By Mavis Applewater
Disclaimers: The story and its characters are the sole possession of the author and may not be reproduced, posted or sold without the author’s permission. So there! If for any reason real or imagined you are uncomfortable with graphic descriptions of two consenting adult women in sexual situations, then do not read this story or anything else I have ever written. If for any reason it is illegal for you to view this material then please go away until it is no longer a crime for you to view my work.
A very special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mary.
As always this is for Heather.
I knew everything about her. Janis Margaret Donnelley had been my best friend, confidant, and so much more. It was as if we were a part of one another from the day we met. Then there was the secret about us that I kept hidden from everyone including myself. Janis had come to live in our pristine Northern California neighborhood when the both of us were barely twelve years old.
Janis had been an outsider from the Midwest of all places. She had lost her parents and two brothers in a horrible car accident that summer. Her life had been spared since she was away at summer camp when the tragic event occurred. Having no other relatives she was shipped off to live with her elderly Aunt Helen. By the time J.D., as I liked to call her, entered our world, friendships and cliques had already been very well established.
J.D. was an outsider and my nearest and dearest friends never let her forget it. I didn’t care that she was the new kid on the block or lived in the big Mansion with the creepy old woman at the top of the hill. There was something about the awkward tall skinny girl with the electric blue eyes that I found positively irresistible. J.D. and I became fast friends much to the disappointment of my preteen inner circle.
As the years passed I was forced to endure warnings from my other friends about J.D. and her loose ways. Paige tried to caution me about the path J.D. was traveling, and Angie was just being her snotty old self. Even Bob, my high school beau, warned me to stay away from her. I didn’t listen to them since none of them knew about the bond that she and I shared. What no one knew then, or now, was that we had been lovers. In fact she had been my first lover. Yet, I didn’t allow myself to think of her that way since she was a woman. It had taken me a great many years to admit that even to myself.
She was the first person to touch me and I took her for granted simply because I couldn’t accept the depth of our feelings. She stood by and watched as I dated Bob. It took a toll on the both of us, yet we still clung to one another even when the road she began to travel turned dark. Around the time we turned seventeen J.D. discovered a way to shut out the pain. Angie would fill my ears with a condescending, ‘I told you so.’ While Paige was far more understanding even she cautioned me when J.D.’s life started spinning out of control. Again I turned a deaf ear to their warnings, they didn’t know her the way that I did.
J.D. stood just less than six feet tall; she had long chestnut hair that absolutely shimmered, and the most amazing smile. She took her coffee with extra cream and sugar, she smoked Marlboro lights, and she liked her margaritas New Orleans style with 1800 tequila when she could afford it. She preferred white wine to red. And during her seventeenth year she spent most of her time and money on whatever drug would numb her body, mind and soul.
I never knew when the drugs started. All I knew was that little by little she was slipping away from the world and me. Not surprisingly, after she barely squeaked by in High School, she didn’t follow the rest of us to college. I refused to give up on her or shut her out. I tried to get her help. She would promise to clean up her act and a few times she managed to keep her promise for at least a month. Then the cocaine would return.
Despite my parents concerns, during my junior year at UCSF, I took an apartment off campus with J.D. I foolishly assumed that I might be able to help her. The living situation turned out to be a nightmare. My refusal to admit to the true nature of our relationship drove her further into despair. Near the end of the fall semester of my senior year I had enough. There were just too many fights when she was soaring out of control, and too many nights of finding her passed out on the living room floor. Asking her to leave was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my young life. I secretly hoped that it would provide the push she needed to get her life together.
I was wrong and J.D. slipped further into the darkness that was consuming her. I tried to stay in her life, but at times it was difficult. She would arrive at my home looking and smelling like she hadn’t bathed in weeks, all lit up begging me for another chance. I stood firm each time allowing her to stay for a few days and forcing her out each time she started using again.
I graduated with honors and my parents threw a huge party for me. In an effort to mend the fences between J.D. and myself I invited her to the party. It was a mistake. She showed up looking as if she had been living on the streets and high as a kite. She was angry and caused a scene. My father finally had to escort her out of the party.
Once again she slipped out of my life, and yet she was never far from my thoughts. Then on New Years Eve 1993 J.D. made a most unexpected reappearance in my life. It was quite a party that I had arranged to celebrate the coming of the New Year and my promotion at the small advertising firm I worked for. I thought having the party out on the water was a wonderful idea. Slightly chilling, but very romantic and festive. The boat circled the bay all night. I never knew that J.D. had slipped on board before we left the dock.
