MY SISTER’S KEEPER
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers, see Part One.
A big thank you goes out to my over worked and under appriciated beta reader Joanne.
As always, this is for Heather
As they drove along Route One, both women remained silent as the neon images lining the roadway flashed past them. Jenny found Lizzie’s quiet reflective mood a bit disconcerting. The girl she had known in high school had been a constant chatterbox. She added this observation to her growing list of things that were muddling her emotions. Since that morning she’d seen the woman that Lizzie had become, and yet there were still traces of the girl she had once known and loved.
She couldn’t believe the way that Lizzie had jumped in to defend her honor when Wendy had shown up. Lizzie, her brave little warrior, had reemerged. Jenny was smiling as she recalled the murderous look in Lizzie’s eyes. ‘Oh yeah, you were going to punch her lights out. Some things never change,’ Jenny thought with pride. Despite the fact that Jenny stood a good half a foot taller, since the first day they’d met Lizzie had always acted like Jenny’s protector. Jenny laughed as once again the images of their first encounter flashed through her mind.
“What’s so funny?” Lizzie inquired quizzically.
“Just remembering the day we met and how you punched Robby to stop him from pouring sand on my head,” Jenny explained merrily. “You had the same look in your eyes this afternoon.”
“I still hate bullies,” Lizzie responded with a slight smile.
After that brief moment, silence once again filled the truck. Jenny was surprised that she didn’t feel uncomfortable by the lack of conversation. Wendy had always felt a need for conversation. Of course Wendy’s version of communication consisted of her talking about herself and what she wanted and Jenny simply agreeing. She sighed heavily as a sudden sense of relief filled her.
She felt really good for the first time in a long time. She hadn’t had the opportunity to fully cope with the events that had been sprung upon her in the last twenty-four hours. And now that she could stop and think, she felt good. During her relationship she hadn’t really taken the time to think about how Wendy had controlled her. In many ways Jenny had simply been wandering through her days with a strange sense of stagnation. She was simply following the road that Wendy was leading her down. Jenny followed her blindly simply because she didn’t want to jeopardize the first long term relationship she’d ever been in.
Now she was finally free. Closing the door on her life with Wendy gave her back a strange sense of herself. Perhaps it was seeing her first love again that fueled her newfound desire to get her life back. Jenny had endured the pain of betrayal once before only to emerge stronger. In some bizarre way, when Lizzie broke her heart she’d led her to take that first step towards becoming a woman. Not that she was by any means thankful for the pain.
Jenny glanced over at Lizzie who was watching the passing restaurants and hotels in fascination. The woman sitting next to her now clearly wasn’t the girl who had hurt her; still, she had been that person once. Jenny wondered if she could ever forgive the girl and become friends with the woman. Jenny had a lot to think about. ‘When did I decide to simply be content with my life?’ she wondered as the sense of relief continued to trickle through her body.
Jenny caught a glimpse of Lizzie smiling. The vision of her first love sitting next to her with the gray skies passing behind her took her breath away. Jenny couldn’t help but notice that Lizzie was a stark contrast to Wendy. Lizzie was smaller yet confident and full of life. Wendy on the other hand possessed a self-absorbent brooding quality that Jenny now found very unattractive. ‘What am I doing? Why am I comparing two of my former lovers?’ Jenny questioned herself in bewilderment. She shook her head in an effort to clear her thoughts.
Jenny spotted the familiar pink sign marking a Dunkin’ Donuts just up ahead. “Dunkies!” Lizzie exclaimed gleefully as Jenny pulled into the parking lot. “I haven’t had a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in years,” Lizzie continued babbling as she unhooked her seatbelt. “There was one at Logan but I didn’t have enough time to grab a cup. Father Desposa was in a hurry when we landed. He hadn’t seen his family in years either and he just wanted to get going,” the blonde spoke in a hurried tone without pausing to take a breath. Jenny’s head was spinning.
“Go on inside,” Jenny interrupted her with a smile. Seeing a small glimpse of the girl she’d once been very much in love with warmed her heart.
“Sorry; I’m just a little excited.” Lizzie laughed.
“It’s okay. Go on inside,” Jenny offered as she handed Lizzie some cash. “I’m just going to check the back to make sure my stuff is still dry.”
