FINDING MY WAY PART THREE
BY MAVIS APPLEWATER
FOR DISCLAIMERS SEE PART ONE.
(ALSO IF YOU HAVE NOT READ PARTS ONE AND TWO FACE IT YOU WILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS STORY. SO GO BACK AND READ THEM OR DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200.00)
ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER: A POTTY MOUTH WARNING. ON OCCASION THE CHARACTERS WILL USE LESS THAN LADY LIKE LANGUAGE. BUT NOTHING THAT WILL MAKE YOU CRINGE.
THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN TO THOSE WONDERFUL FOLKS THAT HOST THIS WEB SITE. WITHOUT YOU I WOULD BE SITTING AROUND MY LIVING ROOM WAITING FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS TO AIR. (OR AS I LIKE TO THINK OF IT THE GABRIELLE AND HER TALL FRIEND SHOW)
September passed slowly, and with autumn approaching the leaves were beginning to turn. Fall in New England; there is simply nothing else like it in the world. You could smell the changing of the season in the air. It would soon be October and I have been working side by side with Allison mostly in silence. Every time she would open up she would quickly retreat further back. I knew that a part of it was that I had yet to break up with Peter. I knew that I needed to end things with him. I also knew that I would need to face him when I did it. I just could not stand the thought of seeing him hurt. So I never drove down to see him as I had promised. I had postponed the inevitable. Now our anniversary was here and he was coming. This was the wrong time to do this. Could I spend the weekend with him just to spare his feelings? God could I be that much of a hypocrite?
Breaking up with Peter was something that I never thought I would ever consider doing. I was not in love with him and worst of all I had never been in love with him. My declaration to Allison was the truth. I am a lesbian. I no longer held any doubts about this. I noticed women everywhere, not just Allison. But Allison was the one who had captured my heart. Not that it mattered since she still made it abundantly clear that she was not interested. Of course, I was also at a loss as to how I was going to tell Peter. "I mean just how does one leave their long time boyfriend because they have come to terms with their latent homosexuality? Face it, Hallmark does not have a card for this one."
Well at least the book was going well. I had since finished reading Haley's journal. Her life was so captivating. Eleanor had served bravely at Gettysburg, and after being wounded the two married. A bold decision but one that did provide Haley with respectability. They saw little of each other during the war but each time was memorable. As I read of their endless devotion and love it would fill me with desire. I often found myself lying awake at night wondering what would happen if I dared to climb up the staircase to Allison's door. Would she be there with open arms or would she simply slam the door in my face?
I sat in my little study in Allison's apartment. I was reviewing notes for our book while Allison was downstairs in the kitchen making coffee. It felt so comfortable to share this tiny space with her even if our conversations over the past month had been brief. It seemed that Allison was determined not to take her sister's advice. She was getting very good at avoiding spending time with me. She was always busy with one thing or another. At first I simply tried to convince myself that Allison had a full life long before I walked through her door, but lately her excuses were getting a little flimsy. You would think that someone with such a fine education would be a little more creative!
I was finished with my work for the evening, yet I was hesitant to leave. I knew that I should return to my own apartment, but still I was unwilling. I decided to reread some of my favorite passages from Haley's journal. I always found the passages from Gettysburg enthralling so I settled in and began with those.
July 4, 1863
We have received word of a bloody battle on a farm in Pennsylvania. Many lives were lost to the Union and Confederacy. I sit here and wait for some word. All I know is that Eleanor's unit was involved. Please God let my love come home to me.
July 7, 1863
Still no word. Mrs. Whitman who has the farm down the road has received word that her boy Beau has fallen. He was all that she had left and Anna has offered for her to come and stay at the Inn until she can reach her sister in Richmond. Where are you Eleanor? The waiting is driving me mad.
July 8, 1863
Panic filled my heart when there was a knock on the back door last evening. I have learned that no good news comes at that hour of the evening. This time I was mistaken. There she stood her arm wrapped in a sling. Eleanor was alive and well. Her wound thank the good Lord is not serious. She feared being exposed more than the bullet that grazed her shoulder. In Mrs. Whitman's presence Eleanor was kind enough to keep up her charade. Mrs. Whitman doted on the poor girl. When we were finally alone she told me what she could of the events that occurred at Gettysburg. I was horrified as she explained that the smell of blood was everywhere. Eleanor claimed that it filled the earth and the air. She feels that the smell will haunt her for the rest of her days. I begged her to stay with me. Once again she refused. She could not abandon her men now that they had lost so much. She tells me that I cannot imagine the horrors they witnessed with the coming of each dawn. I knew that the words she spoke were the truth. I could never understand what she has seen. For three days Eleanor and the others that endured the battle vowed that they would continue to fight until the war was over.
I could still see love and warmth in her blue eyes, yet now they are clouded with sadness as well. Then she asked me to grant her a favor. I agreed without asking what it was that she wanted. She smiled and asked me for my hand. I was confused. How could we?
"Marry Me." She insisted. Eleanor calmed my fears by explaining that with the exception of Mrs. Moorehouse the world outside thought of her as a man. No one will question their marriage. "Marry Me and I promise that I will return to you. I promise that we will both live to be very old and die in each other's embrace long after this century has past."
How could I refuse her? We were wed this very morning. Our neighbors came out to witness our union as old Reverend Stamford gave us his blessing. One of the ladies from town was kind enough to allow me to wear her wedding gown. She explained that she had no daughters to pass it along to and she could not think of anyone finer to wear it. Strange how war changes things, not more than a year ago these same people all but shunned me. I must admit that with Eleanor in her freshly pressed dress uniform and I all in virginal white we made a striking couple. After dancing into the late hours of the evening we went up to our room and began our honeymoon. With my neighbor's blessings I took this wonderful woman to my bed.
I sighed deeply as I wondered what Haley's neighbors would have said if the knew the truth? In one brief moment Haley was transformed from fallen woman to the wife of a prominent New Orleans gentleman. I almost wept as I read her words. I prayed for the day that I would promise the woman that I loved that I would grow old with her and would only leave her side when I departed from this earthly plane. I flipped threw the journal until I found another set of passages that I was fond of. These events occurred later in Haley's life.
April 4, 1865
Petersburg and Richmond have fallen! It is unthinkable. The Yankees are approaching and there is no word from my beloved. I saw her briefly only a few weeks ago. There is something else troubling me. A man has arrived in town by the name of Fennamore. I do not like him. He is an unsavory Englishman who has been buying everything he can get his hands on. He has been asking a great many questions regarding my husband as well. He frightens me. He also seems strangely familiar. Is he one of the many faceless gentlemen I entertained in the past? I will do my earnest to stay away from him, which is difficult since he has taken up lodging here. Anna is keeping a watchful eye on him.
April 5, 1865
It is with a heavy heart that I write these words . . . my love has died in battle. A cannon ball ripped her poor body apart. A blessing I am told since it is unlikely that she suffered as life passed from her. I am thankful for this and that the manner of her death made it impossible for her true identity to be discovered. But how could she leave me? How dare you break your promise to me Eleanor! You promised me that we would grow old together. I am forced to wait to join you and I am tempted to cut my time away from you short. Something is holding me back from joining you my beloved.
April 6, 1865
Shame has befallen me. Mr. Fennamore was not who he pretended to be. He is in fact the real Stephan James Ballister. He confronted me only hours after hearing of my beloved's death. He laughed at the thought that someone had died a hero's death for him. Then he joked that he should thank the chap. Then he . . . I cannot say what he did. I regret that I allowed him to be alone with me. Stephan is not the gentleman that his sister is. To protect her memory I gave into this snake's blackmail. When he finished his business, (rather quickly I might add proving that he is certainly not the lover his sister is either) he informed me that it was an adequate down payment. "Burn in hell." were my only words to him. He just laughed cruelly.
His laughter was cut short as my bedroom door crashed open. Stephan was dragged from the bed and slammed onto the floor. A boot planted firmly across his throat and a pistol placed against his temple. "Still chasing after my women are you Stephan!" A familiar voice growled. I do not recall who was more shocked me or the unfortunate Mr. Ballister. He trembled and begged for his life. "Still the coward?" Eleanor scoffed as she ordered him to leave. He left with his life and a promise that if he ever came near Eleanor's family again she would be feeding his sorry carcass to her dogs. She dragged her brother from my room without ever glancing at me.
April 7, 1865
I did not sleep. I waited for her to return but she did not. My only companion is my journal. Finally Eleanor returned. She greeted me wearing one of Anna's old dresses. I tried to explain everything to her and begged for her forgiveness. But she silenced me with a kiss. "I trust you and I know him. You did nothing wrong, this I know in my heart." She explained to me. How could she forgive me so easily? I simply looked into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I raised the two questions plagued my thoughts; how is it that she is alive and why was she wearing a dress? She laughed at my curiosity over her attire. Then she explained that the war was over and the south was finished. She could not risk capture so she boldly exposed herself to Jack Hammstead her Corporal. After he recovered from the shock he helped her run away and faked her death in such a manner that no one would ever know the truth.
During the night she and Anna cooked up a scheme. Anna was out spreading the news that her daughter who had been living abroad somehow made it through enemy lines and rejoined her Mother. They both agreed that Eleanor would take Sarah's name and stay close to the Inn away from prying eyes.
My love kept her promise and I know that we will be together always. Although in someway I am going to miss that uniform. God has smiled upon this lost soul.
It amazed me how much these two women truly loved each other. How dangerous it must have been for them. Every waking moment threatened them with exposure. After the Ku Klux Klan began to make their presence known they decided it was time to leave. Along with their young son and Mrs. Moorehouse they made their way to Boston and then traveled North. Finally they settled in Salem, Massachusetts where they opened a small Inn. There they lived out the rest of their lives. Eleanor was finally free to go outside and into town. They lived happily until the day that Eleanor finally did break her promise to Haley. In the winter of 1899 she died. The war had left many scars on her body and mind. Haley forgave her for leaving her far too soon. Haley lived out her remaining days as she put it "with the memories of the sweetest love anyone could have known. She left me but she will always be with me."
October passed in much the same manner as September. I managed to find a great many excuses not to visit Peter. I know that I should have been braver and end things, and I felt very guilty stringing him along that way. At least my classes were going well. Never before had I been able to express myself so well with my students. Allison had been right. I opened my heart and showed them why I loved the subject matter so dearly. History I explained in one of my lectures was part story telling, that the facts often changed to please the public and the other half was a life lesson. Since history truly does repeat itself, all of us need to heed the lessons from the past. Miraculously my enthusiasm invoked their enthusiasm.
The one bright note was that work on our book moved along much faster than I had anticipated. I sent out the rough drafts to my publisher since Allison no longer had one. Pauline Kwan had been my editor from the beginning. She was thrilled with the early drafts and clamored for more. She was disappointed that we had not started work on the manuscript sooner. "It would be perfect for the holiday season." She gushed. She promised that if Allison and I could complete the final draft by the date she had set she could guarantee us a release date in the fall. I promised her that we would try. Allison worked equally as hard on the project as I did. But I longed for a more one on one working relationship with her.
This became increasingly harder to do since Allison began spending most of her weekends in New York. It appeared that the problems at Wainwright & Griggs were not going to be resolved quickly. I was becoming jealous of all of the time she was spending with Chris. I knew that I had no right to be jealous but hell I am human. But my suspicions would disappear each time Allison would return home. The constant traveling and pressure were beginning to weigh heavily on her. She was sullen and moody most of the time. The only time she seemed truly happy was when she was teaching.
Each time she returned home I prayed that it would be her last trip to New York. In my heart I knew that I could not trust Chris. Mrs. Giavanna seemed to agree with me. I also began to resent Chris for taking up so much of Allison's time. Even when she was home, Chris was constantly calling. Allison and I rarely spent time together and when we did it was strictly business. Despite my feelings of jealousy I was more concerned on the toll all of this was having on Allison. I needed to get her to relax and this was no small accomplishment these days. All of this constant traveling and nonstop work was not good for her.
On the 28th of October I found myself working in Allison's apartment. Several times during the evening I tried in vain to get her to laugh but nothing seemed to be working. I finally gave up and focused on our book. As we went over the mundane details of the book I forced myself to maintain a professional atmosphere. We were very close to finishing. Everything was coming down to rechecking dates and information. All I needed to do was read Eleanor's diary. Allison had filled me in on the content as much as she could and her father would often fax or email passages to us. But I needed to see the journal for myself. With all of Allison's traveling she did not have a chance to visit her parents. I would just have to wait until she returned from the Thanksgiving Holiday as we originally planned.
"Where is Eleanor buried?" I asked as I watched her stoke the fire.
"Salem." She responded in her usual business tone. With each passing day she was becoming more and more like the lawyer she had been when I first met her. She stood from her duties at the fireplace. The glow of the fire illuminated her features. I could feel my heart racing. She was so beautiful as she gazed over at me. For the first time in almost two months she looked into my eyes.