My heart almost stopped when I saw her leaning against the railing away from the other guests. Despite her rumpled appearance I felt encouraged by the light in her amazing blue eyes that had been dull and lifeless the last time I had seen her. Over the din of the parties from our boat and others sailing around awaiting the fireworks, I tried to talk to her. She was quieter than usual and there was a strange gleam in her eyes that I knew wasn’t from drugs.
At least I thought she wasn’t high until she started ranting like a lunatic drawing everyone’s attention. Her actions grew more bizarre with each passing moment as I tried to calm her. She climbed up onto the railing. My heart was pounding as I pleaded with her to get down. Angie, who I mistakenly invited, told her to jump. And she did. J.D. disappeared into the dark icy water. I screamed out as I rushed towards the railing. I searched the dark water as the boat came to a halt. When they failed to find her I prayed that one of the boats had pulled her from the cold water of the bay.
Rescue workers searched all night. J.D.’s body was never found. In the blink of an eye she had slipped beneath the surface of the water, taking a part of my heart with her. Ten years later I still carried the guilt in my heart. Even as my career blossomed I felt as if I had failed.
It was a cold day in New York City when I arrived. My flight to the opposite coast was a painful reminder that our world was forever changed. I felt sadness once I arrived in the city and found myself searching the skyline for something that was no longer there. I almost cried when I realized that it was the sight of the towers looming over the city that was vacant. Somehow I managed to shake off the thoughts as I proceeded towards the office building where I was to meet with Frank Strivers.
After I was checked in by security in the lobby, which was yet another reminder to me just how the world had changed, I mentally prepared myself for my meeting with Strivers. He was the agent for a little known photographer and artist named Karen Merrick. The artist had created a painting and photograph of a wolf that was completely amazing. It was of a wolf staring out from a snow-covered landscape. I had seen the painting and the photo that had inspired it many times. There was something in the wolf’s eyes that was mesmerizing. It had drawn the attention of one of my clients who wanted to use the image for a series of ads. The only problem was that even if the elusive Ms. Merrick had sold her work to companies marketing products, she flatly refused to allow the image to be used for the new line of vodka my client was producing.
Mr. Strivers assured me that she could not be swayed on this issue. I had suggested to my client that we go with a similar image. They refused, they wanted the Merrick print, and I think were a little fearful that if they used a similar image, they could be facing a lawsuit. It was a valid concern, and I had to admit the stunning image that Merrick had captured was perfect for the ads.
As I crossed the lobby lost in my thoughts of just how I was going to persuade Mr. Strivers that it would be very beneficial for both him and his client to do business with my agency suddenly my breathing seized. I saw a haunting familiar image emerging from the elevators. “J.D.?” I whispered in astonishment as I watched the ghost crossing the lobby without noticing me. Her hair was different, almost jet-black. My heart was pounding as I looked into her eyes. “Brown,” I muttered with a sense of disappointment when I failed to find J.D.’s amazing blue eyes staring back at me. Still, despite the different color of her hair and eyes, the way she moved and the brilliant smile made me feel as if I was staring into the past. “It can’t be.” I muttered as I ran my fingers through my short blonde hair as the woman gave me a troubled look before she glided past me.
My heart was stilling pounding and my palms had begun to sweat as I watched her leave the building. I rushed after her almost tripping as I raced across the polished floor of the lobby. When I stumbled out onto the street the apparition was nowhere to been seen. I stumbled back into the lobby and sat down. I tried to calm the rapid beating of my heart as my head reminded me that this woman had brown eyes and J.D. had jumped to her death almost a decade ago.
I still felt shaky as I rode the elevator up to Frank Striver’s office. I tried to focus on what I knew about Karen Merrick. She grew up in Alaska and received an MFA from the University Of New Mexico, Taos. I found it very interesting that someone who had grown up in Alaska would opt to continue his or her education in New Mexico. That and Ms. Merrick didn’t earn her degree until she was in her late twenties. As much as I tried to focus on the elusive artist and how I could persuade her to sell her work to my clients, I was still troubled by the woman I had seen earlier.
My mind was still clouded by the stranger’s image as I sat in Frank Striver’s office. He was a small blonde man with a very slight build. “I don’t what else I can say Miss Moore.” He tried to explain in frustration.
“Call me Tyler.” I offered hoping to relax the agitated man.
“Tyler Moore?” He responded with surprise. I could see the familiar grin forming on his lips. It is something I had long ago become accustomed to. “You’re parents had quite the sense of humor.”
