Something to be Thankful For

Part IX

By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers: My ideas, my characters, my story. That should cover it <g>.

There is a theme of two women who love each other. After all this time, if you haven’t figured it out, you’re in worse shape than I thought. There are a few naughty words, but nothing really nasty – I embarrass easily. 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 -

As always, my writing and my life are dedicated to my AJ, the brightest star in my universe.

Copyright January 2002 by Carrie Carr


Chapter 21

The next morning, Randi was awakened by subtle sunlight drifting across her face and gentle kisses along her chin. They had spent the entire afternoon and evening making love, and she couldn't remember the last time she had slept so well through an entire night. She opened her eyes and smiled sleepily down at Kay. "Good morning."

"It certainly is," Kay agreed, propping her chin on Randi's chest. A loud rumble below her caused the blonde to giggle. "I guess I'm going to have to feed you," she teased.

"Probably wouldn't hurt." Randi agreed. She motioned to an empty box sitting on the computer desk a few feet away. "Although, Pop Tarts at midnight quell the hungries pretty good, too."

Kay laughed, then bent down to leave a kiss on the older woman's mouth. "I think," she left another quick peck, "that after yesterday's activities, we're going to need more than junk food. Especially since I plan on repeating them, often." She ran one hand across Randi's chest, taking in a handful of soft flesh and squeezing gently.

"God, Kay," Randi moaned happily, "you're going to kill me." She rolled into a sitting position and stretched. "Although I can think of worse ways to go." Groaning as her vertebrae snapped back into place, Randi stood up and walked around the bed to get to the bathroom. "Be back in a flash," she promised with a wink.

Watching the door close after Randi's nude form, Kay fell back to the bed. She felt happy, relaxed, sated, and…complete. Last night was probably the most incredible experience in my life. She closed her eyes in remembrance. Not just because of the sex, although that was fantastic. A warmth settled in her belly at the thought. No, I think it's because of the closeness we shared. Kay had never felt so loved or needed before. Their lovemaking brought a whole new dimension to the relationship. But it wasn't the best part. The best is…becoming a part of someone, and having that feeling reciprocated. The bathroom door opened, and Kay rolled over onto her right side and propped her head up with her hand. "Hey there, cutie."

Randi stood in the doorway, slightly embarrassed by her nudity. She knew that she didn't have the body of a twenty-five-year-old, but the appreciative glances she received from her lover caused her uncertainty to melt away. "Hey there yourself, beautiful." The answering gasp from Kay caused her to stop in the middle of the bedroom. "What's wrong?"

"What happened to your knees?" Two livid bruises covered Randi's kneecaps, making Kay ache just looking at them.

"What?" Randi looked down at her body, holding one leg out to inspect it more carefully. Ouch. Those do look nasty. What did I…oh, yeah. "I fell yesterday," she advised. "They really don't hurt."

Kay sat up and held out her arms. "Come here."

Doing as she was asked, Randi walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. She pulled Kay into her arms and held her close. "I could get used to this," she murmured.

"Good. Because I plan on this lasting for a very long time." Kay pulled back and patted the empty space beside her. "Come back to bed?"

Not needing to be asked twice, Randi quickly crawled under the covers and waited for Kay to snuggle up next to her. Her arms automatically went around the smaller woman, and Randi realized with sudden clarity that this was what she had been missing all of her life. The sudden onslaught of emotions brought tears to her eyes, and she buried her face in the blond hair. "I love you so much, Kay," she murmured.

"I love you, too," Kay returned. She allowed a few quiet minutes to pass while the awareness of how things had changed overnight soaked in.

"When do you want -"

"When should I -"

Both laughed as they spoke at the same time. "You go first," Randi offered.

Kay giggled. "Okay." She traced a lazy line over Randi's stomach. "I was just going to ask when I should start packing for the move."

"Ah. Well, I was going to ask when you wanted to move," Randi admitted sheepishly. "Guess we're on the same wavelength, huh?" Although her professional future looked uncertain, Randi knew for a fact that she couldn’t leave again unless Kay was with her. I’ll get a job washing cars or flipping hamburgers if I have to. Nothing else matters than being with Kay.

"Sure seems like it," Kay agreed. "Most of the furniture here isn't mine, it came with the house. So basically all I have to take with me are some knick knacks and some clothes." She pointed over to the desk. "And of course, my experiment in progress. I've been 'upgrading' my computer for a couple of months, now. But I think the damned thing is a hopeless cause."

Randi laughed. "Don't tell me I've gone and fallen for a geek." The hand that had been caressing her skin lightly slapped her. "Ow."