I could not take my eyes off of her. She looked at me and I could feel the heat and it was not emanating from the fireplace. There was something in the way that she looked at me. The kindness and the joy I had not seen in her for a very long time seemed to return. Standing before me was the woman that I had first fallen for. The flames let out a loud snap and we were both brought back to reality. She closed her eyes and pinched her nose and she was gone again.
"What was I saying?" She asked as she began rubbing her eyes.
"Eleanor's grave." I prodded her with regret.
"Right." She opened her eyes and looked back up but not at me. "She is buried in Salem. In fact Eleanor, Anna Moorehouse and Haley are all buried in the same little cemetery.
"We should include a picture of their headstones in the book if we can." I stated dryly. "Your family doesn't have one by any chance?"
Suddenly Allison was laughing loudly. "Uh no. Not exactly something you put in the family album." Her face was alive suddenly.
"Maybe I could go down to Salem sometime and get one." I said carefully not wanting to jolt her out of her happy mood.
"We could go now." She suggested enthusiastically.
"Are you serious?" I asked her awkwardly. It had been far too long since Allison had suggested that we do anything together. But a trip to a cemetery?
"Why not?" She pleaded. "It's still early enough. If we hurry we can just make it before it gets dark. Please!"
"You are serious." I asked as I shook my head in disbelief. "But won't the cemetery be closed at this hour?" I wanted to spend time with Allison but it was late and cold and this was a cemetery for pity's sake!
"This little graveyard is locked up constantly." She answered plainly. "Oh so now it is a grave yard? I so do not like where this is going!" Allison just looked at me pouting. "Come on Stephanie what could be more fun than breaking into a grave yard in Salem three nights before Halloween?" I don't know. . . gum surgery? "Please Stephanie if I don't get out of here and doing something fun soon I am going to snap." Allison begged.
"Allison . . .” I could think of a thousand reasons why this idea was completely ludicrous. I had to admit though deep down I wanted to go. I had never done anything like this before. I was always the voice of reason or the wet blanket depending upon your point of view.
"Chicken." She taunted me. Okay so now it is a dare! Well that changes everything!
That was all it took, I grabbed my shoes and stood up off of her sofa. "Come on then!" I ordered meeting her challenge. "Put the fire out and get your keys Kendell." On that note I raced downstairs. As I waited for her I quickly checked my reflection in the side mirror. I looked good and my blue jeans and turtleneck should be fine for the trip. I ran my fingers through my short blonde locks quickly to make myself more presentable. Of course I was overlooking the fact that Allison had seen me all day long.
She met me at the car carrying a long wool coat, her digital camera and a flashlight. "Come on Kendell, daylight is burning." I hollered after her. She laughed at me as she climbed into the car. "You will need a jacket." She chastised me. "I am fine." I argued as I climbed into the passenger seat. Along the drive to Salem I put a CD in. I knew her driving selections very well at this point. I selected an Aretha Franklin CD in hopes that Allison would lose herself as she drove and start to sing along. She did not disappoint me. Allison possessed a beautiful singing voice.
One of the reasons that I had become so familiar with the CD's that Allison kept in her car was because when she would leave for the weekend she would leave me the keys to her precious Subaru. The reason was so that I could run errands for Mrs. Giavanni. But she also made it clear that I could take the car for whatever reason I needed it for. "Just don't let Mrs. Giavanni go to the market by herself!" Some weeks this was the only conversation we exchanged. I was touched by her concern over our elderly landlady and her trust in me. The downside was that since I had access to a car I could have driven down to Rhode Island anytime I wanted to. I reasoned that I wasn't avoiding seeing Peter I was just staying close so I could be there for Mrs. Giavanni.
Salem was a short twenty minute drive away but twilight was approaching quickly. The traffic was insane. I did not think that it was possible but the drivers in downtown Salem were actually worse than those in Boston. The quaint streets, which twisted and turned for no apparent reason were jammed pack with people. "Tourist season." Allison scoffed.
Allison drove like a woman on a mission. I thought I would like to come back someday and see some of the sights that were whizzing past us. She turned the car onto upper Essex Street and found a parking space in front of a white colonial style house. A sign at front informed me that it was the Ropes Mansion. "We are lucky." Allison beamed. "Parking around here can actually be worse than downtown Boston. Especially this time of year." As she locked up the car Allison informed me that the Ropes Mansion like many homes in Salem was rumored to be haunted. "Was she purposely trying to scare me?"
I chose to ignore her comments and endless ghost stories as we made our way down the cobble stone sidewalk. "This entire area was known as Flint's pasture." Allison explained as she pointed to the end of the street. "So what happened there? A mass murder?" I wondered as we continued our journey. "That big red house at the end was built in 1706. During the 1800's it was part of the Underground Railroad. In the 1930's it was a tea room and then at one point an inn."
"And now?" I asked with enthusiasm grateful that there was no creepy tale connected to the story.
"Apartments. Filled mostly with college students." Allison answered sadly.
"Is it haunted as well?" I teased.
"Of course." Allison answered seriously. I was suddenly regretting that I had asked. "This is Salem, Stephanie. If you don't have some kind of specter running loose in your abode the neighbors will talk."
I ignored her attempts to frighten me as we made our way up the street. "Here we are." Allison announced gleefully as we approached a large wrought iron gate. I looked at the padlock securely in place and grimaced. I looked through the bars at the tiny graveyard with its small headstones. The sight was strangely out of place on this residential street. Someone had kept up the lawn but it was painfully apparent that teenagers liked to hang out there as well. As I contemplated just how we were going to make our way into the graveyard I shivered from the cold.
Without a word Allison removed the long wool coat she was wearing. I looked at her questioning this action. She just shrugged her shoulders as she draped the camera around her neck and tucked the flashlight into the back pocket of her black jeans. "Would you like to go first?" She asked as she looked around. I adjusted the taller woman's coat so I wouldn't look like one of the seven dwarfs. "How?" I questioned her. My question was answered as she cupped her hands together and offered me a boost. "You are not serious?" I gasped thinking my companion had finally lost her mind.
"Come on." She urged me. "Hurry before someone sees us."
I do not know what came over me as I wrapped Allison's coat around me and stepped into her waiting hands. I grabbed the gate as I felt her body lift me up. As I climbed up the gate I stopped only for a moment when I reached the top. I checked to make certain that I would not catch the large coat on anything. Then I jumped down with a thud wavering slightly upon my landing. I looked around the graveyard as a chill ran threw my body. This time it was not from the cold. Night was falling and this was not where I wanted to be. Allison made her way over the gate with ease. "You have done this before." I commented. She simply gave me that who me?, expression. She smiled as she pulled the coat tighter around my body. Then she headed off to the far left hand corner of the graveyard. This section of the graveyard was shaded by two large elm trees. Beneath the tree stood three gravestones side by side. Anna Moorehouse died 1872. Sarah Moorehouse died 1899. Haley Ballister beloved wife and mother born January 18, 1844 - died October 28, 1929.
"I am going to do these in black and white." Allison said as began to take the pictures. "I think gravestones look better in black and white."
"Haley died today." I said as a shiver ran threw my body.
"I think I got some good shots here. But we can check them on the computer when we get home." Allison answered as if she had not heard me. Then suddenly her eyes flew open as my words hit her. "What did you say?"
"October 28th." I explained. "She died today."
As the words escaped my mouth a branch above us snapped and fell to the ground in front of us. I jumped into Allison's arms and she pulled me closer to her. Allison pulled the flashlight out of her pocket and looked around. "It got dark very fast." I said with a shiver.
"Well you know . . . Fall in New England." Allison said in a frightened tone. "Maybe we should go?"
"I think you are right." I answered quickly pulling myself away from the comfort of her body. As we turned I grabbed Allison's arm. "Jesus don't do that!" She snapped as she jumped slightly. "I'm sorry." She offered as she placed a comforting hand on my shoulder.
"Allison do you think that maybe Haley doesn't want us to write this book?" I questioned pointing to the fallen tree branch.
"Well I am not waiting around to find out." Allison asserted. "This is getting a little too creepy."
"We should." I said firmly. "We are about to reveal the most intimate details of these women's lives. Maybe just maybe they don't want us to that."
"Okay." Allison said slowly. "Go ahead."
"Go ahead and ask them." Allison pushed.
"It was your idea." Allison insisted.
I paused for a moment wondering if Allison had thought that I had lost my mind. But she reassured me with a smile and an encouraging nod of her head. I knelt before Haley and Eleanor's graves. "Ladies is it all right with you that we do this?" I asked quietly. Allison and I listened to the eerie quiet. Nothing happened. "Well they didn't say no." I chuckled as I stood and rejoined Allison. "Now let's get the hell out of here." I added fearfully.
"Okay but I just want to move that branch off of their graves." She explained as she handed me the flashlight. She pulled the heavy branch up easily and tossed it away. "What the?" She uttered in surprise. "Stephanie could you shine that light down here?"
"What is it?" I stammered as I shined the light to where she directed me.
Allison was pushing away at the soil between the headstones. "Look." Was all she said as she pointed to the ground. "The branch must have dug it up."
I looked down at the spot filled with both curiosity and fear. Then I saw it. A small rectangular stone engraved with two cherubs embracing and the word, "FOREVER" inscribed upon it. "Thank you." Allison whispered quietly as she replaced the soil. We both knew that the marker was never meant to be seen. We both quietly accepted it as an encouraging sign as we made our departure. I climbed back over the gate first and was greeted by a very unhappy looking police officer. Allison failed to see him until she was landing onto the cobblestone sidewalk. "Ooops." Was all she offered in her defense.
"Ladies." The officer said sternly as he shined his flashlight in our eyes. "Do you mind telling me what you are doing here?"
"We can explain officer." I stammered out.
"I see." He said indigently.
"It is really quite simple officer." Allison offered as she placed her hands gently on my shoulders.
"Allison?" He said with surprise.
She looked down at me in confusion and shrugged her shoulders. Then she peered more closely at him. Which was easier to do since he immediately extinguished his flashlight. Her eyes flew open and captured him in a big hug. "Roger!" She shouted happily. As they exchanged pleasantries I got the full story. Roger it would appear had once dated Allison's sister. He asked how Nicole was doing and seemed relieved that she was on the wagon.
"So do you want to try and explain what it is your doing breaking into a graveyard?" Roger laughed.
"Research for a book we are working on. I have a couple of relatives buried back there. It was a last minute decision and I did not have time to get the key from the caretakers." Allison explained.
"There is a key?" I whispered to her. She just shrugged her shoulders.
"Same old Allison." Roger chuckled.
After Roger made his departure we both exploded into laughter. Without thinking we fell into each other's arms and giggled uncontrollably. Suddenly I became acutely aware of the closeness of Allison's body. I wanted to touch her. I wanted to run my hands up under the thick white fisherman's sweater she was wearing. The laughter had ceased as we stood there holding each other. I could feel her breathing becoming labored. My body was awakened by the scent of her perfume. The sweet aroma of Opium that I had become all too aware of over the past few months. It was starting to become a problem for me. It had reached the point that if I smelled the perfume on anyone else I became aroused. One Saturday I had taken Mrs. Giavanni out shopping and I was sent running from Filene's department store after passing the Yves Saint Laurent counter. "Try explaining that one to your sweet elderly Italian landlady!"
I could feel Allison's body begin to shiver from my embrace. Suddenly all of Allison's words and actions came flooding back to me. I felt that we were far too close at that moment. This time I was the one who broke away. In many ways Allison had been right about us and yet she was wrong as well. There was something about me that frightens Allison. I knew because of her past if we became intimate at this moment we would never have a future together. And it was at that moment that my head and heart finally connected. I wanted this woman for something more than the physical contact my body craved. If I were to hold this woman as a lover, I wanted her to be there the next morning; and the morning after that.
Allison's face reflected her surprise as I pulled away. Then she released a heavy sigh and smiled at me. My movement had been slow and natural. Her arm remained around my waist as we walked back to the car. This simple stroll was probably the most romantic of my life. "Hungry?" Allison smiled as she started the car.
"Yeah." I smiled in return. "Since this is your neck of the woods why don't you pick the place."
"No problem." Allison agreed. We drove back over to Derby Street and managed to find a parking space. I looked at over the ocean and inhaled the aroma of the autumn air. A beautiful fall evening with a lovely woman at my side, who could ask for anything more? Allison had decided upon Rockmore Dry Dock for dinner. The food was good but there was an added attraction as the restaurant granted a stunning view of the harbor. For just one evening all pretense between us had vanished. There was something about the romantic atmosphere that made me feel like I was on a date with Allison.
We drove home that evening singing along with the local oldies station. There was a sense of ease to our interaction that had been lacking for far too long. I knew that I had made the right decision when I backed away from Allison earlier. If I had kissed her at that moment, I am not certain that either of us would have possessed the strength to stop. And if Allison crossed the line she had vowed to maintain I probably would have lost her.