“Do you need any help?” Lizzie offered. Her eyes were glazed over as she looked at the interior of the donut shop.
“Go,” Jenny responded in a firm yet reassuring tone. Lizzie hopped out of the truck and dashed into the shop. Jenny couldn’t hold back the smile as she watched the blonde bounce with excitement.
Feeling certain that her belongings were safe, Jenny joined Lizzie inside. “You know it’s the little things I’ve missed,” Lizzie explained as she tried to look over the other patrons to see the menu.
“Like what?” Jenny asked.
“Like taking a shower, good smelling shampoo, shaving your legs, or running water for that matter,” Lizzie explained. “And of course a good cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,” Lizzie said as she licked her lips in anticipation.
“They must have had coffee where you were,” Jenny noted, realizing that Lizzie had been living in Central America.
“Oh yeah,” Lizzie groaned in an almost erotic tone. “Really good coffee in fact. It’s just that Dunkin’ Donuts is like having breakfast at Dante’s Diner. It means that I’m home. Large coffee, black, no sugar,” Lizzie ordered her coffee quickly.
“Large Dunkaccino and a chocolate honey dip donut,” Jenny ordered. “Don’t you want a donut?”
“I’m not really into sweets anymore,” Lizzie explained as the counter girl handed them their order. “Besides, donuts are for cops.”
“Ha ha,” Jenny snorted as Lizzie handed her the change.
They took a booth in the corner and sipped the coffee quietly. There was something nagging at Jenny. It was what Lizzie had said earlier and the way she left the door open regarding her sexuality. Jenny looked at the golden-haired woman, trying to figure out what was going on in that pretty little head. She watched as Lizzie savored every last drop of her coffee, clinging to the Styrofoam cup and licking her lips with pleasure. Jenny’s crystal blue eyes widened as she watched the pink tongue swirl between Lizzie’s full lips. ‘What am I thinking?’ Jenny questioned herself frantically.
“What?” Lizzie asked as she caught Jenny staring.
“Nothing,” Jenny lied as she ran her fingers through her long raven hair. “You just seem to really be enjoying that coffee.”
“Sorry,” Lizzie responded with a blush. “It’s just what I said before; a good cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee reminds me that I’m finally home.”
“For how long?” Jenny asked carefully.
“I’m not certain,” Lizzie said with a heavy sigh. “Possibly just until the fall, or it could be forever.” Jenny blinked in surprise. “I’m going to substitute teach at Xavier until the end of this term.” Jenny nodded in response, familiar with the Catholic school located in the heart of the city. “Then I’m taking a sabbatical, and if I return to the order, I’m off to Zaire.”
“If?” Jenny choked on her beverage.
“That’s why I’m taking a sabbatical,” Lizzie explained carefully. “I’m thinking of leaving the church. I’ve been thinking about it for years, but my superiors kept putting off my sabbatical. It was never the right time. I insisted this time and I’ve been allowed to take a few months to figure out if I wish to continue with my vocation.”
“Does Kate know about this?” Jenny inquired quickly, her mind whirling from what Lizzie had just told her.
“Yes.” Lizzie smiled. “She’s thrilled and she’s hoping that I leave the church. My dad feels the same way. The only one who doesn’t know is my mother.”
“I’m sure the news will go over big with her,” Jenny snorted in disgust.
“Right.” Lizzie smirked. “The few times I’ve been home, she insisted that I wear my habit just so she could show me off.”
“There’s something wrong with that woman,” Jenny grumbled as she collected her trash.
“No kidding,” Lizzie groaned.
They stood and deposited their trash in the waste receptacle. Both women walked somberly out to the truck. Once inside Jenny placed the key in the ignition and paused. She just sat there while her mind spun. “Why?” Jenny whispered softly.
“Why what?” Lizzie responded in a tired voice. “Why did I become a nun?”
“That’s a good place to start,” Jenny encouraged her as she stared blankly through the windshield, her hand still firmly locked on the keys lying stagnant in the ignition. “Was it your parents?”
Lizzie rubbed her temple in a tired motion before she answered. “Mother pushed, yes. My father simply withdrew even further. In the end I was the one who took the vows and entered the order.”