"Brat." Kay went back to stroking the soft skin. "I'm afraid I'm not smart enough to be a geek," she admitted. "More like a wannabe."

"You still probably know more than I do. Thank God for simple instructions, or the one I have would probably still be in the box. My niece knows more than I do," Randi lamented. "How much notice do you have to give your landlord?"

"Not much, I don't think. Mr. Rayfield, the owner, would probably be happy to get someone else in here, so he could raise the rent. He's always treated me more like a granddaughter than a tenant, and no matter how hard I tried to pay him more, he'd never take it." Another thought caused Kay to groan.

"What's the matter?"

Kay sighed. "I just realized that I'm going to have to tell my family. Aunt Louise is going to throw a fit."

No kidding. Who'll she have to complain to if Kay moves away? "Will you miss them?"

"You've met my family, Randi. Would you?"

Randi laughed. Good point. "Well, Louise isn't that bad. But that cousin of yours," she waved a threatening fist in the air, "I'd just as soon slap as look at." Another loud grumble from her stomach caused Kay to break into giggles again. "All right. I can take a hint." She tickled the younger woman's ribs. "Come on. Let's get cleaned up, and I'll make us some breakfast."


After taking a very disgruntled Spike for a walk, Randi stood at the counter and watched him eat, while Kay washed up the breakfast dishes. Another argument lost. When did I become such a softy? As soon as breakfast was finished, Randi had cleaned off the table and loaded the sink with soapy water. Before she could do anything more, Kay had bumped her out of the way and taken over, citing the house rule that since Randi cooked, the least she could do was the dishes. I'm already so whipped. She smiled at the thought. Yeah.

Looking at Spike reminded Randi of Clarice. I wonder how she's doing? She patted Kay on the rear. "I'll be right back. Just want to get my cell phone to make a call."

"Okay." Kay smiled at the older woman, and watched as she left the kitchen. "You can just use my phone, if you want," she called after Randi.

"That's all right," Randi said, walking back into the kitchen. "It's a local call to Fort Worth, and I don't want to run up your long distance." She kissed Kay on the cheek before sitting down at the table. "Thanks, anyway." She hit a button for speed dial and waited patiently.

"Wilde Animal Clinic. How may I help you?"

"Christina, hi. I just wanted to -"

"Randi? Where have you been? We've been looking for you," the older woman rushed.

Frowning, Randi looked down at the phone in her hand, then put it back up to her ear. "What's wrong?"

"All hell's broken loose, that's what's wrong." Christina paused for a moment to catch her breath. "That Ms. Crawford came by yesterday morning, and she and Dr. Wilde were in his office for well over an hour. After she left, he started yelling about closing down and firing everyone. Then he tells me to get in touch with you."

Oh, shit. "Is he there now?"

"No, he hasn't come in yet. Which is fine with me, although I've had to reschedule several appointments already, and send a couple of others to another clinic. Where have you been, anyway? We were all very concerned about you."

"I'm sorry, Christina. I went out of town for an emergency. I should have at least left word with you as to where I am." Randi stood up and began pacing the kitchen. "You said that Ms. Crawford met with Dr. Wilde? How is her dog, Clarice?"

"She's just fine, dear. Up and frisky ? I was going to ask you when she could go home. I think Ms. Crawford misses her."

Randi thought for a long moment. "Have Joyce look over her stitches, and check for any signs of infection. If she says she's all right, then call Ms. Crawford and tell her it's okay to take Clarice home."

"I certainly will." The receptionist muted the phone, then returned. "All taken care of. Now, about that emergency. Is everything okay?"

"Everything's fine," Randi assured her, looking over at Kay and smiling. "Very fine, in fact."

"Do I detect a hint of happiness in that voice?" Christina teased. "I'm very glad for you, Randi." She lowered her voice. "I didn't want this to get out, but Ms. Crawford asked me to give you her phone number. She said that she had something that she wanted to talk to you about."

Uh-oh. I hope it isn't what I think. She was almost a little too grateful for my tending to her dog. Randi watched as Kay turned away from the sink and winked at her. Too bad. I'm already taken. "Did she give you any hint as to what it was about, Christina? I don't even work at the clinic any more."

Hearing Randi's words, Kay dried off her hands and hobbled over to sit at the table. She doesn't work there anymore? But I thought she said that it was just an argument with Dr. Wilde. Did she quit?

"No dear, I'm sorry. All she did was ask me to have you call her as soon as you could. She did say it was pretty important."

"Well, all right." Randi grabbed a notepad that was on a nearby counter. "Give me the number, and I'll call her later." She took the information from Christina, tore off the top sheet of paper and slipped it into her shirt pocket. "Thanks. I'll leave my cell phone on, so that you can get in touch with me, okay?"