The following morning I was awakened to the sounds of Allison's morning concert. I missed this on the weekends she was away. Today's musical accompaniment was provided by Aretha Franklin. I noted as I climbed out of bed it was the same CD we had listen to on the drive to Salem. I took this as a positive sign as I started to brew my coffee. I found myself singing along in the shower. I was feeling rather pleased with myself for my control last evening. "It finally looks as if Allison is starting to trust me." My joy was short lived as I heard the music stop while I was drying myself. The silence was followed by the sounds of Allison's footsteps descending the staircase and making their way out the front door. At that moment I mentally kicked myself for playing hands off last evening. It would appear that no matter what I did Allison was determined to fight me.
I spent the rest of my day teaching classes and trying to track down Allison. She never seemed to be around. After finishing her classes she went directly home. I never laid eyes on the woman the entire day. I felt as if I were losing my mind. Had I done something last night to bring this on? I thought back and could find nothing in my actions to evoke the new cold front I was now facing. There was no revelation to be found. I had simply relaxed and enjoyed myself. There was no overt touching, no strained moments, and certainly no flirting. At the end of the evening, Allison had invited me up for coffee. To which I politely declined not wanting to push my luck or my hormones. I had given Allison exactly what she had asked for simple friendship. "I can not win with you Allison! Perhaps Nicole is right and what you really need is to have that stick surgically removed?"
If Allison wanted space then fine I would give it to her. I stayed at the University late and worked at the library. It was after nine o'clock when I finally made my way home. Allison's car was missing. I tried to busy myself with work on the book, but I quickly found it difficult to concentrate. I tried to watch television but nothing held my interest. Finally I gave up and went to bed. Despite all of my efforts I simply laid awake and stared at the ceiling wondering where Allison was?
It was well after three in the morning when I heard the front door close. I knew by the sound of the footsteps that it was Allison. I would know her gait anywhere. I even knew that she was wearing her old worn out pair of Zodiac boots. Normally if I heard her coming in I would greet her and invite her in for coffee. Something that I knew that she could never refuse. But at this late hour I knew how truly pathetic it would appear. "Maybe I could just pop into the hallway pretending that she woke me up?" I instantly scolded myself at the suggestion. It was then that I noticed that Allison's footsteps had paused. She was still in the entryway just outside of my door. I jumped off of the futon and made my way over to the doorway. Before I could reach the handle I could hear her moving away and walking up the staircase to her apartment. I listened as she paced around in her apartment. Finally a familiar pattern emerged as she went over to the kitchen, then to the bathroom and finally to her bedroom. The sounds ceased and I knew that she was in bed for the evening. Only one of us slept that night.
By the time Allison's morning concert began, (today it was Mozart) I had already watched the sunrise. Then I brewed a pot of coffee and showered and dressed quickly. Before the concert ended I was half way to the campus. There I was sitting alone in our office chewing on the end of a pencil. Everything seemed to be coming to a head. Peter would be arriving today. Allison would leave for New York this afternoon. For the first time Allison's trips out of town was a blessing. I knew that I would be breaking up with Peter tonight.
I had just about chewed my pencil in half as I contemplated just how things might go with Peter. "Face it. This is going to suck!" I had already been making trips into Boston on my own after I had discovered the local gay bookstores. Once a woman had even approached me and began flirting. I found her attractive enough but still I politely declined. I was beginning a new life and yet I was still somehow trapped in my old existence. I recalled how strained Peter's voice sounded the last time I spoke with him. He had been forced to cancel on the weekend of our anniversary. He had been thrown into a major project at the last moment. Secretly I had been relieved. But I could hear the disappointment in his voice when I refused to come down and see him. I explained that he had work to do and we could see each other soon. I knew that he wasn't by any means an idiot. After all of this time he must suspect something. How could he not? After six years I had not made the slightest effort to see him in over two months.
When he called to make plans for this weekend he offered to take the day off and drive down last night. I had a difficult time of it but I finally convinced him not to do that. I wanted him to arrive after Allison's departure. I had no intention of the two of them meeting each other. Somehow I doubted that I could survive the awkwardness of such a meeting. It was going to be difficult enough just facing him. I had to be strong and sit him down the moment he arrived and finally tell him everything. I wondered briefly if he would understand that this was just as painful for me as it would be for him. I was about to break the heart of my best friend. If only we had remained just that? Life would have been so different.
My mantra for the rest of the day was simple, "You need to strong. You need to do this. This is the only fair thing to do. Tell Peter!" Now all I had to do was actually see this through.
Near the end of the day Allison returned. She muttered "hello” before retreating to her side of the office. Not long after that Maureen popped her head into the office. "Anyone willing to baby sit tomorrow night?" She pleaded. "Mine just canceled. If I do not get a chance to go out with my husband I will go postal."
"Sorry." Allison answered her pleas.
"Not New York again!" Maureen groaned. "What about tonight?"
"Calm down." Allison responded in a reassuring tone. "There is no way I am spending Halloween in New York. Tonight will be the same as every year." As for tomorrow night I am going to the Galaxy."
"Skip the Galaxy." Maureen begged. "You can go there anytime. Come on do an old married woman a favor and watch my kids."
"Watching your kids on a sugar high on Halloween night . . . a tempting offer but I have a date." Allison offered in her own defense.
"Are you kidding?" Maureen asked in amazement as she looked at me. I think she could tell by my suddenly pale features that I was just as surprised as she was.
"I do date." Allison resounded sharply.
"Since when?" Maureen asked again looking towards me for some sort of answer. I had none to offer. "Stephanie any chance you would be available?" She asked hopefully.
"I am sorry Maureen. But I have plans as well." I answered bitterly.
"Well damn. Then I guess I will see you both tonight then." Maureen said with disappointment.
Maureen left in a bit of a huff chasing after her next victim Grace. "Allison has a date! This is terrible!" I tried to calm myself reminding myself that I had no say over Allison's personal life. Allison had repeatedly let me know that she was not an option. Deep down I knew that I could not really accept that. Suddenly it was all far too real. Even after tonight when I broke up with Peter I would still be a co-worker. This was still taboo for the all mighty Miss. Kendell. The Galaxy. I had heard of that place. It was a nightclub in Cambridge. It prides itself on catering to a diverse community. In addition to the gay clientele I had heard that they offered a fetish night as well. So Allison was going out dancing with another woman. If I was not mistaken from what I remember reading in the copy of IN News weekly that I had scanned one day at Glad Day Books, last night being Thursday would have been the gay night at The Galaxy. I may be a history professor but even I could do the math on that. Last night Allison went out and met someone and has a date with them tomorrow. "I knew I had taken a huge risk in waiting so long, but one day?"
I wonder what going on tonight? All day long I was not the only one searching for Allison. It seemed that everyone was looking for her. When I explained that she was out they smiled and replied with something about her getting ready for tonight and that they would see me tonight. "What the Hell is going on?" I hadn't really focused on it since I had been wrapped with my concerns regarding Allison. But now even Maureen seemed to expect seeing me tonight. "Allison?" I called out to her through the partition. "What is going on tonight?"
"It is nothing really." Allison answered quickly. "Just a little gathering. It happens every year on the night before Halloween."
"I see." I answered slowly. "Just a little gathering that the entire campus seemed to be talking about. The same little gathering that she never once mentioned to me!" At that moment Stan of all people popped his head into the office. "Allison?" He called to her in a surprisingly friendly manner. I was also surprised that he called her by her first name. Whenever Stan addressed her which was rarely he always called her Kendell. "Should I bring The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow?"
"Of course Stan. The little ones love it." Allison replied warmly.
"Great!" He gushed. "The boys are really looking forward to coming."
"Don't forget your pumpkins." Allison reminded him.
"Just one this year. I'm afraid that Richard feels that he is far too old for that." Stan added sadly. "He is afraid. I was terrified! These two were talking like long lost friends. Normally if both were in the same building it was a good idea to lock up all sharp objects!"
"Well you know that some of the students like to do some tie dying in the upstairs’ kitchen. Perhaps he will enjoy that?" Allison added warmly.
"He might if he can do it in black. It is the only color his Mother and I can get him to wear these days." Stan chuckled. "I will pick up some T-shirts on the way. Thank you for the suggestion Allison. I will see you both tonight." Stan waved and left. "Had I just entered the twilight zone? Or maybe the pod people had finally taken over?"
"Stan is coming?" I blurted out not intending to voice my thoughts. Just then a young student whom I recognized popped her head into the office. "Same time this year Professor Kendell?" She asked brightly.
"Yes." Allison answered uneasily. "Carla could you close the door on your way out?" The young African American woman smiled brightly and closed the door. As the door was closing Allison quickly approached my desk. "Stephanie." She began cautiously. "I never invite anyone over for this."
"I see." I said bitterly.
"It's the truth!" Allison responded with exasperation. "The first year I was teaching here, I told this outrageous ghost story in class. It is just something I like to do. Like the way I teased you in Salem. Well when class was over everyone wanted to hear more and tell some of their own spooky tales. I forget how it happened but everyone ended up at my apartment for an impromptu party. We decorated the porch and Mrs. Giavanni's porch. We carved pumpkins and someone brought a horror movie. The whole thing just snowballed. Now every year on the night before Halloween people just show up."
"Why didn't you tell me about this?" I pushed. "This is a small campus Allison. Everyone knows where I live. I feel like an idiot, just when were you going to mention this? When a hundred some odd people showed up on our doorstep? You could have said something when we went to Salem!" I was beyond anger.
"I'm sorry." Allison said defensively. "It . . . it’s just that . . .” Allison was stammering like an idiot. I was secretly pleased to see the shoe finally on the other foot.
"I know what it is Allison!" I said bitterly. "It is you and your stupid rules! If you and I have a good time together for more than five minutes you assume that I am going to jump your bones! You should be so lucky you arrogant . . ."
"Stephanie don't!" She warned me harshly.
I was far too angry to listen to her warning. "Don't what?" I growled at her. "Don't call your bluff?" And there it was. I had called her on the carpet. We just stood there in silence. My blood was boiling even though I could see by the pained expression on her face that I had hurt her. I had not meant to hurt her. But I could not stand all of the games and the rules and the jumping threw hoops that she made me endure on a daily basis. I watched as those beautiful blue eyes started to close. "Don't you dare shut me out again!” I shouted at her as I flew out from behind my desk and stood toe to toe with her. I had not intended to yell but I just could not stand her shutting down again.
Her eyes flew open at my assault and glared at me. "Fine. Come then." She spat out coldly. Turning from me she stomped to her side of the office and gathered her things. Then she stormed over to the door and opened it. Just as she was about to leave she turned back to me and gave me a deadly glare. "Oh and Stephanie don't forget to bring your boyfriend." Her words sent a chill through me. At that moment I lost all sense of reality. My body shuddered and without even realizing it I snatched up the glass paperweight that was sitting on top of my desk and hurled it at her. Allison ducked as it shattered against the wall.
"Jesus Christ!" Allison shouted at me. I just stood there paralyzed by my actions. Never in my life had I ever lost control like that. "It is all right. I just dropped something." Allison explained to someone in the hallway and then she closed the door. I just stood there staring blankly at the shattered remains. "Don't you ever do that again." Allison scolded me. "Stephanie?" She called to me and I could hear the alarm in her voice. I was still unable to move. "Stephanie?" She repeated.
Suddenly my breathing became erratic and the panic washed over me. "I never . . . “ I trembled as the tears began to flow. I was sobbing uncontrollably as I felt my knees begin to buckle. I was falling as I felt her arms wrap around me. She held me tightly. "Hold on." She whispered gently. I was in a daze as she led me over to the couch. Allison rubbed my back soothingly. "I'm just going to clean up the mess. Okay?" I nodded numbly. Before I realized it Allison had returned to my side. Without thinking I wrapped myself in her arms and wept. She held me as I cried rubbing my back and whispering soft words.
I'd lost track of time as she held me. Finally my tears stopped. But Allison continued to hold me. "It is getting late we should go." She said finally. I had no idea of how long we had been sitting there. I had never done anything like this before and it frightened me. Allison stood slowly and gathered our things. Then she held out her hand to me and helped me stand. Without a word she placed a comforting arm around my shoulders and led me to her car. We drove home in silence.
Upon arriving home I saw that our front porch as well as Mrs. Giavanni's front porch was covered with people. There were pumpkins everywhere. Not to mention various ghosts, skeletons and a few Frankenstein’s to boot. The crowd consisted of students, faculty and many people I had never seen before. There was one tall figure with dark puppy dog eyes that stood out. He was busy helping string orange lights across the porch and laughing without a care in the world. "Is that him?" Allison asked quietly.
"Yes. It's Peter." I responded painfully.
"It's going to be all right." Allison said gently as she wiped an errant tear from my cheek.
"Liar." I whispered. I inhaled deeply and braced myself as Allison gently caressed my thigh.
After taking several more deep breaths I steadied myself enough to exit the car. Peter ran over to me with a huge grin plastered upon his face. Allison walked past him without a second glance. Peter threw his arms around me and held me tightly. When he pulled back the smile left his face instantly. "Are you all right?" He asked.
