Title: Another Lonely Day

Author: Harper

Email: Xfjnky2@yahoo.com

Rating: NC-17. Just a little sex and a little bad language. No violence here.

Feedback: I'd love to receive it if you'd like to send it. I take all kinds… good, bad, and ugly. Hope you enjoy.

Summary: Long-buried hurts resurface…

Disclaimer: I figured that if I was going to steal lyrics from Ben Harper that I might as well steal the title of the song too. Count this as a disclaimer that neither of them are mine. Both belong on the album "Fight For Your Mind" which I'd highly recommend.

Other disclaimer: I don't own the characters that inspired this fic, though I do suppose that I own these characters. Other than let you read about them, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them though.

Author's notes: This story hasn't been beta'd, so I'm sure that there are grammatical errors lurking about. I also decided that I wasn't going to take out the kick of vernacular that had managed to work its way into this, so if things sound a little odd to you, then I imagine that you're a Yankee. Just go with the flow and imagine that you're watching an episode of Dukes of Hazzard, and anything that doesn't make sense will become a little bit clearer. The characters are telling this story (though I'm sure I messed up the tense in some parts), so whoever is talking will be delineated at the beginning of the section.


College is supposed to be a time of exploration, of unfettered experimentation. Within its hallowed halls roam the potential for youth gone wild. Lots of kids with tons of disposable income, the comforting presence of Mommy and Daddy when they need affection or bail money, and the ability to shirk the greater responsibilities of adulthood. Perfection in a dorm room or a small off-campus apartment, the freedom to spend a day lounging in the sun when classrooms feel too restrictive, the ability to take off on a whim. Hotel rooms can sleep 10 when you're more worried about having an excess of alcohol money than space and the finer things in life consist of nice cuts of steak for an afternoon of grilling and a friend whose apartment complex cleans the pool regularly. A pretty idyllic existence, wouldn't you think?

Okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little bit. Creature comforts take a back seat to economy, students become masters of procrastination and wizards of compressing work that should have taken 5 days into work that is finished in 8 hours. Friends come and go, drifting through life with the fluidity of the Mississippi, and good roommates are as precious as gold. Eventually the realization that four years can very well determine the level of comfort that the other 50 will see hits home, and grades become even more important than eating. Life's everyday problems exist in a pressure cooker, magnifying themselves until they explode, wiping out everything in the vicinity.

It feels silly to look back at the events that shaped our youth from the more objective viewpoint of someone who has grown older, more sophisticated, more jaded. Perhaps we yearn for those days when squabbles between friends over boys or rumors or outfits were our main sources of conflict. The petty betrayals of acquaintances pale when compared to the aching treacheries of adulthood. Actually, though, probably the only thing that makes this so is the passage of time, which has the tendency to sand down the rough edges and leave only a dull reflection of what really happened.

Why so melancholy, you might ask. I suppose it all fits in with my plan. The plan being, of course, my decision to drive back to the root of it all, my college town, and sit in my favorite old bar and drink myself silly. It's not very mature for a supposedly grown adult, is it? I guess I don't want to feel mature. I want to feel like life is full of promise and that tomorrow will bring nothing but good.

I've gone and gotten myself fired. I suppose that it has as much to do with my fiery temper as it does with anything else, but that still doesn't make me feel any better. What did I do? If you mean where did I work… well, I was a golf pro. I know, sounds exciting doesn't it. I get to put on my favorite pair of spikes every day and go out on the links to show people who have more money than sense how to while away the days on the beautiful lush vistas of their local friendly country club. Well, to be truthful, I used to get to do that. How did I get myself fired? I guess I got tired of too many randy little rich boys thinking that they could grab my ass and I slugged one. In retrospect, it wasn't the wisest thing to do. Thankfully, I had just enough time to clear out my locker before security arrived.

I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if my girlfriend hadn't left me. Don't get me wrong. Its not like we were serious or anything. Actually, I think that was the problem. She had gotten the strange assumption that we were serious, but she hadn't passed the memo along to me. Maybe I did take her for granted, but how was I to know that she wanted more out of the relationship. Its not like we spent a lot of time talking, anyway. I missed the sex, of course, but it was the unmitigated gall that she showed, walking out on me of all people, that really made that one a little hard to swallow. I'm not a dumpee kind of girl, you see.

So I had no girl and I had no job. According to all of the country music songs that I had ever heard, this entitled me to severe depression and a tendency toward alcoholism. I chose to indulge in both. It was a good thing that I didn't have a dog, or I might just be dead right now. As it were, I might have been getting pretty close. I had to drink in celebration of the mood, but perhaps I would have been better off had I not fed $20 into the jukebox and picked out all of the most maudlin songs I could find. It might have been even better if I hadn't picked the same 7 songs and played them 6 times in a row. What would have made it a supreme showing of my good sense would have been if I had chosen to drink anything other than straight whisky. I had to though, because I had my country music but no job and no girl, and the only thing that seemed fitting was to spend the night with Mr. Jack Daniels.

The bartender was a nice enough kind of fellow. He appeared to be in his early twenties, with blonde hair that refused to do anything but stick out on his head in strange places, giving full credence to the phenomenon of cowlicks. Black jeans and a black tee made him hard to spot in the rather dim interior of the bar, but that was okay. He seemed to know when I needed another, perhaps the fact that I would slap a five down on the bar and look at him pleadingly tipped him off, and so I was happy. Being the industrious gal that I am, I even inquired about employment opportunities. Though I'd never been an official bartender before, I felt confident that I could handle all of the duties thusly entrusted. Unfortunately for me, he said they hadn't hired anyone in 4 years and that they weren't planning on changing that policy in the near future. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day, and all that.

Despite the slightly over ten years that I'd been gone, the place didn't seem to have changed much. It was still dirty and dingy, with the stool covers held together by sheer dint of duck tape. Pool tables took up the far end of the space, and writing covered every available surface. I'm sure that if I had the sea legs to mosey on over, I would find my name scrawled right where I left it a decade ago. The jukebox behind me wasn't fancy, no colorful neon tubes on that baby. It was old and serviceable, and had a slightly better selection of music than my Grandma kept at her house. There was a disco-ball on the ceiling behind me, and after my fourth straight Jack I'd requested that it be turned on. The pretty lights always did seem to calm me down.

I'd dressed in deference to the occasion. Old, faded jeans that were molded to my body and were mysteriously missing the fabric that covered both of my knees, though individual strings did hang on valiantly in an attempt to provide coverage, graced my legs. Big heavy black boots, the kind you see on guys that ride Harleys, adorned my feet. Yeah, I know. They were typical dyke gear and I'll go ahead and own up to possessing a bike. I'd saved for a long time, finally scraping up enough money for my sleek little Ducati. I didn't care that I'd become a stereotype. The bike was fun and quenched my thirst to live slightly out of the mainstream and was great for picking up chicks. Sue me, okay. I'd come in with an old, soft white cotton Oxford over my ribbed tank, but after the seventh communion with Jack, I'd taken it off and placed it on the bar beside me. It wasn't my fault these people were too cheap to spring for air conditioning. So I looked like what I was. Wasn't it phyllogenetically correct of me? I mean, if I were a cultural anthropologist, I would simply refer to myself as returning to my natural plumage.

