnít sound too great to me either though.

 "Yea, my house has a basement, fully completed and it even has a fireplace.  Letís try it.  Itís about ten minutes from here."  She finished speaking as the DJ came on with a news flash on the weather.  It was dangerous out.  There had been a couple of tornadoes touch down and there had been some damage.  From what we could tell, we were far enough away that we shouldnít hit the problem areas, so I drove with Kennedyís instructions to her house.

 As we pulled in the drive, we were almost out of the car before it stopped.  Kennedy was reaching for her keys in her pocket as we ran for the door.  I grabbed a bag out of my back seat and jetted with her.  I was glad I had worn jeans, even though they were cold and wet.  We fell in the door as Kennedy got it open, out of the rain that was now coming down in sheets, at an angle.  I hadnít seen a storm like this since I had moved from Kansas to Savannah four years prior.  She went straight to the television and turned it to a local channel.  There were some warnings flashing by.  I read as she left the room, to return seconds later carrying two large royal purple towels.  I wrapped mine around me and toweled my hair.  I was freezing.  We watched the television show as warnings flashed that said there was still imminent danger in this area.  I looked at Kennedy.

 "Should we maybe go downstairs?"  I hated storms; it was something that was carried over from my childhood.  I was not sure that I cared about making a good impression at this point.
 "Sure Keegan, letís go.  Let me grab a flashlight and you grab those candles.  There are some blankets in that closet and I will get some water and something for us to snack on.  The door is over there, go ahead and go down." She had pointed to a corner door for the basement.  I quickly got the things together, putting the candles I found in a neat arrangement in my towel and wrapping them up.  I gathered about six Mexican blankets and two quilts from a closet right by the stairway and I was ready to go.

 I hit the stairs and couldnít find the light switch.  I was feeling around for it when she came up behind me, so quickly that once again, I was slightly startled.  Her hand slid over mine to the switch and the light came on.  I was relieved and quickly scaled the stairs.  I was surprised to get down the stairs; it was comfy.  Elaborately designed was the large, open room.  Half of it was a studio and half of it was what looked like a living area. There was a large entertainment center that was completely closed up.  It was walnut with six doors, the middle one very large.  In each of the two corners, there were ceramic pillars with what I assumed were her pieces of sculpture presented.  She led me to a large leather couch and tossed some pillows on it she had gathered and the blankets that I had.  She went to the entertainment center and opened the large doors to reveal a big screen TV, and she turned it on, and then muted it.  She then went to the left set of doors and opened them up, their long slender grace falling gently open as she moved between them and made a few CD selections, pushed some buttons and walked away.  As she walked, she threw her arms up and motioned to her "room".

 "Does this meet your needs, my princess?"  She smiled; she must have known it did.  Soft music filtered through the speakers and I began to relax.  I could see the television and the warnings that were flashing across the bottom of the screen.

 "Yes, I think it just might do."  I was still shaking and my lips had to be purple, I was so cold.  I moved to a table behind the couch and began to empty the contents of the towel on the table.  I carefully removed the candles and placed them in a neat arrangement along the edge of the table, steering clear of the couch.  She reached in her pocket and withdrew a lighter and lit them all as I placed them out.  Soon there were flames flickering against the wall, the only other light from the stairway.  She laid the lighter down when she was done and moved closer to me.
 I had no idea what I was thinking tonight.  I was someone who went so slowly.  I thought way too much.  I had no idea how I had gotten to her house.  I was supposed to stay at Joan and Celiaís tonight.  I had my key and they were expecting me by 3am.  I told them we might go for coffee.  I should call them.  As I drifted off in thought, I became increasingly aware of the fact that she had taken her own towel, which was wrapped around her neck and come closer to me ... she started drying my hair with it.  Gently and tenderly, she took each tendril as it hung and dried it in her towel, not speaking.  She looked at me as she did it, which was more than unnerving.  She was not shy at all; I had misread her altogether.  After she finished drying my hair, she moved partially behind me and began to rub my shoulders, standing close enough that I could feel the heat of her body through her shirt and mine.  
 Finally, I couldnít stand the silence anymore and I turned to face her.  I said nothing.  We stood, eye to eye, just looking softly at each other.  It wasnít a naked glare, it wasnít threatening in any way.  It wasnít sexual, it wasnít friendly, it wasnít probing; it was just pleasant.  Her eyes were so beautiful.  Mine must look drab in comparison, and I had always had compliments on the intensity of my blue coloring.  My lashes were long too, and jet black, even though my hair was auburn.  And, unless in the sun, you would call me a brunette with blonde highlights rather than a red head.  She looked at me, gazing at one eye and then the other, very slowly.  It was as if she was trying to put herself inside me slowly and deliberately.  She was unique and I liked it.

