Tamara slowly pulled into the driveway. Before turning off the engine, she checked the radio clock to see how late it was. The green digital light told her that it was on the other side of midnight. She had been driving around for nearly two hours and was getting tired, but she was in no hurry to go into the house. There was nothing in there that could take her out of the mood she was in.
The night had started out like her Saturdays usually start. After working at the bookstore, her weekend job, she met her boyfriend at The Chow Down Cafe, a restaurant owned by his father. Marcus worked there on the weekends to give his father a break. When she arrived at the cafe, she knew that something was not right. Before she could get out her truck, Marcus opened the passenger door and told her that he wanted her to drive around the blocked as he climbed inside. She stared at him asked him what was wrong. He never left the restaurant unattended. He explained that his did was working so he didn't have to stay. The traffic was heavier than usual for that time of night so the trip around the block took longer than it should have. During that time Marcus told Tamara that he didn't think that their relationship was going anywhere. He gave her the typical "I'm breaking up with you" speech. He said that he needed his space and that he wasn't ready for a serious relationship. By the end of his speech they had made it back to the parking lot. Without saying anything else or giving her a chance to respond, Marcus kissed her on the cheek and got out of the truck. She watched him walk into the building as if nothing had happened. He didn't even seem upset. Soon he was out of site, blending in with the people who enjoying their evening meal.
She knew that they had not been dating for long, but she thought that after 5 months he should have been at least a little bothered. Or at least pretended to be. Tamara sat in the middle of the parking lot until someone behind her blew their horn and yelled for he to get out of the way. She drove away from the Chow Down Cafe with no specific destination in mind.
Tamara had driven around town with thinking about where she was going until she found herself in the driveway. The house was dark which meant that the guys were either in bed or not home at all. It didn't matter to her which one, cause she did not want to talk to either of her roommates. Tommy would say, "I told you so" and make her feel worse. When she had started dating Marcus, Tommy had been totally against it. He told her that Marcus wasn't the kind to stick around for any length of time. She had argued with Tommy and told him to mind his own business. She reminded him that she was an adult and could make her own decisions. She found herself constantly telling him that he treated her like his little sister. On the other hand, Anthony would try to baby her and give her a pep talk. He would tell her that everything would be okay and that things happen for a reason.
Tamara did not want to be scolded or babied. She wanted to go into the house and sit alone in her room. She wanted to sit in the dark with her questions of why and how comes that would never be answered. Tamara considered staying in the car all night, but knew that would draw more attention than she cared for, so she made her way to the house. Without turning on any lights she made her way to the door that led to the basement where her room was. She knew where everything was so she could navigate her way through the living room with hitting the furniture. As she was about to open the door, someone turned on a light and called her name. She jumped at the sound of the voice. Turning toward the light she saw that Tommy was sitting on the couch. He glanced at his watched and said, "Wow! It's late."
" Don't start with me." Tamara groaned.
" What? I'm not starting anything. I just didn't realize how late it was." He stood up and stretched his arms over his head. The action raised the shirt slightly, revealing the bottom row of his "six pack". Tamara smiled to herself at the thought of his well-toned abdominal muscles that came from hours of working out.
" What are you doing on the couch?", she asked, breaking herself away from her thoughts.
" I was waiting up for you."
" Why?". Tamara was on the defensive.
" Don't get testy. Let's go into the kitchen. We need to talk."
" About what? Are you gonna fire me? Or kick me out?", she asked only half way joking. Tommy gave her a confused look. "Where did that come from? Are you okay?" He sounded concerned.
"I'm fine. What do you want to chat about?" Tamara followed him into the kitchen, expecting the worst. Judging by the way her night had gone, she wouldn't be surprised if he had some bad news. She knew that Tommy could be a pain sometimes, but he never waited up for her after a date. Things were definitely not right. She didn't feel good as she entered the kitchen. Sitting on the kitchen table was a small round cake with 6 candles. " Happy Anniversary!", Tommy said as he lit the candles on the cake. Tamara stood in the doorway and stared at him. She had no idea what was going on. This must have been some kind of joke.
