Something to be Thankful For
By Carrie Carr
Disclaimers: You asked for it, you got it <g>. This story is for those folks who enjoyed my Halloween tale In the Blink of an Eye (http://www.ausxip.com/fanfic18/intheblink.html ), and wanted to see more of Randi and Kay. A good friend of mine (Thanks, Janna!) suggested that I try to write a series of short stories involving holidays - so here you go.
Again, there is a theme of two women who like each other - we may even hear the "L" word used, you never know (depends on them, not me <g>). There are a few naughty words, probably no nudity, and we'll get to see more of the nasty relatives. Doubt if there is anything illegal in this story, so if you're looking for juicy bits, I suggest you check out the turkey on the table.
This story is for all of those wonderful folks on the CarriesCrossing list. Thank you for all your support and patience. I want to especially thank my wonderful editor, Day, whose magical touch with the grammar and punctuation wand makes this story look so good.
All comments, suggestions, or just notes to say hello can be directed to -email@example.com
As always, my writing and my life are dedicated to my AJ.
Copyright November 2001 by Carrie Carr
The quiet whine of the wheels on the damp street broke the stillness of the early morning. Hazel eyes stared through the side window of the old Impala, watching the passing scenery with detachment. Kay turned away from the view and stared across the small car at the profile of the woman driving. "You really didn't have to drive me home." Her voice echoed in the quiet car. "I'm sure I could have gotten a ride from someone who didn't have to go so far out of their way."
Randi flickered her eyes from the road and smiled at the younger woman. "I'm sure you could have too, Kay. But since I'm the one who got you there, the least I could do was take you back." She redirected her full attention to the slick city street. "Besides, I needed some way to go back to the cemetery and pick up my car." Unbeknownst to Kay, she had spent the entire evening in the hospital, unwilling to leave the woman she had found in the woods.
"Oh, that's right," Kay remembered. The previous day was still a blur, but she did remember Randi telling her about coming to Woodbridge for a funeral. "I'm terribly sorry for your loss," she murmured quietly.
The dark-haired woman shrugged. She hadnt even really known her uncle, and had only showed up out of some warped sense of family loyalty. "Don't worry about it." She stopped the car at an intersection and looked around. "Umm which way?" Randi's sense of direction was never that great, and she barely remembered the route from Kay's house to the hospital. Lucky I didn't get us both lost, she thought ruefully. All these damned streets look the same in the morning light.
Kay giggled and pointed forward. "Turn right at the next light. The cemetery is only a few miles that way. If you continue past the graveyard, my house is about two miles north down the same road." She shifted slightly in her seat, trying to get comfortable. "I'm going to have to call my aunt when I get home. She's not going to be happy about this."
"What do you mean?"
"She's always griping about me living 'out in the boonies,' as she calls it. I'm only about five miles outside of town," Kay grumbled. "And I've lived out there just fine for a couple of years. But she'll use this as an excuse to move me back to that old tomb she calls a home." Her eyes widened when she realized that she had spoken aloud. "Don't mind me, Randi. I think the medication they put me on has fried what few brain cells I have left."
Randi laughed. "Sounds like your family is as interesting as mine." She turned the vehicle onto the aforementioned road, grimacing as the back tires spun on the wet pavement. "Sorry about that."
Kay reached across the car and touched Randi's arm. "It's not your fault that this old car needs new tires." She looked down at her right foot, which was in a cast from the knee down. "Guess it'll just have to wait, huh?"
"Might as well. No sense in buying something you're not gonna use for a while." Without knowing why, Randi's mouth opened and she offered another solution. "Or, if you want, I can take care of it after we get you settled at your house." Brown eyes darted around beneath the mirrored sunglasses. What the hell am I doing? She obviously doesn't want--
"I couldn't ask that of you, Randi. You've already done so much for me," Kay demurred. "Who knows how long I would have lain out in the woods, if you hadn't come along."
