The month passed fast, but not fast enough for Tamara. Her days were spent doing more housework than usual. The boys were working longer days at the studio, so they were rarely home. She would make dinner for them so they would have to eat fast food all the time. She joked with her self, saying that she had become a housewife. The amount of laundry they produced also increased. Tamara didn't mind doing the extra work, she was their employee after all, but she wished they weren't so dirty. Each day after taping they would bring home a bag of muddy clothes. Tommy explained to her that had a mud pit on the set and every now and then he and Anthony would fall into it. His face lit up as he told her how fun it was to push Anthony into the pit. The usually ended up wrestling and getting even dirtier, so that had to do the takes over. Tamara imaged it would be fun to watch them playing in the mud. She teased Anthony that she would dig her own pit and let them wrestle in the nude. She would charge a fee for people to watch. Anthony just laughed and said that he would if she joined him and that he was sure Tommy would too. Tamara didn't think his comment deserved a response.
The day of their party finally arrived. Tamara got up earlier than usual and cooked breakfast for the boys. Before they went to the studio she repeatedly reminded them that the ladies were to arrive at seven thirty and for them not to be late. They promised her they would be one time only if she would agree not to remind them again. Tamara agreed. She had her owns chores to do for that day so, she didn't stick around while the guys finished their breakfast. Her first priority was to take WC to the doctor.
More and more of Tamara's days were spent taking White Crow Girl back and forth to the vet. She was getting sicker and needed different medications. The doctor thought that WC was going into kidney failure, but the tests were not conclusive. Tamara liked Dr. Hanna from the first time she met her. When she entered the room she announced herself as " the pleasantly plump and free spirited Doctor Hanna. She was very outgoing and Tamara could tell that she really loved her job. She would have made a perfect pediatrician. She was delightful to listen to. Tamara thought it was funny how her light brown hair matched WC's coat. Her blue eyes glistened as she talked. She discussed the specifics of the case that the boys did not remember to tell her. She made sure Tamara understood everything and then changed the subject.
"So, you're working for the Turners?"
" Yea, I do house work and dog work. They were kind enough to let me live there after one of my friends left me without a place to stay."
" Oh so you live with them?" Tamara thought that there was an emphasis put on the word live, but was not sure. Dr. Hanna did seem a little more excited though.
" Yea," Tamara said slowly not sure where the conversation was going.
" Oh cool. Can I ask you something?"
" Umm, sure"
" Well, I was wondering if you've ever seen either of them without their clothes on? Actually just Anthony. You see I have this picture of him in my head and I'd like to have some clarification."
Tamara laughed at the doctor. She made Tamara feel like they were two gossiping girls.
" No, I haven't sorry. I wish I had just so I could tell you. If I ever see him in his birthday suit, I'll be sure to tell you about it."
It was time for Dr. Hanna's next appointment so they said their good-byes, and Tamara and WC went home. On the drive home, Tamara smiled at though of the doctor daydreaming about Anthony. She just had to tell him that he had a secret admirer. That's just what he needed, another Anthony lover. She planned on painting ladies' man on his bedroom door. Her meeting with the doctor reminded her of her dream of Anthony. This time her dream was about him and her in a mud pit. She even remembered his face when she woke up. There had been no moments of wondering who the man of her dreams was. It was clear. Tamara had let the dream go as " just one of those things". She knew that she didn't have an attraction to Anthony. After that last dream she searched deep within herself, but could not find a place for Anthony there.
Tamara's dream had come the night of Marcus' wake. An unknown man who tried to burglarize the Chow Down Cafe had killed Marcus. Marcus was opening the restaurant and surprised the man who shot him. He died before his father could get him to the hospital. Tamara had not known how to feel. Marcus had taken himself out of her life and she thought that she was over him. She realized that she had been more upset at their break up than she had been hurt. Tamara had made the decision to go to the wake, but not the funeral. She hated funerals. Anthony offered to drive her, but she wanted to go alone. When she got to her Explorer , she found Tommy in the driver's seat. He told her that she was a walking zombie and shouldn't be driving. Tamara did not want to argue so she climbed into the passenger seat. Their trip there and back was a silent one. The only time Tamara spoke was to offer her condolences to Marcus' family.