" What is this for? What anniversary?", she asked.
" You don't know?" he tried to sound hurt, " You have been working here for six months."
" Oh my goodness! That's right. I can't believe you remember. I can't believe I forgot." she laughed at herself.
Tommy went to one of the drawers and took out a knife. " Let's have some cake. Anthony couldn't stay up, so we'll just have to save him a piece."
Tamara accepted the piece of cake that was handed to her even though she didn't feel like eating anything. Tommy most have noticed her change in mood and asked her what was wrong. She slowly told him what had happened with Marcus earlier.
" Well, go ahead and say it. "
" What?", Tommy asked.
" Tell me 'I told you so' and get it over with. I know you want to. " Tamara felt like crying, but would not let the tears flow in front of Tommy. She was not going to let him rub it in her face.
" Now you know me better than that. Why would I say something like that? I know I didn't like the guy, but it doesn't give me any satisfaction that he dumped you." He seemed truly sorry for her. Tamara could see that her remark really had an affect on him. He was hurt.
" I'm sorry. I shouldn't take my frustration out on you. You're not the reason I was dumped." She could feel the tears welling up again. Dumped was such a harsh sounding word, but there was no other way to describe it. She had been tossed away without even a sign of sorrow or regret. Tommy told her that it was okay and that he understood. He told her that he would listen if she was wanted to talk. She said that she didn't have anything to say, that it was all over and that was that. Tamara began to eat the cake. Before she was done, she started talking without thinking about it. She told Tommy how bad she felt and that she wanted to disappear. She talked about Marcus and other friends she had whom turned out not to be friends at all. Tommy listened to her without saying a word. When she had no more to say, Tamara stood and thanked Tommy for listening. She felt better.
Tommy got up from the table and stood in front of her. " You'll be okay. After all tomorrow is another day. "
"Thanks Tommy," Tamara wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. Before she could release him, he pulled her closer and held her. She laid her head on his chest and sighed. He rubbed his hands up and down her back. It felt good to be in his arms. They were nice and safe. She could have stayed there forever. Tommy whispered her name and she raised her head to face him. He was about to say something when a noise in the other room made him jump. Tommy let go of her and stepped back.
Anthony stepped in the room. He looked as if he had been awakened from a sound sleep. His T-shirt was twisted and his boxers were wrinkled. He let out big yawn and asked, " Why are you two up? It's 3 in the morning."
" Well, I'm on my way to bed. don't forget we are going running in the morning. You aren't gonna wimp out on me this time. Tommy can fill you in on the details of my night. Good night boys." Tamara left the kitchen and headed for her room. As she opened the door and headed down the stairs, she could hear Anthony commenting to Tommy, " Hey Bro. You look like the little boy who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar." Tamara didn't hear Tommy' response. The door had shut and she was too tired to ease drop on their conversation. Tamara undressed in the dark and got into bed wearing only her underwear. Before any thoughts could form in her head, she fell asleep.
Tamara had been accepted to nursing school seven months prior her six-month anniversary with the Turner boys. She was so excited and had made plans to live with a friend of hers who needed a roommate to help split the bills. Tamara sold most of her belongings and drove 500 miles only to learn that Melissa had decided to let her boyfriend move in. Melissa's boyfriend did not think that it was a good idea to have another person in the apartment. Melissa told Tamara that she was sure that she would find a place to live in no time. That was the last she heard of Melissa. Tamara found herself alone in the city of Rayven.
She later learned that the city was named after the daughter of some rich land settler. She was a quiet and shy, but friendly young woman who had many suitors. It is said that no man could resist her naturally tanned skin and deep dark brown eyes. Men were willing to risk life and limb for just one stroke through her long dark brown hair that matched her eyes. Although she could have had any man in town she wanted and all the riches beyond her wildest dreams, she longed for something more. She wanted excitement and adventures. One day Rayven disappeared. Some says that her father sent her to marry a rich man in England. Others say that she left in the middle of the night with a stranger who called himself a " creature adventurer". The men of the town missed her so much that they voted to have the name changed from George's Town to Rayven.