 She brought her hands to my face slowly.  Her right index finger to my cheek, softly stroking it.  I closed my eyes, her touch so pleasant.  She took her other hand and slid it under my hair, behind my ear.  Slowly, she came to me ... I could feel her moving closer.  Her lips just inches from mine, she stopped.  I opened my eyes and she was still looking at me.  I closed the last bit of space between us, she began to close her eyes as I moved and so did I.  Our lips touched softly.  My hands on her sides, I moved my body closer to hers as she pulled my head to her and kissed me softly and firmly.  Her lips were amazing.  They moved in ways that were riveting.  My whole body began to react to her.  She skillfully kissed my lips and my body rose to her, pressing against her.  I could feel her nipples hard beneath her shirt.  I realized she had no bra on.  As her lips toyed with mine, I reached underneath her hockey jersey and ran my fingernails up her back slowly.  I could feel her arch towards me as I did it.  For the first time, I heard her moan.  It made my body zing.  I kissed her fully, making her respond to me.  I preyed on her bottom lip and ran my nails down her back to her ribcage and then down her sides.  As I hit her sides, I moved from my nails to my fingertips and ran my fingers up her ribcage, between us, just under her breasts, barely touching her nipples with the outside of my hand. I felt her tense at my touch.  Her hand pulling my head even harder down on her lips and I grabbed her breasts in my hands and pushed them gently against her, feeling their fullness, delighting in her nipples arousal.  My palms stroking her nipples as I caressed her entire breasts.  Her moaning was audible now and it was making me crazy.

 She moved her right hand to my side, again under my shirt and I began to feel her finger touch my stomach lightly.  I was so cold that her hands were making me tremble.  She moved her body even closer to me, seeming like she was enveloping me.  Her kiss alerting all my senses.  Our lips fit perfectly together.  There wasnít a moment that wasnít perfect in the kisses, her lips finding mine and fitting with ease.  Her tongue probing but not intrusive.  Kissing was the most important thing to me.  If someone could kiss, they could make love and by the way Kennedy kissed, I hoped one day that I would find out how the rest went. 

 The thunder crashed again.  This time it felt as if the whole house shook.  It startled me and my hands pulled her close to me, to embrace me.  I hated storms.  She sensed my uneasiness and pulled me into an embrace, her lips finding my earlobe.

 "You are safe here.  My house is built very well.  I will hold you if it makes you feel better."  Her nibbling wasnít helping any.  I was shaking again.  This time the tremors were coming from deep within.

 I tried to speak but couldnít really get the words to come out as she spoke again into my ear.  "Let me make love to you and it wonít bother you at all ... you wonít even think about the storm.  Just you...." she bit my earlobe.   "MeÖĒ she kissed below my ear and down my neck.  "You wonít hear anything but us."  She finished by moving back to my lips and kissing me again.  This time she backed me up to the couch in one step and we tumbled over its edge.  She was now almost on top of me on the couch; she moved to let me get comfortable as she lowered herself onto me ever so gently and slowly as if to see if I would object. 

 I didnít know what to do.  I hadnít thought this far in advance.  I didnít even know if she liked me earlier and now this.  What should I do?  I had no idea where I was.... what to do?  I had values and priorities and well, I followed protocol...Her kiss invaded my very being this time.  I had not hesitated physically, because I was too busy thinking and she took it, as everything was okay.  Her lips were quick, moving to different parts of my lips, I couldnít tell where she was going next.  As she finished lowering herself on me, I could feel her leg touch me.  I moaned so loudly.  It had been a long time for me.  I hadnít kissed anyone since my last girlfriend.  We had split two years prior.  

 The phone rang.  I heard it lulling in the background as we kissed.  Neither of us made a move away from the other.  She had begun kissing me and moving her hips against mine.  I was so deep in, I would never get out of this; I wanted her badly.  I wanted her to make love to me.  I wanted it more than anything, and the storm didnít matter anymore.  The weight of her body against mine was intoxicating; her kisses were locking me into emotions I hadnít had in a long time.  Yet, I knew that I didnít know her well enough to do this.  The phone stopped ringing and the machine picked up.

 "You have reached my studio.  I am not available to come to the phone; please leave your name and number and if I like you, I might call you back."  Her voice was sultry in its indigence.
 The voice on the other end said, "Kennedy, if you are there pick up Darlin.  Itís Joan.  We are worried about Keegan.  She said she would be home.  Darlin, are ya there?"  She sounded truly worried.  

 Kennedy darted up and across the floor to where her phone system was hooked up.  She grabbed the phone.

