The Greatest Gift
The smell of coffee assailed her senses and caused her to open her eyes, or at least open the one that wasn't swollen shut. Melissa sat up in bed and groggily took in the room. Beth was sitting at the small table under the window, reading the newspaper and quietly munching away on what looked like a box of donuts. "What time is it?"
Beth looked up, bits of donut glaze stuck to her face. "Hey, babe. How're ya doing?"
"As good as can be expected, I suppose." Melissa crawled out of bed and stretched. She padded over to the table naked, having removed the rest of her clothes after Beth had gone to sleep. She accepted the second cup of coffee from the younger woman and took a cautious sip. Not bad. I may have to keep her around a little bit longer - she's sweet. "What are you doing?"
"Checking the classifieds for a job around here." Beth put the paper down and pulled Melissa onto her lap. She nuzzled the back of the redhead's neck, while her hands reached around to cup her breasts. "Just how good are you feeling, baby?"
Tilting her head to allow easier access, Melissa struggled to control herself. No, no, no. We've got things to do today. But the warm hands caressing her breasts were making it harder and harder to think about anything else. "Mmm. That feels good, sugar." She turned her head and crushed her lips to Beth's, crying out when she felt the sharp pain from yesterday's cut.
"I'm sorry, baby. Let me see," Beth eased Melissa off her lap and sat the older woman down in her chair. She gingerly touched the bleeding lip with the tip of one finger. "Hold on." Beth hurried into the bathroom and returned with a wet washcloth, placing one edge lightly on the injured area. "Damn. I should have remembered about your face," she murmured, tracing over the bruise on Melissa's cheek with the other hand.
Melissa forced tears from her eyes, although with the pain of her lip, it wasn't too hard. She took over the washcloth, purposely holding it down harder than necessary in order to keep the wound bleeding. "It's okay, really. I almost forgot about it myself."
Not appeased, the mechanic began to pace the room. "No, it's not okay, dammit! The person that did that to you has gotten away with this shit for too long." She stopped in front of Melissa and knelt down beside her. "I want you to tell me where I can find this bitch. You can stay here while I go and teach her the proper respect for a lady."
"No," Melissa cried, jumping to her feet. Realizing that her outburst could be misconstrued, she sat back down. "I can't let you go alone, Beth. She'll hurt you." Damn! I almost screwed everything up. I've got to see the look on her face when my 'protector' shows up and mops the floor with her. She frowned, thinking. I wonder if I have any film left in my camera? I'd love to record this for posterity.
Beth was touched by the older woman's concern. "Take a good, close look at me, baby. Don't I look like someone who can take care of themselves?" She raised one hand, bending her arm at the elbow in a show of muscle. "Feel that. Hard as a rock. You don't have anything to worry about."
Her head is hard as a rock, too, Melissa giggled privately. She struggled to keep her mirth from showing on her face. "Its not just that, hon. I need to " She paused and looked down at the floor.
"You need to what?" Beth asked, using her hand to tilt Melissas face back up to where she could look into her eyes. "You can tell me."
"No, I cant. Youll think Im wicked," Melissa cried, jerking her head away from the other womans touch.
"Melissa, please. I cant help you if I dont know. Please, baby, tell me," Beth asked gently.
Tears fell freely from the older womans eyes. "I need to watch."
"See, I told you," Melissa bawled. She jumped up from the chair and raced into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
Beth stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips. "Well, shit. What the fuck was that all about?" She walked over to the closed door and tapped on it. "Hey, baby?"
A muffled cry was the only answer.
"Dammit, Melissa, open this goddamned door!" The mechanic pounded harder on the door, then stopped when she realized what she was doing. Taking a deep breath, she lightly tapped on the door again. "Im sorry, baby. Please open the door."
"You think Im a monster, dont you?"
Throwing up her hands, Beth stormed away from the door. Goddamned soft women! I swear that if I didnt like getting laid so much, Id swear off em forever. She kicked at the bed and then went back over to the door. "Of course not, baby. Please, come out so we can talk about it."
The door opened a few inches. "Are you mad at me?" a tiny voice asked. "You hate me, dont you?"
"No, sweetheart. I dont hate you at all. But, do you want to tell me why you feel the need to watch me kick someones ass?"
One gray eye peeked out through the opening. "I have to be there, Bethie. The only way Im going to know that she didnt hurt you is if Im there, dont you see?"
Poor thing. I bet she wants to make sure that bitch wont bother her anymore, either. Shes probably afraid that I wont do it. Beth held her hand out. "Come on out, baby. No ones ever gonna hurt you again, I promise you."
"Oh, Bethie!" The door opened wide and Melissa raced from her hiding place, practically knocking Beth to the ground when she rushed into her arms.
"Its gonna be okay, baby." Beth pulled back just far enough to look into Melissas eyes. "Now, you get dressed, and well go pay a visit to your ex-girlfriend."
Randi stepped out of the bathroom, extremely proud of herself. The duckling that had been so near death the day before was now showing no signs of its previous illness. It even had the presence of mind to snap at her when she reached in to change the water. She sauntered into the bedroom, looking for Kay. Peeking into the master bathroom, Randi found that her lover was nowhere to be found. She heard a tremendous racket coming from the kitchen, and raced through the apartment. "Kay? Is everything " The sight that greeted her as she crossed the threshold caused her to stop in mid-sentence.