In town for her uncle's funeral the day before, Randi Meyers had been standing on the outskirts of the mourners at the graveside services. She had felt a small hand grasp hers and found herself beseeched by a ten-year-old boy to go and help his sister. After a short walk through the neighboring woods, she had come upon an injured Kay, who had fallen and broken her ankle while hiking. The little boy had disappeared, and Randi had later learned from the young woman that her brother had been killed by a drunk driver, five years prior. Spooky, thought Randi. The entire event had played over and over in her mind all night, and she was no closer to finding a logical explanation for any of it. She blinked several times and took a deep breath. "Well, I'm glad I was there. And, I don't mind taking care of your car for you."
Kay sighed as the car turned onto the gravel drive that ran up to her house. The five concrete steps that she usually jogged up without thought loomed obstructively before her. She thought about the wooden crutches that were lying across the back seat of the old car. "Damn."
"What's wrong?" Randi turned off the ignition and turned to look at Kay. "Does your ankle hurt?"
"Not too much, yet," the blonde answered wryly. She gestured through the windshield to her front door. "But it probably will by the time I get into the house."
Pulling her sunglasses off and placing them on top of her head, Randi frowned. She stepped out of the car and walked around to the other side, opening the rear door and pulling out the crutches. She leaned them against the car, then opened Kay's door. "Well, seeing as how I carried you back to your house yesterday, I think I can piggyback you up a few little steps." She extended her hand to the injured woman. "C'mon."
"Oh, I don't know. I wasn't wearing this cast yesterday," Kay argued, although she allowed the taller woman to help her stand beside the vehicle on her good foot. "This thing weighs a ton."
Randi looked down at her new friend. She probably doesn't weigh more than a hundred pounds, soaking wet. Even as out of shape as I am, it should be a piece of cake. She shook her head. "Nah. If you'll just grab your purse, I'll come back for the crutches." With a wink, Randi turned around and bent slightly at the waist. "Your ride awaits, milady."
"You're crazy," Kay chortled. She lifted a leather strap and draped it over her head so that her purse wouldn't fall from her shoulder. Gently climbing onto the offered back, she wrapped both arms loosely around the other woman's neck and felt Randi take a shaky breath. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"
"Uh, no. It's fine," Randi mumbled while she struggled to get her emotions under control. No mention had been made of the kiss she had placed on Kay's head the evening before. She was under so much medication, she probably doesn't even remember it. As she started walking slowly to the house, another thought caused her to stop momentarily. Or maybe she does, and is embarrassed because she doesn't know what to say. Stupid, Randi. You've got to learn to control yourself.
Kay had her cheek lying at the base of the other woman's neck, her eyes closed. Mmm. She smells good. When Randi suddenly stopped, her eyes popped open. I didn't say that out loud, did I? "Is everything okay?"
Mentally shaking her head, Randi sighed. "Yeah. Sorry about that." She took a firmer grip on the legs that were draped across her hips. "Just wanted to make sure I didn't drop you." As she navigated the cement steps, the older woman gritted her teeth as her knees creaked from the weight. When am I gonna remember that I'm not a kid anymore? At thirty-six, her body constantly complained to her about the abuse it had taken when she was younger. Both knees had been operated on for the wear and tear that had resulted from playing softball for over half her life, and she knew she was overdue for the next round of surgeries.
"If you'll give me the keys, I'll unlock the door," Kay offered, not realizing the strain her rescuer was under. Upon hearing the gasp as Randi reached the top step, she tapped one broad shoulder. "Or better yet, put me down and go get the crutches. I can make it into the house just fine, now."
Randi's sense of chivalry warred with the fear of falling flat on her face, and fear won. "Okay, but only if you're sure," she puffed. She turned and straightened up, allowing the younger woman to slide from her back. With a slightly embarrassed grin, she handed Kay the keys and jogged back to the car.
Comfortably ensconced on her sofa, Kay glanced down at the colorful quilt that covered the lower part of her body. It had taken over two hours to assure Randi that she'd be okay, although a part of her thoroughly enjoyed being fussed over. She aimed the remote control at the television set on the other side of the small room and began to surf aimlessly through the channels. One hundred and sixty channels with this blasted satellite dish, and there's not a damned thing on thats worth watching. Deciding on a colorful program on the Travel Channel, Kay closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillows that she was propped up on.