 "Hey girl.  Here I am.  We are just riding out the storm."  She was half laughing and half nervous, I could tell.  We had been busted.  Joan must have said something to the effect of how come no one called them and Kennedy, Miss I am me and not ashamed to be me said, "Darlin, if you were in the middle of _things_ would you take time out to call a friend?"  She giggled a bit and then said goodbye.  She didnít immediately return to me on the couch, now sitting, but went to the south wall and for the first time, I noticed a fire place.  It was an entire marble wall, sleek and defined.  The mantle was as if part of the wall had just moved a few feet out.  Above the mantle was an exquisite piece of art, a painting.  I could only make out the outlines, but it was dramatic.  She moved to the fireplace and bent down.  Within a few moments, she had a match lit and had stuffed enough kindling under the three huge logs to have a nice start of a fire, the kindling crackling. 

 I glanced at the TV to find that we were out of the warning and now only in a severe thunderstorm warning.  I visibly relaxed.  Kennedy slid back to the couch and before she sat down next to me, she unfolded two Mexican blankets and draped them together to throw across us.  I was still wet and on her leather couch.  As I thought about that, I moved to get up.

 "Where are you going Keegan?"  She looked worried.

 "Babe, I am sopping wet still; my clothes are wet and cold and as much as I donít want out of them right now, because it wouldnít be safe around you."  I teased, "I want out of them."  I smiled at her.
 "Oh yea, I hadnít even thought of that."  She grabbed the towel she had used to dry my hair and threw it on the couch.  There was only one small spot that had gotten wet, when we fell, we fell mostly on blankets.  "Letís get comfy...   Would you care if I got you some sweats and stuff?"  She looked for my answer.

 "No Darlin.  That would be nice.  I can get the food you brought here put out and ready if you wanna drag out some dry clothes?  I would really appreciate that Kennedy."  I really did want out of these clothes.... and I really did want to stop while I was ahead.  This was a dangerous woman.  I knew, by far, too little about her and her past relationships, her future goals and her life long ambitions to be sleeping with her on the first date.

 She was gone in a wink and an instant.  I gathered the couple of boxes of crackers and the cheese that she had brought down and went to the wet bar.  I found a knife, a plate and some wine glasses.  There was a bottle of Beaujolais, so I poured us each a glass and cut the cheese and laid it and the crackers out as she came bounding back down the stairs.  She had a genuine little grin on her face as if she had been the cat that just had eaten the canary.

 "What?  You sure have a nice little grin on your face...what did you do?"  I said.

 "Well, look what I found."  She held out a couple of oranges and a mango and a bowl of grapes.  "I love fruit.  I forgot I had it.  I thought you might like it.  I know I would like to feed it to you, if you will let me."

 I didnít know how to react.  Everything was going so fast.  But, I was not threatened at this point and I knew my limits, even though I shuddered at the thought of her kissing me again in the rain.  Whew.  What was I getting myself into? 

 "I think that might be fun Kennedy, but I would like to make myself very clear.  I donít want to sleep with you.  Not now.  I mean...." I began to stammer a bit, "I want to, but I know better and I have values and priorities and, well, and ... why am I trying to talk myself into this?"  I took a deep breath.  "I donít know you as well as I would like to, for that to happen."

 "Good,Ē her reply was quick, "because I donít want to either.  I just wanted to let you know that if you needed relief from the storm, I was willing to come to your aide, Malady."   She flipped her head and brushed past me to the stereo as she handed me the fruit.  

 I placed the fruit on the tray after I cut it up too, and listened as she placed a completely different mode of music on for our "snack".  She came to the wet bar and took my hand in hers as she faced me.  She smiled a shy smile and looked at me again.

 "Donít forget to tell Joan thank you tomorrow.  We would have made love tonight if she wouldnít have called.  And, I didnít want that either.  Remember, I told you that coming tonight might not be a good idea.  I tried to warn you, once you got here and you had your _date_ with might be in trouble."

 "Is that why you didnít want me to come?"  I knew I looked confused, because I was.

 "Yea, I didnít think I could keep my composure the last time we were together, when we went for coffee.  I had to take a cold shower when I got home girl.  What are you thinking?  You placed yourself two feet away from me, your perfume floating up my nose the whole time; You kept touching my leg with yours; Your hands were so delicate and you played with your java cup all night long, I wanted so badly to suck on each and every one of your fingers.  You were making me so wet."  As she said that, she took my hand, under hers, to her stomach.  With her other hand, she undid her buttons on her jeans, one swoop and they were wide open.  Her pants were baggy enough that she guided my hand so quickly inside her jeans and under her panties that I didnít realize what she was doing until it was done.  My hand touched her and she pushed my hand against her so I could feel how wet she was.  "Almost as wet as this."

