Something to be Thankful For
By Carrie Carr
Disclaimers: Yes, I'm still claiming them. All these characters belong to me. I made them up, so I get to keep them. Don't touch, and please keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times. This "short story" continues to rage out of control - but I know where I'm going with it, so there.
Again, there is a theme of two women who like each other - we may even get the "L" word used, you never know (depends on them, not me <g>). There are a few naughty words, and other than the quick peek that Randi got in the last part, there's no nudity. I'm still disclaiming the nasty relatives, too. If any of them recognize themselves, it's not my fault.
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 -firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, my writing and my life are dedicated to my AJ, the brightest star in my universe.
Copyright January 2002 by Carrie Carr
Trees lined the streets in the well-established neighborhood. Comfortable brick homes that dated back to the late nineteen-sixties were set back from the road, and the yards and shrubbery around the houses were neatly kept. Kay looked around curiously when Randi parked the car on the street in front of such a home. "Your grandmother lives here?"
"Yep. She and Grandpa used to live in a tiny house in the western part of town, but when he retired, they decided to move into a nicer neighborhood." Still upset over the earlier events, Randi struggled to put on a happy countenance. She turned to face Kay after unclipping her seat belt. "I've got to warn you, it gets pretty hectic during one of these things. Kids are usually running around like crazy, and most of the family is either in the living room watching football, or in the kitchen talking about the ones in the living room."
Kay laughed. "Sounds like fun." She watched Randi step out of the car and walk around to open her door. Accepting the offered hand, Kay climbed out of the vehicle and tucked her crutches beneath her arms. The uncomfortable strain between them continued, and she couldn't help but wonder if it had been such a good idea to have accepted Mr. Stone's job offer so quickly. Like I had much of a choice. I've got to support myself, somehow.
The front door opened up before they reached it, and a shorter, older version of Randi rushed out. "Hello, sweetheart. I was hoping you'd be able to make it." Slightly overweight, the woman embraced Randi and rubbed her hands down the taller woman's back. "It's so good to see you." Pulling back and noticing Kay for the first time, she smiled at the blonde. "Oh, I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry. I don't know where my head is at," Randi apologized. "Kay Newcombe, this is my mother, Patricia Meyers." She then gestured to Kay. "Mom, Kay's a very good friend of mine."
Patricia held out her hand and studied the woman standing before her. She could tell by her daughter's body language that "good friend" didn't quite cover her feelings. But, she also sensed a sadness in Randi, and couldn't wait to get her alone to find out what was going on. "It's very nice to meet you, Kay."
"It's nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Meyers. Randi has told me all about you." After shaking hands, Kay readjusted her crutches.
"Please, call me Patricia." Randi's mother opened the door and waved the younger women inside. "Let's get you settled somewhere, Kay. You can't be too comfortable standing around like this."
Once inside, Kay realized that Randi's warning was true; a mingling of voices could be heard coming from different areas of the house, while mouthwatering smells tickled her nose. Somewhere a baby was crying, and the clattering of dishes came from the left. A young boy, not older than four, peeked around the corner and promptly disappeared. Kay spared a glance at her friend, whose face was a closed off mask. "Are you okay?"
Randi nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine." She allowed her mother to lead them into the kitchen, and steeled herself for the inquisition that was about to take place.
Several women were milling around the kitchen area; the smallest one turned at the sound of the door opening and headed for the newcomers. "Randi Sue! It's about time you got here," she scolded, barely extending a glance to Patricia, who was helping Kay get seated at the nearby table. Edna Meyers stalked over to her youngest granddaughter and hugged her. She pulled back and glared up into the light brown eyes. "You gonna run off again today like you did at the funeral?"
"I didn't " Randi stopped at the look she received. "No, ma'am. I'm not." She led her grandmother over to where Patricia had seated Kay. "Grandma, I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Kay Newcombe."
Kay met the steely gaze with one of her own, and held out her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Meyers. Randi's told me so much about you."
"She has, has she?" Edna asked. "And you're still pleased to meet me? Brave girl." She patted Kay's hand, studying the younger woman. "You must be the one I keep hearing about."
"If you mean the one that Randi rescued, then you're right." Kay took back her hand and smiled. "You should be very proud of her ? she probably saved my life."
Embarrassed by the conversation, Randi met her mother's eyes. "She's exaggerating, really." She was saved from any further comments when the kitchen door swung open again, and a twelve-year-old girl came racing into the room.