She felt the weight of the cordless phone in her lap and sighed. Picking up the receiver, she automatically hit a number on the speed dial and waited for an answer.
"Aunt Louise? This is Katherine."
The woman on the other end of the line sniffed dramatically. "Where have you been? I called several times last night. Or is it too much to ask that you pick up the phone when I call?"
Not even the pain medication with which she had been sent home could counteract the effects of one of her aunt's tirades. Kay pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to ward off the impending headache. "I'm sorry. But I had an accident yesterday afternoon."
"Accident? What kind of accident? You didn't wreck my car, did you? I told you it was just a loan until your cousin comes home."
"No, Aunt Louise. Your car is just fine. I fell down a hill while I was out walking, and broke my ankle." She could just imagine the look on her aunt's face over that revelation.
"Oh, well." Louise was silent for a long moment. "You know, if you still lived here with your cousin and me, that never would have happened."
Louise's daughter was twenty-eight years old, a year older than her only cousin, Katherine. She was a bit taller, a lot heavier, and her dark hair was dyed a platinum blond. Nancy Weatherby was a younger carbon copy of her mother, right down to the tacky makeup and superior attitude. She was presently on a missionary trip with members of her church, and had been gone for the past four months.
Kay realized that her aunt was still nattering on about the accident. "We have sidewalks here in town, not some nasty old trails. Your cousin Nancy would never be that careless, you know."
Yes, I know. She's too lazy to walk across the street, let alone go hiking. I'm sure the people she's with right now really enjoy waiting on her hand and foot. Anxious to change the subject, Kay tried another tack. "Speaking of Nancy, have you heard from her lately? When is she supposed to be coming home?"
"Hopefully, soon," Louise admitted. "Can you still drive? I need to go to the grocery store this afternoon, that's why I was trying to call you yesterday." She had never learned to drive, but had bought Nancy a car so that she would have some way to get around after her husband died a few years earlier.
"Um, no, I can't. It's my right ankle that's broken." Kay braced herself for what would come next.
"WHAT? How on earth am I supposed to get around? I could starve to death," she wailed.
Kay almost laughed out loud. Oh, yeah. She's stored up more fat than a bear going into hibernation. No way she'll starve. "Now, Aunt Louise. You live two blocks from the supermarket. If worse came to worst, you could always walk."
"WALK? In my condition? Are you out of your mind? I'd never survive in this weather, Katherine."
"What weather? It's sixty-eight degrees out there. Aunt Louise "
"No, no. Don't you worry about your poor aunt. After all, I took you in and raised you as my own when my only sister died tragically. But no, don't you waste another thought on me. I'll be just fine." Louise started crying and hung up the phone.
The blonde looked down at the receiver that she had just pulled away from her ear. "No, I'm fine Aunt Louise. Thanks for asking." She pushed the "off" button and dropped the phone back into her lap. Tragically, indeed. Mom drank herself to death after Dad ran off with that manicurist from the mall.
Since Louise and Harold Weatherby were their only living relatives, fourteen-year old Katherine and her younger brother Jared were placed in their custody after their mother's death. Katherine immediately clashed with her older cousin. The two girls were supposed to share a bedroom, but their vicious arguments caused Harold Weatherby to convert the one-car garage into a room for both Kay and her brother, scant weeks after they moved in.
Disgusted with the entire conversation, Kay rubbed her forehead with one hand and closed her eyes, willing sleep to claim her.
"Shit!" Randi slipped on yet another twig and almost fell on her face. She limped along slowly, cursing her stupidity. "No, I'll just walk. It's not that far back to the cemetery," she mimicked her earlier assertion. When Kay had offered to call a cab to take her back to her car, Randi waved off her concern. She had assured the younger woman that she could find the same wooded route back to the cemetery that she had taken the day before, and would be back in no time to check on her.
