Chapter Eleven.

Amanda grumbled, rubbing the back of her sore neck. Sandra had gotten rough with the pillow fight. Not that she didn’t, she grinned. She’d done her share of damage before Nick had put a stop to their ‘discussion.’

What she needed now was a nice, long, hot bath. Even the thought of it seemed to tempt her every sense.

The house was unusually quiet as she walked through the front door. Why she’d ever agreed to give up her apartment and come live here was beyond her, but no sooner had AJ proposed the living arrangement, than she’d agreed. More likely than not, she decided, it was to shut him up before he even begun to whine. What’s done is done, she supposed, so until the divorce papers were in her hand, here she’d remain.

With that sneaky, mischieveous, conspiring husband of hers.. who apparently wasn’t home.

“Good,” she said aloud. “Not like I wanted him here, anyway.”

In her room - the guest room - she got out of her clothes and slipped into her fluffy white robe. With a few quick strokes, her hair had been swept up into a ponytail, and, grabbing a towel, she headed toward the bathroom for her bath.

As she walked slowly down the corridor, her mind went back to earlier in the day, when she and San had actually sat down and talked.

“Why don’t you just give him a chance?” she’d asked.

“San, what do you think I’m doing?”

“I meant a REAL chance,” Sandra sighed. “Not just agreeing to whatever he says just to humor him. Put effort into it, you know? Actually pay attention to what he’s doing.”

“The end result will be the same in the end,” Amanda shrugged. “So why bother making the effort?”

“Because the best thing that could happen to you will kick you right in the ass, and you won’t notice it because you’re being to damn stubborn.”

“Stubborn?” Amanda asked. “I’m not stubborn.”

“You sure as hell are!” Sandra exclaimed. “Amanda, why are you so against this?”

She knew her eyes had clouded over then; she saw the look Sandra had given her. Shaking her head, she’d tried to change the subject, but her friend wasn’t having it.

“Manda, what happened to you?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t say that. You know I hate that word. Tell me.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“There is, and you know it. You haven’t said a word, but it’s in your eyes. Like now, when they got dark all of a sudden. I’m starting to think you came here for more than just a change. Something made you leave North Carolina.”

“Something made YOU leave North Carolina,” Amanda reminded her.

“Yeah. College. That’s different.”

“San, can’t we just drop this?”

“No. We can’t. Wanna know why? Because it’s making you miserable, and it’s apparently keeping you from seeing what’s right in front of you. AJ will fight the fight, try to win you over, but he won’t be around forever, you know.”

“That’s the idea,” Amanda sighed.

“You’re hopeless,” Sandra had thrown her hands up in the air dramatically. “A lost cause.”

“Glad you saw the light.”

“Oh, I saw it, allright, and I didn’t like it. So I’m changing the light bulb, so to say, whether you like it or not.”

Amanda sighed, stopping right outside the bathroom and leaning against the wall. Sandra was taking matters into her own hands, just as she’d feared. It wasn’t that she was afriad of her friend’s involvement; far from it. She was afriad of her truth getting out. She didn’t think she could stand the kind of stares, the talking behind her back she got back home from these people. Not that Sandra would, she decided quickly, but Nick? She wasn’t so sure. Then there was AJ.

Somewhere, in the depths of her being, she knew - she could feel it - that she wouldn’t be able to stand it if he found out. He wouldn’t understand, and he’d look at her differently. They way they did back home, and she’d have to just pack up and move again. She’d have to run, and she didn’t want to leave Orlando.

She’d found something worth staying around for. Even if she wasn’t quick to admit it to herself, much less say it out loud.

Gathering herself, she stepped into the bathroom, surprised the light was on. ‘AJ must’ve left it on in his hurry to leave,’ she thought, eyes cast downward as she concentrated on getting the knot of her robe undone.

A small splash from the large tub in the corner of the room caught her attention then, and Amanda let out a scream as she lifted her gaze toward the direction the sound had come from.

[chapter list | chapter twelve]