See Part I for disclaimers.

Part V


Copyright © February 2001

Chapter XX: Contemplation

I just walked Abbie to work a while ago, and now, I'm sitting on her stoop just outside her apartment building. I have the key, and I could go in at any time. Still, I'm sitting here doing I don't know, just contemplating life, I guess. It's been a couple of weeks since we first kissed, and we have kissed many times since then. It seems like a million times, but it'll never be enough. In fact, she wanted to kiss me as we stood outside in front of The Claridge. She didn't say anything to the fact, but I could see it in her eyes. I resisted because some part of me knew that she wasn't ready to be outed in front of co-workers like that.

It's been quite a time to say the least, and through it all, Abbie has been by my side. I've been staying here with her the whole time, sleeping on her floor. Gert is still in the hospital, but she is looking a hell of a lot better. So, part of my mind is at ease, but there are a lot of parts that are not at rest.


I don’t have that anymore. Abbie has given me a voice through her acknowledgment. It makes me want things. It makes me want it all back. I miss it something fierce—life. It’s always been a goal to get my life back, but it’s never really been attainable. I feel that it is now, and I’m more than hungry for it. I miss sleeping in a warm bed, talking on the phone, wearing a nice pair of Levi's, working out and playing b-ball at the local gym, eating good food including a decent cheeseburger, watching TV, listening to music, and most of all I miss the challenge of working.

I could never be as I used to be simply because I didn't like who I was then. I like who I have become, besides the destitute thing. Abbie. She is the one responsible for this growing need, and I thank her for it.

Maybe I've been sitting on my hands for too long. I could help Stevie, Pauly, and Gert more if I had. . .anything. It's a thought that has been tangled in my head for the past week. Now, that I have Abbie. I guess, I feel that I can have everything again. It maybe be fleeting whatever this is I long to reach for, but I know she is not. Knowing that, I feel that if I lose it all once more, I'll still have the foundation to start anew because of her.

I lean back placing my elbows on the step behind me. My coat gets wedged between me and the concrete, so I yank it. I don’t know why I wear this thing anyway. It’s not that cold. I guess just because it’s Gert’s. It’s a way to be closer to her. I glance up to look at Abbie’s part of the sky, and it’s as radiant as she is. The stars are big and twinkling back at me through the clear skies.

“Beautiful.” I mutter. I miss her sitting beside me. We’ve become accustom to star gazing during the past week on her days off. She’s fascinated by them, and I fed her frenzy by pointing out as many constellations as I can see even made up a few just to see the joy on her face.

I must admit though, I miss hanging out with the guys, not the conditions, but they guys. I feel kind of guilty, sleeping in a nice warm bed while they rough it in the sand. I want Stevie and Pauly to have everything they need, and I wish to God that I could give it to them. Maybe someday soon I can. I feel kind of giddy at the thought.

“Abbie, you did this to me.” I smile up at the stars as if her face is in them. Still, I feel guilt nag at me. Those people in that stretch of sand count on me to protect and guide them. I've been lax in my responsibilities. Deep down, I know that Stevie and Pauly can take care of themselves, but what about the others? There are a few including that new guy Curtis that Abbie told me about. I found a spot over there by Resorts for him.

I feel the lines of worry crease my forehead, and I miss Abbie even more because I know she would be trying to smooth them out with deft fingers or soft lips. Still deep in contemplation, I think back, trying to remember how it started. When did they all start to depend on me? It’s hard to answer, but I think it was when I decided to let them in. In a way, I know it’s an effort to try to atone for the bitch I was.

The sudden sounds of sirens not far away catches my attention. I turn my head toward Pacific Avenue to see a cop car along with an ambulance speed down the Boardwalk. My heart lurches in my chest, and I rise to break into a full run. Something has happened. I know it has. The long coat beats against my legs, but I don’t care. Sirens this late means trouble usually with my people. Hardly anyone else is around this time of night.