 She kissed me again.  Oh God!!!  This was going to be a huge challenge.  I couldnít move my hand.  It felt so warm in her pants and she was dripping.  And, so was I.  As if she read my mind, she slid her hand between my legs, not even bothering to open my jeans and pulled up.  I knew that she could tell, we were standing now and I had to be noticeably wet.  The contrast between my cold wet rained upon jeans and where my wetness had warmed them, I am sure she could tell.  As she felt, she kissed me more intensely.  I was throbbing against her hand.  I wanted her hand inside me so bad...but I couldnít.  She pulled her hand away and lifted my hand out of her panties.  What a shit she was!  The grin on her face betraying her intentions.  She had no intention of making love to me, just wanted to tease one last time.

 She still held my hand, and led me to the rug in front of the fireplace.  We had grabbed the wine and the snacks and went to the rug, where we sat down.  It was nice and warm.  She bounded up as quickly as she sat down.

 "Geez, Keegan, you are making me forget things.  Here."  She held up a pair of nylon sweats and a hockey jersey matching the one that was laying there for her to change into.  "Why donít you go over to the restroom and change?  Itís right over there."  She pointed to a door by her studio.

 "Okay.  Thanks."  I jumped up and went into the bathroom, grabbing the clothing on the way.  It felt good to get out of my wet clothes and to change into something warm.  The forest sweats fit pretty good, a little big, but that was okay and the hockey jersey was really comfy.  My clothes were drenched, head to toe.  Even my shoes had been soaked.  I left everything hanging in the restroom to dry, tucking my panties in my jeans pockets.  Hopefully she had a dryer or something that I could use, if not, this would have to do.  When I returned, she was changed and laying on her side on the rug, eating some of the cheese and crackers, waiting for me.  She patted the floor in front of her and I obliged.

 We ate some of the cheese and crackers and she fed me pieces of fruit.  She was very sensual, but refrained from being sexual.  I was glad for that; because I felt no strength of will this evening.  She would have to guide this one in.  I was mesmerized by her charm.  Her wit was so quick that she seemed to always be a step ahead of me.  With her, I was going to have to act and then react.  I had no time to think.  I had to be on the guard all the time.  I would learn and I would practice.  I had never not been in control before...except with my first lover. And she was making me feel the same. 

 It was now 4AM and I was getting very sleepy.  We had been talking about how funny the whole night was.  Kennedy told me how she had this huge crush on me from the first time we had talked.  She had made mention also of my Madame Bovarie costume and the Halloween party and how she had just had a huge fight with Blake.  She went on to say that it was the end of the end with Blake, who had chosen to attend another party, more affluential.  It seemed as if Kennedy wasnít into the "social" scene.  

 "I like my friends for who they are, not who they try to be, ya know Keegan?"  I had nodded in agreement.  She was very down to earth.  I knew that she was now getting exposure as an artist and that her life couldnít be that bad off, because the piece of her work I had purchased went for over $10,000.  I figured that she could at least afford to live.  Her home was very nicely furnished and looked as if she had made it quite well in her profession.  I wondered though...

 "Is it hard being a starving artist?"  I had said I was going to be point blank.... and I was.

 "Well, it would be, if I was starving, but I am lucky, my parents have money. I am taken care of always by a trust that my grandmother set up for me before she passed away when I was 17.  So, I have never had to worry about it.  I have the ability to not have to touch it now, the trust, but there was a time, when I first started out, that I used it to live.  And, I lived quite well, that is how I learned that you got to know who your real friends were.  I got the sham from a couple of my friends and have been weary ever since.  They didnít care who I was, just liked my money.  I hated them for it for a long time.  But, now, I donít have to worry about it.  No one knows I have money."  She had a wicked grin.
 "You just told me.  Doesnít that scare you?  What if I am out for your money?"  I was kidding her, but really wanted to see what her reaction was.

 "You donít love me for my money.... if you did, I would not be here with you.  You have been trying so hard to get next to me.  How long has it been now?  Calling me and testing the water?"  She was terrible.  She had known the whole time.  Her grin was outlandish and so very child like.  "I just knew you were going to give up a couple of weeks ago, but you didnít and now.... you are still here, even though I called you and said not to come tonight.  You came anyway."  It seemed as if she was trying to say something, I just didnít know what.

 "What are you trying to say Kennedy?"  I was pretty serious with my inquiry.

 "I guess I am trying to say, that you passed the tests and now you just have to see if the prize is worth the wait."  She looked at me intensely and leaned over the snacks and kissed me softly.  
 After the kiss, I leaned back on my pillows and scrunched them up in a big wad behind me.  I was half sitting and half lying; I motioned for her to come closer as I moved the plate and my wine glass so she could slide over to me.  I held my arms open for her to come and lay on my shoulder.  She placed her head lightly on my shoulder and we snuggled up close.  I could barely reach a blanket from the couch, but with effort, pulled it to us and covered us up.  I was so much more content in my dry clothes, in front of the fire and her in my arms.  We fell asleep that way.

