MY SISTER’S KEEPER
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers, see Part One. In fact, if you haven’t read Parts One through Eleven, then what the heck are you doing here?
A very special thank goes out to my beta reader Joanne.
As always, this is for Heather.
Jenny’s body was trembling uncontrollably from the events that had just occurred in her tiny motel room. What was shaking her to her very foundation was not so much what had happened but what had almost happened. She said a silent ‘thank you’ to Katie and her overprotective nature. Jenny was struggling to breathe as she muttered a feeble excuse to Lizzie who was still cowering in the corner. She quickly fled to the safety of the bathroom.
First she clenched the cool porcelain edge of the sink in a futile effort to calm her jagged nerves. When her knees started to buckle, she curled up next to the bathtub and pulled her legs tightly against her shaking body. She wrapped her arms around her knees and began to rock back and forth, trying to will herself to calmness and erase the need still burning inside of her. She needed to regain her composure before Katie arrived. “I have to let her go,” she whimpered into her trembling knees. Her mind understood that she had to release Lizzie from her thoughts and heart, but still some part of her refused to let go. “Why is this so hard?” she whispered as she brushed the tears from her face.
After a long torturous debate between her mind and her heart, the tall brunette finally managed to pull herself up off the cold floor. Her body ached from the emotions still coursing through her and from being curled up in such a cramped space. She doused her face with warm water in an effort to conceal the fact that she’d been crying.
Jenny summoned up her last ounce of courage and dignity as she checked her appearance one last time in the mirror. She flinched at her sallow complexion in the badly lit bathroom and swallowed hard as she mentally prepared to finally release Lizzie from her life. The first step was to get the blonde out of her motel room. With a false sense of strength, she gripped the doorknob and began to turn it.
Voices emanating from the outer room alerted her that Katie had arrived. Just as Jenny was about to open the door and join the other two women, she heard Katie’s voice echoing her thoughts. “What are you going to do, Lizzie?” Katie asked, deeply concerned.
“I have no idea,” Lizzie responded in a shaky tone. “I do know that I have a lot of thinking to do.”
“What do you have to think about?” Katie fumed.
Against her better judgment, and throwing away her last shred of dignity, Jenny pressed her ear against the thin dusty wood of the bathroom door. She knew what she was doing was wrong and eavesdropping was beneath her, yet her curiosity won her over. Maybe Katie could get the answers that she couldn’t.
“Lizzie, if it wasn’t for Mom’s fanaticism, you wouldn’t be a nun right now,” Katie stressed as Jenny pressed her body closer to the door. “So why stay a nun when it isn’t the path you were meant to travel?”
Jenny strained to hear what Lizzie’s response would be as she silently cheered Katie’s bravado. “Face it, Lizzie. There’s something wrong with our mother,” Katie continued, hitting her stride. “The woman named both of her daughters Mary, for pity’s sake. And you know why she did it - so we’d already have the right names when we became nuns. She planned on tossing us into convents from the moment we were born. That’s not normal.”
“No kidding,” Jenny whispered in agreement.
“I know, I know!” Lizzie shouted in response. “I was there, remember? She didn’t want girls; she wanted two sons - one to carry on the family name and one to become a priest. Her grand design failed when she had us and she never let us forget it. If we didn’t become nuns, then we were supposed to act like nuns.”
“People don’t raise their kids that way in this day and age,” Katie blurted out. “She never let us forget what a disappointment we were,” she added bitterly. “How can you want to give in to her twisted desires? Lizzie, are you gay?”
“Yes,” Lizzie responded with a slight stammer.
“How do you reconcile your homosexuality with what the church teaches?” Katie asked in confusion. “How do you handle confession? I heard what the Vatican said about homosexuals not having a place in the clergy. Why are you thinking of staying when they don’t want you? Why are you letting our mother bully you into this?”
“Kate, I’ve spent far too many years being angry about the way things turned out,” Lizzie flatly answered her sister’s barrage of questions. “And I’m trying to make peace with our mother and get her the help that she needs.”