"Aunt Randi! You're here," the girl squealed, taking a leap and jumping up into her aunt's arms. Her dark blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her slender body attested to her athleticism. She buried her face in Randi's neck and held on tight. She only loosened her grip when Edna swatted her on the rear.
"Get down from there, girl. You're getting too big to be jumping all over your aunt like that," Edna scolded.
Randi didn't release her hold. "She's fine, Grandma." Looking into her niece's face, she could see herself reflected in the girl's dark brown eyes. "I've missed you too, squirt. How's school?"
Patricia sat down next to Kay in an effort to help sort out any confusion. "That's Samantha, or Sam, as we call her," she told the younger woman quietly. "She's the oldest of my oldest, Augustus."
"Randi's spoken of her," Kay told her. "She's very proud of her."
"She certainly is, and the feeling is mutual, I can tell you," Patricia explained proudly. "Sam has her aunt's athletic ability in softball. I just wish they didn't live so far away, so that Randi could see more of her." She sighed, then leaned closer and lowered her voice. "Those two bickering at the stove are Amy and Andi, Randi's cousins. Watch out for them."
Kay nodded. "I will, thank you."
Being led to the door, Randi stopped at the table on her way out. "Will you be all right here for a minute? Sam wants to show me something."
"We'll be fine, dear. Go play," Patricia answered, waving her daughter off. "I'm sure I can keep Kay occupied with some stories," she threatened.
"Stories? Maybe I should -"
Both women laughed. "Go on. We'll try not to trade too many secrets," Kay promised. She was really enjoying Patricia's company, and hoped to get more insight into Randi by speaking with her.
"I'm doomed," Randi moaned, allowing Sam to pull her out of the kitchen.
A gentle touch on her back caused Randi to turn around and look down into the worried face of her mother. "What's up?" It had been well over an hour since they had cleared away the dinner dishes, and most of the family members were either chatting in the kitchen, or sleeping in front of the TV. She was standing in the doorway of the large game room in the back of the house, where Kay was enjoying playing a board game with several of the children. Samantha sat to Kay's left, and it appeared as if the injured woman had made a new friend.
"I was just going to ask you the same thing. You've been unusually quiet today." Patricia thought at first her daughter wasn't going to answer her, until Randi put a hand on her shoulder and led her away from the doorway back into the hall.
"What do you think of Kay?"
Confused, Patricia frowned. "I think she's a really sweet girl, why? Are you two having problems?" Although they rarely talked about it, she was quite aware of her daughter's sexual orientation.
Randi shook her head, then sighed and ran one hand through her hair. "Not really. I mean, I don't think so. But she lives here, and I live in Fort Worth ? and we've just gotten to know each other. Things are just complicated. It's not like I've proclaimed my undying love to her, or something."
"How do you mean?" Of her three children, it was Randi that Patricia worried about the most. She knew that her daughter took relationships seriously. Probably too seriously. Sometimes I wished she'd just loosen up and have some fun, and quit over-analyzing everything. "Do you love her?"
"I don't it's just that," Randi sighed again, fighting the urge to bang her head against the wall. Her mother's insightful questions always got to the heart of the matter. "I care for Kay a lot. But we've only known each other for three weeks ? that's not enough time to know whether or not it would work out."
Patricia stepped closer and shook her head. She raised one hand and touched her daughter's cheek. "I've seen the way you look at her, and how she looks at you. That's a strong point in your favor. Besides," she grinned, "I met your father at a party, and we eloped a week later."
"But that's different," Randi protested.
"Not really." Patricia pulled her daughter back to the doorway and pointed at Kay. "Take a good long look at her, Randi. How do you feel?"
Watching Kay interact with her nieces, nephews, and cousins, Randi couldn't help it as a smile slowly formed on her face. When the younger woman reached across the table and tweaked four-year-old Edward's nose, her heart swelled with affection. "I love her," she murmured. "God help me, but I really think I do."
A triumphant smile broke across Patricia's face. She squeezed her daughter's shoulder and pulled her back into the hallway. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"
"No," Randi admitted. She thought for a moment, then her face fell. "But it's still complicated."
"Aaargh!" Patricia stomped away, waving her hands in the air. "Stubborn kids."