My feet thump against the wooden planks of the Boardwalk, but I continue running as fast as I can, hoping I’ll get there before the authorities disperse whatever melee has started. I pray to God that it’s not Stevie or Pauly. I couldn’t deal if anything happened to them.

The sweat plasters my bangs against my forehead, but I don’t bother to wipe them away. I let it sting my eyes, hoping it is the only tears I shed tonight. Finally, after what seems like forever I get there just as they close the door to the ambulance. It’s my stretch of sand from Resorts to the Taj. This is my area. I protect and watch over it.

Tonight, I was remiss in my job. I see the others gather about, seven in all, peering at each other and shaking their heads. Pauly and Stevie are among them. I get to them and bend over clutching my stomach in the attempt to catch my breath and soothe the ache in my side. I hear a murmur over my wheezing breath. After a minute, I’m able to look up. Pauly and Stevie hover over me with grim looks on their faces. I straighten up to see the remainder of eyes staring at me accusingly. They’re blaming me for something, and I think it’s about time that I find out what it is.

”Pauly what happened here?”

Before he can answer another murmur passes through the crowd, I turn to glance toward the ambulance that is driving slowly away, but I see in the well lit back cab a sheet covered body. Surprisingly, the cops didn’t stick around to harass us. I swallow and turn back to face the angry eyes. “Old Curtis died, Sly. Guess it was a heart attack or somethin’. We was starting to like him too. Nice old guy.”

”Sho, sho.” Stevie agreed as he nods his head.

Other voices joined in the fray whispering accusingly, “Where were ya, Sly? We tried to come getcha. Figured you’d know what to do. You weren’t here so the man just died.”

Guilt rips through me, tearing a hole right beside my heart. I didn’t know it could hurt so much. They counted on me, and in a way, I abandoned them to enjoy my visibility, to enjoy Abbie. They continue to stare. I want to say something, defend myself. I can feel my mouth moving. Still, there is nothing coming out. I feel ashamed that I wanted something, reached for something that they haven’t seen in years if they have at all. I hang my head, but not before I see Pauly bristle and pump out his chest.

”You people crazy or somethin’? Sly, ain’t nobody’s momma here. She does what she can for us, and I’ll be damned if’in the minute she tries to have a life you all get shitty!” He spits on the sand and runs a hand through gnarled locks in disgust. Even with all the emotions weighing on me right now, I feel pride because I know these two love me. I still want to crawl inside myself, but I hang my head instead and listen as Stevie adds his two cents. “Sho! Sly don’t gotta be here all da time, and it’s not her fault. It was da man’s time is all. She ain’t god!”

I look up tentatively at the sound of another murmur. I glance into the faces –some old, some young, but all craggy. The oldest ones are peering at me and shaking their heads. As far as they are concerned, I’m responsible as if I were a queen and this, my clan. The younger ones shrug it off and start to disperse. As they all began to leave, shuffling through the thick sand, I can’t help myself. I whisper, “I’m sorry,” to their backs.

Regardless of the fact that I could or couldn’t have prevented a death, something deep inside nags at me. I let them down. Someone needed me, and I let them down. I feel Pauly’s hand clap against my back. He gives me a rotten tooth smile and tries to pull me into a hug. I jerk away. I don’t want to find solace right now. I know my expression is closed. I can almost feel my eyes empty of emotion. I watch as Pauly and Stevie glance at each other. They know me well.

They know where I have gone. Stevie steps forward with an expression of understanding on his weather beaten face. “Now, you listen here Sly. For all the stuff you done did fo’ us, you deserve something fo yoself. You deserve to be separate from us---“

I shake my head vehemently, feeling it move loosely about my shoulders. “But I’m not. I am you.”

”Naw, naw you got somethin’ some us ain’t gone never have again. You gotta chance.” Pauly nods his head in agreement.

”Do I?” I husk back. “If I do, I can only take care of you three. What about the others?”

Pauly holds up his hands in defiance. “Now, Sly. You don’t have to do that for us—“

”Yess! I do.” I hiss. “You’re my family. More so than anyone has been.”