"Fine." I lied. "Just a bad day."
"You can tell me all about it later." He squeezed my shoulder reassuringly. Before I could react he bent down and claimed my lips passionately. I stiffened as his tongue tried to enter my mouth. "Not now." I murmured as I pulled away.
"It's good to see you sweetheart." He smiled hopefully.
I had felt nothing when he had kissed me. It was all true I had never felt any passion for this man. I looked up into those trusting brown eyes and quickly turned away. I was unable to face him due to the overwhelming guilt that engulfed me. As my eyes turned from him I found Allison staring at us. Her face was possessed an icy expression. Her eyes held mine briefly before turning away. "Okay everyone!" She said without missing a beat. "Now everyone knows the rules right?"
"Yes." The crowd responded quickly.
"Okay then what are they?" Allison questioned them like a drill sergeant.
"There is hard cider and alcohol free cider." A few voices volunteered.
"And who can drink the hard cider?" Allison drilled them.
over twenty one." The crowd
"Excellent." Allison smiled. "Now who is on key duty?"
"I am." A voice answered.
"Good for you Walter." Allison patted the boy on the shoulder. "Just remember no drinking and you must take everyone's car keys as they enter the party and they can't have them back if they are unable to drive. So what's the movie tonight?"
"The Blair Witch Project." Several voices answered.
"Good choice." Allison answered as she smiled once again. "Just remember . . ."
"No one under seventeen in the living room while the movie is playing." Someone answered.
"Okay!" Allison clapped her hands together. "The houses look great. I think this is the best decorating job yet. Now let's get this crap upstairs and start this party."
The crowd began to gather their belongings and made their way into the house. Someone called after Peter. He just waved to them as he continued to smile at me. "This is so much fun." He exclaimed. "Your neighbor certainly knows how to have fun."
"You have no idea." I said absently.
"Let's go then." He beamed.
"Peter we have to . . .” I stammered.
"Come on Peter." One coed called after him.
"I have to change." I said quickly.
"I could help you." He said playfully.
"No." I shot out quickly. "I mean you go on ahead. Go join the party. I'll see you upstairs."
He quickly kissed me again and ran off to join the others. I made a mad dash into my apartment and slammed the door behind me. Mentally kicking myself was the first thing I did. "If only I had felt something when he kissed me! Why didn't I just tell him everything right then and there? I panicked that's why. Now it is too late. It is obvious that this party is going to go on all night. I could wait until tomorrow and tell him first thing in the morning. What about tonight? After all of this time I'm certain that Peter will expect us to sleep together. I'll tell him when we leave the party. I just need to find an excuse to get him to leave. Now hurry up there and stop him from meeting Allison."
As the last thought hit me I raced around grabbing a pair of worn blue jeans and a Yale sweatshirt and changed in record time. There was no way I was going to leave Peter with Allison. I raced upstairs and was greeted by Walter. He immediately asked for my car keys and then quickly apologized when he realized who I was. "I'm sorry Dr. Grant." He blushed. "I guess you won't be driving tonight."
I just smiled and walked past him. The apartment was filled with people on both floors and more were entering as I began to search for Peter. I needed to pull him aside and get him downstairs. The thought of him and Allison talking suddenly bolstered my courage. I had to get him out of there and fast. I spotted his lanky frame sipping a bottle of cider. He seemed to be in a deep conversation with someone. I pushed my way through the crowd. My heart stopped when I saw just who it was Peter was talking to. Allison! She was just nodding and smiling. She looked over his shoulder and captured my gaze. She smiled sweetly enough but her eyes seemed to be pleading for help.
I made my way over to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. He turned to me and smiled. "Hey honey I was just talking to . . ."
"Allison." She informed him quickly.
"Peter we need to . . .” I began firmly.
"This is just great isn't it?" He beamed.
"Yeah right." Allison groaned and then quickly bit her lip and grimaced.
"I know that being alone would have been nice." Peter continued oblivious to what was happening. "But I have been locked in my office for months. This party is just what I needed." He gave me a quick peck on the lips and then took another swig of his cider. "Thank you darling this is a great surprise. Plus we have the rest of the weekend for just the two of us." He winked at me playfully.
"Peter we need to . . .” I began once again.
"Hey the movie is about to start!" He informed us as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder. "Come on. I'll hold your hand during the scary parts." He winked again.
"Great." I groaned.
As Peter grabbed himself another cider from someone passing by he began to lead me over to the sofa. I felt a gentle tug on my arm. I turned to find Allison grinning at my like a Cheshire cat. "Drink?" She asked in a strained voice.
"Yes thank you." I answered in relief. I pulled away from Peter and took Allison's waiting hand. "Excuse us Peter. I'll be right back."
"Ah okay." He responded in confusion.
Allison pulled me into the kitchen. I released her hand when we encountered yet another crowd of people waiting for us. "Where are they?" Allison grumbled as she searched her kitchen cabinets frantically. I made my way past the bottles of cider sitting in ice in the kitchen sink and went directly to Allison's wine cabinet. In a brief moment I realized that I knew Allison's kitchen better than I knew my own. I selected a Cabernet that I knew she liked. I immediately grabbed the corkscrew from a draw and then retrieved two wine glasses. "Did you find them?" I asked impatiently.
"Bingo!" She squealed as she held up a fresh pack of cigarettes. I reached back into the draw where I found the corkscrew and snatched up a book of matches and tossed them to Allison.
I peeked out through the kitchen door and spotted Peter chatting away with a group of people. He seemed so happy as the movie started. "He's having a great time. " I said sadly as I turned back to Allison. She frowned as she looked back at me.
"Now what?" She asked as looked at the people surrounding us. I stepped over to her and gently placed a hand on her hip. I leaned up and whispered, "My place."
Without hesitation we pushed our way through the crowd and ducked outside to the back staircase located off of the kitchen. We crept downstairs to my apartment pausing once or twice to listen to the sounds of the party emanating from her apartment. I reached into my pocket and retrieved my keys and opened the back door. We stumbled threw the darkness and made our way over to the futon which I had left open this morning. I placed the wine and the other items I was carrying down carefully on the coffee table. "Can I have the matches for a moment? I don't want to turn on the lights." I explained. She handed me the matches and I lit the large three wicked candle I kept on the coffee table and returned the matches to her.
Allison lit herself a cigarette. "Light one for me." I said as I opened the bottle of wine. Allison handed me the cigarette she was smoking and lit another for herself. I took a deep drag and went in search for something I could use as an ashtray. I settled on a small plate, which I placed on the table. I placed the spent matches in the plate as Allison poured the wine and handed me a glass. "You'll have to excuse the mess." I apologized as I settled down next to her. "I had been planning on cleaning up for Peter's visit. Then I thought that he wouldn't be staying so why bother."
"No chance of that now." Allison groaned. "He's having a grand old time."
"I know." I sighed in desperation.
"How weird is this?"
"Oh this?" I laughed. "Let's see my boyfriend of the past six years who I've been avoiding for the past couple of months is upstairs in your apartment. While I'm hiding down here with the woman I made a pass at."
"So, nothing out of the ordinary?" Allison teased.
"No not at all." I laughed. "Considering a few hours ago I was throwing things at you."
"Are you as sick of rehashing the boundaries of our friendship as I am?" Allison asked seriously.
"No. I was yelling and throwing things at you because I think that everything is just peachy between us."
"Stephanie." Allison began slowly. "I want to make something clear." I simply groaned at her comment.
"Stop." I said finally as I took another drag off of my smoke.
"Wait." She said as she extinguished her cigarette. "I just want you to know . . . well . . . I . . ."
"What?" I snapped impatiently waiting for yet another lecture on how we could never be more than friends.
"Stephanie. It's just that you seem to be under the impression that I am not attracted to you." Allison blurted out. "If that was the case trust me the last few months would've been a hell of a lot easier on the both of us."
"So you're attracted to me?"
"Jesus, Stephanie." Allison rolled her eyes. "Haven't you ever looked in a mirror?"
As I looked at her in the candlelight her face glowed. I'd never wanted anyone more than I wanted her. As her deep blue eyes captured mine I could see that her passion mirrored my own. I broke away from her gaze and put out my cigarette. "I know that I've been putting off breaking up with Peter." I tried to explain my reluctance. "It's just that there was our anniversary and now his birthday is coming up."
"There is never going to be a good time to break his heart." Allison said softly as she gently rubbed my arm. "No matter what you say or when you say it he's going to be hurt."
"I know." I admitted as I leaned into her touch. "I just wish there was someway I could avoid hurting him."
"Then stay with him." Allison said bluntly.
"I can't." I sighed as I curled up against her. "Now that I know what I want. I have to let him go. It's the right thing to do."
We sat there silently sipping our wine each lost in our own thoughts. I placed my glass on the table and leaned back into Allison's body. My hand absently tracing a pattern across her white cotton blouse. I could feel the taunt muscles of her abdomen through the material. She kissed me gently on the top of my head. Then she sat up and placed her glass on the table next to mine. For a brief moment I thought she was going to leave. Instead she leaned into me and caressed my face gently. It was all the encouragement I needed. I slipped my hand over her broad shoulders and tenderly ran them down the front of her blouse. I gasped as I felt her nipples harden from my touch.
My heart was racing as she lowered her head and captured my lips. I kissed her gently in reply. She leaned away slightly. I reached up and laced my fingers in her raven hair and pulled her towards me. Her lips were so soft and inviting. I felt as if I could lose myself within her or die trying. I felt her tongue teasing my bottom lip. Eagerly I opened my lips and invited her in. The sensation of her explorations was overwhelming. I lost all sense of reason. I simply wanted more. I pressed my body into hers as my fingers began exploring the front of her blouse. I unbuttoned her shirt as I felt her powerful hands pressing against my back drawing me closer to her. With the last of the buttons freed my hands took control feeling the taut skin of her abdomen.
Our lips parted as the need to breath over took us. I began to kiss her cheek and then my tongue trailed down her neck. She moaned as I began to suck on her neck feeling her heat beneath my lips. I felt her hands beneath my sweatshirt. I was trembling as her hands freely explored my body. I needed her more than I needed to breath. I pushed her down so that she was now lying beneath me. I straddled her hips and began a slow and steady rhythm as I grinded myself into her. I cupped her breast molding it into my hand. I lift my head and began to nibble on her earlobe. I heard her gasp as my tongue found it's way into her ear. "Is this what you want?" I growled in a voice that I did not recognize. "Yes!" She moaned deeply as she clutched my backside and pressed our hips together.
The steady rhythm of our bodies crashing together was driving me over the edge. Unable to contain my desire I reached down and lowered the silk of her bra, exposing the breast that I had been caressing. The sight of that beautiful mound shimmering in the candle light with her rose colored nipple erect forced me to ride harder against her. My body was throbbing. I bent my head down and allowed my tongue to circle her nipple. Her body arched in response as she pushed herself closer to me. Fueled on by her response I captured her nipple in my mouth and began to suckle it greedily. I was lost in her. The taste of her skin, the feel of her hands exploring my body was driving me insane.
My pulse was racing as pressed my center against hers. My body was reacting of it's own will. I tore my mouth from her breast. She groaned in disappointment. I raised my body from hers while still straddling her hips. I could not contain my desire any longer as my hands franticly began to unbutton her jeans. I could feel her hands working the zipper of my jeans as I began to tug hers off of her hips. She mirrored my actions. I lowered my wetness to hers and I held her passionate gaze. I pressed the length of my body against hers as she opened herself wider and invited me in. "So wet." She whispered hotly in my ear.
"Allison." My voice trembled as our clits rocked together. "Yeess." She hissed as her hands firmly clutched my bottom driving further into her. "Take me." I pleaded. She responded by flipping me over and capturing my mouth in a searing kiss. I felt her thigh slide between my legs. I eagerly accepted her offer and began to thrust against her firm thigh. I didn't hear it at first. Perhaps I had assumed it was the beating of my heart. More likely I was far too wrapped in making love to this beautiful woman. But the pounding grew more insistent. I felt Allison's body tense as her movements halted. I looked up at the stricken look on her face and willed my own body to cease its movements. That is when I realized what had caused her to stop.
Someone was knocking on the door. "Stephanie?" He called out. "Peter." I whispered in shock as Allison and I remained frozen. We remained frozen for what seemed like an eternity until we heard his footsteps walking away. I raised my hand to my mouth to stifle the sob that threatens to escape. Allison pulled away from me and lay beside me as I tried to calm myself. I could feel her body rise up off the futon as she began to fix her clothing. "Come on." She whispered gently as she bent down and caressed my cheek. "You don't want him to find out this way."
"I'm sorry." I sobbed quietly as I pulled my jeans back up.
"Liar." I sniffed as I accepted her hand and she assisted me up off of the futon.