“To say the least,” I agreed once again thankful that my parents didn’t add the Mary. “Now back to Ms. Merrick, frankly I don’t understand why she is so reluctant to sell the rights to the photograph and painting. She has sold her work for capitalistic endeavors in the past.”
“Karen has her reasons,” He explained, and I began to understand that Ms. Merrick was probably a close friend as well as a client. “It isn’t selling the work that she has a problem with it is the product.” The careful tone he used explained everything to me. Karen Merrick grew up in a rural area, alcohol abuse would have been commonplace and perhaps the artist had endured many demons regarding the subject.
“It seems I’ve wasted a trip,” I sighed knowing that if my suspicions were correct there was no way Ms. Merrick was going to have a change of heart. “My clients are going to be very disappointed.”
“I’m sorry,” He apologized in a sincere voice. “Perhaps some of my other client’s work would be suitable?”
I accepted his offer hoping to find something that would justify my trip and appease my clients. We studied over photos for most of the afternoon until we were both exhausted. I felt better having a couple of works that I thought my clients would accept in exchange. Often my mind still wandered back to the mysterious woman I had glanced earlier in the day. “I hope we can work together,” I offered as I gathered up the artwork that I would be emailing back to my office. “I am sorry that I couldn’t at least meet Ms. Merrick. I really admire her work.”
“Karen has a real talent with a paint brush and a camera,” he boasted convincing me once again that he and the artist shared more than a professional relationship. Of course his slightly flamboyant nature informed me that it wasn’t a romantic connection. I had a feeling that Frank Strivers had been to every single Cher concert he could get tickets for. “I must admit Karen’s people skills leave a lot to be desired. She doesn’t like meeting with buyers, especially those from the west coast.”
“Really?” I said with surprise. I understood that many artists were uncomfortable when it came to the money people, which is why they hire people like Frank Strivers. “I think I should be insulted. Not all blonde California girls are airheads.” I teased as I rose out of my chair and stretched out my body.
“Artists,” he laughed. “I’ll never understand them. Karen is actually one of my saner clients. May I be so bold as to invite you to dinner tonight?”
“I’d like that since it appears that my time in New York will be cut short,” I agreed with a smile. “Over dinner you can fill me in on some of your nuttier clientele.”
We made plans for Frank to meet me at my hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner at a small Italian restaurant. I had to admit that Frank was very witty and I was finally able to relax. “So he would only paint in the nude, he also met with me that way,” Frank continued as we sipped our coffee. “I wouldn’t mind except he weighed over three hundred pounds and had the hairiest body I’ve ever seen. Now why is it that the ones with bodies like Calvin Klein models like to wear clothes?”
“Pity,” I laughed along with him. “Thank you for dinner. After the day I’ve had I really needed a chance to enjoy good company.”’
“My pleasure,” he smiled in response. “I’m just sorry you flew all the way across the country.”
“That wasn’t the only thing bothering me,” I confessed feeling at ease with him. “Something happened just before I met with you that has thrown me a little off kilter.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it over drinks,” he suggested with a warm smile. “There is little club not far from here. We could walk?”
I agreed since I was really enjoyed Frank’s company, and I really did want to talk to someone about what had happened, if for no other reason, than to have an objective ear that would talk some sense into me. Frank and I walked over to the small club. Since it was early in the week we were spared from the constant thumping of house music. I was a little uncomfortable when I realized that we were in a gay bar. I still found my sexuality difficult to deal with. Perhaps being in a gay club would provide me with more of a sense of ease, and I could finally tell someone about why J.D.’s death still troubled me.
“Are you sure you want to hear this?” I asked him once we had ordered a couple of cocktails. Once again his response was a warm and very understanding smile. “Okay, you asked for it.
“Duly noted.” He conceded as he took a sip from his cosmopolitan.
“Did you ever see a complete stranger and were convinced that they were someone you knew? But they aren‘t,” I carefully began. “That is what happened to me today. I saw this woman in the lobby of your building who was the spitting image of a girl I grew up with.”
“Maybe it was her?” He suggested.
“It couldn’t have been J.D., she Uhm . . . “ I stammered as the words almost choked me. “She died about ten years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Frank offered gently as he patted my hand. “Were the two of you close?”
“Yeah,” I choked out as long forgotten tears begin to fill my eyes. “Only thing is no one knew just how close we were. That was my fault. I still haven’t told anyone.”
“Oh?” He responded with a hint of surprise.
“I’m a coward,” I finally confessed for the first time in my life as I felt the guilt crushing me. “I live in San Francisco and I’m in the closet. How ironic is that? I still don’t really accept it. So you thought the artists you have to deal with are freaks?” I laughed, as his smile turned sympathetic. “Seeing that woman today just brought it all back to me. She looked so much like J.D. it was almost spooky, except the color of her hair and eyes, and there she is.” I gasped as I spotted the same brunette entering the club.