"Thank you, Randi. I'm sorry to have bothered you with all of this, but I thought you should know."

"No problem. I'll talk to you later, Christina. Good-bye." Randi disconnected the call and looked over at Kay. She could tell by the younger woman's body language that she was upset. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop," Kay apologized, "but I couldn’t help but overhear that you don't work at the clinic anymore."

Oops. Guess I didn't really go into much detail about that, did I? "Uh, yeah." Randi walked over and sat down next to Kay. "Remember when I told you yesterday that I had gotten into a big argument with Dr. Asshole?"

Kay nodded. "Yes. Something about borrowing his car?"

"Uh-huh. Well, after we yelled at each other a bit, he fired me."

"What?" Kay frowned. "Isn't that cutting off his nose to spite his face? From what you've told me, he's not going to do much work."

Randi shrugged. "You're probably right. The woman whose dog I treated came in yesterday, and when she left he was really upset. According to Christina, he threatened to just close down the office and fire everyone."

"You're not going to let that happen, are you?" Kay asked.

"I don't know if there's much I can do about it, to tell you the truth. He's already fired me." Randi placed the cell phone on the table and rubbed her face with both hands. "And, to top it all off, Ms. Crawford, the dog's owner, left word that she wants me to call her."

Concerned, Kay reached over and rubbed one of Randi's arms. "Did she say why?"

"No. But she was very grateful for what I did for her dog." Randi raised her eyebrows and nodded. "Very grateful, if you catch my drift. She kept hugging on me and stuff."

"Oh? Do you think she's interested in you?"

Shrugging again, Randi sighed. "I don't know what to think." She took a deep breath and released it slowly. "How about we go see about renting a truck and getting some boxes, and on the way back we can drop by your aunt's house?"

Kay accepted the change of subject amicably. "Sure. Might as well get the not-so-fun stuff out of the way first." She looked down at the floor by her chair, where Spike sat patiently. "What about him?"

"Let's take him with us. I doubt if Beth would come back out here, but I really don't want to take any chances," Randi admitted.

"Good idea. But if I ever see her again, I'm going to give her a swift kick in the ass with my cast," Kay growled, picking up the small animal. "Picking on my sweet little guy, here."

Randi rolled her eyes. She's going to spoil him so bad, I won't be able to stand him. Oh, well. She stood up, leaning over and taking Spike from Kay so that the smaller woman could get out of her chair. "You're loving every minute of this, aren't ya, boy?" she asked the dog, who licked her chin.


"Those guys were nice," Kay said, holding on to Spike while Randi got into the car. The manager of the truck rental place had offered to give them boxes for free, as long as they didn't mind used ones. He had a large pile that he was going to have to break down and throw away, all because the previous movers had already written on them. His assistant had helped Randi load them into a truck, and they had also given them a good price on a trailer for the Corvette.

Buckling her seat belt, Randi nodded. "They sure were. We'll swing back by here after seeing your family, if that's okay. The sooner we can get your stuff boxed up and loaded, the better off we'll be, I think."

"Sounds good to me." Kay looked over at Randi. "I can't wait to get out of here," she admitted.

"Really? I thought that you liked it here." Moving the car out of the parking lot, Randi spared a glance at her friend. "That's one of the reasons I was so worried about asking you to move back with me."

Kay reached out and covered Randi's hand that rested on the stick shift. "Promise me you won't hold anything back from me, again? Because the only reason I've stayed in this boring little town for as long as I have, is because I didn't have anywhere else to go."

Turning her hand over, Randi interlaced fingers with Kay. "I can certainly understand that. I took off as soon as I graduated from high school."

"I didn't realize that. So, you grew up around here?" Kay knew that Randi's grandmother and cousins lived in Woodbridge, but as far as she knew, they were the only ones. "But you're always asking me for directions."

The dark-haired woman blushed. "In case you haven't noticed, I can get lost in a mall parking lot. Why do you think it took me so long to get back to you that first night at your house? I can't navigate my way out of a paper bag," she lamented. "Before I graduated from high school, I told my parents that I wanted to go to college and become a veterinarian. My dad, being the supportive parent he was," here she grinned, "made me a very detailed map from here, to College Station, and back. Even marked the exit numbers for where I could get gasoline, food, or emergency auto repair."

"That sounds very sweet," Kay told her. "So -"

"He also gave me a compass," Randi laughed, "and got really aggravated when the first time I drove down to Texas A & M, I got lost, anyway."

Kay laughed so loud, that Spike barked.