Tamara wasn't sure how much of the story was true, but it was interesting. Tamara didn't care how the town got its name. All she knew was that she had to find a place to live before school started. A cheap motel became her home while she searched for an apartment and a job. It was hard finding a job with no permanent residence. The weeks were going by rapidly and the beginning of school was getting closer. Tamara eventually had to call the school and inform them of her current situation. It was decided that Tamara would defer for a year and start school with the next incoming class.
The school problem was solved but Tamara was running out of money. She was considering returning home when she saw an ad for a live- in baby-sitter. It was not what she wanted, but she had to do something. On her way to the interview she met Anthony. She had stopped to ask for directions. He was friendly and outgoing. His blue eyes sparkled as he talked to her. She told him that she was on her way to an interview for a job she didn't really want. He told her that he and his brother were looking for a pet/house sitter. They would be leaving for Australia for a couple of months and they could not take their dog. White Crow Girl (WC for short) was an aging German Shepherd. The boys had gotten her when she was a puppy thirteen years ago. A woman with hazel green eyes and long plum colored hair had given her to Tommy. She walked up to Tommy, handed him the puppy and said, " I know you will take good care of her". As she walked away he noticed a white crow tattooed on her shoulder. After deciding to keep the puppy he made her after the woman. WC had been the only female to remain constant in the guy's life. Women would come and go, but WC was always there.
Tommy and Anthony usually took WC with them on their trips, but age was catching up with her. Being a German Shepherd, thirteen is an old age, so the guys decided with heavy hearts to leave her home. They did not want to kennel her, so the only alternative was to hire someone to take care of her. Anthony told her that they were stars and producers of a children's show which took them away sometimes. After talking to Anthony, and telling him of her situation, she was hired. Tamara was convinced that Anthony felt sorry for her, but she didn't care. She had found a place to stay and a job. They agreed that she would do lighthouse work while the guys were there and would have full control of the place while they were gone. All she had to do was make sure that WC stayed comfortable while they were traveling. Tamara became more of a roommate than an employee. She rarely did housework because the boys were fairly neat and cleaned up after themselves.
The trip to Australia had been changed to an undecided date and the boys hadn't made any plans to go anywhere else for a while. Tamara decided to get a job since she was not really doing anything at the house. She got a weekend job at Novels Galore as a cashier. Since she did not have to pay any bills, the two-day job was enough to sustain her. During the week she hung around the house or ran errands for the boys. Sometimes she felt like a housewife with two husbands. Recently she had begun to run in the mornings with Anthony. Tamara had managed to convince him that he was getting out of shape and needed to exercise. She had told him that as the older brother he needed to keep up with Tommy. Anthony had fallen for her little speech and started exercising with her.
Tamara hit the snooze button on the alarm clock and pulled the blankets back over her shoulders. She then snuggled into the bed. It was nice and warm under those covers. She wanted to stay in bed forever, but knew that she had to get up and go to work. The mornings sucked. Tamara had been floating between the state of being asleep and awake, knowing that the horrible buzzing would sound again in nine minutes, when the blankets were yanked off of her. She pulled her knees into her chest and blindly reached for the covers. The air was cold against her naked body and she let the thief know that she didn't appreciate the invasion.
" Aw, come on," he said, " You have to get up. The business is not going to run itself."
" Couldn't we just sleep in?" Tamara turned to face the man beside her. He smiled at her and shook his head as he got out of bed. Tamara reluctantly followed. " Why are there mornings anyway?" she grumbled. She went to the closet. She stood there trying to decide which suit to wear. Green or blue?