Frank spun around quickly and started to choke. “Her?” He stammered slightly as. Much to my horror, he waved the tall brunette over. My heart was pounding as I watched her eyes narrow and her body stiffened before she started walking in our direction. “That is Karen Merrick.” He explained quickly to me in a hushed whisper.
I was stunned by the admission as the grim faced woman stepped up next to Frank. “Karen Merrick, I’d like to introduce Tyler Moore,” he offered in an effort to ease the tension.
“Nice to meet you.” She greeted me in a hauntingly familiar tone that sent a shiver up and down my spine.
“Ms. Merrick.” I responded as I began to shift nervously on my barstool. My tension grew as I noticed the tall brunette avoiding my gaze. Frank was right this one certainly did lack people skills. J.D. had been standoffish but this woman was like an iceberg.
Frank stared up at the obviously uncomfortable woman with his jaw hanging open. “Uhm Tyler is with Dunbar the ones who wanted the wolf artwork.” Frank explained as the artist clenched her jaw and stared down at him.
“I understand that it isn’t for sale,” I offered in an effort to ease the tension. I also understood that I wasn’t helping matters by the way I was staring at her. “I’m sorry.” I apologized quickly as I turned towards the bar and began to sip my cocktail.
“For?” She muttered and once again I felt a shiver.
“Staring for starters,” I continued to apologize as I turned back towards her. I noticed that she quickly diverted her eyes. “You look like someone I use to know.”
“Happens?” She shrugged.
“It’s late,” I blurted out quickly as I pushed my drink aside. I couldn’t endure another moment around this woman who was so much like J.D. “I should be going.”
“Are you sure?” Frank asked as I stood.
“Yes,” I answered with a heavy sigh. “It has been a long day.”
“Let me walk you back to your hotel?” He offered.
“No, thank you,” I quickly declined simply eager to get away from the artist. “I’ll just grab a cab.”
“Are you sure?” He repeated.
“Yes,” I answered him with a slight smile. “I will see you in the morning, hopefully with an offer.”
Once I had returned to my hotel room I took a long hot bath, which did nothing to alleviate my troubles. I paced around the room muttering to myself until I was certain that I had lost complete touch with reality. Finally I picked up the telephone and called Paige. She was grumpy when I awakened her; even with the time difference it was still very late for her.
After she woke up slightly and listened to my story she was very sympathetic. “Tyler we all saw J.D. jump and not come back up,” she gently reminded me. “I know it hurt you the most, but she’s gone.”
“I know,” I sobbed, as I hated myself for once again not telling Paige everything. “I just feel like maybe I could have said or done something to stop her.”
“Tyler there was nothing you could have done.” She reassured me.
I finally agreed with her only so I could end the telephone call and cry. The tears burst from me, as I felt lost in the pain from long ago. My pain felt as fresh as it did that night J.D. took her life. A part of me hated her for doing it and leaving me, and a part of me hated myself for not being the person she needed me to be. I didn’t sleep that night. I waited for a reply from my boss before I headed back towards Frank’s office. I was so exhausted that I could barely navigate the busy streets.
I stopped at a coffee shop just around the corner from my destination. “I can’t believe this,” I muttered under my breath when I spotted Karen Merrick in front of me waiting to place her order. I inched closer to hear her coffee selection a part of me still lost in the false hope that she really was J.D., “Come on.” I muttered as she approached the counter. My heart dropped when she ordered a black coffee without sugar. Another small difference that reminded me that she wasn’t J.D. She turned to find me staring at her once again. Once again her entire body stiffened. “Hello.” I mumbled as I blushed suddenly feeling very silly.
“Hello again.” She curtly offered as she brushed past me.
I let her go and stepped up and placed my own order. I trudged over to Frank’s office only to come face to face with the mysterious Karen Merrick once again. She was tapping her portfolio as she sat in a chair, apparently waiting to meet with Frank. His secretary informed me that he was tied up and I should take a seat.
“I guess he is busy.” I offered as an icebreaker.
“Yeah,” she grunted in response as she chewed on her bottom lip in a nervous fashion. “I’m sorry Miss Moore I’m not usually this annoying.”
I was taken aback by the woman’s apology. “No I’m the one who should be apologizing,” I quickly offered. “I keep staring at you like you have sprouted another head.”