The unseasonably warm weather had sent different members of the family outside, and there was a group of men huddled nearby comparing notes on NFL teams. Samuel Meyers sat down beside Kay on the porch swing. It was a good view of the back yard, where they could watch Randi, along with some of the children, playing a funny game of touch football. "How are you doing?" he asked. He didn't know why, but his wife had requested that he try and get to know the blonde a bit better. So, being the dutiful husband he liked to claim to be, here he was.
"I'm doing all right, thank you." Kay shifted slightly. Before Randi had chased off across the yard with the children, she had set up a padded lawn chair for Kay to use as a footstool. It was fairly comfortable, but the sudden interest in her from Randi's quiet father made her squirm. "Umm, great weather today, isn't it?" Oh, that was original, you idiot. He probably thinks I'm some sort of moron, now.
Samuel chuckled and patted Kay on her uninjured leg. "That, it is. Don't worry, I'm not going to give you the third degree, or anything. Just wanted to make sure that you're comfortable." He leaned back and watched the action on the lawn.
Relieved, Kay took a moment to study him more carefully. His once dark hair was losing a battle with the gray, and although cut short, looked to be thinning on top. Blue eyes sparkled, and Kay could tell where Randi got her adorable smile. "I'm very comfortable, actually. You've got a wonderful family. Thank you for letting me share the day with you."
"You're very welcome. As a matter of fact, you're the first girlfriend Randi has ever brought to one of the family dinners that seemed to fit in. We're glad that you could come." He grinned at her embarrassment.
"Girlfriend? But I'm not really -"
"Sure you are." Samuel leaned closer to her and lowered his voice. "I don't normally butt into my children's business, Kay, but it's plain to see how my daughter feels about you. Please don't break her heart."
Kay looked into his eyes, then down at her lap, where her hands were twisting nervously. "Mr. Meyers Samuel," she corrected at another look from him, "Randi is very dear to me. But honestly, we're just friends."
Not convinced, he leaned back again. "Uh-huh. Well, I still hope you don't hurt her. She's been hurt enough by so-called friends." Taking a deep breath, Samuel looked out onto the lawn and watched as his three grandchildren attacked Randi. "Hey, no triple-teaming," he yelled good-naturedly.
Loud giggles could be heard from the pile of people, as the older woman fought back and begun to tickle with a vengeance. "Thanks, Dad," she returned loudly. "Aaargh!" Young Sam came in from behind her and tackled Randi around the shoulders, dragging her back to the ground.
"Kids." Samuel looked over at Kay, who was watching the game with interest. "Do you like children, Kay?"
"I do." She grimaced when she saw Randi's face being driven into the thick grass. "I hope they don't hurt her."
Samuel shook his head. "If they do, we'll never know it. But she really enjoys playing with them. It's a shame she's never had any of her own. I think my daughter would be a good mother."
"I think she would be, too," Kay agreed quietly. "Maybe she will be, someday."
Blue eyes twinkled as a smile worked its way onto Samuel's face. "Maybe so."
"Your poor face," Kay murmured, touching the bruise gently with one fingertip. Close to the end of the "football game," Randi was accidentally kicked in the face by her ten-year-old nephew, Todd. Now she sported a purplish knot underneath her right eye.
"It really doesn't hurt, much," she assured her friend. They were in one of the spare bedrooms of the house, after Randi had been ordered by her mother to lie down and keep an icepack on the injury for a while.
A quiet knock on the door caused Kay to turn around from where she was sitting. "Come in."
Todd shuffled into the room, a paper in one hand. "Aunt Randi? Mama said I could bring this to you, if I was quiet." He was thin and had dark blond hair like his older sister, but where she was athletic, he was more studious. "I'm really sorry I hurt you."
"Come here," Randi requested, removing the ice pack and holding out one arm. She waited until Todd was sitting beside her before looking at the paper he handed her. The colorful beams of a rainbow covered the page, and the words "I'm sorry" were neatly penned at the bottom. "Thank you, Todd. This was very sweet." She pulled him close and kissed the top of his head. "Don't worry ? you know I've got a really hard head. Your grandma says so, doesn't she?"
He nodded and a smile slowly took over his face. "That's right. That's exactly what Grandma says." Todd kissed the uninjured side of Randi's face and jumped off the bed. "Glad you're okay," he told her. "Grandma says that it's almost time for cake and ice cream. I was supposed to tell you." With a bashful smile for Kay, he raced from the room.
"He's a cutie." Kay flinched as Todd accidentally slammed the door on his way out. She reached over and grabbed the ice pack, gently placing it back on Randi's face. "Better leave this on for a few more minutes. You don't want the swelling to get out of hand, do you?"