But now, the small path that she had followed with her mysterious guide seemed to have disappeared, and the exhausted woman fought branches and pools of mud as she tramped through the heavily wooded area. "Egotistical idiot. I just hope I don't get lost."
A slow drizzling rain had begun to fall moments after she had left the house, and Randi pulled her suit jacket closed. "Guess I should be thankful it's not snow," she grumbled, grateful that west central Texas was not known for being too cold in early November. The light mist had soon soaked her clothes completely, and the dark clouds were making navigating through the woods even more difficult. With her knees aching from the activity, Randi reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her cigarettes, lighting one and inhaling deeply. As she walked, to get her mind off her problems, she thought back to the day before.
Although she had not been sleeping well for the past few months, she couldn't believe that her mind had simply fabricated the young boy whod led her to the injured Kay. The loneliness, the stresses from the office, and the feeling that something was missing from her life had kept her up more nights than she cared to admit. Even if it was my imagination, how do I explain knowing her nickname? This is all just a bit too creepy for me. "There's got to be a logical explanation for all of this, because I know for a fact I wouldn't walk through these woods on a lark." Randi thought about her grandmother. "And leaving the services before they were through is certainly not the brightest thing I could have done. Grandma Edna is going to have my hide."
Over an hour later, breathing heavily, Randi broke through the trees that surrounded the cemetery. As she ground out her last cigarette, she bent down and picked up the butt, slipping it into her pocket with the rest. Cold, wet, and tired, she trudged over to the waiting Corvette and opened the driver's side door. Her keys still hung from the ignition, and Randi breathed a sigh of relief that the graveyard was as secluded as it was. She closed the door and turned the key. The click and lack of the sound of an engine turning over caused her to look down at the light control knob. "Shit." Pushing the knob back into the "off" position, she leaned her head against the steering wheel and fought back tears of frustration.
"Finally!" Randi almost cried in relief when she spotted the old black mailbox with the letters "K. Newcombe" stenciled in yellow paint along the side. Her legs felt like rubber, and she could swear that a rock the size of her fist was lodged somewhere in her shoe. She was afraid to take the footwear off to check, because she knew her feet had swollen from the long walk. "I'm too damned old to be traipsing around in this mess," she grumbled, as she limped up the concrete steps she had left hours earlier.
The knock on the door woke Kay from a restless sleep. She had been dreaming of being whisked away to a castle in the sky by a handsome knight, only to find out that the knight was a woman with short dark hair and light brown eyes. She opened her eyes and looked around the semi-dark room, the only light coming from the silent, flickering television. Unable to figure out what had awakened her, she ran her hands through her hair. Another knock, this time more forceful, caused her to look over at the front door.
"Kay? Are you all right in there?" an anxious voice asked, pounding on the door again.
"Uh, yeah. Just a minute," Kay called, reaching for the crutches on the floor and struggling up from the sofa. Groggy from the medication and the sleep, she gracelessly worked her way to the door.
Randi was on the verge of busting the door down when it finally opened. She was greeted by the worried frown of her friend. "I'm sorry, I -"
"Good grief! Get in here," Kay ordered, grabbing a handful of soaked blazer and pulling Randi inside. Once she had the door closed, she shook her head. "You've been gone for hours. What happened to you?" She reached for Randi again, but one crutch fell out from underneath her. "Damn."
"C'mon. Let's get you back down on the couch, and I'll tell you all about it," Randi offered, picking up the crutch and handing it to the injured woman. She gently guided Kay back to the sofa, squatting down on the floor beside her. "You wouldn't happen to have any jumper cables in your trunk, would you?"
Kay winced as she propped her foot up. "Jumper cables?"
The dark-haired woman nodded. "Yeah. Did you know that if you leave your lights on all afternoon, evening, and night, the next day the battery will be dead?" Randi joked. She wiped the wet hair out of her eyes and then wiped her hands on the leg of her slacks.