“I hope not,” she quipped. “I have a hard enough time dealing with this one,” I laughed at her teasing and it felt good. “Frank told me about your friend the one who committed suicide.”
“You look so much like her it is frightening,” I tried to explain. “I’m sorry. What a terrible way to introduce myself to someone.”
“Understandable under the circumstances.” She reassured me.
I nodded as I tried to think of something to keep the conversation going. There was something about this woman that drew me in. I knew that it was her resemblance to J.D. that was the catalyst behind my need to connect with her. Still it didn’t hinder my efforts and I began an easy conversation. She seemed more than a little hesitant but finally she began to open up. We didn’t talk about anything deep, since she was reluctant and I was still looking at her like she was J.D. The only things I learned about her in the hour that passed was she missed the open space of New Mexico, She loved focusing her artistic talents on wildlife and nature and unlike J.D. she didn’t smoke.
When the secretary informed me that Frank would be ready to see me soon, Karen released a throaty growl that was so like what J.D. did whenever she was frustrated that I once again had to remind myself that she wasn’t her. Karen looked at her watch and scowled. “Hilda give him these,” she informed the busy secretary as she handed her the portfolio. “I’ll be leaving town so if he needs to get in touch with me he will have to email me.”
I waved goodbye to the artist and waited for just a few moments before a very flustered Frank emerged from his office. “Tyler, “ he greeted me. “I’m sorry about keeping you waiting.”
“No problem,” I reassured him as I stood. I was about to tell him that I spent the time chatting with Karen when something occurred to me. My jaw dropped and my paperwork spilled to the floor. “Suicide? I didn’t tell you that.”
I can only imagine how stunned Hilda and Frank were when I dashed out of the room leaving my paperwork lying on the floor. I ran as fast as I could and was thankful that the elevator doors opened up just as I approached it. If I had stopped to think about my actions I probably would have come to my senses and returned to Frank’s office. Once the elevator stopped in the lobby I bolted out the door and raced after her. This time I found her. Karen Merrick had made it almost all the way down the street, yet this time I could still see her retreating form.
I felt as if my lungs were going to explode as I dodged around people still running after the woman. I finally caught up with her just as she was entering a stylish apartment building. “Wait!” I cried out as the doorman held the door for her. She stared at me with disbelief as I puffed and panted my way over to her. I was amazed that I caught up with her; my tiny legs were aching from the run. “Are you alright?” She asked me.
“No,” I panted as I shook my head. “I think I’m losing what little sanity I have left. I never told Frank that J.D. committed suicide. How did you know?”
“I guessed,” she stammered and I knew she was lying. Her face fell when I flashed an accusing glance at her. “Damn it. You better come inside with me.” She hissed as she grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the building.
I could feel the sweat rolling off my body as she kept a tight hold on my arm as she signed us into her home. She practically yanked me onto the elevator. “You want to tell me what is going on?” I demanded.
“Not yet,” she responded in a frightened voice.
We rode the rest of the trip to the seventh floor in silence. My mind and body were screaming as I followed her to the door. She unlocked the door and quickly ushered me in. I watched as she punched in a code to the alarm. It beeped accepting the digits and she closed and locked the door behind us. She stood there for a moment with her back to me.
“I hated you for leaving me,” I finally blurted out in anger. Even if she wasn’t J.D., I had to say it. I finally had to let go of the anger and guilt. Somehow meeting Karen had spurred me on to do just that.
She sighed heavily as she turned to me. Her hands were shaking as she lifted them to her eyes and began to remove her contacts. “I hated myself.” She confessed as her crystal blue eyes filled with tears.
“Why?” I screamed as I swung out at her.
She captured my arms and pulled me against her body. “You have no idea what you have gotten yourself involved with.” She choked out.
“Why?” I repeated this time with a sob as the tears over took me.
I was lost as I felt her leading me over to the sofa and helping me sit. Her arms tightened around my body as I wept uncontrollably. She rocked me in her arms until I couldn’t cry anymore. She helped me off with my coat and handed me a box of Kleenex. “I don’t understand this,” I sniffed as she removed her own coat. “Ten years. I gave the eulogy at your funeral.”
“You did?” She said with surprise.
“Yes I did,” I hissed. “Of course at the time I didn’t realize how premature it was. Damn it J.D why did you do this?”
“Did you tell anyone?” She asked me in a grave tone.
“Tell anyone what?” I asked as I felt the anger returning.
“That you saw me.” She clarified in an impatient tone.
“I called Paige last night and told her about Karen Merrick,” I explained as her face dimmed. “Now are you going to tell what this is all about?”