"It's not that funny," Randi grumbled.

"I'm sorry," Kay apologized, snuggling the small dog close to her chest. "We didn't mean anything by it, did we, sweetie?" But the twinkle in her eyes belied that comment.

Spike looked unrepentant, as well. He looked at Randi and wagged his stubby tail.

"Is this what I have to look forward to?" Randi asked.

Another giggle and more wagging answered her.


Randi held Spike in her arms as Kay led them up the overgrown path to her aunt's house. She thought she had seen one of the curtains in the front window move, but couldn't be sure. It's like walking up to a haunted house in a horror movie. I half expect Vincent Price to open the door.

The front door opened at that moment, and an even more hideous sight greeted them. Nancy was wearing a green facial mask and her recently dyed hair was bound in multi-colored rollers. The orange and yellow housecoat and matching fuzzy slippers added to her comical appearance, and Randi was hard-pressed to keep from laughing out loud. "I thought I heard car doors slam," the overweight woman grumbled. "What are you doing here so early, Katherine?"

"I've come to talk to you and Aunt Louise," Kay explained patiently. "May we come in?"

Nancy stepped back, but frowned when she saw the dog in Randi's arms. "You're not bringing that little beast in our house, are you? What if he bites?"

"Don't worry, Nancy. He's had his shots, so biting you shouldn't make him sick," Kay retorted, pushing by her cousin. "C'mon, Randi. Let's get this over with."

A smirk and a raised eyebrow from Randi as she passed by, caused Nancy to frown and slam the door. She started through the entrance hall, looking down at her fuzzy slippers. "Rude little bitch," she mumbled, bumping into Randi, who had stopped when she heard Nancy's comment.

"Actually," the taller woman deadpanned, "he's a male. And he's not really rude, just shy." Randi turned away from Nancy and followed Kay into the living room. She didn't see the murderous glare aimed at her back.

Louise stood up from where she had been sitting in front of the television and placed her hands on Kay's shoulders, giving the younger woman "air-kisses" on both cheeks. She motioned to the sofa. "Sit down, Katherine." Doing a double take at Randi and Spike, she didn't extend them the same courtesy. "What brings you here this time of day? I thought you'd be at work."

Taking a place at one end of the sofa, Kay propped her crutches on the arm next to her and looked at her aunt. "I had a few problems at work, Aunt Louise. I thought it best if I just quit." Kay mentally braced herself for the outburst that was sure to come, and she wasn't disappointed.

"You quit? What is the matter with you, Katherine Renee? I go to all that trouble to see that you're taken care of, and this is how you repay me?" Louise sat her in the chair opposite Kay and glared at Randi. "I suppose you're the cause of all this, aren't you? Katherine rarely acted this way until you came along."

"Now just a damned minute," Kay growled, leaning forward. "Don't you dare take that tone with her. She had nothing to do with me quitting."

Nancy pushed by Randi, who moved to stand next to Kay. "Oh, really?" she asked, sitting down in another chair, this one closer to the television set. "She shows back up, and you quit that very same day? Pretty convenient coincidence, if you ask me." Nancy had been surprised when Kay called her the day before, telling her that she didn't need a ride to work. She looked at the dark-haired woman, who continued to keep quiet. "What did you offer her to quit?"

My heart, you nasty bitch. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Randi continued to maintain a discreet silence, hoping that Kay would hurry up and get to the reason they were here.

"Would you just shut up, Nancy?" Kay asked. She turned back to her aunt. "I quit for several reasons, Aunt Louise. It just wasn't right for me."

"Not right? But all you had to do was sit and type things into a computer, Katherine. How hard is that?" Louise waved her hands in front of her. "Never mind. I don't want to hear any more. As it is, I probably won't be able to show my face in church. Richard is probably devastated with your disloyalty. He may never come over for dinner, again."

Only because your cooking should be registered as a lethal weapon. Kay sighed. "Please. Richard was fine with it. He even wished me luck in whatever I chose to do next."

Shifting in her chair, Nancy sniffed and aimed an unconvincing smile at Randi. "I'll just bet."

Kay grabbed her crutches and stood up. "That's it. I should have known you two couldn't be civil for even five minutes. Let's go, Randi."

"Katherine! Calm yourself and sit back down," Louise ordered. "You never just drop by to visit, so how are we supposed to act?" She realized that she'd never find out what Kay wanted, unless she played along. "Why don't you sit down, too?" she offered Randi, flicking one hand at the furniture. "We can all have a nice cozy visit."

Cozy, my ass. The Spanish Inquisition was friendlier. Randi looked at Kay, who shrugged and returned to her seat. "Thanks," she returned politely.