"Dont say it," Kay warned. Several pots and pans were scattered around the floor at her feet, surrounding her.
"Are you all right?" Randi asked, willing herself not to laugh. "I thought we were going to clean out those cabinets together."
Kay rubbed the top of her head. "We were. I was just trying to get one of them down, and the whole damned mess tumbled out." Randi had used a hard-to-reach cabinet to store all her old heavy cookware, unable to part with it when Kay brought in her newer, easier to clean pots and pans. They had finally agreed to sort through all the cookware together, and see which items were the best.
"Are you sure youre all right?" Randi stepped around several fallen pots to reach the younger woman. She moved the hair away from Kays forehead, which sported a small, red bump. "Ouch."
"It doesnt really hurt that much," Kay assured her. "But I do feel rather stupid for letting one of them clock me on the head."
Randi studied the knot. "Well, it doesnt look too bad. But you may have a nice little bruise before the day is out." She bent down to pick up some of the mess, when a whine drew her attention.
Spike stood in the doorway, looking at the mess, then at his food dish. He wasnt too sure of what his humans were doing, but he figured it wasnt fun. Afraid of what might happen to him if he were to brave the kitchen floor, he sat down and continued to whine.
"You are just the biggest chicken Ive ever seen," Randi grumbled, walking over and picking up the small animal. She couldnt quite understand how he could face down a woman that threatened to kick him, but balked at pots and pans. "Come on, tough stuff, Ill put your food in the living room, just this once."
Kay watched as owner and dog left the kitchen, Randi mumbling quietly. She finished gathering up the dishes and stacked them on the counter. Before she could follow the two out, the phone rang. "Ill get it," she called, picking up the receiver on the wall phone. "Hello?"
"Hello? Is this Ms. Meyers? This is Frank with The Furniture Place. Weve got a delivery scheduled for this morning."
Oh, damn. I forgot all about that. "Umm, yes. Do you have any idea what time this morning?"
"Well, according to my schedule, our truck should be there between eight and ten this morning. Will someone be there to accept the delivery?"
Randi stepped back into the kitchen and stood by Kay, a questioning look on her face. Kay put her hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, "Its the delivery guys. Theyre bringing the table and chairs this morning between eight and ten." She rolled her eyes at her lovers shrug. "Yes, Ill be here."
"Fine. Thank you very much, maam. Have a nice day."
Kay hung up the phone and sighed. "I guess Ill just take a cab to the clinic, once the furniture is delivered."
"No, wait just a second," Randi asked, picking up the phone and dialing a number from memory. "Hey, Joyce, glad I caught you before you left for work."
"Just barely, boss. I was on my way out the door when the phone rang. Whats up?"
Randi winked at her lover, trying to assure her that everything would be okay. "I need a ride to work, if you dont mind."
"That old clunker stall on you again?" Joyce asked, laughing.
"No, no. Nothing like that. Weve got a furniture delivery scheduled for this morning, and I thought Id hitch a ride if I could, so that Kay could bring the car in later."
"Oh, sure. Im on my way, so it should be just a few minutes." Joyce hung up the phone without further comment.
The vet placed the receiver back on the phone and turned to look at Kay. "You dont mind driving the car again, do you?"
"Im sure I can force myself, somehow," Kay joked. "Are you sure its okay?"
Randi pulled the younger woman into her arms. "Of course Im sure. Theres no sense in you getting a cab, when we have a perfectly good car. And Joyce only lives a few blocks away. Shes always after me to ride with her." A distant honk from the parking lot caused her to chuckle. "See what I mean?"
"Well, okay." Kay pulled Randis head down until their lips were inches apart. "Ill see you as soon as I can, all right?" She kissed Randi with an intensity that left them both breathless and shaking.
"Whoo," Randi gasped once they broke free. "Damn, youre good at that."
Kay grinned and fanned herself. "Youre not so bad, either."
"Ah, yeah. Okay." Randi shook her head and backed out of the kitchen. "Ill see you later?"
"You can count on it," Kay called after her, laughing.
After a short argument, which she had lost, Melissa sat in the passenger seat of Beths truck, going over in her mind the different scenarios of her new lover pummeling her old lover. One of her favorites had the mechanic grab the vet by the head and spin, breaking Randis neck with a sickening crack. Oh, yes. This is going to be a wonderful day. She giggled, then covered up her mistake by coughing.
"Are you okay?" Beth asked, keeping her eyes on the road. "Youre not having second thoughts about being there, are you?"
"No, sugar, Im fine. Just got a little choked up thinking about it, thats all."
Beth spared the older woman a quick glance. "Choked up?"
"Um, sure. You know, I still cant believe that youre going through all this trouble for little ol me," Melissa drawled. "It just gets me right here." She pointed to her chest. Like acid indigestion. I swear, these big ol country girls dont have the sense God gave to a goose. Probably studies for a blood test. "Turn right at the next corner."
"Sure." Beth followed the instructions, then realized they were getting close to the apartments that Kay lived in. I wonder if shes home? Hearing Melissa call her name, she turned her head. "Huh?"
Melissa rolled her eye, the other one still being partially closed. "I said, turn left at the light. Its the first apartments on the right after that."