Randi sighed, but accepted the ice pack. "No, I guess not." She looked at her friend with her good eye. "You haven't been too bored here today, have you? I'm sorry we haven't gotten to spend much time together."
"I've had a wonderful time, Randi. I love your family," Kay assured her. "And while I'd love to have more time with you, I'd have to say this is one of the best Thanksgiving days I've ever had." She took one of Randi's hands in hers and squeezed it gently. "Thank you for sharing them with me."
"You're welcome, Kay. I'm glad you could be here." That's a pleasant change from when I'd bring Melissa. All she did was bitch because I wasn't paying enough attention to her. The redhead couldn't stand children. When Randi tried to play with her niece and nephews, Melissa would complain and try to get back at her by flirting with whoever was available at the time. I'm so glad I'm rid of that bitch.
Kay watched as different emotions played across Randi's face. She brushed a bit of hair out of the brown eyes and smiled. "You look tired. Why don't you try to take a quick nap?"
Only if you'll join me, Randi's rebellious mind bartered. Stop it. She's already made a decision about her future, and it doesn't include you. Get over it. "Nah, I'm fine. Besides, I'll need to take you home soon. You've got a busy day ahead of you tomorrow, starting a new job and all."
"Oh, that's right." I was having such a wonderful time here, I almost forgot about tomorrow. Kay fought to keep the tremble out of her voice. "Well, anytime you're ready to go, just let me know."
Randi sat up and removed the ice pack. "Sure." She swung her legs off the bed and reached for Kay's crutches. "Why dont we go get some ice cream? Don't want the kids to have all the fun, do we?"
"No, of course not," Kay agreed, following her friend out of the room. I don't want this day to end. It's too soon. She forced a smile onto her face when she heard the squeals of happiness coming from the kitchen.
They were all standing on the front lawn, while Randi and Kay said their good-byes. "Thank you again for having me over," Kay murmured to Edna, as she accepted a hug from the older woman. "I had a wonderful time today."
Edna patted her cheek before stepping back. "It was nice having you, dear. Don't be a stranger. I know you live around here." She wasn't going to hold her breath, but she hoped that the feelings her granddaughter had for this young woman would bring Randi back to Woodbridge. Maybe even permanently.
"How long will you be staying?" Randi asked her mother, who kept a companionable arm around her waist. "And do you fly out of Dallas?"
Patricia squeezed her daughter closer to her. "We're driving up to Dallas on Saturday, since we have an early flight out on Sunday. Are you "
"I'm going back to Fort Worth in the morning," Randi explained quietly. "Kay starts a new job here tomorrow, and I really need to get back to my practice."
"So that's it? You're just going to leave?" Patricia couldn't believe her daughter could be so hardheaded.
Randi pulled her mother away from the crowd and turned to face her. "What am I supposed to do, Mom?" she whispered. "Get down on my knees and beg the woman to come back with me? She's got a life here, and I have one in Fort Worth." She wiped away a tear that had fallen from her eyes. "I'll just have to come back and visit on weekends, that's all."
"Honey, please." Patricia pulled her daughter close to her so that they wouldn't be overheard. "Talk to her. Don't just assume things without talking them out, first." She felt a hand on her back and turned to smile up into Samuel's eyes. "Hi, handsome."
"You two okay?" he asked, looking at his daughter.
"Yeah, we're fine," Randi assured him. "I was just telling Mom that you should stay with me on Saturday. I have plenty of room."
Not convinced that had been the topic, he nevertheless accepted his daughter's offer. "Sure, sweetheart. We'd love that. Give us a chance to visit more, anyway." Samuel took his daughter into his arms and held her close for a long moment. "We love you, Randi. You be careful going home tomorrow, and we'll see you on Saturday, alright?"
"Sounds good, Dad. I love you, too." Randi walked away to finish her good-byes to the rest of the family.
"What are we going to do with that girl?" Samuel asked his wife.
Patricia looked on as Randi knelt down to tell the children goodbye. "Well, since talking didn't work, we could always give her a good paddling," she joked sadly.
"If I thought it would work, I'd surely do just that," he agreed.
As she spoke to Randi, Samantha fought to keep the tears from falling. "Daddy says that I can come visit next summer," she sniffled. "But that's a long way off." She loved spending time with her aunt Randi, because she treated her like an adult, not a kid. "I'm going to miss you."
