Passion Play
by Gabrielle St. Charles


The Kiss

 The crack of the bat resounded in the booth.  The batting cages were new this year, novel idea, inside cages.  I had to get this anger out.  Where could I have gotten the idea that she loved me?  CRACK... the ball flew to the end of the cage with such fury.  I used to hit balls when I was young, when my mom would piss me off.  Today I was ending a relationship for myself.  In my heart.  I had done it in my mind months prior.  I had left my girlfriend five months prior, I had moved out, when I didn’t want to.  I had done the right thing.  How come she wasn’t out of my life?  The ball slid past me, I didn’t even swing.  I had cried and cried and cried.  I was sick of crying, whining and moping around.  I was sick of wanting her to come wrap her arms around me and comfort me, it was her who caused it.  Where was my head?  Why couldn’t my heart catch up?  I smashed ball after ball after ball, waiting for my heart to heal.  Like somewhere there was an instant healing through this release of anger and yet, I couldn’t find it.  The tears began to stream down my face.  I began to swing the bat harder and harder and even began to miss the ball at times.  I had been a collegiate athlete, never missing hits as easy as these.  It infuriated me further.  The tears began to sting as they hit my eyes.  Just then, the pitching misfired, it hit me square in the thigh. 

 “SHIT!!!!!!!!!!  Fuck me.”  I looked down to see my thigh swelling immediately.  Great, I thought, what luck.  My tears were now combined with the pain of knowing I didn’t even see it coming.  I dropped my bat and went to the cement wall that made the edge of the cage behind me and leaned my arms against it, folded, and let go.  I sobbed.  I didn’t care who saw, I just let it out.  The dam burst and it was free to flow, who was I to stop it?  I laid my head against my arms and released the built up emotions of the last yeahr.  I had not been in a good relationship; I knew that.  I wailed at the thought of my own actions.  My staying when I should have said fuck it all and gone away.  

 My hair fell down against my arms and covered me like a protective barrier.  I knew the cages had open ends, meaning people could see, but it didn’t matter, I had no pride left.  That I knew.  After about ten minutes of crying, I composed myself enough to reach down and grab my bat, my bag and take my things and go.  I left the arena and moved to the parking lot.  I got into my car, tossing the bag and bat in the back seat.  I revved up the engine and slammed it into first gear, the tires spitting gravel as the car slid into action.  Why didn’t I feel any better?  I was still sobbing, that hiccupping sound, I smiled at the thought.  What a mess I must look?  I rarely went anywhere without full mascara and eyeliner at the very minimum and today I had just jetted out the door.  I knew I needed a release and I hadn’t found one.  I had driven forty-five minutes to find this new arena, where they had indoor batting cages.  It was 20 degrees outside; I wasn’t tempting fate.  I didn’t want pneumonia.  

 “Oh shit.” I audibly remember that I had left my jacket hanging on the door to the cage.  I hoped no one had stolen it.  It was a nice jacket, my favorite.  I turned my car around, the royal purple Mercedes coupe slicing through traffic and headed back to the arena.  I hadn’t gotten but a couple of blocks away.  Saturday traffic was such a pain.  I could see that the parking lot of the arena was a lot busier than when I had arrived the first time, three hours ago.  I had walked around, checked out everything and finally a cage had opened up.  I really hoped no one had stolen my jacket.  

I pulled right up to the door of the arena and parked my car.  I had always taken such great care with my car.  The Mercedes had been my gift to myself two years ago.  I had solely landed the second largest screen printing account in the nation.  I had produced it, designed, and marketed it alone.  I had started my company two years prior, and had lost everything.  One of my clients couldn’t pay me; I lost everything.  In life you take risks.  I had risked and lost.  When I met Kay, I had a new burst of hope.  She had come along in the worst part of my financial disaster.  For some reason, I had pulled myself together and moved a few months later to where she lived, the same city.  I had started a new retail store with money from selling my Mazda.  I had a truck and a car, the Mazda, and I sold the Mazda to start the company.  It wasn’t a bad idea, and it actually worked.  I went through some trying times, but seemed to pull out of it.  Then, out of the blue, I had landed this huge account.  I had partnered with a gentleman in Atlanta and we had, together the ability to do anything.  I got the account, got myself out of debt and bought myself the Mercedes. 

I thought about the great feeling I had had when I landed that account.  It had finalized my intentions of self, the pulling me back together.  The Lord gave me the gift and I tried to use it wisely, to make wise choices in its allocation.  I had started the store, but hadn’t had the money to adequately supply it.  The first thing I did, was bring it to a level I had dreamed of.  Then I supported two of the community service projects and then I bought the Mercedes.  I smiled at the thought of the day I walked into the car lot that I had tried to buy a vehicle the year prior.  I plopped down in the sales managers office.  He had been the rudest man I had ever met, upon seeing my credit report.  He literally told me that their company was not willing to even look at my purchasing the piece of crap I had chosen to get me by.  What a fool.  It was like out of the movie, Pretty Woman.  I had walked in, sat down, asked about a car.  He didn’t remember me.  I said why don’t you pull up a credit report so I know how much I can spend.  He did.... and I, knowing his response, laughed my ass off when he looked back up at me from the computer report.  I bet he wondered what I was laughing at.  His face becoming hard and challenging, he said, I am sorry we can’t seem to work with you.  My answer was, Okay, of course.  I then asked for a phone book.  He handed it to me and I looked up the number to the lot across the street where I had stopped before coming in.  I dialed the number from my cell phone.  I asked for a salesman, the one I had spoken to, and my words were simple.  I stared at the man across the desk from me and said, “I will take the car, the royal purple Mercedes, that I looked at a few moments ago.  How much will you take, cash?”  That man pissed his pants right there.  I could see it in his eyes.  I thanked him for his time, and said....”Oh yeah, you told me you couldn’t work with me last year too.  I was sort of offended then.  But, not anymore.”  I knew my blue eyes sparkled as I walked out and went across the street, waving as I drove off in my Mercedes.

“Well, that sure is a change of attitude.”  A voice from directly behind me, soft and sweet, drifted by my ear.  “I saw you crying.  This is a pleasant difference.”

I turned to see an amazing sight.  She was blonde and her skin was the purest ivory I had ever seen.  Her soft green eyes were smiling as she reached out her hand, while clad in my jacket.  I shook her hand as she said, “Hi, my name is Brody.”

“Hi there.”  I knew I was a wreck, I had better think fast.  “I’m Becca.  Nice jacket you have there.”

She giggled, the sweetest sound.  Such comfort to me as it blessed me.  “You like it?”  She was modeling it now for me, doing the drama queen imitation of a runway model.  She lifted her hands up the jacket front, showing me it’s true value as she grinned.  

“I do.  I like it enough to have purchased it.  It is similar to my favorite.”  I was being coy but polite, amusing myself highly.  And wondering where this woman came from.  She had balls.  She was femme and beautiful, and had quite a sense of humor, so it seemed.

“I found it on the door after you left.  I thought maybe I might grab it up before someone stole it, hoping you might come back for it.  I asked the guy who took the money for the cages if he knew you, but he didn’t.  I put it on, I hope you don’t mind?”  She looked genuinely concerned as she was slipping off my jacket.  I noticed how the contrast of the navy blue nylon with gold trim looked against her blonde hair highlighted her hair even more, and it was striking.  She was handing me the jacket.

I nodded thanks as I took the jacket, almost feeling guilty taking it, because it looked better on her.  My dark hair and blue eyes looked good in it, but she looked great. “Why don’t you wear it for a bit, if you want?”  It just slipped out of my mouth, before I knew what I had said and I was handing her the jacket back.

“Sure.  Thanks, it’s very cold in here. And, I did forget mine today.”  She had a gray sweatshirt on, the kind you wear for a real workout, it was holy and old, it looked really comfortable.  “And, I had wanted to talk to you.”  She looked away from me as she said that.

“Huh?”  I didn’t understand, and even though I couldn’t catch her eyes with mine, she started to speak again, “Well, aren’t you Becca Taylor?”  