Jenny was stunned. How and why Lizzie would want to make peace with that awful woman? “Why on earth do you think that woman is ever going to change?” Katie echoed her thoughts. “Look what she did to you. She beat you within an inch of your life and then she shipped you off to the frozen wasteland of Minnesota. She broke your heart so badly that you never returned home, not even for Christmas.”
“That isn’t entirely accurate,” Lizzie said so softly that Jenny had to strain to hear her words. “Mom certainly set the wheels in motion, but it was Jenny who broke my heart. After I was sent away, she found someone else. That’s the real reason I didn’t come home after I was arrested. I wasn’t allowed to see you, and after I lost Jenny I felt that there was nothing left for me to come back for.”
Jenny stumbled back from the door feeling as if she’d been slapped. ‘That lying bitch! How can she do this? Why is she lying?’ Nothing made sense as Lizzie’s accusation screamed through her mind. At that moment Jenny vowed that Mary Elizabeth Carrington had hurt her for the last time. Staying away from the blonde and resisting her charms would no longer be a problem. She wouldn’t touch Lizzie Carrington if she was the last woman on earth.
Jenny had heard enough and now she felt violently ill. She sunk to her knees in front of the toilet and emptied the contents of her stomach as she began to cry once again. She staggered to her feet and washed her face. Catching a glimpse of her haggard appearance, she buried her face in a towel as she heard a light knock on the door. Still clutching the towel she staggered over to the door and opened it. She found Katie standing there giving her a harsh stare. Jenny brushed past the angry woman and was relieved to find Lizzie absent from the motel room.
Jenny plopped down onto the squeaky bed and twisted the flimsy towel in her hands. “You heard?” Katie inquired bitterly. Jenny nodded; she stared off into the distance as Katie approached her. The blonde policewoman towered over her with her arms folded across her chest in a defiant manner.
“It’s a lie,” Jenny said in weak voice as she continued to twist the towel violently.
Katie seemed to be taken aback by Jenny’s comment and demeanor. “I never hurt her,” Jenny said sincerely as she felt her heart breaking. “She was everything to me. I barely left my room after she went away. It wasn’t until I caught her with another girl that I moved on. Why did she say that?” Jenny felt a strange sense of detachment as she spoke.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Katie responded thoughtfully.
“Doesn’t matter,” Jenny mumbled. She wished that Katie would just go away.
Katie seemed to understand Jenny’s need to be left alone in her misery. Without a word she walked out the door. The moment Jenny heard the door shut, she crawled up onto the bed, curled up into a ball, and cried herself to sleep.
A week later Jenny found herself standing in her parents’ kitchen while her mother peered over her cup of coffee at her. “What brings you by?” her mother inquired suspiciously.
“Can’t a girl just visit her parents?” Jenny responded with feigned innocence. Her mother’s crystal blue eyes just stared at her. “And bring twelve or thirteen loads of laundry?” she added with a sly smirk as her mother rolled her eyes.
“I suppose you want to be fed too?” her mother teased her with a dramatic sigh.
“Mommy?” Jenny pouted as her mother groaned.
“You’re washing your own clothes,” her mother informed her.
“Mom?” Jenny whined.
“Suck it up.” The older woman laughed. “Start your laundry, and while I’m cooking you can tell me why you’re really here.”
Jenny shuffled down to the laundry room, eager to get started so she wouldn’t be there all night. While she sorted out her clothing she mentally tried to prepare for the conversation she wanted to have with her mother. It was a familiar game with them. Jenny wanted and needed to talk to her mother but she was always shy about how to begin. Her mother would poke and prod until Jenny finally blurted out her troubles as her mother listened.
Jenny seated herself at the kitchen table, thankful that they wouldn’t be eating in the dining room. The last thing she wanted was another reminder of her past exploits with Lizzie. “With all that laundry, why don’t you just sleep over tonight?” her mother suggested as she busied herself with dinner preparations. “I could use the company since your father’s in Buffalo.”
“How’s the case going?” Jenny asked as she sipped her coffee and avoided the conversation she’d really driven up there to have.
“Who’s car did you borrow?” her mother asked casually.
“Rental,” Jenny responded with a shrug.
“You rented a car just to do your laundry?” her mother exclaimed as she continued to work on their dinner.