 I awoke early the next morning, probably only hours after falling asleep.  I looked around, not quite aware of my surroundings.  I recognized the fire immediately and it brought me back to the night prior.  Kennedy still lay asleep in my arms, snoring slightly.  Her lashes were so long, it just amazed me every time I looked at them.  I lay there for some time, watching her sleep and acknowledging that I had actually felt safe with her.  I was not sure about relationships, I had only had one previous attempt and it had gone awry after about nine years.  I was 34 now and had been single for almost four years for the most part.  I had dated very little and was quite content being alone.  But lately, I had an inkling to have a child and it hit me full force that my running from intimacy was not going to help in that department.  I had to make an effort and so, this was going to be a challenge. 

 I crept out from under her arms and made my way up the stairs.  I would fix us breakfast; I hoped she didnít mind.  I found the kitchen pretty easily and even found what would account for an omelet with cheese, mushrooms. olives and salsa; my version of Juevos Ranchero's.  As that was cooking I made some toast and coffee.  Everything sort of sat out in her kitchen.  It was set up quite lavishly.  She had to know how to cook, or someone who used this kitchen did.  It had all the tools for a gourmet chef.  I then made myself a "frothy drink", in her blender, I combined orange juice, frozen strawberries, two bananas and some ice.  I blended it until it was a smooth drink.  As I sipped on it and finished the cooking, I thought about how I looked forward to her waking up. I finished up the breakfast, took a tray I found and loaded it all up.  I couldnít remember if I had seen flowers outside last night, so I opted for folding two paper napkins into roses... something I had learned in my younger bar days.
 I got everything downstairs without spilling, quite an accomplishment I figured.  I laid it all down just in time to hear the phone ring.  It didnít seem to stir Kennedy, so I went to answer it.  It was probably Joan, calling to check on us.  I answered on the fourth ring.

 The voice on the other end was not Joan, "Who the hell are you?"  She said.

 Quite startled and with no time to reply, she said more, "Is my girlfriend there?"  I had no idea who this was and was starting to feel really at a loss here, her girlfriend?  She must mean Kennedy.  But, the voice on the other end continued, "She probably told you we had split up, huh?  She does this shit all the time.  Tell her Blake called and to call me just as soon as she gets done with you.  She loves new toys."  The phone went dead on the other end.

 I stood there with the phone in my hand.  Oh God!!!  It was happening again.  My relationship with Suzanne flew into my mind vividly.  My first relationship started out this way.  Suzanne hadnít told me she was with someone and had started this relationship with me.  Her girlfriend lived in another town, so she was relatively safe, until the first night we made love.  I had been over at her house, all of nineteen years old and we had been watching movies.  After the movies, she had turned on some soft music, poured us wine and we had danced.  It was beautiful; she was the first person I had ever felt this kind of connection with.  I had known her for about two years, but only from school.  We danced and she had kissed me.  It was my first kiss with a woman and it felt so right.  Finally something felt right.  She seduced me right there in the living room.  To all our surprise, her girlfriend came home.  Here we were, butt nekkid on her living room floor, after hours of making love and she walks in.  She beat the holy crud out of Suzanne and I couldnít do anything.  I didnít know whether to help the other woman or save Suzanne, I just stood there, while they swung at each other.  Suzanne ended up leaving with me and for the next six months, we fixed what she tore apart that night.  I had spent nine years with her, when I should have known then she was a cheater.  What the hell?  What had just happened?  Her girlfriend?  I was not doing this again. 

I placed the phone back in its cradle and went into the bathroom.  I retrieved my clothes; ripping off the sweats and hockey jersey she had given me as tears streamed down my face.  I couldnít believe I had been this stupid.  I really liked Kennedy.  Joan and Celia must have been lied to also, we were all fools.  I finished dressing and just left the clothes in a pile on her floor and headed straight upstairs, thanking God that she was still asleep on the floor.  I grabbed my bag and my purse and headed to my car, running to get away from her and her lie.

 My car seat was wet still, but it didnít matter; I flew down the street, retracing my drive last night until I found something familiar.  I was sobbing.  I had tried so hard to allow myself to think about opening up.  It was happening again.  I had been cheated on so many times by Suzanne; she said she couldnít help it, it would just happen and it was nothing more than sex.  And for Blake to say that Kennedy liked new toys.... it sounded just like Suzanne.  I was such a fool.  I sobbed as I remembered how many times I had been told that Suzanne had ruined someoneís relationship when they found out she was my girlfriend.  I couldnít take this again.  I headed for Joan and Celiaís; I didnít think I could make the drive back to Savannah in this condition.