She softly looked up a bit under her lashes.  She was as tall as I, at 5’8, but was a bit bigger than I.  She seemed to be shy at that point.  And it sort of took me off guard.

“Yeah.  I am.  How did you know?”  I didn’t have any idea where she might have gotten my name.  I had lived here only two years, and really didn’t have much of a social life, other than my store.

“Well, you own the store downtown, in Old Dominion Square, don’t you?”  She looked at me once again, a beautiful light in her eyes, one that drew me in. She was soft, but there was something about her familiar.  Her hair caught my eye, it was golden, with ivory streaks, it was wavy and soft; it glistened in the light of the arena.  Her hair fell softly on the back of the jacket, about the middle of her back.  She tilted her head, waiting for a reply from me and sort of flipped it from the front to the back, as if it was bugging her that I was looking at it.

Embarrassed, I said, “Yeah.  That is mine.  How did you know?”  I knew I had been staring and now I was very self-conscious.   I was also wondering how she knew about me.  “How can I help you?”  I felt my voice and my attitude, my whole demeanor slide into work mode.  Geez, I thought, how could I be so stupid.  What was I doing here?  Oh yeahh, I had to get my jacket, the one I just offered for her to wear.  

“Help me?” she laughed.  “You can’t help me.  I just wanted to know if you wanted to go to dinner sometime?”  She was cracking up.  Her whole face lightened.  She was laughing at me.

My face bright red with embarrassment, I said, “What?  Um, I, uh …” Jesus Becca, I thought, get your shit together here.  “I would like that.”  Finally I stammered out a reply.  

She moved close enough for me to smell her Ralph Lauren Romance perfume and it was nice.  My senses jetted forward.  She leaned in real close to me, her hair touching my cheek as she whispered in my ear, on her tip-toes to get close enough without touching me anywhere but her hand on my shoulder, “I know Jill.  She said you were here today; I came here to find you and ask you out.  Don’t look so shocked.  I didn’t just say...oh my, look at the dyke there, I think I will ask her out.”  She pulled back and I could see the laughter in her eyes.  She was highly amused here. 

I must have had the blankest look on my face.  Here I was, a business owner and prominent figure in the community and I prided myself on not being a “dyke”, so to speak, and this beautiful woman was asking me out.  I was a bit surprised.  I felt myself relax a little and get my wits about me.  Jill was my housemate; she had been living with me while she went to college.  She was straight and much younger than I, and had been my friend for some time.  She had worked for me and had heard all about my relationship with the “rat bastard”, as we so kindly referred to her.  It made a little more sense to me.  And, she was right; I had been thinking to myself, how in the world did she know that I was a lesbian to ask me out from seeing me here.   All the sudden it hit me, I had been crying in the batting cage, looked a wreck and had no makeup on.  I had to get out of here.  I must have looked as panicked as I felt.

“What’s wrong, Becca?”  She was soft and sweet as she touched my shoulder again, looking me square in the eye.

“Oh, well, I don’t know.”  I had to stall for some time here.  “I am sure that I had not counted on meeting someone here today.  Would you mind if I gave you my number and jetted?  I have to get down to the store.  They were expecting me.”  I had to get away from her before she saw any more of my crap.

“Not a problem.  Here let me get something to write on.”  She was gone in a flash.   I felt my hands go immediately to my hair, and try and brush through, but it was tangled.  I couldn’t get my fingers through it, I had driven with my window down and it must have tangled then.  I wiped my eyes with my finger to remove the trace of any tears and licked my lips, biting gently to get some color.  What a mess I must be.  She was back in no time.

“Here ya go, Hon.” She was at ease and gentle.  Handing me a piece of paper, I saw her numbers and name written down.  She handed me a pen and another piece of paper and turned around, “You can use my back, if you like?”

“Sure.  Thanks.”  I did as I was told and wrote down my number to the store, home and my cell phone.  I handed her the paperback and moved a bit so that we were face to face again.  “Here ya go.  I’m gonna run now.  Thanks a lot.  It was nice to meet you.”  And, I was outta there like a flash.  I nearly ran as I tried to get away from Brody.  I was back in my car and down the highway about two miles before I remember, I left my jacket again.  

“Holy-Moly.”  What had I been thinking I thought, as I hit the steering wheel with my fist.  That was my favorite jacket.  It was my Michigan jacket, my dressiest jacket and why had I given it back to her?  I wasn’t thinking clearly.  I really was a mess.  My cell phone rang.  “Oh great.”  I once again was talking to myself.  “Hello, this is Becca.”  I had my work voice on, expecting to hear my store clerk with a new and bolder problem.  They were the only ones that had my cell number and knew better than to give it out.

“Hey, Becster.  What the hell are you doing?  I just got a call from Brody Jordan.  What in the world is going on?  Are you okay?  She said you were crying and that you freaked on her, that she asked you to dinner and you ran away.  What is wrong …  I am worried about you?”  Jill was a character.  For the first time today, I felt safe.   She was safe.

“Hey, Darlin’, I am fine.  I just was releasing some tension and she found me at the new batting cages.  I had a breakdown.  I just can’t get a grip lately.  I cried in the cages.  I am so embarrassed.  Who the hell is Brody Jordan?”  I was finally back to myself.  Who was this girl?

“You don’t know who Brody Jordan is?”  Jill’s sounded shocked.
“No, who is she?”  I said, mocking Jill, because I really didn’t know who she was.

“Brody Jordan is the single-most sought after lesbian in the state of Alabama.  She moved here last summer and was seeing Judy Jackson, the state representative.  Tell me you know who she is?”  Jill seemed impatient at my lack of recall.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.  Who is Judy Jackson?”  I asked.

“You kill me, Becca.  There is no hope for you.”  Jill was cracking up.  She thought this was hilarious.  First some girl at the arena laughs at me, now Jill?  What was this, pick on me day?

“Okay smart-ass …  I don’t know who she is, but she is cute.”  I said it with flair.  She was cute.  She was very cute.  I started to think what a fool I must have made of myself.  “Oh God, Jill, did I blow it?”

Jill postponed answering.  She let a long silence drag out dramatically, before she said, “You have to be kidding?  She has been in the store three times this week; you were gone every time.  She has called here five times, and talked to me.  Today I gave up and told her to catch you at the cages.  I am sorry if it didn’t work out like she planned.  She seemed relatively heart broken at the fact that you hated her.  She called here just now and was a mess.  She said you must not be interested and that to forget telling you what she told me to tell you about her asking you out, how she has watched you from afar for three months.  Get on the phone and call this poor girl.  Please …” She pleaded with me to get my shit together.

“Is she worth it Jill?  You know how I feel about all this.  I don’t think I can do it again.  I am not looking for anyone.  I don’t wanna hurt anyone again.”  I said it as simply as I could.  Jill knew what I had been through and knew how I felt.

“OH bullshit!!!!  YOU don’t want to get hurt.  It has nothing to do with you hurting anyone else.  You don’t want to take the chance.  I have had this girl on the phone more this week than I care to think possible.  I know enough about her, from talking to her while you were gone, that if I were a lesbian, I would date her.  She is great.  What does she look like?  Because if she is anything like she sounds … what in the world are you waiting for?  What do you want; I can go get her and put a big ribbon on that what you need?  God gives you gifts when you need them most.  And, quite frankly, Becca, I am tired of seeing you unhappy.  I know you love you, you are a great friend and you are a mess.  You need to get laid.”  She was laughing her ass off at this attempt at being a comedienne.  So she wanted play this game … I was up for it.

“Well, since you like her so much, why don’t you call her?”  I was now cracking up.

“Oh yeah, Jimmie would love that.”  Her voice softened.  “Hon, take a chance, she really likes you.  And she knows Julie and Susan, they have talked you up plenty, so she knows all about the illness.  Try and do this for me, if nothing else.”  She trailed off and I knew what she was asking.