" You want to know what mornings are for?", his voice whispered in her ear as he wrapped his arms around her, " They are for remembering the wonderful night you had ." His lips caressed her neck while his hands made their way down to the inside of her thighs. She could feel the heat rising within her. She wanted him. Again. Tamara turned and pressed her lips into his. They shared a hard passionate kiss. She wanted him even more. Tamara backed him up until they reached the bed. He pulled her down onto him. She could feel the bulge in his pants grow harder. Her hand had no problems unbuttoning the jeans and finding its way to the mass that had given her so much pleasure the night before.
"You still wanna go to work ?" she asked as she pleasured him with her hand. He responded with a lust filled groan and rolled her onto her back. Their lips met once again as she spread her legs to accept him into her.
Tamara opened her eyes several minutes before the alarm went off. Instead of getting up, she laid in the bed staring at the ceiling. She did not want to move, afraid of disturbing the images of the dream that floated in front of her. She could still feel the touch of his hands on her body and the taste of his lips on hers. The memory made her smile. It had felt so good and she was sad that she had to wake up. As the events replayed in her mind, Tamara realized that she could not remember who the man was. It had been so clear in her dreams, but evaded her conscious thoughts. She strained her mind to see that face, but it would not reveal itself to her. Tamara closed her eyes once more and tried to see the man who pleasured her dreams but was interrupted by Anthony's yelling.
" Hey! Are you ready yet?" She could hear him coming down the stairs. Tamara, remembering that she was wearing only her bra and panties, pulled the blanket up to her neck before Anthony reached the bottom the step. He was ready for their morning run, wearing the same blue shirt with cut off sleeves that he always wore. He cut the sleeves to show off his new found toned arms, which weren't as great as he thought they were. His confidence was high and Tamara didn't want to discourage him, so she just agreed that they were great. He stood at the foot of her bed and did his imitation of a body builder. She laughed at him. He looked so silly.
" Why are you still in bed, " he asked and jumped into bed beside her. Before she could answer, "Why are you all covered up? Are you naked under there?" he playfully tugged at the blanket.
"No! I'm not. Get away from me!" she tried to yell, but laughed instead.
They had a mock battle for control of the covers. Anthony began to tickle her as part of his offense. Tamara laughed even harder, and despite the fact that Anthony was not pulling with enough force to get the fabric out of her hands, she could not hold on. Laughter had taken control of her and made her weak. She tried to keep herself covered , but soon gave up. When Tamara let go, so did Anthony. He had no intention of exposing her. He laid face down on the bed and. She could hear his muffled voice tell her that he would not look as she got ready. Tamara stared at the back of Anthony's head for a few moments, laughter still escaping her. She slipped out of the bed, keeping her eyes on Anthony while she put on her running clothes.
" Ok, I'm ready. Let's get these 3 miles out of the way" She stood beside the bed and reached her hand out to help Anthony up.
" Three! Since when did we start running three miles? Are you crazy?"
" Are you a wimp?"
" Who? Not me"
" Anthony is a girlie man?" Tamara started laughing again and repeated her phrase several times.
" Girlie man? Me. I'll show you a girlie man" he said and pulled her down onto the bed. He held her down and began tickling her again. She tried to fight him , but once again her laughter made her weak . She begged him to stop.
" Am I a girlie man? "
" No" she grasped. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes when he released her. He plopped down on the bed beside. Once again they were in the bed. Tamara's laughter turned to embarrassed giggles as the face of the man in her dream was revealed to her. Anthony propped himself with his elbow and stared at her.
" What's the matter? You act as if you have seen a ghost or something." Tamara turned away from Anthony and jumped out of the bed, " C'Mon let's go. We're burning daylight." Tamara headed up the stairs, not waiting to see if Anthony was following her. She could not believe that she had dreamt about Anthony.