Freebird was starting up again. Technically it wasn't country, but I'd always insisted that I wanted it played at my funeral, so I figured that made it depressing enough to include in my rather limited rotation. The bartender hadn't ventured my way in a while, even though I'd banged my hand on the bar three times and shot him the most soulful look that I possessed. It looked like things were going downhill for me. Of course, what with Murphy and his stupid law, they could always get worse.


Was someone calling me? Maybe the Lord had decided to take me home. No wait, if the good Lord saw me in my current condition, he'd consign me to the flames of Hell without even introducing me to Saint Peter first. Perhaps if I laid my head down on the bar and refused to look up, whoever this was that seemed to know my name would go away.

"Are you alright?"

There it was again, that voice. It was familiar, and I figured that if I looked up and saw who I thought was sitting there, then all the macabre music and the solace from Jack would not have been in vain. In fact, they would not have been nearly enough.

"Look, darling," God, you've got to love the South, where everyone is darling or sugar or honey and the way they say it makes you think they mean it, "you can pretend that you don't hear me, but I can tell those green eyes are open. You aren't asleep and you aren't passed out, though you might be teetering on the brink."

With a sigh, I raised my head. While waiting for the spinning to stop and for my vision to focus, I mused that this could possibly be a good thing. I didn't have anywhere to stay in this town, and I surely couldn't hop back on my bike and drive back the 100 miles I'd covered today. At this point, even hopping back on my bike seemed like a long shot. Foresight had never been one of my strong points.

Anne. My beautiful Anne. She'd always been there when times got bad. That was, of course, until she'd been the cause of the bad times. When that one had hit, she'd been nowhere in sight.

"Did they send out a bulletin?" I asked on a sigh.

"What are you talking about?" I could see the blue eyes narrow in confusion. It couldn't possibly be fair that she was even more beautiful now than she had been before.

"The one that notified everyone that this was one of the worst days of my life and that anyone with the power to drive me even further down into the depths should present themselves posthaste." Oh my, there was a lot of slurring going on in that rather impressively long sentence. Perhaps they'd let me crash on a pool table. There was nothing wrong with bedding down on a carpet of green felt and I'd never minded a few streaks of blue chalk.

"Must have indeed been pretty bad to find you slobbering on the bar at all of 8:00 in the evening," she muttered, a quick glance to her watch confirming the time.

"Do me a favor, will you. The bartender must be pretty busy over there on the other side of the bar because he hasn't been my way in a while. Chase him down and bring me back some Jack, okay?" I asked with what had to be my most ingratiating smile.

"If Chad has remained on the far side of the bar, my guess is that he has done so because he realizes how prudent it is to do so. The only favor I'm going to do you tonight is to take you home."

"Oh goody. It's been a long time since I heard those words, beautiful Anne. Give me a glass of water, and I'll be more than you remember." Hopefully that was a flirtatious flutter of my eyelashes and not the 'I've got something caught in my eye' fiasco that I had a feeling it might have been.

"Well, you haven't changed," she muttered, and I slumped down on the bar again in defeat. "Come on slugger, we've got to get you out of here, okay. Is this your shirt?"

"Is it white?" Can't she leave me to die in peace?

"Yep, sure is. Is this your helmet?"

"Is it red?"

"That it is."

"Then I guess they're both mine then," I replied with a sigh, struggling to push myself off of the stool. When I hit the floor with a definite thump of my boots and slammed hard into the bar in front of me, I once again cursed the vagaries of fate that made me too short to have my feet reach the ground when I was sitting on anything adult-sized.

I left the five sitting on the bar as I felt her slide the shirt onto my arms. Slipping one of her long, strong arms around my waist, she pulled me to her side, almost supporting my weight as she moved me out the door, up the stairs, and away from my beloved Freebird.

"You got my helmet, right?" I asked, almost doubling over to release the alcohol rumbling around in my stomach when the fresh night air hit me.

"Yes," she said patiently, waiting for my loud, heavy breathing to stop.

"I'll need that back," I finally said, squinting up at her. Breathtaking, as always. The one who has always held the key to my broken heart, here now as my erstwhile savior. The Fates are not kind, not kind indeed.

"You don't need it back right now because you certainly aren't going to drive anywhere in your condition." I could hear the censure in her tone, so different now that when I'd heard her last. Her words were crisper now, more professional sounding.

"I wasn't planning on driving anywhere. I simply thought that it would make a comfortable pillow," I mumbled, closing my eyes against the spinning and being only faintly surprised to find that the world still jumped with them closed.

"You don't have a place to stay around here." She said the words as if they were a statement and not a question, and so I didn't reply. If she already knew the answer, then she didn't need any input from me.

"Stay right here," I commanded, stalking, as best I could, around the end of the building. Once I was relatively assured that I was out of sight, I dropped to my knees, disregarding the hard pebbles that dug into my flesh, bent over so that I supported myself on my hands, and proceeded to puke my guts out. When I was finally down to dry heaves, I was surprised to find that I felt much better. I suppose that upchucking approximately three-quarters of my total alcohol intake for the night had been a good thing. I heard a rustle beside me, and looked up to see long delicate fingers holding a bottle of water that appeared to be for me. Grabbing it thankfully, I unscrewed the lid, taking a small chug and swishing it around my mouth before spitting it back out. The bitter taste of vomit was gone, and I gulped down the rest of the cool liquid, not stopping until there was none left. Another appeared before me, and I took it gratefully.

"When I heard the sounds, I went back down to the bar and got you a couple of bottles of water," she qualified needlessly. It wasn't like I thought she was AquaWoman, superheroine who stowed away bottles of water in her deceptively normal looking costume to pull out when hapless citizens found themselves in need.

"Thanks," was all I said by way of reply. My head was much clearer now, though the large quantity of liquor still swirling away in my bloodstream kept me less than lucid.

"Are you ready to leave now?" she asked, and I wondered if she was impatient with me. Wasn't it better to throw up here than on the side of her car?

"Yeah. Look, you don't have to feel like you owe me anything. I can take care of myself." Was that bitterness that I heard in my tone. Ah, apparently all these years hadn't really managed to heal this hurt, and she'd just ripped the band-aid off the wound, showing up unexpectedly like she had.

"Maybe I do owe you something," she replied softly, her voice almost so low I couldn't hear it. "Anyway, there's no way that I'm going to leave you to fend for yourself. Come on."

I found myself firmly ensconced in the passenger's seat of a lovely SUV. Toyota 4-runner if I wasn't mistaken. Silver with charcoal interior. The car made me hot, and I couldn't stop myself from tracing my fingers along the dashboard. I'd always admired the power of vehicles.

"So what were you doing at Joe's?" I asked, actually feeling more in control of my faculties the more water I put away.

"I always stop by on Thursday nights after class and have a drink. I suppose I think about old times." Her voice sounded as if it were coming from far away, and when I looked over I was struck again by the beauty of her strong profile. Her hair was longer than I remembered, hanging down well past her shoulders, as inky dark as the night that surrounded us.