“I needed clean clothes,” Jenny lied, knowing how ridiculous the whole thing sounded. “I have a date tomorrow and nothing to wear.”
“A date?” her mother asked brightly as she spun around. “Someone special?”
“Blind date,” Jenny informed her.
“Well, it’s good that you’re getting out,” her mother encouraged her. “I was afraid that you might be stupid enough to take Wendy back.”
“Geez, didn’t anyone like her?” Jenny said as she choked on her coffee.
“Just you,” her mother informed her directly. “And I’m not so certain that you did.”
“What do you mean?” Jenny asked quickly.
“You didn’t seem happy,” her mother informed her. “So if it isn’t Wendy or someone new, is there a problem at work?” her mother encouraged her as she returned her attention to dinner.
“Work is good,” Jenny responded in a casual manner. Silence filled the kitchen as Jenny fiddled with her placemat and her mother cooked. “Lizzie is back,” she finally said in an off-handed manner.
“Your father mentioned that,” her mother responded with a shrug. Suddenly she spun around and gave her daughter a frightened look. “Uhm, you two aren’t together, are you?”
“Would it bother you?” Jenny snapped.
“Yes,” her mother responded honestly. “Unless she’s changed professions, then I have no problem. In fact, I always liked the girl.”
“No, she’s still a nun,” Jenny grumbled. “Sister Rachel.”
“That’s interesting,” her mother said thoughtfully.
“Why?” Jenny asked in confusion.
“I’ll explain later,” her mother answered her quickly. “First, tell me that you’re not dating a nun so your grandmother can stop spinning in her grave.”
“No, I’m not, and why would Grandma be upset?” Jenny answered.
“Sweetie, your Grandmother was Italian,” her mother clarified. Jenny continued to look up at her in confusion. “She was Catholic.”
“I didn’t know that,” Jenny said truthfully. “I thought she and Grandpa were Protestant.”
“He was,” her mother informed her. “English Protestant and your father’s parents were Irish and Jewish.”
“So that makes us what?” Jenny laughed.
“Yankee mutts like everyone else.” Her mother chuckled. “So you’re not involved with Lizzie. Is it seeing her again? You never really told us what happened.”
“It’s a long story,” Jenny cautioned her mother.
“With all the laundry you brought, we have all night,” her mother encouraged her as she placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
After dinner, the dishes, and Jenny’s endless piles of dirty laundry were taken care of, Jenny sat in the family room with her mother, feeling exhausted after telling her everything. Well, almost everything. She skipped over the parts about how she and Lizzie use to skip school so they could make love.
“Sweetie?” her mother asked softly. “Do you have your nightstick on you?”
“No. Why?” Jenny inquired fearfully, not liking the menacing look in her mother’s eyes.
“I want to go and beat Mrs. Carrington senseless,” her mother fumed. “What the hell is wrong with that woman?”
“She’s nuts,” Jenny supplied.
“No kidding,” her mother snorted in disgust. “Religious freedom and devotion to your faith can be a beautiful thing but zealotry is frightening.”
“I know,” Jenny agreed with her mother’s observations.
“Okay, let’s focus on you,” her mother offered after taking a calming breath. “What may or may not be happening between you and Lizzie is a bit of problem.”
“A bit of a problem?” Jenny echoed in an incredulous tone. “Mom, unwanted facial hair is a bit of problem. Almost making out with a nun is a freaking disaster.”
Her mother chuckled wryly. “Perhaps,” she agreed. “But it sounds like you’re distancing yourself; that’s a good thing until she decides just what she wants. If she decides to stay in the church and you let yourself start to care again . . .”
“I’m not,” Jenny argued, knowing that in her heart she was lying.
After a long round of her mother’s cautioning and Jenny’s reassurance that she wasn’t going to fall for Lizzie again, both women agreed that it was late and they were exhausted. Then her mother did the strangest thing. Just as Jenny was about to climb into her old bed, her mother knocked on the door and handed her a bible, informing her that it was her grandmother’s. Jenny was bewildered as she accepted it. She thanked her mother and went to bed. Just as she was about to turn off the light, she remembered something Lizzie had said when Jenny questioned her about her new name. ‘You really should read your bible.’ Jenny pondered the suggestion as she folded her long legs under her body.