“Are you sure Jill?”  I said it with tears in my eyes.  I had an illness that was devastating to my life, and I had been rejected from the last relationship, not because I was a bad person or a terrible girlfriend, but because I was sick and no fun.  It had stabbed me like a knife, to know that I was defective.  I rarely told anyone about it, unless they were very close to me.  And, apparently the girls told her.  I loved the girls, they were good friends to me, but I was going to beat their asses; it wasn’t something I wanted everyone to know.  But, I knew they were trying to help, Susan’s ex girlfriend had the same illness as I did and she understood.  She had dealt with it for eleven years.  

She had taken me aside one time and told me that she would help me in anyway that she could and that it would be okay.  I knew I had a good friend.  She was a person that some never knew if she liked them.  But, she told me one time, straight out, “I like you.”  So, I never had to worry about it.  If they thought she was okay, I guess I could give it a try. 

“Okay sugar.  I am going to call her sometime and apologize.”  I knew it was the right thing to do.

“No, go one step further than that.  She told me that if you wanted to talk to meet her at her house, she was on her way home.  She lives just up the highway from the arena.  The address is 23989 N. Pendelton.  Do you know where that is?”  Jill was being very polite, but firm.

“Jill,” I pleaded ...not wanting to do this, “I know where it is, but I have on workout clothes, no makeup and no perfume...”  

Jill broke into my speech, “Hey, I know what you look like.  I saw you when you left.  You look like shit.  There is a mall right there, isn’t there?”

I looked around and tried to figure out how far I was from the mall.  It wasn’t far at all, maybe a couple blocks.  “Yeah, there is.  Are you thinking what I am thinking?”  I laughed.

“Yeah, treat yourself.  Go get something to wear, tidy up in restroom and buy some makeup for God’s sake, you scum-ball.”  We were both laughing.

“Okay...I am on my way.”  I had a smile on my face.  I hung up the phone and decided this might be fun.  I turned right and then left and into the mall parking lot, maybe three minutes had passed.  I grabbed the paper that Brody had given me and settled into my seat, trying to relax as I shut off the engine.  I dialed Brody’s number at home.  Exhaling, I waited for her to answer, still hoping maybe she wouldn’t be there and I wouldn’t have to do this.

“Hello.”  Brody’s voice was different, much sexier than I had remembered, almost southern.  And for a southern woman to say someone sounded southern, oh my....

“Hi, may I speak to Brody please, Becca Taylor calling.”  I wanted to sound professional and cool, not retarded like I had before.

“Hi Becca, it’s Brody.  I am so sorry about this awful disaster, I didn’t mean any harm, really.”  She was apologizing to me?  Wow, I was stunned.  She had no reason to apologize.  I was an ass.

“It’s not your fault.  I had a really cruddy morning and you caught me off guard.”  I was now feeling a bit better, she sounded as troubled as I was.  “You have nothing to apologize about, promise.  Rather, I actually called to apologize to you.”  I was laughing softly and could hear her doing the same.

“Well, Becca, can we just start over?  You hang up and let me get myself together and then I will call you right back.  Is that a deal?  I am on the other line and need to finish up and then I will call you right back.”  She sounded genuinely sincere.

“Sure.  I can live with that.”  I said it and laughed a bit.  She hung up and so did I.  

That was that then.  Whew, at least that was done and I could shop now.  I got out of the car, grabbing my bag as I went so that I had purchasing power and walked lightly into the mall, humming as I went.  A dramatic change in attitude I would say.

In the mall, I headed for Dylan and Co.  It was my favorite store.  I could buy what I liked, Polo/ Ralph Lauren.  I would dress in it everyday, if I didn’t have to wear what was sold in my store.  Sometimes it got old, being 35, and wearing university apparel all the time.  So, I went back and forth.  Today was a day to play.  I had said I was going to release some tension.  I loved to shop and this might just do it, that and the pretty girl with my jacket.  The thought made me smile.  So much so, that an enthusiastic salesgirl came to my aide.

She gave me the speel and I just looked her straight in the eye, “Are you on commission?” 

 She nodded in affirmation and I said, “Well, good...let me see what I can do for you today.”  

I was pleasant, but knew that she was shocked.  She instead, broke out into a grin and her eyes said let’s do it.

While we were looking at bra and panty sets, the cell phone rang again.  This time I expected Brody on the other end.  “Hi there, this is Becca.”

“Hi Becca, it’s Brody.  How are you?”  She was playing like we hadn’t spoken before.  I motioned to my sales girl to take about six items back to a dressing room, while I looked some more.  I did know how to shop.  My dressing room would be full before I entered it, and my sales girl would fetch whatever I needed.   I fashioned my store after my own shopping and did this on a daily basis for my clients.  When they came in, I would size them up.  I would make sure I knew what they were looking at and would give them tons to try on, if they were willing to try things on, if not, I laid them on a display table and told them that they were more things that they might like.  I increased my sales accordingly.  As I spoke to Brody my sales girl and I selected items.  After about a half hour, bantering back and forth on the phone and selecting, I entered the dressing room.

“Brody, hold on a sec, please.”  I laid the phone down and undressed so I could try on my clothes.  I picked the phone and resumed the conversation.  We had spoken of her job; she was a graphic artist with a major firm.  She had moved here in June and was getting used to the newness of the city.  She was 28, had grown up in Georgia and the move to Alabama was dastardly to her family name.  They were very devout Catholics and her being a lesbian was bad enough, let alone the move to the “hills”.  I had told her that I had grown up in Kentucky, in a small town and had moved to Alabama to go to school.  I had stayed and had enjoyed it.  I had moved here, an hour from where I went to school, because I had been dating my ex and wanted to be with her.
“Thanks for waiting.  I am sorry, I am trying to do too many things at one time.”  I hadn’t told her I was at the mall.

“Not a problem.  I was just thinking that maybe we could get together later and do something.  Do you think that sounds okay?” She waited only a second before replying again, “Oh, wait, that is assuming you don’t have plans.  You probably have plans already.  I am sorry again.  I really am making this ugly.”  She sounded so pathetic.  I was smiling.

“Brody, I am not doing anything today or tonight.  Are you free?”  I tried to be a calming to her as possible.

“Yeah,” she sighed in relief, “I’m free.  What would you like to do?”

“That’s up to you, you name it.  I have not done anything fun for so long, what would you like to do?”  I really had no idea about what she enjoyed and didn’t want to suggest something that might not be satiating for her; it WAS our first date.  All the sudden my thinking changed.  I had been so laid back with all this since we started talking and I shopping, that it hit me.  I was just talking about dating someone.  I refused to lose my composure here.  Jill had said it would be okay...and it would.

“Would you like to come over?  I could make dinner and we could watch some movies.  I have quite a selection, I am sure we could find something that we haven’t seen.  I buy them and never take the time to watch them.  I am not into watching movies alone.  I have seen the first twenty minutes of everything, then I fall reluctantly asleep, without fail.”  She was laughing softly again.

“I know what you mean, I fall asleep during movies all the time.  That sounds fine to me.  How should I dress and when do you want me there?”  I was trying not to strangle myself trying on a shirt as I spoke to her.  She had to think I was a grunt, as much as I was moving around and moving the phone, while I tried on each outfit.

“Well, I will run out to the grocers and be ready in ... say an hour.  Sound good?”  

“That sounds great.  I am near by, just have to tidy up and change and I will be there.”  We said our goodbyes and were done.  

I finished shopping and moved to the cosmetics counter for a quick once-over.  I looked in a mirror and saw what a mess I truly was.  My hair was disheveled, my eyes were swollen from crying and red, and my jewelry was at home.  I looked at my sales girl and said, “I have a date and I stopped by here to get ready.”  I was laughing hard now and so was she.  What a dork.

“That is so cute.  Let me help you.”  She disappeared behind a counter and popped back up with facial wipes and hair gel, even some body foam and a curling iron.  She smiled brilliantly, as if she were my cohort in crime.  I loved it.