There were more people there than Tamara expected and it lasted too long for her. She silently cursed at whose ever idea it was to have a wake at eight o'clock at night. When they arrived home it was late and Anthony had already gone to bed. Tommy asked her if she was okay. She assured him that she was fine. She watched him go up the stairs before she went downstairs to her room. Tamara removed her dress and put on the black nightie that Marcus had given her. She sat on the edge of bed. She was sure that she was not going to be able to sleep so she didn't bother laying down. Sitting on the bed, her mind raced with the thoughts of the man she figured she'd forgotten.
" Are you sure you're okay?" Tommy was standing at the bottom of the stairs, " I knocked, but you didn't answer."
" I'm sorry. I must not have heard you." Tommy had changed out of his suit and into a tank top and boxers. He was prepared for bed. Tamara knew that he usually slept shirtless. He must have put on the shirt to come see her. He looked good standing there. For the first time in a while Tamara actually looked at Tommy. She was used to looking at Anthony since they spent a lot of time together working out and just hanging out in general. Tommy was smaller, but more muscular. He didn't have to work as hard as Anthony to keep himself toned. Tommy usually does more of the physical work, which helps to keep him fit. The top was loose, but tight enough to reveal outline of the muscles underneath. She looked at his legs. They were small, but toned also. He was in general a well-toned man. Tamara was surprised that she hadn't noticed how sexy he was before.
" Wanna talk?" he sat beside her. Tamara looked at his reflection in the mirror. He was staring at her with an expression on his face that she could not decipher. Was it pity? No, she didn't think so. It was hard to tell with him sometimes.
" Not really"
" Okay, " Tommy laid back on the bed and yawned, " This bed sure is soft." Tamara did not turn to look at him, but she could tell that he was rubbing his hands across the bed.
"Anthony says that it is too soft." There was silence for a moment. Then Tamara spoke again.
" You know, Marcus bought this for me after we had been dating for only two weeks. He said that it was a special gift from him to me. And that my special gift to him would be to wear it and he had some other suggestions. Of course, I didn't wear it. We hadn't known each other long enough. " Tamara paused, lost in her own thoughts.
" You think he broke up with you because you wouldn't sleep with him?"
" I know that after a while, I'm sure we would have made it into bed, but it just never felt right. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I just never felt safe enough I guess. Every time I look back on it, I think that he only stayed with me as long as he did cause he figured that I would eventually go to bed with him. Isn't that what you said when I first started dating him? He was the love em and em leaves kind? You told me that didn't you?" She turned and looked at Tommy. He got up from the bed and walked to her dresser.
" Take that off, " he said as he opened and closed drawers.
" Excuse me? " Tamara was confused.
" You don't need to be wearing that. You’re sitting there feeling guilty for something that is not even your fault. He would have found some other reason to break up with you anyway. Be glad that you didn't sleep with him. Why waste all that emotion and energy in someone who doesn't deserve it?"
He handed her an oversized T-shirt that he had brought back for her from one of their trips. It had a picture of her favorite animal on it. A howling wolf. Tamara put the shirt on over the nightie and started to cry. She cried for herself and she cried for Marcus. She didn't deserve to feel the way she felt and he hadn't deserved to die the way he did.
Tommy placed his arms around her," If you'd known that he was going to die, you still wouldn't have slept with him. Don't torture yourself thinking that you would have."
Tamara could only cry in response. She hadn't cried in such a long time. It actually felt good. Having Tommy there holding her helped. He was the strong arm that she could always lean on. Standing there Tamara felt that he would always be there for her no matter what. She did not remember how they ended up in the bed, but she did remember Tommy holding her as she cried. He must have held her until she fell asleep.
" Hi! I'm Kim. The other girls are in the van," she turned and pointed to the mini van in the driveway.
" I'm Tamara. Did all ten of you come together?"