"You're right." Allison sighed. "Let's just go back upstairs. He will never know." She insisted as she began to gather up the wine glasses and cigarettes. She walked over to the back door and turned to me. "You should fix your bra before you go back up." Having said that she departed my apartment. I felt my sweatshirt and blushed when I realized that she had somehow managed to undo my bra without my knowledge. Quickly I rehooked the garment and tidied up the apartment and made my up back up to Allison's apartment.
Upon reentering Allison's apartment I was greeted by a very drunken Peter. Allison was nowhere to be seen. "There you are." Peter slurred. "I needed some fresh air." I lied as I gave him a worried glance. "Peter did you eat today?" I questioned him in a motherly fashion. He just shook his no. "I think that maybe we should put you to bed." I said tenderly.
"I've been waiting two months to hear you say that." He smirked as he slumped his arm around my shoulders. I wanted to cry as I led him threw the crowd and out the front door. As I went to close the door behind us I caught a glimpse of Allison among the crowd. My heart broke as I caught the darken expression on her face.
Somehow I managed to get Peter downstairs. No easy task since his hands began to wander. Taking his suit off prove to be no problem since he was more than eager to undress for me. Getting him to go to bed became a test of wills. He kept trying to grab me for a kiss. It was a struggle but finally I got him tucked into the futon where he quickly passed out. I had never seen him so drunk before. It broke my heart when he was trying to kiss me. "I love you so much Stephanie." He kept repeating. As he snored in his drunken slumber I sat on the edge of the futon and finally released the tears that I'd been fighting since I heard him knocking on the apartment door.
I ended spending the night in the beat up armchair in the corner of the apartment. I cried until my body had nothing left to offer. Peter did not move an inch all night long. I could have easily crawled into bed with him and tried to sleep as well, but I felt that I had betrayed him enough for one evening. As the sun began to emerge I lifted myself out of the armchair. My body ached from sitting there all night. I dragged myself into the shower and tried to loose myself under the steam.
After I had showered and dressed I waited and waited for Peter to wake up. The waiting was driving me insane. Finally I gave up and brewed a pot of coffee as I debated on sneaking back upstairs to see if Allison was awake yet. As the coffee was just finishing to spit out the last few drops of caffeine, I heard Allison moving around upstairs. Since Peter showed no signs of life I decided to wait until Allison finished her shower and was dressed. I needed to see her. To be with her. I needed to explain just what last night had meant to me. What she means to me. It was time to tell her everything. "I'm in love with her. Last night wasn't just physical. Although the physical was pretty damn nice!"
Right on cue I was jolted out of my thoughts by the blaring sound of Allison's morning concert. "Melissa. Not a good sign. She is playing the same CD as the last time something like this happened."
"What the hell is that?" Peter bellowed as he pulled the bed covers over his head.
"Allison." I answered simply.
"Does she do that every morning?" He groaned.
"God how do you put up with it?" He groaned again finally peeking out from under the covers. I just shrugged in response. "Is that coffee I smell?"
"Yes." I answered quickly as I pour us each a cup. I began to search for some sugar for his coffee. I gasped as I realized that I hadn't bothered to buy any for him. "I'm sorry Peter. I seem to be out of sugar." I apologized.
"That's okay." He smiled as he sat up slightly and scratched his head. He wrapped the blanket around himself and stumbled into the kitchen. "Man I feel like someone scotch taped my tongue." He bent down and gave me a quick peck on the cheek before taking the cup I offered to him. "When did you start drinking your coffee black?" He asked innocently.
I just shrugged once again not trusting myself to speak. I was no fool I knew he knew that I hadn't bothered to buy sugar for his coffee. It was such a small thing. But it spoke volumes. "Peter we have to . . .” I began to say.
"Stephanie." He cut me off. "I'm so sorry about last night. I hate getting drunk. I should have eaten something. I don't know what I was thinking. But I'm going to make it up to you. Let me hop in the shower and then I will take you to breakfast." He kissed me gently on the cheek and asked if I could grab his bag from the car. I nodded mutely as he made his way into the bathroom.
I went outside in the crisp morning air and retrieved Peter's bag. As I pulled the bag out of the car I found myself repeating, "Just like kicking a puppy." As I stepped up onto the porch I was startled by a very young woman. She seemed to be checking the names on the doorbells. "Can I help you?" I questioned her sternly.
"Hi." She beamed. "I was just looking for Allison Kendell."
"Uh huh." I muttered. "Come on in. "
As we stepped into the foyer I sized her up quickly. She was young and very attractive with long chestnut hair. She was also very skinny and seemed to possess a bubbly personality. I hated her immediately. Just as I was about to grill her about just what the hell was she doing on my front porch, my apartment door swung open revealing Peter wrapped in just a towel. "Ooops." He said quickly as his face turned a deep shade of red.
"Sorry." The youngster chuckled.
I was just about to hand Peter his bag when I spotted Allison descending the staircase carrying two large trash bags. She looked past the youngster to Peter and then to me. There was no mistaking the cold look in her eyes. She looked betrayed. I gaped back up at her helplessly. Finally she noticed the youngster.
"Courtney?" She blurted out. "Courtney. God even her name was cute. Now I know I hated her. She was just so young and perky I could just throw up."
"Hey there." Courtney giggled.
"I was just about to call you." Allison said quickly.
"I know that I'm early but it's a beautiful morning and I couldn't wait to see you." Courtney explained. "There's suppose to be this great place around the corner for breakfast."
"The Java House?" Allison and I responded in unison.
"Yeah that's it." Courtney nodded enthusiastically. "Hey why don't you two join us!"
"Sounds great." Peter chimed in. "We were just going to grab a bite. I'm Peter by the way."
"Courtney." She extended her hand then withdrew realizing that Peter needed to keep his towel in place. "Ooops." She giggled. I just rolled my eyes as I glared at Allison who now seemed to taking a sudden interest in the wallpaper.
"Peter I don't think . . .” I began to explain.
"Come on sweetie I'm dying to get to know your new friends." He explained. I just stared at him blankly. "Good it's settled then." He gushed. "Ah Stephanie could I have my clothes now?"
I tossed the bag at him as I glared at Allison with a pleading look. She just stood there with her jaw hanging open. Somehow Peter managed to catch the bag and keep his towel place. He muttered thanks and retreated into the apartment. "Do you need help with those?" Courtney asked motioning to the trash bags in Allison's hands. "I'll help her." I snapped quickly as I grabbed one of the bags and dragged Allison away by the arm. We went around back leaving a stunned Courtney in the foyer. Without a word we deposited the bags in the barrels. "What the hell just happened in there?" Allison said wildly.
"Well it seems that we are going on a double date." I snarled.
"No." Allison said firmly while shaking her head.
"Yes." I hissed.
"No." She repeated more strongly.
"Then what are we suppose to do?" I pleaded with her. "Tell me. I'll do it."
I could see the wheels turning in Allison's head finally she released a groan. "There's nothing we can do. We have to go." She conceded. "This sucks. I was just about to call her and cancel. Who knew she would show up eight hours early for our date? Who does that?"
"Children." I answered bitterly.
"Hey!" Allison snapped.
"Oh come on." I snapped back. "How old is she?"
"Old enough." Allison snarled.
"For what?" I hissed. Allison just arched her eyebrow in defense. "I see." I responded coldly. We just stood there like a couple of idiots shivering in the cold. I had enough this was ridiculous. "I didn't sleep with him last night." I explained quietly.
"Was I that transparent?" She asked with a half smile.
"Yes." I answered her gently but honestly. "I suppose seeing him standing there half naked didn't like very good?"
"My fault." She volunteered. "I was just thrown by it."
"He passed out." I explained. "I just sat up all night crying. I thought about coming upstairs. But I was afraid that we might . . . you know."
"Sleep together." Allison stated simply.
"Yes." I confessed with a blush. "But with him downstairs. I know that I need to end things with him. You're right about that."
"If he ever gives you the chance." Allison said sharply.
"What do you mean?"
"Stephanie I must have watched you try to get him out of the party at least twenty times." Allison explained. "You start by saying Peter we need to . . . and then he stops you. He knows."
"About us?" I gasped. Not realizing what I was implying.
"I don't think so." Allison answered with a shake of her head. "But he knows something is up. Face it no good conversation starts with we need to talk. I think he knows that you are leaving him and he is doing everything he can to prevent you from finishing that sentence."
"What do we do now?" I pleaded with her.
"I guess we go to breakfast." Allison responded grimly.
"This should be fun." I tried to joke. "Just like having my teeth drilled. Fine we'll eat and then I'll bring Peter back here and sit him down and tell him the truth. I can't put this off any longer."
"Tell me something?" Allison started.
"It's because I don't love him and because I'm gay." I stated with confidence.
"That's not what I was going to ask you." Allison said. "I just wanted to know what we did wrong in a past life to be going through all of this now?"
"I'm not certain but I get the distinct impression that there were matches involved." I teased. "Your turn."
"Just when and how did you undo my bra last night?" I said with a blush. "If you hadn't told me I would have walked into the party with the girls exposed." Allison simply wiggled her eyebrows in response. "Whatever." I scoffed.
"So do you think that if we just hide out here long enough they will just go away?" Allison asked in an almost serious tone.
"Not a chance." I sighed.
We waited for a few more moments before the cold became unbearable. Reluctantly we returned to the house. Just as I had predicted we found Peter and Courtney eagerly awaiting us. Allison and I each retrieved our coats and rejoined our dates in the foyer. "I can not wait to see the rest of this house!" Courtney purred in Allison's ear as she took her by the arm and led her out the front door. I swear if Peter had not taken my hand and led me outside I would have kicked the youngster in the head. "So are the two of you related?" Courtney asked as she looked at Peter and I.
"No." Peter laughed. "Well not yet. Stephanie is my girlfriend." He beamed as he gripped my hand tighter.
"Really?" Courtney answered as she cast a curious glance my direction. "Oh yeah you know." I thought as I shot her an angry glare. She responded with a weak smile that reeked of pity as she tried to drape her arm around Allison. The taller woman simply ducked away brushing off the young girl's advances. "Huh? I wonder if anyone would notice if I pushed Courtney out into traffic? Oh stop it! Just a quick breakfast and then this nightmare will be over." I scolded myself.
Upon reaching the Java House we found it crowded even at this early hour. We were forced to wait outside in the cold for a table. Courtney and Peter chattered away while Allison and I simply pretended to listen. Finally we were seated in a booth at the back of the restaurant. "Professor Kendell, Dr. Grant I haven't seen you two ladies in awhile." Betty our favorite waitress greeted us casting a confused look at Courtney snuggled up to Allison. Then she cast another confused glance over at Peter sitting next to myself.
Allison and I quickly requested a round mimosas and a pot of the house coffee. I looked over at Peter's strange expression. I proceeded to order omelets for Peter and myself since he had grown strangely quiet upon Betty's arrival. Allison and Junior followed suit each ordering cheese and mushroom omelets. I fought the gnawing at my stomach when Courtney decided to have whatever Allison was having. Allison just rolled her eyes at me. Betty returned quickly with our beverages. "Perhaps this will help my hangover." Peter joked as he sipped his mimosa.
Betty returned to the table placing an ashtray between Allison and I. "I almost forgot ladies." She apologized as Peter and Courtney's eyes widen in shock. Granted Allison's smoking had been reduced greatly. But when ever we took advantage of dining at the Java House we both indulged in smoking. Probably since it was one of the few remain places you could light up without being arrested. Without thinking I accepted the cigarette Allison offered me. "Stephanie!" Peter yelped. I quickly handed the cigarette back to Allison not wanting to explain the familiar exchange between Allison and myself.
"I didn't know that you smoked?" Courtney asked in disgust.
"I'm trying to quit." Allison grumbled weakly as she reluctantly returned the pack to the pocket of her camel hair over coat.
"So what's up Pete?" Allison asked tersely. "You've become awfully quiet all of sudden." Her shortening of his name did not escape my notice. Nor did escape my notice that Courtney was climbing all over her.
"I'm just putting something together." He answered absently as my body stiffened. "Allison Kendell?" He said slowly.
"Yes?" She responded with a warning tone.
"The Allison Kendell?" His voice squeaked out. I felt him grip my hand tighter as I held my breath.
"I hope so I'm wearing her underwear." Allison shot back.
"The lawyer?" Peter asked sternly. I released my breath in relief. Suddenly I realized what was going on.
"Peter." I said to him as I gave him a look that I had hoped he would understand and not continue.
"I thought you taught history?" Courtney asked in confusion.
"I do." Allison protested. She looked at me for help.
"Peter it was a long time ago." I said quietly to him. I was hoping to calm him down. I remember how upset he was after my first encounter with Allison. I remember how he tried to cheer me up. One of the ways he accomplished his mission was to refer to Allison in not very nice terms. I found it hard to believe that he was just putting this together now? I had time admit sometimes his timing just sucked.
"What?" Allison questioned me holding up her hands in confusion.
"Lawyer Barbie." I offered as an explanation.
"Great." Allison groaned. "Just what did I do to you?"
"I'll tell you what you did." Peter shot out in anger.