"Class, huh. Haven't had enough school by now?" I'd be embarrassed to admit that I didn't know anything about her, this woman that I used to know so well. I had heard a song by Ben Harper that reminded me of us once, and I searched my memory for the elusive words. Ah, I remember it. Yesterday seems like a life ago/Cuz the one I loved, today, I hardly know/You I held so close in my heart, oh dear/Grow further from me with every falling tear. At least, I think it went something like that. I was a real sucker when it came to music. The more maudlin it was, the more I liked it, and if it reminded me of Anne and how she wrecked my heart, then I was in love with it. You might wonder why I still thought about her, why I still let her intrude upon my life even though she'd been rather thoroughly banished from it for so many years. Surely it would have improved the quality of my mental health to move on, to rip away the last vestiges of hurt she'd imposed on my soul. I hadn't though, and I couldn't explain it anymore than I could explain the fact that I was sitting here in the car with her now.

"Well, since I'm the professor now, its not nearly as much work as it used to be," she snapped, and I wondered if it hurt her feelings, the fact that I didn't know. How was I supposed to, though? We didn't have mutual friends anymore, and there was no way that I was going to call her and see how her life was going.

"Ah, so you're Professor… oh, what's it? I can never remember."

"O'Riordan," she said testily, and I wondered if she was going to throw me out of the car.

"That's right. Professor O'Riordan. Won't the hubby mind you bringing home a drunk ex-lover?" Okay, so that little shot was designed to hurt. She'd never really thought of me as her lover, I don't think, and I knew that she wouldn't want to hear me say it. I'd been an experiment for her, a one-time thing. Well, maybe more than one time. Perhaps a seminal occurrence would be a better way to describe it. One with no real hope for an encore.

"I'm divorced." Ah, that curt tone again. Was it because of me or because she was upset over the demise of the marriage. The marriage I had known about. That nice little picture in the paper announcing her engagement had been a lovely surprise.

"Well, I would say I'm sorry, but it's not my fault." Maybe I should be nicer to her. She could dump me out on the side of the road and run me over with her car.

"Actually it is your fault, damn you. It seems that I am gay," she enunciated bitterly, pulling the car neatly into a driveway and turning it off. "Oh, it took me a while to figure it out, after you were gone. I just couldn't stop thinking about it, about you, but I thought that if Pierce and I were married, then it would go away. It didn't, though, and I couldn't force it out of my mind. So yes, it is your fault."

Wow. Well that was a bombshell. I was, for lack of a more descriptive word, stunned. So stunned, in fact, that I didn't notice that she had gotten out of the car until she slammed the door and stalked off, charging up the front steps. Gathering my wits together with a quick shake of my head, I jumped out of the car to chase after her. Of course, in my enthusiasm I had forgotten about my less than perfect balance, but once I picked myself up off the lawn, I was once again in hot pursuit. Catching up to her at the front door, I put my hand on the sill beside her, trying to catch my breath.

"What… what are you saying?" Would it help if I prayed right now? I'm not sure that God takes too kindly to asking for his help in making people lesbians.

"Come in," she sighed, her voice resigned. "I'll fix you up some coffee and set up the spare bedroom. You're probably tired."

Well, if that wasn't an evasion, then I didn't know what was. Should I let her get away with this? Should I walk into her house and act like she hadn't just slammed me in the gut, sit at her table and drink coffee and hie myself away to bed in the guest room? Well, one thing was for sure. She had invited me in, and I wasn't going to stand out here on her doorstep looking like an idiot. Correction, I wasn't going to stand here looking like an idiot any longer. Marching myself through the open doorway, I followed her into the kitchen, watching as she moved with ease through the space, pulling down a couple of mugs, filling the coffee pot with water, scooping coffee grounds from a bag in the freezer into the machine. Her movements were smooth, economical and it was clear that if she wasn't comfortable with the situation, she was more than comfortable in this space and with herself.

I wasn't comfortable with anything right about now. Running a hand through my short hair with a ragged sigh, I winced at the sound of my overly loud boots clomping across the cool tile of her kitchen floor. Shoving both hands in my pockets and hunching my shoulders, I moved out of the kitchen, mumbling something about having to find a bathroom.

When I finally stumbled across a little powder room at the front of the house, I realized that I actually had to go. A few minutes later, as I stood washing my hands, I took a moment to look at my reflection in the mirror. Red-rimmed green eyes stared back at me out of a face that was more pale than usual. Cupping my hands under the flow of water still spilling from the faucet, I splashed my face several times, finally feeling slightly better as I wiped away the excess water with a towel that hung to the left of my head. Combing my fingers through my unruly hair again, smirking at the way it stood up in what appeared to be a carefully created mass of spikes when I did so, I moved back toward the kitchen.

For some strange reason, I stopped in the living room. Maybe it was the comfortable looking couch, the large window that took up almost all of one wall, or the funky pieces of art that decorated the walls that drew me. More than likely, however, what stopped me was the picture of my ex-whatever with her arms wrapped around a miniature version of herself. Same jet-black hair, same glittering blue eyes, same cheekbones so sharp that you could use them to cut rope. Both of the visions were staring at the camera with big smiles on their faces, probably laughing at some private joke. Maybe they were laughing at me. I was a joke, wasn't I? Thirty-three years old and still in love with the only woman who had ever really broken my heart, standing in that same woman's living room reeling from a proclamation that should have given me more hope than it did… maybe pathetic would have been more appropriate.

"Kiersten," the low voice said from behind me, and for a moment I could imagine that it was the voice of a lover caressing me. Only, if she was talking to me, she was using the wrong name.

"I'm sorry?" I asked, turning to confront her, letting my eyes boldly trace up her almost 6 foot tall frame. She wasn't willowy, wasn't chunky. Instead, she was the perfect combination of a long lean frame and sinewy muscle with curves in all the right places.

"My daughter's name is Kiersten," she reiterated, and I realized that she had caught me staring at the photo.

"Your daughter," I repeated dumbly, as if I couldn't have figured it out from the intense resemblance. "Is she here now?"

"No, she's with her father. Since she's out of school for the summer, she's going to spend a month or so with Pierce." The way she said it made me think she missed the little girl, and I had no doubt that she did. Anne had always wanted a little girl.

"Oh." My stunning powers of conversation left even me speechless.

"Would you like a cup of coffee?" Was it my imagination, or did she sound sad. Perhaps she missed the girl more than she would admit.

"Sure." My head seemed remarkably clear now, considering the enormous amount of alcohol I'd consumed. The only thing I could think of to explain it was that I had drank rapidly and hadn't had time to digest the mind-numbing stuff before I decided to make a gift of it to the parking lot outside of Joe's.

Minutes later we were firmly ensconced at her kitchen table, hands wrapped around large steaming mugs of coffee that neither of us appeared to have any intention of drinking.

"I don't know what to say to you," she finally said, breaking the silence. Her words sounded painfully honest, and I didn't know if she meant that she didn't have anything to say to me right now or that she didn't have any words to explain her betrayal of years back.

"You don't have to say anything. Why don't you show me to this guestroom that I've heard so much about. I'll sleep off my indiscretion and you can take me back for my bike in the morning. After a little while, this will just seem like one of those odd, surreal moments in our lives that are more suited to a David Lynch production than to anything else." I wasn't sure that I wanted her to say anything. I'd been nursing a broken heart for so long that it was on permanent disability, and I wasn't ready to make any move that might rend it further or help it heal. Chance shouldn't be so capricious.

"I'm sorry," she said suddenly, and when I looked across the table at her, I saw that it had taken her considerable effort to do so.