Louise sat back in her chair and smiled. "Now, isn't this nice?" She looked at Spike, who kept trying to wriggle out of Randi's arms. "What a cute dog. Do you take him with you everywhere?"

"Not always," Randi answered. She shared a look with Kay, who took the squirming dog and placed him on her lap. Spike curled up and closed his eyes almost immediately.

Traitor. Randi felt eyes on her, and looked up to see Nancy glaring her way. She returned the glare, and the other woman quickly looked away. Heh. I've had steaks tougher than you.

"So, are we going to find out why you've graced us with your presence, or do we have to guess?" Nancy asked her cousin. "You need to borrow money?"

Kay shook her head. "No, nothing like that. I just had some news to share, and I thought you'd like to hear it in person."

Her cousin laughed. "Well, I can bet you're not pregnant, are you?"

"Nancy Michelle! That's enough," Louise scolded. She looked back at Kay. "That's not it, is it, dear? You know you can tell me anything."

"No, Aunt Louise, I'm not pregnant. That's not even a concern for me," Kay assured her. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm moving."

Louise's eyes widened. "You are? Back to town?" she asked, hopefully.

The blonde shook her head again. "No." Kay reached over and grasped Randi's hand, needing the support. "I'm moving to Fort Worth," she announced, proudly.

"What in the Sam Hill is in Fort -" Louise stopped in mid-sentence. "You?" She pointed an accusing finger at Randi. "You're luring her away with fancy promises, aren't you? What are you holding over Katherine's head to make her leave her only family?"

Randi had heard enough. She only hoped that what she was about to say wouldn't upset Kay too much. "I love your niece, Mrs. Weatherby. And the only promises that I've made her are that I'll love her for as long as I live." She stood up, scooping Spike from Kay's lap and helping the younger woman to her feet. "And you may be related to Kay by blood, but as far as I'm concerned, you don't deserve to be called her family. Come on, Kay. Let's get out of here."

Wow, Kay marveled. They're right. It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. She followed her lover, but turned around at the living room doorway. "Good-bye, Aunt Louise. Nancy. I'll call you once I'm settled in." She walked out the door that Randi held open for her, storing the stunned look on her aunt's face in her memory and closing a sad chapter in her life forever.

Several minutes passed as they drove through town. Randi kept sneaking looks at Kay, trying to figure out her mood. Tired of guessing, she cleared her throat. "Um, are you going to be okay?"

"For the first time in my life, I know I will," Kay tells her. "It feels like there's been a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, and I have you to thank for that." She laid her hand on Randi's, twining their fingers together, grateful for her friend’s support.

"You're welcome." Randi smiled. "You know, you can come back to visit any time you want."

Kay looked at her. "I can't think of one good reason I'd want to come back to this town, unless it was to visit your family." She squeezed her lover's hand. "You were right, you know."

"About what?"

"Those two bitter and hateful women have never been family to me. It's taken me this long to realize that no matter what I do, it won't be good enough for them. I'm going to just live my life for me, and they can just go to hell," Kay stated bitterly.

Randi pulled Kay's hand up to her lips and kissed the knuckles. "That's a good attitude to have, sweetheart. They're certainly not worthy of you."

That soft kiss melted all of her animosity away, and left a warmth in its place. "I love you," Kay declared gently.

"I love you, too," Randi returned. "Want to go get a moving truck?"

"Most definitely."


Chapter 22

Randi was already halfway to the moving truck with a heavy box in her hands when she heard the familiar tones of her cell phone ringing in the house. She debated on whether to put the box down and run for it, or let it ring.

"I've got it," Kay hollered from inside. Moments later, she was standing at the front door waving the device in the air. "It's Christina."

"Thanks." Randi climbed out of the back of the truck and trotted up the stairs. She dropped a quick kiss on Kay's cheek, and took the phone. "Hello?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, but Ms. Crawford has called twice for you again today. I think she's just a bit anxious to talk to you," Christina related.

Stretching to work the kinks out of her back from carrying boxes to the truck, Randi sighed. "Twice? Did she happen to mention what it was about? I’m a little busy here."

"No, I’m afraid not." Christina lowered her voice, as if afraid to be overheard. "This morning Dr. Wilde told Joyce that she’d better start looking for another job."

"He what?" Randi yelled. She started pacing the floor in the living room, running one hand through her hair in a nervous gesture.

"Please, Randi, calm down. I think he was actually being nice, for a change."

Randi closed her eyes and mentally counted to ten before continuing. "Being nice? How is firing someone being nice?" She felt a reassuring touch on her arm, and opened her eyes to look down into the concerned face of her lover.