"I'll miss you, too, sweetheart," Randi choked out, fighting back tears of her own. "Maybe I can try and come visit you first."
"That would be great!" Sam brightened. "Will you bring Kay?"
I wish. "I don't know, Sam. It just depends. But I will try to see you, maybe on one of your school breaks, okay?"
"Cool." The young girl wrapped her arms around Randi's neck and hugged her tight. "You're the best."
"So are you," Randi whispered, her composure close to shattering. "I love you, Samantha. You take care of your brothers and sister for me, okay?"
Sam pulled back and nodded seriously. "I will. I love you, too." She finally allowed Randi to stand up. "Mama says that I'm a good sister for baby Sophia," she shared proudly.
"I'm sure you are." Randi touched the top of the girl's head and started for the car. She looked over at Kay, who had just gotten a hug from Todd and Edward. "You ready?"
Kay nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be, I suppose." She waved to the family, and then turned to walk back to the Corvette that was parked on the street. "You have a wonderful family, Randi. Thank you again for today."
"My pleasure, Kay." Randi helped her friend into the car and took the crutches. "I think they were pretty fond of you, too." She closed the door and walked around the back of the car, placing the crutches in the trunk. With a final wave to the group on the front lawn, Randi climbed into the car and drove off into the approaching night.
The ride back to Kay's was quiet, since each woman was caught up in her own thoughts and feelings. Randi stared directly ahead, concentrating on the road. Her still face belied the inner turmoil she felt over the impending separation from Kay. Maybe Mom was right. It couldn't hurt to talk to Kay about our relationship. She spared a glance over at her friend as the car pulled into the familiar driveway. "We're here."
Kay jumped slightly at the sound of Randi's voice. "Oh." She unbuckled her seatbelt and waited patiently until her crutches were brought to her. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Randi followed Kay up to the house, almost laughing at the excited barking that came from inside. "Sounds like someone missed us."
Laughing as she hobbled up the steps, Kay had to agree. "It sure does. But after being over at your grandmother's, I can see why you left him here."
Randi opened the door and reached down to grab Spike before he could race from the house. "All those kids would have driven him nuts, that's for sure." She pushed the door open further so that Kay could get inside. "Guess I'd better take him for his walk, or he'll never forgive me."
"All right." Kay grabbed the lead from the coffee table and tossed it to Randi. "Mind if I stand on the porch and keep you company?"
"Not at all." After several tries, Randi finally clipped the lead to the bouncing animal's collar. "Come on, psycho-dog." She put him on the ground and almost got the leash jerked out of her hands. "Slow down, Spike."
Kay laughed as she watched the little dog take Randi for a walk. She didn't know who she was going to miss more, Randi, or the animal that had quickly stolen her heart. Don't kid yourself. Randi took your heart before Spike had a chance, and you know it. Kay looked at the woods that surrounded her house. Would I be so unhappy living in Fort Worth? It's not like I have that much to keep me here, other than a new job that I didn't even ask for.
Randi caught the still figure on the porch out of the corner of one eye. She loves it out here. How can I be so selfish as to ask her to leave her home and her family? She shook her head and sighed heavily. "C'mon, Spike. Let's go try to enjoy our last night here. No sense in making Kay miserable, is there?" She bent down and picked him up.
"Do you want something to drink?" Randi asked Kay as she came back into the house. After unhooking the lead from his collar, she put Spike down, and shook her head when he immediately jumped up into Kay's lap. The younger woman had just sat down on the sofa and propped her cast on the coffee table.
"No, thank you." Kay picked Spike up and pulled him close to her face. His soft fur smelled like the outdoors, and he quickly started licking her ear. "Oh, honey. I love you, too," she murmured quietly, feeling ridiculous for the tears that threatened to fall. Kay waited until Randi sat down next to her before she asked, "Will you bring him with you when you come back to visit?"
Randi nodded. "Sure. He'd probably never forgive me if I didn't." When she reached over to pet Spike, her hand touched Kay's and she swallowed hard to keep from crying. "I'm going to miss you, Kay," she whispered, trying to keep her voice from breaking.
"I'll miss you, too," Kay admitted. She slid Spike gently to the other side of her lap and pulled Randi closer to her. "These past few weeks have been wonderful."
"Yeah, they have," Randi agreed. Her free hand reached over and caressed the younger woman's face. "But I guess it's back to reality, huh?"