"Yeah, me too," I mumbled, pushing back from the table. It was too much and I had to get out of there. I had almost made it to the door when she caught me, a firm hand on my shoulder spinning me around. Whatever she had been going to say seemed to die on her lips as she looked upon my ravaged countenance.

"Fuck it," she growled, and the next thing you know those impossibly soft lips were covering mine, a warm wet tongue tracing the seam of my mouth, long delicate fingers skimming down my back. I stood for a minute, stunned into submission, just letting her touch me, kiss me. The one moment in my life that I had dreamed about for years was finally happening, and I didn't know what to do. Scratch that, I knew exactly what to do. I'd had lots of practice since the last time I'd found myself in this position, and against my better judgement, I was going to put it to use.

Now, if this had been one of those romantic novels or a tale of inopportune love, I would have torn myself away with a sigh, wanting more than anything what I was going to deny myself because it just wasn't right. Good thing for me that wasn't the case. With a low moan, I took a more active role in this little seduction, parting Anne's lush lips with my tongue, tracing against the velvet softness of the confines of her mouth. My hands came up to wrap themselves in the impossibly thick dark hair, and I moved her larger frame backwards against the wall. When I had pressed her as far into that barrier as I could manage, I removed my lips from hers, letting them trace down the sharp edge of her jaw, the tempting tendons of her neck. I feasted on her skin, plastering my body to hers until I could feel every bit of delicious flesh.

"Not here," she gasped, and I realized that she was actually going to go through with her little play. For a moment I hated her for that. After all this time, she sought to forget past wrongs in a kiss, with the sharing of bodies. I wasn't so easy to win over, or at least that's what my pride told me. My body followed along after her shamelessly.

As she tangled her long fingers with mine and tugged me down the hall to the bedroom, I let my pride take a break on the kitchen floor. I wasn't going to need it anymore that night, and it would need the rest for the beating it would take later, I was sure. She didn't flip on the light in her room, but the open blinds let in enough moonlight to paint everything in a warm, silvery glow, and I could see where I was going. The only item of furniture that was of any consequence was sitting in glorious splendor right in front of me, and I let myself be pulled forward. Somehow the short trip had claimed my cotton Oxford, and warm fingers managed to move underneath the thin layer of my tank. Hot lips claimed mine once again, and I let myself just feel.

My dreams and memories didn't do the experience justice, and I feel a keening sense of loss shoot through me. I'd missed this, missed us, and for a moment it seemed sublimely unfair to reintroduce me to this kind of pleasure. Deft fingers popped the clasp of my bra, drawing it and the tank off at the same time, and I forgot all about the more cerebral aspects of this lovemaking, putting the issues aside and promising them that I would return to them later.

As the warm cavern of her mouth descended on my breast, taking my taut nipple into its recesses, I looked down at the raven head and decided that it was high time for me to become a little more active. Up until then, I'd let a mixture of shock and arousal keep me off-balance, but no more. With a growl, I pushed the dark head away, ignoring the look of protest sent my way by pleading blue eyes. Rough fingers pulled at her shirt, almost ripping it from her body, and her bra soon suffered the same fate. In my haste to undo the button on her slacks, I almost pulled it off, but by the time I had finally removed all the barriers to her flesh, it didn't matter.

Pushing her down on the bed, I sat for a minute, looking at the beautiful expanse of flesh bared before me. Her limbs were long and elegant and sleekly muscled, her skin tanned from a combination of good genetics and the early summer sun. Electric blue eyes watched me from under hooded lids, and I felt my breath quicken as I noticed the sensuous perusal. I watched as my shaky fingers reached out to touch the lush curve of her breast, the ruby tip atop it hardening at the contact. There was so much that I wanted to do for her, with her, and it seemed like I was a starving woman in front of a buffet. Where to start?

I had to taste her flesh, that was certain. Dipping my head, I traced a path up her stomach with my tongue, painting the skin there with my saliva. She tasted sweet, with a hint of salt and musk that was uniquely her own, and I was surprised to find that her skin still tasted as I remembered. Straddling her hips with my still jean clad thighs, I let my mouth feast on her breasts, laving the skin all around the puckered tips with the flat rough expanse of my tongue until finally I drew one aching nipple between my lips, sucking fiercely on the tender flesh. I heard her cry out, felt strong hands twine through my hair, holding me to her skin, but I shook them off. Tracing my fingers down her sides, feeling the slight bump of her ribs under the sensitive pads of my flesh, I slowly became aware that my hips were rocking gently against her, the tight seam of my jeans sending jolts of pleasure through my body at the motion.

With a moan, I moved to the other peak, paying the same close attention to it that I had afforded its twin. My questing fingers couldn't seem to get enough of her flesh, though I hadn't ventured below her belly button yet. I had always liked to wait before, teasing her until I knew that she was soaked before I would ever touch her, reveling in the modicum of control over her pleasure that the action afforded me.

Moving back up along the strong column of her neck, I teased the flesh I found there, nipping with my teeth, soothing with my tongue. I took a delicate earlobe and bit gently, listening to the slight rasp as the skin slid between the sharp edges. From the harsh hiss of her breathing, I knew she was extremely aroused, and I turned for a moment to look at the piercing blue eyes, now almost black with passion.

Cradling her head with one arm, I rolled off to the side, scooting forward until her shoulder pressed hard into the space between my breasts. The hand resting beneath her head peeked out, my thumb tracing across her lips. Without warning, my other hand dipped between her thighs and I was shocked at the copious wetness I found there. With a moan, she turned her head away from my gaze, teeth closing firmly over my offered thumb. The fingers of my other hand moved easily through her wetness, and I reacquainted myself with the flesh that I had once upon a time known so well. She was primed, and as I moved my fingers over her straining clit, I saw the beginnings of her orgasm. Long legs pulled upwards almost involuntarily, feet cocking themselves toward the ceiling, toes spreading. Her hands grasped the sheets, balling the fabric up in her tight grasp, and her teeth bore down so hard on my thumb that I knew I'd have marks later. The rapid rise and fall of her breasts was intriguing, and I couldn't keep my eyes from watching them. Rippling muscles in her stomach pulled my gaze too, and as I turned I watched in wonder the strong muscles of my forearm shifting as I worked over her flesh. We rocked back and forth together, my body surging slightly into hers as I teased her, her body echoing with short, shallow thrusts of her hips.

With a soundless cry, she convulsed against me, hips rolling and thighs pulling tight. Her back arched, and for a moment it seemed that she was frozen in that tableau. If I could keep her that way, I might just do it. She was beautiful, with a light sheen of sweat covering her flesh and her head thrown back to expose the slim line of her neck. After a moment she fell to the sheet limply, but I wasn't finished. Moving quickly, tearing my thumb from the death grip of her teeth, I settled myself between her still spread thighs. Without warning I dipped my head, running the flat of my tongue along the length of her, my eyes feasting on glistening black curls. She gasped, her back arching almost immediately, and I relished the taste of her once more coating my tongue.

Two fingers and then three slipped deep inside her as I attempted to clean every drop of glistening moisture from her flesh. After I surmised that she would relish the attention, I focused on her clit, pulling it into my mouth, teasing it with the hardened tip of my tongue. As I felt her rise toward climax again, I pulled back, soothing her with the broad, velvet rasp of the softened organ. She was almost too far gone though, and the incessant pumping of my fingers into her moist tunnel combined with the teasing pressure of my tongue was too much. After a short time she cried out, unable to keep from vocalizing her pleasure this time, and I smiled as I felt my fingers held still by the hard grasp of her body.