She began to flip through the bible, not finding anything of interest as she quickly scanned the passages. Bored and frustrated, she tossed the bible aside and turned off the light. She relaxed into the comfort of her old bed and familiar surroundings. “I can’t wait to move into my new place.” She yawned as she started to drift off to sleep.
Jenny slept well for the first time in weeks. She had the faintest recall of pleasant dreams yet couldn’t quite grasp what she’d dreamt about that left her in such a good mood. She packed up the car and was preparing to leave when she spotted Robby making his way across the street. “Hi, Jenny,” he greeted her with the same annoying boyish charm he’d possessed when they were dating.
“Robby,” she responded politely. “Don’t you ever work?”
“Just on my way in,” he explained. “What brings you to town?”
“Visiting my mom and doing my laundry,” she explained.
“Oh.” He nodded as he leaned against her rental car. Jenny rolled her eyes as she wondered how long it would take her to get away from him. “I wish I’d known you were coming up; we could have had dinner.”
“I just wanted to see my mother,” Jenny explained, hoping that Robby would finally get it through his thick skull that she wasn’t interested. ‘You’d think that when I showed up at the class reunion with a woman he would finally gotten a clue,’ she mentally grumbled.
“Well, maybe the next time you’re up this way we can get together,” he eagerly suggested.
“Robby, we’ve been through this before,” she said with a heavy sigh.
“I know,” he offered in a pleasant tone that Jenny didn’t buy. “But we’re friends.”
“We were in high school,” Jenny clarified. “That was a long time ago and you didn’t take our breakup very well.”
“Oh, but hanging out with Lizzie is all right?” he hissed. Jenny cringed at the harshness of his tone.
“What is it with the two of you?” Jenny blurted out, not really wanting to hear what her old prom date had to say.
“She was always coming between us,” Robby explained flatly.
“No, she wasn’t,” Jenny clarified, thinking that it was Robby who was always getting in their way.
“I don’t know,” he hedged. “I was shocked when my mom told me she’d become a nun.”
“Your mom?” Jenny asked, not really thinking about what he had said.
“Yeah, her and Mrs. Carrington used to work together at the church,” Robby said as he shrugged. “Hard to believe that after she turned you she ended up becoming a nun.”
“Turned me?” Jenny shouted. “You did not just say that?” He looked at her in shock. “Robby, nobody turned me. I was born gay. Now get off my car,” she snarled as he stepped away with a sad look in his eyes. “Idiot,” she groaned as she slammed the car door in his face.
On the drive back into the city, Jenny engaged herself in a very animated discussion on how big of a jackass Robby was. “Turned me,” she scoffed in disgust. “Jerk.” It wasn’t until Jenny had unloaded the car that something occurred to her. “When did he find out about Lizzie and I?” she asked the empty room. “My own parents didn’t know for years. Doesn’t matter. He’s an idiot and so is Lizzie,” she reasoned as she tried to shake off the nagging feeling to get ready for her date.
During dinner with Nuru’s friend Sandy, Jenny found it hard to concentrate on her date. Sandy was nice enough but the woman never stopped talking. It didn’t help that Jenny was lost in her thoughts about what Robby had said and what Lizzie had told Kate. More than once the tall brunette found herself saying “Huh?” when she realized that Sandy had asked her something. Not surprisingly, once dinner was over Sandy decided to call it a night without offering to see Jenny again. Jenny couldn’t blame the woman since she’d been about as entertaining as stick of gum during dinner.
A few days later, while she and Nuru were moving her things into her new apartment, the dark woman kept badgering Jenny with questions regarding what went wrong with the date. “Hey, I haven’t had a date in a long time. Cut me some slack,” Jenny finally blurted out.
“You need furniture,” Kate finally noted.
The blonde had been helping Jenny and Nuru all day but had remained strangely quiet. “I have a mattress and box spring coming tomorrow,” Jenny explained. “I’ll just get the rest when I can afford it.”
Throughout the day, while Nuru was nagging her, Jenny fought the temptation of asking Kate how Lizzie was. She was thankful that the blonde wasn’t there to help and she was still hurt by what Lizzie had told Kate. Still, she wanted to know how she was. Nothing was making sense to the tall brunette.