”Well, we feel the same, but you just ain’t responsible for every homeless person on the street.”

I don’t want to argue with them. I don’t have it in me right now. I know what my responsibilities are. I look up to see them whispering among themselves. I hear Abbie’s name along with “maybe she can talk some sense. . .” It’s out my mouth before I can think. “Don’t bring her into this!”

Unperturbed, Stevie looks back at me. “Why not? You two joined at da hip as of late. She’s good for you and good to us. Abbie wouldn’t wanna see ya like dis.”

I ball my hands into fist. I said it earlier tonight, and I meant it then just like I mean it now. “It’s her fault that I’m like this!”

Irritated beyond reason, they both shake their hands and brush me off with a wave. “Damn fool, bet not mess up a good thing. It ain’t wrong to wanna life, Sly.”

I cover my ears like a petulant child. I don’t want to hear this. I don’t want to feel this. Without another word, I turn and walk away. I’ve been doing that a lot with them these days.

I’m just walking. It’s the blackest part of the night or so it looks like it. Symbolic really. I find myself back on Indiana Avenue, as if I were some homing pigeon. I think that I’ve got some serious questions facing me. Already, I’ve promised Abbie so much, and I know---I KNOW she has promised to take this road with me. The simple truth is that I can’t give her up. She did indeed make me this way, and I have to be honest with myself. I don’t want it to end.

I’m sitting on the steps again and looking up at the same stars. I want my life back more than ever. I want a life that includes Abbie, but these people—my people-- count on me. How can I balance that? If I could just make people see that we need, we want, we live, and that we are here, so visibly here, I could have it all. What is that saying? Yeah, I’m only one damn woman, and I can’t do it all. I just want my family taken care of, and as far as I am concerned Abbie is a big part of it.

I rub my open hands over my face in exasperation then push them into my hair. Glancing at the silent stars one more time, I get up and fish the key out of my coat pocket. As I unlock the door, I have to ask myself, “Is it wrong to want this. Is it wrong to want to live again, really live?” I take the stairs two at a time. God, I wish Abbie were here. Maybe she can make it all go away with a soft touch or an even softer kiss.

Chapter XXI: Woman’s Work 2

It’s almost time for my first break, and I find myself trying to hurry and meet Lola. Doing this is like an old habit, it leaves my mind totally free. I can’t help but think about how much I’ve changed. I used to be so down on myself, and I stayed away from people, knowing they didn’t want to get to know someone like me. Now, look at me. I have friends, real friends, and I have Sly. She’s in a category all by herself. I can only hope that she’s in my life to stay. She’s a woman. I know that, and so am I. It doesn’t matter after all these years, Sly fits into a puzzle that was as confused as it could possibly get.

As I bend over to clean out the toilet with the proper brush, my mind still wanders. I’ll be finished with my community service really soon, but I know that there’s no turning back. That place has become a haven to me. My problems seem so insignificant. I still barely have the money for the weekly rent or food, but things are better now since I am allowed to eat at The Mission. I don’t have a lot, but nowadays, I feel like I have everything. I have a family again. They will never replace the one that I lost, but Gert, Stevie, and Pauly hold a special place in my heart. I don’t pretend to understand everything that they have gone through, but I feel that I understand them.

Along with all of this, I have this confidence that I think has always been missing. I’ve been stuck all these years, but Sly came along and held out her hand. I see now. I feel now. I have the courage to want now, and so far, I’m two for two.

On my way to the locker room tonight, I saw something that I wanted—a position for head housekeeper. It would be a significant pay raise, but a lot of responsibility. There would be people under my command so to speak. It’s a scary prospect, but I want to take the chance. Not only does it mean more for me, but it also means the same for Sly, Gert, Pauly and Stevie. What I have is theirs. If I get this job, there may be something in it for Sly period. She could use my address and take the position I vacate. It’s just a thought, but extremely feasible.