Resting my head to her shuddering abdomen, I watched from beneath hooded lids as she calmed her breathing, as she shivered through the last of her pleasure. Letting my fingers slip from their warm resting place, I heard her sigh. After a few moments, those arresting blue eyes looked down at me, and I felt a rush of anticipation shoot through me as strong hands urged me upwards. For the moment, she seemed content to kiss me, her lips soft and non-demanding. I'll confess that I melted into the warmth of the embrace, finding illicit comfort in its gentleness. There was no sense of urgency in the caress, and despite my near fever-pitch arousal, I let her explore my mouth wordlessly, accepting what she was offering.

Gradually her kisses began to gain a more feral edge. Rolling me over, stretching her long frame out until I was completely covered, she plundered my mouth, claiming it fiercely with lips, teeth, and tongue. By the time she pulled away to bite her way down my neck to my breasts, I was already breathing heavily, my eyes impossibly heavy, my hips rocking against her flat abdomen. She was rough as she worshipped my breasts, but I didn't mind. It was the way I liked it, really, and the more she used her teeth the more I moaned until the room was suddenly host to a symphony of my passionate utterances. One large hand spread across my stomach, fingers splayed, and I could feel the muscles jumping against her as she ever so slowly drew the digits down my belly, finally combing through the thatch of silky blonde down between my thighs. When she slipped between, I thought I might just die from the pleasure of it.

She moved slowly, her fingers unhurriedly finding a rhythm that I liked. Teasingly, she would change her motions just as I could feel the harbingers of orgasm, keeping me poised on the precipice until I knew that I was begging with her to release me. Honestly, I don't really know what I was saying, or if the words that were flying from my mouth had any kind of real value or were just gibberish, but they must have been enough to invoke her to mercy, because she slid three long fingers into my depths, thrusting hard against me, while her thumb zeroed in on my clit, scraping harshly over it. I might have screamed when I finally came, but I was too caught up in the sensations to notice it. I do know that I drew my nails sharply across her back, scoring the tender flesh there with harsh red lines, and felt perversely proud that I had marked her.

As she climbed back up my body, I deliberately let myself relax. By taking deep, even breaths I urged along the approaching slumber, falling happily into the arms of sleep when it came. Whether Anne joined me or not, I don't know. All I knew was that I couldn't face her right now, either for a long overdue talk or for a continuation of lovemaking, and so I took the only route out, short of running away, that I knew. For a moment, right as I hung poised on the very precipice of slumber, I thought that I heard a disappointed sigh from my companion and I entertained the notion, briefly, of returning to consciousness, to confront whatever was going to come next head-first. Calling myself all kinds of yellow, I rolled onto my side, presenting my back to my once again lover, and slipped off into sleep.


I couldn't believe that she was here, sitting on that ratty stool in our old hang-out. It had been ten years since I last saw her, but I knew immediately who it was, even though her head was down on the bar. Her honey gold hair was short and mussed, whether intentionally or as a by-product of her current condition, I wasn't sure. She still looked good, or at least the parts of her that I could see did. The soft cloth of her tank molded to the lean planes of her back, highlighting the shallow furrow of her spine. Tanned arms were crossed on the bar before her, slim and well-defined. The old jeans that she was wearing poked out in a small vee at the back, the waistband hanging with just a little slack. Impossibly old fabric molded to shapely hips, firm buttocks, and I realized that I was staring.

She didn't know I was here, that much was obvious. Drawing in a breath, I made a decision. Why she was here, I didn't know. What I did know was that it had been ten long years since I had seen her, and if anything, I owed her an apology. In the end, I'd been quite cruel and looking back at my actions, I was embarrassed. So, with long, measured strides I approached the bar, pausing next to her, noting the battered cotton oxford resting beside her, the glossy red motorcycle helmet sitting on the stool to her right.

"Kia?" I asked, even though I knew it was her. She seemed, oddly, to be ignoring me, as if the act of keeping her forehead glued to that bar would make me go away.

"Are you alright?" She was dead drunk. Looking to Chad, the bartender, for confirmation, he held up a bottle of Jack Daniels in illustration, two fingers poised a substantial distance apart, indicating just how much she had consumed.

"Look darling, you can pretend that you don't hear me, but I can tell those green eyes are open. You aren't asleep and you aren't passed out, though you might be teetering on the brink." Why was I pushing this? I was almost completely sure that she knew who I was and that she was trying desperately to imagine me vanishing into thin air. If she didn't want to talk to me, maybe I shouldn't make her. Maybe I should just consider this all water under the bridge and move on with my life, satisfied that I had at least made some attempt to apologize for my actions.

With a start, I realized that she had looked up, that she was talking to me. I was almost too lost in my perusal of her face to hear what she was saying, and when her lips stopped moving I had to strain my memory to try to piece together what it was.

Did they send out a bulletin?" Kia sighed.

What are you talking about?" Those green eyes were the same, soft and gentle yet filled with a depth that made me think that she could see through my skin. The years had been kind to her, but then again, she'd always had a bit of a baby face. Even now, knowing that she was in her early thirties just like I was, she could pass for someone in her early to mid-twenties. Her short stature only added to the impression, and if it hadn't been for the short hair, I could have imagined that I was having a conversation with the same girl that I knew in college, one who hadn't been touched by the passage of time. Of course, she hadn't had that world weary look in her eyes back then and I wondered, fleetingly, if I had done that to her.

The one that notified everyone that this was one of the worst days of my life and that anyone with the power to drive me even further down into the depths should present themselves posthaste." There she was, talking again. One of the worst days of her life, hmmm. I suppose that my appearance hadn't made it any better. It was strange to be standing here talking to her, ignoring for a moment the passage of time that separated us.

"Must have indeed been pretty bad to find you slobbering on the bar at all of 8:00 in the evening," I muttered, thinking that this would be funny if it were anyone else.

"Do me a favor, will you. The bartender must be pretty busy over there on the other side of the bar because he hasn't been my way in a while. Chase him down and bring me back some Jack, okay?" she asked with a sickly sweet smile, and I shook my head in a combination of amazement and amusement.

"If Chad has remained on the far side of the bar, my guess is that he has done so because he realizes how prudent it is to do so. The only favor I'm going to do you tonight is to take you home." Oh my God, had I just said that? It sounded like a cross between a supremely arrogant presumption and a barely veiled proposition. Maybe she'd be too drunk to notice.

"Oh goody. Its been a long time since I heard those words, beautiful Anne. Give me a glass of water, and I'll be more than you remember." Well, apparently she wasn't too drunk. Beautiful Anne, huh. She'd never called me that before, but then I suppose that the rules that I set down to guide our interactions hadn't allowed for any compliments like that, for any pet names that might be considered intimate.

"Well, you haven't changed," was all I could manage, finding myself at a loss for words. How do you handle situations with drunk ex-whatevers? One thing was for certain, though. I couldn't leave her here. "Come on slugger, we've got to get you out of here, okay. Is this your shirt?"

"Is it white?"

"Yep, sure is. Is this your helmet?"

"Is it red?"

"That it is."