“Paige probably won’t mention it to anyone,” She responded thoughtfully. “She probably thinks you are imagining things.”
“She does,” I confirmed. “Now tell me why you did this to me? Why didn’t you let me know that you were alive?”
“I couldn’t,” she defended herself. “I thought it would be safe here in New York. Now I have to call them and move again.”
“What is going on?” I shouted unable to hold back any longer. “I loved you and you let me watch you die.”
She seemed stunned by my confession. “I never thought you did,” she stammered as she stared at me. “Tyler, I had to die so I could live.”
“I am going to slap you silly unless you start explaining things.” I growled as a hint of smile formed on her lips.
“Tyler you meant the world to me,” she began slowly. “When I dropped out of your life I got involved with some very bad people. I was so far gone on drugs that the only way I could support my habit was to work for the dealers. And the surprising thing about the people who control the drugs in our little hometown is they are not the low life underworld types, at least not on the surface. Spencer Thomas was the main guy.”
“Angie’s father?” I gasped not believing what I was being told. “That’s not possible.”
“When was the last time you saw him?” She blurted out quickly.
“It has been years,” I supplied as I realized that I hadn’t seen the man since before J.D. disappeared. “I never asked about him, Angie said that he and her mother were traveling.”
“Hiding is more like it,” she growled. “Angie gave me drugs for the first time. The Feds are convinced she has been running the operation in his absence.”
“I can’t believe this.” I stammered as I stared at her.
“It is the truth,” She sighed. “I brought this guy into the operation, not into anything big since I wasn’t all that important. Turned out the guy was a DEA agent. I didn’t know until Spencer Thomas killed him. I saw the whole thing. I also ran as fast as I could. I went straight the cops. It was the only right thing I had done in years. The Feds hid me in a rehab program in Alaska of all places. Thomas fled once the grand jury handed down the sealed indictment. I knew that my days were numbered so I came back, clean and sober and faked my own death. It wasn’t that risky since there were a ton of witnesses and the Feds pulled me from the water right away. Everyone had hoped that if I was dead Thomas might come out of hiding. So far he hasn’t. I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you, but I thought it was the right thing to do.”
“The right thing to do?” I stammered in astonishment. “You have no idea how much I blamed myself for your suicide. Why didn’t you get in touch with me and let me know that you were all right?”
“Funny thing about being in the witness protection program you can’t tell anyone,” She reasoned. “Plus I thought Thomas would come running back. I had no idea I would be hiding for so long.”
“This is so unbelievable,” I muttered as I tried to grasp everything she had just told me. “What happens now?”
“I do what I should have done yesterday when I first saw you,” she explained in a tired voice. “I call the U.S. Marshal’s office and tell them that my cover has been blown. Then I get another new name and relocated again. God, I hope they don’t send me to Iowa. The major fly in the ointment is now you know everything, and they are going to want to talk to you.”
“So you just leave again?” I asked knowing it was the only option.
“I’m sorry,” she offered as she clasped my hand in her own. “You said that you blamed yourself for my death, why?”
“Because I should have been able to say or do something,” I explained as I gazed deeply into her eyes. “Because I should have been honest about our relationship and what you really meant to me.”
“None of that was your fault,” she silenced me as she wrapped me up in her arms again. “Everything that happened to me was my own doing. The drugs and the feelings I had for you I let them consume me so much that I failed to become an adult until I led a decent man to his death. This wasn’t your doing. It was me.”
“How soon will they take you away?” I asked as I felt her thumb brushing against the back of my hand.
“Not long after I hang up the telephone.” she explained her voice filled with regret.
“Can I ask you to do something for me?” I carefully inquired.
“Anything.” she vowed.
“Call them in the morning,” My voice creaked as I made my plea. “I just want to hold you tonight so I know this isn’t a dream.”
I felt my body warming as she wrapped me into a warm embrace. “This isn’t a dream,” she whispered as she kissed the top of my head. I hadn’t expected my body to react the way it did. Of course I hadn’t expected to fly to the east coast and find my long dead old flame alive and well either. The scent of her perfume filled my senses as I snuggled closer to her warm inviting body. I lifted my head and felt my breath leaving me as I was captured in a fiery gaze.
As I caressed her shoulders I could see her eyes growing dark with desire. It spoke to me as it had so many years ago when I gave myself to her for the first time. I felt my body quiver with excitement that only she could evoke. She caressed my face and I leaned into her touch. We moved in unison until I could feel her hot breath on my skin. I moaned as our lips met. It was never a shy exchange between us and that night was no different.