I let down the toilet seat with a slam and sit on it, wiping wet hands on the bib of my gray/white maid’s uniform. I have to ask myself what will Sly accept. Among a lot of things, she is proud. She sees all of us as her responsibility, but I think that I’m more than allowed to take on some of the load. I need to do this just to show that I can. I want to do this to give back a fraction of what they’ve given me.

Sitting here on the toilet, I find myself smiling, just thinking of her and what she does to me. Sly’s been staying with me all this time, and that lonely feel to everything in my room is gone. It doesn’t seem so run down or threadbare anymore. She makes everything come to life, including me. She holds back when she touches me. I can tell by the way she fists her hand into my hair, along with the hitch in her breathing. I find that in itself endearing because Sly is letting me lead.

I don’t really know this road, but like everything with her, I’m willing to go down it. I want to. Kissing her, touching her is like the greatest of discoveries—soft, hard, rough, and sweet. I want to take my time and explore. I see so much now. All the world is in color, and Sly is the most colorful one of all.

I finish up in the bathroom and head back out to the main room to see Lola walking in. She gives me a soft smile. “Hey girl, I’m starving. How bout chu?”

I shrug, grin back and reply, “I could eat.”

Lola peers at me for a long time as she crosses her arms and leans against the door. Finally, she speaks, “Chu know chu look so different now, Abbie. This Sly woman is doing wonders.”

I feel the blush starting, but I’m not adept at hiding it yet. I’m not sure if I want to. “I’m learning a lot from her.”

Her smile is bright. “That’s good. Now, let’s go eat.”

I shake my head and chuckle, as I push my cleaning cart out of the way to follow her to the cafeteria.

I am quiet during our lunch, mulling over the possibility of changing things for all of us, for the better. I guess that I am quiet too long because Lola drops her fork in her mashed potatoes and looks at me with a combination of patience and exasperation. “Okay, what is it white girl? Chu being way to quiet even for chu.”

My eyes meet hers and I feel that it is okay to come clean. “I want that job. Um, do you. . .do you think I can do it?”

Lola throws up her arms in relief. “Is that what’s bothering chu? Hell jes! Chu have been here just as long as anybody else. Chu just got to get used to giving orders and stuff. Chu think chu can do that?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I’ve never had a managerial position before.”

”Don’t worry too much. They do train chu, and I think it’s more organizational than anything. I think chu can do that. What does your Sly say about it?”

The smile forms before I can help myself. My Sly. I watch Lola roll her eyes at seeing the expression on my face. “Don’t know. I’m gonna talk to her about it this morning.” I hang my head and fiddle with the green peas rolling around my tray. I can feel her eyes boring into my head.

”Abbie? What else is going on?”

I glance up giving her a quirky smile that I can feel forming at the corners of my mouth. “If I go out for it and get it, I wanna see if I can get Sly to go after my old job.”

Lola whistles. “Oh, I see. S’pose it won’t hurt to ask her. ‘Sides, I haven’t met her yet, but I bet she would dress up this place.”

I smile full out. “She would, and if you stayed around long enough in the morning, you would get the chance to meet her. But---“ I look at her warningly.

Lola throws her hands back up in mock anger. “I know look but don’t touch. What do chu think of me, Abbie? She looks a little too butchie for me. Chu more my type.” She says with a lecherous grin pasted on her face.

I groan and roll my eyes, feeling another blush coloring my skin at her forwardness. “Lola! Behave!”

”I would, but chu make it so easy!” She shakes her head. “Tch, and chu turn such pretty colors too. I bet your Sly loves that.”

I turn a darker shade of red as I remember the way her fingertips traced the line of color from my neck to cheek. “Uh. . .um.”

Lola cackles. “See, she does.”

”Lola! I’m trying to be serious here!”

”Uh huh. Listen, chica. You already are.”

I stop talking and mull over what she said. “Yeah, I am.” I whisper softly but loud enough for her to hear.

”Though so. Just go for it, Abbie. See what she says.”