“Thanks a ton.”  She and I got everything together and I came out satisfactory when I looked in the mirror.  Even the tangles in my hair were gone and it was once again, smooth and in place.  I had chosen six outfits and accessories to boot.  The sales girl rang me up and out the door I went.  Her face was beautiful when she was handing me back my change, and extra forty dollars and I denied taking it and blew her a kiss and walked away.

The drive was eventful.  I slid in a CD and listened to someone sing me a love song.  For the first time in a long time, I actually had some faith; maybe, just maybe someone would find me worthy of companionship.  It had been such a mess recently; I was making myself nervous now.  I had no idea why I was doing this.  I was, by far, too insecure to do anything, but I could make a good friend.  That is what I would do.  She didn’t want anything more anyway, and how could she know about the illness?  She couldn’t know enough to want to handle it.  So, I would just have fun.

I pulled into her drive.  It was a drive up, wrap around drive, with gravel and great greenery along side.  I admired the way her yard was cared for and the expanse of it.  The house had to sit on at least five acres.  As I pulled closer to the house, I noticed the house.  I am not that easily impressed, but the house was beautiful.  It was right out of Mansion Magazine.  It had to have at least fifty rooms.  It sat so far back from the road that you wouldn’t really know it was that big, unless you got up the drive.  I pulled up to the front of the house and was met by a nice man, the valet I assumed, who asked for my keys.  I began to feel out of place here.  The valet took my Mercedes and parked it in a drive a mere twenty yards away and motioned that he was putting the keys on a pegboard nearby.  I nodded approval and walked up the walkway to the front door.  

The house was a turn-of-the-century Shingle Style manor house complete with Porte Cochere, a roofed structure extending from the entrance of the building over an adjacent driveway providing shelter those getting in or out of vehicles and stone-columned porch.  I rang the bell.  I hadn’t time to be nervous; she answered the door herself.

With a beautiful smile, she answered, “Hi Becca.”  She stepped back a tiny bit and looked me up and down, blatantly.  

I laughed a bit self-conscious.  

“You look great Becca.”  She was admiring me, and I mean shamelessly.  

I had chosen a pair of black slacks, cut loosely in the legs and falling on black and cream loafers with tassles, a cream colored ribbed knit long sleeved, v-neck shirt, showing a little cleavage; and a black jacket.  The jacket was unbuttoned, cut to my waist and hung just at the tight fitting slacks waistband.  My hair was shoulder length and I had combed it until it shone.  It was dark brown with reddish tints and had peppered gray throughout, but hadn’t yet started to gray in any one place.  My lashes were magnified with black mascara and I had applied a dark blue, almost midnight, liner to enhance my ocean blue eyes.  I had been complimented on my eyes my whole life, I knew they were attractive.  I didn’t know much about me, but I knew that.  I had taken a matching set of necklace and earrings, both simple, yet elegant.  The necklace was a mere 16” gold chain and the earrings were simple gold hoops. 

“Well, thank you for the kindness.  Thank you for inviting me.”  I said as she motioned me into the foyer.  

It was grandeur, the house.  It was everything you ever wanted to see in a mansion.  I was thinking I was out of my league here.  She was dressed impeccably.  Her blonde hair was put up in a French roll, and her outfit showed her lovely curves.  She had on a long flowing green skirt with a navy and green sweater.  She had no shoes on.  She looked comfortable and relaxed.  “I love the house,” I said as we moved through a very long hallway, passing extravagant living rooms and a formal dining room.  There had to have been three libraries before we got to the destination that Brody had chosen.  

We entered a room, it was a living area, filled with pillows and plush furniture.  Off the main hallway was the entry door, but there were two other doors opposite, that Brody walked directly to and opened.  As she threw open the doors, I could see a master bedroom suite.  She turned around to face me after opening them and walked back to where I was standing in the middle of the room.

“What movie would you like to watch?”  Brody moved to a cabinet and opened it up to reveal a big screen TV and a fashionable collection of movies.  I walked up beside her and watched as she selected a couple of her favorites, “These are my favorites, I didn’t know if you had seen them, but I thought I would at least give you an idea.”

I looked at the titles and knew relatively nothing about them.  I chose one that looked funny and light, as far as the cover could tell anyway.  She wasn’t big on words, and she just slid the movie into the TV.  I was sort of taken aback.  Yikes, let’s just get to the movie.  She backed out of the cabinet and took my hand, which made me jump slightly.

“Are you okay, Becca?”  She must have noticed that I jumped when she touched me.  Her hand slid into mine very easily, but it was making me uncomfortable.  I hadn’t been on a date in a very long time, and I was starting to think I might not like this.  I had sort of planned on a dinner and then a movie.

“Yeahh, I am fine.  I just,” I stammered a bit, “I, um, I just caught me off guard.”  I was semi-regaining my composure as she laughed.  “I am not very good at this, what ever it is.”  Now I was laughing. 

She leaned forward and kissed my cheek, leaving me speechless.  “I am sorry if I caught you off guard, Becca.  I like you and I thought you knew that?”  Her eyes were questioning me now.  We stood a mere two inches apart, when she had turned around; she had placed herself directly in front of me.  My hands were starting to sweat where hers were touching mine; she had now grabbed both.  

“Well,” I spoke very softly, no need for volume, she was right there. “I don’t know you at all, and it’s odd that I am here.  I feel a bit out of place.”  I was trying to be as honest as possible.  She must have been a good five years younger than my 35, and she was definitely not angelic I was assuming at this point.  

“Well, you shouldn’t feel out of place here, it’s just a big ole house, and there is nothing to fear here.”  She spoke matter-of-factly as she moved to the side, pulling me with her to a couch that sat about ten feet in front of the TV.  She sort of dumped me on the couch and then smiled as she spoke, “I will be right back.  The butler should be bringing in dinner anytime.  Don’t start without me, it is something special I made for us.”  She was grinning from ear to ear.

I had to smile a little; at least her giving me a few moments was making this a little easier for me.  She was gone at least ten minutes before the butler came in with wooden TV trays and then disappeared again.  Only to return with what I was assuming was dinner.  He said nothing.

As I sat there, the TV volume barely audible, I looked through the meal, lifting lids and peeking at the delightful smelling food.  I hadn’t eaten all day.  I found, to my surprise, grilled chicken breasts with broccoli, raw carrots, grapes, apples and oranges.  Also, there was Baguette bread with large slabs of butter on a lone plate, already torn into pieces.  I could handle this.  I took a couple of the grapes and carrots and began to nibble.   I was starving all the sudden.  What could be keeping her, I wondered?  I kicked my shoes to the floor and tucked my feet up under me, kind of to one side as I snuggled into the plush leather couch I had been steered to.  It was very comfortable.  I began to realize I wasn’t only hungry, but I was tired too.

After another five minutes or so, Brody reappeared from the bedroom.  She had changed into something more comfortable, so it seemed.

“How are we doing?” She asked.

“Fine Brody.  Just fine.  I snuck some finger food and was nibbling away.”  I had become very uncomfortable and felt like calling Jill right then and there and screaming ‘come get me!!!!!’  But, instead, I watched her walk closely by me but to the food, not me.  I had been afraid she might target me before the food and that had me cringing in fear of sorts.  She had come back into the room with a small teddy on; I could see it under a flimsy black robe.  I wondered why she even wore the robe; it hid nothing.  I could see her breasts plainly.  They were full and perky.  But, dang, what was going on?

“Are you hungry Becca?”  She drawled in a sexy voice.  

I felt like I was in the lion’s den.  At least I knew my way out, in case I decided to run.  “Yeah, I am.  Are you?”  I realized the mistake the moment I said it.

She turned from the food, five feet from the couch and moved towards me, “Only for you, Becca.  Only for you.”  She moved to the couch in one fluid motion and was beside me, crushing my feet that were beside me, as she leaned into me and kissed me smack on the lips.  My eyes wide open and my lips never moving.  She got back up as fast as she had gotten there and moved back to the food like nothing happened.  My lips burned.  It was a hard kiss, not soft at all.  It almost offended me.