Shit. Were going to the same apartments! I hope Katie doesnt see me kicking this broads ass Ill never get her back that way. Beth pulled the truck through the gates. "You never told me what your exs name is."
"I didnt? I could have sworn I told you, sugar." Melissa looked up ahead and saw the Corvette parked in its usual place. Perfect. "Her names Randi. Pretty stupid name for a woman, isnt it? She told me once that she was named after a" She was suddenly thrown forward when Beth slammed on the breaks. "What the hell is your problem?"
"Randi?" Beth turned to look at Melissa. "An older broad, a bit shorter than me? Drives a classic vette?"
The redhead nodded. "Thats her. How did you"
"That fucking bitch! I should have known!" Beth yelled, slamming her hands against the steering wheel.
She definitely knows Randi. This is going to be more fun than I thought. "How do you know her?"
Beth glared at Melissa. "She stole my fucking girlfriend, thats how!" The enraged woman shoved the truck into gear and stomped on the gas, causing the tires to squeal.
"She what?" Melissa couldnt believe what she was hearing.
"Probably forced her to move out of town, threatened my poor Katie with God-knows-what." Beth wheeled in behind the Corvette, effectively blocking it in. "Stay here!" she ordered, jumping out of the truck and jogging up the walk. "Im going to kill that goddamned bitch!"
Kay had just put away the final pot when she heard a pounding on the front door. "That was quick." As she started to the door, Spike followed her, barking loudly as the pounding continued. "All right, calm down, guys. Im coming." She opened the door and stood face to face with a furious Beth.
"Where the fuck is she?" the angry woman yelled, pushing by Kay and stepping into the apartment. At the sound of the dog growling at her feet, she looked down and then pointed at him. "Shut that goddamned mutt up, or Ill kill him, too."
"Now wait just a damned minute! What do you think youre doing?" Kay picked up Spike, who continued to growl at the intruder.
Beth walked down the hallway, looking into the bedrooms, then checking the bathrooms. Not finding what she was looking for, she brushed by Kay again and looked in the kitchen. "Where is she?"
"I assume youre talking about Randi?" Kay asked calmly, although her insides were shaking. "Shes not here."
"I can fucking see that!" Beth yelled, getting up in Kays face. She stopped, raising her hand to brush the hair off Kays forehead, causing the blonde to flinch away. "What happened here?"
Kay looked at her in confusion. "What?"
"Your head. What did that bitch do to you, Katie?" Beth looked as if she were going to cry at any moment.
"Oh." Kay tried to smile while she raised her hand to touch the red knot. "Some pots and pans fell out of the cabinet this morning, and I moved too slowly getting out of the way."
Her anger spent for the moment, Beth shook her head. "Katie, please. You dont have to protect her. I can help you." She reached out for Kay, but was stopped by a voice at the door.
"Whats going on here?" Melissa asked. She saw how the mechanic was reacting to Randis girlfriend, and was worried that Beth had lost her focus.
"Melissa? What are you doing here?" Kays head was spinning from the turn of events. Does she know Beth? And what is Beth talking about? "What happened to you?"
Beth walked over and wrapped a protective arm around Melissas shoulders. "Your fucking girlfriend happened, Katie. Shes not content to beat up on you, but did this to poor Melissa last night."
"Last night? Thats impossible. I was here the whole" But you werent, her mind taunted. She was alone for almost half an hour. And when I got back, "Her hand," she gasped quietly. Disgusted with herself, and her disloyal thoughts, Kay shook her head. "No. Randi didnt do that. She wouldnt do that."
"Are you sure?" Beth asked. "What about your head?"
"I told you, that was an accident. Randi wasnt even in the kitchen at the time." Kay stepped towards the two women. "Now, get out of my home."
A man stood at the door, watching the unfolding drama. "Um, excuse me? Im looking for Ms. Meyers."
Melissa snorted. "Isnt everyone?" She leaned over and whispered something into Beths ear, which caused the burly woman to nod. "Well be back, later," she told the blonde, allowing Beth to escort her from the apartment.
Staring after the retreating women, Kay motioned for the man to come inside. "Im sorry about that. Just bring in the furniture and put it in there," she requested, pointing to the kitchen. "I need to make a phone call."
Outside, Beth was about to get into the truck when Melissa stopped her. "What?"
"Where are you going, sugar?"
"Hell if I know," Beth grumbled. "You said inside that you had an idea?"
Melissa grinned. "Of course I do, hon. I figure that Randis gone to work, and left the little gal home to take care of the house."
"Great. Then all we have to do is go up to that bitchs job and kick her ass," Beth chirped, climbing into the truck.
"Hold on, there. We cant go up to where she works. Theres too many people there that know her, and would probably never believe us." Melissa tapped her front teeth with one brightly painted nail. "No, what we need to do is get her to come back here."
Beth slammed the truck door. "How the hell are we going to do that?" she asked, waving one hand at the apartment. "Katies probably calling her already, warning her that we were here." She just couldnt understand how the younger woman continued to put up with the abuse she thought was being inflicted upon her. Maybe shes been brainwashed, like I saw in that movie that time. Yeah, thats it. No wonder she chose Randi over me. Satisfied with her conclusion, she sat quietly while Melissa thought.
"Ive got it!" Melissa snapped her fingers and hurried around to get into the truck. She turned and looked at Beth, who just sat there staring at her. "Well?"