"Then I guess they're both mine then," she said, and I had to stifle my laughter when she jumped down off the stool. She had always been annoyed at her lack of height, and watching her hop down from a stool that was too high off of the ground for her to even think about sliding easily to her feet brought back a warm wash of memory.

The next thing you know we were outside, and I noticed that she had turned a rather unpleasant shade of pasty white. Not 3 seconds later she had disappeared around the corner of the building, and I heard the sound of retching. Knowing that she would probably be there for a while, I went back inside quickly, throwing down a couple of bills and getting a few bottles of water from Chad before heading back outside. I found her on her knees, and the stench of Jack Daniels hit my nose strongly. How much had she had to drink, anyway? For Christ's sake, it was only 8:00!

When I heard the sounds, I went back down to the bar and got you a couple of bottles of water." I heard myself babbling, but couldn't seem to do anything to stop it. Maybe I should have turned around and left when I saw her there, nigh on to passed out on the scarred surface of the bar. If I had, there wouldn't be this awkwardness now, wouldn't be any of the awkwardness that I knew would come with continued time spent in one another's presence.

"Thanks," she mumbled, and I watched her rise to her feet with surprising fluidity. You'd think that someone who'd consumed almost a fifth of Jack would have lost a bit of coordination somewhere along the line.

"Are you ready to leave now?" God, I was nervous. You could hear it in my voice, and I wondered if she was lucid enough to see through the hard-ass tone to the fear right behind it.

"Yeah. Look, you don't have to feel like you owe me anything. I can take care of myself." I cringed at the words. Her tone was bitter, waspish, and for about the fifteenth time in less than five minutes I thought that it would be better for all if we just parted ways right now. But no, I couldn't do that, couldn't leave her here by herself, not in this state. And certainly not before I had apologized, had assuaged my guilty conscious.

"Maybe I do owe you something." My tone was wistful, full of regret, and I mentally slapped myself in the forehead. Throwing a touch of steel into my tone, I glared down at her. "Anyway, there's no way that I'm going to leave you to fend for yourself. Come on."

Then there she was, sitting in the front seat of my car, stroking my dashboard with more than a little sensuality, and I could feel my pupils widening, feel the jolt of arousal that ripped through me. I had never stopped wanting her.

"So what were you doing at Joe's?" She was talking now, and I had to pull myself out of the haze I was in, had to at least act like she wasn't affecting me.

"I always stop by on Thursday nights after class and have a drink. I suppose I think about old times." How pathetic is that. I sit in the corner and nurse my beer and think about how completely fucked up my life is, think about how its all my fault, all the product of my own bad choices.

"Class, huh. Haven't had enough school by now?" I couldn't tell if she was taunting me or not, the sly cut of her eyes leading me to believe that she was deliberately basking in the apparent lack of knowledge about my life that she now held. I knew what she did, had known everything that she had ever done since leaving, had traced each move and job change through the tattered grape vine of former friends and acquaintances with a fervor bordering on obsession.

"Well, since I'm the professor now, its not nearly as much work as it used to be."

"Ah, so you're Professor… oh, what's it? I can never remember." God, she could be such a bitch some times. She was doing this on purpose, slow vowels tracing over her obvious disinterest in anything that had to do with me, letting me know just how little I effected her now.

"O'Riordan," I snapped. She knew damn well what my altered name was.

"That's right. Professor O'Riordan. Won't the hubby mind you bringing home a drunk ex-lover?" I was angry now, any arousal that I might have been feeling automatically transmuted to fury. She was being deliberately cruel. Or, was I just over-sensitive? Guilt can do that to you.

"I'm divorced." Please, remind me of that little failure why don't you.

"Well, I would say I'm sorry, but its not my fault." I thought that it might be a good idea to stop the car now, before I became so furious that I couldn't even see straight and drove us smack into a telephone pole. Instead, I let anger do what it always did with me, rob me of all control over my mouth, letting thoughts just flow out over my tongue without having to stop and be checked for their stupidity value first.

"Actually it is your fault, damn you. It seems that I am gay. Oh, it took me a while to figure it out, after you were gone. I just couldn't stop thinking about it, about you, but I thought that if Pierce and I were married, then it would go away. It didn't, though, and I couldn't force it out of my mind. So yes, it is your fault." Well hell, I hadn't really meant to say that. Idiotic little speech, even for me. Was it really all her fault? Probably not. I mean, you can run from the truth but you can't hide forever. She was just a convenient vessel for my self-loathing, a reminder of what I really wanted but couldn't have that never seemed to leave my mind, no matter that she'd been absent from my life for close to a decade.

I was out of the car in seconds, hoping that maybe I could outrun her and lock her and all of the feelings that she had brought crashing in with her outside so that I wouldn't have to face her. Apparently though, that little speech had kick-started her into action, and furious footsteps brought her up beside me once more.

"What… what are you saying?" She was panting, looking at me with hopeful green eyes and it was more than my already over-taxed mind could take at the moment. So, taking a lesson straight out of the great Southern handbook of what to do in awkward situations, I conveniently forgot that I had probably torn both of our worlds apart and picked another topic, one that was entirely safe and innocuous. Any situation could be ignored if you just put the proper effort into it.

"Come in. I'll fix you up some coffee and set up the spare bedroom. You're probably tired," I said, making my way into the house without bothering to check and see if she had followed because I knew she would.

If all else fails, revert to hospitality.

I'd promised coffee, so coffee was what we were getting. My mind was working on autopilot, guiding my body through the potentially hazardous minefield of the kitchen with ease. Before I could even register the actions that had caused it, I could smell the rich, earthy scent of percolating coffee grounds surrounding me. The familiar actions soothed me, gave me something to do other than contemplate the horrible mess that I had caused. If I'd only ignored her and left the bar. It wouldn't have been that hard. I'd been pretending like we would never cross paths again for the last ten years. The least I could have done to justify all that effort would have been to make sure that it never happened. No, though, I just had to go up to her, had to bring her back to my place and tell her the one thing that I'd never even told anyone else. Even Pierce had no idea why our seemingly idyllic marriage had dissolved so completely. It was my burden, my secret, and I had grown accustomed to the sense of near martyrdom that I felt in keeping my pain hidden.

She was mumbling again, and as I watched her stagger out of the kitchen I was vaguely aware that she had mentioned something about the bathroom. Even though I was quite sure that she didn't know where it was, I let her leave, not wanting to call out after her. It would be laughable to say that the mood in the kitchen was awkward and intense… unbearable was more like it. I needed the break as much as she obviously did.

I heard her re-emerge, heard the loud clomp of boots stop suddenly halfway between the powder room and me, and wondered what it was that was keeping her. Curious, yet cursing myself even as I walked into the living room, I caught her staring at a picture. She'd done something with her hair, run wet fingers through it if the slight gleam was any indication, and it wasn't fair that it made her more attractive, in a hard edged and hip way that I had never even pretended to like. The look was more appropriate for a jaded Hollywood starlet, but somehow it worked on her and I resented her for that. She hadn't fallen into a trap, hadn't bowed to the conventions of society. Suddenly her hair seemed to represent everything that I couldn't have, a certain freedom and wildness that wasn't available to me.