"He didn’t fire her, at least not yet," Christina corrected. "But he’s been telling us that there’s no way he can continue to run the clinic, and he’s seriously considering closing down. So, I think he just told Joyce in order to give her time to find something else."

Oh. But what would he have to gain, being nice? He’s certainly never done that before. I don’t know what the old bastard is up to, but I’d better get back up there and find out. "All right, Christina. I’ll go ahead and give Ms. Crawford a call, so she’ll leave you alone."

"Thank you, dear. I know you’ve probably got more important matters to attend to, but I’d appreciate it. The woman is relentless." She paused for a moment. "Good afternoon, Dr. Wilde. No, she hasn’t called. Yes, I will." Waiting until the door slammed behind the vet, Christina spoke quietly into the phone. "Dr. Wilde finally showed up, and he’s asking about you."

Realizing the older woman had basically lied to her ex-colleague, Randi shook her head. "Christina, what am I going to do with you?"

"Now, now…I didn’t say anything that wasn’t the truth," Christina explained. "He asked if you had called, and you haven’t. I called you, remember?"

Another heavy sigh escaped from Randi. "Christina," she warned. Taking a moment to look around the small house, she realized that they didn’t have much more to take to the moving truck. "I’ll make you a deal," she told the woman on the other end of the phone, "if you’ll keep from antagonizing Dr. Wilde for one more day, I should be home tomorrow, and then I’ll give you a call. We’ll see what we can do about the clinic then, okay?"

"Tomorrow? But what about—"

"I’ll explain everything when I call you, I promise." Randi met Kay’s eyes and smiled. "Just try to keep from getting fired between now and then."

Christina laughed. "Honey, I’ve been doing that for close to twenty years. Another day or two won’t change a thing. You be careful coming home, Randi. It sounds like you have lots of explaining to do, and you know what a nosy old woman I can be." She hung up the phone before the younger woman could say a word.

Randi pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it. "I can’t believe she got the final word in, again." She clipped the device onto her belt and pulled Kay into her arms. "What say we take a break?"

Looking up into the mischievous brown eyes a few inches away, Kay couldn’t help but smile as well. "That sounds like a wonderful idea to me. The bedroom is finished, and there are only a couple of boxes left in the kitchen, so we’re almost done."

"Great!" Randi leaned down and placed a tender kiss on the younger woman’s lips. When she pulled away, she marveled at the dreamy look that appeared on Kay’s face. "You hungry?"

Kay slowly opened her eyes and licked her lips. "Mmm-hmm," she agreed wordlessly. "But not for food." Both hands reached up and linked behind Randi’s neck, causing her crutches to clatter to the floor as she pulled the dark head closer and captured the soft lips one more time.


"We might want to close the front door the next time," Randi mumbled, twisting to get comfortable on the small sofa. Her clothes were in a pile on the floor, and the nude form of her lover was nestled between her and the back of the couch.

Kay smiled and continued to trace a lazy pattern across Randi’s chest, which was still slightly damp with perspiration. "I rarely have any visitors. Besides," her smile turned into a smirk, "you’re the one who started undressing me in the living room."

Randi blushed. "I couldn’t help it. When you kissed me like that, I lost all control." She picked up Kay’s hand and brought it to her lips. "Sweetheart, if you keep that up, we’ll never finish packing up."

"I’m trying to figure out why that’s a bad thing," Kay teased. The sound of tires rolling over the gravel in the front drive caused her to frown. "Did you hear…?"

"Shit!" Randi extricated herself and tossed Kay’s clothes to her. Grabbing hers also, she rushed over and closed the front door. "Never have any visitors, huh?" Foregoing her underwear, she hurriedly pulled on her jeans and polo shirt. She turned to ask Kay a question, and saw the smaller woman head for the bedroom on the crutches. With an appreciative glance at Kay’s bare backside as it disappeared into the other room, she smiled. I hate to agree with Beth, but she’s right. Kay has a really nice—

Hard pounding on the front door broke into Randi’s thoughts. Angry at having her enjoyment of the exquisite view interrupted, she jerked the door open.

"’Bout time you answered," Beth growled, pushing her way past the older woman and stepping into the house. "What the hell is going on here?"

Spike raced from the partially open bedroom door and stopped, bracing himself in a defensive posture and growling at the bulky woman. He didn't even flinch as she took a step closer. Beth was quickly stopped by Randi placing a warning hand on her arm.

"That's far enough." Randi used her grip on the heavier woman's arm to pull around her. "I won't be quite so forgiving, this time," she warned, taking a stance between Beth and the bedroom door, crossing her arms over her chest.