She slid one of the trays over, the one with the chicken and veggies and opened the lids and laid them on the floor.  She positioned the tray so that it was almost directly in front of me and sat down on the couch with me, very, very close.  I became even more uncomfortable.  There was only one plate open.  I figured I better make the most of this, and moved a bit on the couch so that I could reach the silver to make sure I got to eat the food myself.  There were two things no one messed with in my book, my girlfriend and my food.  I smiled at the thought.

“You don’t want me to feed you, Becca?”  She sounded pouty and aloof.

“No, you go ahead and get yours.  I am starving.  I am sure you are too.”  I dug into the food, hoping the movie would end real quick so that I could get out of there.  I noticed about three bites later, and my feigning great interest into the movie that she wasn’t eating, but rather, watching me.  

“What’s wrong Brody?”  I sort of felt sorry for her, thwarting her plans as it was.

She kept eye contact with me and began to speak, slowly and softly, like she was terribly hurt.  “Well, I made these terrific plans and, well … you don’t seem interested in me.”

I felt really bad.  Maybe she didn’t know that I was shy and had been hurt so badly that I didn’t even know if I wanted to get involved with someone.  Surely I could muster the courage to not hurt her and to explain to her this had nothing to do with her.  

“I am sorry,” I wiped my mouth off with a napkin and folded it in my lap as I turned to face her, keeping my distance.  “I don’t mean to be rude here, honestly.”  Her attention was focused fully on me.  “I had a really bad experience.  I don’t know you at all and I am a little nervous.  I don’t move too quickly.  It takes me a long time to get anywhere near a person right now.  My trust has been squelched.  Do you understand?”  

My eyes were pleading with her to understand, so I didn’t have to explain any more.  

Her eyes were misting as she spoke, ducking under her lashes.  “I know you aren’t attracted to me.  I guess I should have not looked so forward to your being here.  I really like you.”

I was quick to reply, never having been able to stand a woman with tears.  “It isn’t that at all, Brody.”  My voice soft and sultry, “I promise.”

She took advantage of my having moved closer to her, by moving into me and taking my face in her hands.  “Tell me that you don’t want to kiss me right now.”  Her voice a complete difference as to the one that had the tears two seconds before.  She moved her face within inches of mine.  I could feel her breath on my lips.
I sat there, not really knowing what to say.  “I hadn’t thought about it, Brody.”  

She didn’t like this reply and put her lips softly on mine and spoke.  “Well, why don’t you think about it now?”  She kissed me, softly this time.  

I did not respond.  Something in me just wasn’t into this, the situation was all wrong.  I liked romance, intrigue, immediate chemistry and this was not right.  She wasn’t listening to what I said, my body language or my words.  I pulled back from her.

The only thing I could think to say was, “Where is the restroom Brody.  Can I excuse myself, please?”

She seemed pleased with herself, having gotten a reaction of some sort and pointed to the master bedroom.  “It’s in there, do you need any help?”

I assured her that I didn’t as I got quickly up and headed for the restroom.  Once inside the bedroom, I had to look around to get my bearings.  It was dark.  I felt my way along a wall to a light-switch.  It didn’t help much; it was only for a small table lamp apparently.  It lit up the table lamp next to the bed, and gave me enough light to see a couple of doors.  I tried the first to find a huge walk-in closet.  The second door was the restroom and I entered.  It was spacious and inviting.  How I wished I could just run a bath and climb in and let the tension of the day release.  The tub was huge.  I went to the lavatory and splashed some water on my face.  It had gotten very warm in the jacket and knit shirt.  I took my jacket off and laid it on the basin, while I thought.  What could I do?  This wasn’t something that was going well and I really didn’t want to be here.  I might as well just go out and make my exit.  I thought about it for about ten minutes... running water so that I could drown out the silence.

That was it, I would exit the restroom and just go get my shoes and say that I was sorry, but that I must go.  No explanations, no long apologies...just head out.  I shut the water off and started to head out of the bathroom, when I heard yelling from the other room.  I moved to the door in time to hear Brody screaming at someone in an angry and evil voice.

“What do you mean Judy, I am not the one who started this?  You have to be crazy to think that I would do that to you.”  Brody’s voice was plainly argumentative.

The next voice, I did not recognize.  “Brody, I am not going to do this anymore.  I don’t care if your family won’t let you back in.  You cannot and will not stay here any longer.  Get your things and get out before I call the police again.  I can’t believe they let you in here.  I told them you were not supposed to be here.  God, what are you doing to me?  What do you want from me Brody?”  She was sobbing, this unknown lady.  Her voice was beautiful.  Even in her anger, it was sing-songy, with rhythm.  What had I walked in on?  Better yet, as the panic hit me, how was I going to get out of this house now?  This argument didn’t sound like one I wanted to be involved in.  It hit me ... Brody had called her Judy.  The Judy that Jill had said she was with before.  I leaned in closer to see if I could hear more of the conversation.

“I don’t want anything from you Judy.  You think you are so much better than anyone else.  You and your high and mighty friends … always looking down upon me like I am trash.  I don’t know what you think you are accomplishing always telling me to get out.  I am never leaving.  You will realize how much you love me one day and I will be here to remind you until you do.”  The voice was vicious, just plain vicious.  This was DEFINITELY not a woman I wanted anything to do with. I had listened to her on the phone, while we talked at the mall and then when I got here she was totally different.  Not to mention the fact that she and this Judy were out there fighting like cats and dogs over something I didn’t understand.  Shit, I thought to myself...  what in the world was I going to do?  I looked around for a window in the bathroom, but there wasn’t one.  There was no getting out without leaving the way I came. SHIT!!!

“Brody, I am calling the police. Put those down. You are ridiculous, mean and evil.  I am not going to make love to you now, get away from me. DON’T TOUCH ME BRODY...” She was yelling now through her crying. What was going on in there?

I heard a loud crash, a piece of furniture or something heavy. Things were being destroyed.  I had no idea how to help out here. I mean, what was I supposed to do?  And, I was in someone else’s house. Oh well, I wasn’t going to stay in the bathroom, and I couldn’t see to get anywhere else. The crashing sounds were increasing as I walked out of the bathroom and toward the living area.

As I came to view, Judy must have been caught off guard, she was now screaming at my sight.  “What the fuck?  You brought someone else into MY house?  Brody you are sick.”  I had expected to see Judy throwing things or knocking things over, but it was Brody.  She was destroying everything in the room.  She was throwing vases and books.  The movies that had been inside the cabinet were tossed about everywhere.  I moved closer to Judy to get away from the rampage of Brody’s aim.  Upon seeing me come in, she smiled the most wicked smile I had ever seen and looked right at Judy and stated speaking as she threw.

“Yeah, I brought her here.  And, it was great.  You were just a bit too late Judy.” 

Brody threw a set of bookends, one at a time, straight at Judy.  Judy was staring at me, so instead of letting one of them hit her I dashed in front of her and caught it the best I could.  It hit my leg that had been hit that morning and it squealed in pain.  It was one of those hurts that once it hit, I felt nothing, but knew it would be coming.  Two seconds later, the pain went screeching up my leg and hit my brain.  “Shit!!!”  It had become my word for the evening.

“Who the hell are you?”  She was screaming at me as she pushed me away from her, Brody continuing to pelt things from around the room.  Ever so often Brody screamed that Judy loved her and she would realize it some day and some nonsense about it being her turn now.  I saw Judy move swiftly out of the room, finally getting a chance to be out of the line of fire of Brody’s aim.  She stopped right outside in the hall and dialed the police.  I could hear her clearly.  She gave them the address and things quickly and told them to hurry.

I took advantage of the situation, Brody became more interested in Judy than she was the things and I ran to her, about twenty feet and grabbed her hands and yanked her arms in back of her.  I had been my brother’s wrestling partner, guinea pig, for years.  I held her fast, she couldn’t move.  It pissed her off even more, but it must have delighted Judy.  Judy came to where we were standing, her face stained with tears.  She looked terrible.  She looked tired.  I didn’t even know this woman, but she looked tired.  Her brownish blonde hair was swiftly wrapped in a bun and had a few strands ringing around her ears.  She had bright greenish-blue eyes, now tarnished with red swollen lids.  Her features were delicate and defined.  She had a few freckles on her tiny nose and such a long set of lashes, it made you want to reach out and touch them.  She moved in close, trusting that I could hold Brody it seemed.