After their run, Anthony insisted they that go somewhere to celebrate his being able to run the entire three miles. He offered to take her somewhere for breakfast. According to Anthony, he was going to starve if he didn't get food. Tamara's late night had made her tired and after running she realized how exhausted she really was. All Tamara wanted to do was go back home and get some sleep. On their walk back home Anthony tried to engage her in conversation, but her mind was elsewhere. She hardly listened to what he said. When he asked her what was wrong, she told him how she and Marcus would usually eat breakfast at his father's restaurant on Sunday mornings. Marcus wasn't the only thing in her thoughts that morning. she was also thinking about her dream, but she was not going to tell him about it. She could not understand why she had that dream. There was no physical attraction to Anthony. He was just a roommate who had become a really good friend. Having that dream confused her. Anthony soon realized that she was not going to talk anymore, so he stopped. They finished their walk in silence.
Tamara collapsed onto the couch. She tried to clear her mind so she could fall asleep, but that was not happening. There was too much to think about. Her mind was working overtime. After a while she gave up on the idea of sleep. She just laid on the couch and listened to Anthony in the kitchen. The opening and closing of cabinets and the refrigerator door and Anthony singing were the sounds that made their way to the living room. Tamara could not tell what song was being sung, but it was an upbeat one. Tamara smiled as she listened to him. His happy mood was contagious even though she was not in the same room. She was able to clear her mind and fall into a peaceful dreamless sleep.
Anthony's screaming woke Tamara from her sleep. He had his hands over his eyes and was staggering. Tamara jumped up and went to him.
" What's wrong?"
"My eyes! My eyes!" he screamed and dropped to his knees. Tamara knelt beside him and tried to get him to stop squirming.
" What is it!" She was beginning to panic.
" I saw...."
" I saw a picture."
" A picture! You woke me up with all that because of a picture?" she was no longer panicked, " It had better be a horrible, terrible, give ya nightmares for years kind of picture or I'm gonna shoot you."
" It was a picture of Tommy' girlfriend."
" Why is that scary?"
" She was naked." Tamara punched Anthony. She considered shooting him, but the thought passed.
" Tommy has a girlfriend? Since when? How come I've never met her?"
" Whoa, one question at a time," Anthony said standing up and pulling her with him, "Yes, he has a girlfriend."
" No, I don't," Tommy was standing at the bottom of the stairs, " I do not have a girlfriend."
" Yes, you do, " Anthony replied. He was acting like the big brother that he was and started teasing Tommy. They carried on for a while, going on back and forth on the issue of whether or not Tommy has a girlfriend.
" It doesn't matter, " Tamara tried to interrupt, but they seemed to enjoy their bickering.
" Then why do you still keep pictures of her in your wallet?" Anthony asked.
" There are no pictures in here, " Tommy pulled his wallet from his pocket and showed it to Anthony.
" Why did you do that? Hoping to put someone else's picture in there?" Anthony winked at Tamara. She rolled her eyes at him. She was not going to play along with him. She was still a little upset.
" So, what's the fuss about this woman?" Tamara wanted to know.
" Well, she and Tommy dated for awhile. They were getting serious and then she got a new job and relocated to Australia. She does something with coral reefs. Tommy is still heartbroken. They still write to each other."
" I'm not heartbroken."
" Anyway, he hasn't been the same. He claims that he is over her, but I bet if she walked through that door right now, he'd be all over her."
" That's not true," Tommy mumbled as he escaped into the kitchen.
" It is true," Anthony had to have the last word.
" Why were you looking at his naked pictures?" Tamara questioned him.
" Oh, see I was dividing our mail. I put yours on your dresser. And there was an envelope from Australia. He asked me to open it 'cause he was in the middle of writing something. Well, that picture fell out. There was nothing but that picture with a lipstick print. Isn't that the funniest thing? I wonder who took it for her."
" So, Tommy has an ex thatís not really an ex? Interesting. Is that why he doesn't date? Because of this long lost love?"
" She's not my long lost love," Tommy' voice startled her. Tamara hadn't noticed when he came out of the kitchen.
" We're just friends now," Tommy stared at her, She felt as if he was pleading with her to believe him. Tamara looked away and then back at him. His expression had changed.
" Oh, I get it. That's why you were going to Australia. For business with a little bit of pleasure on the side. What happened? Why did you cancel?"