“First you’re buying us pizza,” Kate informed her. “And beer.”
“Damn right,” Nuru agreed.
During dinner at Bertucci’s the trio consumed a couple of pizzas and a few beers. They chatted away about nothing in particular. Jenny did notice that neither she nor Kate addressed one another directly. There seemed to be this wall between them that had never existed before. It didn’t help that Jenny was dying to ask about Lizzie. She kept hoping that Kate would mention her so they could talk about her. When the blonde failed to mention her younger sister, it started to drive Jenny up the wall.
What was upsetting Jenny the most was that she kept trying to convince herself that she really didn’t want to know or hear about the blonde. Still, she kept biting her tongue to avoid allowing the words to escape her mouth. “So what are you doing on your day off tomorrow?” Nuru inquired.
“Fixing up the new place, then I thought I might hit Avalon,” Jenny responded casually. “You know, do a little dancing and scope chicks.”
“Scope chicks?” Nuru laughed. “Yes, since you did so well on your last date I can see you doing that.”
“My God, you’re like a dog with a bone,” Jenny grumbled. “We didn’t hit it off. I hadn’t dated in three years and I had a crappy day. Let it go.”
“I’m just saying that Sandy is really nice,” Nuru pushed.
“Again, I find myself asking if Sandy is so wonderful then why don’t you ask her out?” Jenny taunted her partner.
“She’s not my type,” Nuru defended herself.
“Since when do you have a type, Stud Muffin?” Katie joined in.
“On that note, if you two will excuse me, I need to use the ladies room,” Nuru grunted as she stood and made her way across the dining room.
“I think we hit a nerve,” Kate quipped as Jenny chuckled.
Once it was just the two of them, Jenny suddenly felt nervous. She fiddled with her napkin as her mind began to spin. ‘Don’t ask her. You don’t want to know. Talking about Lizzie is just going to bring it all up again. You’ll get over her if you put her in the past where she belongs,’ her mind reasoned as she knotted her cloth napkin in a tight ball. “How’s Lizzie?” she asked, trying to sound uncaring. Mentally she kicked herself as the word ‘loser’ screamed through her thoughts.
Katie didn’t respond at first. She simply scrunched up her face seemingly lost in thought. “She hasn’t said much to me since that night,” Katie finally offered. “She seems even more withdrawn than before.” Jenny didn’t miss the underlying accusation in her friend’s voice.
“Oh,” Jenny grunted in a defeated tone.
“The two of you should talk,” Kate suggested hopefully.
“The two of us should just stay away from one another,” Jenny argued.
“You keep saying that but I don’t think it’s what you really want,” Kate challenged her.
“Doesn’t matter.” Jenny shrugged as she lied.
“Really?” Katie pressed.
“Yes, really,” Jenny asserted in an effort to convince herself.
“If you say so,” Katie conceded as Nuru finally returned.
The following day Jenny’s mattress and box spring were delivered. She had been shopping for a bed frame and headboard but failed to find anything she liked. She cleaned up, unpacked her meager belongings, and tried to organize the tiny studio apartment. She was tired by the time she’d completed her tasks but she liked the way the place was shaping up. The last time she’d felt at home in a place that she lived in was her old apartment before Wendy moved in. The funny thing was she never recalled asking Wendy to move in. She just kept coming over and not leaving. During each of her lengthy stays Wendy deposited more and more of her belongings. Before Jenny knew what was happening, they were living together.
Jenny reclined in her grandmother’s rocking chair while holding Jingles, and for the first time in a long time she felt comfortable in her surroundings. “This could work,” Jenny addressed the tiny stuffed animal with the bell around its neck. The image of a tiny Lizzie spending all of her quarters and tossing those baseballs at the milk bottles until she had finally knocked over enough to win Jingles for Jenny suddenly flooded her mind. Jenny laughed at how determined the small blonde had been. “Did I love her even back then when we were just children?” the brunette pondered aloud. Jenny couldn’t honestly recall a time growing up when she didn’t feel a need to be close to Lizzie. Jenny had no idea when she’d fallen in love with her best friend; perhaps it had always been there just beneath the surface. She remembered Lizzie’s birthday party before they became lovers. She’d watched from a corner of the Carrington’s backyard as Lizzie had danced the night away with her boyfriend Joel. She’d been so consumed with jealousy that she almost left the party. But she couldn’t ruin the night for Lizzie. That night Jenny had slept over, and as usual, shared a bed with her friend. During the night she’d wrapped her arm around the blonde’s waist. She’d been shocked when she awoke and discovered that she was spooning her best friend. Jenny had moved quickly away from cuddling Lizzie only to have the blonde capture her hand and hold it against her. Lizzie had told her to go back to sleep as she nestled closer.