" Yea, " her green eyes were filled with excitement.
" Well, come on in you've found the right place." Kim went back to the van and the women started to pile out. Out of the twenty women that accepted, ten had canceled. Actually Tamara was happy for that. They had room for ten women, but not twenty. She didn't know what she had been thinking to invite that many women. When all the ladies were in the house, Tamara introduced herself. She handed out the nametags that she had made for them. Tamara knew that nametags were the easiest way for everyone to get to know each other.
" Okay. I have twenty tags here. Just yell when I get to your name." Tamara handed out the tags.
" I know that you are ready to meet the boys, but I have a little bad news for ya. The guys are caught up at the studio. Things ran a little over. They should be here any minute. I promise." The women could not hide their disappointment, so Tamara offered them a tour while they waited. She gave them a peak into each boy's room. She also showed them the rest of the house and introduced them to WC. The dog sniffed each woman and found nothing that the she didn't like, so she left them alone. While they waited for the boys Tamara and the ladies sat in the back yard talking. Some of them already knew each other. The others had met for the first time when they started their road trip on the TurnerBus. They spent most of their time waiting asking Tamara things about the boys. She told them everything that she knew.
" No, I have not seen either of them without clothes, " Tamara responded to a question that she knew someone would ask sooner or later, " So, that means I am not anyone's lover here. I know no one has asked, but I'm sure you are wondering that too."
" Actually I wanna know about Anthony's feet." Mia said and the other women laughed.
" What?" Tamara had not been expecting that question.
" Are his feet as sexy in person as they are on TV?"
" I don't know what they look like on TV, but they look normal in person."
" Hey! Who looks normal in person?" Anthony was standing in the kitchen door. Tamara laughed at the embarrassed Mia who was turning red. Tamara introduced the women to Anthony. She wondered where Tommy was. Anthony told her that he went to pick up the pizzas and that he would be home in a little while. Soon Anthony has taken the attention of all the women and Tamara was able to slip off into the house. She set out cups, plates, napkins, and went to the front porch and waited for Tommy. Since Anthony was wearing sandals, she wondered if Mia was staring at his feet.
When Tommy arrived she helped him with the pizzas and told him that Anthony was entertaining the guests. " Only ten of the twenty are actually here. We have Kim, the one with the typical Chinese face; Famin' the one with black wavy almost shoulder length hair; another Kim, the skinny one with brown hair and green eyes; Mia, she's the one staring at Anthony like a piece of meat; Gret, the short one with olive skin; Kris the one with auburn hair and brown eyes; Laura the one with light skin and blue-gray eyes; Shannon the one with blond hair and streaks; Stacy is the one that has reddish brown hair, and finally there is Cindy the one with dark red hair and hazel eyes." When Tamara was done, Tommy just stared at her.
" I hope you don't expect me to remember anything you just said. Cause I won't."
" No, I don't. They are wearing nametags anyway. I'll take care of the food. Go out and meet your public." Tommy was headed out the door when one of the ladies came in. It was Kim headed to the bathroom. She stopped for a moment to stare at Tommy and then hurried upstairs. He stared at her as she left the kitchen.
" Wow," Tommy said, " She's pretty. I thought you said she had a typical Chinese face. If they all look that good, I'm moving over there."
" I thought you couldn't remember what I said?" Tamara smiled at him. Men will be men.
" Well, that statement was kinda unforgettable. You should be ashamed," he shook his head in disapprovement and went out side. Tamara separated the pizzas into categories; cheese, vegetarian, pepperoni, and some others. Tommy had gotten too many pizzas, they would be eating leftover for a while. Tamara called the people to dinner. she waited until everyone had gotten their helping and she choose a slice that had too many things to name on them. Tamara made her way through the bodies on the back lawn and settled down under the tree. She watched the women. It was clear who the Anthony fans were and who were the Tommy fans. There were those who seemed not to know which brother to give their attention to. She enjoyed looking at people and trying to decided what they were really like.