"You poor thing," Kay commiserated. She suddenly remembered that Randi was soaking wet. "You need to get out of those wet clothes. Go down the hallway and take the first door on the left. There's a robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door."
Randi looked at Kay, then back down at her own body. "Uh, Kay. I don't think I could get my arm into anything of yours." She was about four inches taller, and at least fifty pounds heavier than the other woman. "But I will borrow a towel, if you don't mind too much."
"I don't think you'll have a problem with the robe," Kay told her quietly. "It's my girlfriend's. She's a bit bigger than you, I believe."
"Girlfriend?" Randi blinked, then fell back on her rear. She scooted across the wooden floor away from the sofa. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize " Upset, she started to stand when her knee gave out on her and dumped her back onto the floor. "Shit." She struggled up again, and ran one hand through her wet hair. "Um, if you'll just let me use your phone, I'll call the auto club for a jump."
Without thinking, Kay swung her legs to the floor and started to stand. "Wait, Randi." She put weight on her injured leg, and fell back to the sofa in pain. "Dammit," she cried, rolling onto her back and grabbing at the cast.
Randi hurried back over to where Kay was rocking back and forth in pain. "I'm so sorry." She sat down on the sofa and pulled the smaller woman onto her lap, holding her close and willing away her friends pain. "Do you want me to get you a pain pill?"
"No," Kay whimpered, enjoying the closeness. "Just stay here for a while, please?"
"You got it," Randi agreed readily. "Whatever you need." She reached down and pulled the quilt up over Kay.
You, Kay's mind supplied helpfully. She snuggled close and closed her eyes. But we can talk about that, later.
Randi awoke to total quiet, and a glance at her watch told her that she'd been asleep for a couple of hours. Loath to disturb the blond head in her lap, she blinked several times and, by the light of the television, studied the small living room they were in. The small house had been built in the early fifties, and the light wood paneling on the walls appeared to be original. Besides the sofa, there was a well-worn recliner at a ninety-degree angle, with a scratched coffee table between them that was covered in magazines. Looks like someone likes to read. She turned her head slightly and noticed a freestanding lamp, which she turned on in order to see the room more clearly.
Kay moaned, but didn't waken. She buried her head in the quilt that was covering her body and quieted once again.
Resigned to her new designation as body pillow, Randi reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her glasses. She slipped them on and picked up a magazine to read.
Sometime later, she felt eyes watching her and glanced down into her lap. "Hey there."
"Hi," Kay returned as she sat up. "I'm sorry I fell asleep on you like that. You can't be too comfortable."
Randi put down the magazine she was reading and smiled. "No, really, I'm fine. I just woke up not too long ago, myself." Her smiled widened as a small hand reached over and touched the frames on her face.
"I didn't know you wore glasses," Kay marveled shyly. "They look really good on you."
"Uh, thanks. I only need them to read, though." Embarrassed, she started to take them off when the hand stopped her. "What?"
Kay smiled also. "Leave them. Please?"
The dark head ducked down bashfully. "Sure." After she felt the heat leave her face, Randi looked up again. "Can I ask you a question?"
"You said earlier that you had a girlfriend? Does she live here?" Randi felt her heart begin to pound and lowered her head, afraid of the answer. Cool fingertips touched her chin and forced her to look into serious hazel eyes.
"Actually, I said that the robe was my girlfriend's. She hasn't lived here for almost six months, since I asked her to leave." It was Kay's turn to be embarrassed. "I don't know why I keep the stupid thing around."
Randi exhaled in relief. "You broke up?" She remembered the last thing Kay had said. "Maybe you keep the robe because you still feel something for her."
Kay snorted. "Hardly. The only thing I feel for that bitch is complete disgust." She looked up into the shocked face across from her. "Im sorry. I guess I sound a bit hateful, huh?"
"She must have really hurt you to cause those kind of feelings," Randi murmured, unconsciously reaching over and touching the other woman's cheek.