"Well, what? Are you going to tell me what were going to do?"
Melissa smiled. "Youre going to drive us back to that convenience store we passed on the way over here, and Im going to make a phone call."
"Okay." Beth shrugged and started the truck, quickly backing it away from the Corvette.
"Meyers Animal Clinic. How may I help you?"
Kay breathed a sigh of relief when she heard Christinas voice. "Thank God! Christina, this is Kay Newcombe. Is Randi there, yet?"
"No, Kay. Im afraid she isnt. Where are you? I thought youd be here with her this morning."
"I was supposed to be, but I had to wait for a furniture wait! Im sorry, Christina, but this is important. Could you have Randi call me as soon as she gets in?"
The older woman paused. "Of course I will, dear. Are you all right?"
Kay thought about the question for a long moment. "I will be, once I can talk to Randi. Please tell her its very important, okay?"
"I certainly will."
The moment she hung up the phone, it rang again. Kay hurriedly answered it, and almost tossed it across the apartment when she found out who was on the other end of the line. "What do you want?"
"Im worried about you, Katie. That woman is no good for you," Beth whined. She was sitting in the truck with her cell phone, looking over at Melissa, who was dropping change into the nearby pay phone.
"Dammit, Beth. Leave me alone and get off the phone," Kay growled.
"Not until you listen to me." Beth watched as Melissa dialed the phone. Keep her on the phone, she says. Easier said than done. The woman wont listen to reason. "Katie, please. You know I love you, and"
Kay sighed. "If you love me so much, then youll honor my wishes and leave me the hell alone."
"I cant do that, Katie. I love you too much. You should be glad, you know."
"Glad about what?"
Beth looked at Melissa, who had turned around and motioned with her hands to keep talking. Shit. "Umm you should be glad that I met Melissa the other night at the bar. If it werent for her, I wouldnt know about how that bitch has been treating you."
"For the last time, Beth, theres nothing wrong with the way Randi treats me." Kay looked at her watch and realized that Randi would be showing up at the clinic any minute now. She thought about what Beth had just said, and something clicked into place. "What bar?"
"That one I followed you to on Saturday " Oh, shit.
Kay felt the other womans panic through the phone. "You followed us? Why?"
"Uh, well. You see, I was trying to"
"Bullshit!" Kay snapped, tired of the game. "You need to get some help, Beth. Get this through your thick skull, once and for all: I dont love you; I never have loved you; and I never will love you!"
"Youre upset, Katie. I can understand that. And believe me, if youd have just treated me nicer, I would have never gone back to Melissas motel room with her. She doesnt really mean anything to me, but shes a nice woman, and I promised to help her." Beth was suddenly the epitome of calm, never taking her eyes off the redhead on the pay phone.
Kay felt like throwing the phone across the room. Dear Lord. She slept with that bitch? And she tells me this while proclaiming her love to me? Beth really is a sick and twisted person. "If she doesnt mean anything to you, why on earth did you sleep with her?"
Oops. "I was drunk, sweetheart. You cant expect me to remember everything when Im drunk." Beth watched as Melissa hung up the pay phone with a triumphant look on her face. I wonder how much longer I have to do this? I hate doing this to Katie, but shell thank me for it later.
"Hang up the phone, Beth. Im not going to ask you again." Kays voice was deadly calm. "You and Melissa deserve each other."
"Wait, baby, I" The phone was jerked out of Beths hand and turned off. "What the fuck did you do that for? I was talking to her."
Melissa tossed the phone into the glove box. "Sounds more to me like you were begging your old girlfriend to take you back." She turned her head away and looked out the window. "I thought we had something, Beth."
Shitshitshitshitshit. Beth scooted across the bench seat in the truck until she was right beside Melissa. "I was just trying to keep her on the phone like you asked, baby. You know I only care for her as a friend."
"Sure," Melissa sniffled, not turning her head. "And all I am to you is a good roll in the hay."
"No, sweetheart. What I feel for you is special. The last two days have meant the world to me." Beth scooted back across the truck and fastened her seatbelt. "Forget it. The only way I can prove to you how much you mean to me, is to kick your exs ass." She started the truck. "Where to, now?"
Melissa checked her watch. "Wait about five more minutes, and then take us back to the apartment. Shell be there."
"Meyers Animal Clinic. How may I help you?" Christina asked professionally.
"Oh, dear. Is this where Randi Meyers works?"
The older woman smiled. "Yes, it is, dear. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Actually, I was trying to reach Randi. I live in the apartment next to hers, and frankly, Im concerned." The womans soft southern drawl was quiet and refined.
"Whats the matter? Is something wrong at her apartment?" Christina asked, worried.
"Im not sure. I saw her leave earlier, so when I heard a car door slam, I knew it wasnt her. Now theres all sorts of arguing going on over there. Ive already called the police, but I thought she might want to know, too." The woman hung up before she could be asked any more information.
Christina stared at the phone, relieved when she saw Joyces car pull up, and two women step out.
Randi and Joyce walked into the clinic, laughing at a shared joke. They quieted almost immediately when they saw Christinas face. "Whats wrong?"
"Kay called a couple of minutes ago, Randi. She asked that you call her back immediately said it was important. Then, right before you walked in, your neighbor called and said that she could hear arguing coming from inside the apartment. She told me that shes already called the police, but -" The older woman moved out of the way while Randi rushed around the desk and picked up the phone.