 I pulled up at Joan and Celiaís and got out of my car, my jeans sopping wet again on the backside.  It reminded me of the night before.  The ten minutes of calmness I had just tried to acquire down the tubes, I was sobbing again.  All those years wasted on Suzanne.  Joan must have heard me pull up, because the door opened and she came to the porch.  When she saw that I was crying, she came to me and I fell into her arms.  She was much taller than I was and it felt good to have her strong arms around me.  I cried and cried.  She didnít even try and find out what happened, she just let me.  Celia came out too and got my things from the car and they took me inside.

 That was six months ago, I thought, as my mind drifted back to the day that Celia and Joan comforted me through my crisis relived.  They had taken me inside and made tea with honey and lemon; afraid I would catch a cold from having been out in the rain the night before.  They were motherly and comforting.  We talked the whole afternoon through.  I told them everything.  I had never told anyone else.  I didnít realize how little they knew about me.  They knew that I was a graphic designer for Brustein and Post, the biggest advertising agency in Savannah, but nothing else really.  We considered each other best friends, Joan and I, but she relatively knew nothing about my past.  She knew all the facts for the most part, but none of the emotions I had that went with them.  I was always bouncy and positive, motivated and determined.  I let it all out that day, all the emotions I had held in for all the years of Suzanne and my relationship; which had literally devastated me.  It had been over way before Suzanne decided to play one last time.  She cheated on me with my best friendís girlfriend.  That was it.  My friend, Regina, who was like a sister to me, caught them this time.  She came directly to me, we packed our bags, and we left for Savannah.  We worked together and her uncle worked for Brustein and Post and she got us jobs.  She had stayed about a year in Savannah, but after that had met a woman from California and moved on.  I stayed.  I loved my job and I loved the south.  I had made it my home.  It was good being away from Kansas.  
 Joan and Celia really helped me that day.  At first they didnít believe that Blake was Kennedyís girlfriend still.  They questioned it even when I got ready to leave that afternoon.  Kennedy had called twice, but they shut the machine off and let it go.  Celia said she would talk to her later.  I didnít know why, but I had been completely devastated by that situation.  It really hadnít been that bad.  We hadnít made love and really had done nothing wrong, I hadnít anyway.  I never talked about it to Joan and Celia again.  I had received a number of calls from Kennedy, wondering what happened.  But, I never returned her calls.  I made the girls promise me that they wouldnít say anything to her about me ever again, and Joan had agreed.  She made Celia agree. So, we had left it at that.  I had gotten past it and had even gone and gotten some counseling for the problem.  I had been dating a woman now for about two weeks, sad to say, she did nothing for me, but she treated me well and she was very nice.  It was nothing exciting, but it was fun to do things with her.

 I was working late one evening.  I had a major design due the next week and wanted to leave for the weekend, so what better to do on a Friday night, but to stay in the office and work.  I really didnít feel like being home and having Camille call and want to come over.  It had been exactly six months since my ordeal with Kennedy.  I had thought about her a lot, but knew it was just because she could kiss.  My therapist convinced me it was just sexual yearning, and I bought it.  It was better than thinking something could hurt this much and I had not even gotten into a relationship with the woman.  It was all for the better.

 I finished up about 11 PM and thought I might just go for a cocktail at the lesbian bar down the street.  It seemed like a good thing.  I really didnít want to go home alone tonight, not that I would pick someone up, but just that I didnít have to go home at all until I was tired or or the other.  I opened the door to the closet in my office.  I had made a makeshift closet for myself, because I worked so much, and sometimes I went out right after work.  It was easier than driving all the way across town and then back.  I lived in a secluded section of Savannah, fairly out of the way of the beaten path .  I checked what I had on.  The navy skirt and white blouse just didnít cut it.  I would get hit on if I wore that.  I needed to downsize the femininity real quick.  I chose a pair of khaki shorts,  navy Polo with a white T-shirt and a big pair of white socks under my hiking boots. 

 "That should do it."  My reflection in the mirror coming back fine.  I was ready to go.  I arrived at the bar in less than fifteen minutes, it was 11:30 and things were just beginning to kick.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by Gretchen, my favorite bartender.  She slid down to the end of the bar where I was standing with a big grin.

 "What can I do for you tonight gorgeous?"  She definitely knew how to charm the women.

 "How about my usual?"  I winked and she poured me a glass of Beaujolais.  

 "Everything going okay for you Keegan?"  She was so cute...too bad she had a girlfriend in one sense and in another, I was glad.  I had met her girlfriend and she was the sweetest.