"Kiersten." If she didn't know I was divorced, then I doubted she knew about my daughter. The little imp was the only good thing to have come out of the last ten years of my life, and I loved her with all of the emotion that I couldn't spare for anyone or anything else.

"I'm sorry?" She looked startled, confused, and utterly out of place in my well-appointed living room. Almost like an untamed creature brought to civilization who couldn't adapt, who couldn't quite fit into an unfamiliar world. I was romanticizing her, but I couldn't help it. It was my nature, my life's work, and it made me feel better to reduce her to characteristics, to something that I could control with the flights of my fancy.

"My daughter's name is Kiersten." Everything seemed like it was in slow motion. I almost laughed at the thought of us standing here, chatting as if we were catching up after a long, pleasant absence.

"Your daughter. Is she here now?" She looked skittish at the prospect, and I almost laughed. Kia never had been overly maternal.

"No, she's with her father. Since she's out of school for the summer, she's going to spend a month or so with Pierce." As much as I knew she needed the time with her father, I hated not having her here. My life seemed impossibly empty in the void created by the absence of her voice, of her little girl energy.


"Would you like a cup of coffee?" This line of conversation was dying a slow, rather painful death and I needed a way out of it. Return to the social niceties when all else fails.

Sooner than I wished, we were both back in the kitchen, looking hesitantly at each other over steaming cups of coffee that were more decoration that anything else. There was so much that I wanted to say to her, but I was afraid. It had been so long, and perhaps it was just best to leave things as they were, to not dredge up the painful memories once again. I imagine that she didn't know how painful they were for me. After all, I had been the cold heartless bitch that had ended things, scorning her and what I knew to be her real affection for me. I didn't want it. It made me different, and a lifetime of conformity had trained me that different was bad. Cut off your nose to spite your face, the old saying went, and I had gleefully wielded the knife in that little separation.

"I don't know what to say to you." I didn't mean to blurt it out like that, but once the words left my lips there was no taking them back. She was surprised. I could tell by the sharp little indrawn breath, by the protective hunching of her shoulders.

"You don't have to say anything. Why don't you show me to this guestroom that I've heard so much about. I'll sleep off my indiscretion and you can take me back for my bike in the morning. After a little while, this will just seem like one of those odd, surreal moments in our lives that are more suited to a David Lynch production than to anything else." She was trying to play it off, to act like the words didn't mean anything to her, but I knew better. I could see it in her eyes, the complex whirl of regret, anger, relief and sadness. As much as I'd needed to say what was on my mind, she needed to hear it.

"I'm sorry." There, it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I didn't need any elaborate apologies here. Too much time had passed to make explanations and excuses worth much.

"Yeah, me too." There was a world of hurt wrapped up in those words, and suddenly I wondered if I had done the wrong thing. Maybe she had been better off not knowing that I regretted the way things turned out. I could see from the stiff set of her shoulders as she moved quickly toward the door that my apology hadn't healed any of the wounds it had been meant to address, and when I caught up with her and turned her around so that I could make it all better, I realized that nothing I could say would.

"Fuck it." All rational thought fled, and suddenly there was nothing but the press of my mouth against hers, and the taste of her once more coating my lips. She didn't move, and I didn't know if that was because she was trying to think of some way to extricate herself from the situation or if she was simply too shocked to do something about it. But then she was moving, was kissing me back and pressing into me so that I could feel the heat of her skin branding into mine, and it didn't matter any more. I had hurt her and she had hurt me, but that was in the past. What counted at that moment was that we were here, out bodies saying the words that our minds couldn't conjure.

"Not here." I wasn't about to let her fuck me in the doorway, harsh overhead light making everything seem tawdry. For once, I was going to do this right. We'd have a nice soft bed, and everything that I couldn't express to her in words I would convey with my touches.

I pulled her down the hallway, moving blindly toward my bedroom, excited beyond belief at the feel of her fingers tangled with mine. Somehow, it had all changed. Suddenly it seemed as if Fate were on my side, having brought her back to me once again. There were amends to be made, but I could do that later. Right now I wanted to feel her pressed against me, wanted to make sure that the memories that I had weren't illusions made more vivid by the lonely ache of my heart. This time I wouldn't treat her like the second best she never had been… not anymore. She was what I wanted, was what I had always wanted, and I'd been a fool for not recognizing it before.

I'd never really been the aggressor before, but now I found my hands tracing over her skin, pulling at her clothes until her torso was bare before me, and then I didn't have the patience to worry about fabric anymore. My eyes closed in on the rosy tip of a nipple, and I dipped down, sucking on the sweet flesh, tasting the flavor of her skin for the first time in forever. It was soothing yet exciting all at the same time, the sensation of coming home melding with an arousal so intense that I was sure that I'd explode the minute she touched me.

Then she was pulling away from me, and I tried to tell her with my eyes that that wasn't what I wanted. She ignored me though, ripping off my shirt and it didn't seem to matter anymore. We weren't stopping, and I'd have the chance to taste her again. I was surprised when she pushed me roughly away and aroused by the heat in her eyes as she traced them blatantly over my bare flesh. I could feel the heavy lethargy of anticipation claim me, feel my body melt back against the sheets as I returned her stare. She was still wearing those damn jeans, but somehow that made the sight even more erotic. Firm breasts heaving over a taut belly, silky skin disappearing into tight denim, and I wanted nothing more than to push them down and over her hips so that she was as bare as I was.

The first flick of her tongue against my belly caused me to buck against her. It was as if my senses had been starved since the last time that we touched, and now I was reacting to her like a dying man to water. I could feel the harsh rasp of denim against my thighs, the deliciously heavy weight of her pressing down on my abdomen and suddenly that warm mouth was on my breast. It was more intense than I had remembered, the memories not doing justice to the velvet smoothness of her tongue, the gentle nip of her teeth. Wanting nothing more than to pull her to me and hold her there forever, I brought my hands up, winding them through the short locks of her hair, but she reared back, pulling away from me, and I realized that she didn't want that. Disappointed, I let them fall to the bedding, my fingers digging into the soft sheets.

She was moving, her tongue tracing a hot, wet line down my belly before moving back up my chest, and I moaned out my frustration. My body was primed, waiting only for her touch, and I was tired of foreplay, tired of her explorations. I wanted her to touch me, really touch me. I wanted her fingers buried in my wetness, wanted to know that she was inside of me, the connection between us as close as it could possibly get. Her teeth were teasing me, biting my ever sensitive earlobes and then suddenly there she was, those wet green eyes blazing into mine and I was heartened by the arousal that I saw there. No matter what had happened between us, she couldn't resist me, couldn't deny that she wanted this.

It happened so quickly that I wasn't expecting it. One minute I was drowning in her eyes and the next minute my hips were arching off the bed. Finally she was touching me, and the sensation was almost too much to bear. I bit down on the thumb she offered, vaguely aware that I was probably hurting her but unable to do anything about it. Almost immediately I felt my body tense, felt my thigh muscles contract and my knees draw upwards involuntarily as my body prepared to explode. And then I did, my eyes slamming shut and my head flying back as the bliss rolled through me, and she didn't stop, her tongue taking the place of her fingers. Seconds later she filled me once again, the twin tortures of her deliciously soft tongue and the firm thrust of her fingers pulling me close to the edge once more. It didn't take me long to climax a second time, though my body was aware in some distracted way that she was trying to slow my orgasm, to keep me waiting a bit longer. It was no use. She probably couldn't have stopped it even if she'd quit touching me completely.