After dinner Tamara suggested that they play some type of game. Twister was the most popular suggestion. That was not surprising. All those women could not wait to get their hands the guys. A free grope or two would not do anyone any harm. Anthony and Tommy were more than ready to play. Tamara sat to the side to watch. She didn't want to get in the middle of a man and his fan. That could be dangerous. She watched them play a while, cleaned the kitchen, and then went to her room. Tamara listened to the sounds of the people upstairs. They seemed to be having a good time. The laughter made it's way down to her.
The mail from that day needed to be sorted, so Tamara went through the envelopes. Tommy came downstairs to see what she was doing.
" Why are you hiding down here?"
" I'm not hiding. I'm just staying out of the way."
"Oh, that's what you call it."
" What's going on up there?
" Picture albums. Gret wanted to see us as babies, so I got out the albums. They are in the process of laughing at us right now."
" Oh, but you were cute babies," Tamara told him and under her breathe she said," and even better looking adults."
" What did you say?"
" Nothing. Hey, why are they playing music up there?" Tamara looked at the ceiling as if she could see what was going on in the room above. Garth Brooks was singing "Shameless". It was Tamara's favorite song. Tommy walked over to her and pulled her up from the bed.
" Dance with me. I know how much you like this song." Tamara didn't resist him. She liked being in his arms. This was the first time that she had his arms around her when she wasn't down in the dumps about something. They moved together, but it wasn't with the song. They had their own beat. They held on to each other even after the song had ended.
" Tommy! Are you down there? " Anthony's voice was heard coming from the top of the stairs. Tommy didn't answer Anthony. Tamara tried to step away from him, but he would not relinquish his hold on her.
"Hello! Tommy! I'm calling you!"
Tommy released his hold on her and yelled up to Anthony, " I'm on my way!" He went up the stairs and Tamara followed him. The women were sitting around the living room talking.
" We missed you, Tommy. Anthony was telling us stories about your trips. We wanna hear from you," Shannon patted the couch beside her. Tommy glanced back at Tamara and sat down between Shannon and Famin. They snuggled up to him. Tamara sat on the floor between Anthony and Gret, but when she noticed the look on Gret face, she moved. She found a place near the kitchen. For a while she listened to Tommy answer questions and tell about his favorite episodes. Someone mentioned something about a snow day and a hot tub. Tamara was only half listening by then. She was watching Tommy. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. The feel of his arms around her was still fresh in her mind. She momentarily wished that everyone else would disappear so that they could be alone again. Tamara told herself to snap out of whatever she was getting herself stuck into and that she wasn't really attracted to him. After all it was Anthony that she had the dreams about. She needed to get out of the room so she went to the kitchen to get something to drink. She could hear that Anthony was talking excitedly about some girl named Lynn. She heard him say something about Australia. She figured he was talking about that girl he called Tommy' girlfriend. Anthony must have been teasing Tommy again.
After getting her drink, Tamara went to the backyard to lay out the sleeping bags. It had been decided that they would spend the night under the stars. She placed the bags so that everyone was close but far enough apart to be comfortable. The night sky was clear and the stars shone brightly. It had been a long time since Tamara had taken time to look up at the sky. She laid in her sleeping spot and stared at the gaseous bodies above her. Laying on her back, she imaged herself floating around the stars and planets. She listened to the sounds that were coming from the house. There were occasional bursts of laughter. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Tamara was glad that her time and energy was well spent and she was sure that no one in that house would forget this event.
Tamara did not know how long she had been sleeping, but when she opened her eyes she saw that everyone around her was sleeping. She looked down at her watch, but could not see it clearly. Tamara closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but could not manage it. Instead, she quietly made her way through the bodies on the ground. Reaching the kitchen, Tamara turned on the light and looked behind her to make sure she hadn't disturbed anyone. She looked at her watch again now that she could see it. It was 3:38 a.m. She had only been asleep for three hours. It felt as though it was longer.
" Geez, I wonder what time they all went to bed, " Tamara wondered aloud to herself.
" Oh, about 30 minutes ago, " Tamara turned at the sound of Tommy' voice. He was standing at the backdoor.