"Peter." I stopped him. "Let it go." I warned him.
"Enough." Allison cut in. "Yes it's true I am that Allison Kendell. I was the lawyer from Wainwright and Griggs who made your girl . . . who made Stephanie cry. Not that it is any of your concern Pete, but I have already apologized for what I did. I wasn't a very nice person back then."
"None of my business." Peter shot back in a protective manner.
"Jesus Peter why don't you just mark your territory?" I thought as I watched the two of them try to stare each other down. "Peter it is in the past. Allison and I have already talked about this. She is my colleague and my friend." I watched him hang his head in sudden embarrassment. He looked like a child who was being punished. He looked up at me with pleading eyes. "Oh boy." I heard Allison sigh as she poured herself another cup of coffee.
"I'm sorry Allison." Peter offered. "I just remember how much Stephanie had been hurt at the time. Forgive me?"
"No worries." Allison muttered as she shrugged nonchalantly.
"So are you a lawyer or a history professor? Courtney asked in confusion.
"I am a history professor." Allison tried to explain. "I was a lawyer. Can we drop this now?" Allison groaned.
"You were with Wainwright and Griggs? That is so funny." Courtney giggled.
"Hysterical." Allison responded flatly. "Just keep going little Courtney and maybe Allison will dump your perky ass before the check arrives?" I couldn't help but smirk as the thought popped into my head.
"Kinda of yeah." Courtney giggled once again. "Wainwright and Griggs are the reason I went to Law School."
"You're a lawyer!" Allison choked as she spit out her coffee, which managed to just miss hitting Peter.
"Not yet." Courtney volunteered. "I just graduated from Harvard I still need to pass the bar. But it was the firm of Wainwright and Griggs that inspired me to get into law in the first place." "Oh this is to good to be true."
"Please tell me you are joking?" Allison pleaded.
"No." Courtney boasted proudly. "Those bastards took every cent my Grandparents had. I decided to become a lawyer to make sure that didn't happen to someone else."
"Thank God." Allison sighed as Betty arrived with our food.
Eager to avoid any more conversations or confrontations Allison and I ate quickly while Peter and Courtney chatted away like old friends. Occasionally one of us would answer a question or nod in agreement. I had no idea what they were talking about; I was simply relieved that the meal was almost over. As our dates continued chatting Allison and I drained the pot of coffee. Betty brought another round of mimosas that I have no idea who ordered. Allison reached for her coffee and Courtney reached for the inside of Allison's thigh. I have no idea what came over me at that moment. Hell I know what overcame me. I was jealous! Without a second thought I made a sweeping motion with my arm like I was reaching for something. My aim was dead on. Courtney's mimosa landed directly in her lap.
Courtney yelped as she jumped up in surprise. "I'm so sorry." I lied as I surprised my laughter at the sight of her orange stained crotch. I mentally high fived myself as I thought about how cold the drink was. "It's okay." Courtney muttered as she raced off to the ladies room. I was greeted by a disbelieving look from Allison. "Ooops." I offered in my defense. Allison simply curled her lips and shook her head. Betty rushed over and quickly cleaned up the mess with Allison's assistance. "Thank you Betty." Allison offered. "It seams that Dr. Grant has lost control of her senses. " She shot me another angry look. I simply shrugged off her accusation. "Could we have the check when you have a chance?"
Courtney rejoined us with a smile and a very wet pair of jeans. "Oh Cory that looks terrible." I gasped trying not to sound condescending. "I am so sorry." I lied once again.
"Courtney." The youngster growled and then quickly smiled. "Not a problem accidents happen. I have another pair of jeans in my car." She added as she began to caress Allison's arm. "I can change at your place before we go." She smiled to Allison. "She brought a change of clothes?"
"Go?" Allison and I said in unison.
"Weren't the two of you paying attention?" Peter asked as the check arrived.
"Of course." Allison lied.
"We better hurry if we are going to beat the traffic." Courtney rubbed Allison's shoulders. Allison just flashed a warning look at me. "Unless you don't want to go to Salem? We could just stay in?" Courtney purred.
"No." Allison said quickly as she pulled away from Courtney's touch. "Salem at Halloween sounds like fun." She looked to me for help. "No way stretch you are on your own." I just smirked at her and received another glare. "Perhaps you and Pete would rather be alone?" Allison suggested.
"We have all day tomorrow for that." Peter offered with a smile.
"That's right." I replied quickly.
Peter paid the check against our protesting. The four of us left the restaurant and Allison quickly pulled me aside and motioned for our dates to go on without us. "What in hell are you thinking?" She spat out once we were alone.
"If you think I'm going to leave alone with Lolita there . . . you are sadly mistaken." I responded bitterly.
"What's it to you?" Allison scoffed. "I'm not your girlfriend."
"No you're right you are not my girlfriend." I shot back. "I'm not anyone's girlfriend."
"Well that will be news to Pete." She snarled.
"His name is Peter." I argued. "And I'm going to tell him the truth."
"When?" Allison groaned. "After you the two of you are married and have twelve children?"
"Today!" I shouted as I closed the distance between and poked her in the chest. "I'll tell him everything today."
"Do what you want." She shot back as she pressed against me.
"Fine I will." I spat back. "Shouldn't you get back to your date before her curfew kicks in.”?” Very clever." Allison sneered as I pulled her hips into my body. "It's none of your business." She groaned pushing herself into me.
"You're right it's none of my business." I gasped as my body moved against her. "Do what you want. Date her. Fuck her for all I care."
It was the harshness of my own words that brought me back reality. There I was pressed up against the brick wall of the Java House practically having sex with Allison in the middle of the street. I was about to pull away as I felt her strong thigh slide between my legs. I clutched her hips and thrust my hips against her. All I wanted to do at that moment was to ride her thigh until I found the release that I so desperately needed. "Does he make you feel this way?" A cruel voice whispered hotly in my ear. That was it. I pushed her away and stomped off fighting back the tears. I could feel her presences following me as I walked back to the house. "Hey there you two are." Peter called out as we approached. They were smiling and waving as they stood next Courtney's aging Volvo. Courtney had already changed into a fresh pair of blue jeans and was holding the car door open. Peter took my hand and before I realized it I was sitting in the back seat with him. Allison climbed into the front passenger seat and slammed the door.
The trip was long and strenuous. Peter and Courtney chatted away at every stop we made. Allison hid behind her dark Rayban sunglasses and we kept our distance. I could feel her anger emanating from her. I simply grinded my teeth and stewed in my own anger. Now was not the time to have my little chat with Peter. But I did try repeatedly to get him alone so we could talk. Allison was right. Peter did everything he could to avoid being alone with me. He was however determined to show me a good time. He had taken my hand on the drive up and refused to release it during the entire outing. I noticed several women eyeing him. I silently wished that he would notice them.
The hour grew late and Allison wanted return before dark so she could hand out candy to the neighborhood children. We drove back I could feel the tension growing as we approached our house. Allison and Courtney left us. They had plans to hand out candy then they were going dancing. Peter and I would finally be alone and I could sit him down. Upon entering the apartment he excused himself to the bathroom. This was it! I sat down on the futon and waited for him. I was confused when I awoke several hours later covered in a blanket. The emotional turmoil and lack of sleep must have caught up with me. "Come on Sweetheart." Peter said gently. "I thought we could go dancing tonight."
Still half asleep I nodded mutely and made my way to the shower. I showered and dressed on autopilot. It wasn't until we were heading out the front door that it hit me. I was going out with Peter! "How did that happen?" During the trip into Cambridge I made several valiant efforts to talk to him. But he kept changing the subject. He was very excited about the place we were going. He had arranged to meet a friend of his. Bob something or other was meeting us. So much for being alone. "I can't wait for you to meet Bob." Peter chimed as we walked from the parking garage on Green Street. I saw the black building and the crowd waiting to show their ids so they could enter. "There's Bob." Peter waved excitedly to his friend.
Bob was a well built tanned blonde surfer type. He was talking to or at least was trying to talk to a familiar raven-haired beauty. "Wow for a second I thought that was Allison." Peter gasped. "Close." I replied noticing the similar features. The same infectious laugh and cocky stance. The only noticeable difference was the height and the brown eyes. We approached the pair as Bob waved us over. Startled brown eyes smiled at me warmly. "Hey blondie." Nicole greeted me with a warm embrace. "You know each other?" Bob ranted. "Wow that is great." Nicole simply rolled her eyes. "Hi I'm Bob." He beamed as he offered his clammy paw to me for a lukewarm embrace. "Stephanie." I replied causally.
"So now that you have met my friends maybe you will let me buy you that drink?" Bob persisted.
Nicole shot her elbow back and connected with his rib cage. Bob gasped for air. "I told you before buddy, I don't drink." Nicole growled. "I see that the Kendell charm is in full swing." I joked.
"Speaking of charm where is the Amazon?" Nicole inquired. "Don't tell me she made you wait in line by yourself. I'm going to have to teach that girl some manners."
"Date." I said flatly. "She is on a date." I explained further to Nicole's confused gaze.
"I see." Nicole scowled. Then I watched her eyes widen as she caught Peter's eye. "Well Hi there. I'm Nicole." She offered her hand to him.
"Peter." He squeaked as he draped his arm around my shoulders. Another curious look swept across the younger Kendall’s face. "I'm Stephanie's boyfriend."
"Uh huh." Nicole responded with a sudden indifference.
"So are you related to Allison?" Peter asked uncomfortably.
"Yes. She is my older and seriously misguided sister." She answered wryly and winked at me. "So what brings you kids to the Galaxy?"
"The Galaxy?" I gasped. Damn it! This is where Allison was coming tonight.
The doorman requested our id's as he simply waved Nicole in. She took my hand and led me in the doorway. "She's with me." She explained leaving Peter and Bob dumbfounded. The doorman simply stamped our hands without question. We walked in and Nicole waved to the cashier who simply waved us in. "You don't pay?" I questioned.
"No back when I was drinking I think I dropped my entire trust fund here." Nicole explained. "So Peter's cute." She smiled.
"You want him?" I offered hopefully. Looking over at the red neon sign with the words The Galaxy emblazed across it. "I can't believe he brought me here? This is where your sister is coming."
"This should be fun." Nicole groaned.
"Fun it is then." Bob offered.
"Listen Bubba . . .” Nicole scoffed.
"Bob." He retorted not getting the hint.
"Whatever." Nicole snarled then she leaned over and whispered to me. "This jerk has been hitting on me since I got in line."
"Hey Nicole." A voice called out.
"Sorry that's my friends." She apologized waving back a group of people. "I hate to ditch you but we are all from the program. We kind of like to keep an eye on each other in places like this." With that she gave me a quick hug and waved to Peter before joining her friends.
Left alone with Bob and Peter I looked around the expansive nightclub. I was impressed. To my left was a room with a large dance floor. The lights pulsated to the music as two disco balls glimmered above the sea of bodies dancing to YMCA. I could not help but notice the diversity of the crowd. There were many people donned in Halloween costumes for the festivities. Others were clad in traditional Goth or PVC. While many people were dressed in blue jeans and T-shirts. There were men and women dancing together, men and men dancing together and women and women dancing together. No one seemed to mind the differences of the people they shared the dance floor with.
The large dance room had three full bars open. I watched in amazement as the bartenders moved with grace and ease even though they were swarmed with customers. "How can they hear anything?" I wondered aloud.
"Most of the bartenders have been here for years." Bob explained. "I still don't know how they do it. Most of them are hard of hearing. Just be sure they can see your stamp when you order."
"Why?" Peter asked as we both examined the black stamp of Elroy from the Jetsons placed on the back of our left hands.
"It let's the bartender know that you are over twenty one." Bob answered. "See the kids with the large black X's on both hands. They are under age. Their first stop is usually downstairs to wash off the marks in the bathroom. But the bartenders won't serve them unless they see a stamp. It's Massachusetts and the laws are very strict."
Just as Bob finished his explanation I looked over to my right. This room was decorated as a lounge area with a long bar cover the length of the back wall. The room had velvet couch and several arm chairs. There were also two old time video games and a pool table. The bartender was a tall African American man standing there with his hands placed firmly on his hips. "Listen sweetie no stamp mean no cocktail." He explained impatiently. "Now if you are old enough you will haul your pretty ass back over to security and get a stamp." The youngster just slumped away.
I chuckled at the sight. When I cast my eyes back to the lounge area I saw them at the pool table. Allison was bent over trying to make a shot while Courtney was trying to feel her ass. My blood was boiling. "Why was Allison letting her touch her? Stop it Stephanie. Remember you don't have any right to feel jealous. You said it yourself this morning. Allison can date whoever she wants. Hell you even told her she could fuck the girl for all you cared." I lied. I do care more than I should.