She picks her tray up, and I follow her lead toward the swinging opening of the trash cans. We don’t speak again until we leave the murmur of the cafeteria to go back down the long hall. Walking side by side, I touch her arm. “You really think so, Lola?”

She nods and turns to me. “Jes. Listen, chu will both be able to take better care of each other along with the familia chu have now. They mean a lot to chu too.”

We begin walking again, but not before I say, “You’re right. They do.”


I wait outside the employee entrance alone as usual. Lola’s boyfriend came to pick her up, so she will miss meeting Sly yet again. It doesn’t really matter. I want her all to myself this morning. We have a lot to talk about. I scan the Boardwalk for her presence. I don’t see her yet, so I lean against the concrete wall and smooth nervous hands over my uniform then through my hair. The early morning air off the ocean is brisk, but I’m used to it. I ignore the gooseflesh on my arms.

I’m more than a little excited about these new prospects. It could change a lot for all of us. It is such a revelation to be able to take this chance, to want to take this chance. I hope Sly is with me.

I see her not far away walking in her customary confident strides, with the long, dark hair and coat flaring around her. My heart speeds up, and I push away from the wall to go meet her. I see the flash of a soft, white smile as she spots me, but I also see the wrinkle in her forehead. Something is bothering her. As Sly gets closer, I notice a new wariness in pale blue eyes along with strained features. She tries to hide it again in a soft smile, but I see through it. I know her well enough to be able to. I stop in front of her, and her eyes devour me. Without a word, she tweaks my nose and pulls me into a fierce hug. Her arms are strong and clinging. I hear a slight intake of breath as she continues to hold onto me for dear life. Breathing in the clean scent of my own Ivory soap, I return the hug just as fiercely because I sense that this is what she needs. After long minutes, Sly lets me go, and I sit my feet on the ground again. I look at her waiting for her to tell me.

”I missed you,” she whispers huskily.

My heart thuds, and I reach up to smooth away the worry lines creasing her forehead. Sly closes her eyes, as if she had been waiting for me to do just that. “I missed you too.”

The worry lines won’t go away. I let my hand drop, but she catches it and brings it to her lips. Her eyes close once more as she brushes her lips over my open palm. Eyes the color of a semi- cloudy sky open, and in them, I see such pain and longing. “Abbie.” The emotions are reflected just the same in that one word.

My heart turns over in my chest, and I know that at this instant she needs me to touch her, hold her, and kiss her, if only for reassurance. I take her hand and pull her toward the Hard Rock Café to our little spot we found between buildings. It is close quarters, barely leaving an inch between our bodies.

Our eyes meet, and I see resignation. I touch her cheek with fingertips and don’t stop until I am outlining soft lips. She purses her lips and kisses them in response. On tiptoes, I lean forward, and as if it were the most natural thing in the world, I brush her lips with mine. Sly’s breath hitches, and her body caves in on mine. Unbelievable heat engulfs me, making me tingle from the inside out. I welcome it. I kiss her ear and murmur, hoping it to be the truth, “Whatever it is, it will be okay.”

She mumbles something I am unable to understand. After a minute, Sly pulls back, and tries to hide the worry and pain in her face that I have already seen. I have to remember that this is Sly. This is what she knows. I see through it all. I will give spot her this façade because of this. She takes my hand and leads me back to the Boardwalk. We don’t talk again for a few blocks. Yet, I saw her watching me out of the corner of her eye the whole time. Finally, she speaks. “How was your night?”

Part of me wants to shrug and get to what’s eating her, but I know this isn’t her way. Sly will tell me in time. I know this, so I go along. I turn to her, dividing my attention between her and the few people on the Boardwalk ahead of us. “It was pretty sedate. Same old, same old. I could do that job in my sleep. Lola keeps me on my toes as always though. I did talk to her about something I was planning.” I take a glance at her. Dark brows are still drawn. With the addition of high, slashing cheekbones, the combination make her look rakish. Regardless of her expression, I know that I have her attention for the moment. I’m taking the chance. It’s time to tell her. “Um, there’s this job that I want to apply for. It’s for head housekeeper. The pay is a lot better, but there is also more responsibility. It’s grave shift, so we’ll still get to see each other.” I pause and wait for her reaction.