She walked right up to where we were standing and slapped Brody swiftly across the face, the hand cracking sound flying in the quiet room. The TV was now off, as it seemed that Brody had landed a poker iron through the screen. You couldn’t even tell it was the same room that I had entered earlier. It was in shambles. I don’t know what all I missed, but I wasn’t gone that long to have this much happen. It was a wreck.

“Brody the police are going to take you this time and I am pressing charges.  Don’t try and blackmail me again.  I won’t stand for it.”  She spoke with a very professional tone, but here eyes belied her.  They were filled with remorse, a sadness of sorts.  “I don’t care what you do to my name, I don’t care what you threaten me with.  You are going to pay this time.  You have torn up my house so many times, stolen my things, charged up my credit cards, stolen my car, you are sick and maybe finally someone will help you.”  Tears started to slide down her face as her vision then focused on me.  “Who are you?”  She was very matter of fact.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but Brody helped out.  “She is a guest of mine.  I brought her here and you can’t have her.”  She acted ten.  I pulled her arms tighter and made her yelp. I had not intended to be a pawn in anyone’s game, let alone someone making this beautiful creature cry like this.  It was if her pride had been shattered.  

As I squeezed Brody’s arms together, I answered.  “I am Becca, and I had no idea what was going on here....” My voice trailed off as her eyes lightened a little, in hopes of making her smile, I continued.  “I came over here thinking this was her house, and I was in the restroom when you came in.  I am really sorry.”
Her eyes darted to Brody’s, cold as steel, and then back to mine.  They softened as she spoke.  “I understand.  It isn’t like it hasn’t happened before Becca.”  She began to sob lightly.  My heart went to her immediately.  I dropped Brody’s arms and pushed her out of the way to the couch just a few feet away.  She fell to the couch and stayed, knowing if she didn’t, I was going to take measures into my own hands.  I touched Judy’s shoulder lightly.  I meant to reassure her that it would be okay, but my reaction from her was astounding.  She fell into my arms and sobbed like a child.

“It’s okay Judy.  It’s going to be okay.  I promise.”  Where had that come from?  It was out of my mouth before I could stop it.  I heard Brody mumbling something inaudible.  Judy continued to cry.  I touched her hair and pulled her closer.  I could smell her perfume.  It made my senses jump immediately.  

The police arrived and were led in by the butler, who had delivered dinner.  Judy yanked herself out of my arms and turned to see who was there.  She became very diplomatic, issuing orders to officers and making a very messy situation seem easier.  An officer came to me and began to cuff me, very much so against my will.  I was flabbergasted...had no idea what was going on and Judy came to my rescue.  From across the room, she saw the officer break the cuffs on my wrist and rushed to my aide.

“Oh, no, you have made a mistake, Becca had nothing to do with it this time.”  And, I was released immediately. 

As I sat rubbing my wrist, from the cuff mark, she looked at me as if to apologize.  I was dumfounded, I had experience in dealing with crisis, but this was truly something I did not understand.  An officer came and asked me to explain the situation and I began the day’s events.  Finally, after a lengthy explanation, he seemed pleased and was the last to leave.  I had noticed Judy sitting on a bay window seat, just staring outside into the courtyard as the sun started to fall into the garden.  The officer walked out and we were alone.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t see my shoes anywhere and my jacket was back in the bathroom.  I was standing there, watching her stare.  I had best just leave.  I started to move quietly, looking for my shoes.  I spotted one under where the couch had originally been and moved to grab it.  When I went to pick it up off the floor, I winced in pain.  My leg really hurt now.  I had noticed in the dressing room at the mall that my leg was bruised quite nicely.  But, now it must have been damaged more severely, I could barely get to standing from leaning over.  

She was next to me in a flash.  From her sitting position in the bay window, she must have seen me wince and come to my aide.  Her hands slid under my arm and helped me to adjust, her scent, once again, intoxicating.  “Are you okay?  Oh, silly me, you can’t be okay.  What happened?  Can I help?”  She had a barrage of questions and all I could do was smile through the pain.  I had stiffened from sitting and answering the officer’s questions.

“I am fine Judy, really.”  I moved away from her some.  I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, but my body was reacting to her quickly and efficiently.  There was a small chair that had been against the wall and under it I spied my other shoe.  She must have seen me look and anticipated my movement; she was there before I could get an inch.  

“Here you go Becca.”  She handed me my shoe.

“Thanks Judy, I really appreciate it and I am sorry about tonight.”  She seemed to understand everything.  “I really must be going.  I have intruded enough.”  

I started to move to leave when she said something so quiet that I couldn’t hear her.  “What?”  I had missed it.

Quietly and shyly, she spoke again. “Would you care to go somewhere and get something to eat with me.” She darted her look to me briefly and then back down under her lashes. 

“What?”  I said it again.  This time, because I didn’t have anything else to say.  She wanted me to go with her?

“I owe you for tonight.  Can I buy you dinner?”  She looked at me this time.  It was the first time she had addressed me in a way that was just for me.  I couldn’t believe the color in her eyes.  They were crystal clear, like ice, the bluish-green now a guided ocean color.  The redness had gone down and her lashes were sort of stuck together.  I wanted to touch them, her lashes.  All the sudden, I felt like my old self.  I was alive again.  I knew what to do.  I knew what I wanted.  I could feel again, differently than the bitter, betrayed woman I had become.  But, more like me, the me I liked.

I smiled, “You don’t owe me anything.”  I had to leave.  I had betrayed myself and this woman was completely out of my league.  “You didn’t do anything.  I am fine.  I am just going to go now...” I motioned to the doorway, “I think I have overstayed my welcome.”  I started to back out of the room as I watched for her reply, half hoping to have her stop me.

She nodded her head and turned back to the bay window.  She walked back over to it and sat down, once again, staring out into the courtyard.  I left silently, the way I had come.

When I got outside, I was checking my pockets for my keys.  “Oh, shit!”  I muttered.  I had lost my keys.  And, I now noticed for the second time today, I was missing my jacket.  I had left it in the bathroom.  Just then, I remembered the valet taking my keys.  I hadn’t lost them, they were in the garage with my car.  At least I could go home.  I moved to the parking garage and found the board with keys on it and got my keys.  The car was easy.  I slid in and started the engine.  

I started to pull away as she knocked on my door window.  I nearly wet my pants.  My heart leapt into my throat.  I stopped the care and rolled down the window.  “You scared me.”  I said.

“Your jacket.”  She held up my jacket, both of us speaking at about the same time.  We both laughed.  She must have run outside, she had to have gone into the other room and found my jacket.  She leaned into my window as she handed me my jacket.  As she did so, she put her hand on mine, the one on the steering wheel.  It sent a charge through me.  She was leaning on my window frame and touching my bare skin.  Our faces were about a foot apart.  “Please don’t go Becca.”  Her eyes pleaded.  “Don’t go without me.  Will you just take me away from here, anywhere?  I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

My thoughts must have shown in my eyes, the fear that she bred, I couldn’t take advantage of someone that had just been through this ordeal, and that is what I wanted to do.  I wanted to kiss her.  All I could think about was kissing her, a complete stranger.  She withdrew her hand from mine and spoke softly, “I am sorry, I am too forward. How could I think that you would want to be anywhere near me after what happened tonight?  I am really sorry; you go. Forget I said anything.”