Her fingers shaking, Randi punched in the numbers while looking at Christina. "What about Kay? Is she okay? Did she tell you what it was about?" And who would she be arguing with?
"No, dear. Im sorry, she didnt. She sounded all right, maybe a bit upset." Christina jumped when the phone was slammed down, hard.
"Goddamn it!" The busy signal caused the nervous flutter in Randis stomach to expand into a full-fledged attach. She started for the door, then realized that she hadnt driven. "Shit!" Turning to the two women watching her, Randi gave Joyce a pleading look. "Can I borrow your car?"
Joyce tossed the vet her keys. "Of course. Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, thats okay," Randi yelled, running out the door. "Thanks!"
Christina picked up the phone and tried Randis number again. The persistent busy signal assaulted her ears, and she quickly hung up the phone. "I hope everythings okay," she murmured, watching through the window as Joyces car spun wildly out of the parking lot.
Beth looked over at Melissa while they were waiting for a light to change. "There's something that doesn't seem just right to me."
"What's that, sugar?"
"Your ex." The light changed, and she moved slowly through it. "You told me she was this mean, nasty bitch who beat up on women."
The redhead turned and glared at Beth, pointing to her swollen eye. "And? Can't you see by my face what she's capable of?"
"Well, yeah. But, back in Woodbridge, I tried to get her to fight me and she practically ran away." Beth's face scrunched up in confusion. "She acted scared of me, not tough or mean at all."
She picks the worst times to actually think. "Bethie, sweetie think about it." Don't hurt yourself, though Melissa's thought wryly. "You're more than capable of taking care of yourself. But look at me - I can't defend myself against anyone."
The mechanic nodded. "You're right. And there's no telling what she's put poor Katie through," she murmured, turning the truck into the apartment complex's private street.
Randi raced the gray Volvo station wagon from the parking lot, almost crying in frustration when she was stuck behind several cars at a red light. "C'mon c'mon, get the hell out of my way," she growled, tapping a nervous beat on the steering wheel. Once the light finally changed, she used the turn lane to pass the cars, not caring what speed she was driving.
Her mind raced with what could be going on at the apartment. Her first thought was of Melissa - she knew what an unstable person the redhead could be, and was genuinely concerned for Kay's safety. Thank God the neighbor already called the police. Seeing the red light almost too late, Randi had to slam on the brakes to keep from flying through the busy intersection. "Dammit!"
The neighbor? Christina said it was a she. The vet's eyes widened in worry. "Ron lives next door, and the couple upstairs is out of town. Damn!" The only other apartment was vacant, and with a sick feeling in her stomach, Randi knew that there would be no police. Tired of waiting, she checked the intersection, saw that it was fairly clear, and hurriedly took off. The Volvo's tires squealed as she fishtailed through the intersection and narrowly avoided being hit by another vehicle.
Kay paced the living room, waiting impatiently for Randi to call. "She should have been there by now," she told Spike, who was never more than a step behind her. The small dog stopped and cocked his head, appearing as if he understood every word. Kay had been a nervous wreck ever since shed talked to Christina.
Although she wasn't afraid of Beth for herself, the thought that Melissa was pulling her former girlfriend's strings only heightened her agitated state. I wonder who actually popped her one. Wish I could have been there to see it. After her momentary lapse in good faith, she knew without a doubt that Randi was not the one responsible for Melissa's makeover. "She'd never lie to me," Kay murmured. She walked over to the recliner and adjusted the afghan that covered it, trying to keep busy so that she wouldn't lose her mind.
"Do you think I need to call back?" she asked Spike. An urgent pounding at the front door halted the conversation. "That's probably her." Without thinking, she opened the door, coming face-to-face with Beth and Melissa. Trying to slam the door, she was pushed back into the living room when Beth shoved the door open.
"Why did you do that, Katie? I just came back to talk to you." The muscular woman followed Kay into the apartment, with Melissa close behind her.
Spike rushed to stand in front of Kay and growled at the intruders. Melissa laughed, closing the door behind her. "He doesn't have much sense, does he?" she asked Kay, who reached down and picked up the protective animal.
"He's a lot smarter than some," Kay retorted, glaring openly at Beth.
Beth took another step towards Kay, but stopped at the dog's shrill bark. "Dammit, Katie! Either go lock that mutt up somewhere, or I'll wring its noisy little neck."
Not wanting to antagonize the woman any further, Kay carried Spike down the hallway and put him in the master bedroom, closing the door. She didn't actually think that Beth would stoop to such a level, but cared too much for the little dog to find out. I don't know what Melissa has told her, but it's obviously warped her way of thinking. Turning around, she almost ran into Beth. "Would you please just say what you have to say, and then leave?" She looked over her ex-girlfriend's shoulder and met Melissa's cold gaze. "What about you? What do you get out of all of this?"
"Hopefully, to see justice served." Melissa walked up behind Beth and put her arms around the mechanic, propping her chin on the heavier woman's shoulder. "Isn't that right, sugar?"
Kay backed up until she was standing against the closed bathroom door at the end of the hall. "What kind of justice?"