The warm weight of her head on my belly was comforting as I tried to bring my shuddering body back under control. I felt her slip from me, momentarily mourning the loss of her, but there was nothing more that I wanted in that instant but to feel her stretched out on top of me. So, with a strength that surprised me, I pulled her up, finding her lips with my own. The kisses were long and lazy, my arms wrapping tightly around her, pulling hard against the wiry muscles of her back. I poured everything that I couldn't say into that kiss, hoping against hope that she would realize what I was offering her.

Before long though, soft kisses turned into something more, and I wanted to possess her as completely as she had possessed me. I rolled her over, letting my body cover her entirely, perversely glad that I was larger than her, that I could feel every single inch of her flesh pressed up against me. Remembering the illicit passion of our youth, I turned my attention to her breasts. She had always enjoyed that, growing more and more feverish the more I concentrated on them. Time hadn't changed that, and as I bit down, raking my teeth across her flesh, I could feel her body grow restless beneath me. I'd often wondered at that, afraid that I was going to hurt her with the rougher touch that she seemed to crave, but I never did. In fact, the more out of control I got, the more aroused she became until finally I learned that I didn't have to hold anything back, that she wanted all that I could give her and possibly more.

I teased her, my fingers moving through her wetness languorously. The impatient push of her hips told me that she wanted more, but I refused to give it to her. This was mine to savor, and I wasn't going to allow the rush of her passion to take that away from me. Again and again I brought her to the edge just to pull away until her head was thrashing back and forth against the pale yellow of my sheets and she was begging me for more. Had she been able to pry her eyes open at the time, she would have seen the feral smile I couldn't hold back.

Piercing through the tight ring of muscle, I was rewarded with a sound of pleasure. Once I'd given her what she wanted, it didn't take long for her to find her satisfaction. She screamed my name, and the familiar feel of her nails raking up my back almost sent me over the edge again. It had always been something that I enjoyed, this less than tender appreciation of my efforts.

I pulled her to me again, wrapping that lithe body up in my long arms. I could feel her heartbeat slow, knew that now was the time to tell her all of the words that had refused to make their way past my tongue before. I could tell her I was sorry, and now she'd have to understand. For once, I would make things clear. There was nothing more in the world that I wanted than her, and for the first time, I'd let her know.

It took me a while to realize that she was pulling away from me. Her body went lax, her breathing slowing as it fell into the cadence of sleep, and she discreetly rolled away. She had done it on purpose, and I slowly realized that maybe this time I would be the one with a broken heart. Was this a good-bye fuck, a way to get back at me for leaving her all those years ago? Or maybe this was nothing more than her acceptance of what I had so blatantly offered, my body and my bed. Feigning sleep allowed her to escape the awkward after-sex talk. Disgusted with myself and with the way I'd allowed, no encouraged, myself to fall into her arms, I rolled out of the bed.

Pulling on a shirt, I padded silently out of the room, making my way back into the kitchen to the now cooled coffee still resting on the table. What the hell had I been thinking? There was too much between us, too much hate and bitterness. I couldn't erase ten years of pain with one night of passion, and it had been foolish of me to think so. She obviously didn't want to. I mean honestly, had I been expecting declarations of undying love? A short, bitter laugh echoed through the kitchen, and after a second, I realized that it had come from me.

Not wanting to return to bed, I made my way into the living room. Sinking down into the cushions of the couch, I stared blindly at the wall. Fool, my mind taunted. She doesn't want you.


I guess I thought it would be different this time, but it soon became painfully obvious that I was once again waking up alone. From the near icy-cold nature of the sheets, I surmised that I'd been by myself for quite some time. How foolish of me to think that things might have changed, that I might be more than a quick fuck for her. She was probably picking up the pieces of her nice little normal life right now, figuring out the neatest and most efficient way to excise me from it. It hurt like hell, but I was made of sterner stuff than that. I wouldn't show her my pain this time.

So it was a confident, cocky version of me that strutted into her living room to find her sitting calmly on the couch. If I hadn't known better, I would have guessed that she hadn't slept at all the night before, dark smudges marring the silky smooth skin beneath her eyes. It was unlikely though that she had lost any sleep over what had happened. I wondered if she had slept out here, unable to even share a bed with me for something other than sex, the quick release valve that she had always been willing to grant me until she had decided that I needed to disappear entirely from her life.

"I've got class at ten," she said, her tone almost bored, and for a moment I was tempted to hit her. Anything to draw some type of reaction from her, other than this blank slate.

"Then I suppose we'd better get going." There, see how unaffected I am. You're not the only bitch with a heart made out of ice. Only mine really wasn't. It was breaking all over again, even though I promised myself that I wouldn't let it.

The car ride was unbearably long, and I was relieved beyond measure to see the parking lot at Joe's. My bike was sitting there waiting on me, its smooth red lines comforting in their familiarity. I was just going to get on her and ride, let the asphalt take me somewhere far away from here. Never should have come back in the first place.

To say that our parting was awkward would be the understatement of the century. She bumbled through about half a sentence before giving up, and I didn't even bother. There weren't any words that I could have said then that would have done either of us any good, and so I chose to forgo them completely. She wasn't getting any more of me than she already had.

I left her there in a cloud of dust and a spray of gravel, vowing that I'd never come back. There was nothing for me here, never had been, and I'd be damned if I let this town, or her, get the better of me again.


I couldn't stop her, couldn't find the words to make her stay. She'd stalked into my living room that morning, her eyes distant. I supposed that it made us even, finally let her get me back for fucking her over all those years ago. Hope it made her feel better.

When she looked at me with those soulful green eyes, I thought for a moment that she wasn't going to walk out of my life again. Something deep inside prayed desperately that she could say the words that I couldn't, that she would tell me that she wanted to stay. But when I looked deeper I saw that her expression was blank, none of the emotions that I had hoped desperately to find disturbing her smooth countenance.

And then she was gone, leaving me with nothing but my anger and self-hatred and I wondered how I was going to be able to go about my life as if she hadn't stepped back in it and brought the whole fucking thing crashing down around me. Class flew by in a blur. I'm not sure what I told them, but they all looked like they were taking notes so I'm sure that whatever it was sounded at least academic enough to warrant their attention.

Walking down the steps and back into the sunlight, realizing that I was shivering with cold despite the warmth of the day, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Completely ignoring the student who had walked out with me, babbling on about some story that I didn't have the time to care about right now, I turned, my eyes alighting on what had to be the sweetest sight they had ever seen.

There she was, all bad-ass attitude standing with her hip propped against her bike, one arm cradling her helmet. Trite as it may sound, my heart leapt at the sight and I thought that maybe, just maybe, this time it would all work out.


I made it ten miles out of town before I realized that there was no way I was going to let her fuck me over again. I'd put up with this ten years ago, but I was a different person now. The new me didn't lay down for anybody, and before I left, I was going to let her know in no uncertain terms just how little she meant to me.

But when I saw her walk out of the building, briefcase in one hand and adoring student on the other, all the words that I had been meaning to say disappeared. And when she turned to me, those beautiful blue eyes full of hope and fear, I just knew that this time was different, that this time I'd finally get the girl. Guess it all works out in the end after all.

The End

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