She parted my lips with her tongue as I ran my fingers through her long black hair. My tongue greeted hers and soon we were lost as each of us battled for control. I could feel my nipples straining against the soft material of my blouse as my hands drifted down along her body. I clutched at the material of her shirt as I tried to free it from her body. My pulse raced as I felt my lower anatomy beating in the same demanding rhythm.
I bunched up the material of her cotton shirt and began to pull it up her torso as my mouth began to feast on her chin and down her neck. J.D released a squeak that I hadn’t heard in years as I nibbled on her neck. I ran my tongue along her throat as her head fell back. My mind was filled with images of the past as I pulled her shirt up higher, like I did the first time we made love. We had been sitting on my bed one day after school, just talking. We had kissed before but neither of us ever talked about it. That day we went from chatting about math to making out. It just happened, and all too soon our bodies took control and we were touching each other.
I felt the same urgent need consuming me again. I knew that this was probably the last time I would ever see her again and I needed to feel her just one last time. She broke away and lifted her arms allowing me to finally remove her shirt. My jaw hung open as I drank in her body. She had always been beautiful but over the years she had sculpted her body.
J.D. had grown and changed over the years and, at that moment, I was given the gift of discovering the woman she had become and not the girl I had once known and loved. I ran the tips of my fingers along her shoulders and collarbone allowing them to savor the feel of her skin responding to my touch. “You’re even more beautiful.” I whispered as my gaze fell to her cleavage. Soon my hands and mouth followed the path my eyes had taken, and I was caressing her breasts as my tongue dipped into her cleavage. The moans she released intensified my desires as I felt her nipples hardening beneath the lacy material of her bra.
I felt her fingers in my hair as I released the clasp of her bra. Her body arched as I slipped my hands up under her loosely hanging bra and cupped her breasts. I could barely breathe as I felt her nipples pressing against the palms of my hands. I felt my desire dampening my underwear as I began to pinch and tease her nipples. I pulled her bra from her body as I lowered her down onto the sofa and covered her body with my own.
J.D. moaned as her body rose up against mine. I could feel her hands tugging at my clothing as I circled her nipple with my tongue. “This is insane.” She gasped as she tore open my blouse.
“I know,” I whimpered sadly against her skin. “This is goodbye for us. Give me one last memory.”
I was almost pleading with her as she continued to undress me. I flickered my tongue against her nipple as I felt the air caressing the newly exposed skin of my upper body. Our legs wrapped around one another until we straddling each other’s thighs. We pressed against the other’s center as I captured her nipple in my mouth. I suckled her breast greedily as her hands caressed my back and our bodies rocked against each other.
I could feel her straining beneath me as I teased her. “Wait,” she pleaded as my teasing grew more insistent. “Not here, bed.” she choked out as I grinded harder against her. I clutched her shoulders as I willed my body to slow down. It took every ounce of strength I had left to quell my desires and lift my body off of hers. She looked up at me her face flushed with desire as she struggled to her feet.
She held her hand out to me and I felt my body trembling as I accepted her touch. I felt nervous as she led me to her bedroom. Once inside the spacious room we wrapped our arms around one another and began kissing with a renewed desire. My nipples ached as I felt them brushing against her body. I ran my tiny hands up along the curve of her body as I felt her hands on my hips.
I gasped as I felt the zipper on my slacks being lowered. I began to feast upon her breasts once again as I felt my pants being lowered and dropping to the floor. My hands drifted to her firm backside. Our hips swayed as I felt her hands caressing the curve of my body. “I missed you.” she whispered in my ear as I felt my body being lowered down onto the bed. I reached out to her as she stepped away. I whimpered as she removed my clothing until I was lying there clad only in my panties.
She was leaning above me and my eyes went directly to her breasts. I licked my lips as the need to feel her breast filling my mouth once again surged through me. I released a ragged breath as I felt her hands roaming across my body. I parted my thighs as her hand drifted down and cupped my mound. I cupped her breasts allowing them to fill my hands as she began to tease my clit with the palm of her hand. I knew that my desire was filling her hand as my hips rocked against her touch.
I reached up and pulled her down for another lingering kiss. Our bodies united as we thrust against one another. I was ready to explode as I trapped her thigh between my legs. The time for words had passed as we rolled around on the bed groping one another. I ended up on top of her. My hands slipped between our sweat-covered bodies and I began to open up her jeans. I wanted to feel her desire, I needed to touch and taste all of her. I felt her hands slip into my panties and caress my skin as I yanked her blue jeans down to her hips.