Just as I was about to storm over and break up their little party a felt a hand on my shoulder. I spun around to find Maureen smiling back at me. I hugged her quickly. Then I made the proper introductions. She in turn introduced us to her husband Mort. Peter, Bob and Mort offered to check our coats. "Come on let me buy you a drink." Maureen offered as she led me through an open doorway. On the other side of the doorway was another dance room with three more bars in full service. This room was smaller and darker than the first with gothic paintings adorning the walls. At the far end of the room was a stage covered with wrought iron bars. In the opposite end of the room was a telephone booth. "What's with the phone booth?" I questioned.
"That's so you can make a request from the dj in this room." Maureen explained. "Come on let's go to Teresa Raven's bar."
Maureen guided me threw the crowd and shouted above the eighties new wave blaring from the speakers. She led me to the largest bar in the room near the telephone booth. Behind the bar was a tiny woman with platinum blonde hair dressed in a flowing black dress. I wondered how she could move so will in such an outfit? As she approached us I noticed that both of her wrists were tattooed in a floral pattern and both her nose and lip were pierced. "What can I get for you Ladies?" She asked brightly.
"Captain and coke." Maureen ordered quickly.
"Something strong." I shrugged.
"Red Death." Teresa suggested.
"We don't want to kill her." Maureen interjected. "How about a cuervo sunrise?"
"No tequila." I said sternly. "Just a white zinfandel."
Teresa nodded and departed to fix our cocktails. "So how old is that child with Allison?" Maureen shouted over the GoGo's.
"According to Allison old enough." I answered bitterly.
"For what?" Maureen laughed. "I heard the four of you had just a super day!" Maureen teased with a wide-eyed expression.
"Who said that?"
"The teenager." Maureen answered sarcastically. "Look out here comes trouble." Maureen said looking over my shoulder. I steadied myself and was relieve to find Nicole approaching us. She waved to Teresa who just nodded. Nicole joined us. "Ladies." She greeted us. Teresa returned with our drinks and a bottle of Poland Springs water for Nicole.
"I have this." I offered as I reached for my wallet.
"Thanks." Maureen and Nicole accepted.
"Just make you sure you tip Teresa well." Nicole pointed out. "Rumor has it that she once killed a coat check girl."
"What do mean rumored?" Teresa laughed as she accepted my money.
"Still you wouldn't want to be Lucyed on your first trip here." Maureen offered.
"What's that?" I asked.
"To be Lucyed you must do two things." Teresa explained. "You must be rude and cheap. If you are then you could walk up to the bar with Lucy Lawless strapped to your ass and I still wouldn't wait on you." Teresa then pointed to the button she was wearing that stated in bold purple lettering 'Don't make me use the Lucy Law!’
"Who?" I questioned not understanding. "Never mind just keep the change." I teased.
"Thank you Miss." Teresa smiled and went off to wait on more patrons.
"So, what are you Gals talking about?" Nicole inquired.
"I was just going to ask Stephanie here where she and Allison disappeared to last night at the party?" Maureen stated smugly as she sipped her cocktail.
"Do tell?" Nicole encouraged.
"I don't want to talk about it." I answered.
"Come on Stephanie share." Maureen pushed. "Tell us what is going on?"
"Who knows?" I responded with a hint of defeat in my voice.
I sipped my wine and pretended that the two of them weren't staring at me. "I don't want to talk about it." I said finally as I slammed my glass down on the bar. I looked at Maureen who was standing to my left. She just smiled at me. I turned to Nicole who was standing on my right with her arms folded across her chest giving me the same knowing look. I was trapped. "It's the truth I don't know what is going on." I offered and received two disbelieving glares cast down at me.
"There you are." Mort called out as he approached his wife. He placed a tender kiss on her cheek. "Everyone is looking for the two of you. Hey Nicole how are you?"
"No complaints Mort. Good to see you." Nicole answered warmly.
"We will be with you in just a second Mort." Maureen explained to her husband. "We were in the middle of some girl talk."
"Please hurry." Mort pleaded. "Peter is nice enough but that Bob guy is driving me crazy."
"Bob?" Nicole groaned.
"Yeah." Mort sighed. "If we don't get back there they might just come looking for us."
"Gotta go." Nicole spit out quickly and disappeared into the crowd.
Maureen groaned as her back up left alone. "Come on." She conceded. "Thank you Mort!" The three of us departed the bar and made our way back into the lounge area. At the bar we found Peter and Bob. They weren't alone, little Courtney had joined them. "Look who I found!" Peter said brightly.
"Hey there." Courtney giggled as she waved to us. "We were just going to do some shots."
"Maybe you could fix her up with Peter." Maureen whispered to me slyly.
I laughed thinking about how well the two of them got along. It would be the perfect solution. Just then a tall beautiful blonde approached the bar. Everyone with exception of Maureen turned and watched her as she ordered and got her drinks. Maureen just glared at Mort. The rest of the party including myself watched the blonde as she walked away. Peter was definitely not Courtney's type.
"Mort." Maureen growled at her husband who was now hanging his head in shame. All eyes turned to me expecting me to do the same to Peter. "How could I since I had also checked out the woman's attributes?" I just shrugged catching a knowing smirk from Courtney.
"How many kamikazes?" The tall bartender asked.
"None for me." Maureen said quickly. "This is my last drink since I am driving."
"Darling?" Peter asked.
"No thank you." I replied as I waved off the offer. The last thing I needed was to get drunk.
"Five then." Courtney ordered.
"Five?" I questioned.
"Yeah the four of us and one for Allison." She responded brightly.
"She won't drink that." I added honestly. Little Courtney just glared at me.
"I won't drink what?" The deep alto voice said from behind me.
"We're doing kamikaze shots." Courtney offered brightly.
"No thanks." Allison said bluntly as Courtney pouted. "Daisy four shots and a bottle of Poland Springs."
"Daisy?" Peter questioned in confusion.
"Yes?" The tall bartender said as he wink at Peter. Peter's voice turned paled as he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me closer. Daisy just laughed and he lined up the shots and a bottle of spring water for Allison. She paid for the round quickly and tipped the man generously. "Thanks Daisy." She smiled. Our four companions downed their shots quickly and proceeded to order another round and beers to follow their shots. The four of them continued to drink while Allison, Maureen and I talked about school. The three of us passed on all offers for alcohol. Courtney seemed disappointed that Allison wasn't joining in on the festivities.
Nicole approached quietly and pulled Allison aside. The two of them walked to the other side of the lounge and began a very animated conversation. I caught one or two words that they were saying. Unfortunately they were speaking French again. "What the hell?" Courtney growled catching sight of the two of them re-approaching the crowd. "Now what?" Courtney slurred as the Kendell sisters rejoined us. I felt no need to inform Courtney that Nicole was Allison sister. Let her think what she wants. Apparently Maureen agreed with my choice as she stood there smirking. "This has been happening all night." Courtney slurred again.
"Imbecile!" Nicole snapped at her sister as she shook her head in disgust. Allison simply held up a cautioning finger in her sister's face. Courtney strutted over to Allison and placed a possessive hand on her arm as she stood toe to toe with Nicole. Courtney raised a warning finger and was about to poke her in the chest when Allison stopped her. "Se conduire, petit fille!" Nicole warned. I have no idea what she was saying but it did not look good for Courtney. "Ivre?" Nicole asked looking at her sister and then casting a look at Courtney.
"Oui." Allison nodded.
"Listen you Euro trash . . .” Courtney began to sputter.
"Stupide, bete." Nicole laughed as she stared down at the youngster.
"Down Courtney." Allison cautioned her. "My sister is a black belt."
"I'm not the only one." Nicole smiled up at her older sibling.
"Sister?" Courtney blushed. "Oh my gosh. I had no idea. I'm so sorry."
"Uh huh." Nicole waved Courtney off with in difference. "Une petite fille." Nicole scoffed looking at her sister.
"Arret!" Allison warned her sister.
"Do you know what they are saying?" I whispered to Maureen.
"From what I can catch Nicole just called Courtney stupid and a little girl." Maureen whispered back with a smirk. At this point Nicole pushed past her sister and her date and joined us. Bob quickly rushed over. "Glad to see you came back." He leered. "You're sure I can't buy you a drink?"
"She doesn't drink." Allison growled.
"Ally." Nicole waved her off. "I can handle this chien. Listen Bert . . ."
"Bob." He corrected her.
"Whatever." Nicole rolled her eyes. "I don't drink not ever. I can't I'm in AA."
"I'm a alcoholic." Nicole spelled it out for him.
"Oh." He finally caught on. "Well how about a dance?"
"No." Nicole brushed him off.
"Why?" He seemed confused. "Are you . . . well you know like your sister?"
"You mean a lesbian." Nicole laughed. "Hell no. I just think you are obnoxious."
"Right." He laughed. "So about that dance?"
"Not the sharpest knife in draw is he?" Nicole concluded. Just then a beeping sound interrupted the conversation. Nicole grabbed the pager clipped to her belt and quickly examined it. "That's me." She explained. "It's the hospital. I'm on call. I need to go. Allison I will talk to you later. Mort, Maureen good seeing you. Peter a real pleasure meeting you." She smiled sweetly at him. "Stephanie I'm sure I will see you again." With that she smirked at her sister and left.
"Nice meeting you." Courtney called after her. Nicole never turned around. "So your sister is a doctor?" She asked Allison.
"Resident at MGH." Allison replied.
"I wouldn't mind playing doctor with her." Bob drooled.
"Excuse me!" Allison snapped. "You wouldn't be making any unwanted advances towards my baby sister now would you?"
"Huh?" Bob looked around unaware of the danger he was in. "She is so hot."
"Bob." Peter cut in placing himself between Allison and Bob. "Dude shut up now." Peter warned him. Bob just got that far away look in his eyes. "Hey you know the bartender in the disco room said you were cute." Peter added.
"Really?" Bob beamed and strutted into the disco room.
"Thank you." I said as I took Peter's arm breathing a sigh of relief that no blood had been spilled.
"No problem." Peter answered. "He's not a bad guy. He just a little bit of a . . ."
"Dumb ass." Allison cut in. This received a rousing round of laughter from the entire group.
"Basically." Peter agreed.
"You know the bartender you sent him to is a lesbian." Allison explained.
"Yes I do." Peter smirked knowingly. This received another round of laughter.
The tension had vanished from everyone with the exception of myself. I found myself standing there with my hand on Peter's arm. It was such a small gesture but I understood its implications. It somehow said that I was his. Peter and Courtney were about to order another round of drinks. "Peter." I cautioned him not wanting a repeat of last night. I pulled him over to me and leaned up and whispered in his ear. "Peter we need to talk." I had finally said it and I was certain no one else had heard me. Now was the time to get him out of there. "Okay." He said loudly. "But first you owe me a dance." He added brushing off what I had just said. "What do you say?" He smiled. "Dance with me." Everyone was looking at me with the exception of Allison. "What could I do?" I allowed him to take my hand and lead me into the front dance room.
Peter and I had always danced well together until tonight. Perhaps it was the guilt but every time he touched me I pulled away. I survived dancing to three songs before I could pull him off the dance floor. As we were exiting the dance floor I saw Allison and Courtney dancing very closely together. Allison looked incredible tonight with her black jeans and red silk blouse. Watching her sway to the music was thrilling. But it broke my heart to see another woman touching her.
Peter and I rejoined the others. Bob had returned apparently shot down by the bartender. Everyone was deep in conversation. What they were talking about was a mystery to me. I failed to join in on the conversation. I just watched the dance floor trying to catch glimpses of Allison and Courtney. Someone said something to me but I failed to respond. I was far too busy looking for a certain dark haired beauty. They had disappeared into the crowd. Peter slid his arm around me and out of habit I placed my hand in his. It was a familiar yet empty gesture. Just as it had always been.
"Stephanie?" A voice called to me. "Huh?" I was shaken out of my thoughts as I realized that it had been Peter talking to me. "I asked if you wanted something to drink?" He asked. "No thanks." I answered as I looked back towards to the dance floor. Frustrated and feeling a little bit like a stalker I excused myself and went downstairs to the ladies room. It was crowded and to my surprise the long line of people included men. Granted most of them were wearing dresses but for a girl who grew up in Connecticut it was a bit of a shock. No one else seemed to notice. I looked around at the young faces and suddenly began to feel self-conscious. I was definitely over dressed in my black dress and heels. Not to mention my matching purse.
Standing in line gave me time to think. The events of the day had been so surreal. I could have stopped most everything from happening. All I had to do was break up Peter. All I needed to do was to finally tell him that it was over between us. I could have done it last night or this morning. Instead jealousy won out and I spent the day touring around Salem. There was no way in hell I was going to leave Allison alone with that girl. If only I had trusted Allison and done what I knew I should do? Look where it got me. Peter was doing everything he could to avoid talking to me alone. Allison was pissed off because I was allowing him to get away with it. Courtney was doing everything she could to get Allison into bed. At this rate if I don't pull myself together I am going to end up as a flower girl at their wedding.
I left the ladies room deciding that hiding there was not going to solve anything. As I stepped out into the dark hallway I felt a familiar hand on my arm. Gently she pulled me around the corner next to the pay phone. I had known her touch instantly. I pulled her close to me and held her tightly. "Allison." I whispered.