 "Itís just fine Gretchen, thanks for asking."  I smiled as I sipped on my wine.  Usually she charmed me and left; but she surprised me when she leaned over the bar very near to me and whispered.

 "Someone has been in asking about you the last couple of days.  I donít know her so I didnít tell her anything, but she kept asking others too.  She is really cute and looks sane, but you know, you can never tell."  She had a genuine look of concern about her.

 "Who was she Gretchen?  Do you know her?  Have you seen her before?"  I had no idea who it could be.  Most people that knew me knew that I came in here every once in a while, but not on a very regular basis.

 "What did she look like?"  I was very curious now.

 "She had kind of short dark hair, real pretty eyes, she was about...Ē Gretchen stopped talking for a second.  "There she is right there Keegan."  She pointed to the door and I turned to see who my inquisitor was.  My heart lurched.  It was Kennedy.

 "Oh shit Gretchen, is there another way out of here?"  I was already standing and grabbing my purse to walk away.

 "Yea Darlin, come with me."  She moved to the other end of the bar and said to the other bartender as she left, "Becca, I am outta here.  Take care of everything.  If you need help, Linda is out on the dance floor, pull her back here and she will help you out.  Page me if you need me."  And she headed out the end of the bar and grabbed my hand.  It had gotten busy in the bar and she literally dragged me through the crowd and out a back set of doors, through an office area and out to the alley.  Once outside I breathed a little easier.  I had no idea why Kennedy was looking for me.  I hadnít been to Atlanta since that day and I hadnít planned to go back for a while.  Joan and Celia had rented out their house four months ago and headed to Europe on Sabbatical and so there was no reason for me to go down any longer.
 "Spill it Darlin.  Do I need to call for help here or are we fairly safe?"  She was serious.  I laughed.

 "Itís okay, just had a bad experience with her, she forgot to tell me she had a girlfriend."  I shrugged my shoulders and acted as if it were nothing, which at this point, it really wasnít anything.

 "Well, I have friends inside, we can get them in a moments notice and get you out of here, we do it all the time.  I canít believe the number of psycho bitches there are these days.  I still remember my dating years.  I am so glad to be married."  She grinned, and I knew she was truly in love with her wife.  

 The back door slammed open and Kennedy came running out it, almost running me over.  She caught me before she knocked me over.

 "Keegan, stop and listen to me before you run.  Shit, I have been trying to find you for months.  What happ ... ď All I heard was a crack as Gretchenís fist hit Kennedy square in the jaw.  Kennedy reeled forward to the ground.  Gretchen knocked her out.  I just stood there.  I shook my head to clear it.  

 "Geeez, Gretch, I donít think you had to hit her?  Did you?"  I was dazed.

 "Well, she came at you so fast, I didnít know if she had a weapon or what, I throw punches and ask questions later Darlin.  ARMY training pays off sometimes.  Get them where you want them and then you can talk to them.  Letís get her inside and clean her up.  I hear I hit like a linebacker."  She winked again and it was funny.  And, it wasnít like Kennedy didnít deserve a good crack in the head.  I had wanted to do it on occasion myself.  We lifted Kennedy up and put her arms over our shoulders.  She was out cold.  

 "God, Gretchen, is she gonna be okay?"  I was really concerned, Kennedy wasnít budging.

   "She should be honey, letís get her in here, into my office, and I will take care of her."  We got her inside and into the office, without anyone seeing.  We put her on the couch; you could already see her jaw swelling up.  "Let me go get some ice, shit I hit hard."  She said it with a sense of bragging regret.  

 Kennedy looked so helpless laying there out cold.  I didnít really know what to do.  I had tried so hard not to think of her for so many months and here she was, looking for me.  What could she possibly want with me now?  Was she wanting to apologize or make me agonize more?  I touched her jaw and she flinched a bit.  At least she was alive.  She started to stir a bit and then came flying up off the couch, knocking me back a bit.  I had been sitting on the couch with her.  She was ready to battle, just a little late.

 "What the hell happened, Keegan?  Who hit me?"  She was looking around.  There was just the two of us.  I started to tell her what happened, but her kiss muffled my words.  She kissed me fully; I tried to get away, to push her off me.  I half hoped that Gretchen would come back in and kick her ass again, but she didnít.  She released my lips as I pushed her back.

 "I know you did NOT just kiss me."  I was furious.

 "Oh, yes I did.  And, I will do it again."  She leaned towards me and being a quick thinker, I slapped her jaw where Gretchen had just hit her.  She fell back on the couch again, laying there holding her jaw, her eyes visibly watering.  Gretchen walked back in the door just as she fell.