I feel my hand being squeezed, and Sly turns to look at me with the scowl still in place. “That’s good. You should go for it.”

I hear nothing but sincerity in her voice, despite her countenance. I smile up at her. “You think so?”

For an instant, the expression melts, and that all knowing smirk comes through. “I know so.”

I’m so giddy that I skip a step, and I shiver at the sound of her chuckle. But, I know I have to throw the clincher. “There’s more, Sly.”

I swallow and look up into her face again. The smirk is gone. “Oh? What’s that?”

I feel my palms start to sweat and hope that she doesn’t notice. “Um, i-if I get the job, my old job will be open, and um, well, I want you to think about taking it. Y-you could use my address. No one would ever find out.”

Abruptly, we stop walking. Pale blue search my face for long moments, before one word is whispered. “No.”

My heart drops and so does my confidence level. I wonder if this shows on my face because all of a sudden Sly looks regretful. Her mouth opens and she flounders words like a fish does water. “Abbie, I-I ---“

”No?” I murmur back confused, and I am so confused. I thought she wanted better. I thought she wanted a chance, and I thought she wanted everything again. Could I have been that wrong? What does that mean for us? I swallow hard. Leaving her alone, allows Sly time to think. Sometimes, she thinks too much. Has she talked herself out of us? Is that what this look means? It can’t be. She promised me.

“Sly?” I know my face and voice is laden with fear. So much so, that Sly pulls us toward a bench. I sit down on the hard wood and peer into her face for answers. She hangs her head then looks back up at me. I know she’s about to give me some.

Her hand still held mine as she began to speak. “Curtis died last night,” Sly says flatly.

My mouth opens wide in shock. “Wha—how did it happen?” I squeeze her hand, hard.

Sly shrugs. “I don’t know.”

I shake my head in disbelief. “What do you mean you don’t know?” I inquire softly.

Sly’s sudden laugh makes me jump. “That’s the point, little bit. That’s why I can’t take the job because I don’t know. I should have been there. Instead, I was—“

”With me.” I add sadly. “Ar-are you saying that we—“

Her grip on my hand turns to iron. “Oh God, no. I couldn’t. I mean, we. . .you mean too much to me. I’m just saying that I can’t do it all.”

Still confused and scared, I rub my brow in an attempt to make sense out of all this. “What are you saying? We can’t stay like this. I mean, living like this, neither one of us. I want things to be better for us, including Gert, Pauly, and Stevie,” I interject shakily.

She brings my hand into her lap, and blue eyes implore me. “It’s not just them. I have a responsibility to a lot of people. A lot of them depend on me.”

Realization dawns and hit me with a dull thud, sinking to the pit of my stomach. “Y-you want to stay in this situation in order to keep helping everyone. Is that what you’re saying?” I realized also at that moment that was what the resigned look was for.

Sly nods slowly. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

I want to snatch my hand away, but for the simple fact that I could understand where she was coming from. That alone was stopping me. There are other ways to approach this, and I have to make her see. “Sly,” I whispered softly. “If you had money, you could do a lot of things for a lot of people.”

The dark head starts to shake vehemently. “No, you don’t understand. Wha,” she pauses and takes a deep breath. “What if I become like I was before? Money did that to me. I can’t help anybody that way.”

Why didn’t I see? Is this what she is really afraid of on top of the other things? Her head is hanging again in attempt to hide in shame. I lift her chin with the help a few fingers. “No, that’s not going to happen. Do you know why? Because you have people around you now. People who care. We won’t let that happen.”

Sly peers at me for a long time before speaking. “I want to believe you, but how do you know.”

”Because I know. Do you trust me?”

”Yes.” There was no hesitation.

”Then trust me to help you just like you helped me.”