Closing her eyes at the touch, Kay nodded. "You could say that. I found her in bed with one of our best friends. She thought I'd be out of town longer, and I came home to surprise her on our anniversary." Tears of anger and hurt fell from her eyes as she relived the painful memories. "We'd been together for six years," she cried, falling forward into Randi's arms.
Randi quietly held the younger woman while she mourned the end of the relationship, understanding the feeling all too well. She was about to say something when Kay giggled. "What?"
"I'm sorry, but your stomach growled so loudly, I thought a plane had passed overhead," the blonde teased. "When was the last time you ate anything?"
"Umm." Randi scratched her head with her free head. "Yesterday morning?" That explains why I'm nauseous and have a killer headache. "It's not that big of a deal, though. I can pick up something later."
Kay sat back. "It is later, Randi. Do you realize that it's almost eight o'clock in the evening? You've probably been without food for over thirty-six hours, already." She rubbed her stomach. "And to tell you the truth, I'm starving, too."
"Well, that settles it, then. You have anything in your kitchen? I'll be glad to whip something up for you." Randi stood up and took off her jacket, draping it over the recliner. "Just point the way."
"You can cook?"
Randi shrugged. "I'm not some master chef, if that's what you're asking. But," she winked, "you can tell by looking at me that I haven't missed many meals. I do okay around a stove." She looked over at the wide entry that obviously went to the kitchen. "If you'll give me a few minutes to figure out where everything is, I'll bring you in something to eat."
"Uh, okay," Kay agreed. "It should be pretty well stocked. I just went to the store a couple of days ago."
"Great!" Randi saluted and started walking into the next room. "Be prepared for a culinary experience you won't soon forget," she joked.
"I heard that!" the indignant squawk echoed from the kitchen.
Kay waved her fork around in front of her, pointing it at the woman at the foot of the sofa. "You ever going to tell me what you put in these eggs? Mine never taste like this." They were both finishing up the meal of scrambled eggs, sausage, and homemade biscuits that Randi had prepared.
"Now if I told you that, I could lose my chef's license," Randi teased. "Seriously, just a dash of garlic powder and a touch of picante sauce. No biggie."
"Whatever it is you do to them, they're great." Kay chewed for a minute and shook her head. "This is so weird."
"I know this may sound silly, but I don't know a thing about you."
Randi blushed. "Um, well, what exactly is it that you want to know?"
Placing her fork back on her plate, Kay shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. Where you live, what you do, your last name," she paused for a moment, "if you're seeing anyone," she finished quietly.
Oh! Hmm maybe Chuckling nervously, Randi had trouble meeting the other woman's eyes. "Vital statistics, huh? All right." She held out one hand and started counting off on her fingers. "My name is Randi Meyers, I'm thirty-six years old, I live in Fort Worth, and I'm a veterinarian." She reached across the space and touched Kay's hand, looking directly into the serious hazel eyes. "And, there's no one special in my life." Yet, her mind finished for her.
"Great!" Kay exclaimed, then colored in embarrassment. "I mean, it's great that you're a vet. I've always loved animals, too. You live in Fort Worth? Then I guess that means you were only here for your uncle's funeral."
"Yeah," Randi admitted. "I'm supposed to be back at work in the morning."
Kay looked at the clock. "It's almost ten o'clock now. Isn't that about a two hour drive?"
"Closer to two and a half. But I've decided to take a few more days off," Randi assured her. She was about to say something else when there was a knock at the front door.
"Oh! That's probably the tow truck driver," Kay told her. "I hope you don't mind, but while you were cooking, I went ahead and called the auto club for you."
Randi smiled as she stood up. "No, that's great, thanks. Let me go explain to him what an idiot I am." She patted Kay on the shoulder as she walked by. As Randi opened the front door, she was met by the frowning visage of a burly woman wearing jeans, a dark flannel shirt, and a grimy baseball cap. She was a couple of inches taller than Randi, and easily outweighed her by forty pounds or more.
"You the one that needs the jump?" the woman asked gruffly. She leaned to one side and tried to peer past the dark-haired woman at the door.