Kay blinked several times to fight off the tears that threatened to fall. "I guess so. Especially since I've got a new job. At least I don't have to worry about money, anymore; and I can still save up for a car." She leaned into the touch and closed her eyes. "You mentioned something earlier today about coming back on the weekends?"
I guess that settles it. I know she's independent, so this job offer came at the perfect time. "If you want me to, I can." Randi leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on Kay's lips. "No more talk about leaving, okay? Let's just enjoy tonight."
"That's a great idea." Kay tangled her free hand in Randi's hair and returned her kiss. She felt a gentle tongue tracing the contours of her lips, and quickly opened her mouth to capture it. A warm hand reached underneath Kay's shirt and traced the smooth skin on her back, causing her to moan.
Randi's heart started to pound when Kay touched her breast, squeezing softly. Her own hand was still tracing a pattern on the younger woman's back, until she was pushed onto her back by Kay. Breaking lip contact for an instant, she gasped in surprise when both of Kay's hands found their way under her shirt, pushing the material up. "Wha -"
"Sssh," Kay commanded, laying light kisses on Randi's bare stomach. "I just need to feel your skin," she murmured. She leaned her face against the soft skin and took a deep breath. Fingers combed through her hair, and Kay raised her head enough to look up into Randi's eyes. "Please, hold me?" she whispered, her voice breaking on the last word.
Nodding, Randi helped Kay get comfortable beside her, both of them lying on their sides. She wrapped both arms around the smaller woman and buried her face in the blond hair, tears falling silently down her face.
Morning arrived with little fanfare, and much too soon. Kay had fallen asleep scrunched up next to Randi on the sofa, and now she woke up to Spike pulling on her hair. She raised her head from the sleeping woman's chest and looked down at Randi's peaceful face. They hadn't made love last night, but they had come pretty close. Part of her wished that they had, while another part of her was glad that she hadnt resorted to sex to try and keep the vet with her. Life sucks, sometimes. A glance at the clock on the wall showed it was almost six-thirty. Nancy would arrive in about an hour to take her to work, so she knew she had to get up and moving around. She traced a light fingertip over the older woman's face. "Randi?"
"Come on, honey. It's morning." Kay's light tracing turned into a gentle caress, which finally caused the brown eyes to slowly open.
"Morning?" Randi rasped, blinking several times. "What time is it?"
Kay smiled. She's so cute. I could really get used to Cut it out, Kay. You're only making it harder on yourself. "Almost six-thirty. My cousin will be here in an hour to take me to work."
Harsh reality washed away all vestiges of her wonderful dream and slapped Randi in the face. "Oh, yeah." She watched as Kay sat up and rearranged her shirt, which had somehow come unbuttoned the night before. Maybe if we had gone a bit further last night, today would be different.
"Would you like some breakfast before you go?" Kay asked, reaching for her crutches and climbing to her feet. Her hair was in complete disarray, and she had missed a button when closing her shirt.
Randi thought shed never looked more beautiful. "No, that's okay. I know you've got a lot to do before you leave this morning. I'd hate to mess that up for you." She sat up and combed her fingers through her hair, hoping that it looked a bit more normal. "But thanks for the offer."
"You're welcome." Loath to see Randi leave before it was absolutely necessary, Kay tried another tactic. "Would you mind waiting until I got out of the bath? I'd like to make sure I can do it alone, but without being alone, if you know what I mean."
"Sure, no problem." Randi stood up and picked up Spike in one fluid motion. "Let me just take care of his majesty, and I'll be right here if you need me, all right?"
Kay smiled. "That would be great, thank you." She headed into the bedroom, but stopped and turned around when she got inside the doorway. "I " Go ahead, say it, you idiot. "I really appreciate everything you've done for me, Randi." Chicken. Tired of arguing with herself, she pushed the bedroom door closed and began to undress. Maybe some time away from each other will be a good thing ? be easier to see if our feelings are real, or just the by-product of what we've been through. Turning on the water in the tub, she shook her head. Or maybe I'm just trying to find some way of convincing myself that all of this is for the best, when all I really want to do is grab hold of her and never let her go. She watched as her tears fell and mixed with the bath water.