I cried out when I felt her fingers gliding along my swollen lips. My hips jerked in response as I felt her touch on my clit. She teased it slowly as my hand slipped beneath the elastic band of her underwear. Her wetness greeted my touch. The sensation sent me reeling. I tried to pull away so I could rip the rest of her clothing off her body and devour her. J.D.’s fingers pressed against the opening of my center and I knew that my feast would have to wait. I pulled my panties further down my body and straddled her. My hips thrust forward against her fingers in a need to feel her inside of me. She captured my breast in her mouth as she entered me. I felt the walls of my center trapping her fingers. Her teeth grazed my nipple as her fingers stroked me.
I climaxed far too quickly. J.D.’s movements didn’t falter as she continued to pleasure me. Her movements were long and hard as I rode against her touch. I pumped my hips urgently as she suckled me. I cried out once again as the second orgasm swept over me. I didn’t allow my body to recover as I pulled away from her. I was on fire as I removed the rest of her clothing and nestled my body between her legs. Her scent filled me as I licked the inside of her thighs. Soon I needed more. I blew a warm breath into her damp curls before I parted her and ran my tongue along her glistening sex.
I held her tightly as I drank in her passion. I curled my tongue and plunged it deep inside of her. J.D.’s body rocked as I took her with my tongue. She whimpered as my tongue slipped from its warm nest. She moaned and gasped as my fingers replaced it. I suckled her clit into my mouth and teased the throbbing bundle. I watched her as I licked her. My desire was out of control as she teased her own nipples. I pressed my body against the mattress in an effort to release myself.
She cried out my name as I felt her body shaking against my face. I kept pleasuring her as her body jerked and she clutched at the mattress. I felt my body releasing along with hers. I stilled my fingers inside of her until I felt her body calming. I rested my head on her stomach as she ran her fingers through my hair. Soon I was wrapped up in her embrace and our hands were exploring the other’s flesh. We ended up side by side as our fingers teased the other’s clit until the both of us entered the other. Our bodies became one as we glided in and out of the other until we cried out in unison.
When the sun rose the following morning I was straddling her body as we moved against one another wildly. I cried out as the last of our passion seeped from our bodies. We held each tightly until we both agreed that it was time for J.D. to make her telephone call. I watched sadly as she spoke to the Marshal. We showered together grabbing our last few moments of pleasure. “This doesn’t have to be goodbye,” she tried to reassure me. “Spencer can’t hide forever.” I kissed her as the buzzer rang. I gave her a sad smile as she answered the door.
We said a quick goodbye after each of us endured an exhausting interview with the authorities. It ended when, as the heavily armed men watched, I called Paige and put on a very convincing act as to how little Karen Merrick actually resembled J.D., once I got to see her up close.
Six months later I was sitting in a courthouse along with Paige watching the trial against Angie and her father. J.D. was right, Spencer Thomas couldn’t hide forever. It had been so long that he got careless when he thought his daughter wasn’t handling the business properly. He was arrested immediately. Neither he nor Angie seemed concerned since the star witness against them had committed suicide over a decade ago. They were convinced that the only testimony J.D. could provide was from the transcript of her testimony before the grand jury.
I smiled brightly when the prosecutor called Janis Margaret Donnelley to the stand. The defense attorney asked if he was joking. I watched as everyone’s face dropped and J.D., now a confident mature woman and not the confused kid, strolled into the courtroom with her head held high. Her confident testimony was the final nail in the Thomas family coffin.
Paige and I waited away from the crowd. “You knew didn’t you?” Paige asked me with a smile.
“My trip to New York,” I explained. “It was her.”
“So now what happens?” Paige carefully inquired.
“She is free,” I supplied as I pondered the question. “I don’t know what will happen after this. We talked about it briefly. She is probably going to go back to her life as Karen. She was much happier in that life than she ever was as J.D. I love her you know.”
“I know,” Paige informed me with a wink. “There were always rumors about the two of you. I didn’t care. All I knew was the two of you really cared about one another.”
“Still do,” J.D.’s voice cut her off. “Hi Paige.”
“J.D. nice to see you,” Paige warmly greeted her. “I’ll let the two of you talk.”
“I’m glad this is over,” I offered suddenly feeling very shy. “I think I’m going to sleep better knowing that you are free.”
“Me too,” J.D. agreed. “I’m going back to New Mexico, where there is lots of space and none of Spencer’s colleagues looking for me. The only question is whether or not I’m making the trip alone?”
“Funny thing happened when I got back from New York,” I began with a smirk. “I quit my job. I’d like to give New Mexico, and us, a try.”
A year later we are still in New Mexico. She paints and I run a small store. For the first time in our lives we are both finally free.
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