" We decided not to do the taping just yet. And since we were going there JUST to film, there was no need to go. so both of you lay off," Tommy went up the stairs. The sound of his bedroom door slamming caused Anthony to laugh.
" See told ya. he still has feelings for her. He just doesn't want to admit it. They broke up two months before you arrived. What he needs is someone to take his mind off of her, if you know what I mean."
" Maybe he'll find someone he likes next month when those girls come to visit. I mean ladies."
" Oh yea. The ladies. I almost forgot."
" Forgot? Oh, no you didn't. I know you can't wait to have all those women who are hot for you in this house."
" I must admit that it's gonna be interesting, " Anthony looked at his watch, " Well, I'm gonna take a shower and go to bed. It's almost 9 o'clock."
" Geez, I slept forever. how come no one woke me?
" I was going to push you off the couch, but Tommy said not to bother you. He said that you had a rough night and needed your sleep"
" Aw, that was sweet of him. Why can't you be nice to me like that?"
" Hey! I'm always nice to you. Iím the one who was on your side when Tommy said that you shouldn't go out with Marcus. I know it didn't turn out good, but at least I was on your side."
" Well, thank you. Have a good sleep my best friend Anthony."
" Ha. Ha. Very funny. Well, goodnight."
" See ya." Tamara watched Anthony go up the stairs. She waited until she heard his door close before going into the kitchen. WC was lying beside the door.
" Hey girl. Do you have to go?" WC perked up at the sound of her voice. Tamara got her leash from the hook beside the door. The two girls of the Turner house went for a walk. While they walked, Tamara told WC about her weekend. She spoke of Marcus and the Anthony dream. Tamara often talked to the dog on their walks. She was always a good listener. Tamara had friends from work, but they didn't hangout and were not like the closer friends she had back home. WC was her only outlet besides Tommy and Anthony. WC's only response was to tug at the leash to let Tamara know that she wanted to move faster. Even though she was old, there were still times when there was some kick in her step. She was not able to frolic about like she was used to, but she tried. When they returned from their walk, WC headed for the stairs. Tamara could not see her, but she knew that the German shepherd had settled down on the rug in the hallway between Tommy and Anthony's room. That was her customary spot. Tamara smiled to herself at the thought of WC being their watchdog as she made her way down to her bedroom.
Tamara stared at the two mail piles on her dresser. She wondered why no one had gotten the mail yesterday. It felt strange looking through Saturday's mail on Sunday. She usually read all her mail on the day she got it. Yesterday, Anthony picked up the mail, so she didn't get to read it. Tamara left her personal mail and threw the fan mail on the bed. She sorted through the cards and envelopes looking for certain postcards. There were several replies to the party invitations that she needed.
A couple of months earlier Tamara had come up with the idea that they should invite some of their fans to a party. She thought it would be a way to thank those who watched their shows. They were going to invite kids and their parents to spend the day with them, but Tamara managed to change their minds. Since she sorted their fan mail, which was sent to a P.O. box and not their home, she noticed that they received a large amount of mail from adult females. She thought it would be interesting to see some of those women. The Turners were against the idea. They said that it would hurt their public image. She told them that they do kids stuff all the time. It was time to honor the women who actually paid for their T-shirts and who harassed the public stations so that their shows would stay on the air. Reluctantly they agreed. Tamara sent out fliers. They would select the women based on letters sent that told why they wanted to meet the Turners. Anthony and Tommy played no part in the selection. They told her that since it was her idea, she had to do all the work.. She didn't mind.
There were all types of letters sent. The majority of the notes were from mothers of kids who watched they show. Others were sexually explicit. They were either unsigned or signed with words beginning with lusty, horny, and there was even one signed "no gag reflex". Tamara laughed at these and eliminated them. The guys got a kick out of them, but had no desire to meet these women. From the letters that she received Tamara had randomly picked twenty women and sent them invitations. So far, only ten had accepted. She knew that these women would pay no attention to her, but she couldn't wait for their arrival. It was gonna be fun. It would be like having a huge slumber party. A month seemed so far away.