She had misread my thoughts. She visibly shrunk back away from my car as she spoke the words. I put the car back in neutral, turned it off and pulled the parking brake.  I got out of the car and with pain, rose to standing in front of her, my leg hurt. Taking my time, watching her reaction, I moved a little bit closer to her.  Her eyes dropped from looking at me, she went from searching to avoiding.  She had lost the professional demeanor that she had assumed with the police at her house and looked like a young child, who had been scolded.  “You aren’t too forward.  I just was wondering how it was that you arrived at the conclusion that you had put me through anything?  I came to your house with someone else.  You don’t know my role in this evening at all, and you want me to take you somewhere?  Why Judy?”  My eyes searched hers, as I leaned down and took her hands in mine, both of them.  I felt the softness of her fingers, the curve of her palm, her nails against my skin as I slid my hand into hers. She didn’t flinch. She even held my hand as well.

“I don’t know.  I really don’t know what I am doing.  You saved me from her, she ruined my life in the last two years and I don’t know.  I look in your eyes and see something I like.  I can’t explain it and I don’t want you to leave.”  She never broke eye contact with me.  It wasn’t unpleasant; it was welcomed.  She continued, “ I am not lonely or devoid.  I have been through this a hundred times.  I am used to cleaning up and moving on.  I don’t even have to do it myself.  Reynard will have everything replaced and the room will look like it did when you arrived by Monday morning. He is good at this.  Everything will look as though she never entered my life.” She went from shy and hurt to relentless in her attempt to read my mind, her eyes probing mine.

“What are you thinking really?”  I asked softly and securely.  I knew that I wanted to kiss her. That is all I knew.  I didn’t know why, but I wanted to devour her at that moment in the softest, sweetest, most gentle way. But my morals wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t kiss someone I didn’t know. I couldn’t go there, I knew that once I kissed someone, it was a commitment of sorts to me.  I took kissing no one lightly.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t question my motivation behind it.  I fell into her eyes as I watched her drop her lashes momentarily and then move just a bit closer to me.  Her eyes became soft and inviting and then she spoke.

“Why did you help me?”  She left the sentence completely open, and invited me to speak to her, her eyes told me that and she squeezed my hands gently, almost pulling me to her closer.

I took a deep breath.  I hadn’t thought about it.  “I am not sure.  I know that I had talked to Brody all day, for the most part.  I had conversed with her lightly throughout the afternoon. When it came down to being here with her, I was very uncomfortable. She had ulterior motives and I could tell from the start. She made me feel uneasy. I had gone into the restroom, so that I could get away from her. I was planning my route of exit. I heard you two fighting and didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. I had interrupted something larger than I was prepared for. When I heard you two arguing, something in me said it wasn’t you who was the bad person in all of this. Then when she was throwing things at you, I just helped out. I don’t know why? I probably shouldn’t have butted in.  I am really sorry about all of this. I feel in some way that I was a pawn in her game, but I don’t really know the situation.”  I trailed off my speech when she looked down at the ground, broke the eye contact that was so pleasant to me.  It was like when you were laying with someone, when the contact broke and it got cold.  I remember laying with lovers in the past and breaking that contact, trying for minutes to find it back, knowing it never was the same.  Her breaking the eye contact felt that way.  I wanted it back.

She backed away from me a step, but didn’t let go of my hands.  She looked at me again, with a great deal of sadness in her eyes, “I know you don’t know what has gone on, and I don’t expect you to take my side.  It has been a nightmare.  I just thought...” There was a brief silence.  “I just thought maybe I could explain. That is why I asked you to take me somewhere. You were a pawn in her game. Usually she waits until I start seeing someone and then she goes full tilt ahead.  I only mentioned you once to a friend of mine.  She must have told her.”  A tear slipped down her cheek.

“What?”  I was stunned.  She had mentioned me. 

She looked at me shyly.  “I told my friend, Erika, that I had seen you at the Command Performance Review a couple of weeks ago.  You must not have noticed me, but I saw you.”  She waited for me to reply.

“I was there.  But I don’t remember you.”  My mind was abuzz. I had been at the dinner theatre fundraiser.  It was a lavish affair and I had met quite a few people, but I would have remembered her.  “Where were you seated?”  Maybe that would jog my memory.  I know I would have remembered seeing her; she was so beautiful.

“I was not in attendance per say, I threw it.  I put it together.  I was all over the place that night, but I remember watching you from the wings of the presentation.  I was on the left side, I had pulled up a chair there; Brody had promised me that she would destroy the production for me, so I was preventing anything from happening.  I didn’t make myself seen much at all.  I headed a team of security so that they could keep her and her slimy friends out of the auditorium.  The kitchen staff had to practically take lie detector tests.  It was a mess.”

I had watched the production with great interest.  It had been wonderful.  I had attended alone, because a single ticket had been given to me.  It was a dinner theatre production and I loved the theatre, so going alone wasn‘t a big deal.  It was highly recommended by Jill, who had attended many city events, and I had wanted to go.

She spoke again, this time moving within inches from me, her body almost touching me.  

“I saw you that night, watching the production alone.  I asked a hundred people who you were, no one knew.  I finally found my friend, Erika, she seemed to know your roommate and told me what she could.  She got your work number for me to call.  Brody must have gotten it from my car.  I had it laying on the seat that next day in my planner.” 

Her voice became sad and laden.  “She has keys to my cars and my house, even when I change the locks, somehow she gets keys.  I had my car re-keyed and she got inside.  She is a regular thief.  I hadn’t called you, because I was out of town until this afternoon.  Reynard knows not to let her in.  I just don’t understand.  She blackmailed me for the last year, she says that she is going to go public with me being a lesbian and make my career suffer.  It will suffer from know?”  I saw the look in her eyes that told me that she knew that she would be devastated by Brody’s intentions.  She was highly visible in the political realm and her party had a very high anti-gay vote lately.  She would lose her ground.  I didn’t know much about politics and I shied away from them whenever possible.  But, I knew enough to know that Brody could wreck her career.

 “I didn’t mean for this to happen tonight.  I had no idea.”  I was stammering again.  Suddenly she was too close.  Her lips were almost on mine.  I wanted to close my eyes and taste her lips, but something stopped me; something made me feel slimy, I had not been invited here by her.  I couldn’t take advantage of this situation.  I just couldn’t do it.  She was so close though.  She was looking me in the eye.  My body was reacting.  My only response to being civil was to leave.

 “I better leave Judy, or I am going to do something I shouldn’t.”  I was going for honesty here.

 “What do you mean?”  She was even closer; I could feel her breath on my cheek.  She had tilted her face to mine.  “Kiss me Becca.  Please?  Just kiss me?”  She closed her eyes and started slowly to move forward.

 She had hit me like a markswoman.  My insides screamed softly for her.  I leaned into her and kissed her. Softly touching my lips to hers, not meeting the kind tenderness I thought I would meet, but meeting this passionate pursuit.  Her hands came to my shoulders as she pushed me back the two steps to my car.  I fell partly in the open window, catching my legs and causing me to sit on the windowsill of the door, our lips never breaking contact.  She was tearing me up.  I could barely meet her passion.  Her lips were tracing mine, finding my tongue and dancing sharply and then gently.  Her hands moving across my body and stirring up these feelings released the chains that had bound me for years.  Her hair, my hands running to her hair, releasing the bun, letting it fall freely.  Running my left hand through the tendrils, finding out how soft it was.  I pulled her head to mine harder, closing the difference between her space and mine, making it one.  She slammed against me, moving her hips between mine, pushing against me.  I caught myself and once steady on the door, leaning, I pulled my lips from hers only long enough to find her ear and nibble on the lobe, laden with heavy gold hoops.  I whispered to her, “I shouldn’t be doing this.”  

 Not swaying her for a moment, her lips roving over my neck, down from my ear to my collarbone she said in a husky, seductive voice, “What are you doing, Becca?”

 I moaned as she sucked on the skin just over my collarbone and her hand touched my breast softly, tenderly and affectionately.  “I shouldn’t be doing this, I don’t know you.  Who are you?”

 Her lips came from my skin.  She moved herself in front of me.  I didn’t want to open my eyes.  I didn’t know her well enough to know what to expect, what reaction she might adopt.  I felt her finger touch my lips, making them burn.  “Look at me Becca,” Her voice pleading with me.