"Yeah. Let me just get my jacket." Randi stepped away from the door and grabbed her blazer from the back of the recliner. "I'm going to go get my car. Just leave the dishes and I'll take care of them when I get back, all right?"
Kay smiled at her friend. "Okay. But I feel like such a helpless idiot, letting you do everything for me." Her back was to the door, and she couldn't see the angry look the tow truck driver was giving Randi.
The dark head shook gently. "Nah, no sense in feeling like that. I bet you'd do the same for me." Randi pulled the quilt up and tucked it around Kay's waist. "You gonna be okay while I'm gone? Shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes."
"I'll be fine, Randi. Stop fussing so much," Kay chided, but her smile softened her tone.
"All right. I'll be back before you know it," Randi declared. She met the driver in the doorway. "I'm going to need a lift back to the cemetery," she explained as she closed the door.
The tow truck driver pulled on a pair of worn leather gloves. "Sure. Whatever." She climbed into the cab of her truck and waited until the other woman was inside with her. "So, you have car problems and just come here to use the phone?"
Randi looked across at the driver curiously. "Umm, not exactly." She frowned as the heavier woman growled something unintelligible. "What was that?"
"Oh, nothing." Stepping on the gas, she made the truck seem to fly over the old road. "You live back there?"
"No." Randi had to brace her left hand on the dash and the other against the door to keep from being tossed around in the truck. "You want to slow this thing down? I want to pick up my car at the cemetery, not move in there."
Chicken. "Yeah, sure." She pulled the truck up beside the yellow Corvette and stopped. "I'm Beth, by the way."
Relieved to have finally stopped moving, Randi nodded. "My name's Randi. I really appreciate you coming out so late."
"That's what I get paid for," Beth assured her. She looked down at the car beside them. "Corvette, huh? Seventy-eight, right?"
"Yeah. I bought it used when I graduated from high school. Had it ever since." Randi climbed out of the truck and walked around to the other side. "Temperamental as hell, but it's my baby." She opened the driver's door and pulled the latch to open the hood. "Of course, if I'd had the sense to turn off my lights yesterday, we wouldn't be here now."
Beth nodded as she gathered up what she needed. "I know what you mean. But the way I look at it, people like you are my job security." She hooked up the cables to the battery and stepped back. "You live around here?"
Randi shook her head. "No. Just down here for a funeral."
"Well, that is good news, then," the driver muttered happily. "Give me a minute, and you'll be ready to go."
Once her car was started, Randi thanked Beth and paid her, giving the woman a generous tip. "Thanks again for all your help, Beth. I really do appreciate it."
"No problem," Beth smiled. As the Corvette drove down the cemetery road, her smile turned to a frown when the car turned right instead of left towards town. "Only here for a funeral, huh? I'll just bet."
Hearing a car pull into the driveway, Kay couldn't help but smile as she thought of her friend. She's so sweet. I can't believe she's not involved with someone. Her smile widened as the knock on the door was immediately followed by the door opening. "You made good time."
"Yep," Randi agreed, closing the door behind her and walking over to the sofa. She squatted next to Kay and smiled. "Feels good to have my wheels back."
"I'll just bet it does." Not thinking, Kay reached down and tried to brush the unruly hair away from Randi's eyes. Although the dark hair was only collar-length, it was thick and full of body. The small strands of gray only highlighted the many shades of brown and mahogany that her fingers enjoyed ruffling through. Drying without the benefit of a brush seemed to have made the natural curl go wild, and Kay thought it was beautiful.
The touch to her head was unexpected, but not unwelcome. Randi closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of Kay's fingers combing lightly through her hair. Her enjoyment was cut short as one knee began to complain about the position it was in, and for the second time that evening, Randi found herself sprawled on the floor.
Alarmed, Kay reached down to help Randi up. "Are you all right?" Her hand was gently batted away by the embarrassed woman.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Randi grumbled as she stood up and dusted off her rear. "Sorry about that."