"Let us take you out of here, Katie. You won't have to be afraid of that woman anymore," Beth pleaded. She took several more steps, but stopped and held out her hands when she saw the fear in the younger woman's eyes. "C'mon, baby. I'm not going to hurt you, honest."
"I don't want to be taken out of here, Beth! I know it's hard for you to understand, but Randi and I are very happy. She's the kindest, most gentle person I've ever known." Kay pointed to Melissa. "And I don't know what really happened to you, Melissa, but I know that Randi didn't touch you."
Melissa moved to stand between Beth and Kay. "She's lying, sugar. You know this little slut is just trying to protect that bitch."
The front door opened and silenced them all momentarily.
"Kay?" Randi called, closing the door behind her. "Where are you?" She headed for the kitchen in search of her lover. "Kay?"
Before Kay could say a word, Melissa lunged at her and slammed her hand over the blonde's mouth. She nodded to Beth, who rubbed her hands together and started down the hallway.
Kay struggled to free herself from the redhead's grasp, twisting and pulling at the strong hand gagging her. She was dragged forward, then Melissa moved in behind her and wrapped her free arm around Kay's middle.
"Want to go up front and watch the fun? I've got Beth so stirred up, there's no telling what she might do to that sanctimonious bitch you're living with," Melissa whispered, shoving Kay forward roughly.
Randi stepped out of the kitchen and was about to head for the hallway when she ran into Beth. "What the hell are you doing here? Where's Kay?" She was caught off guard when Beth wrapped both hands in the front of her shirt and slammed her back against the wall. "Hey!"
"Shut the fuck up," the mechanic growled. She pushed Randi harder, enjoying the look of fear on the older woman's face. "You like hitting women, bitch?"
"What?" Randi struggled, pulling ineffectually at Beth's hands. "What the hell are you talking about?" She gasped as she was pulled away from the wall, then slammed back against it, harder than before. "Have you lost your mind?"
Beth leaned closer until she was inches away from the vet's face. "I should kill you for what you did to Melissa, not to mention poor little Katie." She shoved Randi into the wall again. "What kind of sick asshole knocks around poor defenseless women?"
From their vantage point in the hallway, Kay and Melissa could see everything. "Looks like the action's just getting started, sugar. This is gonna be fun."
Kay watched in horror as Beth slammed her lover into the wall, repeatedly. Unable to get loose from Melissa's hold, she bit down with all her might on the hand covering her mouth, while at the same time she stomped on her captor's foot.
"You little bitch!" Melissa yelled. She shoved Kay hard in the back, causing the younger woman to fall to the ground.
Beth turned her head at Melissa's cry and saw the redhead push her beloved onto the floor. She grunted in pain when Randi's knee came up and slammed into her groin. "Shit," she gasped, falling to the floor.
"Kay!" Randi saw Melissa reach for Kay's hair and dove forward to knock the redhead to the carpet. "You goddamned bitch! I ought to kill you!" Randi yelled, straddling the older woman and blocking the ineffective blows.
"Hold it! Police!" Two voices rang in unison. A pair of uniformed police officers stood just inside the doorway to the apartment, hands poised on their guns.
Randi continued to struggle with Melissa, finally capturing the elusive hands and pinning them to the floor. "Stop it, Melissa. Just stop it," she panted. The older woman continued to struggle, kicking and twisting.
"Thank God you're here," Kay wheezed, climbing to her feet. "These two crazies," she pointed at Beth, who was sitting up on the floor, "shoved their way into our apartment, and were threatening to hurt my partner."
The female officer stepped cautiously forward. "You live here, ma'am?" she asked Kay. Noticing the blood on the blonde's chin she asked, "Are you injured? Do you need medical assistance?"
Kay wiped at her chin and pointed to the two women still struggling in the hallway. "No, I'm okay. It's not my blood." She watched in satisfaction as the male officer handcuffed Beth. I can't believe they tried something as crazy as this.
"Ma'am, if I could get you to step over there, please," the woman asked, pointing to the door.
Two more officers stepped into the apartment. One of them helped Beth to her feet and escorted her from the room. The first two officers worked together to pull Randi and Melissa apart. "Break it up," the male officer ordered as he grabbed the dark-haired woman by the shoulder.
The vet turned and almost swung at the cops until she realized who they were. With their help, Randi stood up and staggered over to Kay, wrapping her arms around her. They stood quietly for several minutes until one of the officers cleared her throat.
"I'm sorry to disturb you." The woman officer, whose nametag read Delano, led the two women to the sofa and gestured for them to sit down. "We're going to need a statement from you two." She looked at Randi, who had smears of blood on her face and shirt. "Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so," Randi answered, looking down at her body. She looked over at Kay and tried to reassure her. "It's not mine."
Kay looked down at their linked hands. "It's probably Melissa's. I had to get away from her somehow," she mumbled.
Officer Delano leaned forward. "What exactly did you do?"
"I bit her," Kay admitted. She heard a giggle, and looked up at Randi, whose smile had grown. "Do you think I need to get a rabies shot?"
Randi laughed, and the female officer struggled to keep from smiling.
"Go ahead and laugh," Melissa yelled from the doorway. "This isn't over, Randi. I'll -" she was pulled away from the apartment before she could finish. "You're dead, you bitch!" Melissa shrieked from the front lawn.
"I'm assuming you want to press charges?" Officer Delano asked.