Jenny chuckled at the memory of how frightened and excited she’d been to hold Lizzie while the blonde slept. She hadn’t gone back to sleep that morning; instead she’d held Lizzie in her arms and watched her sleep. “So how did we go from all those innocent emotions to this?” Jenny asked Jingles, who was after all a very good listener. “Now we’re all grown up and could end up hating each other. Enough,” she scolded herself. “Tonight I’m going out dancing. And maybe if I’m really lucky, I’ll find myself a feisty wench who will help me forget about my troubles.”
The music and lights were overwhelming at the popular nightclub. Jenny spotted the blonde through the sea of gay men that flooded the dance floor. It hadn’t taken her long to approach the woman and ask her to dance. They danced and got closer during the evening. Finally the woman invited Jenny back to her place for coffee; Jenny knew that the invitation was for more than a drink. She agreed as she allowed this stranger to lead her out of the busy nightclub.
Away from the thumping music of Lansdown Street, Jenny kissed the attractive woman as they rolled around on the blonde’s bed. She pinned the woman’s hands above her head as she began to kiss her way down the blonde’s neck. Her companion was grinding her body into Jenny’s as the brunette began to unbutton the woman’s blouse. “Dams?” Jenny murmured against the woman’s skin.
“Bureau,” the blonde panted as Jenny struggled to recall her date’s name.
Jenny sighed contentedly as she released her hold on the blonde’s wrists. She kissed her companion deeply as the blonde sat up. Jenny noted how attractive the woman was as the blonde got up off the bed to retrieve the latex dental dams. They were still dressed but they both knew where the night was heading. She admired the gentle curve of the other woman’s body as she searched her bureau.
Jenny frowned, knowing that there was something missing from the overheated encounter. “Wait,” she said sadly. Her date turned to her with a surprised look. “I’m sorry,” Jenny offered with a heavy sigh as she climbed off the stranger’s bed and picked her jacket up off the floor.
“You’re leaving?” the stranger stammered.
“I’m sorry,” Jenny repeated as she put on her leather jacket. “I can’t.”
“But . . . ,” the blonde stammered. She looked at Jenny in disbelief as her blouse hung open.
“I have to go,” Jenny said honestly as she walked out of the confused woman’s bedroom.
As Jenny walked the empty streets of the city towards her apartment, she knew that she’d made the right decision. As much as she craved intimate contact with another woman, there was just something missing when she touched the blonde stranger. The woman was a good kisser and very attractive; Jenny had been very excited when she’d kissed her. Still there was something just not right about the encounter. It was like looking at a picture and the person’s face being blocked out. “Idiot,” she chastised herself as she passed by an open coffee shop.
Jenny stumbled as she caught a glimpse of familiar golden blonde hair. “It couldn’t be,” she muttered as she stood frozen on the sidewalk. “Don’t look. Even if it’s her, you shouldn’t see her,” she scolded herself as she turned back and entered the coffee shop. “Is this seat taken?” Jenny asked as she leaned against the side of the booth where the small blonde was studying her book and sipping a cup of coffee.
“Hello, Jenny,” Lizzie greeted her without looking up.
“How did you know it was me?” Jenny asked as she slid into the booth, seating herself across from the one person she knew she shouldn’t be around.
“Just did,” Lizzie said with a shrug as she closed the book she was reading and looked up at the brunette.
Jenny felt a shiver run down her spine as Lizzie looked deep into her eyes. She felt as if she was falling as she continued to look into her ex-lover’s emerald orbs. Then suddenly Lizzie’s eyes dimmed and she looked away. She began to shift nervously and seemed slightly agitated. “What brings you out this late at night?” Jenny asked, curious as to why Lizzie’s demeanor had changed so abruptly.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Lizzie offered as she stared out the window.