Beth glared at her. "Don't you fucking tell me what to do, you bitch. Maybe this time I'll do more than throw your ass to the floor." She started to close the distance between her and Randi.

"What?" Kay stepped out of the room, dressed and upset. "Beth, what are you doing here?" She stopped once she was beside Randi, a few feet away from the tow truck driver.

"I just came by to see you, baby. What's with the truck out front?" Beth halted in mid-stride, wiping her hands on the front of her jeans. "I was here before, but you were at work."

Kay leaned closer to Randi, who unconsciously placed her hand on the small of Kay's back. "So I heard. What was that you were saying about throwing Randi to the floor?"

The sturdy woman frowned. "That was just a little misunderstanding, Katie. Her damned dog tried to attack me, and I was just defending myself."

"From Spike?" Kay asked, incredulous. She shook her head. "I don't think so, Beth. You need to leave, now."

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what the fuck's going on around here," Beth growled, taking another step. She pointed a finger in Randi's face. "This is all your fault. I ought to…urk!" Her progress was stopped by the rubber tip from one of Kay's crutches, which hit her in the middle of her chest.

"Back off, Bethany," Kay threatened, pushing hard on the crutch. She fought to keep the satisfied smile off her face when Beth almost fell backwards. "I asked you nicely once. Leave."

Beth rubbed the spot on her chest where she had been shoved by the crutch. "Now, wait just a damned minute. I -"

"Are not welcome here," Kay finished for her. "After today, I won't be here, anyway. I'm leaving."

"With her?" Beth cried, glaring at Randi. "What's she got that I don't?"

Do you want a list? Kay's mind supplied helpfully. Stop it, Kay. That's not going to help matters any. "My love," she answered, turning to look into Randi's eyes. "My heart," she finished quietly, smiling at the love that radiated from the older woman.

"This is complete bullshit." Beth looked from one woman to the other, realizing that they were completely focused on each other, and had forgotten that she was even in the room. "Fuck." She walked to the door and turned around, pointing at Kay. "You don't know what you're missing, Katie. You'll be begging for me to take you back in no time." She slammed the door behind her as she left the house.

Randi, having been quiet up to that point, put her hands on Kay's hips and leaned forward to plant a soft kiss on her lips. She pulled back and smiled at the younger woman. "You're pretty good with those things," she said, tapping one of the crutches and then putting her hand back where it had been. "Remind me to watch my step."

"You don't have a thing to worry about," Kay assured her. "Now," she locked eyes with Randi, "are you going to explain what she meant by throwing you?"

"Umm..." Taking a step back, Randi held out her hands defensively. "I didn't want to upset you, especially after the tough day you had been through."

Kay closed the distance between them again. "Didn't you think I'd be upset if I found out that you'd kept something like that from me?"

Nodding, Randi tried to back up another step, but was stopped by the wall. "Uh, yeah. I guess I should have thought of that. But honestly, Kay, I was so worried about you when you called, the incident with Beth went completely out of my mind." Not realizing when to leave well enough alone, she continued. "She'd have never pushed me down the second time, if I hadn't been holding Spike. The bruises on my knees hardly hurt at all."

"The second time?" Kay grabbed one of Randi's hands. "C'mon. We're sitting down." She waited until the older woman was seated on the sofa and dropped down next to her, their thighs touching. "Now," she took Randi's hand in hers again, "you're going to tell me the whole story."

Shit. Randi looked down at their hands and was reassured by a strong squeeze. "There's not much to tell, really. When I got back from the store, she was waiting for me on the porch. When I opened the door and started inside, she pushed me, and that's when your lamp got broken." Embarrassed by her unwillingness to defend herself against Beth’s attack, Randi quieted.

"It's okay, honey," Kay prodded gently. "Go on."

"Right." Randi took a deep breath. "She was upset because I had hidden her truck keys, but I told you all about that, didn't I?"

Kay nodded.

"When she kicked at Spike, I picked him up and turned away. That's when she shoved me again, and I fell right on my knees ? I couldn't let Spike fall." Randi closed her eyes and leaned back against the sofa. "I know I should have probably just whacked her one after the first shove, but I've never been very good at that sort of thing." She opened her eyes and cut them over to Kay. "I think I've been in four fights my entire life ? and I got my ass kicked in every one of them."

Shaking her head, Kay reached up and touched Randi's cheek. "I think you were incredibly brave."

"Brave? For letting someone like her push me around?" Randi sighed. "Here I am, older and bigger, and you're the one who ends up scaring Beth off. Some protection I am," she lamented.