" You scared me. I thought everyone was sleeping."
" I was just laying there and when I saw you turn on the light I got up."
" Oh. I trust that everyone had a good time."
" Yea, you should have stayed. We played Twister again. It was hilarious," Tommy laughed.
" There's nothing like women falling all over you is there?"
" No, there's nothing wrong with that. It's even better when you have someone you like falling on you," he smiled at her slyly. Tamara was about too comment, but Tommy quickly spoke again.
" So, what are you up to now? I'm not tired. Wanna go for a walk?"
" A walk at three in the morning? I don't think so. How about a movie? There has to be something on TV." Tamara turned and headed in to the living room. Tommy turned out the kitchen light and followed her. There were two people snuggled on the couch. Anthony had his arms around some one, but Tamara could not tell who she was. They decided to go to Tamara's room.
Tamara turned on the television, plopped down on the bed, and patted for Tommy to sit next to her. She surfed through the channels but there was nothing exciting on. She settled on one of the learning channels. There was a man talking about the history of France. Tamara tuned him out and turned to Tommy.
" So, was Anthony flirting with anyone in particular?" The question seemed to surprise Tommy.
" Umm, not that I noticed. Why?"
" No real reason. I was just wondering. I know how he liked to flirt and not all of those women up there are married."
" Don't worry, I don't think you are going to lose him to any of those women."
" What are you ...." before she could finish Tommy interrupted her.
" Just because he flirts doesn't mean anything. After they are gone, he'll be back to normal."
" What in the Hell are you talking about? Are you crazy?" Tamara stared at him thinking that he had lost his mind.
" Crazy? "
" Yea, Crazy. You must be tired. You are talking nonsense. Anthony is not mine to lose."
" Oh come on. I know how close you two are. There has got to be something brewing there."
" We just happen to live in t he same house and we work out together, so of course we are close." Tamara laughed at Tommy.
" Why are you laughing?"
" Cause you are soooooo silly. I can't believe you thought that. Geez, he's like my big brother. You know like he is your brother? Besides wouldn't he have told you if anything was going on between us? You are a silly man," Tamara could not tell through her laughter, but she thought she heard Tommy let out a relieved sigh, "You seemed jealous. Are you?"
Without answering her, Tommy got off the bed and disappeared up the stairs. Tamara stopped laughing and threw herself back onto the bed. She stared at the ceiling trying to figure out what had just happened. Apparently something significant was happening. Either she couldn't see it or was ignoring it. Before she could complete her thought process, Tommy returned. He was carrying a bowl of popcorn, some juice, and a video tape.
" I figured we could watch a movie instead of the French guy." He handed her the popcorn and juice. He put the tape into the VCR and sat beside her.
" What movie is this?"
" Vampires at four in the morning? Interesting. You know this is my favorite movie don't you?"
" Of course. I'm a genius."
Tamara laughed and threw popcorn at him," Genius? I doubt that."
Tommy reached for the popcorn bowl, but Tamara played keep away. The popcorn was spilling everywhere. She threw the empty bowl at Tommy, but he ducked and the bowl hit the television. It was a good thing that the bowl was plastic. Tamara could hear the screen crashing in her mind and laughed at the thought of crashing glass. They continued their popcorn fight with what had spilled onto the bed until Tommy was backed up to the edge of the bed. As he was falling, he grabbed her shirt and they hit the floor with her landing on top of him. She tried to raise herself up, but he held on to her.
"C'Mon. Let me go."
" I don't want to."
" You can't hold on forever. What if I have to pee or something? Tommy started to laugh and let her go. She rolled off of him and laid on the floor beside him. They lay there in silence, neither of them seemed to know what to say.
" Well, here we are laying on the floor staring at the ceiling while there is a good movie on. I don't know about you but, I think I'm gonna watch it, " Tamara climbed back onto the bed. Wesley Snipes was shooting silver bullets at vampires in a nightclub. Tommy laid down beside her. They watched the movie in silence.>
After the women had gone, Tamara tried to get Anthony to tell her who was snuggled up with the night before. He told her that it was his secret. She hounded him as much as she could, but he was guarding his secret well. Anthony said that when she came to visit for Christmas, then she'd know. Tamara told him that he was full of it and started to tease him about his encounter with Jan.