“So you thought a strong cup of coffee would help?” Jenny teased her as she tried to figure out why Lizzie was purposely refusing to look at her.
“I just uhm . . . ,” Lizzie began to stammer as her eyes moved to the top of the table. “I’ve had a rough couple of days. I’ve managed to get into arguments with everyone - Katie, my dad, my mother, and of course my Mother Superior.”
“Want to talk about it?” Jenny offered in genuine concern.
“No. It’ll be alright,” Lizzie stammered as her eyes darted around nervously.
“Am I making you uncomfortable?” Jenny finally blurted out defensively.
“Ugh,” Lizzie grumbled as she buried her face in her hands. Finally she looked up at Jenny with a hint of anger in her eyes. “It’s just that you have . . . ,” Lizzie tried to explain as she made a motion to her neck.
“What?” Jenny asked as she felt her own neck, trying to figure out what she had on it that was upsetting Lizzie.
“It’s . . . uhm . . . ,” Lizzie continued to stammer.
Jenny finally snatched up the stainless steel napkin holder to inspect her neck. “Oh man,” Jenny groaned when she saw it. She slammed the napkin holder down on the table. “I can’t believe she did that.”
“So you didn’t know,” Lizzie said softly.
“No, I didn’t know that I’m walking around with a huge ass hickey,” Jenny groused loudly. She slipped down in her seat as the few other patrons and the youngster working the counter looked over at her. “Well, the guys at the station are going to love giving me a hard time about this,” she muttered, knowing that Nuru was going to make her life hell.
“I didn’t know that you were seeing someone,” Lizzie said softly.
“I’m not,” Jenny blurted out before she could stop and think about her words.
“Oh,” Lizzie retorted coldly.
The anger pulsated through Jenny’s body as she cast an icy glare at the woman who had reduced her to tears a few short days ago. “Sorry, it’s none of my business,” Lizzie apologized quickly.
“That’s right, it isn’t,” Jenny snapped as Lizzie’s words to Katie echoed in her mind.
Lizzie’s accusation that Jenny had cheated on her was feeding her anger. There was something else feeding it as well - it was a nagging feeling of guilt. She felt guilty for having been with someone else even if nothing really happened. Her guilt was making her mad at herself for being such an idiot. They sat there glaring at each other as the tension grew.
“I’m sorry,” Lizzie finally said in exasperation. “Well, it’s official. I’ve managed to piss off everyone in my life in the last twenty-four hours.”
Jenny’s anger subsided as Lizzie’s soft sincere words reached her. She rolled her neck and shoulders in an effort to release some of the tension. “What I don’t understand is why you’re mad at me?” Lizzie asked gently. Jenny’s anger instantly returned as she clenched her jaw. She stared at the confused blonde sitting across from her.
“I’m mad at you because you cheated on me,” Jenny finally spat out, feeling all the hurt of the past years rolling out of her. “I’m mad because you broke my heart and then lied to your sister about it.”
“What are you talking about?” Lizzie asked in astonishment.
“I heard what you said to Kate the other night,” Jenny hissed. “You told her that I was the one who had moved on and betrayed you.”
“Because you did,” Lizzie shouted back in a hurtful tone.
“What?” Jenny shouted. “So that girl I caught you in bed with was what? A study partner?”
“You’ve lost your mind,” Lizzie fumed as she snatched up her book, bolted out of the booth, and stormed out of the coffee shop.
“Oh, not this time,” Jenny grumbled as she followed the blonde. “This time I get answers,” she vowed as she stormed after the angry woman who was walking down the street muttering to herself. “Freeze!” Jenny commanded.
Lizzie spun around with a brilliant fire in her eyes and threw her book at Jenny. The brunette jumped back as the book made contact with her shoulder. Lizzie stood there in the middle of the sidewalk with her hands on her hips and an angry gleam in her eyes. Jenny wasn’t deterred as she stormed up to her. “I flew halfway across the country to find you,” Jenny bellowed as she pointed an accusing finger at the blonde. “And when I did, you were doing the naked mambo with some other girl.”