 "Well, and I was worried about you being in here alone with her."  She was laughing as she handed Kennedy the ice by tossing it on her stomach.  It was a pretty big bag and I heard her grunt as it landed.  She was a mess.  What did she want?  "Are you okay, Keegan?  I can take her back outside and beat the shit out of her if you want me to.  I havenít had this much fun in a long time." 
She was chiding Kennedy, but her laughter rang through the room and I had to smile with her.

 "No, I think I can handle myself, can you leave us for a minute?"  I asked.

 "Sure Keegan, just yell if you need me, I will be across the hall.  I need to get some things for up front anyway.  Might as well do it now.  I will be nearby Miss Thang.  Donít try anything stupid.  I will gladly kick your little ass for her."  She left us alone.

 Kennedy was quick to comment first, "I am so confused Keegan.  What happened?  Why did you leave my house that morning?  I woke up and you were gone.  There was a tray of food, for two, I might add and your clothes were gone and you were gone and I donít get it.  Nobody will talk to me about it.  Itís like you were a ghost and all I had was a phone number.  Which you changed I take it.  I tried to call and tried to call.  After the first couple of weeks it said your number was no longer in service.  What happened?"  She looked so hurt.  Her eyes were full of pain.  I didnít understand.  She had to know that Blake called.

 "I am sure Blake told you all about it Kennedy."  I watched for her reaction.

 She had a dumbfounded look.  "Blake?  What does Blake have to do with this?"

 "She called while you were sleeping."  That is all I said.

 "Oh shit Keegan, what did she say?  She is such a bitch.  I wish she would leave me alone.  She canít stand it that I moved on and her relationship didnít work out.  She has ruined my life lately.  She had my gallery showing closed and got two of the women she works with to slam my medium enough that two people returned pieces.  I am sick about this.  Keegan, please tell me what she said,Ē she grabbed for my hands and really looked sincere, "please Keegan."

 I took a deep breath and began to explain the conversation.  I told her everything right up to the end of the phone conversation.  She had tears in her eyes.  

 "You werenít a toy to me.  I had been split from Blake for over six months Keegan.  She fell in love with someone else.  I loved her and she is such a wreck."  She started crying.  "I never thought I would see you again.  I have been coming up to Savannah for two months trying to find you on the weekends.  Joan and Celia wouldnít tell me anything.  Celia finally told me to just leave you alone and that all would be better.  Why didnít she tell me what happened Keegan?  I could have explained."  She was sobbing now.  I had tears too.  There is no way someone could lie this well.  Had Blake really done this to hurt her?  It did make sense, especially if Blake wanted her back.  I put my arms around her and held her while she cried.  I had liked her so much and she hadnít ever been anything but polite to me.  Even that night, she could have made love to me if she wanted, I would not have stopped her, but she didnít.

 "Why didnít you make love to me that night at your house?"  She calmed herself enough to answer, taking deep breaths and holding me close, but pulling her head back from me so she could see. 

 "Because I wanted a chance at a relationship.  I could have sex with anyone; I liked you enough to respect you.  I knew you would let me, even though you were fighting it.  Joan told me how much you liked me, so I cheated and teased you just to make sure.  I just wanted to be close to you at first, I thought there was plenty of time.  I was wrong."  Tears slid off her lashes and I kissed them away.  "If I prove to you that Blake was lying, can I have another chance, Keegan?  Please?"  She was quite sincere.  I wasnít even sure I needed proof, she was pretty convincing. I sat and thought about it for a moment.

 "Yea.  But how are you going to do that?"  I might need to hear it.

 "Hold on.  I can do it.  Give me two minutes."  She went to the desk phone and dialed in a ton of numbers and finally got someone on the other end.  "Blake, itís me.  I want you to do something for me and I mean do it right.  No lying this time.  I just found out what happened with Keegan.  Did you think I would never find out?"  She sounded mad as a hornet, but calm within herself.  "Okay, I donít want to hear it, tell her.... hold on while I get her."  She handed me the phone.

 I got up and took the phone.  "Hello."  I wasnít quite sure how to handle this.

 "Keegan, I am sorry.  That day when I called; I was just playing at first, until I realized that you really were there for a different reason.  I was a bitch and Kennedy will make me pay dearly.  I am sorry.  She and I are not together and havenít been since I left her eight months ago for someone else."  I hung the phone up without saying anything.  I didnít care if Blake was pissed or not.  I walked the two steps to Kennedy, so close that we touched, but didnít touch her with my hands. 

 I looked her square in the eyes and said, "What do you want from me Kennedy?"

 She kissed me more passionately than ever before, even the night in the rain.  It told me all I need to know.

©St.Charles 1-2000


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