Kay took Randi's hand and pulled her down to sit next to her on the sofa. "Are you sure? That's twice that has happened tonight." She waited until the light brown eyes met hers. "Did you hurt yourself carrying me around?"
"No, nothing like that." Realizing that Kay was waiting for more of an explanation, she sighed. "My body is just getting back at me for all the years of abuse, I guess. Up until a couple of years ago, I played softball. But the eighteen years of playing catcher screwed up my knees, and I'm about overdue for the next round of surgeries."
"Surgeries? You've had them before?"
"Oh, yeah. Every few years they go in and clean things out in there. It's not that big of a deal, but I just haven't had the time to mess with it. So, my knees get cranky and give out on me at times." Randi patted the hand in hers. "Nothing to worry about, really. Just old age," she joked.
The blonde laughed. "Oh, yes. You're so over the hill." She shifted around until there was an empty space beside her. "Why don't you sit over here and get more comfortable? Hanging on the edge there can't be too good for your knees."
Randi accepted the offer, and moved to sit next to Kay. She leaned back against the sofa and released a heavy breath. "Thanks. This is better." She turned her head and grinned. "Before I left, you got to know all about me."
"And, don't you think that turnabout is fair play?" Brown eyebrows waggled comically.
Kay laughed. "Time to unbury all my deep, dark secrets, huh?" She looked down at their entwined hands. This feels so right. "All right. You asked for it." She took a deep breath before continuing. "My name is Katherine Renee Newcombe, I'm twenty-seven years old, and, up until a week ago, I was a file clerk at Reeves, Hollis and Brown."
Eyes widened at this last revelation. "What happened a week ago? Or is it none of my business?"
"No, that's okay." Kay looked down at the quilt covering the lower part of her body. "I just got mad and quit."
Randi sat up angrily. "Why? What did they do to you?"
"Nothing sinister, Randi. Things hadn't been going well there for a while, and I finally got fed up and left." Kay squeezed the hand in hers, silently thanking the other woman for her support.
"What are you going to do now?"
A small sigh escaped from Kay's lips. "Before yesterday, I would have told you that I'd go out and put in a few applications around town. But with this broken ankle, I guess I'll just have to wait and see."
Randi squeezed the hand she was holding again. "I don't want to sound nosy, but can you afford to do that? I mean, wait until the cast comes off before looking for another job?"
Dear, sweet Randi. You are definitely someone special. "Well, the rent on this house is only three hundred a month, and I do have some savings tucked away." Kay looked up into the concerned eyes above hers. "It may get a bit tight, but I should be just fine."
Embarrassed by her sudden interest in Kay's life, Randi nodded. "Ah, good. Umm, I'm really glad you'll be okay." What am I thinking? Her life is here, and I'll be leaving in a couple of days. Get your head on straight, Randi.
"Are you all right?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Sure." Randi looked at her watch and shook her head. "I had no idea it was so late. You must be exhausted." She stood up suddenly and looked around the room. "I should go so you can get some rest."
Kay looked at her in confusion. "Did I miss something here? What happened?"
"Nothing happened. I just realized how late it was, and " Randi picked up the empty plate that Kay had set on the coffee table earlier. "I'll just take care of the dishes, and then be on my way." Her retreat from the room would have been comical if the atmosphere wasn't so tense.
A few minutes later, Randi stepped from the kitchen and stood in front of the sofa. "Well, everything's cleaned up and put away. If you want, I'll drop by in the morning and check up on you, see if you need anything."
"No, I don't want you to go," Kay whispered. "You said yourself it was late. It's been raining, and you don't know the area that well." Her voice had continued to rise, and she stopped for a moment to gain her composure. "I I care about you, Randi. Please stay."
Caught flatfooted, Randi had no ready answer for Kay's plea. "Umm. Well, I "
"Please." Without her permission, tears begin to fill Kay's eyes.
Damn. I can't leave her like this. Randi found herself nodding. "All right. I really didn't want to go out in the rain again, anyway," she admitted with a smile.
To Be Continued - Part 2
Return to The Bard's Corner