Sly turns away, and her free hand clasps into a fist. “It’s not that simple, Abbie. People depend on me.”

She needs answers for everything, and that’s what I’m going to give her. “Then teach them not to. Teach them to start depending on themselves. A lot of what you do can be done if they all just communicated with each other.”

Sly stares down at me. Is that pride I see in her eyes? “Where did that little girl I first met go? You have changed so much.” She tweaks my nose.

”For the better?” I ask as I wrinkle my nose in response.

”Most definitely. You make me believe that I can too.”

I trace a gentle pattern in her open palm as I glance up at her. “You have already. Ask your friends.”

Her eyes are shy and still unsure. “Could it all be that simple, Abbie?”

This time I bring her hand up for a kiss, and I can’t help but smile at the shiver I feel go through her body, sitting so close to mine. “Never said it would be simple.”

”I guess not.” I glance up to see that the lines have all but disappeared from her forehead, as has the rakish expression. “What if they don’t want to be taught? I’ve done things for them for so long. I don’t know how—“

”I’ll help,” I interrupt. “ ‘Sides, I may not even get the job, but I think this is worth doing to get us both on our feet again.”

Sly shakes her head as she looks at me with burning eyes. “You know, you just make everything seem possible. I guess, I think too much, brood too much on a lot of things. When I get around you, everything just changes.”

I smile at her, and murmur, “I think I know what you mean.”

A minute later, Sly pulls me up from the bench, and we are on our way again. “So will you consider this?”

Sly pauses and glances down at me with twinkling eyes. “Anything for you, for us.”

Chapter XXII: Watching and Waiting

Abbie is asleep now. I’m sitting in one of the folding chairs watching over her. Sometimes, I still think that she’s going to disappear. What did I do to deserve her? It’s a question I’ve asked time and time again. Whatever I did, I’ll keep doing it because I want her in my life more than anything else. This scares me life is in a precarious balance that could change for the worse or the better at anytime. I don’t want to drag her down with me. I want her at the top, where we should both be.

But, I have to keep the others in mind too. Teach them. I never thought about that before. Now, it’s an option that I cling to because the alternative is to give my life to them. I can’t, not if I want Abbie in it. It’s not a decision I made lightly, but it was made quickly.

She’s so quiet and peaceful looking. She was so animated before. Abbie gushed about this job. I hope she gets it. I really do. It could change a lot of things. Her mind was full of possibilities for us. For us. I have to smile at that because the old me would have been too proud, but I’m not that person anymore. After her shower, she talked. I listened, and we ate Ramen noodles and drank the last of the milk.

I grin again and shiver as I remember how I reached across the small table to wipe away the white mustache with a thumb. I saw the breath stop in her chest. With just that simple touch, I rocked her. She stopped speaking, and cradled my whole hand to her face, loving it with wet, open mouth kisses that rocked me in return. I don’t remember if it was the fire I know that was burning in my eyes or the tiny whimper that escaped my lips, but somehow, Abbie ended up in my lap, touching my face and tracing my lips. She let out this little keening sound that was half way between moan and whimper when our lips finally touched. It made my blood boil, but somehow I had the strength to let her lead, let her explore with mouth and tongue, even though it left me ravenous. I fought like hell to keep my hips still. Her face was flushed, green eyes glittered, and her breathing was hard. It was a sight to behold. It’s a site I will cherish each time. After a few hard hugs and chaste kisses, things cooled down. I read to her until she went to sleep.

So I find myself, staring now, believing in her, in us, in almost everything. I reach out and push a stray blonde hair away from her forehead. She lays on her stomach with hear head turned my way. Arms are snaked under flat pillows, and her mouth is partly open, revealing teeth. Her features are line free and young, and she never looked more beautiful.

There are so many more questions to be answered, and so many more situations to face. Still, I think Abbie will make it easier for all of us. She makes us believe. I believe I am changed. Maybe it’s okay to want again. Yeah, I know it is.

Hope you enjoyed this installment. Feedback at Minerva. No feedback? This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.

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