“But you haven’t managed to keep your vows,” Jenny responded bitterly.
“No,” Lizzie confessed in a sad quiet tone.
“Was it . . .?” Jenny stammered. “Was it a woman?”
“Are you asking if I’m gay?” Lizzie laughed. Jenny turned to find Lizzie smiling at her. “Jenny, the last time I had any questions regarding my sexuality was a rainy night a very long time ago.”
“Isn’t that a major no-no?” Jenny pried.
“Yes, it is,” Lizzie explained in an amused tone. “But it’s a little bit like the military; you know - don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Jenny’s mind began to spin as her headache returned. She had no idea what she should say or do at that moment. She was trying to convince herself to let it go; Lizzie was just someone from her past and none of this mattered anymore. “Jenny, I need you to understand something,” Lizzie continued seriously. “I’ve been Sister Rachel almost as long as I was Lizzie Carrington. This sabbatical isn’t a vacation. It’s a leave of absence that I’ve been granted so I can make a very important decision.”
“What’s to decide?” Jenny snapped, unable to comprehend why Lizzie just didn’t walk away.
“I need to decide whether or not I can continue in my vocation. At this time my superiors will allow me to return if that’s what I decide to do.”
Jenny was stunned into silence. ‘Why are you thinking about this? Get out and don’t look back!’ Jenny’s mind screamed as her heart began to beat frantically in her chest. “Jenny,” Lizzie began slowly, seemingly prepared to answer Jenny’s unspoken questions, “for the first time in my life I need to think things through. In the past, every one of my life-altering decisions was based solely on emotion. I’ve spent my entire life jumping into things without stopping to think about what I was about to do.”
As Jenny listened, she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d been one of those unknowing jumps. “My life choices . . . ,“ Lizzie continued, “ . . . were reactions to love, hate, jealousy, rage, and lust. I need to know this time that I’m making the right choice, and that I’m making it for me.”
Jenny tried to take it all in. She really did understand what Lizzie was saying. Her own life choices had been just that - choices. Since the night they were discovered in the Carrington’s kitchen, Lizzie’s life had been thrust upon her. “Now having said all that, I feel down right silly,” Lizzie concluded.
“Why is that?” Jenny inquired.
“I just blurted out all my troubles to you,” Lizzie explained. “It’s not like you don’t have a full plate already.”
“It’s okay,” Jenny reassured her as she finally turned the keys in the ignition. “Well, you did take my mind off my own troubles.”
“Yeah, and all you wanted to know was if I’m gay or not,” Lizzie teased as Jenny slowly pulled out of the parking lot. “Of course my first reaction was to just look at you and say Duh.”
“Well, some things never change.” Jenny laughed heartily as she waited to reenter the rushing traffic on Route One.
“Yeah, like the drivers up here,” Lizzie noted with interest.
They finally arrived in Haven; the little seacoast town nestled on the North Shore. Jenny was weary by the time she pulled the truck into the driveway. Both women stretched as they exited the truck. “The hoop is still up,” Lizzie noted as they began to untie the tarp.
“Oh yeah, Dad still thinks I’ll end up playing for the WNBA,” Jenny teased as she pulled back the tarp.
“The what?” Lizzie asked in confusion.
“You have been away a long time.” Jenny sighed deeply, thinking about how much they’d both missed out on over the years. “Women’s National Basketball Association. It started right after the U.S. women kicked butt at the Olympics.”
“It’s about time,” Lizzie noted as they began to unload Jenny’s belongings. “Does Boston have a team?” she asked eagerly.
“No,” Jenny grumbled in disappointment. “But New York does.”
They worked in silence as they stored Jenny’s meager belongings in her parent’s garage. She was fighting a loosing battle with her libido. The occasional brushing against the smaller woman was causing her pulse to race. Neither of them had touched intentionally; it was just inevitable due to the close quarters they were working in. Yet the quick glances she made whenever she was certain that her companion was not looking were solely her own responsibility.
Jenny watched the sway of Lizzie’s hips as she left the garage for the last time. Jenny was mentally chastising herself when she spotted the familiar orange ball out of the corner of her eye. She smiled wickedly as she scooped up the basketball. She pressed her fingers into the rough rubber and smiled when she discovered that her father had maintained the air pressure.