Kay nodded. "You're damn right we're pressing charges. Although, in Beth's defense, I think she was heavily influenced by Melissa."
"All right." The officer sat back and flipped open her notebook. "If you'll start at the beginning, I'll try to make this as quick as possible."
Both women enjoyed the calm after the last police officer left the small apartment, the silence almost deafening. Kay closed the door and leaned back against it. "I am so glad that's over," she muttered. It had taken well over an hour to clear their home, and although she was thankful for the timely arrival of the officers, her nerves had taken a heavy toll from the entire ordeal. She was tired, irritable, and more than a little concerned about her partner. The older woman hadn't left her spot on the sofa since they had given their statements, and was now reclined with her head tilted back and her eyes closed. "Randi?"
"Are you all right?" Kay sat down next to her lover and touched her arm. Randi had several scratches on her face and neck from Melissa's sharp nails, and it had taken all of Kay's considerable verbal skills to have Randi allow someone to clean the small wounds.
One brown eye opened and regarded Kay. "Uh-huh. I'm fine. How about you?" Although it was only lunchtime, Randi was pretty sure that they'd both have trouble sleeping tonight after the morning's excitement. Of course, we don't have to sleep now, do we? She smiled faintly at the thought.
"That's an interesting smile. Care to share?"
"Mmm." Randi reached out and pulled the younger woman close. "Wanna fool around?" she asked, nibbling on one of Kay's ears.
Kay shivered. God, just the sound of her voice excites me. She turned her head and attacked Randi's lips hungrily. Cool air hit Kay's back as the shirt she was wearing was pulled up, and she broke away from the kiss just long enough to allow Randi to pull the top over her head. Warm hands traced patterns across her back, sending goosebumps over her body, while Kay struggled to unbutton Randi's once-pressed shirt. Her hands were shaking too badly to work the buttons, so in a fit of impatience she ripped the shirt open, sending buttons flying everywhere.
"Anxious, love?" Randi teased, while taking small bites on Kay's throat. She made quick work of Kay's bra and was about to unsnap the slacks, when she was pushed onto her back. "I'll take that as a yes."
After removing Randi's bra, Kay noticed two light bruises on her chest. "What -"
"Must have been where Beth had her hands in my shirt and shoved me," Randi answered matter-of-factly, looking down at the area. "I'm glad I didn't go with my first instinct."
"Which was?" Kay put the palms of her hands over the bruises in an attempt to somehow heal them with her touch.
Randi grinned. "When I first saw her in the house, the only thing in my mind was that she had done something to you. All I wanted to do was punch that ugly face of hers." She put her hands over Kay's. "But she's pretty strong. I'd have gotten my ass kicked all over the place," she admitted ruefully.
Kay frowned. "It's not funny, Randi. You could have been seriously hurt." She brushed the fingertips of one hand over the older woman's face, careful to miss the scratches. "As it is, you look like you've been in a battle with a mountain lion, or something."
"Melissa's definitely an 'or something.'" Randi reached up and captured Kay's hand, placing a kiss on the palm. "How about we finish this conversation in the bedroom? This damned couch is too small to go much further."
"Bedroom," Kay agreed, then covered her mouth with one hand. "Oh, no! Spike!" She jumped up from the sofa and hurried down the hall. Moments later, she returned with a very perturbed dog in her arms.
Randi sat up. "I was wondering where he was. What was he doing in the bedroom?" She watched as Kay continued to talk to Spike and kiss the top of his head, and was surprised to see tears flowing from her lover's eyes. "Kay? What's the matter?"
"I put him in the bedroom when Beth threatened to hurt him," Kay sniffled, rubbing her face against Spike's soft fur.
"She what? I should have gone with my first instinct, after all." Randi reached over and scratched the small dog behind the ears. "Thanks for watching out for him."
Kay heard the emotion in her lover's voice, and understood exactly how Randi felt. "I'm pretty fond of him, myself," she admitted. Spike squirmed out of her arms and jumped to the floor, looking at the front door and then back to the two women on the sofa. "I think he's trying to tell us something."
The vet stood up. "Appears so. I'd better take him for a quick walk, before he disowns us." Spike heard the word "walk" and raced over to the front door. He turned and barked, then looked back up at the door. "All right, I'm coming," Randi grumbled.
"Umm, honey?" Kay watched as Randi struggled to clip the lead to Spike's collar. The small animal bounced around, making catching him difficult.
"As much as I enjoy the view, don't you think it would be a good idea to slip a shirt on, or something?"
Randi looked down at her body and blushed. "Sounds like a good idea." She rushed to the bedroom and came back moments later wearing a heavy sweatshirt. "Be back in a flash," she promised Kay, who had slipped her shirt back on and was picking up the discarded clothing.
"If I hadn't stopped you, you'd definitely be flashing," Kay teased, getting a smirk from her friend. She stood and watched until the door closed behind Randi, then shook her head. "I've got it bad, all right."
Kay had just picked up the last button from the floor when the phone rang. With a heavy sigh, she grabbed the cordless receiver before it rang again. "Hello?"
"Kay? Is everything all right over there?" Christina's voice was breathless, and the older woman sounded very upset.
Damn. I forgot all about calling the clinic. Some office manager I am, not even thinking about them. "I'm sorry, Christina. It's been crazy around here, and the police just left a few minutes ago."