After bringing Spike back inside the house, Randi went into the kitchen to give him a bit of food before the long drive. She stood with her back against the kitchen counter, watching the tiny dog inhale his ration. Looking around the neat room, she realized again how comfortable Kay was in her home. Small prints took up spaces on the walls and homey knickknacks adorned shelves and counter space. While not overly fancy, the kitchen had a relaxed atmosphere that her own apartment was missing. And I was going to take her away from this? "Don't have much in my head for brains, do I, Spike?" A quick look at her watch told Randi it was almost time to leave. "I don't know if I can do this," she lamented to no one in particular. Quit being so selfish, and get yourself together. You can come back to visit next weekend. "This sucks."
"What's that?" Kay asked from the doorway. She was dressed in a sweater and colorful skirt, and her hair had been pulled back away from her face. "Is everything all right?"
Randi took a deep breath and nodded. "Yeah, everything's fine." Tell her, while you have the chance. "I lo like that outfit," she finished. I am such a chickenshit. "You look really nice."
Blushing, Kay ducked her head. "Thanks. I thought I'd try to make a decent impression on my first day of work." Be honest with yourself. You wanted to look nice for Randi, too.
"Yes, well " Neither woman moved. Kay finally swallowed and held out her arms, careful not to lose the crutches. "Give me a hug?"
Definitely. Randi crossed the room in a heartbeat, pulling the smaller woman into her arms and holding her close. She felt Kay's face snuggle into her chest, while she buried her own face against a fragrant neck. Get a grip. It's only for a week. "I'm really gonna miss you," she rasped, trying to soak up as much of Kay's scent as she possibly could.
"Me, too," Kay sniffled, unable to keep the tears from staining Randi's shirt. She took several deep breaths before looking up into the anguished face of her friend. "But you'll be back next weekend, right?" God. Could I sound any more pitiful?
"You betcha," Randi agreed. She bent her head and covered Kay's lips with her own.
The honking of a car horn outside caused the women to break apart after several minutes. Kay dropped her head to Randi's chest once again. "That must be my cousin."
"Yeah," Randi agreed. She stepped back and looked at Kay for a long moment. "Guess I'd better go, so that you can leave too, huh?"
Kay nodded. "I guess." She watched as the older woman gathered up Spike's bowls and placed them in the sink after rinsing them out. "Just leave those, I'll take care of them tonight."
"Are you sure?" Randi turned around from the sink. "It won't take me but a minute."
"I'm sure." She adjusted the crutches underneath her arms. "Walk me out?"
Randi blinked several times, then bent down to pick up Spike. "Sure." She quietly followed Kay, grabbing her overnight bag and Spike's lead on the way out of the house. While Kay walked to Nancy's car, Randi quickly tossed her bag in the Corvette, then jogged over to hold the door for her friend. "If you need anything, call me. No matter what time it is, all right?"
"I will," Kay agreed, placing her crutches in the car. She reached over and scratched Spike on top of the head. "You take care of your mommy for me, okay?" she told the dog. His pink tongue reached out and licked her fingertips. Fighting back her tears, Kay looked up into Randi's watery eyes. "That goes for you, too," she whispered.
Unable to speak, Randi nodded. "I'll call you tonight," she promised.
"You'd better," Kay tried to tease. She quickly kissed Randi on the cheek, and got into the car.
Randi closed the door and pulled Spike up to her chest. She waved as Nancy backed out of the driveway, until she could no longer see the car. With a heavy heart, Randi walked over to the Corvette and opened the door. She sat down behind the wheel and buried her face in Spike's coat, finally letting the tears break free.
"You sure made a spectacle of yourself," Nancy chided, driving down the deserted road. She couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, anyway. It's not like she can feel anything real for another woman. I just don't understand my cousin at all.
Kay continued to look out her window, wiping the tears from her face. She could hear Nancy speaking, but didn't feel like trying to understand what the other woman was saying. All she could think about was the look on Randi's face as they drove away. She looked so lost and alone ? just how I feel. The further they drove, the more she felt like the entire idea was wrong.
"Hey, get yourself together, Katherine. Mama went to a lot of trouble to get you this job, so the least you could do is be a little bit grateful." She reached over and pinched Kay on the arm.
"Ow!" Hazel eyes turned away from the window and glared at Nancy. "What did you do that for?"
Nancy sniffed. "Just trying to help you pull it together, cousin. You act as if you just lost the love of your life, or something."
"Maybe I did," Kay sighed. She was tired of always defending herself to her family. "What are you? Jealous?"
"Of you and that that woman? Dear Lord, just listen to yourself." Nancy stopped at a red light and turned to look at Kay. "You've always been unnatural, cavorting around with other women like that."