“The naked mambo?” Lizzie retorted incredulously. “What do you want me to do? Apologize for trying to move on with my life? You were with someone else. What did you think I would do?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Jenny shouted as her arms flailed wildly.
“I saw the picture, Jenny,” Lizzie said in cold detached voice. “If you had to find someone else, why did it have to be him?” she choked out as tears began to well up in her eyes.
Jenny swallowed her anger as she tried to understand what Lizzie was talking about. Something was wrong; she just knew it. “What picture?” she asked in a softer, more controlled voice.
“You and Robby kissing.” Lizzie sniffed as she brushed the tears away. “Do you have any idea what that did to me to see you kissing that jerk? The one person who had always tried to come between us and treated me like dirt.”
“Lizzie, I did date Robby but that wasn’t until after I went to find you,” Jenny tried to explain as her mind tried to fit the pieces together.
“Please,” Lizzie scoffed. “I’m not stupid. When my mother came and bailed me out of Juvenile Hall, I told her that there was no way I was staying at that school and that you and I were going to be together. That’s when she showed me the picture and told me that you were dating Robby and had forgotten all about me.”
“Hold on,” Jenny offered calmly as she took a shy step closer to Lizzie. “That isn’t possible. When did this happen?”
“After I was arrested,” Lizzie explained as she studied Jenny carefully. “November.”
“Son of a . . . ,“ Jenny muttered as she finally pieced it together. “The Halloween Dance.”
“Jenny?” Lizzie asked carefully. “What is it?”
“I didn’t kiss him,” Jenny clarified. “He kissed me. Then I slapped his face and stormed out of the gym. I was so angry that I walked home. One of his friends took a picture. His mother and your mother worked together at a lot of church functions, didn’t they?”
“Mrs. Ventnor was always a devoted Catholic,” Lizzie moaned. “Not as devoted as my mother. Of course, I don’t think the Pope is as devoted as my dear sweet mother. She sent me your prom picture too.”
“That was later,” Jenny explained with a heavy sigh. “I was so brokenhearted and I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t gay. It didn’t last long, and in the end I broke his heart.”
“All these years,” Lizzie said in regret. “You’ve got to hand it to my mother. She knew just what to do to convince me that you didn’t love me. It was perfect.”
“I did love you,” Jenny said softly as she stepped closer to Lizzie. The blonde leaned into Jenny’s body and hugged her tightly. Jenny instantly wrapped her arms around the smaller woman’s body. Jenny swallowed the anger she felt towards Mrs. Carrington and what she had stolen from them as she simply enjoyed the warmth of Lizzie’s body pressed against her own.
“I loved you too,” Lizzie whispered against her chest. Jenny could feel the rapid beating of her heart as they pressed even closer together. “A part of me still . . . .” Lizzie’s words stopped as she suddenly stepped back and out of Jenny’s embrace. “Okay,” Lizzie said in a frustrated tone.
“Right,” Jenny agreed with a shy smile. “The pesky reality of the here and now.”
Jenny walked over and retrieved the book that Lizzie had hit her with. She handed it back to Lizzie carefully, not allowing their fingers to touch. “Can I walk you home, Sister Rachel?” Jenny offered, knowing that they still couldn’t explore the underlying emotions they were both feeling.
“Thank you,” Lizzie accepted. They began to walk down the street, each of them maintaining a proper distance from the other.
They didn’t speak as they walked to Kate’s apartment. Jenny shoved her hands deep inside the pockets of her coat so she wouldn’t be tempted to touch her former lover. She was happy in one respect; the past hadn’t been what she’d been led to believe it was. Still, that didn’t change the present. Lizzie was still a nun and Jenny couldn’t give in to the intense emotions that the small blonde had stirred up. Jenny couldn’t allow herself to get her hopes up. For now she hoped that what she had learned might help her finally leave the past in the past. Of course, there was one major flaw in Jenny’s theory. She couldn’t stop her heart from racing every time she was near or thought about Lizzie.
send comments to email@example.com
for updates, previews & the Wednesday afternoon series join my egroup,
Return to The Bard's Corner