"So they did get there?"
"Yeah, just in time, too. Wait - how did you know about the police?" Kay sat down on the sofa and propped her feet up on the coffee table. She held the clothes in her lap, and still had a handful of buttons.
"I called them," Christina admitted. "Some anonymous woman called right after you did, asking for Randi. She was telling me some strange story about how she was a neighbor, and could hear yelling coming from your apartment, and wanted to make sure that I told Randi."
Her mind whirling with the possibilities, Kay was silent for a long moment. Melissa! I bet she was making sure that Randi showed up over here, while that damned Beth kept me on the phone. "Did the caller have a really pronounced accent? Like a Scarlett O' Hara wannabe?"
"She sure did," the older woman answered. "I thought it sounded pretty fishy, so after Randi took off like her tailfeathers were on fire, I called the police. What did happen over there, anyway?"
"It's a long and complicated story, Christina. I'll be glad to tell you the whole thing later, if that's okay." Kay looked up as the front door opened and Randi walked back inside. "Wait, Randi just walked in. Let me let you talk to her, okay?" She walked over and handed Randi the cordless phone. "Christina," she mouthed.
The vet took the phone and handed Kay the leash. "Trade you," she whispered. "Hi, Christina. Sorry we didn't call sooner."
"As long as the two of you are all right, that's all the matters, dear. Will you be coming back up to the clinic today?"
Randi looked over at Kay. The younger woman was saying something to Spike, and the two of them walked into the kitchen, giving Randi some privacy. She thought about the question. I don't think I could concentrate on work after this morning's excitement. And, if I'm honest with myself, I'm exhausted. "No, I don't think so, Christina. Tell everyone they can take the rest of the day off, and we'll try again tomorrow."
"I certainly will." Christina's voice quieted. "You sound tired, Randi. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Nothing a little rest and quiet won't cure," Randi assured her. Memories of her frantic drive to the apartment flashed through her mind. Damn. I forgot about Joyce's car. "Christina? Is Joyce close by?"
"She sure is. Hold on a moment."
There was a muted thump and then Joyce's amused voice came on the line. "Hello, Mario."
"Yup. The way you took off out of here, I could have sworn you were Mario Andretti," her assistant teased. "Seriously, though, I'm glad that everything's okay. Christina told me that you were giving us the rest of the day off?"
"Yeah." Still antsy, Randi walked over to a window and peeked through the blinds. She was relieved to see that Joyce's car was actually parked fairly well, and wasn't blocking the driveway. "Thanks for letting me borrow your car. I'll get it back to you in a few minutes."
Joyce paused for a moment. "Hold on, boss." A minute later, she returned. "Christina said that she'll give me a ride over. Now you don't have to get back out today, if you don't want to."
"Thanks, Joyce. I'll have to think of something nice to repay you."
"No need. You can just give us the scoop once we get there -how's that?"
Randi turned away from the window, a small smile on her face. She knew how much Joyce loved to talk, and figured it would be easier to tell her than to have to relate the story to everyone in the office over the next few days. "Sounds great. How about I order a pizza and feed you lunch at the same time?"
"Oooh, great idea! You know I never turn down a free meal." Joyce's voice took on a serious tone. "Is there anything we can bring you, Randi? From what little I know, it sounds like you've had a harrowing morning."
"No, I think we're okay. But thanks for asking."
"All righty, then. We'll be there in about fifteen minutes or so - just need time to lock the place up."
The vet's smile widened at the concern from her friend. "Okay, Joyce. We'll be expecting you. Goodbye." Randi hung up the phone just as Kay came back into the living room, alone. "I suppose His Majesty was requesting lunch?"
Kay walked up until she was standing inches away from her lover. "With all the excitement, I didn't get a chance to give him breakfast. But, I think he forgives me." She wrapped her arms around Randi's body and rubbed her cheek against the sweatshirt, squeezing hard. "Mmm I think I needed this."
"I know I did," Randi murmured. Her arms went around Kay without conscious thought, and she tucked her face against the blonde's neck.
Feeling the arms around her tighten, Kay smiled. "How's everything at the office?"
The older woman pulled back slightly. "Fine. Christina and Joyce will be here in a few minutes to get Joyce's car. I offered to buy them pizza, so that we'd at least have lunch while we told them all about what happened today."
"Good idea." Kay reached up under Randi's sweatshirt, surprised to find only warm flesh, and no undergarment. "Oooh looks like you forgot something."
"I didn't forget - just didn't want to be bothered with it," Randi rationalized. "But, I guess I'd better become a bit more presentable, since we're having company."
Kay didn't like the idea, but she understood it. "Well, I suppose - if you absolutely have to." Her hazel eyes took on a teasing glint. "Besides, I don't like to share. No sense in giving Joyce or Christina a thrill, now, is there?"
Randi rolled her eyes. "Please. Even if there was something worth seeing, neither one of them would be interested." She wrapped one arm around the younger woman's shoulders and escorted her down the hallway. "C'mon. You can help me get dressed."
"I'd rather help you get undressed," Kay leered, pinching Randi on the rear, causing the older woman to screech and run. "But, I guess I'll have to behave. Just don't expect me not to rip your clothes off the minute they leave." She loved the sound of her friend's laughter as they raced to the bedroom.
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