Something in Kay snapped at that last remark. "You are jealous! Well, I have news for you, dear cousin ? when women chose other women, they're very picky. You'd never have a chance." She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out through the window again.
"Like I'd even want another woman to look at me like that. It's sick. Maybe that's the real reason your daddy ran off when you were a kid ? he knew what a sick pervert you'd grow up to be."
"Bitch," Kay growled.
"Truth hurts, doesn't it, Katherine?" Nancy parked her old car in front of a small building. "Just because we're family, doesn't me I have to like you. I don't know why Mama puts up with your attitude." She watched in satisfaction as Kay struggled to get out of the car. "I might be late picking you up," Nancy yelled, before her cousin closed the car door.
Kay hobbled to the front door of the small building, relieved when Richard Stone appeared and opened the door for her. "Thank you."
"No problem, dear. I'm glad to see you," he assured her. "Come on in, and I'll show you where your desk will be." He led her to the rear of the large room that was filled with individual cubicles. Pointing to the last desk before the back door, he smiled. "I hope this will be all right. This door leads to the restrooms and the break room, and I thought with your injury, the closer the better."
"It's just fine, Mr. Stone. Thank you so much." Kay smiled as he assisted her into the large padded chair. "This is very nice."
The older man placed her crutches behind her, but not out of reach. "We're a small business, but fairly prosperous. Most of our employees have been here for many years, and we like to take good care of them." He pointed to the computer on one side of the desk. "That's brand new, so if there are any problems with it, just let me know. I'll go ahead and bring out the paperwork you need to fill out, and you can be taking care of that until Lucy gets here."
He had the good grace to be embarrassed. "Yes, I'm sorry. Lucy Whitington. She'll be showing you the ropes, so to speak. And please, call me Richard. We're very informal around here."
Kay nodded. "Oh. Okay, Richard. My friends call me Kay," she smiled at him. "Thank you again for this job opportunity."
"No need to thank me, Kay. When your aunt told me about you, I thought this would be a perfect solution for both our problems." He brushed off the front of his slacks in a nervous gesture and ran one hand across his balding head. "Do you drink coffee? I'll be glad to bring you a cup back when I bring your paperwork."
"Why yes, thank you. I'd love some ? but only if it wouldn't be too much trouble." Kay placed her purse in an empty desk drawer.
Richard tapped the side of the cubicle. "No trouble at all. How do you take it?"
"Light cream and sugar, please."
"Fine. I'll be right back," he said, ducking through the door.
Kay leaned back in her chair and looked at her desk. The office was smaller and neater than the law office she had worked in previously, and she had a really good feeling about her boss. Richard really is a nice man. I wonder what he's doing with my aunt. She chuckled at the uncharitable thought and checked her watch. I hope Randi's doing okay. I miss her already.
The miles blurred together as Randi sped along the Interstate. Spike had given up trying to get her attention, and was happily curled up in the passenger's seat, fast asleep. When the familiar skyline of Fort Worth welcomed her home, the dark-haired woman angrily wiped the tears from her face. She had cried most of the drive back, and the memory of Kay's excitement over seeing Fort Worth for the first time hit her hard.
Another car cut into her lane, causing Randi to honk the horn. "Watch what you're doing, asshole," she yelled at the driver. A whine beside her made Randi turn to glance down at Spike. "What?"
He cocked his dark head to one side and tentatively wiggled his stumpy tail.
"Don't look at me in that tone of voice," she warned, turning her attention back to the traffic. "Aren't I allowed to be upset?" Spike didn't answer her, but she continued anyway. "Why didn't I tell her I loved her? Do you think that would have made a difference?"
A quick glance over her shoulder, and Randi changed lanes. "She told me that she had stayed with Beth because she didn't have anything better. Do you think that she would do the same with me?"
Spike whined and continued to wag his tail.
"You could be right, boy. I feel like what we have is something special, too. Maybe I'll know more by next weekend." She took her exit and continued along the quiet city streets. "I'm going to just have to wait and see, Spike. I don't want to force Kay into anything she really doesn't want." Randi parked the car in her assigned spot and turned off the engine. She picked up the small dog and pulled him close. His soft fur had a lingering scent of the perfume that Kay wore, which caused her to break into tears again. "I miss her already," she whispered, crying into his coat.
Continued - Part 7
Returned to The Bard's Corner