"How are you holding up?" She asked gently as she stepped slightly away from me.
"Not very well." I answered honestly. "I'm sorry about today. I should have never gone to Salem."
"No." Allison responded firmly. "This is my fault. I had no right telling you what you should do. This is none of my business."
"None of your business?" I answered sadly. "So last night and this morning meant nothing to you? It meant something to me. I don't go around just kissing anyone." There was no harshness to my words just simple honesty.
"Of course it meant something to me." Allison answered looking deeply into my eyes. "It means so much to me that it is scaring the hell out me. Stephanie you have no idea of the power you hold over me. Last night, this morning and right now."
"Right now?" I moaned as she lowered her head and ran her tongue across my lips. Her lips brushed mine gently as her tongue begged for entrance. I parted my lips and allowed her in. I pulled her closer as our kiss deepened. I felt my legs opening slightly as her thigh slid between them. Our bodies melt together. I could feel my legs tremble as became aware of the wetness between my legs. I shivered as I felt a hand feeling it's way up under the hem of my dress and caressing my cheek.
I felt lost not knowing where I stopped and she began. A sudden coldness overcame me as she pulled away. I opened my eyes as I felt the coldness of the basement wall I was pressed up against. Only moments ago I was on fire. Her touch alone had burned me and now I was freezing. "Not like this." She explained tenderly as she brushed her hand across my face. "We'll talk later." She offered as her other hand retreated from under my dress. I nodded to her as I straighten my clothing. She brushed my arm gently and then and walked away. Her departure wasn't like the other times. Allison was not running away. I stood there for a moment as she went to the coat check her eyes never leaving mine as she received the clothing and departed. I gave her time to make her departure while I collected myself. Finally I went upstairs.
I touched Peter gently on the arm and with a new found sense of strength I whispered to him. "We should go."
"But it's still early." He protested.
"You're not leaving too?" Bob piped in. "First Courtney and Allison and now you two. "
"It was past Courtney's bedtime." Maureen added snidely.
"I just can't believe that those two beautiful women are lesbians." Bob add in disbelief.
"Oh please." Daisy scoffed from behind us he just smiled and pretended to be busy.
I shot Bob a cold look suddenly wishing that Peter had allowed Allison to kill him. I grabbed Peter firmly by the arm. "Excuse us." I said as I dragged Peter away from the others. "Peter." I spoke firmly as I placed my hand over his mouth to stop him. "We have to talk and not here. Get our coats." I demanded.
"Okay." He conceded sadly. Then he turned back to the others as I walked over to the bar. "We're taking off." Peter announced with a false joyous tone.
"No." Bob argued.
"Bob what would you do?" Peter teased him. "Stay here and look at your ugly mug or go home with her?"
Bob just laughed as he saluted Peter with his bottle of Rolling Rock. Daisy and Maureen just cast an all too knowing look at me. Peter went downstairs to get our coats and I ordered a bottle of water from Daisy. He brought it quickly. As I paid for the over priced water Daisy leaned over and very quietly said, "Girl you are going to break that boy's heart."
"I didn't know that it showed." I answered as I placed a tip on the bar.
"You know you might want to come in on a Thursday night." Daisy suggested softly.
"Thursday?" I responded. "Isn't that gay night. Oh . . . how did you know?"
"Oh please honey." Daisy laughed. "You're not fooling this queen with those Doris Day looks of yours. Of course from what I heard about Doris." He teased.
I just laughed as I sipped my water. I only had the one drink that night but I wanted to be completely lucid for my talk with Peter. He returned with our coats and we said our goodbyes. I took his keys from him and we stepped out into the cold autumn air. Neither of us spoke as we walked back to the parking garage. The drive home was silent as well. As we crossed over the town line into Haven Peter finally spoke. "Is there someone else?" He asked in a strained voice.
"No." I answered. "And yes."
"What the hell does that mean?" He snapped.
"I have met someone." I tried to explain. "But that isn't why I'm . . ."
"Dumping me." He snapped. "It's true you're leaving me aren't you?"
"Peter, I'm sorry." I said quietly.
"I don't understand Stephanie." He was bitter. "Are you . . . have you slept with him?"
"Oh boy! Of course he would assume it was a man." Life can offer you so many options to a situation. Now of course I could have just told him everything right then and there and let everything hit the fan all at once. Or I could do what I did. Not lie but not tell the entire truth. Somehow I thought it would be easier on him if I just skipped over the most important reason why I was letting him go. "No." I answered with some degree of honesty. "The truth is that I'm not in love with you." Okay it was the truth but not the whole truth.
"Don't say that!" He shouted.
I was thrown by his anger as we pulled up in front of the house I received a second shock. Courtney's car was parked out in front. Peter and I just sat in the car each of us lost in our own thoughts. Finally he ripped off his seat belt and sprang out of car slamming the door behind him. I jumped out quickly. "Peter?" I pleaded.
"What!" He shouted.
"Please don't." I begged him.
"Don't be angry!" He bellowed.
I just stared at him. "Let's go inside and talk okay?" I offered calmly. He slumped his shoulders and nodded mutely. As we entered my apartment we were greeted by the obvious sounds of someone having sex. "Well at least your friends are having a good time." He said bitterly.
"What do you mean?" I asked in horror.
He just gave me a knowing look and pointed to the ceiling. The sounds were most definitely coming from upstairs. There exact location was unfamiliar to me. It couldn't be Allison! Why would she? But then again Courtney's car is parked out front. I tried to dismiss the sounds as Peter shrugged off his coat. I just stood there with my hands in my pockets unable to focus on the events unfolding around me. I was jolted out of my musings by the sounds of laughter coming from Allison's apartment. "I'll make us some coffee." I offered weakly.
I removed my coat and went into my kitchen. As I prepared the coffee I was relieved that the sounds from upstairs had ceased. "Had I wait too long? Or was this just some sort of game to her?"
"Stephanie?" Peter's voice brought me back to reality. "Please tell me what I did to make you fall out of love with me?"
I turned to him slowly. "Oh Peter it's nothing you did." I answered him gently. "The truth is that I was never in love with you." I swallowed hard as I watched his face turn pale. "What?" He gasped as sat down on the futon. He looked as if someone had just hit him hard. I went to him and knelt beside him. "That's a lie." He said in a daze. "I'm sorry." I said softly. "It's true. I love you as a friend. Peter you are my best friend. But I should have never let it go beyond that. This is my fault."
"Never?" Peter said absently. "I don't believe you."
"I'm sorry." I repeated over and over again. My heart was breaking for what I was putting him through. But I knew that if I stayed with him that I would be doing something far crueler than what I was doing now.
"Was it the sex?" He asked sincerely. "I knew that you never seemed comfortable with it. Was that it?"
"No." I lied and I told him the truth. How could I explain to him that I spent my entire life thinking that sex was not something that interested me? But now just one look from Allison and I felt alive. "Peter I used you. I was so determined not to end up like my Mother that I lost sight of what my heart really wanted. I thought our friendship was enough."
"When did all of this happen?" He was stunned. "I knew that something was wrong. You kept blowing me off and I had to chase you down just to get you to talk on the telephone. When we did talk you were so distant. I thought maybe I was smothering you and then I thought maybe you were feeling neglected. I've struggling for months trying to figure out what the hell I was doing wrong? Stephanie when did I loose you?"
"I knew how I really felt not long after I moved here." I answered suddenly feeling ashamed.
"I don't understand?" He stammered. "Then why did you wait so long to tell me?"
"I didn't want to hurt you." I offered weakly.
"You didn't want to hurt me?" He responded in a bewilder tone. "The only way you were going to do that was by not doing this. This is breaking my heart."
"I don't want that." I cried. "I never wanted that. I wish there was someway I could undo all of this."
"You can." He pleaded with an odd sense of forcefulness to his voice. "Stay with me. We can work this out. I know that you must have been in love with me once."
"Oh Peter no." I cried. "It's over."
We talked for hours while Peter made a few more attempts for a second chance. When the sun came up we were both exhausted. When it was time for him to leave I hoped that he had finally accepted that it was over between us. I had explained that I was afraid that I would lose his friendship. He told me he needed time to work this out. Reluctantly he left my apartment just before seven am. I stood in the driveway and waved goodbye to him. I prayed that it would not be the last time I saw him.
I turned to go back into the house when I was greeted by Courtney bouncing down the staircase. "Morning!" She giggled. "Rough night?" She asked pointing to the dress I was still wearing from last night. I tried to ignore her as I went to my apartment door. "So where's Peter?" She smirked.
"He's gone." I said sadly.
"I see." She answered. "Well I'm off. I guess I'll be seeing you around."
I spun around and gave the child an icy glare. "What's that suppose to mean?" I snapped.
"What do you think?" She purred and nodded towards the upstairs and then cast a wink in my direction. "We should be quiet Allison is still sleeping. I'm afraid we didn't get much sleep last night." She boasted.
"Bitch." I muttered under my breath and tried to retreat into my apartment.
"Really?" She responded coolly having caught my comment. "I'm a bitch. Forgive me but I wasn't the drooling over someone else's date yesterday. Tell me something Stephanie did your boyfriend take off because he finally figured out that it was Allison you wanted."
"Where do you get off?” I snarled.
"Listen lady." Courtney cut me to the quick. "I don't know what your deal is. And I don't care. All I do know is I'm the one who spent the night with Allison. What did you think would happen? That maybe she'd be willing to date you and Peter?"
"Peter and I are not together anymore." I shot back. Why was I telling her this?
"Well isn't that convenient." She mocked me. "Whatever. Like I said I'll be seeing you around. I'll just make sure I keep plenty of clothes here just incase you decide to toss another drink at me. I didn't miss a thing yesterday. So just back off blondie." Having made her position clear she bounced out of the front door and was on her way.
I stormed into the apartment and slamming the door behind me. I stripped off my clothing and threw myself onto the futon and let the tears flow. I pulled my knees to chest and wept uncontrollably. "It couldn't be true!" I cried over and over again until sleep finally claimed me. My dreams were a confusing stream of images. Allison kissing me. Allison kissing Courtney. Peter laughing at me. I was jolted out of my slumber by the sounds of music blaring from Allison's apartment. I shivered from the cold as I realized that I had been sleeping naked on top of the bed. I dragged myself into the shower. I found no solace from the steamy water. None of this made any sense. I gave up and stepped out of the shower. I looked into the mirror. The sight of myself shocked me. I looked like Monday morning in Hell. My face was bloated; my eyes were puffy and red. Disgusted by the sight I slumped out of the bathroom. Grabbing a pair sweat pants and a T-shirt. I doubt that either was very clean. I dressed and debated on making a pot of coffee or simply going back to bed.
I looked at the clock noticing that it was after one in the afternoon. Allison never slept this late. "Was Courtney telling the truth? Had they slept together?" This just isn't adding up. Was Allison capable of making out with me one moment and then bedding another woman the next? From everything I thought I knew about Allison it seemed out of character for her. Then how do you explain Courtney spending the night? And Allison sleeping in? Then there were the sounds of passion that had greeted Peter and myself last night when we entered my apartment. They had definitely been coming from upstairs.
Peter! The thought of how badly I had hurt him tugged at me. At least I finally did the right thing and let him go. Perhaps if I hadn't wait so long I would have gotten the girl. Now it would seem that it was too late. There was a gentle knock on the door. I realized that the music was gone. I opened the door and found Allison smiling down at me. Suddenly I felt sick. Her face dropped at the sight of me. "Are you all right?" She asked tenderly.
"I'm fine." I lied. I noted that I was becoming very good at lying lately.
"Are you sure?" She questioned me in disbelief as she reached for my hand.
I jerked away from her violently. I could not bare the thought of her touching me. "I said that I'm fine." I snapped back bitterly. Her eyes widen in shock at my outburst. "Stephanie?" She whispered as she reached for me once again. I pulled away from her touch. "What is it?" She asked in a fearful voice.
"Look I just want to be alone right now." I flared. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the pain reflected in her eyes. "I broke up with Peter last night." I explained hoping that she would just leave.
"Is there anything I can do?" She offered. "Do you want to talk?" She reached out to me again and tried to step into the apartment. I blocked her way without allowing her to touch me. "How can she be so callus?"
"I just want to be alone right now." I repeated as I clenched my fists.
"Are you sure?" She asked with such sweetness that I almost believed her.
"Yes." I answered firmly.
"Well . . . all right then." She said hesitantly. "I'll be upstairs if you need anything." Reluctantly she turned from my doorway and walked away. I slammed the door behind her. I tried to hold myself together but it was useless. I sobbed and crawled into bed. In the past twenty-four hours I had probably cried more than I had my entire life. There was no stopping the tears. The pain seemed unbearable.
I hated myself for being so weak. I hated her for making me fall in love with her. With each tear that fell I whispered her name and asked myself 'why?' over and over again.
END OF PART THREE
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