"You protect me in the most important way," Kay whispered, taking Randi's other hand and pulling them both into her lap. "With your heart."

"I don't -"

Kay closed her eyes for a moment, swallowed and opened them again. She locked eyes with Randi to make certain her words would be understood. "When my family treated me badly, you were there to hold me and make me feel loved. Did you know, that for these past few weeks, you've brought more love into my life than I've ever known before?"

"Oh, sweetheart." Randi pulled her hands free and raised them to cup the younger woman's face. "I'll do my best to always make you feel loved."

"Don't discount the importance of what you are to me, Randi. I don't think there are words enough to explain to you just how incredibly lucky I feel to have you in my life." Kay closed her eyes as Randi placed a tender kiss on her forehead, then slowly dropped lower to cover her lips.


Hours later, Randi stood beside Kay next to the front of the moving truck. "Think you've got everything?" she asked, placing one arm around the younger woman's shoulders in support.

"Yeah." Kay looked around at the familiar landscape and exhaled. "You'd think that as long as I've lived here, I'd feel a bit sadder at leaving." The only feelings she was experiencing at the moment were happiness and elation at the thought of spending the rest of her life with the woman standing beside her.

"Not necessarily," Randi assured her. "When I left my parents' house to go off to college, I didn't feel much, either. And I had lived in that house for eighteen years."

Kay looked up at her lover. "Really? Why do you think that is?"

Opening the passenger door on the truck, Randi took Kay's crutches and helped her climb up into the cab. Once she was inside, as well, she shrugged her shoulders. "Even though I had lived there my entire life, it really never felt like home. I mean, my parents loved me, and I loved them, but I never really felt like I fit in there, you know?"

"I know what you mean," Kay agreed, sparing one quick glance over her shoulder at the house she was leaving behind. "I lived in that house, but it never felt like a home, no matter what I did."

"Exactly." Randi maneuvered the mid-sized moving truck onto the main road. "Even surrounded by family, I felt alone. I think a lot of gays and lesbians do. Especially when they're trying to figure themselves out, like I was."

Kay pointed down the road. "Can we stop there, first? I'd like to say goodbye."

"Sure." Glad that the road was deserted, Randi made a wide turn and drove into the small cemetery. "Where exactly -"

"At the end of this row and on the left," Kay directed, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves. I didn't realize it would be this hard. She waited patiently until Randi got out of the truck and hurried around to open her door. "Thanks."

Randi nodded. "No problem. Do you want -"

"Come with me, please?"

"Sure." Following the smaller woman silently, Randi glanced around until she spotted the grave of her uncle, several rows away from them. Sorry I skipped out on you, Uncle Randolph. She sent a quick prayer for the deceased man.

Kay stopped in front of a pink marble slab with black block lettering. She reached out and brushed her hand over the top, fighting back the tears that always threatened whenever she was here.

Jared Charles Newcombe

05-09-1986 to 10-31-1996

Beloved brother, taken too soon

"Hi there, handsome," Kay murmured. "Sorry it's been so long since I've been by, but you can see that it's a little hard for me to get around." She blinked several times before continuing. "I think you'd be happy for me, Jay Jay. I've finally found someone to love, that loves me."

Randi stood a few feet away, trying to retain her composure. She wanted to give Kay some privacy, but was afraid to leave her alone. So, she stood quietly and averted her eyes.

"I think you'd really like her, Jay Jay. She's kind, considerate, and has the most beautiful brown eyes," Kay explained. "And she treats me like I'm someone special."

You are special, Kay. And I plan on treating you like that for the rest of our lives. Randi slipped her hands into her jeans pockets and continued to look around the cemetery. She caught a quick movement out of one eye and jerked her head around, her heart pounding. Jared?

"I just wanted to drop by and tell you that I'm leaving with her, and I won't be by as often to visit. But, I promise to stop in when I'm in town, all right?" Kay kissed her fingertips and laid them on the top of the marble. "Rest well, Jay Jay. I love you." She turned around and caught Randi looking back behind them. "Randi? Is everything okay?"

The small rabbit hopped out of the shadow of the tombstone, causing Randi to shake her head at herself. I think I'm losing my mind. Now I'm seeing ghosts everywhere. She looked up at Kay and walked over to where the smaller woman stood. "Are you all right?"

Kay nodded. "I'm fine." She patted Randi on the side. "You ready to go?"

"Sure. Lead on." After watching Kay hobble away, Randi turned back to the grave marker and looked at it one more time. "Thank you," she whispered. A sudden cold chill chased down her back as she was sure she heard a child's laughter on the wind. With a final nod at the marker, Randi turned around and walked back to the truck, and her future.



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