 I opened my eyes.  She was looking directly at me, her eyes very soft.  “What?”  I didn’t know what else to say.  I was at a loss here.

 “What do you want to do right now?”  She was questioning me.  

 “I want to fall into you, Judy.  I just want to fall in where it’s safe.”  I hadn’t heard words like that from me before.  But, it was true.  She felt so safe.  A perfect fit.  “I want to take you into the garden that you were staring at, and I want to sit and hold you.  I want to kiss you, caress you.  I want to get to know you.”  I had spoken the truth.

 She kissed me again.  She kissed me longingly and passionately.  She aroused inside me a hunger, hard to control.  But for some reason, I didn’t want to make love to her.  I just wanted to keep kissing her.  She grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the car, leading me through the path of cars in the garage and out a back door.  I followed her like a puppy, having no idea where she was taking me.  I didn’t really care.  It was safe here, safe with her.    She led me back to a garden.  She hit a lamp as we walked by; a small button controlled the entire lighting for what now was known to be an enormous garden.  The lights around it were soft and scattered.  It was dark, but almost had a moonlit glow about it.  She kept walking, holding me in tow.   

 Now as I looked at the garden, in the daylight, it didn’t have the same appeal.  It did, however, have a sudden charm to it.  The floral displays were impeccable; Chandler had done an exceptional job.  The pews were placed in lines gathering the crowd to the center of the garden.  The faces were familiar, friendly, and cast eyes upon us as we floated down the red carpet, laid prior for the aisle.  We were clad in flowing white gowns, giving the appearance of queens.  Judy wore a veil; I did not.  We traveled down the walkway to the altar, where the minister was awaiting us.  I couldn’t see her face clearly, but I could feel her shaking under my hand.  My hand in hers, we walked.  I squeezed her hand in assurance that everything would be okay.  For the first time, I knew that life with someone would be safe and secure.  It might not be perfect, we had our share of fights, but it would be okay.  I knew that I loved Judy and I knew she loved me.  She squeezed my hand back assuring me that she acknowledged my assurance.  At that point I saw my mom, I was surprised she was there, but she was and she was watching.  She didn’t smile, but she didn’t look like she hated me either.  My brother wasn’t there, but that was to be expected.  Next to my mother, I saw my niece and her best friend.  At their sight, my niece smiling brightly, I smiled back.  That was the ticket I needed to know that I had family support.  She lipped the words “I love you.”  My eyes misted with tears.  This was a happy day.    We stopped at the altar, where the minister began our ceremony.  

“Please face one another...” He trailed into the ceremony uniting Judy and I.  I turned to face her.  I looked into her eyes, the eyes that I awoke to each morning, but something was different.  She was so beautiful, I couldn’t get used to what she did to me.  Even though I was nervous, I could still look at her and fall into a world that consisted of just her and I.  It didn’t matter that there were over 300 guests present here; it was just her and I.  It was her turn to recite the vows that she was pledging to me.

“Becca Taylor, I take thee as my wife … to have and to hold, from this day forth, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for the rest of eternity.  I pledge my love to you in ways that will remind you every day that you are the one that kissed away the bad and replaced in my life what is meaningful.  I pledge my love to you in total trust, in complete assurance that our life together be brought forth to God and that for the gift I have been given, I will cherish you, adore you, never take you for granted; I will love you, respect you and compromise with you so that our life may be one in Him.”  She was stating to me what she loved, I watched her as a tear slid down my face.  I couldn’t be happier.  

In return I said to Judy, “I too, pledge my love to you Judy Jackson and take you as my wife … to have and to hold, from this day forth, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for the rest of eternity.  I pledge my love to you from the very depths of my soul, bringing my love for you to God, asking Him to bless our union together.  I will love you in the best way that I can, making sure that you never question my love for you.  I promise you to cherish you, to never compromise me and to always make it a point to acknowledge our union as the most important part of my life.  I will love you, respect you, honor you, and care for you today and everyday as long as He will let me.  I cherish the gift I have been given and give my pledge to honor my gift, you.”  I took her hand and brought it to my lips.  We then both turned back to the minister.

With a smile on his face he said, “I now pronounce you united in Christ Jesus, by the power set forth by the church.  Please kiss your bride ladies.”

Judy looked at me with love.  I knew that look now.  It had been sixteen months since we had kissed for the first time.  That night in the garden Judy had told me about her childhood, about being abused and how she had never trusted anyone in her life.  She told me of Brody’s attempts at ruining her over and over and how it didn’t matter anymore.  The next six months had been hell.  Judy and I had seen each other everyday, spent every moment that we didn’t work with each other.  Brody had torn her life apart politically, but for the better, she went back into practice and her law firm was doing outstanding.  They had won three consecutive cases and were litigating civil defense and human rights issues.  She has blossomed before my very eyes.  Brody’s genuine concern for Judy’s career broached near harassment; because of it we had been followed repeatedly by private detectives, never able to go out together or be seen in public.  They had published pictures of us taken through windows of the house, pictures of us dining at restaurants, pictures of us doing anything they could get in one of the local “trash” tabloids.  It had been enough to set a barrage of people against Judy to the point that she decided to resign her position.  She then filed suit against Brody and won.  After that, Brody had left us alone and had gone back home, where her parents alluded to her being totally cut off.  Last we had heard, she had a new “victim”, but had left us alone.

I had taken more time off from work and opened an outlet store in a nearby town.  It had been good for my business; we had quite a lesbian and gay following.  Judy had taken the incidences well, but secretly I had known that if I had not been there for her, she would have never made it.  I had held her many a night that she sobbed until she fell asleep.  I had grown to know her cool, calm, confident exterior to be superficially in flaw.  She had a deep emotional sense and was extremely sensitive.  Her demeanor around me was very different than her composed professional image.  I liked the contrast.  I loved the way she loved me.  She left me notes in the mornings, little reflections of love and adoration.  She would leave lipstick messages on my mirror in the morning, telling me that she would miss me dearly, that she loved me unconditionally and that she was thinking of me.  I would get roses, lilies, tulips and daisies at work with small notes of love.  She let me know that she cared repeatedly.  She would cook me dinner, run me baths, let the staff go and make wild, passionate, sensual love to me for days on end.  She would lay rose petals on the bed to surprise me...and then make love to me on them.  One time, my favorite, she had plane tickets sent to me at work with a note that just said, “Trust me“.  They were for Kansas City.  It was only one ticket and it was one way.  I have no idea, but I took the flight.  I had no idea if she would meet me at the airport, if I was to go somewhere, but I did it.  At the end of the flight, as I was exiting the plane, a very beautiful steward came to me.  He was smiling brilliantly and said he had something for me.  He handed me a dozen boxed roses and told me that I was supposed to meet my lady friend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  I had taken a taxi and gone to the hotel.  Upon arrival at the hotel and asking for her room, I was whisked off by two bellmen to a private dining room, where my favorite singer was ready for a private performance for us. 

We had dinner and Melissa sang for us, a private concert that was beyond this realm.  After Melissa sang four or five songs, she introduced herself and left, she was performing that night at an area arena.  We made love in the dining room on the table, on the piano...while she played for me ... she made love to me ... it was amazing.  And, we stayed the weekend and had a wonderful time, uninterrupted.  Now, I was going to kiss my new wife.  I thought of last night, when she and I had made love.  How she had taken her lips up and down my body over an hour, lingering in places, sometimes running her tongue over me.  She memorized my body every time she made love to me.  She was sensually making love to me, without ever getting “sexual”.  She ran her tongue over my nipples and up to my lips, she kissed me like the night in the garden, and then told me that she would never forget that night, our night, the beginning of something that would last more than a lifetime.  Neither would I.

I felt her leaning into me as I leaned down to her.  The guests still didn’t exist, only us, before God, I wanted to thank Him for my gift.  I kissed my wife as passionately as I did the first night we met.  We united our lives together with The Kiss.

©St.Charles 2-25-2000


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