" One of these days she is going to show up here and kill you in your sleep. Well, She'll probably rape you first."
" Kill me? I don't think so. She'd do you in first. Since you are a female and you live with me."
" Oh man, you're right. I guess living here does have its downfalls, " Tamara and Anthony laughed, " Oh yea, speaking of dying. Steve called earlier and told me to remind you that he was gonna kill you if you don't show up tonight. You missed last Saturday. He said that he was not going to spend another Saturday night playing pool alone."
" I didn't tell the man I was going to be there every Saturday," Anthony groaned.
" Well, if it matters I think it's a nice thing you are doing. You know how lonely he gets since his wife died. They were married for thirty something years."
" Yea, I know. Well, I guess I'd better head on over there. I think I'll take him some of that left-over pizza."
After Anthony left Tamara went to her room to sort through the mail. She left hers on the dresser and took the boys' mail upstairs. She threw Anthony's on his bed and went to Tommy' room. His door was closed so she had to knock.
" Come in," he said. Looking up at her, he put the book down that he was reading. Tamara walked up to him and handed him the envelope she was carrying.
" You got another letter from Australia. Too bad Anthony isn't here to pick on you."
" I'm glad he's not her to pick on me, " He smiled and put the envelope on his desk, " So, what are your plans for the evening?"
" I don't know. I'm kinda tired. Seeing that I only got less than three hours of sleep this morning, I'm surprised that I have not passed out yet."
" Well, you should have not stayed up late watching that movie."
" What? And miss the chance to see that lovely hunk of man. No way. You should have not brought it down there."
" So, it's my fault that you lusted after Wesley instead of sleeping."
" Yea, I guess you could say that," Tamara laughed at him.
" Well, then you should get some rest, " Tommy pushed her onto his bed. She didn't try to get up.
" Wow, this bed is comfortable. Wanna switch? I give you mine if you'll give me yours, " Tamara propped herself up on her elbows. Tommy was staring at her. "Well, do you?"
" Do I wanna show you mine so that you'll show me yours?"
" That is not what I said. I was talking about the beds. Are you even listening to me?
" What? What did you say?", Tommy held his hand up to his ear as if that would make him hear better.
" You know what I said," Tamara laughed and threw a pillow at him. He caught it and threw it back. Before she could retaliate, he was on top of her. He had his leas on either side of and her arms were pinned down. She struggled, but he was too strong and would not let her go.
" How dare you attack me in my own room. You know I have the advantage."
" It wasn't me. The pillow made me do it. It asked me to throw it. I couldn't help myself."
" Well, you'll have to say you're sorry before I let you go."
" Okay, I'm sorry. Can you forgive me ever forgive me?" Tommy let her go and she pushed him away from her. Tamara threw another pillow at him and made a run for the door. He caught her before she could make it into the hallway. Tamara held onto the doorknob for as long as she could. When she lost her grip they both fell back onto the floor. She tried to talk, but could not stop laughing long enough.
"Well, here we are on the floor again," she finally managed to say.
" Yep. This must be our favorite spot."
" So, what do we do now?"
" I don't know. What do you wanna do?"
" Besides stare at your ceiling?"
" Can I kiss you?" Tommy didn't give her a chance to answer. He had caught Tamara off guard with the question, but she didn't resist him. He pulled him closer and kissed him back. The ringing of the telephone interrupted their kiss. The sound made them both jump.
" I think you'd better answer that, " Tamara stood up when Tommy did and watched him go over to the phone. He didn't answer it, but turned off the ringer instead.
" Now where were we?" He walked across the room to her and pulled her to him, " I've been wanting to kiss you for a long time now."
Tamara just pulled him to her and kissed him again. She didn't want to talk. She just wanted him and could feel the heat rising within her. He backed her up until they reached the bed where he undressed her and she did the same to him.