Jenny stepped out of the garage and hid the ball behind her back. Lizzie was facing away from her, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. “Hey!” Jenny called out. Lizzie spun around quickly. “Think quick,” Jenny shouted as she pulled the ball out from behind her back and tossed it at her startled companion.
“Brat.” Lizzie giggled as she caught the ball easily and began to dribble it on the driveway. “So what do you say, Stretch? I think you still owe me a rematch,” Lizzie taunted her.
“I always owed you a rematch,” Jenny scoffed as she pulled down the garage door. “You could never beat me.”
“That’s because you’re abnormally tall,” Lizzie protested as she continued to dribble the ball.
“Right,” Jenny snorted in amusement. “Come on, Sister; let’s see what you’ve got,” Jenny challenged the smaller woman.
Lizzie creased her brow in determination as she removed her jacket and began to dribble the ball. Jenny took on a defensive stance in an effort to block the feisty blonde’s advancement. The taller woman managed to block Lizzie as they raced around the small driveway. Lizzie grunted as she spun around and tried to fake to Jenny’s left. The brunette was onto her and quickly jumped up to block Lizzie’s shot.
Their bodies collided as they both sprang up. Jenny felt the air escape from her lungs, knowing it wasn’t the force of the impact that caused her distress. Lizzie’s body covered her own completely. As their bodies began their descent back to the ground, she felt Lizzie slipping away. Instinctively she reached out and wrapped her arms around the smaller woman’s body.
They stumbled as they clung to one another tightly, each balancing the other so that they would land on their feet. The basketball was forgotten as it rolled down the driveway. Jenny could feel Lizzie’s heart beating against her chest as their breasts pressed together. She looked down and found herself locked in a smoky haze of green. She knew she should pull away; instead she tightened her hold on the smaller woman.
She watched as Lizzie’s lips parted slightly. Jenny was unable to control herself as she bent her head down. She was so close to capturing Lizzie’s full lips that she could feel the blonde’s breath on her skin.
“Hey, did you loose something?” an irritatingly familiar voice called out.
Both women pulled apart quickly as if they’d been burned. Jenny’s crystal blue eyes darkened and she cast a menacing glare at Robby who was trotting up the driveway, holding the basketball up proudly. “You have got to be kidding me,” Lizzie hissed as Jenny rubbed her now throbbing temple.
“Robby,” Jenny greeted him coldly.
“Here you go,” he responded brightly as he handed her the ball.
Robby turned pale when he finally noticed Lizzie standing there; Jenny watched in fascination. “Robert,” the blonde managed to greet her former nemesis politely.
“Lizzie,” the man said as he clenched his jaw.
“Actually, it’s Sister Rachel now,” Lizzie corrected him calmly.
“I suppose you think that’s funny?” he barked her.
“I thought it was appropriate,” Lizzie responded with a shrug as she walked over to the truck.
Jenny was more than a little confused by their exchange. She was thankful that Lizzie had walked away in an apparent effort to diffuse the situation. “Robby, we need to get going. Thanks for the ball,” Jenny said quickly as she tossed the basketball into the back of the truck. Robby stood there dumbfounded as Jenny climbed into the truck and drove off.
“I’m sorry,” Lizzie apologized. “I should have been more cordial.”
“What?” Jenny chuckled. “It’s not like the two of you ever got along.”
“I guess you’re right,” Lizzie said thoughtfully. Jenny turned to the small blonde with a questioning look. “Some things never change,” Lizzie explained flatly.
“What was the whole thing about your name?” Jenny pressed as she pulled up to a stop sign.
“You really should read your bible,” Lizzie offered in an amused tone.
“My last name is Jacobs,” Jenny grunted. “We’re not exactly bible folk.”
“True,” Lizzie said absently as a mischievous smirk formed on her angelic lips.
Jenny drove along in frustration, knowing that she wouldn’t be getting any answers to her questions. A small part of her was thankful that Robby had interrupted them. Jenny knew that if she’d kissed Lizzie it would have been a huge mistake. Then there was another part of her that was screaming loudly for her to find Robby and beat him senseless for destroying a perfect moment.
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